Ladies Reading Ladies Who Write Speculative Fiction

Remember when I said I have a love/hate relationship with book clubs and that I’d just joined a new one? The new club is comprised of a group of ladies reading speculative fiction written by women writers. I was invited to join after I’d tweeted about how I was adding more diversity to my reading. This is another added benefit of befriending your local booksellers as the person who invited me works at the local indie. From there I’ve also been exchanging tweets with another member so now it’s a double rainbow of awesome. Not only am I expanding my literary horizons, but I’m getting opportunities to talk books with other readers and make new friends.

Book friends got the hookup.

 

Our first book pick was Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler which was so fucking amazing to me that I immediately read the sequel Parable of the Talents. I wasn’t able to attend the first meeting due to a previous promise to attend a friend’s baby shower.  This month’s book was The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin which I found to be pretty straightforward science fiction. Le Guin spelled out everything she wanted the reader to know so there wasn’t a lot of brain work being done. Not a bad book, but it could have been a bit longer.

I will get to what actually happened at the meeting, but I wanted to give a little background here. Wikipedia defines speculative fiction as “a broad literary genre encompassing any fiction with supernatural, fantastical, or futuristic elements.” I tried to get some stats on female authors in speculative fiction, but Wiki for one, seemed to just focus in on the science fiction angle instead of the other sub categories.  However, I stumbled upon the Internet Speculative Fiction Database and on their statistics page, it looks as if in 2012 they had over 98 thousand author entries. They unfortunately do not break it up by gender which would have been extremely helpful as well as adding in some kind of way of finding out their ethnicity.

Thanks for making it easy to get numbers….not.

 

The fact that speculative fiction is such a broad category is remarkable as it allows a lot of different fans in. I was thrilled to find out historical fiction tends to be considered speculative fiction as I’ve been reading that for years. Also literary fiction has representation also as in such books as Life After Life by Kate Atkinson since the main character Ursula seems to reboot her life whenever she dies which is completely fantastical. I also am a pretty big fan of urban fantasy which apparently is also considered speculative fiction. Suddenly I’m not as big of a newbie as I thought.

But I’m trying!

In addition to that, you know my commitment to reading more diverse authors as well. So it would be great to keep it going within the book club. Along with the aforementioned Le Guin and Butler, and our next pick is Catherynne M. Valente’s Deathless so we are at a 33% ratio of reading diverse authors which would be nice to see maintained since we know the discrepancy of diverse authors in publishing and I assume it’s an even greater gap in genres like science fiction and urban fantasy (Daniel José Older put together a list of diverse urban fantasy writers and about 50% were female, but the list was only 33 names). Goodreads has this list that I’d like to be able to pull some names from.

Some diverse titles in our TBR suggestion list

  • The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet by Vandana Singh
  • Lagoon and Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
  • The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin
  • Mindscape by Andrea Hairston

On to the meeting!

Six of us met at a local bakery that has delicious food, sat outside and got started. I admitted I felt a bit out of my element with science fiction. I’m a relative newbie in the genre and want to learn more so the discussion of scifi themes and tropes is new to me. I’m trying to learn more about dissecting books and their metaphors. Luckily as I mentioned before The Lathe of Heaven is pretty straight forward. In the meeting I was spellbound listening to these other five ladies debate evil vs inaction and gush over turtle-shaped aliens. Everyone was really polite with one another and let each other talk and even when they disagreed, there was respect. I’ve been in some groups where this does not happen. Feelings get hurt when someone doesn’t like a point you make or there is the opposite where no one wants to have an opposing opinion because they don’t want to be wrong. I didn’t see this happen, but I believe what will happen is no one will be judgmental of the person who was inaccurate. All in all I can’t wait for our next meeting.

What speculative fiction titles would you suggest? What do you like to see in your book clubs?

3 thoughts on “Ladies Reading Ladies Who Write Speculative Fiction

  1. Anie

    It sounds like you had a great time, and I’m so glad. 😀 It’s been so exciting getting to discuss spec fic with people — I feel like most of my life I’ve been a closeted spec fic fan, and it’s great getting out into the open and gushing with people. I also really like that the group so far has very much been about gushing and exploring, and has been very kind and friendly and welcoming.

    (I’m actually with you with the scifi tropes — I read far more fantasy than I do hard scifi, so I’m not as used to scifi-specific tropes either! It was clear to me that Lathe wasn’t a genre-buster, but it didn’t feel nearly as trope-y to me as it seemed to for some of our other readers. Always nice to go forth and learn.)

    1. I kind of wanted to hug everyone right off the bat, and I’m not one to hug strangers. But I’ve always been pretty much the lone reader in my crowd so to find people who love books and are nice and friendly and say fuck is pretty awesome to me. Heh. I can’t wait for the next meeting although I probably should get started on the book.

  2. Pingback: July Book Club Favorites – The Unread

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