Bards of Thalia Muse On: Fantastic Female Authors

Continuation of a list compiled from posts on the alt.fan.pratchett [What?] newsgroup in answer to a challenge to name great women authors of fantasy and science fiction.

All links current as of January 17, 2002

Some of the books recommended here link to Amazon.com for reviews and information. If you do happen to buy the book at Amazon.com at the time of your visit from here, a few cents of your purchase will go to the Real Change Homeless Empowerment Project.

All links will open in a separate window, so you won't get lost, and can check out the whole list.


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Diana L. Paxson
Bibliography
Books most recommended:
  • Book of the Sword and the rest of the Hallowed Isle series, a King Arthur cycle
  • Wodan's Children: The Wolf and the Raven, The White Raven
  • Fionn MacCumhal: Master of Earth and Water, The Shield Between the Worlds, Sword of Fire and Shadow (with Adrienne Martine-Barnes)
Amazing that such a popular writer has no official or fan website. Yet.
Tamora Pierce
Bibliography
Books most recommended:
Sockii: ... travails of a girl who wanted to be a warrior. Needless to say, it is mainly a 'teen' book (of unrequited crushes, requited love; simple language). Not bad, all the same.
Marge Piercy
Bibliography
Books most recommended:
A lot wordier in prose than in poetry.
Irene Radford
Bibliography
Books most recommended:
Melanie Rawn
Bibliography
Books most recommended:
Mary Renault
Bibliography
The King Must Die; The Bull from the Sea; The Last of the Wine; The Praise Singer; The Mask of Apollo; Fire from Heaven; The Persian Boy; Funeral Games
Books most recommended:
The King Must Die; The Bull from the Sea
Miq: Not fantasy in the normal sense, but stories set in the (to us) fantastical world of classical Greece. You'll find no magic or gods in her stories except those that haunt the minds of the characters themselves. Renault's achievement is to show us how the world appeared through the eyes of someone born into a culture that we regard as mythic, and hence to show us how gods and oracles and sorcery might *really* have worked in the ancient world.
Anne Rice
Bibliography
Books most recommended:
Her books go heavily on decadence and angst, which attract some readers and repel others.

A treat for fans: Anne Rice Pilgrimages -- a virtual tour of the locales Anne Rice favors in her books, including New Orleans.

Jennifer Roberson
Bibliography
Books most recommended:
Jeanne Robinson
Bibliography
Books most recommended: The Stardancer series
Jessica Amanda Salmonson
Bibliography
Books most recommended:
Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Bibliography
Books most recommended:
  • The Healer's War
    Autobiographical Vietnam War novel (Scarborough was a nurse) with fantasy elements. Nebula Award Winner.
  • Nothing Sacred
    sf & fantasy. Author's quote: "The bad news is, the world ends. The good news is, there's a sequel."
  • The Songkiller Saga
    fantasy series. The Devil attempts to finalize the demoralization of humanity by eliminating folk music.
Annie Scarborough loves folk music and filk singing. In case you didn't deduce that from The Songkiller Saga.
Sydney J. Van Scyoc
Bibliography:
Books most recommended:
Out of print: worth looking for. I also like the Starsilk series: Bluesong, Cloudcry, Starsilk. I like all of her books.
Alice Sheldon(James Tiptree, Jr.)
Bibliography
Books most recommended:
The James Tiptree, Jr. Award is an annual literary prize for science fiction or fantasy that explores and expands the roles of women and men for work by both women and men.
Melinda M Snodgrass
Bibliography
Books most recommended:
  • Wild Cards
Nancy Springer
Bibliography
Books most recommended:
Sockii: .... good fantasy, and good handling of the angst of the characters. The story about the two sons of one man is really good, and of course I've forgotten the title :) [ed. The Silver Sun] Wonderfully, her stories are set on one world, but each book is complete in themselves. A boon to a reader like me (short attention span).
Hugh Sider: I had the good fortune to read a copy of "The Silver Sun" before she revised it. The original is set in a basically Christian mythos analogue, with fantasy elements worked smoothly into it. She re-wrote it into a more pagan kingdom; much to the detriment of the story. I still liked her work, but the first version was much better.
Metal Angel, Larque on the Wing, the Sea King Trilogy, Apocalypse, the Silver Sun, she ranges from high fantasy to urban fantasy to the surreal.
Carolyn Stevermer
Bibliography
Books most recommended:
Hugh Sider: "A College of Magics" is a fantasy set in a late 19th century Europe analogue. The setting is refreshing, and the characters well done. I haven't seen anything else from her, but hope to.
Mary Stewart
Bibliography: No webpage, no bibliography: I can't believe t! Check back later.
Books most recommended:
  • The Arthurian Saga" books: The Crystal Caves, The Hollow Hills, The Last Enchantment, The Wicked Day
Judith Tarr (The author's Lippizan Page)
Bibliography
Books most recommended:
Hugh Sider: For those who enjoy fantasy with a lot of historical basis, read Judith Tarr.
Sheri Tepper
Bibliography
Books most recommended:
  • Grass
  • Family Tree
  • Plague of Angels
  • The Door to Women's Country
  • Gibbon's Decline & Fall
Karen: "Then again Sheri Tepper is another - on paper I ought to like her. Certainly *so* many friends who share common likes with me, recommended her - or at least some of her books. But I just *don't* seem to get on with them. Not even "Grass" *very* much, which I was assured was the one I definitely would like if none other. And I hated "Beauty" despite many assurances of its excellence.

In her case I find it particularly frustrating because I am pretty sure that she *could* write something I would really like but somehow the good story ideas get swamped by the views even where I am in sympathy with them. I think they lack subtlety somehow and many of her characters I find two dimensional - props rather than people. At the end of the book I find on the whole, that I actually don't care about what happens to them - and that just wrecks it for me. I have more or less given up trying her now.

I don't ever *really* enjoy books where I don't care about the characters a lot, and preferably can enter the story and really identify with one of the characters."

esmi: OK...Tepper may heavily favour the female heroines in her stories compared to the male characters and I would agree that she is making a number of points "between the lines" but then so did a certain Mr Heinlein IIRC. :-)
Lisa Tuttle
Bibliography
Books most recommended:
Books at Amazon.com
Evangeline Walton
Bibliography
Books most recommended:
  • She is best known for her novelizations of the Welsh myth cycle, the Mabinogion
    The books are out of print. There are not even reviews posted at Amazon. You can order them through abebooks
Background on the Mabinogion
Margaret Weis
Bibliography
Books most recommended:
Morgan Lewis: Back when I was starved for anything fantasy, and read pretty much indiscriminately, I went through quite a bit of their Dragonlance stuff, the Rose of the Prophet, and Darksword. Darksword was the only stuff that was really any good, IMO. And not so good that I'm inclined to pick up that new one that came out a while back.
David Chapman: Star of the Guardians may be derivative of Star Wars, but that just makes the plot twists more surprising.
Martha Wells
Bibliography
Books most recommended:
Hugh Sider: "The Element of Fire" is a classic fantasy of the 'swashbuckling and sorcery' genre. If you liked Dumas or Brust's "The Phoenix Guards", read Element of Fire.
Elizabeth Willey
Bibliography
Books most recommended:
Hugh Sider: "The Well Favoured Man" is sometimes described as 'Nine Nice Princes in Amber'. It's a multiverse novel with some real twists. This is the first published of three novels; I don't right now recall the names of the second two. The characters were gripping, and the books quite well constructed.
Connie Willis
Bibliography
Books most recommended:
Mary Messall: Connie Willis. My favorite. So she's usually classified as science fiction, _Lincoln's Dreams_ definitely qualifies, and so do a lot of her short stories... All of these are witty (_Doomsday_, which left me grieving for weeks, is nonetheless full of clever dialogue) and some of them are comedies, of the best sort. She's right up there with Pterry as one of my favorite authors of all time. See http://www.scifi.com/sfw/issue17/interview.html to get an idea of what she's like... What the heck. Here's a snippet 'To me, the world is extremely funny, so I suppose comedy is my natural mode. But my "serious" stories are all ironic, which is so closely allied to comedy as to be nearly the same thing. I think comedy is technically harder to write, but it's also more fun. And better for me, since it gets rid of all my aggressions. My latest comedy, Bellwether, let me go after everything that bugs me: meetings, Barbie, trendy coffeehouses, those incompetent clerks who refuse to get off the phone to talk to you, and bread pudding. Also the meetings, Barbie, trendy coffeehouses, those incompetent clerks who refuse to get off the phone to talk to you, and bread pudding. Also the bane of the nineties (and every other decade): taking yourself too seriously.'
Karen: Wonderful writer! Get out and read her anybody who has not yet done so! Huge variety of writing, and whilst some novels could do with just a little editing (eg The Doomsday Book's subplot) her mix of subjects and style, novels and shorts are pretty near unbeatable. Her ability to entrap me whilst writing about a subject which *superficially* should be of no interest to me is very unusual IME. I was actually very late to her short stories- read the novels years beforehand. *Big* mistake - they are if anything, even better than her novels. Read the "Impossible Dream" collection. As I was promised by the recommender - "all those Hugos and Nebulas she's won for them are entirely deserved." (She does in fact, have bagloads of awards for her writing) Ah Bellwether - Dilbert eat your heart out:))
Patricia Wrede
Bibliography
Books most recommended:
  • Snow White and Rose Red
Janny Wurts
Bibliography
Books most recommended:
  • The Empire Trilogy: Daughter of the Empire, Servant of the Empire, Mistress of the Empire (with Raymond Feist)
Morgan Lewis: Doesn't seem to have as well-developed female characters in most of her books (the Cycle of Fire has one, the Wars of Light and Shadow haven't developed them well yet, The Master of White Storm has one semi-developed). But still a good author, with good plot-lines (though the Cycle of Fire kind of limps in the last part of the final book.) Her artwork, on the other hand, can get a bit cheesy at times. (Thinking of the artwork for Shadowfane, here.)
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Bibliography
Books most recommended:
  • The St. Germaine novels
Jane Yolen
Bibliography
Books most recommended:
  • Sister Light, Sister Dark
Mistress of the Fable

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Updated December 8, 2002