The Wicked Deep, Hush Hush, and Light as a Feather hitting screens big and small, it's time to talk about the sci-fi and fantasy novels by women that should be turned into movies and TV shows. I've picked out 18 books, many of which are the first installments of series long and short, for you to check out below.
If you haven't been paying much attention to the news lately, I really don't want to be the one to break this to you, but
everything is terrible. For anyone who feels like they need a vacation from all that's going on in the world today, I recommend reading a science fiction or fantasy novel as self-care. It's obviously critical that we confront all that's wrong with the world and fighting against it, but it's also important to allow yourself a break when the world seems too hard and dark to bear.
No matter whether you look to
fiction as a means of understanding the world, as I do, or you're in search of something totally unfamiliar to read, any of the 18 sci-fi and fantasy books by women on the list below would make a great addition to your to be read pile: 'Her Majesty's Dragon' by Naomi Novik
What if the Napoleonic Wars had talking dragons instead of airships? That's the driving premise behind Naomi Novik's nine-book Temeraire series, which begins with
His Majesty's Dragon. Click here to buy. The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin
The Broken Earth trilogy centers on Essun, a middle-aged orogene who can control seismic activity, but must hide her abilities from her fearful and mistrusting neighbors. When her husband murders their son and kidnaps their daughter, Essun sets out on a cross-country quest for vengeance.
Click here to buy. 'All the Birds in the Sky' by Charlie Jane Anders
Separated since high school, Laurence is a top-notch engineer and the inventor of a time machine, and Patricia is a recent graduate of a college for magicians. Now, with the world on the brink of disaster, it's up to these reunited childhood friends to save it.
Click here to buy. 'A Study in Honor' by Claire O'Dell
Forced to leave the front lines of the New Civil War after an injury, Dr. Janet Watson is still getting used to her new mechanical arm when she meets Sara Holmes, another black, queer woman, who offers her a place to stay and, later, a chance to get involved with the war again.
Click here to buy. 'The Poppy War' by R.F. Kuang
War orphan Rin finally catches a break when she gains entry to the nation's most elite training academy, where she discovers her knack for shamanism. With a war on her country's doorstep, Rin's newfound abilities might be the key to saving the world.
Click here to buy. 'Akata Witch' by Nnedi Okorafor
The first part of a young adult duology,
Akata Witch centers on Sunny, a young girl from New York, whose albinism makes it difficult to enjoy playing soccer in her new, Nigerian hometown. When Sunny learns that she's one of four magically gifted youngsters destined to save the world, however, her outlook on life changes for the better. Click here to buy. 'Radiance' by Catherynne M. Valente
This decopunk space opera begins in an alternate 1986 Hollywood, in which talking pictures are still a novelty, but space travel may be conducted with ease. At the heart of this quirky time period sits heroine Severin, a documentarian who travels through the stars to record the lives of other planets' inhabitants.
Click here to buy. 'Everfair' by Nisi Shawl
Another alt-history novel, Nisi Shawl's
Everfair imagines a Victorian era in which a steam-powered refuge for escaped slaves and other abused Africans pops up in the Belgian-colonized Congo. Click here to buy. 'Maplecroft' by Cherie Priest
In Cherie Priest's
Maplecroft, Lizzie Borden killed her father and stepmother, who were possessed by some sort of eldritch abomination. Acquitted and living off of her inheritance with her sister Emma, Lizzie now hunts down creatures like the ones who stole her parents from her. Click here to buy. 'An Ember in the Ashes' by Sabaa Tahir
To save her brother, Laia goes undercover as a spy for the rebellion forces working to take down the Martial Empire. Inside the Empire's elite military school, Laia works as a slave, where she meets Elias, a star student, who has the potential to become a great freedom-fighter as well.
Click here to buy. 'The Girl Who Drank the Moon' by Kelly Barnhill
Born in a superstitious Protectorate that sacrifices one baby each year to the witch in the forest, Luna was the child fated to die the year she was born. When the witch, Xan, who rescues the "sacrificed" children by adopting them out to other families, feeds Luna moonlight, the baby becomes imbued with strong magic. Xan keeps the girl, who changes the lives of those who come to know her.
Click here to buy. 'The Ghost Bride' by Yangsze Choo
This historical fantasy novel takes place in colonial Malaya in the late 19th century, and stars Li Lan, a motherless girl who is given an extraordinary chance at a life of comfort and security, if only she will marry the dead son of a prominent family. She agrees, but soon finds herself falling for her husband's cousin, who is very much alive.
Click here to buy. The Shades of Magic Trilogy by V.E. Schwab
If you love alternate histories, parallel realities, and lots and lots of magic, V.E. Schwab's Shades of Magic trilogy is for you. It all begins with
A Darker Shade of Magic, in which a court magician named Kell finds himself in possession of a dangerous artifact that could threaten the lives of Londoners in multiple worlds. Click here to buy. 'The Core of the Sun' by Johanna Sinisalo
This weird-fiction novel from Finland centers on Vanna, one of a breed of supposedly submissive women called
eloi, who secretly has all of the intelligence and drive of one of her society's "defective" women. Click here to buy. 'Dragon Sword and Wind Child' by Noriko Ogiwara
Somewhere in Toyoashihara, a war is being waged between the God of Light and the Goddess of Darkness. Saya has grown up far away from that conflict, but she has been brought up on the side of the Light, nevertheless. When she learns that she is the inheritor to a legacy of Darkness, however, Saya must come to terms with her identity as the Water Maiden.
Click here to buy. 'Before Mars' by Emma Newman
Mars' new geologist, Anna, must adjust to spending the next year without her husband and baby, but when she finds a note in her own handwriting, telling her that one member of the colony team is not to be trusted, she finds herself caught up in a mystery that pushes her to the limits of her sanity.
Click here to buy. 'Trail of Lightning' by Rebecca Roanhorse
As the world reckons with environmental disaster, Dinétah, once a Navajo reservation, comes to life in this novel from Pueblo author Rebecca Roanhorse. The book follows Maggie, a monster hunter, as she searches for a missing girl across a landscape traversed by monsters and gods of myth and legend.
Click here to buy. 'Witchmark' by C.L. Polk
In a fantasy world resembling Edwardian England, a magically gifted young man named Miles does all he can to shape his own destiny, going so far as to fake his own death and assume a new identity as a doctor. But when one of his patients is murdered, Miles must risk upending his careful new life to investigate why someone wanted the person dead.
Click here to buy.