As a teenager, when I knew all the world was against me, I’d retreat to amazing stories of distant lands. Books by Madeline L’Engel, Sheri S Tepper and Julian May, went well beyond space battles and witches spells. These women crafted stories that entertained while asking what if and cautioning against what could be.
Recently I’ve been saddened to witness the backlash against female focussed speculative fiction. Prominent actors sledging their own films. Public discussions of the Father of science fiction without any reference to the great women who contributed to the genre like Mary Shelley.
So today I’d like to mark International Women’s Day not by continuing the debate but by celebrating the women who inspire me to write.
A short list of inspiring modern day Sci-fantasy Wonderwomen.
Sigourney Weaver deserves an Oscar for her lifetime of achievement in movies, especially sci-fi. Who could forget her uber-fierce Ripley in Aliens or her parody of female tokenism in Galaxy Quest. When I write strong female fighters, I always picture Sigourney.
Kate Mulgrew was the actress who played Captain Janeway on Voyager from the Star Trek franchise in the 90s. Unlike her predecessors in sci-fi of the small screen, she was one of the first characters able to combine intelligence, leadership, strength and femininity. She even managed to keep her clothes on while fighting aliens.
Beam me up Captain Janeway!
Margaret Atwood wrote The Handmaid’s Tale in 1985, and I read it in the 90s. It scared me back then. It terrified me when, three months ago, I heard Margaret say that she never included anything in her book that hadn’t already happened somewhere in the world.
CS Pacat was a keynote speaker at a festival I attended last year. I had already heard of the wonderous Aussie writer who had serialised her book on the web when the big publishing houses weren’t interested, then went on to be a best seller. What really inspired me about CS Pacat was her graciousness when I met her in person. CS was so generous with her time and advice. She told me never to give up on my dream – I haven’t!
My new writing buddies from around the world.
Caroline Noe is the first of a series of four newish authors I would like to highlight. Her motto is “Live it like it matters” which I love because writing is definitely a vocation not just a job. You need to have a passion for the craft, living and breathing it every day even in the face of regular rejection. Although I’m not sure, Caroline’s wonderful Scifi and fantasy books face much rejection! She has two gripping books available now and more in the works.
Julia Blake started writing novels as a distraction from a bitter divorce. Ten years later she has published six novels and a bunch of short stories across a range of genres. She once worked as a marmalade tester. I’m rather glad she switched to writing novels.
TK Toppin writes from Barbados, but her sci-fi-romance books circle the globe. Watching TK’s instaposts has taught me about work life balance. Seeing her choose between sunset, wine and the keyboard, then taking all three is inspiring!
Alannah Andrews is full to bursting with creativity and innovation. When she observed the dirth of local publishing opportunities for spec fic writers she joined with two other authors to create Aussie Speculative Fiction(ASF). Within a year ASF has a thriving supporter base, one published anthology and several other books in production / planning. Watch out for great things from Alannah in the future.