10 Female Fantasy
& Sci-Fi Authors
for You to Explore

A guy’s genre? Get real! Led by grand dame Octavia
E. Butler, women rock at writing epic science fiction and
thrilling fantasy. Discover 10 female authors who stand
out in the sci-fi universe and deliver can’t-pause listens.

By Tirzah Price
Fantasy and science fiction have historically been dominated by men, perpetuating the myth that they are male genres with predominantly male writers and listeners. Nothing could be further from the truth, as these famous female fantasy and science fiction authors prove. These 10 must-hear writers demonstrate that a good book is a good book, and speculative genres are for everyone.

01. N. K. Jemisin

N. K. Jemisin made history by winning the Hugo Award three years in a row for The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, and The Stone Sky, a trilogy about a world breaking apart and a displaced group of people with the power to save it. She's also the author of the Inheritance trilogy, which begins with The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and follows an ostracized woman shocked to be named heir to the kingdom, and The Killing Moon, a murder mystery about a kingdom where sleep magic is revered. Jemisin's newest book is a collection of speculative stories called How Long 'Til Black Future Month?.

02. Fonda Lee

Fonda Lee is the author of both YA and adult sci-fi and fantasy. She's written Zeroboxer, about a rising star in the weightless boxing world who stumbles upon a criminal conspiracy. Exo and its sequel, Cross Fire, are set in a world where an alien race has taken over the human world; protagonist Donovan is okay with it—until anti-alien terrorists kidnap him and the fate of the galaxy depends on his staying alive. Jade City is an Asian-inspired fantasy set in a world where jade is currency and a force for focusing magical powers; when jade becomes a little too accessible, it sets off a clan war. The sequel, Jade War, is expected in July 2019.

03. Naomi Novik

Naomi Novik is the fantasy author of the Temeraire series, which reimagines the Napoleonic Wars—with dragons. The first in the six-book series is His Majesty's Dragon. Most recently, Novik penned the award-winning fantasy novels Uprooted and Spinning Silver, which are loose retellings of the fairy tales Beauty and the Beast and Rumpelstiltskin. Uprooted won the Nebula Award and was a Hugo Award finalist; Spinning Silver was a Nebula Award finalist.

04. Martha Wells

Martha Wells is the author of the wildly popular novella series The Murderbot Diaries, which includes All Systems Red, Artificial Condition, Rogue Protocol, Exit Strategy, and a forthcoming novel. She's also the writer of the fantasy series Books of the Raksura, about an orphan shape-shifter who discovers he's not alone in the world—but he's also the only one able to save his newfound family. The first book is The Cloud Roads.

05. Leigh Bardugo

Arguably the reigning queen of YA fantasy, Leigh Bardugo has written many books set in her Grishaverse. Shadow and Bone introduces readers to Ravka, a war-torn country marred with a swath of darkness that contains monsters. Six of Crows is a fantasy heist novel about six misfits who find themselves in the middle of an international conspiracy, and King of Scars is the first in a new duology that follows the events of the Shadow and Bone trilogy. Bardugo has also written The Language of Thorns, a collection of short stories set in the Grishaverse. Her debut adult fantasy novel, Ninth House, will be released in fall 2019.

06. Nnedi Okorafor

Dr. Nnedi Okorafor is a Hugo and Nebula Award-winning fantasy and science fiction novelist, as well as a scholar. She has written the Binti trilogy, a powerful saga of a girl who is the first of her people to attend Oomza University in another galaxy, only to have her journey derailed by a terrible animosity between the university and an enemy species. For teens, she's written Akata Witch, about a Nigerian-American girl with magical powers who joins a school of other magically gifted teens who soon find themselves pitted against a magical criminal. She's also written Who Fears Death, a novel set in post-apocalyptic Africa, about a young woman born as the sole survivor of her people's genocide—who is destined to become their savior.

07. Seanan McGuire

Seanan McGuire is a prolific author of fantasy and science fiction, both under her name and the name Mira Grant. She's the author of The October Daye novels, the first of which is Rosemary & Rue. It's about half-fae, half-human October Daye, who is pulled into the fae world to investigate the death of a faerie countess. She's also written the Wayward Children series, about a school for children who’ve slipped into other worlds and need a little help readjusting to this one; the first book is Every Heart a Doorway. As Mira Grant, McGuire wrote Feed, about a zombie apocalypse born of an attempt to cure cancer. Her newest novel is Middlegame, a fantasy about twins Roger and Dodger—one skilled with words, the other with numbers—and the man who created them.

08. Becky Chambers

Becky Chambers is the author of Wayfarers series, beginning with The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, which was nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. It's about a woman named Rosemary Harper, who settles in for some distraction from her past aboard the Wayfarer ship, easily entertained by the eccentric crew. But when a job offer with a huge payoff and potentially fatal risks comes through, Rosemary gets way more than she bargained for. A Closed and Common Orbit and Record of a Spaceborn Few are stand-alone sequels set in the same universe.

09. S. A. Chakraborty

S. A. Chakraborty is an exciting new voice in fantasy. Her debut novel is The City of Brass, set in a magical 18th-century Cairo. When protagonist Nahri accidentally summons a djinn during one of the harmless cons she plays to survive, she discovers a legendary city of brass called Daevabad and stumbles into the middle of long-simmering unease between the djinns. The sequel, The Kingdom of Copper, continues Nahri's adventures; a third book in the trilogy is forthcoming.

10. Katherine Arden

Katherine Arden's fantasy debut is The Bear and the Nightingale, a fantasy set in imperial Russia that explores the tensions between old magic and new Christianity in a tiny, snowy village. It incorporates many classic fairy tale elements and is followed by The Girl in the Tower and The Winter of the Witch. Katherine also writes spooky fantasy for kids. Her first middle-grade novel is Small Spaces, about a girl who encounters deadly scarecrows when her bus breaks down on a field trip. A sequel is set for fall 2019!

Tirzah Price is a writer, librarian, and has loved science fiction and fantasy
since she picked up her first Tamora Pierce book at age 11.

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