Women in Early SF

By Carl Slaughter: Collections featuring women in early science fiction, feminist speculative literature, and speculative art.

Women of Wonder, the Classic Years: Science Fiction by Women from the 1940s to the 1970s

Editor: Pamela Sargent.

women-of-wonder-classic-40-70Women of Wonder: The Contemporary Years, Science Fiction by Women from the 1970s to the 1990s

Editor: Pamela Sargent


The New Women of Wonder: Recent Science Fiction Stories by Women about Women

Editor: Pamela Sargent


More Women of Wonder: Science Fiction Novelettes By Women About Women

Editor: Pamela Sargent


Sisters of Tomorrow: The First Women of Science Fiction

Editor: Lisa Yaszek and Patrick B. Sharp



The Mammoth Book of SF Stories by Women

Editor: Alex Dally MacFarlane


Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology

Editors: Ann and Jeff VanderMeer



Women of Wonder: Celebrating Women Creators of Fantastic Art

Editor: Cathy Fenner


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11 thoughts on “Women in Early SF

  1. Some additional anthologies of women (or primarily by women) that this posting missed:

    Women of Wonder Series: You got all but the first one:
    Sargent, Women of Wonder (1975)

    Women of Darkness Series
    Ptacek, Women of Darkness (1988)
    Ptacek, Women of Darkness II (1990)

    Women’s Fantasy and Science Fiction Series
    Sturgis, Memories and Visions (1989)
    Sturgis, The Women Who Walk Through Fire (1990)

    Sisters in Fantasy Series
    Shwartz & Greenberg, Sisters in Fantasy (1995)
    Shwartz & Greenberg, Sisters in Fantasy 2 (1996)

    Women’s Erotic SF, Lesbian SF (various)
    Tan, SexMagick: Women Conjuring Erotic Fantasy (1993)
    Keesey, Daughters of Darkness: Lesbian Vampire Tales (1993)
    Tan, Worlds of Women: Sapphic Science Fiction Erotica (1994)
    Ford, Once Upon a Time: Erotic Fairy Tales for Women (1996)
    de Moss, Blood Sisters: Lesbian Vampire Tales (2006)
    Tan, Women of the Bite: Lesbian Vampire Erotica (2009)
    Wright, Fairy Tale Lust: Erotic Fantasies for Women (2010)

    Ghost Stories and the Supernatural (various)
    Manley & Lewis, Ladies of Fantasy: Two Centuries of Sinister Stories by the Gentle Sex (1975)
    Manley & Lewis, Women of the Weird: Eerie Stories by the Gentle Sex (1976)
    Manley & Lewis, Ghostly Gentlewomen: Two Centuries of Spectral Stories By the Gentle Sex (1977)
    Bendixen, Haunted Women: The Best Supernatural Tales By American Women Writers (1985)
    Ryan, Haunting Women (1988)
    Salmonson, What Did Miss Darrington See? (1989)
    Dalby, Victorian Ghost Stories by Eminent Women Writers (1989)
    Dalby, Modern Ghost Stories by Eminent Women Writers (1992)
    Dalby, Victorian Ghost Stories by Noted Women Writers (1996)
    Adrian, The Ash-Tree Press Annual Macabre 1997 (1997)
    Ashley, Unforgettable Ghost Stories by Women Writers (2008)
    Ashley, The Darker Sex: Tales of the Supernatural and Macabre by Victorian Women Writers (2009)

    Other anthologies by Victorian, and other early, women writers (various)
    Kessler, Daring to Dream: Utopian Stories by United States Women: 1836-1919 (1984)
    Ashley, The Dreaming Sex: Tales of Scientific Wonder and Dread by Victorian Women (2010)

    Vampires, Werewolves, and Supernatural creatures (various)
    Brownworth, Night Bites: Vampire Stories by Women (1996)
    Jones, The Mammoth Book of Vampire Stories by Women (2001)

    Special issues of Speculative Fiction magazines
    Bova, Analog, June 1977 Special Women’s Issue (1977)
    Strahan, Byrne, & Scriven, Eidolon, Autumn 1997 Issue 24, Special Women’s Issue (1997)
    Cohen, Realms of Fantasy, Women’s Issue, August 2011

    Other Anthologies
    Ghidalia & Elwood, The Venus Factor (1972)
    Anderson & McIntyre, Aurora: Beyond Equality (1976)
    Lewis & Manley, Sisters of Sorcery (1976)
    Laurance, Cassandra Rising (1978)
    Salmonson, Amazons! (1979)
    Kidd, Millennial Women (1978)
    New Victoria Collective, Woman Space (1981)
    McCarthy, Isaac Asimov’s Space of Her Own (1983)
    Green & LeFanu, Despatches from the Frontiers of the Female Mind (1985)
    Carter, Wayward Girls & Wicked Women: An Anthology of Stories (1986)
    Zipes, Don’t Bet on the Prince: Contemporary Feminist Fairy Tales in North America and England (1987)
    Sturgis, Tales of Magic Realism By Women: Dreams in a Minor Key (1991)
    Yates, Dragons and Warrior Daughters: Fantasy Stories by Women Writers (1991)
    Williams, The Lifted Veil: The Book of Fantastic Literature by Women (1992)
    Windrath, The Women’s Press Book of New Myth and Magic (1993)
    Stine, Frank, & Ackerman, New Eves: Science Fiction About the Extraordinary Women of Today and Tomorrow (1994)
    Williams & Jones, The Penguin Book of Modern Fantasy By Women (1995)
    Sussex & Buckrich, She’s Fantastical (1995)
    Bujold & Green, Women at War (1995)
    Brownworth & Redding, Night Shade: Gothic Tales by Women (1999)
    Jens, Daughter of Dangerous Dames (1999)
    Merrick & Williams, Women of Other Worlds: Excursions Through Science Fiction and Feminism (1999)
    Willis & Williams, A Woman’s Liberation: A Choice of Futures by and About Women (2001)
    Flanagan & Booth, Reload: Rethinking Women + Cyberculture (2002)
    Resnick, Women Writing Science Fiction as Men (2003)
    Keesey & Ackerman, Womanthology (2003)
    Pohl-Weary, Girls Who Bite Back: Witches, Mutants, Slayers and Freaks (2004)
    Stine, Future Eves: Great Science Fiction About Women by Women (2004)
    Larbalestier, Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century (2006)
    McFall, WomanScapes (2006)
    Dawn, Fist of the Spider Woman: Tales of Fear and Queer Desire (2009)
    Milholland, Bell, McFadden & Felix, Women of the Apocalypse (2009)

  2. (And yes, I realize that not all of the books in my list were “Early SF”, but a lot of them are, and many others include at least some stories that qualify as “early”.)

  3. @Darrah Chavey

    What a great list! Thank you!!

    (looks at TBR pile and state of wallet and moans in pain)

  4. The last 3 anthologies in the main post aren’t so much of the “Early”, but they’re still great anthologies. The last one is a work of stunning beauty; if you have the ability to get hold of a copy, borrowed or bought, it’s well worth seeing.

  5. Not early, but also important anthologies of women’s SF:

    Andreadis & Holt, The Other Half of the Sky (2013)

    Andreadis, To Shape the Dark (2016)

  6. I hadn’t actually updated my list of anthologies of women writers for a few years, and there were a couple of newer suggestions above (and how did we forget Mike Ashley’s “The Feminine Future: Early Science Fiction by Women Writers”?). So I went back and added another couple dozen titles to my list. Again, this is a mix of early women, newer women, and lots in between, but if you’re interested, here’s a link to my list. This is at isfdb, so most of the anthology links include full content listings.

  7. Looking at these anthologies, how there apparently still is a need for them (in both senses), and how much of the best and most interesting sf right now is written by women, I get to wonder how much the current times are like the 70s, when Joanna Russ, Ursula K LeGuin, Pamela Sargent, Octavia Butler, Carol Emshwiller, and many others set out to change sf.

    Then we got an ideological backlash in the form of the cyberpunk, and I wonder how far away we are from one such. (The Puppies may be a backlash and reaction and a fascist analog of sf fandom, but it’s hardly an ideological backlash in the same sense of the cyberpunk.)

  8. The puppies certainly are a backlash, but unlike Cyberpunk there is no chance that they will dominate the genre for the next few years. That basklash, if/when it comes, will come from a different direction.

  9. @Cora: Yes, that’s why I differed between the two – one with a positive ideological-aesthetical vision of the genre (cyberpunk), and one simply reactionary (puppies).

    But in one way I’m unsure if we will see a “new” cyberpunk-like movement. The last few years have seen many great new celebrated works and awareness of not only by and about women, but queer issues, race and culture issues, and so on. That makes it harder to build a coherent conservative manifesto. The puppies have also poisoned the water of anyone trying to reject parts of the genre by their sheer incompetence, and making fandom much more aware that there are ideological nuances in fiction.

  10. Yes, the thing about Cyberpunk was that it was cool and actually had something to say beyond “Let’s go back to the golden age of Nutty Nuggets”. I actually bought the “1970s SF was dull and uninspired” Cyberpunk party line for years (and I never was a particular Cyberpunk fan), until I checked out works and awards shortlists from the late 1970s and early 1980s and found a lot of really interesting works, many of them by women, that had been swept under the rug. That’s when I realised that 1970s SF hadn’t been just dull Star Wars clones at all.

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