Most of you have likely heard about the 2015 Hugo nominations dustup. I'm not a voting Worldcon member (although I hope at some point to be), nor am I currently particularly active in that community (though again, I hope at some point to be), so for now I'll just point you to John Scalzi and io9 for further thoughts on the matter. Suffice to say that as a science fiction and fantasy fan standing largely outside of the central machinations, I think it's a damn shame.
If you know me at all, you probably know that I enjoy both excellent female and minority authors, and excellent, boundary-pushing science fiction and fantasy books. Last year's Hugo Awards provided a pretty great string of recommendations, from which I poached SEVERAL titles for my own to-read list. This year? Not so much.
Don't get me wrong, there are still a few good titles on there. I LOVED Ancillary Sword, for one, and also really enjoyed The Goblin Emperor. But I'm afraid that anyone searching for the same range and diversity will be disappointed in this year's nominations. The question becomes, then (if you're someone like me - actively looking for mind-bendy speculative fiction with an eye toward diversity), WHERE does one even begin to look?
Without giving the matter too much thought, I've stumbled upon a few good starting points, which I'm bookmarking here for my own edification as well as in the hope that you, dear reader, might find them useful. (Please note that I haven't yet read most of these books.)
- The 2014 Tiptree Award Winners (and past years). This award was founded in 1991 as an "annual literary prize for science fiction or fantasy that explores our understanding of gender" (from the Tiptree website). Primarily (but not exclusively) female authors writing provocative and thoughtful speculative fiction.
- Kameron Hurley's "If you liked ANCILLARY JUSTICE and GOD'S WAR you'll love...". I must have bumped into Kameron Hurley online more than a few times before I read her latest (mind-twisting) book The Mirror Empire. This was about the same time as I read Ancillary Justice, and I was in a swoon over the EXCELLENT SCIENCE-FICTION-NESS for weeks before I realized that I couldn't find anything with which to follow those books up. Luckily Kameron stepped in just in time with a list that was pretty much exactly what I was looking for.
- The Sirens Conference Reading Challenge. I can't tell you how much I'd love to attend a Sirens Conference. From their website: "Sirens is a conference dedicated to the remarkable women of fantasy literature... Each year, we gather to discuss topics related to women and fantasy literature, from how women engage with books to representations of diversity in fantasy literature, from women as political actors to the limitations that we place, even now, on female characters." The 2015 theme is rebels and revolutionaries, and the reading challenge goes right along with this theme.
- #womenwritefantasy on Twitter. It is deeply depressing to say that these sorts of hashtags come and go regularly on Twitter, almost always in response to an article meant to elucidate the sudden success of fantasy fiction...that excludes female authors from the conversation entirely. Still, it's a great place to hear about influential women writing fantasy, as well as to share your own loves and influences.
...And now I'm opening the floor to you. Where do you go for your diverse SF/F book recommendations? Do you have any favorites of your own that you'd like to put out there? I'll go first: Octavia Butler, Diana Wynne Jones, N. K. Jemisin, Kate Elliott, Ursula K. LeGuin, V. E. Schwab...