All over the place & a question

I have a question for sf/fantasy/horror etc readers. Who are the new feminist voices you’re most excited about? I’m hearing great things about Sarah Monette. And I know all about Lauren McLaughlin and Meghan McCarron. But who am I missing out on? Who now is writing books and stories that look at questions of identity, gender, sex, race, class in cool and interesting ways? Who talks about these issues in exciting ways on their blogs? Tell me!

I just heard that, Daughters of Earth, my feminist sf anthology will be out 1 May. Just in time for WisCon! Most excellent!

I’ve been working on a post for awhile now about all the fabby blogs about the publishing industry and the glories of Miss Snark et al. Fortunately for me Diana Peterfreund has beaten me to the punch so now I don’t have to bother. What she said.

I agree with Matt Cheney that Mister Boots is Carol Emshwiller‘s best novel and I can’t believe I forgot all about it when talking about the BBYAs. Why the hell wasn’t Mister Boots on that list? Why wasn’t it a Printz honoree? Everyone go buy a copy immediately. You’ll love it!


  1. Cherie Priest on #

    P.S. – drat. You already know about her.
    [:: sigh ::]

  2. Justine on #

    Yup, Elizabeth Bear’s a goodie. We passed on two of her paperbacks to the woman we rented a house from in Mexico and she (a total non-sf reader) fell in love and emailed demanding to know where to get more. Heh heh. I love bringing ’em over to the dark side.

  3. cherie priest on #

    May I recommend Justine Musk?

    I just finished her *BloodAngel* and it was quite good.

    It’s hard to say – “yes! she talks about wommyn and stuff!” so she’s a feminist author, because that’s not it, exactly – but she portrays, strong, competent female characters as if they aren’t novelties, so I feel she counts

  4. Justine on #

    I’ve not heard of her. Cool. Plus another Justine! And a non-Australian one. Fabulous.

    So how about you, Ms Priest? I haven’t read your book yet. (Planning to get it when we’re back in the US of A.) Would you consider it/yourself a feminist writer?

  5. shana on #

    oh, Cherie Priest definitely is.

  6. cherie priest on #

    Feminist by my own description of Justine, above – I write about competent female characters, and don’t treat their competence as a novelty act. So sure, I’ll be a feminist writer!

    In a broader sense, 4&20bb deals a fair amount with some of the issues above, though – as the POV character is biracial and living in the American south. There’s no getting around some of it, you know? But at the same time, the book isn’t *about* being biracial and living in the south.

    I guess – and here I realize I’m running long-winded – I’d have to say I tried to take the “cosby” approach with my own work. Bill Cosby once said of his TV sitcom that it didn’t deal with injustice and oppression because that wasn’t what the show was about – even though it featured a minority cast, and could have ostensibly been used as a soap box pulpit for a cause. In the end, he seemed to feel that it was more effective just to portray a family, and let people get used to seeing black families as normal – not as some “different” subset of the population.

    This doesn’t mean to write-pretend that bad things and discriminatory things don’t happen – but to be aware that there *are* other stories to be told about people-not-just-like-ourselves than merely discussing their mainstream marginalization in our fiction.

    I’m talking around what I mean, but I hope you get the general idea.

  7. Justine on #

    Well, if Shana says so . . .

    Cherie: I think I get the general idea. There’s so much going on in a novel so hard to convey as many aspects of the world that you want that so often you have to gesture at things to give cluey readers the sense that it’s there if they just read closely, look around the corner.

    D’you know I’ve not seen the term biracial before. Interesting.

  8. cherie priest on #

    Yeah. Between what you said, and what I said – that’s what I meant 😉

    “Biracial” is a pretty common term around here; or, as an old friend of mine in the dorm used to refer to herself with a smirk, “Ethnically ambiguous.”

  9. Justine on #

    I say “racially indeterminate”. I’m always made happy when I see people who are ri. Anything that confounds my desire to pigeon hole is good. I look forward to a world in which we all are. Watch the skin cancer rates go down and down!

  10. jason erik lundberg on #

    Wow, I clicked here to proclaim the goodness of Cherie Priest’s tackling of some of these issues and see that she’s beaten me here. Everything she said, issues of strong female characters, interracial relationships and biracial children. And creepy creepy ghosts.

    I’m not sure if Aimee Bender considers herself a feminist, but her latest collection, Willful Creatures, talks about how women treat each other (specifically in an adolescent setting) and how men and women treat each other. There was also a story in her first collection about a librarian who turned the tables on the men who had hot librarian fantasies to her own purposes.

  11. Justine on #

    Aimee Bender writes s/f/h? I didn’t know that.

  12. Mely on #

    I finally started reading Aimee Bender after seeing my thousandth comparison of her to Kelly Link (she was writing long before Kelly). It’s not invalid. She isn’t as consistently amazing as Kelly is, but some of her stories are wonderful, and one story in Willful Creatures may have been the most sensual thing I read all last year.

    Susan Vaught’s Stormwitch is about race and gender in the US South in the 60s–possibly the best YA novel I read all last year. Nnedi Okerafor-Mbachi’s Zahrah the Windseeker is another YA novel which is doing interesting things with race and gender.

    Susan Palwick isn’t a new writer, but she did just publish her first new novel in a long time — and it deals with race and gender and also religious faith. I was surprised it didn’t get more attention.

    I think you’ve probably heard of everyone else I have. I haven’t been reading a lot of new writers.

  13. shana on #

    nice to have authority recognized.

    seriously, cherie, 4&20 rocks. kept me diverted on an extremely ill day in mexico, after being up all night.

    aimee bender is speculative, maybe? who knows whether she’d categorize herself as such. interesting suggestion, jason, i like.

    justine, keep this as an ongoing conversation, will you? i’d like to see who else chips in.

  14. jason erik lundberg on #

    Bender’s fiction isn’t classified as SF/F/H, but it could easily be. She trope-poaches aplenty, and her stories are often eerily surreal.

  15. shana on #

    a later thought: jennifer stevenson’s trash sex magic (published by small beer) is pretty fabulous and forward-looking.

  16. Chris Barzak on #

    Aimee Bender is a writer who spec fic readers would, in general, still enjoy a lot. She uses fantasy elements often, and then other stories are what I would consider horror stories. No scifi yet, I think, but definitely magic and horrorifying elements. She gets published by literary magazines and Doubleday does her collections, though, so she’s considered a literary author who many specfic readers read.

  17. Gwenda on #

    I’ll have to think about this to try and come up with anyone you’re not already reading or aware of (not publishing _in_ genre, but Rachel Ingalls is great, have you read her?). I would toss out Caitlin Kiernan though, as someone whose work is only getting better and better and is definitely working with some of these concerns.

  18. cherie priest on #

    Wow – thanks to those of you who have chimed in on my behalf 😉

  19. Colleen on #

    I included a review of Ann Halam’s YA book “Siberia” in my column at Bookslut in December. It was amazing. Halam created not only a strong mother character, who is trusted with safeguarding the DNA strings for all wildlife in a dark and frozen future world, but her daughter Sloe is out and out a fantastic female character. Sloe discovers herself, embarks on an epic journey, and embraces the “magic” of the science that she must save. It’s very very good and certainly not just for teens.

    I also thought Pauline Fisk did a great job with “Midnight Blue” in creating kind of a creepy alternate world where a young girl must literally leap to death in order to save the lives of those around her. (And although that sound Buffyesque, it really isn’t.) It was intense and most unusual.

  20. TansyRR on #

    I loved Trash Sex Magic. I also love the women portrayed in Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s fiction.

    Tricia Sullivan’s Double Vision was interesting for its portrayal of an unconventional female protagonist. Though personally I was a little disturbed by the fact that the fact that the protagonist is overweight (this isn’t the only unconventional element) and yet does not eat throughout the whole of the book; as in, is physically restrained from eating by a mystical force that I never quite understood…

  21. Lewis on #

    I happen to like Kim Harrison’s work – Dead witch walking; the good, the bad,
    and the undead; and Every which way but dead. She has a 4th novel that
    was probably just published. see her website:

  22. Roger on #

    What is this feminism you speak of?

  23. Justine on #

    Wow! Thanks so much everyone for all the suggestions!

    Colleen: Yeah I adore all Gwyneth Jones’ work (Ann Halam)—she’s amazing. And just my kind of feminist.

    Roger: Roger, Roger, Roger. Sigh.

  24. emily on #

    Lyda Morehouse is lately my favorite. She writes a really good blend of science and religion with a diverse cast of well-developed characters. Absolutely worth a look (though it seems as if the first 3/4ths of her series is out of print, a damn shame).

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