Top Female Fantasy & Science Fiction authors
Fantasy and Science Fiction are genres that can be hard to distinguish, and some of the rules between them are unclear. Some series such as Anne McCaffreys Dragons of Pern may have their roots in fantasy, but as the culture within them develops more scientific basis is established.
Others, such as Juliet Marillier, take their origins from history and turn these into evocative, individual tales where magic co-exists with the more mundane.
What the following women have in common is their skill at creating rich, vibrant worlds in a genre that hasn't always been easily accessible to them.
Although this is a pen name of Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden, I've added her as this as it is under this name that encompasses the works I most admire.
The Farseer Trilogy, the Liveship Traders Trilogy, the Tawny man Trilogy and the Rain Wilds Chronicles are all set in the the realm of the Elderlings. These books I find unique in that not only do they prompt and stir your emotions to tears on first reading, but can do so repeatedly when you have full knowledge of the events about to take place.
The magic of her realm is also that it forms such an essential, but not overwhelming, aspect of the world. The magic is cultural, hereditary in places, and exists in tandem with a normal human life of love, rivalry and challenges.
Ursula Le Guin
Although Ursula Le Guin is identified with feminist Science Fiction and there is no doubt she uses her work to explore issues of gender it is not for this that I love her. The depth and beauty of her prose in no way detracts from the complex ideas and exploration of social constructs and technology, particularly in her short stories.
I often find science fiction somewhat cold and clinical, focuses so strongly on the fascinating ideas and boundaries that it can leave the character and setting behind. With Ursula Le Guin this never happens; whatever theme or sense she is exploring is kept together, woven inside the story and inside the character with beautiful ease.
In the fantasy series of Earthsea, Ursula Le Guin creates a fragmented word where dragons, magic and humans co-exist in a world scattered with islands. Earthsea is also Ursula Le Guins challenge to a general assumption in fantasy that characters are white skinned, with characters in Earthsea being predominately a red-brown, or black.
Juliet Marillier is classed as historical fantasty, a rather dry title that I never personally imagined I could enjoy. The Sevenwaters was the first series I picked up and I was able to see how she created her stories from history, turned myth into reason and the impossible into something real enough to touch.
She is the more romantic of the writers I follow, the strong love stories and conflict resolving in front of a stunning tapestry of culture, tradition and heritage. Her interests in folklore and pagan spirtuality are explored through strong female characters on their own, often painful, journey towards maturity.
Anne McCaffrey and the Dragons of Pern were my first foray into the fantasy/science fiction genre. Although earlier novels are said to be fantasy, later books explore in depth how the feudal societies on the colony world of Pern have rediscovered the technology that enable their initial colonisation.
It also explores the genetic manipulation of small, native beasts called fire-lizards into the rich dragon/human symbiosis used to fight the menace of thread. The scientific rationale behind the books gets stronger as the series progresses, revealing a fascinating juxtaposition of agrarian society and advanced technology.