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
68 28
Mary Shelley is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Frankenstein, The Last Man, History of a Six Weeks’ Tour

2
75 34
Ursula K. Le Guin is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
The Left Hand of Darkness, A Wizard of Earthsea, The Dispossessed

3
50 18
Marion Zimmer Bradley is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
The Mists of Avalon, Darkover series, Avalon series

4
75 38
J. K. Rowling is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Casual Vacancy

5
44 14
Andre Norton is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
mysmith50 added The Stars Are Ours!, Sea Siege, Star Man's Son

6
57 30
Madeleine L'Engle is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet

7
37 18
Lois McMaster Bujold is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Barrayar, The Warrior’s Apprentice, Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance

8
28 11
Leigh Brackett is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Leo Doroschenko added Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Rio Bravo, The Big Sleep

9
24 11
Mercedes Lackey is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
MWM added This Rough Magic, Sword and Sorceress III, Sword and Sorceress V

10
31 18
C. J. Cherryh is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Cyteen, Downbelow Station, The Pride of Chanur

11
36 24
Margaret Atwood is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
The Handmaid’s Tale, Oryx and Crake, MaddAddam

12
26 16
Thea von Harbou is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Mollevangsvagen added Metropolis, M, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse

13
27 22
Octavia E. Butler is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Kindred, Parable of the Sower, Xenogenesis

14
11 5
Anne McCaffrey is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Andrew Miller0 added Dragonflight, Dragonsong, Sassinak

15
36 33
Anne Rice is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, Prince Lestat

16
24 20
Connie Willis is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Doomsday Book, Blackout/All Clear, To Say Nothing of the Dog

17
18 14
Elizabeth Moon is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Anna Åhlin added Winning Colors, Sporting Chance, Hunting Party

18
24 22
Virginia Woolf is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, A Room of One’s Own

19
8 4
C.S. Friedman is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Howard Heim added C.S. Friedman

Black sun series, Magister trilogy

20
19 17
James Tiptree, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, Brightness Falls From the Air, Ten Thousand Light-Years From Home

21
5 2
Barbara Hambly is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Howard Heim added Ghost-Walker, Tales from Jabba's Palace, Magic time

22
5 2
Tanya Huff is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Howard Heim added Blood Price, Scholar of Decay, Wizard of the Grove

23
4 1
Sheri S. Tepper is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Teresa Singleton added The Gate to Women's Country, A Plague of Angels, Six Moon Dance

24
12 12
Diana Wynne Jones is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
MWM added Howl's Moving Castle, Charmed Life, The Lives of Christopher Chant

25
16 17
Jane C. Loudon is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
The Mummy!, Gardening for Ladies, Stories of a Bride

26
10 10
Patricia Wrede is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
MWM added Sorcery and Cecelia, Talking to Dragons, Calling on Dragons

27
16 18
Veronica Roth is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
mysmith50 added Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant

28
18 21
Suzanne Collins is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
mysmith50 added The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, The Hunger Games

29
10 12
C. L. Moore is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Leo Doroschenko added The Last Mimzy, Shambleau and Others, The Twonky

30
0 0
Joan D. Vinge is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
DwayneGruber added Santa Claus: The Movie, Dreamfall, Catspaw

31
15 19
Doris Lessing is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
The Golden Notebook, The Grass is Singing, The Fifth Child

32
11 14
Susanna Clarke is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories, Mr Simonelli

33
3 4
c. s. Friedman is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Howard Heim added c. s. Friedman

Black sun series, Magister trilogy

34
2 4
Kathy Tyers is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Marci Haigh added Kathy Tyers Tales from Jabba's Palace, Tales from the Empire, Balance Point

35
8 14
Karen Traviss is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
HALO: The Thursday War, HALO: Mortal Dictata, Star Wars Republic Commando: Hard Contact

36
9 16
Janet Morris is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
christopher-crosby-morris added The Sacred Band, Tempus With His Right Side Companion Niko, Beyond Wizardwall

37
8 15
Catherine Asaro is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Primary Inversion, The Quantum Rose, The Radiant Seas

38
6 13
Karen Joy Fowler is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, The Jane Austen Book Club, Sarah Canary

39
6 14
Elizabeth Hand is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Generation Loss, Waking the Moon, Mortal Love: A Novel

40
6 14
Jacqueline Carey is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
jess-hart added Kushiel's Dart, Banewreaker, Godslayer

41
8 17
Judith Merril is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Shadow on the Hearth, Better to Have Loved: The Life of Judith Merril, Gunner Cade

42
5 13
Gwyneth Jones is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Bold as Love, White Queen, North Wind

43
10 20
Joanna Russ is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
The Female Man, How to Suppress Women's Writing, We Who Are About To…

44
9 19
Angela Carter is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
The Bloody Chamber, Nights at the Circus, The Magic Toyshop

45
6 15
Mary Doria Russell is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
jess-hart added The Sparrow, Children of God, A thread of grace

46
5 14
Pat Cadigan is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Synners, Mindplayers, Tea from an Empty Cup

47
6 16
Charlotte Perkins Gilman is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
The Yellow Wallpaper, Herland, Women and Economics

48
5 15
Jeanette Winterson is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, Written on the Body

49
7 18
Catherynne M. Valente is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Fairyland, Deathless, Palimpsest

50
7 18
Kelly Link is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Stranger Things Happen, Magic for Beginners, Pretty Monsters