I’ve loved science fiction since before I knew what a genre was. I first saw Star Wars at age four, so that was my intro to the genre. I’m sure I could barely read at the time. I always found all stories about planets, stars, space travel to be fascinating. For books, it was probably A Wrinkle in Time that put me on the path in middle school. Then my dad gave me Asimov’s Foundation in 9th grade. By that time, I was solidly hooked.
I didn’t realize there was a gender gap in the genre until I was in college and took a course on Science Fiction in the English department. The professor included Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, and Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula Le Guin, in the required reading. I’m so glad to have taken the opportunity to read them. Recently, BBC published a list of “10 Women Who Changed Sci-Fi” and it’s a great reminder of the wide variety of science fiction writing we have available to us today. It’s is a great list of authors. If you have never read any of them, I highly recommend picking one of their books and giving it a try.
Science fiction isn’t just about space ships and the future; it’s about where we’re going, and how to get there. The best sci-fi wrestles with ethical and philosophical issues of humanity’s role and our survival. Sci-fi authors understand that the science part of science fiction is important to help readers envision the worlds we learn about as readers. The enjoyment that comes from sci-fi classics like Dune or sub genre must-reads like Neuromancer doesn’t just come from an entanglement with the characters, but from the intellectual pursuit of understanding the technologies they use.
As I continue down my path of renewing my fiction reading, it’s purposefully with a strong emphasis on science fiction. Some of my all time favorites (in addition to those mentioned above): Stranger in a Strange Land, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Wyrms, Snow Crash, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and more recently, The Martian. To expand my repertoire of women sci-fi authors, next up is Margaret Atwood. I just have to decide which book to choose. If you haven’t read science fiction in a while (or ever), there’s no time like the present. Happy reading!