14 Women Writers Who Dominate The Universe Of Sci-Fi

In Karen Russell’s “Reeling for the Empire,” a crew of girls are transformed into thread-spinning silkworms, duped by a dark and mysterious man promising a better future. Each girl spends long hours spooling her own inner, colorful cloth, only to have it collected and, presumably, sold. It’s a powerful metaphor for the treatment of factory workers, and just one testament to the fantastic stories resulting from a woman devoted to writing science fiction.

Russell’s girl-power conclusion is just an added bonus to her excellent plot-weaving skills, and thankfully, she’s not alone in her pursuit. If you’re a Margaret Atwood devotee or Ursula K. Le Guin fan, we’ve rounded up even more women exploring the far reaches of science fiction and fantasy.

L. Timmel Duchamp

Duchamp’s short story, “The Forbidden Words of Margaret A.,” is where 1984 meets V for Vendetta, wrapped up in a giant metaphor that explores how dangerous a patriarchy can be. Written like a report compiled by a journalist, the story follows the press frenzy surrounding Margaret A., a woman imprisoned for speaking and writing words so radical the government has outlawed the mere mention of her or her ideology. Alanya to Alanya, the first in a series of five books, similarly picks apart a male-dominated society, placing a “dangerous” female protagonist at its center. If you want dystopian sci-fi that features strong female characters — get thee to Duchamp. –Katherine Brooks

Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven surprised fans of St. John Mandel by earning a National Book Award nomination in 2014. And although the finely woven dystopian story didn’t take home the prize, it’s worthy of recognition. When a flu-like epidemic with a remarkably fast period of decline rips across the world, few survive, including Hollywood actor Arthur Leander, who drops dead in the middle of an onstage performance —> Read More