The best SF by women – what’ve you read?

Ian Sales posted a ‘mistressworks list’ – choices of best works in SF produced through the 20th century, by women – hence mistressworks instead of masterworks. The idea is to highlight which ones you’ve read – maybe to use it as a TBR list. Since it’s intended to be a meme, pass it on.  Here is the 21st-century list, too.

A few things to bear in mind about the titles listed below: science fiction only, no fantasy; and no YA or children’s works. One work per author, because I wanted breadth …Some authors who have had more books published post-2000, I’ve missed off…. The list is in order of year of publication. (Update: Ian has created an additional wp blog dedicated to the twen-cen SF mistressworks, take a look)

I’ve tweaked the highlighting rules a bit. There are so many authors here whom I’ve never heard of… I decided to give myself credit for having read something by the author, even if not the indicated book.

  • Bold for those specific books you’ve read.
  • Italics for those you own, whether it’s that same book or anything else by the author. The original rule was that italics meant that you own it but have never read it. If I own it, that means I’ve read it.  So, italics means simply that I own it.
  • Underlining to indicate having read something/anything else by that author
  • Linking means that I’ve reviewed the book or the author in my blog.

Here are the ones I have reviewed

What about you – which have you read?

1 *Frankenstein, Mary Shelley (1818)
2 Herland, Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1915) (I’ve read The Yellow Wallpaper, own a collection of her short stories.  Personal experience of post-partum psychosis? Day-umn, that’s rough.)
Orlando, Virginia Woolf (1928)
4 Lest Ye Die, Cicely Hamilton (1928)
5 Swastika Night, Katherine Burdekin (1937)


6 Wrong Side of the Moon, Francis Leslie Ashton (1951)
7 The Sword of Rhiannon, Leigh Brackett (1953)
8 Pilgrimage: The Book of the People, Zenna Henderson (1961)
9 Memoirs of a Spacewoman, Naomi Mitchison (1962)
10 Witch World, Andre Norton (1963)
11 Sunburst, Phyllis Gotlieb (1964)
12 Jirel of Joiry, CL Moore (1969)
13 Heroes and Villains, Angela Carter (1969)
14 Ten Thousand Light Years From Home, James Tiptree Jr (1973) (I’ve read a couple of books by Tiptree, but the names do not come to mind)
15 *The Dispossessed, Ursula K Le Guin (1974)
16 Walk to the End of the World, Suzy McKee Charnas (1974)
17 *The Female Man, Joanna Russ (1975)
18 Missing Man, Katherine MacLean (1975)
19 *Arslan, MJ Engh (1976)
20 *Floating Worlds, Cecelia Holland (1976)
21 *Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, Kate Wilhelm (1976)
22 Islands, Marta Randall (1976)
23 Dreamsnake, Vonda N McIntyre (1978) (I am sure I’ve read at least one book, can’t name it/them)
24 False Dawn, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (1978)
25 Shikasta [Canopus in Argos: Archives], Doris Lessing (1979)
26 Kindred, Octavia Butler (1979)
27 Benefits, Zoe Fairbairns (1979)
28 The Snow Queen, Joan D Vinge (1980)
29 The Silent City, Élisabeth Vonarburg (1981)
30 The Silver Metal Lover, Tanith Lee (1981)
31 The Many-Coloured Land [Saga of the Exiles], Julian May (1981)
32 Darkchild [Daughters of the Sunstone], Sydney J van Scyoc (1982)
33 The Crystal Singer, Anne McCaffrey (1982)
34 Native Tongue, Suzette Haden Elgin (1984)
35 The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood (1985)
36 Jerusalem Fire, RM Meluch (1985)
37 Children of Anthi, Jay D Blakeney (1985)
38 The Dream Years, Lisa Goldstein (1985)
39 Despatches from the Frontiers of the Female Mind, Sarah Lefanu & Jen Green (1985)
40 Queen of the States, Josephine Saxton (1986)
41 The Wave and the Flame [Lear’s Daughters], Marjorie Bradley Kellogg (1986)
42 The Journal of Nicholas the American, Leigh Kennedy (1986)
43 A Door into Ocean, Joan Slonczewski (1986)
44 Angel at Apogee, SN Lewitt (1987)
45 In Conquest Born, CS Friedman (1987)
46 Pennterra, Judith Moffett (1987)
47 Kairos, Gwyneth Jones (1988)
48 Cyteen , CJ Cherryh(1988)
49 Unquenchable Fire, Rachel Pollack (1988)
50 The City, Not Long After, Pat Murphy (1988)
51 The Steerswoman [Steerswoman series], Rosemary Kirstein (1989)
52 The Third Eagle, RA MacAvoy (1989)
53 *Grass, Sheri S Tepper (1989)
54 Heritage of Flight, Susan Shwartz (1989)
55 Falcon, Emma Bull (1989)
56 The Archivist, Gill Alderman (1989)
57 Winterlong [Winterlong trilogy], Elizabeth Hand (1990)
58 A Gift Upon the Shore, MK Wren (1990)
59 Red Spider, White Web, Misha (1990)
60 Polar City Blues, Katharine Kerr (1990)
61 Body of Glass (AKA He, She and It), Marge Piercy (1991)
62 Sarah Canary, Karen Joy Fowler (1991)
63 Beggars in Spain [Sleepless trilogy], Nancy Kress (1991)
64 A Woman of the Iron People, Eleanor Arnason (1991)
65 Hermetech, Storm Constantine (1991)
66 China Mountain Zhang, Maureen F McHugh (1992)
67 Fools, Pat Cadigan (1992)
68 Correspondence, Sue Thomas (1992)
69 Lost Futures, Lisa Tuttle (1992)
70 Doomsday Book, Connie Willis (1992)
71 Ammonite, Nicola Griffith (1993)
72 The Holder of the World, Bharati Mukherjee (1993)
73 Queen City Jazz, Kathleen Ann Goonan (1994)
74 Happy Policeman, Patricia Anthony (1994)
75 Shadow Man, Melissa Scott (1995)
76 Legacies, Alison Sinclair (1995)
77 Primary Inversion [Skolian Saga], Catherine Asaro (1995)
78 Alien Influences, Kristine Kathryn Rusch (1995)
79 The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russell (1996)
80 Memory [Vorkosigan series], Lois McMaster Bujold (1996)
81 Remnant Population, Elizabeth Moon(1996)
82 Looking for the Mahdi, N Lee Wood (1996)
83 An Exchange of Hostages [Jurisdiction series], Susan R Matthews (1997)
84 Fool’s War, Sarah Zettel (1997)
85 Black Wine, Candas Jane Dorsey (1997)
86 Halfway Human, Carolyn Ives Gilman (1998)
87 Vast, Linda Nagata (1998)
88 Hand of Prophecy, Severna Park (1998)
89 Brown Girl in the Ring, Nalo Hopkinson (1998)
90 Dreaming in Smoke, Tricia Sullivan (1999)
91 Ash: A Secret History, Mary Gentle (2000)

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