Total Nerd The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors  

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The best female sci-fi authors are the women who, despite the odds, found success in the science fiction writing genre. Typically a male-dominated field, as evidenced by the many male names on lists of the greatest science fiction authors, these ladies not just became best-selling authors with their science fiction books but also influenced the genre with their works. Which of these female sci-fi writers is the best? Vote for your favorites, add those not listed or re-rank this all below!

The history of women among the top science fiction authors is a spotted one. Initially, women in scifi writing was quite common with Mary Shelley, creator of Frankenstein, a pioneer in the field, writing what has been called the first science fiction novel ever. After her, however, the industry was very much taken over by men, at least until the 1960s when women reemerged as fierce competition for the guys.

Fast forward to the present and there are numerous female science fiction authors, many of whom are household names. Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia E. Butler, Lois McMaster Bujold and Kelly Link are just a few on this list who have won Nebula Awards for their achievements in the science fiction genre. J.K. Rowling made a fortune and became the author of the best-selling book series in history with her “Harry Potter” franchise.

But perhaps overlooked in their numerous literary awards, movie deals and authorship of some of the best science fiction novels of all time is the inspiration these talented female science fiction authors have given to young writers around the globe. That accomplishment cannot be measured but that doesn’t stop us from ranking the best female sci-fi authors right here.
list ordered by

1
56 20
Mary Shelley is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Mary Shelley Frankenstein, The Last Man, History of a Six Weeks’ Tour

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2
60 30
Ursula K. Le Guin is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Ursula K. Le Guin The Left Hand of Darkness, A Wizard of Earthsea, The Dispossessed

3
57 28
J. K. Rowling is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
J. K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Casual Vacancy

4
37 13
Marion Zimmer Bradley is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Marion Zimmer Bradley The Mists of Avalon, Darkover series, Avalon series

5
47 23
Madeleine L'Engle is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Madeleine L'Engle A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet

6
32 12
Andre Norton is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
mysmith50 added Andre Norton The Stars Are Ours!, Sea Siege, Star Man's Son

7
30 15
Margaret Atwood is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Margaret Atwood The Handmaid’s Tale, Oryx and Crake, MaddAddam

8
20 8
Leigh Brackett is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Leo Doroschenko added Leigh Brackett Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Rio Bravo, The Big Sleep

9
23 11
Thea von Harbou is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Mollevangsvagen added Thea von Harbou Metropolis, M, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse

10
26 16
Lois McMaster Bujold is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Lois McMaster Bujold Barrayar, The Warrior’s Apprentice, Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance

11
24 15
C. J. Cherryh is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
C. J. Cherryh Cyteen, Downbelow Station, The Pride of Chanur

12
16 8
Mercedes Lackey is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
MarylyleMcCue added Mercedes Lackey This Rough Magic, Sword and Sorceress III, Sword and Sorceress V

13
31 24
Anne Rice is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Anne Rice Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, Prince Lestat

14
22 17
Virginia Woolf is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Virginia Woolf Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, A Room of One’s Own

15
16 12
Jane C. Loudon is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Jane C. Loudon The Mummy!, Gardening for Ladies, Stories of a Bride

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16
9 6
Diana Wynne Jones is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
MarylyleMcCue added Diana Wynne Jones Howl's Moving Castle, Charmed Life, The Lives of Christopher Chant

17
12 10
Elizabeth Moon is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Anna Åhlin added Elizabeth Moon Winning Colors, Sporting Chance, Hunting Party

18
20 19
Octavia E. Butler is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Octavia E. Butler Kindred, Parable of the Sower, Xenogenesis

19
18 17
Connie Willis is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Connie Willis Doomsday Book, Blackout/All Clear, To Say Nothing of the Dog

20
16 15
Suzanne Collins is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
mysmith50 added Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, The Hunger Games

21
2 0
C.S. Friedman is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Howard Heim added C.S. Friedman Black sun series, Magister trilogy

22
1 0
Tanya Huff is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Howard Heim added Tanya Huff Blood Price, Scholar of Decay, Wizard of the Grove

23
1 0
Barbara Hambly is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Howard Heim added Barbara Hambly Ghost-Walker, Tales from Jabba's Palace, Magic time

24
7 7
Patricia Wrede is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
MarylyleMcCue added Patricia Wrede Sorcery and Cecelia, Talking to Dragons, Calling on Dragons

25
13 14
James Tiptree, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
James Tiptree, Jr. Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, Brightness Falls From the Air, Ten Thousand Light-Years From Home

26
10 11
Susanna Clarke is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Susanna Clarke Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories, Mr Simonelli

27
13 15
Doris Lessing is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Doris Lessing The Golden Notebook, The Grass is Singing, The Fifth Child

28
0 0
c. s. Friedman is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Howard Heim added c. s. Friedman Black sun series, Magister trilogy

29
11 13
Veronica Roth is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
mysmith50 added Veronica Roth Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant

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30
9 12
Janet Morris is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
christopher-crosby-morris added Janet Morris The Sacred Band, Tempus With His Right Side Companion Niko, Beyond Wizardwall

31
6 10
Jacqueline Carey is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
jess-hart added Jacqueline Carey Kushiel's Dart, Banewreaker, Godslayer

32
6 11
Karen Traviss is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Karen Traviss HALO: The Thursday War, HALO: Mortal Dictata, Star Wars Republic Commando: Hard Contact

33
5 10
C. L. Moore is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Leo Doroschenko added C. L. Moore The Last Mimzy, Shambleau and Others, The Twonky

34
4 10
Mary Doria Russell is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
jess-hart added Mary Doria Russell The Sparrow, Children of God, A thread of grace

35
6 13
Catherine Asaro is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Catherine Asaro Primary Inversion, The Quantum Rose, The Radiant Seas

36
5 12
Jeanette Winterson is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Jeanette Winterson Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, Written on the Body

37
8 16
Angela Carter is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Angela Carter The Bloody Chamber, Nights at the Circus, The Magic Toyshop

38
7 15
Catherynne M. Valente is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Catherynne M. Valente Fairyland, Deathless, Palimpsest

39
7 15
Kelly Link is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Kelly Link Stranger Things Happen, Magic for Beginners, Pretty Monsters

40
5 13
Charlotte Perkins Gilman is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Charlotte Perkins Gilman The Yellow Wallpaper, Herland, Women and Economics

41
7 16
Joanna Russ is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Joanna Russ The Female Man, How to Suppress Women's Writing, We Who Are About To…

42
6 15
Judith Merril is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Judith Merril Shadow on the Hearth, Better to Have Loved: The Life of Judith Merril, Gunner Cade

43
5 14
Johanna Sinisalo is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Johanna Sinisalo Troll: A Love Story, Not Before Sundown, The Blood of Angels

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44
4 13
Kaja Foglio is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Kaja Foglio Girl Genius, Vol. 1: Agatha Heterodyne and the Beetleburg Clank, Girl Genius

45
3 12
Gwyneth Jones is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Gwyneth Jones Bold as Love, White Queen, North Wind

46
3 12
Elizabeth Hand is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Elizabeth Hand Generation Loss, Waking the Moon, Mortal Love: A Novel

47
3 12
Pat Cadigan is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Pat Cadigan Synners, Mindplayers, Tea from an Empty Cup

48
3 12
Karen Joy Fowler is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Karen Joy Fowler We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, The Jane Austen Book Club, Sarah Canary

49
4 14
Margaret Cavendish is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Margaret Cavendish The Blazing World, Sociable Letters, The Convent of Pleasure and Other Plays

50
2 11
Greer Gilman is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Greer Gilman Moonwise, Cloud & Ashes: Three Winter's Tales, A Crowd of Bone