And Many More…

June 30, 2011 - 7:37 pm 5 Comments

First off, let me say that I am not a bra burning looney. Lets get that clear. However, I am passionate about the perceived absence of women SF writers. I say perceived and not actual, because at the last list produced by Ian Sayles at Eastercon, there were 151 women writers who have had an SF book published in the last rolling century.

That’s pretty impressive by any standards, but I challenge you to name 20 of them without using Google. How many are on your bookshelves? How many have you read? Conversely, how many Urban Fantasy and traditional fantasy women writers can you name? Probably more than the women in SF. My point is this: Contrary to popular opinion, women do write SF. They are out there working hard. So why don’t we know more about them? Is it that publishers devote less marketing budget to their work? Is it that publishers don’t print them? Are they comfortable writing in SF? What are the barriers preventing women becoming as successful as, say, Iain M Banks and Alistair Reynolds?

As Max Bygraves used to say, “I wanna tell you a story”. At Alt.Fiction last week I chatted to a number of women, one of whom mentioned the “And Many More” syndrome. This would be an instance where a number of writers attend a convention and the male writers appear as headliners, whilst female writers are “and many more”. Im not citing Alt.Fiction here as a number of women were on panels and Sarah Pinborough was heavily involved. But their are larger cons where this happens. My question is ‘why’? Since the tragic death recently three prominent women in SF, this has become the topic de jour. So watch this space and join my Crusade. I am releasing a new fanzine early August, Andromeda’s Offspring, with contributions by recognised names aimed at raising the profile of women in SF. Hell, Lauren Beukes won the Clark Award this year. These women SF writers are out there. My personal crusade is not to deny the presence of women in SF. It is to prove it. What do you think?

5 Responses to “And Many More…”

  1. Raven Dane Says:

    A great idea! I grew up devouring every SF novel I could, moving to adult books from about 13 onwards. I loved the work of Ursula LeGuin, Tanith lee and Anne Maccafrey. I didn’t seperate them in my mind at the time for being female writers…they were just great writers alongside my other heroes such as Ray Bradbury and John Wyndham.

    But there is a strange preconception out there that women do not write SF. Anything to celebrate that they do is warmly welcome.
    Wishing your project every success.

  2. Theresa Derwin Says:

    Thanks for your lovely comment. And you know I want you involved. Really excited by it all

  3. Sean Chatterton Says:

    I think that it is well known that SF appears to be dominated by white middle class men. This is NOT because of sexism/racism by publishers, but by dint of that is who is mostly writing SF.

    Who are the main readers of SF? Are the market forces of the readership dictating what is published? Or just what gets past the slush pile? There are plenty of authors who have additional pen names when they change genre, and writers that even change sex when occasions suite.

    However, I would like to say, good writing stands by itself, and it doesn’t make any difference if it is by females, goats or even scary trees 🙂

  4. Theresa Derwin Says:

    I completely agree, it’s the quality that counts. Interestingly, you’ve just started the debate that Andromeda’s Offspring will hope to continue, and with your permission, I’d like to include your comment as food for thought in issue 1

  5. Amanda Norman Says:

    Just to reinforce your point Raven Dane has reminded me of how much I loved Ursula LeGuin when I was a child, sadly forgot about her……

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