Back in 21 June, I asked people to nominate their five favourite fantasy or science fiction novels by women writers. And yes, I’m doing what everyone else does in these sorts of polls and conflating “favourite” and “best”. Well, it is a sort of popularity contest type poll…
Anyway, some twenty-nine people left comments. And I have now counted up the results…
1 The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K Le Guin (7 votes)
2 The Dispossessed, Ursula K Le Guin (4 votes)
3= Ash: A Secret History, Mary Gentle; Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones; The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood; The Many-Coloured Land, Julian May; To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis; Woman on the Edge of Time, Marge Piercy (3 votes each)
A broad selection tying for third place there, though the first and second positions don’t really come as much of a surprise.
1 Ursula K Le Guin (14 votes)
2 CJ Cherryh (7 votes)
3= Diana Wynne Jones, Gwyneth Jones, Joanna Russ, Margaret Atwood, Tricia Sullivan (4 votes each)
Le Guin’s success is not really a surprise. Most of her books are still in print, she consistently appears on best of the genre lists, and she has written highly-regarded sf and fantasy. Cherryh’s books seemed almost ubiquitous during the 1980s and much of the 1990s, but are less visible these days – which is a shame. In total, 58 authors were named.
Books by year
1810s 2 1920s 1 1960s 8 1970s 21 1980s 33 1990s 29 2000s 21 2010s 3
This probably says more about the age of those who voted than it does the success of women writers during those particular decades.
Given a wider pool of voters, the results might have looked different. But even so, this poll is as valid as any other genre list you might find on the internet.