International Women’s Day is here, and it’s the perfect time to celebrate some of my favorite female genre writers! To narrow down the list, I have a few qualifiers:

  • They have to be contemporary writers, a.k.a. actively publishing
  • They write genre, which in this case refers mainly to science-fiction and fantasy
  • I would pick up anything with their name on it, no questions asked

Without further ado, here are some of my absolute favorite women genre writers!

Charlie Jane Anders

The cover of All the Birds in the Sky, a photo of Charlie Jane Anders, the cover of Never Say You Can't Survive: International Women's Day

Charlie Jane Anders is a science fiction and fantasy wiz. She won a Lambda Award back in 2005 and has pretty much never looked back. Since then, she’s won three Hugos, a Nebula and three Locus Awards, along with countless other nominations.

Her 2016 novel All the Birds in the Sky seamlessly blends sci-fi and fantasy and creates an excitingly new and unique world. Her nonfiction work, Never Say You Can’t Survive, came out in August 2021; it discusses ways to use creative writing to get through difficult times.

Somehow, Anders also has time for an award-winning podcast with author Annalee Newitz called Our Opinions Are Correct, hosts the monthly reading series “Writers With Drinks,” and writes for countless publications, including The New York Times.

RELATED: 7 feel-good sci-fi and fantasy books!

Susanna Clarke

Susanna Clarke’s doorstopper debut came out in 2004; Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell took her over ten years, but it debuted to acclaim from Neil Gaiman and the literary world. Her follow-up novel, Piranesi, took another fifteen years before publication. In between, Clarke had chronic fatigue syndrome, and writing became a struggle.

In a fantastic profile in The Guardian ahead of Piranesi’s release, Clarke said, “I was aware that I was a person cut off from the world, bound in one place by illness. Piranesi considers himself very free, but he’s cut off from the rest of humanity.”

While she’s less prolific than many others on this list, Clarke is one of my favorite genre writers at the moment. Everything she’s written has been worth the wait. I’m looking forward to whatever Clarke comes up with next; rumor has it a novel called The Cistern is forthcoming this fall, but I haven’t been able to confirm that anywhere official.

N.K. Jemisin

N.K. Jemisin is another incredibly decorated genre writer on this list. In 2016, she became the first black author to win the Hugo Award for Best Novel (for The Fifth Season). She became the first person to win three consecutive Best Novel Hugos for The Broken Earth trilogy. Jemisin is a 2020 recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Grant and The New York Times even called her “the most celebrated science fiction and fantasy writer of her generation.”

As she says on her website, Jemisin focuses on resistance to oppression, the inseverability of the liminal, and the coolness of Stuff Blowing Up. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The cover of Gods of Jade and Shadow, a photo of Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and the cover of Mexican Gothic; International Women's Day

When I first read Gods of Jade and Shadow, I knew I’d found something special. Silvia Moreno-Garcia is the rare genre writer who can succeed across multiple forms, styles and yes, even genre. She moves from the historical fantasy of Gods to a coming-of-age thriller with Untamed Shore to the delightfully terrifying Mexican Gothic with ease.

Along with her works of fiction, Moreno-Garcia edited several anthologies, including Cthulu’s Daughters. She’s also the publisher of Innsmouth Free Press and a columnist for The Washington Post. If you haven’t read any of Moreno-Garcia’s work yet, International Women’s Day is the perfect time to check her out; there’s something for everyone, so dive right in.

RELATED: 13 excellent new books coming out this year!

V.E. Schwab

If you’ve read any of my reviews or lists, you know I love V.E. Schwab. She’s written over a dozen books across different styles, genres and tones. While the Shades of Magic series was popular and the Villains series was a sleeper hit, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue put Schwab on the map as a New York Times Best Seller for 37 weeks straight.

Schwab seems to be constantly writing, with new and unique books coming out nearly every year. Next up should be the continuation of the Shades of Magic series, Threads of Power, and a possible third book in the Villains series. In the meantime, she has a handy tweet telling you exactly which of her works would be suitable for you: ​​

This list is nowhere near all of the fantastic female genre writers working today. If you’re looking for more women writers to check out, you’re in the right place! Stay tuned year-round for coverage of so many incredible women in all areas of media.

Happy International Women’s Day to all!

This article was originally published on March 8, 2023. 

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