For science fiction lovers everywhere, January 2 is a very special day for two reasons — it's the birthday of legendary author Isaac Asimov and it's the official date for National Science Fiction Day. While I've celebrated in the past watching the entire Star Wars series and binging on my favorite episodes of The X-Files, this year's annual day of unapologetic nerdiness will be spent reading some of these modern women science fiction writers who make the holiday well worth celebrating.
Science fiction has always suffered from a notorious gender equality problem. The genre has long been dominated by straight, white men, both as characters within the pages of the books and as the authors on the covers. Though women have been writing sci-fi all the way back to Mary Shelley in the early 19th century, their voices have been largely ignored, save a few famous exceptions. For nearly two centuries, women have been fighting to get the recognition they deserve in a genre that insists on pushing them aside.
That is, until now. Over the last few decades, women have made huge strides in science fiction — or rather, science fiction has made huge strides to be more inclusive to a variety of voices, especially those of women. This year's Nebula Awards were dominated by women, including, notably, women of color who have become some of the greatest voices the genre has to offer modern readers. It seems like, finally, women are getting the recognition they so rightfully deserve.
Ready to celebrate them and the coolest day of the year? Here are 9 modern women science fiction writers whose work can help you do exactly that.
1. Nnedi Okorafor
Nigerian-American writer Nnedi Okorafor has been dazzling readers, both children and adult, with her works of science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction since the early 2000s. The recipient of several prestigious awards, including the World Fantasy Award for her first adult novel, Who Fears Death, and the Nebula and Hugo awards for Best Novella for her most recent work, Binti, Okorafor's work has proved to be both a critical and commercial success. If she isn't on your reading list yet, it's about time you added her.
For your TBR pile: Home (Binti #2), Jan. 31., 2017
2. Malinda Lo
Young adult author Malinda Lo has been making waves in the book world since the publication of her first novel, Ash, a lesbian YA retelling of Cinderella. Dedicated to keeping and adding more diversity in young adult literature (check out her page, Diversity in YA), Lo's work consistently features a wide range of characters often left out of science fiction. Her latest book series, Adaptation, mixes thrilling action with good-old-fashioned sci-fi fun.
3. Nalo Hopkinson
A powerful voice in fantasy and science fiction for nearly 20 years, Jamaican-born Nalo Hopkinson should be on every sci-fi lovers reading list, if not for her incredible storytelling than for the brilliant social commentary she weaves throughout each of her works. Brimming with themes of feminism, race, class, and sexuality, Hopkinson's novels and short stories use art to tackle real and important issues in a way that changes each reader who interacts with them profoundly. An inspirational author who hasn't let illness, poverty, or even homelessness stop her from achieving, its about time you started your own private library of Hopkinson's work.
For your TBR pile: Midnight Robber
4. Lauren Beukes
A truly genre-bending author, Lauren Beukes has written about everything from time-traveling serial-kilers (The Shining Girls) to a cyberpunk dystopian future (Moxyland). An innovative author of sci--fi, literary fiction, urban fantasy, nonfiction, and even more, Beukes is one writer you'll never get bored with. If you're looking for something on the edge of the genre, look no further.
For your TBR pile: Moxyland
5. Malka Older
A writer, aid worker, humanitarian, and PhD candidate, there isn't much Malka Older can't do, including pen a phenomenal work of science fiction. Though her works of short fiction frequently appear at Leveler, Tor.com, Bengal Lights, Inkscrawl, and several other places, her 2016 novel Infomocracy was her first full-length work. The first in a political sci-fi series that has already garnered her such high praise as "one of the greatest literary debuts in recent history," according to The Huffington Post, Infomocracy is set to be just the beginning of a bright future for Older.
For your TBR pile: Infomocracy
6. N.K. Jemisin
A talented writer of fantasy, speculative fiction, and sci-fi, N.K. Jemisin has received several nominations and awards her work over the last decade, but in 2016, she became the first black author to win the Hugo Award for Best Novel. Her latest series, The Broken Earth, brilliantly combines elements of fantasy and sci-fi to create a post-apocalyptic world you won't be able to forget.
For your TBR pile: The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth Trilogy)
7. Mira Grant
Bestselling author of the Newsflesh and Parasitology series, Mira Grant — also known as Seanan McGuire when writing fantasy — has been nominated for the Hugo Awards not one, not twice, but three times. An ambitious author whose work covers everything from genetic engineering to political corruption to zombies, Grant is a sci-fi writer to keep watching. With any luck, she is no where near done telling her stories.
For your TBR pile: Chimera (Parasitology)
8. Ann Leckie
Sci-fi credentials don't get much better than Ann Leckie's: a New York Times bestselling author, Nebula Award-winner, Locus Award-winner, and Arthur C. Clarke Award-winner, the author of the Imperial Radch series needs to be on your reading radar, if she isn't already. A former waitress, receptionist, rodman, and recording engineer, Leckie, who now writes full-time, finally found her calling in creating a truly classic sci-fi space opera featuring everything readers love: action, adventure, space travel, unforgettable characters, and an incredible story.
For your TBR pile: Ancillary Mercy (Imperial Radch)
9. Aditi Khorana
A brilliant new voice in YA fiction, Aditi Khorana made her mark on the sci-fi map with her 2016 debut, Mirror in the Sky. An inventive story about a young girl struggling to belong at her prep school who discovers, along with the rest of the world, that there is an alternative Earth in space communicating with them from light years away, Mirror in the Sky is a diverse tale unlike anything you've read in the genre for a while. Keep an eye out forKhorana's next work, because with any luck, we haven't seen the last of this modern sci-fi genius.
For your TBR pile: Mirror in the Sky