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Science Fiction with a strong female lead

When you think about traditional Science Fiction, you probably picture authors like Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, and Robert A. Heinlein. Science Fiction as a genre has always been about an imagined alternate reality, usually a futuristic one, that somehow turns a magnifying glass on our own world and reality. By imagining how things could be different, we are in fact also examining how things are.

As a woman reader, I find it interesting to read all kinds of books - those from the point of view of a man, and those from the point of view of a woman. When it comes to female protagonists, however, I’m often frustrated when females are naturally always the one being saved by the men. In my real-world life, I’m a 30-something Engineer, I run a development team, I solve problems on a daily basis, and I’m into sports (especially kickboxing). Sometimes I want to see a protagonist like me, a woman who can think her way to a solution or fight her way out if need be. Why can men do both, but not women?  It was one of the major reasons I felt like I had to write my own book.

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Historically, back in the 1950s only 10-15% of Science Fiction writers were female.  As a genre it was typically written by men for men. As of 2013, still only 22% of Science Fiction writers are female. There have been 4 women who have earned the title of Grand Master from the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America:

  • Andre Norton
  • Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Anne McCaffrey
  • Connie Willis

When we expand out to looking at Science Fiction and Dystopian novels today, we see many highly popular titles making it to the big and small screen, including:

  • Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth
  • The Host by Stephenie Meyer

There is a resurgence of female characters appearing in media, but often still the female is a supporting character in terms of her role in the development of the plot. We might be seeing through the eyes of the female, but there’s often still a male lead who’s taking the reigns to get things done. As an example of this, see Divergent - the first book started out strong, with Tris taking a strong leader role in the action. However as the books progressed, she often ended up playing second fiddle to her love interest, Four.

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The major exception to the rule here is Hunger Games, where Katniss is the leader of the rebellion. Her character is strong, and although she does still have a love interest and a feminine side, her femininity doesn’t in any way detract from her ability to run the show.

There are other great books coming out - recently I read Legend by Marie Lu and totally loved the character June Iparis.  Talk about a girl that's smart, strong, and can kick some butt as well.  I totally recommend it!

Going forward I hope we get to see more books that are written by and for women, books that we can look up to as shining examples of how we can be the ones in control without compromising ourselves.


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