This tweet up there made me scream. Not Marissa Lingen of course. How many times do we have to talk about how SFF is not a man’s world and it never was? They would have liked it to have been but women were there as well. First even. Things like this is why women still change names for on the cover so men can’t see that they are a woman. Examples: Vic James, V.E. Schwab, C.B. Lee, Robin Hobb and there are plenty more if you go looking for it.
I am turning 32 and at the time we are talking about, before 2000, I wasn’t even in high school yet. At the time I was not a fantasy reader at all and that didn’t come until I was well into my twenties. However when I did get into SFF one of the first things I did was make myself known with who the most known authors were. I might not have read them all or a majority at this point because there are so many, but that there were many sff female writers before 2000 is one of the first things I learned.
Since this group of female writers gets erassed, again, I thought I’d share 20 of them with you.
1 Margaret Cavendish (1623 – 1673)
First Book Published: In 1653
Other Books Published before 2000: Bell in Campo and the Sociable Companions / Sociable Letters (1664) / The Blazing World (1666)
Along with Mary Shelley, Margaret Cavendish is seen as the pionier to the genre science-fiction. Some of her work are seen as some of the earlier sci-fi these days. She wrote a great deal of different things. From philosophy and science to poetry.
2 Andre Norton (1912 to 2005)
First Book Published: The Prince Commands in 1934
Other Books Published before 2000: Solar Queen series (1940 to 1998) /Norrey 1-2 (1944 to 1949) / Central Control (1953 to 1955) / The Lyon Family (1955 to 1984) / Crosstime (1956 to 1965) / Time Traders series 1-6 (1958 to 1999) / Forerunner (1960 to 1985) / Dipple (1961 to 1973) / Rebel (1961 to 1962) / Janus (1963 to 1966) / The Magic Books Series 1-6 (1965 to 1976) / Moon Magic (1966 to 1993) / Zero Stone (1968 to 1969) / Dragon Magic (1972) / Quag Keep (1978) / Magic in Ithkar (1985 to 1987) / Tales of the Witchworld (1987 to 1990) / Catfantastic (1989 to 1999) / Central Asia (1989 to 1994) / Halfblood Chronicles 1-2 (1991 to 1995) / Five Senses 1-4 (1994 to 1999) / The Shadow of Albion (1999)
By no means is the above list extensive to what Andre Norton had written before 2000. When she started publishing in 1934 she legally changed her name to Andre Norton which previously was Alice Mary Norton. The male dominated publishing world made her believe that this was the best course of action.
3 Zenna Henderson (1917 to 1983)
First Book Published: The Pilgrimage in 1961
Other Books Published before 2000: Pilgrimage (1961) / The Anything Box (1965) / No Different Flesh (1967) / Holding Wonder (1971)
In the 50’s Zenna Henderson started publishing her The People stories in SF Magazines which caused her a lot of popularity. The People are a race of sensitive human looking aliens who were seperated after a crash landing on Earth. She was one of the few female writers in her time who did not use initials or a male sounding first name.
4 Susan Cooper
First Book Published: Over Sea Under Stone in 1965
Other Books Published before 2000: The Dark is Rising (1965 to 1977) / The Grey King (1975) / The Silver on the Tree (1977) / Sea Ward (1983) / The Boggart 1-2 (1993 to 1997) / King of Shadows (1999)
In 1965 Susan Cooper wrote Over Sea Under Stone in response to a publishing house competition. It was the start of a 5 book series and a solid career. Susan Cooper is still publishing to this day.
5 Ursula K. Le Guin (1929 – 2018)
First Book Published: Roccanon’s World in 1966
Other Books Published before 2000: Hainish Cycle (1966 to 1994) / Earthsea Quartet (1968 to 1990) / The Lathe of Heaven (1971) / The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas (1973) / The New Atlantis (1975) / Orsinia series (1976 to 1982) / The Beginning Place (1980) / Catwing Series (1988 to 1999)
For sci-fi one of the biggest mentioned female writers has to be Ursula K. Le Guin. You cannot look into sci-fi and not hear about her Hainish Cycle. I am very interested in diving into her books as I have heard of her treatment of genders in some of her books and the way she approaches culture.
6 Anne McCaffrey (1926 – 2011)
First Book Published: Restoree in 1967
Other Books Published before 2000: Pern (1968 to 1998) / Brainship Series (1969 to 1997) / Doona (1969 to 1994) / The Talents Universe (1973 to 1999) / Get of the Unicorn (1977) / Dinosaur Planet (1978 to 1984) / Crystal Singer series (1982 to 1992) / The Planet Pirates Series (1990 to 19991) / The Tower and the Hive (1990 to 1999) / (Petaybee (1992 to 1994) / Catteni 1-3 (1995 to 1998) / Acorna 1-3 (1997 to 1999)
Anne McCaffrey is probably best known for her Dragonriders of Pern books. Interestingly in her career she was able to focus all her time on writing full novels as she had established herself quite well with her short stories that were being published in magazines beforehand. Restoree was written in protest against the absurd portrayals of women in sff novels and her place on this list only seems fitting.
7 Diana Wynne Jones (1934 – 2011)
First Book Published: Changeover in 1970
Other Books Published before 2000: Dog’s Body (1975) / Dalemark Quartet (1975 to 1993) / Power of Three (1976) / Chrestomanci 1-4 (1977 to 1980) / The Time of the GHost (1981) / Archer’s Goon (1984) / Fire and Hemlock (1985) / Howls Moving Castle (1986) / A Tale of Time City (1987) / Castle in the Air (1990) / Hexwood (1993) / The Tough Guide to Fantasyland (1996) / Deep Secret (1997) / Dark Lord of Derkholm (1998)
Howl’s Moving Castle, later turned into an anime movie by Miyazaki, might be one of her most known novels. But Diana Wynne Jones has written much more starting in 1970. She is best known for slapstick situationes and sharp social commentary within children’s fiction.
8 Katherine Kurtz
First Book Published: Deryni Rising in 1970
Other Books Published before 2000: Deryni ( 1970 to 1998) / The Legends of Camber of Culdi (1976 to 1981) / Lammas Night (1983) / The Histories of King Kelson 1-3 (1984 to 1986) / The Heirs of Saint Camber (1989 to 1994) / Adept (1991 to 1995) / Tales of the Knight Templar (1995) / The Temple and the Stone (1998)
Katherine Kurtz is best known for her Deryni series that is currently counting 16 primary works. She does a weekly chat with her fans about writing, life and cats.
9 Tanith Lee (1947 – 2015)
First Book Published: The Dragon Hoard in 1971
Other Books Published before 2000: Birthgrave (1975 to 1978) / Four-BEE (1976 to 1977) / Novels of Vis (1976 to 1988) / Tales from the Flat Earth (1978 to 1987) / The Silver Metal Lover (1981) / Secret Books of Paradys (1988 to 1993) / Unicorn Trilogy (1991 to 1997) / Blood Opera (1992 to 1994) / Wolf Tower (1998) /
Tanith Lee started publishing with short stories in 1968 and her first full novel in 1971. Her career really took off after her books were going to be published as mass market paperbacks from DAW. Since then she consistently published within SFF .
10 Jane Yolen
First Book Published: The Girl who Cried Flowers and Other Tales in 1974
Other Books Published before 2000: The Seeing Stick (1977) / Commander Toad series (1980 to 1998) / Sleeping Ugly (1981) / Dragon’s Blood (1982) / Cards of Grief (1984) / Merlin’s Booke (1986) / The Devil’s Arithmetic (1988) / Briar Rose (1988) / Great Alta trilogy (1988 to 1998) / Dove Isabeau (1989) / Wizard’s Hall (1991) / Vampires (1991) / Here There Be Witches (1995) / The Young Merlin Trilogy (1996 to 1997) / Twelve Impossible Things Before Breakfast (1997) / The Wizard’s Map (1999)
Jane Yolen has written so much and in so many different ways that there was no way I was able to make a list of all the things she published before 2000. But it is a lot. Next to fantasy she has also published a lot of picture books from early on, almost all fitting into the SFF category.
11 C.J. Cherryh
First Book Published: Gates of Ivril in 1976
Other Books Published before 2000: Alliance-Union 1-15 (1976 to 1997) / Hanan Rebellion (1976 to 1977) / The Morgaine Cydle (1976 to 1988) / The Faded Sun (1978 to 1979) / The Company Wars (1981 to 1997) / Chanur (1981 to 1992) / Age of Exploration (1982 to 1985) / Arafel (1983) / Cyteen 1-3 (1988 to 1989) / The Paladin (1988) / Russian Stories (1989 to 1991) / Foreigner 1-4 (1994 to 1999) / Fortress 1-3 (1995 to 1999) / Finisterre (1995 to 1996)
Instead of submitting short stories to magazines to start of her career, Cherryh started of with submitting full novels to publishers right away. It took a while (and a lot of rewriting as publishers lost her manuscripts) but in 1975 was her break through. As she was doing this she remained teaching until 1979.
12 Octavia E. Butler (1947 to 2006)
First Book Published: Mind of My Mind in 1977
Other Books Published before 2000: Patternmaster (1976 1984) / Survivor (1978) / Kindred (1979) / Bloodchild (1984) / Xenogenesis (1987 to 1989) / Earthseed (1993 to 1998) / Bloodchild and Other Stories (1995)
Another well known, and one of the few African-American SFF writers of her time, is of course Octavia E. Butler. Also known as the Grand Dame of Science Fiction. She was the first science fiction writer to have received the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant.
13 Robin McKinley
First Book Published: Beauty in 1978
Other Books Published before 2000: Damar 1-6 (1982 to 1998) / The Outlaws of Sherwood (1988) / Deer Skin (1993) / Rose Daughter (1998)
A avid reader as a young child, Robin McKinley worked in the publishing and book world alongside being an author. Editor, transciber, bookstore clerk, editorial assistant and free-lance editor.
14 Megan Lindholm / Robin Hobb
First Book Published as Lindholm: Harpy’s Flight in 1983
Other Books Published as Lindholm before 2000: Windsingers series (1983 to 1989) / The Reindeer People (1988) / A Saga of Reindeer People (1988) / Silver Lady and the Forytish Man (1989) / Cloven Hooves (1991) / Alien Earth (1992) / Wizard Of The Pigeons And Silver Lady And The Fortyish Man (1993) / The Gypsy (1992) / Plus all the countless magazines and anthologies she has short stories in
First Book Published as Hobb: Assassin’s Apprentice in 1995
Other Books Published as Hobb before 2000: Farseer Trilogy (1995 to 1997) / Ship of Magic (1998) / The Mad Ship (1999)
Robin Hobb is a name you probably all know well, whether or not you have read the books. However she started publishing more than 10 years before that as Megan Lindholm. Even to this day it doesn’t seem to be that common knowledge that they are the same person. Which is odd because as Megan Lindholm she has awards and been a finalist for quite a few of them.
15 Margaret Weis
First Book Published: Dragons of Autumn Twilight in 1984
Other Books Published before 2000: Dragonlance (1984 to well in 2000) / The Darksword series (1987 to 1997) / Rose of the Prophet (1988 to 1989) The Deathgate Cycle (1990 to 1994) / Star of the Guardians (1990 to 1993) / Mag Force 7 (1995 to 1998) / Starshield series (1995 to 1996) / Darkheart (1998)
Margaret Weis created the Dragonlance world with Tracy Hickman in the eighties of which there are now 230 primary works listed on Goodreads. That is an amazing amount. She writes a lot with Tracy Hickman (who is male before you get confused) but has written books alone, or paranormal romance with her daugther as well.
16 Judith Tarr
First Book Published: The House and the Falcon in 1985
Other Books Published before 2000: The House and the Falcon (1985 to 1986) / Avaryan Rising 1-5 (1986 to 1994) / Alamut (1989 to 1991) /Ars Magica (1989) / Lord of Two Lands (1993) / Three Queens (1994 to 1997) / Queen of Swords (1997) / White Mare’s Daughter (1998) / The Shepherds Kings (1999) / Household Gods (1999)
Judith Tarr has gained a few BA’s and MA’s. She taught Latin and science-fiction-writing workshops. She also really likes horses and uses that in some of the other books she writes on the pseudonym of Kathleen Bryan and Caitlin Brennan.
17 Melanie Rawn
First Book Published: Dragon Prince in 1985
Other Books Published before 2000: Dragon Prince (1985 to 1990) / Dragon Star (1991 to 1993) / Exiles 1-2 (1994 to 1997) / Knights of the Morning Star (1994) / Golden Key (1996 to 1998)
Melanie Rawn started off her writing career writing about dragons with the Dragon Prince. Always a good start. She is a three time locust award nominee and has worked as a teacher and an editor.
18 Mercedes Lackey
First Book Published: Arrows of the Queen in 1986
Other Books Published before 2000: Valdemar series 1-23 (1997 to 1999)
Mercedes Lackey began writing out of boredom as she so says herself, but is now addicted to writing. It is what created Valdemar, a series that currently counts 43 primary works and she is still writing in this world. She like to invest deeply into a fantasy world.
19 Patricia Briggs
First Book Published: Masques in 1993
Other Books Published before 2000: Sianim 1-3 (1993 to 1998)
Probably best known for her Mercedes Thompson series that started in 2006, Patricia Briggs started publishing in the nineties with more classical fantasy.
20 Martha Wells
First Book Published: The Element of Fire in 1993
Other Books Published before 2000: Ile-Rien 1-2 (1993 to 1998) / City of Bones (1995) / Thorns (1995) / Bad Medicine (1995)
Martha Wells is currently very well known for her Murderbot novella’s. But her first novel came out back in 1993. She has many different things, from YA novels to movie and tv show tie-ins. She has also won various awards over the years.
Have you read any of these authors? Are you planning to?