June's female sci-fi and fantasy month: The Group Read
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So over to you.. for reviews, merry discussions and a general heads up about what your are reading.
Question: I am happy for this thread to be about any type of books really but do we want a separate thread for non genre?
Anders: Hope you don't mind me setting up this thread.
Fowler was one of the women who began the Tiptree award. After that, I'll switch to one of the Tiptree books, probably Women of the Iron People, unless Suite Francais comes in at the library first.
I'd say this thread is fine for non-SF & F too. After all, women are behind in almost all genres except romance... which ironically is the biggest selling genre.
I don't as a rule read science fiction or fantasy so I couldn't help but notice that of the books I own, not a single one - outside of the book I just won through LTER - is a sci-fi or fantasy book written by a female author. As libraries are amazing places for finding books that one might not otherwise own, I searched the online catalogue of my local library for books to read for this month sub-challenge. The results were not all that promising. Once I had narrowed my search to New Titles - Fiction - Science Fiction - English (language), a whole 91 hits were produced. 13 of those books (a paltry 14%) were written by female authors. Trying to find a book with an interesting premise in that very short list was challenging, but not impossible.... Mary Pearson's Fox Forever looked interesting but it is book three in a series so I have instead placed a hold for The Adoration of Jenna Fox. I also placed a hold for Lea Tassi's Green Blood Rising - no touchstones because no works by Lea Tassi exist in LT, which is not surprising considering it is a local small press publication. What got me is that of those 13 books, 7 (just over half) are listed as Juvenile Fiction.
I did have more luck (more choices) running a similar search for Fantasy Fiction - 177 hits producing 84 books (47%) by female authors. Sadly, a large number of those books had covers that give the impression that there is a strong romantic element to the story.... not a selling feature when I am on the hunt for a fantasy novel to read.
Thanks for posting the link, Pete.
BTW, what's the feeling about books co-authored by a woman and a man? Do they count for the GR?
I am thinking of including an ARC short story collection as it's edited by two women but not all the stories are by women....
It's too bad you're having so much trouble finding candidates in your library, but maybe it's just the classification is not so good? One of my local libraries has Atwood's Oryx and Crake listed as "literature" rather than "sci-fi". This, of course, raises the question of whether we're reading "female SFF authors" or "female authors writing SFF", but I tend to agree with Pete's sentiment that it's your own challenge so make the rules as you like.
I also noticed A Discovery of Witches and Pretty Monsters, both among my candidates, don't have the "fantasy" tag associated with them in the library catalogue. Instead, they're under "fiction" and "young adult".
Just finished The Shining Girls which was probably one of the most gripping books I have read all year. Its expertly paced, and just complicated enough to be fascinating without overwhelming. Anyone who didn't like the Zoo City due to its sprawling nature may want to check it, this is tightly plotted to within the inch of its life.
I also have read The Birth of Love by Joanna Kavenna. It has four narratives - one in the past, two in the present, and one in the future - which are all very loosely connected. The overall theme of the book is essentially the sacredness and fragility of motherhood and birth. It can be very loosely labeled as sci-fi because of the one future-based narrative.
And now I'm on to Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, which I've intended to read ever since I finished Kindred, which I loved. That was about two years ago, so I guess it's time!
Speaking of The Bloody Chamber, we had a tentative small group read scheduled for this month. It's short. Anyone want to include it in this month's reading?
I just finished reading We are all completely beside ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. Horribly named, but the book itself was excellent, in a weird way. It was science fiction, but not in the space craft way. It was all psychology and animal science that had already happened. I don't know much about chimpanzee studies, but there were enough I recognized that she mentioned that I knew she wasn't making any but the main case up. I call the novel weird simply because it was non-chronological and non-linear. She put to doubt memory in it, complete with the studies to throw doubt on memory. Too fresh to right the review just yet, but definitely worth the read.
>16 -Eva-: I've had Earthsea on my shelf for quite a while now, I'm hoping to get to this month so I'll look forward to your comments Eva.
Wow, that's quite an article from Ann Aguirre, very depressing though.
26 Look forward to your review of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, you have intrigued me!
27 and glad you are enjoying Babylon Steel, I hope to read the sequel this month.
Strange & Norrell is great, she did write the ladies of grace adieu as well
There's a 3rd Babylon Steel coming as well apparently, not sure of release dates though
I started with a couple of shorter works. The first was Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey, which was enjoyable enough. The second was volume 2 of the Digger series by Ursula Vernon, which I absolutely love! This is a Web comic which you can find here.
I am partway through Fifty Shades Darker by E. L. James.
I find these books to be compelling reads but SO BADLY WRITTEN. Screams out for an editor. I would like to see a different phrase than 'I peeked up at him'!! over, and over and over again
>31 cammykitty: I'm reading that one too (one of my blind picks - Eva's!), but I feel I need to get at least a few other books under my belt first!
>37 psutto: Got it on my shelf. Looking forward to see what you think of it! (or, well, you've probably already finished by now, I'm sadly behind on all threads again)
And other stuff, 3 of us are doing a mini-group read of The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter and if you'd like to join us or follow along, the thread is http://www.librarything.com/topic/155206
There are two follow up posts that are also worth reading...
Speaking of which: this month's group read goes slowly for me. Natural History is fascinating but complex, and I find I'm often too tired to make much progress. And with The mists of Avalon lined up, it looks like I won't get many titles done in june. I'm thinking of devoting another month to this theme, later this year.
I've finished Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler. I enjoyed this duology and found it thought provoking, but also found the pacing to be quite slow and the end-of-the-world concept to be dated.
I also read The Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia McKillip and was quite disappointed. The story idea was marvelous, but the execution seemed very juvenile and contrived to me.
And my most recent read was Beauty by Sheri S. Tepper. I LOVED this book! It's incredibly well written and so very original. I was completely enthralled and wanted to do nothing but read. I'm definitely adding more of Tepper's work to my Must Read list.
Starting darkmans which at about 900 pages isn't going to be quite so quick!
Like Anders ill probably carry over this sub-challenge. I'm aiming to do the rest of my female reads next month, the ones that aren't SF&F
Review of Soulless can be found here and review of His Majesty's Dragon can be found here
In June, so far I've read:
Crown Duel and Court Duel by Sherwood Smith,
Turning Point by Lisanne Norman,
Soulless by Gail Carriger,
Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder and
The Uncrowned King by Rowena Cory Daniells.
I've only just finished Sherwood Smith's books, which were originally published as two books, but the edition I read has them rejoined in one book with an additional short story at the end. I have to say, I'm still immersed in her world.
Turning Point is a first contact book, and the only one that is sci-fi; I tend to read more fantasy. It is the first in the Sholan Alliance series, and interesting enough that I will probably carry on reading the series.
Soulless is the first in the Parasol Protectorate steampunk / paranormal series, as recommended by so many LTers, and I have the next book out already from the library.
Magic Study is the second in the Ixia/ Sitia series, following on from Poison Study.
The Uncrowned King is the second in King Rolen's Kin trilogy, following on from The King's Bastard.
ETA: I've just realised that the reason why I hadn't found this thread before is because I'm not in this group - sorry! Thought it was in the 75 book challenge :0)
@78 And I think I am going to continue you into next month. A couple of blokes like Mr Gaiman snuck in. Plus I am enjoying this thread :)
I finished Karen Tidbeck short story collection Jagannath, which I think pretty much for anyone who enjoys fantasy/Sci fi etc and anything slightly odd. Really excellent small collection. Now I am onto Redemption in Indigo, a modern day Africn fairy tale.
I'm currently a few chapters into The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, which has been enthusiastically recommended on LT.
ETA: I'll mention this thread on the June TIOLI page, shall I, since challenge 8 ties in with it?
Yes, absolutely stick around - the cross-pollination between the groups is why the challenge wiki-pages were made in the first place. Hopefully we'll continue it next year too! The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is waiting on my NOOK - looking forward to hearing what you think.
Karen Tidbeck is on my wishlist thanks to you - like Anders, I am amused that I'm getting bookbullets of a Swedish writer from a non-Swede. :)
Still on Mists of Avalon.
Also finished the excellent novella The Grass-Cutting Sword by Catherynne M Valente. A reworking of the Japanese myth of creation and the slaying of 8 headed dragon Yamata no Orochi
Not sure what to read next, maybe Dangerous Gifts by Gaie Sebold.
It was great fun to read; consisting entirely of correspondence between two cousins, one in London for her Season, and the other left behind at home, in an alternative Europe where magic exists and Wizard Wellington uses it in the war. There are nefarious doings afoot, involving an enchanted (of all things) chocolate pot.
I like the afterword, in which the two authors (Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer) take turns to tell us how the book came into being, as they wrote letters to each other in the personae of the two heroines, with no knowledge of the other writer's plot.
I could say the same for Sorcery and Cecilia, or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot.
on the list -
deathless by Cat Valente
the grass-cutting sword by Cat Valente
among others by Jo Walton
boneshaker by cherie priest
redemption in indigo by Karen Lord
will definitely be taking this into next month, will be opening it up to other books by women in July though
Like many other here I'll let this theme spill into july (after all, I still have Mists of Avalon to tackle, right?), but will then allow some non-genre books by women I need for work. I'll probably wrap up my Sandman group read too.
>85 clfisha: Glad you enjoyed it! I thought it was excellent. And thanks so much for pointing it my way, like Eva said!
>98 psutto: Very much looking forward to your review on Darkmans!
@90/100 and no problem.. how many times has some non UK person recommended an English author ;)
100 Anders, can't wait to see what you think of At the Mouth of the River of Bees. She made a small splash with Fudoki here, and I've been meaning to read something more of hers than one or two short stories. Fudoki looks good.
@94 Claire, Redemption in Indigo has been on my radar too. Yours is the first mention I've seen of it though. Sorry you didn't like it better. Hmmm... Maybe it slips lower on the WL. I usually agree with your assessment of books.
I've just finished Agent of Change (from the Liaden universe) co-written by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller; I assume that counts?
Still working on The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland....
For July I've lined up a few female fantasy/scifi reads including Year of the Griffin by Diana Wynne Jones, Sarah Canary by Karen Joy Fowler and A Traveller in Time by Alison Uttley.
edit: need to add The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater to my July list
Agent of Change was fun, and if I can find them, I'll carry on with the Liaden series. I did like finding a whole super-race that is about my height ;0)
As for the cover, I downloaded the free e-book from the Baen website, which has a generic graphic, which isn't especially exciting.
I'm definitely in on continuing with a July thread as well!
Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver
The Magistrates of Hell by Barbara Hambly
Limits of Power by Elizabeth Moon
The Orphanage of Miracles by Amy Neftzger
Wednesdays in the Tower by Jessica Day George
Lady of Devices by Shelley Adina
Poison by Bridget Zinn
Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson
Hellburner by C. J. Cherryh
I love Agent of Change, and Changeless is good fun, although probably the weakest book of the series imho.
(just because June in the title is going bug me)