Guest Post: Science Fiction’s Women Problem

Since 1953, the Hugo Awards have been one of science fiction’s most prestigious honours – past winners include Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clark and Ursula Le Guin. The 2016 results were recently announced, and women and diversity were the clear winners.

However, if you saw the list of titles in contention for the awards, you’d have noticed some oddities, such as Chuck Tingle’s Space Raptor Butt Invasion and My Little Pony’s The Cutie Map. That’s because the awards – nominated and voted on by science fiction writers and readers – have been targeted by two major voting blocs: the Sad Puppies, who started their campaign in 2013, and the Rabid Puppies, who appeared the year after and have been growing stronger ever since.

The Sad Puppies wanted more traditional, mainstream popular science fiction on the ballot. The more extreme Rabid Puppies, who have ties with the Gamergate movement, were about creating chaos. So their bloc included ridiculous-sounding works: both to mock the awards and stack the ballot to prevent more diverse books being nominated.

Both groups’ gripe is with contemporary trends in science fiction toward more literary works with progressive themes. Vox Day, leader of the Rabid Puppies, complains that using SF/F as a tool to critically examine and vivisect 21st century Western society”. The Hugos, he says, are being used as an “affirmative action award”.

A significant number of those “soft science majors” writing “left-wing diversity lectures” are, of course, women. Female authors have dominated science fiction awards of late.

This year, women (and people of colour) did very well at the awards. Ironically, the Puppies’ activities have now galvanised more progressive members of the World Science Fiction Society to use their voting rights. The best novel was The Fifth Season, a tale of a planet experiencing apocalyptic climate change, written by NK Jemisin – a black, female writer. Best novella was Binti by Nnedi Okorafor. The best short story, Cat Pictures Please, was written by Naomi Kritzer and both best editor gongs went to women.

But the ongoing saga of the Puppies and their attempts to derail the Hugos exemplifies broader conflicts within the realm of science fiction – an enormously popular, lucrative and controversial genre that has major issues with women.

Hugo award winner Nnedi Okorafor at a reading of her work

A male dominated genre

In recent years, the bestselling female-authored Divergent and Hunger Games series have been made into multi-million dollar movie adaptations. But women’s contribution to science fiction has historically gone unnoticed – as a look at any compilation list of the “best” science fiction books will attest.

MIT Technology Review’s Top Ten Hard Science Fiction Books of All Time includes one woman. (“Hard sci fi” tends to stick to real scientific theories and physical laws. More on that later.)

Forbidden Planet’s list of 50 Science Fiction Books You Must Readincludes three women, with Ursula K Le Guin appearing twice (making it 92% male). The Best Science Fiction Books website has four women in their list of 25 (84% male). And Goodreads’ Best Science Fiction list has ten women in the top 100 (making it 88% male), with Le Guin books chosen three times. (The books of Le Guin’s that appear in these lists – The Left Hand of Darkness (1969), The Dispossessed (1974), and The Lathe of Heaven (1971) – all have something very significant in common: male protagonists.)

This 2013 edition of the Bulletin of the SFWA provoked an outcry from its female members.
This 2013 edition of the Bulletin of the SFWA provoked an outcry from its female members.

Seventy five per cent of science fiction writers are men. Consequently, there are not a great number of realistic or relatable female characters. No wonder fewer female than male readers have traditionally found it a rewarding genre. Indeed feminist science fiction writer and critic Joanna Russ has famously stated that there are “no real women” in science fiction, only images of them, since so many women characters are based purely on male fantasy.

Last year, science fiction and fantasy reader Liz Lutgendorff published an article in the New Statesman after reading the National Public Radio’s list of the Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books – voted on by 60,000 readers. Lutgendorff found the “continued and pervasive sexism” within these books to be “mysogynistic” and “shockingly offensive”.

Speculative fiction writer and critic Sarah Gailey, meanwhile, recently noticed that, of the 31 genre books featuring female protagonists she had recently read, two-thirds included scenes of sexual violence. Writing on the Tor website, she called for genre writers to “do better” when it comes to imagining alternative realities for women:

… we can’t suspend our disbelief enough to erase casual misogyny from the worlds we build. We can give a wizard access to a centuries-old volcano-powered spaceship, but we balk at the notion of a woman who has never been made to feel small and afraid.

Isaac Asimov in 1965

Gailey mentions this year’s Hugo-winning NK Jemisin as one of the rare writers whose “imaginations are strong enough to let their female characters have stories that don’t include sexual violence”.

Still, this objectification of women in science fiction sadly extends beyond the page. Hugo award-winning fan writer Jim C Hines reminds us that science fiction superstar Isaac Asimov was notorious for harassing women at conventions. Hines recently urged the science fiction, fantasy and comics community to stop “looking away” from the problem of sexual harassment in the industry.

Hard science in science fiction

An ongoing debate in the science fiction community is about the merits of “hard” vs “soft” science fiction. And the role of gender is significant here.

Robert A Heinlein – considered the “dean” of science fiction writers and counted alongside Asimov and Clarke as one of the three key figures of the genre – has defined science fiction as:

realistic speculation about possible future events, based solidly on adequate knowledge of the real world, past and present, and on a thorough understanding of the nature and significance of the scientific method.

Hard science fiction tends to stick to or extrapolate from real scientific theories and physical laws as they are currently understood (think of Andy Weir’s The Martian (2011), Carl Sagan’s Contact (1985), or Arthur C Clarke’s own 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)).

Robert Heinlein’s Hugo-award-winning novel Glory Road (1963). This paperback version was published in 1976.

Soft science fiction is not so concerned with exploring the finer details of technology and physics. Although its stories are generally set in the future, it is more interested in psychological and social aspects of the narrative (think of works such as Veronica Roth’s Divergent(2011), Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), or George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1948)).

Hard science fiction tends to be a boys’ club, while soft science fiction can be seen as more accommodating to female writers. There is a perceived hierarchy of merit operating in these classifications as well: “hard” sounds masculine and virile, while “soft” connotes a weaker, less potent, feminised form of the genre. This is why “hard” science fiction is more likely to be considered among the “best” science fiction, and why the “soft” science fiction that more women tend to write doesn’t often make the cut.

In 2013, the judges of the Arthur C. Clarke Award, Britain’s most prestigious science fiction prize, disqualified a number of submitted books on the basis that they were not “technically” science fiction. They were deemed by the judges to be fantasy – a genre that does not require the realism of science – which has twice as many female authors compared to science fiction. As Damien Walters has observed, women’s writing is “dismissed as fantasy, while the fantasies of men are granted some higher status as science fiction”.

The Hugo Awards, like most major literary prizes, have also traditionally been dominated by books by and about men and boys.

In 2015, the Sad Puppies successfully placed dozens of books on the final ballot. They then released a tongue-in-cheek Terms of Surrender to their culture war with the Hugo Awards declaring:

… only those works embodying the highest principles of Robert A. Heinlein shall be permitted. Girls who read Twilight and books like it shall be expelled from the genre. We will recognize The Hunger Games as a proper SF novel, but the sequels are right out.

These jibes reveal sexist undertones, intolerance for diversity and disdain for the kind of speculative fiction that is written by women and read by girls.

The lessons of Frankenstein

This hierarchy of “hardness” in science fiction, as well as being a dubious way of judging merit, puts women at a distinct disadvantage, because there’s a serious shortage of women working in science. Only 28% of the world’s scientific researchers are women.

If women aren’t encouraged to pursue careers in scientific fields, it’s unlikely they’re going to have the confidence to write in a genre that uses science as a launch pad for fiction.

And yet, the first example of science fiction is often said to be Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s gothic horror Frankenstein: the tale of a man who, through scientific experimentation, discovers a way to imbue inanimate matter with life. The novel was first published anonymously in 1818.

Overall, it was popular and well received. But when critics discovered Anonymous was a young woman, the author’s gender caused such offence as to render the writing irrelevant. The British Critic famously concluded its scathing review thus:

The writer of it is, we understand, a female; this is an aggravation of that which is the prevailing fault of the novel; but if our authoress can forget the gentleness of her sex, it is no reason why we should; and we shall therefore dismiss the novel without further comment.

Discrimination on the basis of sex isn’t surprising for the time, but what is surprising is how little has changed for women’s writing over these past two centuries.

Women may not be likely to publish anonymously these days, but they may still erase their female identities to appease male readership. Many women are encouraged to publish under their initials, to choose a gender neutral name, or even to take a male pseudonym.

Science fiction writer Alice Sheldon, winner of two Hugos and three Nebula Awards under the pseudonym James Tiptree Jr, passed her writing off as male for around a decade between 1967–77 before she was exposed as a woman.

Alice Bradley Sheldon, who wrote under the pen name James Tiptree Jr.
Alice Bradley Sheldon, who wrote under the pen name James Tiptree Jr.

Not only did she enjoy more success as a male writer, she was also in a better position to advocate for female writers. She even found that her female pseudonym Raccoona Sheldon was more likely to be included in anthologies if her submission was accompanied by a letter of recommendation from Tiptree.

Unfortunately, once it was revealed that Tiptree was, as she so sadly described herself, “nothing but an old lady from Virginia”, she lost much of the authority and respect she had previously enjoyed in the male-dominated science fiction community.

Today, the fact remains that most female writers would still be better off using a male name. In 2015, emerging novelist Catherine Nicholls found that when she sent her manuscript out under the name of “George”, she was eight times as successful as when she sent it out as “Catherine”.

More than half of the human race is female, yet three-quarters of the voices heard in science fiction are male; and the rest are under consistent commercial pressure to sound male too. Of the 30 science fiction writers named the industry’s highest honour of “Grand Master”, only five are female (16%).

A study of the habits of readers in 2014 found that men “tend to gravitate to reading more male authors”. During the first year of publication, it found a female author’s audience will be around 80% female. A male author’s work will be read by a 50% split of men and women.

But trying to tackle this problem by using a pseudonym or an author’s initials perpetuates the invisibility of women on bookshelves, denying other women role models. It’s vitally important to have more women writing science fiction – using their real names, being reviewed, being read and winning awards.

By the numbers

Both the Puppies groups stand against affirmative action as a way of redressing the imbalance between the sexes in science fiction. However, there are many reasons why affirmative action by publishers and reviewers is needed in a genre suffering from entrenched sexism.

The latest SF Count – the speculative fiction community’s own mini version of the VIDA count of women in literary arts – was announced in May this year. The SF Count tracks the gender and race balance of both books reviewed and their reviewers.

It concludes that six out of every ten books reviewed were written by men. But that’s an average of results across all publications, and there is wide variation within the sample. The lowest percentage of reviews of books by women was 17% from Analog Science Fiction and Fact. The highest was 80% from Cascadia Subduction Zone, a publication that specifically aims to represent women writers.

the July/August 2016 issue of Analog magazine. Analog

The story told by these figures changes significantly when you consider only the five publications that are purely science fiction focused – Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Asimov’s Science Fiction, New York Review of Science Fiction, Foundation: the international review of science fiction and Science Fiction Studies. Of these, the average percentage of reviews of books by women is 22%, meaning more than three in four books reviewed in science fiction publications are written by men.

The gender balance of book reviewers averaged across these five titles is similarly low, with just 18% of them women. What’s particularly shocking is that arguably the two most famous and prestigious science fiction publications – Analog and Asimov’s – both averaged 0% female reviewers. The fact that the two most celebrated publications in science fiction asked next to no women to review books is clearly unacceptable.

And yes, reviewers can cry the impossibility of reviewing what isn’t published, just as publishers can claim the impossibility of publishing more women’s writing when it isn’t submitted, and judging panels can lament the impossibility of considering more women’s books for awards when so few are entered.

But it would be far better for the science fiction industry to recognise it has an ethical responsibility to work to correct the imbalance it has perpetuated for far too long, and get started.

It is, as publishing veteran Danielle Pafunda points out, an important part of the position of editor to actively seek out new work and to shape the direction of a publication or publishing house.

We need women to be able to participate fully and equally in science fiction’s conversations about humanity’s future – to shape how women are portrayed in those visions, to consider the roles women might play in those futures, and to imagine what a truly evolved and advanced society might look like for women.

Until gender equality is achieved, science fiction remains only a fraction of what it could be. Affirmative action for women in science fiction is not only warranted; it’s essential for the growth of the genre.

republished under a CC license from The ConversationThe Conversation

Bronwyn Lovell

View posts by Bronwyn Lovell
Bronwyn Lovell is a PhD candidate in creative writing at Flinders University, where she is researching depictions of women in science fiction and poetry, and writing a feminist verse novel set in space.


  1. David Levine15 October, 2016

    There have been many good hard science fiction women writers. While I enjoyed James Triptree/Alice Sheldon, I was not completely suprised to find the writer was a woman because the writing seemed touchy feely. I feel that the genre has moved towards the female side because of the women in the publishing houses.
    I would hope that there is room for both male and female sides in science fiction.

  2. Darryl15 October, 2016

    What rubbish. Can we please keep identity politics out of science fiction and out of publishing generally. We do not need affirmative action. What we need is great books by any authors who can create them. The gatekeepers continue to exist in traditional publishing, together with all of their prejudices. This is their right, as authors are asking them to venture their employer’s money in publishing their books.

    However, traditional publishers no longer have a monopoly, and are fast fading into irrelevance. Self publishing and smaller publishers are the future, and are here now. Amazon and Smashwords do not care about the colour of your skin or your sex or your sexual preferences.

  3. Kaz Augustin15 October, 2016

    Women are also their own worst enemies. I’m Chief Editor of the online mag, Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly, and it’s depressing the number of successful female authors in the genre who, when asked for reader recommendations, don’t name a single female! In a position of relative power, they can certainly help other women, but choose not to. With friends like that, who needs enemies?

    1. Darryl16 October, 2016

      @Kaz. Interesting comment. I doubt that the female writers you refer to are doing this deliberately. Presumably they are making their recommendations honestly based on their own reading. I don’t agree that women have a particular obligation to help other women when asked for reading recommendations. Their obligation is one of honesty. However, there are so many great stories written by women that it is hard to believe that not even one would feature on a list of any reasonable size. Perhaps some of these authors would benefit from a wider reading list. Perhaps you could discuss this with them and maybe even give them your own recommendations of some really good stories.

      1. Kaz Augustin16 October, 2016

        @Darryl, normally I’d agree with you. I’m an avid SF reader (and writer) and my shelves are full of novels, most of which are written by men (Banks, Stross, Reynolds, Harrison, Kuttner, Russell, Shirley, Smith, Gibson, etc etc)*. However, SFR (the genre my comment was based on) is a field where the vast majority of authors (95%+) are women. So, when an SFR author is asked for recs, and she can’t name A. Single. Female. Author. who writes in her very genre, then I call bulls*it.

        * I also have books by Lackey, Constantine, Tepper, Cherryh, Bujold, le Guin, Lessing, Butler, Tiptree, Russ, Emshwiller, Lee, etc etc, in case anyone is readying a barb.

        1. Darryl16 October, 2016

          @Kaz. I stand corrected. I don’t doubt you that 95% of authors in SFR are female, and must also agree with your call of BS. I find the situation quite incredible.

  4. a brogard16 October, 2016

    Sick and tired of all this crap. Not just women but any minority you can think of.

    The easiest bandwagon for anyone to get onto nowadays is ‘minority rights’ and permutations of it.

    Well there’s a minority that daily gets smaller – forced into obscurity, a real endangered species – and never gets a voice yet which is expected to shoulder the burden of correcting all these ‘wrongdoings’ and ‘unfairnesses’.

    And that’s the ordinary laissez faire, let it happen, see it as it is, don’t interfere, love it all, be in it, be rational human being.

    Sure, women don’t get equal representation in this list or that list – but why the hell should they necessarily be?


    There is no natural reason in the world why every aspect of human endeavour should be equally represented by both male and female.

    1. Darryl16 October, 2016


    2. Kaz Augustin16 October, 2016

      And, you know, I agree with that. Men and women have different strengths and it pays to work to those strengths, whatever they may be and however fluid that may be. But what we’re talking about here is not 50/50 representation, but that women writing the same thing as men are getting discriminated against on the basis of nothing more than their sex.

      If I write a hard sf story, e.g., then the story should be judged on its technical merits. If it’s crap, then fair enough. But to have an editor say (as one has done), that “women can’t write hard sf”, as though it’s engraved in stone, is not only not helpful, but incredibly narrow-minded. How does he know that women can’t write hard sf? Has he read every single hard sf story ever written by a woman anywhere in the world throughout history, in order to come to that conclusion?

      And then look at something like the excreable ENCOUNTER WITH TIBER. If a woman had written it, would it have been published? I doubt it, and rightly so, because it’s truly awful. You may say, “oh come on, Buzz Aldrin wrote it! Buzz Aldrin!!” Which is exactly my point.

      Turning this on its head, I’m also against those writers who say that anyone outside their culture has no right to write about that minority’s culture. Have at it, I say. We had some Western guy write “The Bomoh’s Apprentice” fairly recently. (“bomoh” is Malay for shaman or witch doctor.) It was reviewed in one of the Malaysian dailies and the reviewer decided that the writer knew sweet F A about bomohs and so panned the book. Then, you get the utterly delightful BRIDGE OF BIRDS by Barry Hughart, that deservedly won the World Fantasy Award. Both writers were white, one novel was forgettable, the other unforgettable. This is what you get when you open up the field. That’s all that women are asking for. A fair chance of evaluation. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

      1. Darryl16 October, 2016

        @Kaz. Another excellent post. Unfortunately I doubt that we will ever eliminate unjustified prejudice on the part of gatekeepers. There has been much published over the years which I can only describe as crap, at the same time as so many wonderful stories have been left unpublished. I can only repeat the comments that I made in my earlier posts about gatekeepers and their increasing irrelevance. The real challenge now is not getting published. It is so called “discovery”. I gather you are doing your bit in your mag.

        I might add that when asked which author I would most like to have lunch/coffee/an alcoholic beverage or two with my answer is usually Alice Sheldon/James Tiptree Jr. I love her work and even read the book on her most interesting life. Unfortunately that is not possible, at least in this world.

        Tell me. Would you consider “Love is the Plan, the Plan is Death” to be SFR?

        1. Fjtorres16 October, 2016

          Bypass the gatekeepers. Make their bias irrelevant. Gatekeepers today only have the power you give them.

          It’s 2016 out there, not 1953 or 1973. The field has grown immensely since the days when an affluent enough fan could aspire to read all the good SF published in a given year. And its been an easy six-seven years since the query-go-round was the only viable way for a writer to make his/hers/its voice heard.

          1. Darryl16 October, 2016


  5. Sergegobli16 October, 2016

    Women currently sell much more in science-fiction than men.

    1. Fjtorres16 October, 2016

      The question being *who* do they sell to and what.
      A fair amount of what is marketed and shelved as SF isn’t. Too many people think of SF as nothing more than a setting or a bunch of props they can wrap around a thriller, mystery, romance, or political diatribe.
      SF fans know the difference.
      SF stories are built around the science; if you can take out the SF elements and the story doesn’t collapse it isn’t SF.

  6. Fjtorres16 October, 2016

    The key issue these distribes always ignore is that SF is subculture literature. It has never been meant for mainstream consumption and attempting to straightjacket mainstream values onto it will be rightfully resisted. No subculture willingly tolerates it.
    Second, the SF subculture is, duh, a STEM subculture and it derives its value system from the world STEMs live in. It is not a world of politically correct liberal arts values. It is a world of cold hard facts and dispassionate intellectualism. To an extent, those politically correct values can even kill people if applied to the STEM world. And, be ause it is rooted in the STEM world the demographics of the field will invariably reflect the demographics of the STEM world. Want to change the demographics of SF? Change the demographics of STEM. And, honestly, good luck with that. NASA and the federal government as well as the tech industry have been trying for over 40 years with minimal success. It is easy (and disingenuous) to blame SF than to accept the issue is society-wide.
    Finally, SF is by design and intent an escapist literature that seeks to avoid the world and issues around us. Trying to inject heavy doses of what the readers are actively trying to escape is not going to be welcome.
    That literary crusaders are, typically, trying to force an outcome to their liking without doing the hard work of changing the forces that lead to the “undesirable” outcome.
    All you need to know at this point is that in the freewheeling world of Indie SF, where there is no institutional bias to keep authors of any gender, race, or political inclination from writing whatever they wish to write, the vast majority of the output is the classic cerebral adventure stories and not the politically-driven screeds of the SJWs. And that is what is selling.

    All this angsting over the “problems” of SF is really about the problems of the NYC publishing establishment. Neither puppy fights nor political postures matter all that much to the actual grassroots SF readers. They have their culture, they have their values, and they have no shortage of reading material. If they choose not to support a specific value set thst is their right; you can no more force them to buy into any other value set than you can force them to read in a foreign language.
    Want to see more “diversity” in the market?
    Write it. Sell it.
    All it takes is clicking “UPLOAD” at KDP, KOBO, SMASHWORDS, etc.
    See how far that gets you.

    1. Nate Hoffelder16 October, 2016

      “The key issue these distribes always ignore is that SF is subculture literature. It has never been meant for mainstream consumption and attempting to straightjacket mainstream values onto it will be rightfully resisted. No subculture willingly tolerates it.”


      The problem with your apologist comment is that women are a part of that subculture, and that they have every right to be. Your attempts to excuse the discrimination is disgusting, and simply wrong.

      And since when is keeping a group from being silenced simply because of their gender a mainstream value? I’m sorry, I thought that was just basic human decency.

      “Second, the SF subculture is, duh, a STEM subculture and it derives its value system from the world STEMs live in. It is not a world of politically correct liberal arts values. It is a world of cold hard facts and dispassionate intellectualism. “

      Even more bullshit.

      Making sure that voices aren’t being silenced or ignored simply because they are of the wrong gender is a right/wrong issue, not right/left. Furthermore, waving the STEM flag is as false as when tech waves the meritocracy flag. In both cases it is a fig leaf for ongoing discrimination.

      1. Fjtorres16 October, 2016

        You are misreading.
        I’m not excusing a darn thing.
        I am saying that women are already participating as fully as they ever will because they are already as free to participate as they choose to.
        Any constraints are self-imposed, either by insisting on giving the establishment power over them or by not targetting the proper market. Notice the complaint that some stories are considered fantasy instead of SF? As if simply saying it is SF could make it so and instantly acceptable. SF is a commercial field and nobody is entitled to be published (unless they do it themselves), read, or liked.

        All I’m saying is their arguments are out of line with the reality we live in. The best SF comes from people who know their science, male or female, and in the real world there are more men who know the science, read SF and write SF so of course they dominate the field out of sheer non-participation by women. It is the same argument as in the tech industries. Look to the numbers: if women only make up 10% of the humans in STEM professions and the SF field draws heavily from the STEM professions, why would anybody expect equal numbers of writers to be successful in that field?

        I’m not justifying the troglodytes out there. Just saying the expectations are unreasonable given the nature of the business today. Get more women in STEM and you’ll see more women SF writers and then more successful women SF writers. Because when I look at the women that are active I see about as many top end females as men.

        Read again.

  7. Ski16 October, 2016

    This may be incredibly naïve on my part, but what about publishing all stories for a year without including the author’s name? Without any reference to the gender or preferences of the author, stories could be evaluated strictly on their merits. Then at the end of the year, after all the reviews are in, the box with the names would be opened. If it was marketed correctly, then submissions should reflect the science fiction community, as well as reactions. Of course, this would go against the human grain of wanting to accept credit for one’s own work. And I think we all know that publishers, especially professional publishers, actually market to the biases and preferences of their readers, which may prevent submissions by some more popular authors. Just a thought.

    1. Fjtorres16 October, 2016

      Well, for one thing, an author’s (pen) name is their brand and for anybody who’s been around their brand drives a good fraction of their sales.
      The experiment would have to be carried out in a cost-neutral venue,like KU.

  8. John16 October, 2016

    Didn’t notice any mention of Leigh Brackett on the best of SF lists, an outstanding female science fiction writer from the golden age of SF.

    One of her novels, The Long Tomorrow, should be on anyones best of SF list. If you’ve not read this one, you should definitley check it out, highly recommended.

    1. Sergegobli18 October, 2016

      She was married to Edmond Hamilton who was an amazing writer and who virtually invented space opera.

  9. Bill Smith16 October, 2016

    So I suppose tomorrow we will get the shocking expose on how erotica and romance discriminate against male authors and how it is just an all girls club, right? Because it is, if anything, worse than sci-fi in how it marginalizes authors that don’t fit the expected niche. And because romance and erotica are such big genres, the problem is a much, much bigger one.


    Thought so.

    There is no excuse for any “type” of author to feel marginalized anymore, not when you can totally bypass the gatekeepers and reach readers directly. Write, self-publish, go out and find your audience.

    As a writer of space fantasy/space opera, I too have been marginalized by gatekeepers because what I write is not “real” science fiction. I could not care in the least what editors and publishers think — I am writing whatever I damned well please and having a hell of a good time doing it.

    Come on in, the water is fine.

    1. Nate Hoffelder16 October, 2016

      If you want to write one, I will publish it.

      1. Nate Hoffelder19 July, 2017

        The offer is still open, Bill.

        Edit: Coincidentally, The Guardian just published a post to this effect.

  10. R Coots17 October, 2016

    My eyes glazed over at about the third paragraph. I can’t. I just can’t. And I don’t want to. Identity politics in fictional books only matter to me when I’m being walloped over the head with them. At which point I put the book down and go find something more entertaining. Left, right, I don’t care. I read for entertainment. I vote awards based on what made me happy to read, not what educated me, had the appropriate level of diversity, the gender of the author or any of that.

    Which would explain why I read very few award winners to begin with. Preachy and boring for the most part.

  11. Gbm17 October, 2016

    I would like the author of this “story” to explain why Toni Weisskopf was no awarded at the 2015 hugo awards, since she is so worried about women not being treated equally in SF.

  12. Dr. Mauser18 October, 2016

    Congratulations, you got suckered by the fake Sad Puppies Blogspot blog.

    1. Nate Hoffelder18 October, 2016


    2. Frank19 October, 2016

      This is a real post from a female, and is not from the Sad Puppies.

      1. Tully19 October, 2016

        The blogspot “Terms of Surrender” quotation cited:

        “In 2015, the Sad Puppies successfully placed dozens of books on the final ballot. They then released a tongue-in-cheek Terms of Surrender to their culture war with the Hugo Awards declaring:

        … only those works embodying the highest principles of Robert A. Heinlein shall be permitted. Girls who read Twilight and books like it shall be expelled from the genre. We will recognize The Hunger Games as a proper SF novel, but the sequels are right out.
        These jibes reveal sexist undertones, intolerance for diversity and disdain for the kind of speculative fiction that is written by women and read by girls.”

        is from a SPOOF site of anti_puppy critics, not from any actual Sad Puppy site. It’s completely bogus, and says absolutely nothing about anything but internet trolls and people manufacturing Straw Puppies to knock them down again.

  13. […] and why the “soft” science fiction that more women tend to write doesn’t often make the cut.The Digital Reader explains that SF written by women is more likely to be called […]


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