Saturday, July 23, 2016

Speculative Fiction: Best Series by Women & Must-Read International

What is speculative fiction? One article says:

Speculative fiction is a term, attributed to Robert Heinlein in 1941, that has come to be used to collectively describe works in the genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror... Speculative fiction can be a collective term to describe works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror and also addresses works that are not science fiction, fantasy, or horror, yet don't rightly belong to the other genres.

Another says:
The term 'Speculative Fiction' was originally a "backronym" for the initials SF; at the time, during the New Wave Science Fiction movement of the 1960's, some writers felt that science fiction, or 'sci-fi,' was equated to flying saucers and rubber monsters, and wanted to distinguish themselves with a new genre label. ...Speculative Fiction can be applied to a work — correctly or incorrectly — in order to help it avoid the Sci Fi Ghetto; it can allow the more pretentious to believe that their favorite work is a proper 'literary' work with no connection to, and thus obvious superiority over that geeky science fiction or fantasy. 

We prefer:
Speculative fiction is a world that writers create, where anything can happen. It is a place beyond reality, a place that could have been, or might have been, if only the rules of the universe were altered just a bit. Speculative fiction goes beyond the horror of everyday life and takes the reader (and writer) into a world of magic, fantasy, science. It is a world where you leave part of yourself behind when you return to the universe as we know it, the so-called real world. Speculative fiction defines the best in humanity: imagination, and the sharing of it with others.

Margaret Atwood prefers the term "speculative fiction" to "science fiction" - you can read her reasoning in her book of essays, In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination. Her friend and fellow writer Ursula K. Le Guin argues for "science fiction" over "speculative". Yet another article has author Juliet McKenna using the term speculative fiction, but turning the debate upside down by making the case for it being "considerably harder to write than literary fiction." You can also see a definition of the genre (with a helpful Venn diagram) on writer Annie Neugebauer's website. Where do you stand on this issue? Let us know in the comments!

You can find some sci-fi and fantasy booklists in our Booklists for Adults and Teens LibGuide, but here are some recommended series by female authors and some must-read titles from around the globe for you!

Best Series Written by Women

Ursula K. Le Guin - Hainish Cycle
Start with: The Dispossessed

Lois McMaster Bujold - Vorkosigan Saga
Start with: The Warrior's Apprentice* [eAudioBook]

Octavia E. Butler - Xenogenesis Trilogy (Lilith's Brood)
Start with: Dawn [eBook]

C. J. Cherryh - Chanur series
Start with: The Pride of Chanur

Julie Czerneda - Night's Edge
Start with: A Turn of Light - Marrowdell

Madeleine L'Engle -Time Quintet
Start with: A Wrinkle In Time

Margaret Atwood - Maddaddam Trilogy
Start with: Oryx and Crake

Connie Willis - Oxford Time Travel Series
Start with: Doomsday Book*

*first available in series

Must-Read International Fiction
(mostly in translation)

The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen

The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo

Texaco by Patrick Chamoiseau

The Carpet Makers by Andreas Eschbach

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino [eBook]

The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abé [eBook]

Dendera by Yuya Sato   

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Ice by Vladimir Sorokin

The Map of Time by Félix J. Palma

Cold Skin by Albert Sánchez Piñol

Zig Zag by José Carlos Somoza   

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist
The Apex Book of World SF edited by Lavie Tidhar 


100 Must Read Works of Speculative Fiction in Translation [Book Riot]

8 Great Sci-Fi Series Written by Women, From Ursula K. LeGuin to Margaret Atwood [Inverse]

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