Eight Great Speculative Fiction Novels by Women

July 11, 2022 – 07:54 am

Photo: Press, Copyright © by Marian Wood KolischSince the very beginning of science fiction as a literary genre, when early scientists used voyages to the moon as metaphors to write about their controversial scientific discoveries, authors have used sci-fi as a rhetorical tool. This is done so as to explore radical ideas and theories inside a relatively safe and fantastic world of fiction that does not immediately alienate the audience the authors hope to persuade.
Scholar and literary critic Istvan Csicsery-Ronay asserts that speculative fiction “is concerned mainly with the role of science and technology in defining human—i.e., cultural—value” and adds that sci-fi “is not a genre of literary entertainment only, but a mode of awareness, a complex hesitation about the relationships between imaginary conceptions and historical reality unfolding into the future.” Like science fiction, speculative fiction, defined more broadly as any literary genre which includes elements of the supernatural, fantastic, or futuristic, as well as alternative histories and dreams, is a useful way for authors to explore the complexities of human values and cultures in a relatively safe place. In this context, the sci-fi genre is as much about considering the plausibility and ethical nature of a possible future and/or an alternative history as it is about fantastic world-building.

Sci-fi is a popular and well-read genre, but its critical importance as a genre for women and authors of color is often overlooked. Exploring both the plausibility and the ethics of possible pasts and futures is incredibly useful for writers working though critical topics and easily translates to issues of personhood and identity. For women and especially women of color, sci-fi is a useful tool for critical writing, since it creates a space (sometimes far into outer space) for authors to explore important issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality without alienating mainstream readers.

Photo: Public Domain Photo: Peter Dasilva Photo: Jean Malek Photo: Edmund Ross

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