It’s come to my attention that I’m really not aware of most of the new feminine voices in science fiction and fantasy. I’ve done due diligence on Butler, Le Guin, Russ, and Weis, as well as the YA bunker-busters (Rowling, Collins, and yes, even Meyer), but I know there are a lot of newer writers whose work I should know — especially since I’m having this daughter any day now, whose gastrulating geekery I would like to encourage by showing her that women write sf too. So I’m going to list a few of the new and well-regarded women sf authors I’m aware of, of whom I’d like to read at least one per month in 2012. (I usually read a minimum of 60 books a year, so this shouldn’t represent a serious cramp in my style, even on a baby-adjusted schedule.) Anyone who’s got a better suggestion than one of the authors here, post it in the comments; remember I’m looking for WOMEN who are STILL ACTIVE writing SF AND FANTASY. I’d prefer to do stand-alone novels to maximize my range, although I’ve violated that in several cases below.
The list is in alphabetical order by last name of first author. Because that’s how we roll in the 08550.
JANUARY: Elizabeth Bear, HAMMERED. (Actual: ALL THE WINDWRACKED STARS.)
FEBRUARY: Lauren Beukes, ZOO CITY.
MARCH: Mira Grant, FEED.
APRIL: N. K. Jemisin, THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS.
MAY: Jaida Jones & Danielle Bennett, HAVEMERCY.
JUNE: Mary Robinette Kowal, SHADES OF MILK AND HONEY.
JULY: Kelly Link, STRANGER THINGS HAPPEN.
AUGUST: Sarah Monette, MELUSINE. (Actual: Linda Nagata, MEMORY.)
SEPTEMBER: Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, WHO FEARS DEATH.
OCTOBER: Ekaterina Sedia, THE ALCHEMY OF STONE. (Actual: Joan Slonczewski, THE HIGHEST FRONTIER.)
NOVEMBER: Catherynne M. Valente, PALIMPSEST. (Actual: DEATHLESS.)
DECEMBER: Jo Walton, AMONG OTHERS.
Nalo Hopkinson, Jane Lindskold, Karen Miller, Naomi Novik, Cherie Priest, Carrie Ryan. I’ve read all of these authors and haven’t been swept off my feet (I recognize that Hopkinson is very good, I just don’t really connect; Miller is really very bad; the rest are just OK). Also ineligible: K. J. Bishop, whose THE ETCHED CITY was great and who should really write more, and Carla Speed McNeil, whom no one would ever think to suggest but who is really absolutely incredible and whom you should read now. (You’ll find her in comics. No, no take-backs, just buy whatever volumes of the FINDER library are out and thank me later.)
Also, Kage Baker is ineligible because she’s dead, but after reading “The Green Bird” in SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH I consider myself obliged to pick up one of her books as soon as my current list is through. (Current list: SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH [ed. Martin & Dozois], THE THEORY THAT WOULD NOT DIE [McGrayne], THE HELP [Stockett], EMBASSYTOWN [Mieville], THE GOOD SOLDIERS [Finkel]. At my normal pace, I’d be certain to finish these by the end of 2011, but the arrival of the Webermelon may constrain my normal pace.) I wouldn’t have thought someone who wasn’t Jack Vance could write a Cugel story worthy of the name, but hers is somehow both (a) of a seamless piece with Vance’s Cugel stories, and (b) told in the author’s own voice, which is to say inflected but not deformed by the high Vancian diction in which lesser writers in the same anthology flail and founder. So, in any case, IN THE GARDEN OF IDEN or THE HOUSE OF THE STAG will constitute a floating baker’s-dozenth entry, to be read at convenience.