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Sidetracks is a collaborative project featuring various essays, videos, reviews, or other Internet content that has caught our attention that we want to share with each other. All past and current links for the Sidetracks project can be found in our Sidetracks tag.

Oh My GAWD the Ladies are MISSING! (or a rough timeline of recent realisations regarding female authors and science fiction)

September 2010
• TJ at Dreams and Speculation creates the Women of Sci-fi 2011 book club.

October 2010
Torque Control, the blog for editors of Vector magazine, starts discussions about Women and the Arthur C. Clarke Award, which leads them to explore the subject of women publishing science fiction in the UK more widely in the comments.

• Niall, the current editor of Vector at the time begins a plan of action, which involves Torque readers creating lists of their top ten novels by women in science fiction.

Some of the lists are reposted along with links to other commentators who have started examining their own reading.

January 2011
Torque Control's new editor Shana decides to read all eleven books voted best science fiction by women, written between 2001 and 2011 as voted by Torque Control readers.

Tor.com hosts the Best SFF Novels of the Decade Readers Poll.

February 2011
The Nebula nominees are announced and five of the six nominees for Best Novel are written by women.

March 2011
[personal profile] owlmoose examines some of the results of the Tor.com Best SFF Novels of the Decade Poll once the project is over and the final list is announced. Spoiler: it's kind of discouraging.

May 2011
Forbidden Planet's list of 50 science fiction books you must read appears, featuring four books by women.

• The Guardian publishes What's your favorite SF novel?. Nicola Griffith responds with some observations: And always, always name the behaviour around you: we can't change behaviour until it's named. Later, The Guardian posts a follow-up article, with the following theory examining the results of the previous article which:

Which means, if we're looking for a culprit, that suspicion must fall on the genre's very active fanbase: as this Guardian poll suggests, if there is sexism in the SF world, it may well be a matter of representation by the readership.

June 2011
• Cheryl Morgan posts at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America with a huge round up of recent developments in discussions about women writing sci-fi.

SF Mistressworks is created, partly in response to the Orion SF Masterworks series which is overwhelmingly male.

• Nicola Griffith creates The Russ Pledge.

SF Signal holds its regular Mind Meld feature with the topic What's The Importance of 'The Russ Pledge' For Science Fiction Today?. Comments quickly turn from interesting discussion to defensiveness, outright attacks, and eventually devolves into What About the Menz?!?! and becomes a great example of Don't Read the Comments™. Although Morgan Dempsey's comment springing up from the pity of misery and snakes that was that comment section was hilarious and unexpected. It almost made up for it all. Almost.

• Anthea Andreadi of Starship Reckless responds to Nicola Griffith with actually intelligent reasoning about why she won't be taking The Russ Pledge and the frustrations of dealing with new allies (a good reminder for us all).

July 2011
• Cheryl Morgan provides some data on female writers and editors in science fiction anthologies, showing the US and UK split.

➝ Presenting the winners of the Google Science Fair. Look at those awesome trophies. :D

➝ Discovered a link to a list of women writers on the Feminist SF wiki. Pretty neat resource!

➝ Complain station: The trailer for John Carter is out and prompts that same old feeling of, "Oh."

Look, a science fiction movie based on the book A Princess of Mars. It's like you can play bingo: white dude! In an alien culture! Oh, by the way, because of Random Fact X, you're more awesome than all the people here and I guess they'll need saving. YOU MAY BE THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN DO IT.

Carey Elwes as Robin Hood looking turning his head with a flat look on his face.

Blah blah written by Burroughs in the early 20th blah blah not representative of anything blah blah product of its time blah. Because we don't already have a slew of movies where a white dude is the key to solving the problems of an alien race/another culture written in our own century, we've gotta go back to the 1900s. There's an argument for the "timeless" nature of inspirational science fiction and then the fact we're dumping this stuff on a public who largely don't understand the context — so it just becomes a reflection of what's already there, in this case "dudes are always the heroes! Woo!"

I need 20cc's of Ladies in Space recommendations, stat. Until then, I will be over here in the corner weeping quietly.

James Nicoll started a project where he lists women writers and the years they debuted. It's pretty fantastic.

➝ A nice long post about female science bloggers and the science they do. Give me all the recs.

➝ We already mentioned the SF Mistress works series above, but I wanted to make a point of singling out a review of Suzy McKee Charnas' 'Holdfast' series, because these books are very, very cool.

When I was a kid I love science. I watched and read 'The Magic School Bus' so many times and I was just generally into it, as kids are into EVERYTHING. Somewhere along the way I lost that restless interest in how everything works and transferred all my love to humanities subjects.

Recently (as that interest reasserts itself) I've been trying to identify why I stopped digging science. Gender bias in sciences exists, but the majority of my female friends went on to take science based careers, or at least took a science subject at A Level. I think in my case it was our school system that killed my interest (although lord knows our teachers tried hard and some of my favourite teacher memories come from science lessons). I wasn't as good as others at science, no matter how much I enjoyed it and I was really good at English. Standardised exams care about that kind of thing and try as teacher might it's hard to encourage kids to have fun with things they're not necessarily talented at when at the same time you're telling them what a BIG DEAL results in each subject can be.

But now, as every popular science book sounds so inviting and every history of science must be in my grabby hands right now I'm reminded of how fascinated I was by stuff like 'The Magic School Bus'. I'm so glad you existed Ms Frizzle (note the Ms).

➝ We aren't alone out there! Back in May, Book Chick City did a similar project which featured lots of women writers.

Date: 2011-07-20 10:32 am (UTC)
scifisentai: bookshelf with purple and blue lighting (bookshelf)
From: [personal profile] scifisentai
Awesome ladies in space, you say? I'm quite fond of Darkship Thieves by Sarah A. Hoyt. Aside from that I tend more towards the fantasy end of that particular genre spectrum so I can't add much more than that off the top of my head.

Date: 2011-07-21 03:26 am (UTC)
owlmoose: stack of books (book - pile)
From: [personal profile] owlmoose
Thanks for this round-up (and the link!). I missed the Guardian list issue, which seems to be comparable to the the Tor list, writ large. Looking at the comparative percentages, I do wonder if there's something to the US vs. UK theory that some of the post above raises, although if such a thing exists I can't really imagine where it would come from.

As for awesome ladies in space, although the main protagonist is male (I'm sorry, [personal profile] renay, but it so fits), there are some pretty kick-ass spacefaring ladies in The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold. However, I read a lot more fantasy than sci-fi, so no others come to mind right now.

some military sci-fi from female authors

Date: 2011-07-21 06:05 am (UTC)
krait: a sea snake (krait) swimming (Default)
From: [personal profile] krait
Awesome ladies in space? Well, I'm a military sf reader (a very, very small number of which are female, I suspect -- definitely a male-biased field for writers, anyway! So I read a whole lot of awful privileged dreck, and if I ever meet John Ringo I will give him the cut direct, but that's a story for another day), so if you like milSF you should definitely check out Tanya Huff's Confederation of Valor (an omnibus of the first two in a currently-four-book series), featuring space marine Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr. She's my ultimate space-marine hero!

You've probably already read Bujold's Cordelia's Honor (omnibus'd Shards of Honor and Barrayar), but if not, definitely do! Another SF-ly hero of mine. :)

Likewise frequently recommended, but I am a huge fan of Cherryh's Foreigner series -- especially since, after I'd read them, someone pointed out that in a lot of ways Bren (the main character) is codedly female. Now I'm rereading them, with that in the back of my mind... Not really military SF, but some books are rather campaign-oriented.

Elizabeth Moon's Vatta's War series (first book is Trading in Danger) is another wonderful military SF with not one but THREE major female characters, ranging from lovely espionage-agent Stella to young, straight-arrow Kylara to ferociously-capable Gracie Lane, in her 60s-70s.
Edited Date: 2011-07-21 06:06 am (UTC)


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