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What Did I Miss?

Dear internet hive mind,

A recent post at Apex and the following debate (which I haven't followed due to sheer volume) reminded me of a panel I attended at Fantasticon in Copenhagen earlier this year.

Four panelists discussed candidates for 'The Best SF Novel of the Decade'. It had to be a stand-alone novel, and they said hands down that they weren't really looking for the best book, but for good books defining SF in various sub-genres.

Up for debate were:

·         The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson

·         Halting State by Charles Stross

·         River of Gods by Ian McDonald

·         Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds

·         Flood by Stephen Baxter

·         Spin by Robert Charles Wilson

All of which are by male authors. The panelists admitted to having debated fiercely if they should include any female authors on the list. In the seventies, eighties, and nineties, they said, authors like Octavia Butler, Connie Willis, C.J. Cherryh, Kathleen Ann Goonan, and others would have been among their first choices, but they hadn't found anyone whose works were defining the cutting edge of SF in the zeroes – though Fantasy was clearly another matter.  

I've been chewing on this for a while. Gut feeling says the panelists can't have been right, because more than just a few women must have written great science fiction novels in the past decade. On the other hand, I admit to having trouble coming up with a lot of names and titles. Connie Willis is absolutely flying with 'Blackout' (which I highly recommend but which came out too late for the panel), and I enjoyed Elizabeth Moon's* Vatta's War series (which wasn't eligible for the panel, since it was a series). But every other outstanding** novel I've read from this decade was either written by men or in a different genre.

So which great SF novels (or series) by female authors in this decade did the panelists—and I—miss?

Great oracle of the web, I'm ready for enlightenment.

* More internet controversy there, which I haven't followed either...
** As in 'standing out in my mind at the time of writing this post'


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 21st, 2010 06:07 pm (UTC)
Anything by Margret Atwood: The Handmaid's Tale albeit not this decade, but, Oryx and Crake, and The Year of the Flood are just the one's I've read this decade. She has more. Ursula LeGuin won a Locus SF award in 2001 for The Telling. She can wipe a booger on a slip of paper as far as I'm concerned, and it's literary gold! Octavia Butler published, Fledgling in 2005, just before she died. Maybe that's not considered scifi??

That's just off the top of my head! I find it hard to believe they couldn't find any after debating.
Oct. 22nd, 2010 09:48 am (UTC)
Thanks for the suggestions. The Handmaid's Tale is one of the most vivid novels I've ever read, so I ought to have a go at Margret Atwood again sometime.

LeGuin and Octavia Butler haven't been on sale in Danish bookstores until very recently, but with this whole internet thing going on, I may be able to find them in a bookstore somewhere :-)
Oct. 22nd, 2010 09:55 am (UTC)
It's an old one, but if you've never read The Dispossessed (LeGuin) DO!

The Year of the Flood was amazing; though I do take a small bit of issue with Ms. Atwood claiming she is NOT a SF writer, but a literary one.
Oct. 22nd, 2010 04:00 am (UTC)
Best 10 women's SF novels
By coincidence, if such a thing exists, Tor.com is contemplating the same thing. See this article.
Oct. 22nd, 2010 09:49 am (UTC)
Re: Best 10 women's SF novels
Now that's a handy link. The list and the comments have enough reading for a year :-)
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


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