John Ottinger over at Grasping For the Wind posted a meme yesterday based on Sandra McDonald’s periodic table of women in science fiction. Since I’ve recently been talking about women in science fiction with Weirdside on our podcast, I thought it would be fun to do this meme here. I’ll put my stats at the bottom of the list with a brief comment.
(One thing to note: I own a lot of books and it’s entirely possible that some of the folks below should be bolded who are not. I can’t remember all of the books I own; there are just too darn many.)
Bold the women by whom you own books
Italicize those by whom you’ve read something of (short stories count)
*Star those you don’t recognize
C. L. Moore
Margaret St. Clair*
Marion Zimmer Bradley
Diana Wynne Jones
James Tiptree, Jr.
Patricia A. McKillip
Suzy McKee Charnas*
Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Octavia E. Butler
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Jessica Amanda Salmonson*
C. J. Cherryh
Joan D. Vinge
Teresa Nielsen Hayden
Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Sheri S. Tepper
Lois McMaster Bujold
Karen Joy Fowler
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Kathleen Ann Goonan
Mary Doria Russell
J. K. Rowling
Mary Anne Mohanraj
S. L. Viehl
K. J. Bishop
Catherynne M. Valente
Mary Robinette Kowal
The breakdown is like this:
–Total authors on the list: 117
–Authors I have never heard of: 25 (21.4%)
–Authors whose work I own: 49 (41.9%)
–Authors whose work I’ve read: 18 (15.4%)
–Authors whose work I’ve never read: 99 (84.6%)
Alright, so here’s what I think about all of this.
1. While I only own work for 49 of the authors listed above, I also own multiple books by the majority of them. I am well on my way to owning everything Nalo Hopkinson and Kage Baker have ever written, have a dozen Andrew Norton novels, and quite a few from many others on the list.
2. I’m rather shocked that I don’t own work for many of the big name authors on the list. I may have to check my library to make sure I’m not forgetting things.
3. Of the 18 authors whose work I have read, many of them I have read multiple times. I’ve read two Kage Baker novels, at least four Elizabeth Bear ones, two by Jo Walton, and a number of Le Guin and Butler titles.
4. A lot of female authors I have read do not appear on this list, such as: Susan Beth Pfeffer, Jennifer Rahn, Chris Moriarty, Kay Kenyon, and Mary Shelley.
5. I really would like to read more of the authors on this list. This has been an issue for me for two reasons: the first is that I receive very few female authors in either science fiction and fantasy to review; the second is that most of the female authors I have read are either fantasy authors or authors of other genres; and the third is that I don’t have as much time for free reading as I would like, which inevitably means I don’t get to read more diversely. I am hoping to solve the last of these issues, though, and maybe I’ll get the opportunity to read more female authors in the future. We’ll see. Right now, things are looking pretty crowded.
6. After all is said and done, I do think I may have to be a little more proactive in diversifying my reading, not just in terms of gender, but in terms of race as well. I’ve said as much before, but this is making it a little more clear for me. I’ve also said in the past that my non-diverse reading is not at all intentional, nor subconscious, which is perhaps made clear by the fact that many of the women I have read on this list are folks I came to organically, enjoyed, and continue to read.
And that’s the end of that. I’m curious how the numbers look for everyone else, though. Let me know in the comments.