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 25
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
73 33
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
48 16
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
74 37
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
42 13
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 27
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
26 9
Leigh Brackett is listed (or ranked) 7 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

8
34 17
Lois McMaster Bujold is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Barrayar, The Warrior’s Apprentice, Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance

9
36 22
Margaret Atwood is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
The Handmaid’s Tale, Oryx and Crake, MaddAddam

10
22 10
Mercedes Lackey is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
MarylyleMcCue added This Rough Magic, Sword and Sorceress III, Sword and Sorceress V

11
26 14
Thea von Harbou is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Mollevangsvagen added Metropolis, M, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse

12
28 18
C. J. Cherryh is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Cyteen, Downbelow Station, The Pride of Chanur

13
11 2
Anne McCaffrey is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Andrew Miller0 added Dragonflight, Dragonsong, Sassinak

14
36 29
Anne Rice is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, Prince Lestat

15
26 21
Octavia E. Butler is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Kindred, Parable of the Sower, Xenogenesis

16
17 12
Elizabeth Moon is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Anna Åhlin added Winning Colors, Sporting Chance, Hunting Party

17
24 20
Virginia Woolf is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, A Room of One’s Own

18
7 2
C.S. Friedman is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Howard Heim added C.S. Friedman

Black sun series, Magister trilogy

19
22 19
Connie Willis is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Doomsday Book, Blackout/All Clear, To Say Nothing of the Dog

20
12 10
Diana Wynne Jones is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
MarylyleMcCue added Howl's Moving Castle, Charmed Life, The Lives of Christopher Chant

21
17 16
James Tiptree, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 21 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

22
4 1
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
16 15
Jane C. Loudon is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
The Mummy!, Gardening for Ladies, Stories of a Bride

24
16 16
Veronica Roth is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
mysmith50 added Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant

25
3 2
c. s. Friedman is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Howard Heim added c. s. Friedman

Black sun series, Magister trilogy

26
3 2
Barbara Hambly is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Howard Heim added Ghost-Walker, Tales from Jabba's Palace, Magic time

27
9 10
Patricia Wrede is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
MarylyleMcCue added Sorcery and Cecelia, Talking to Dragons, Calling on Dragons

28
17 20
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
11 13
Susanna Clarke is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories, Mr Simonelli

30
1 1
Sheri S. Tepper is listed (or ranked) 30 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

31
2 3
Kathy Tyers is listed (or ranked) 31 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

32
14 18
Doris Lessing is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
The Golden Notebook, The Grass is Singing, The Fifth Child

33
8 12
C. L. Moore is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Leo Doroschenko added The Last Mimzy, Shambleau and Others, The Twonky

34
9 15
Janet Morris is listed (or ranked) 34 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

35
7 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
6 13
Mary Doria Russell is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
jess-hart added The Sparrow, Children of God, A thread of grace

37
6 13
Jacqueline Carey is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
jess-hart added Kushiel's Dart, Banewreaker, Godslayer

38
7 15
Catherine Asaro is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Primary Inversion, The Quantum Rose, The Radiant Seas

39
9 18
Angela Carter is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
The Bloody Chamber, Nights at the Circus, The Magic Toyshop

40
5 13
Pat Cadigan is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Synners, Mindplayers, Tea from an Empty Cup

41
5 13
Karen Joy Fowler is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, The Jane Austen Book Club, Sarah Canary

42
7 16
Judith Merril is listed (or ranked) 42 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

43
9 19
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
6 15
Charlotte Perkins Gilman is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
The Yellow Wallpaper, Herland, Women and Economics

45
5 14
Elizabeth Hand is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Generation Loss, Waking the Moon, Mortal Love: A Novel

46
5 14
Jeanette Winterson is listed (or ranked) 46 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

47
7 17
Catherynne M. Valente is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Fairyland, Deathless, Palimpsest

48
7 17
Kelly Link is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Stranger Things Happen, Magic for Beginners, Pretty Monsters

49
4 13
Gwyneth Jones is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Bold as Love, White Queen, North Wind

50
3 12
Greer Gilman is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors
Moonwise, Cloud & Ashes: Three Winter's Tales, A Crowd of Bone