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The list: 100 Great Science Fiction Stories by Women


Now let the arguing begin…

The list below contains 100 pieces of short fiction – short stories, novelettes and novellas – by women writers, published between 1927 and 2012. Each author appears only once. The stories are by no means the best by each writer. In most cases, I’m simply not familiar enough with an oeuvre to choose the best; in other cases, I’ve picked a story I’ve read and thought good, and yes, there are a few of my favourite stories in the list too. I’ve not read them all – some came from suggestions on Twitter or on an earlier post on this blog (many thanks to all who contributed), others I took from various award lists or Year’s Best TOCs. One or two fantasy stories might have sneaked through the net, because I couldn’t find copies to read and check. However, the list should all be science fiction – and it should also demonstrate a good spread of styles and themes and approaches across the genre.

The point of the exercise was to demonstrate that women have been writing good science fiction since the beginnings of the genre – a point signally ignored by the table of contents of the 1978 anthology 100 Great Science Fiction Short Short Stories, which contained only five stories by women. The first story on this list, for example, came third in a competition in Amazing Stories during the magazine’s second year of publication.

1 ‘The Fate of the Poseidonia’, Clare Winger Harris (1927, short story) online here
2 ‘The Conquest of Gola,’ Leslie F Stone (1931, short story) available in
3 ‘Water Pirate’, Leigh Brackett (1941, short story) available in
4 ‘Space Episode’, Leslie Perri (1941, short story) available in
5 ‘No Woman Born’, CL Moore (1944, novelette) available in
6 ‘That Only a Mother’, Judith Merril (1948, short story) available in
7 ‘Contagion’, Katherine Maclean (1950, novelette) available in
8 ‘Brightness Falls from the Air’, Margaret St Clair [as Idris Seabright] (1951, short story) available in
9 ‘All Cats are Gray’, Andre Norton (1953, short story) available in
10 ‘The Last Day’, Helen Clarkson (1958, short story) available in
11 ‘Captivity’, Zenna Henderson (1958, novella) available in
12 ‘The New You’, Kit Reed (1962, short story) online here
13 ‘The Putnam Tradition’, Sonya Dorman (1963, short story) online here
14 ‘Lord Moon’, MJ Engh [as Jane Beauclerk] (1965, short story) available in
15 ‘Weyr Search’, Anne McCaffrey (1967, novella) available in
16 ‘The Heat Death of the Universe’, Pamela Zoline (1967, short story) online here
17 ‘The Steiger Effect’, Betsy Curtis (1968, short story) available in
18 ‘The Power of Time’, Josephine Saxton (1971, novelette) available in
19 ‘And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side’, James Tiptree Jr (1972, short story) available in
20 ‘When It Changed’, Joanna Russ (1972, short story) online here
21 ‘Sheltering Dream’, Doris Piserchia (1972, short story) available in
22 ‘Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand’, Vonda N McIntyre (1973, novelette) available in
23 ‘Clone Sister’, Pamela Sargent (1973, novelette) available in
24 ‘The Violet’s Embryo’, Angélica Gorodischer (1973, novelette) online here (excerpt)
25 ‘Stone Circle’, Lisa Tuttle (1976, short story) available in
26 ‘Eyes of Amber’, Joan D Vinge (1977, novelette) available in
27 ‘Cassandra, CJ Cherryh (1978, short story) available in
28 ‘The View from Endless Scarp’, Marta Randall (1978, short story) online here
29 ‘Scorched Supper on New Niger’, Suzy McKee Charnas (1980, novelette) available in
30 ‘Abominable’, Carol Emshwiller (1980, short story) available in
31 ‘Sea Changeling’, Mildred Downey Broxon (1981, novelette) available in
32 ‘In the Western Tradition’, Phyllis Eisenstein (1981, novella) available in
33 ‘Her Furry Face’, Leigh Kennedy (1983, short story) available in
34 ‘Bloodchild’ Octavia E Butler (1984, novelette) available in
35 ‘Symphony for a Lost Traveller’, Lee Killough (1984, short story) available in
36 ‘All My Darling Daughters’, Connie Willis (1985, novelette) available in
37 ‘Webrider’, Jayge Carr (1985, short story) available in
38 ‘Out of All Them Bright Stars’, Nancy Kress (1985, short story) available in
39 ‘The View from Venus: A Case Study’, Karen Joy Fowler (1986, novelette) available in
40 ‘Reichs-Peace’, Sheila Finch (1986, novelette) available in
41 ‘Daily Voices’, Lisa Goldstein (1986, short story) available in
42 ‘Rachel in Love’, Pat Murphy (1987, novelette) available in
43 ‘Forever Yours, Anna’, Kate Wilhelm (1987, short story) available in
44 ‘Stable Strategies for Middle Management’, Eileen Gunn (1988, short story) available in
45 ‘War and Rumours of War’, Candas Jane Dorsey (1988, short story) available in
46 ‘The Mountains of Mourning’, Lois McMaster Bujold (1989, novella) available in
47 ‘Tiny Tango’, Judith Moffett (1989, novella) available in
48 ‘Identifying the Object’, Gwyneth Jones (1990, novelette) available in
49 ‘Loose Cannon’, Susan Shwartz (1990, novelette) available in
50 ‘Dispatches from the Revolution’, Pat Cadigan (1991, novelette) available here
51 ‘The Road to Jerusalem’, Mary Gentle (1991, short story) online here
52 ‘The Missionary’s Child’, Maureen F McHugh (1992, novelette) available in
53 ‘The Story So Far’, Martha Soukup (1993, short story) available in
54 ‘The Good Pup’, Bridget McKenna (1993, short story) available in
55 ‘California Dreamer’, Mary Rosenblum (1994, short story) available in
56 ‘Last Summer at Mars Hill’, Elizabeth Hand (1994, novella) available in
57 ‘Coming of Age in Karhide’, Ursula K Le Guin (1995, novelette) available in
58 ‘De Secretis Mulierum’, L Timmel Duchamp (1995, novella) available in
59 ‘Merlusine’, Lucy Sussex (1997, novelette) available in
60 ‘Noble Mold’, Kage Baker (1997, short story) available in
61 ‘All the Birds of Hell’, Tanith Lee (1998, novelette) available in
62 ‘Rain Season’, Leanne Frahm (1998, short story) available in
63 ‘Echea’, Kristine Kathryn Rusch (1998, novelette) available in
64 ‘Patient Zero’, Tananarive Due (2000, short story) online here
65 ‘Knapsack Poems’, Eleanor Arnason (2002, short story) available in
66 ‘State of Oblivion’, Kaaron Warren (2003, short story) available in
67 ‘Inside Out’, Michaela Roessner (2004, short story) online here
68 ‘Griots of the Galaxy’, Andrea Hairston (2004, novelette) available in
69 ‘Riding the White Bull’, Caitlín R Kiernan (2004, novelette) available in
70 ‘The Avatar of Background Noise’, Toiya Kristen Finley (2006, short story) available in
71 ‘Captive Girl’, Jennifer Pelland (2006, short story) online here
72 ‘The Bride Price’, Cat Sparks (2007, short story) available in
73 ‘Tideline’, Elizabeth Bear (2007, short story) online here
74 ‘Arkfall’, Carolyn Ives Gilman (2008, novella) available in
75 ‘Legolas does the Dishes’, Justina Robson (2008, short story) available in
76 ‘The Ecologist and the Avon Lady’, Tricia Sullivan (2008, novelette) available in
77 ‘Infinities’, Vandana Singh (2008, novelette) available in
78 ‘Chica, Let Me Tell You a Story’, Alex Dally MacFarlane (2008, short story) available in
79 ‘Spider the Artist’, Nnedi Okrafor (2008, short story) online here
80 ‘Cold Words’, Juliette Wade (2009, novelette) available in
81 ‘Eros, Philia, Agape’, Rachel Swirsky (2009, novelette) onine here
82 ‘Non-Zero Probabilities’, NK Jemisin (2009, short story) online here
83 ‘Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast’, Eugie Foster (2009, short story) available in
84 ‘It Takes Two’, Nicola Griffith (2009, novelette) available in
85 ‘Blood, Blood’, Abbey Mei Otis (2010, short story) online here and here
86 ‘The Other Graces’, Alice Sola Kim (2010, short story) available in
87 ‘Agents of Repair’, Rosie Oliver (2010, short story) available in
88 ‘Amaryllis’, Carrie Vaughn (2010, short story) online here
89 ‘I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno’, Vylar Kaftan (2010, short story) online here
90 ‘Flying in the Face of God’, Nina Allan (2010, short story) available in
91 ‘Six Months, Three Days’, Charlie Jane Anders (2011, short story) online here
92 ‘Nahiku West’, Linda Nagata (2011, novelette) available in
93 ‘The Cartographer Bees and the Anarchist Wasps’, E Lily Yu (2011, short story) online here
94 ‘Silently and Very Fast’, Catherynne M Valente (2011, novella) online here, here and here
95 ‘Jagannath’, Karin Tidbeck (2011, short story) available in
96 ‘A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel’, Yoon Ha Lee (2011, short story) online here
97 ‘Immersion’, Aliette de Bodard (2012, short story) online here
98 ‘The Lady Astronaut of Mars’, Mary Robinette Kowal (2012, novelette) online here
99 ‘The Green’, Lauren Beukes (2012, short story) available in
100 ‘Significant Dust’, Margo Lanagan (2012, novelette) available in

No doubt there are stories and authors I’ve missed off the list, and which/who you feel strongly should be on it. Tell me so in a comment. Also, feel free to disseminate the list as a meme – you know, bold those you’ve read, italicise those on the TBR; or something like that.

For the record, I’ve read: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 16, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 47, 48, 53, 55, 57, 58, 64, 65, 70, 73, 74, 75, 79, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 87, 89, 90, 91, 93, 94, 96, 97, 98. Which I make to be sixty-three in total. Not too bad a showing…

This is a list of short fiction – short stories, novelettes and novels. If you’re interested in novels by women sf writers, then check out SF Mistressworks.

This is the easy summary for those on reddit who seem to have trouble understanding the purpose of this list:

  1. It is not novels, it is short stories, novelettes and novellas.
  2. Each writer appears only once.
  3. It is not a list of “best” or “top” sf stories by women. It is “great” because it was inspired by the anthology 100 Great Science Fiction Short Short Stories.
  4. The list demonstrates that women have been writing good science fiction since the genre was created in 1926.
  5. There are many more than 100 excellent women sf writers, but I chose 100 because of the anthology named in point 3.
  6. The gender of the author is not irrelevant. Find me a list of great or top or best sf stories where at least half were written by women. You will fail.
  7. The stories were chosen from a) my own favourites, b) suggestions by other people, c) award shortlists, and d) the tables of contents of Year’s Best anthologies.
  8. I have read 63 of the stories on the list.
  9. There are several authors on the list who have yet to have novels published – ie, new authors.
  10. If there’s someone missing you feel should be on the list, tell me in a comment.
  11. I’m happy to defend all my choices – leave a comment.
  12. Finally, why not click on the links in the list and read those stories which are available online?

166 thoughts on “The list: 100 Great Science Fiction Stories by Women

  1. No Elizabeth Moon, Glenda Larke, Tanya Huff, Connie Willis ???

  2. Connie Willis is in there at No. 36. Glenda Larke is a name I’m not familiar with. Moon and Huff I’ve never read any fiction by, and they don’t seem to have ever been nominated for an award for their short fiction.

  3. what a great reading list. 🙂

  4. There must be many other omissions, but the absence of Francis Stevens aka. Gertrude Barrow Bennett is not forgivable even if her novel The Heads of Cerberus predates the list (it was published in 1919, and reprinted in the 30es)

  5. The only Francis Stevens story I’ve come across is ‘Friend Island’, which I didn’t think especially good. I see on that she only wrote about half a dozen short stories anyway, and most of her output was serialised novels – which are aren’t applicable for this list. Plus, it could be argued that since science fiction began in 1926 with the publication of the issue of Amazing Stories, anything predating that would not be eligible either…

  6. Not to get into a debate on when sf began, but are we not counting Frankenstein as sf? Because that was 1818.

    • Personally, I don’t consider Frankenstein sf – proto-sf, perhaps, but more within the Gothic tradition than creating an entire new genre out of nothing. The three major events which have shaped and created sf as we know it today are Gernsback’s invention of “scientifiction”, Gernsback’s loss of his magazines to publishing companies who repositioned the genre as pulp fiction, and the New Wave.

      • The style of Frankenstein is gothic, but to me the important thing is the insistence on scientific believability, stressed both in Shelley’s preface to the later editions and, more importantly, in dr Frankenstein’s interviews with natural scientists; in this, the novel very clearly sets itself apart from the gothic tradition of supernatural horrors. You’re right about Gernsback playing a vital part in creating “modern”, or post-1926, sf as a self-contained field, but the early Astounding relied heavily on reprinting work by Verne, Wells and other 19th century authors; sf (along, I believe, with the detective story) was the literary child of the Enlightenment, and emigrated to the US mainly after WWI.

        • John-Henri means the early AMAZING here…Poe plays prominently on the pages of Gernsback’s AMAZING.

          ASTOUNDING was the first sf-oriented magazine to engage mostly in what we consider the “pulp tradition,” but pulp sf flourished before AMAZING (founded 1926), Gernsback’s SCIENCE WONDER STORIES and AIR WONDER STORIES (founded 1929, after Teck Publishing picked up AMAZING), and ASTOUNDING STORIES OF SUPER-SCIENCE began in 1930. As did other kinds of sf, even when it was called “scientific romance” and other similar things.

      • Nope. Nice try, but no. A lot more than three events, Gernsback’s loss of his magazines to a publishing company that in many ways carried on with his traditions was not nearly so important as the others, and Gernsback certainly didn’t create sf out of whole cloth, nor even his kind of sf/stf.

        • Gernsback had welcomed fiction by women in his magazines – as indicated by the first story in the list. But when he lost control of his titles, they were repositioned as pulp magazines, aimed at a male audience, and women were no longer welcome. The introduction to New Eves makes this argument.

      • First, this is a great list, and I’m glad you took the trouble to put this out. More recognition of great women authors is necessary.

        As for what SF is, I’d respond that stars existed long before someone figured out that they were stars, rather than odd lights in the sky. Just because the term didn’t exist until Gernsback came up with it, it doesn’t mean we can’t look back to see what other works fit into the definition we now understand it to be. John-Henri Holmberg does a good job in laying out the case for Shelley to be considered SF, though certainly not eligible to be included in your 1927 – present list.

      • Oh, and yes, Frankenstein is a novel, so not eligible for that reason as well. Yes, I did read your repeated attempts to remind folks these are shorter works.

    • Frankenstein walks a fine line between Gothic and Science Fiction. Plus, it’s a novel not a short story. But I understand your concern.

  7. “Houston Houston Do You Read?” by Alice Sheldon,_Houston,_Do_You_Read%3F …this made a huge impression on me as a young adult (I’m now 50)

  8. For those who’d like to read something by Lisa Goldstein and Tricia Sullivan, check out the stories they have online at infinity plus: ‘The Narcissus Plague’ and ‘The Question Eaters’.

  9. Let’s not forget the estimable Kij Johnson’s work.

    • I hadn’t forgotten her, but most of her short fiction has been fantasy rather than sf. And her best-known sf short story, ‘Spar’, well, I really don’t like it at all.

      • Yes, but Kij’s “The Man Who Bridged the Mist” Novella 2011 is SF. – Even Gardner Dozois said so by putting it in his anthology! And it is wonderful

        • Ah, I was under the impression it was fantasy. Also, I wanted to keep the number of novellas down, and not make the list too 21st-century heavy (which it is anyway).

  10. I’ve read 69 of these and it is an excellent list. Tomorrow I’ll write 50 or so more that should be included. I love that women SF writer’s are her in profusion!

  11. Wow, I’ve got my summer reading cut out for me!
    Was delighted to see Tiptree and Cadigan here – I haven’t read the stories you mentioned from the, and I’m looking forward to reading them now!

  12. This is a wonderful list. There’s some great uncollected Rebecca Ore that I would add, or maybe her novella _Alien Bootlegger_.

  13. Great list, Ian. Thanks for including me! The ensuing debate simply means there are more than 100 women writers of SF.

    • Definitely. I could only go on what I’d read myself, what was recommended to me and what I saw on awards shortlists and year’s best TOCs. And I chose the figure 100 because of the anthology mentioned. But no doubt I’ll be kicking myself for weeks to come over stories and writers I didn’t include…

  14. Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang, Hugo Award Winning Novel, by Kate Wilhelm

  15. Mrs. Caliban by Rachel Ingalls

    • Tricky one, that – says it’s a novel, but it appears to have been published in the UK in a collection of the same name. I’m also not sure if it’s fantasy or science fiction.

  16. No “This Alien Shore” by CS Friedman?! A crime, I say.

  17. Thanks for doing this. It gives me a reading list. I look forward to more comments, with more suggestions. And I’m very happy to see one of my stories included.

  18. Thank you so much for this list, I’m sharing it with everyone!

  19. Pingback: 100 Great Science Fiction Stories by Women | At Times I Almost Dream

  20. Pingback: Typosphere » Blog Archive » 100 Greatest SF Stories, Written by Females

  21. Ian,

    I typed my list of 64 more that I thought of. But I erased by accident, so I’ll try again! Not that your list is bad – it’s terrific but here are 64 more female SF writers that I would add:

    1. “The Lottery”, Shirley Jackson (1948, short story)
    2. “Dune Roller”, Julian May (1950, novella)
    3. “Letters from Laura”, Mildred Clingerman (1957, short story)
    4. “The Wind People”, Marion Zimmer Bradley (1959, short story)
    5. “Unwillingly to School”, Pauline Ashwell (1959, novella)
    6. “For the Sake of Grace”, Suzette Haldin Elgin (1969, novelette)
    7. “Miss Omega Raven”, Naomi Mitchison (1972, short story)
    8. “Son of Morning”, Phyllis Gotlieb (1972, novella)
    9. “Variations on a Theme from Beethoven”, Sharon Webb (1980, novelette)
    10. “At the Embassy Club”, Elizabeth A. Lynn (1984, short story)
    11. “Rockabye Baby”, S.C. Sykes (1985, novelette)
    12. “Distances”, Kathy Koje (1988, short story)
    13. “Silver Lady and the Fortyish Man”, Megan Lindholm (1989, novelette)
    14. “A Just and Lasting Peace”, Lois Tilton (1991, novelette)
    15. “The Nutcracker Coup”, Janet Kagen (1992, novelette)
    16. “Alien Bootlegger”, Rebecca Ore (1993, novella)
    17. “Asylum”, Katherine Kerr (1994, short story)
    18. “A Birthday”, Esther M. Freisner (1995, short story)
    19. “Wonders of the Invisible World”, Patricia A. McKillip (1995, novelette)
    20. “Microbe”, Joan Slonczewski (1995, short story)
    21. “The Nostalginauts”, S.N. Dyer (Sharon Farber) (1997, short story)
    22. “Aurora in Four Voices”, Catherine Asaro (1998, novella)
    23. “The Dancing Floor”, Cherry Wilder (1998, short story)
    24. “The Cure for Everything” Severna Park (2000, novelette)
    25. “May Be Some Time”, Brenda Clough (2001, short story)
    26. “Lambing Season”, Molly Gloss (2002, short story)
    27. “Looking Through Lace”, Ruth Nestvold (2003, novella)
    28. “The Fear Gun”, Judith Berman (2004, novelette)
    29. “Savant Songs”, Brenda Cooper (2004, short story)
    30. “Ikiryo”, Liz Williams (2005, short story)
    31. “The Fate of Mice”, Susan Palwick (2005, short story)
    32. “Bliss”, Leah Bobet (2005, short story)
    33. ”The Town on Blighted Sea”, A.M. Dellamonica (2006, short story)
    34. “Dangerous Space”, Kelley Eskridge (2007, novella)
    35. “Baby Doll”, Johanna Sinisalo (2007 short story)
    36. “Three Days of Rain”, Holly Phillips (2007, short story)
    37. “Virus Changes Skin”, Ekaterina Sedea (2007, short story)
    38. “Memory Dog”, Kathleen Ann Goonan (2008, novelette)
    39. “The Surfer”, Kelly Link (2008, novelette)
    40. “Traitor”, M. Rickert (2008, short story)
    41. “The Endangered Camp”, Ann Leckie (2009, short story)
    42. “As Women Fight”, Sarah Genge (2009, short story)
    43. “Escape to Other Worlds with Science Fiction”, Jo Walton (2009, short story)
    44. “Bad Matter”, Alexandra Duncan (2009, short story)
    45. “Seeing”, Genevieve Valentine (2010, short story)
    46. “Futures in a Memories World”, Nina Kiriki Hoffman (2010, short story)
    47. “Seven Years from Home”, Naomi Novik (2010, short story)
    48. “Stone, Wall, Truth”, Carolyn Yoachim (2010, novelette)
    49. “Beach Blanket Spaceship”, Sandra McDonald (2010, short story)
    50. “Goodnight, Moons”, Ellen Klages (2011, short story)
    51. “Some of Them Closer”, Marissa Lingen (2011, short story)
    52. “The Man Who Bridged the Mist”, Kij Johnson (2011, novella)
    53. “Countdown”, Mira Grant (2011, novella)
    54. “Movement”, Nancy Fulda (2011, short story)
    55. “Five Ways to Love on Planet Porcelain”, Cat Rambo (2012, short story)
    56. “The Finite Canvas”, Brit Mandelo (2012, short story)
    57. “A Hundred Ghosts Parade Tonight”, Xia Jia (2012, short story)
    58. “Nanny’s Day”, Leah Cypress (2012, short story)
    59. “Liberty’s Daughter”, Naomi Kritzer (2012, short story)
    60. “(To See the Other) Whole Against the Sky”, E. Catherine Tobler (2012, short story)
    61. “Beautiful Boys”, Theodora Goss (2012, short story)
    62. “The Easthound”, Nalo Hopkinson (2012, short story)
    63. “Final Exam”, Megan Arkenberg (2012, short story)
    64. “Robot”, Helena Bell (2012, short story)

    Again, heavily slanted to this century – but I think that is exciting. It means that the genre is growing up. More woman readers mean more woman writers and we all win!
    By the way I’ve read 74 of your list and will search out the others as I am able.

    Thanks so much for doing this!

    • Excellent list. There’s quite a few I considered but couldn’t find enough information on them to determine if they were sf or fantasy, or I simply couldn’t fit them in. The MZB I’ve read, but I didn’t think it was very good. Most of the names are known to me, but I’ve not read anything by them – perhaps because they’re chiefly published in the Big Three and I don’t subscribe to those magazines.

      • I agree about the Bradley – but it was included in Asimov’s best of the year series and I think she deserves a nod. I don’t think all these stories on both lists are the best – as you say – but they are all worth reading. And I would suggest reading F&SF and Asimov’s they have excellent fiction every year.

        Now on to reading some of these online.

    • Happy to see Suzette Haden Elgin on your list. I think her fiction is brilliant.

  22. Ummm…Kelly Link, anyone?

    • Has Kelly Link written any science fiction? I’m not that familiar with her oeuvre.

      • The only SF story I remember is on my list. “The Surfer”.

      • Kelly is great because when they tried to pin the crown of literary fiction on her, she insisted she’s a science fiction writer. But I know what you mean. She has written at least one very science fiction short fiction piece, about when the alien space ships are about to land . . . and then they do.

  23. Great list, no complaints only a bit surprised that MZB didn’t make it anywhere. She was both talented and prolific after all.

    • I’ve only read a couple of MZB’s sf short fiction and I didn’t think them very good. I’ve also read her novel Endless Voyage and found that quite poor as well. I couldn’t find anything by her that appeared categorically sf on any award shortlists or in any year’s best anthologies.

      • Mercedes Lackey, Marion Zimmer Bradley and Tanya Huff all wrote fantastic short stories. MZB also edited a ton of anthologies of short stories by and about magical and strong women that kept me sane when I couldn’t find anything else to read by and about magical strong women. Also Diana Paxson, Elizabeth Waters, Laurell K. Hamilton, Deborah Wheeler, Rosemary Edgehill, Elizabeth Scarborough. And those are just in the anthologies I have on shelf here at home in the Sword and Sorceress (MZB and Elizabeth Waters) and Catfantastic (Andre Norton and Martin Greenberg) books.

        • Most of the names you mention write fantasy, not science fiction. There’s no reason why someone can’t put together a list of 100 Great Fantasy Stories by Women…

  24. I’m going to recommend more Elizabeth Bear, partly because she’s written some science fiction I’ve liked very much, and partly because I don’t love “Tideline” because I’m not fond of sentimental fiction about dying war machines, though “Tideline” does it very well. Has anyone written a story about a sentient war machine that’s facing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission?

    Anyway, from _Shoggoths in Bloom_…. there are a lot of good science fiction stories in the collection (and good fantasy as well), but my favorite is “In the House of Aryaman, a Lonely Signal Burns”

  25. Ursula LeGuin’s The Word for World is Forest is an amazing SF novella. I know you’re only including each author once, but I’d recommend it.

    • I recommended Coming of Age in Karhide to Ian, but you’re right, there’s lots and lots of Le Guin stories that could make the list. The Matter of Seggri is another.

  26. Naomi Mitchison – Memoirs of a Spacewoman. It’s a classic.

  27. Reblogged this on E. E. Sheridan and commented:
    My reading list just bigger… Check it out!

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  29. Thank you so much for including me and the other Brazen Hussies (Lisa Goldstein and Pat Murphy.) I also LOVE that you titled the list 100 *Great* SF Stories . . . rather than use the superlative “Greatest.” Who could quibble with that? And you left the door open and welcome for the other wonderful lists folks have suggested here.

  30. Pingback: Analysis: 100 Great sf stories by women | It Doesn't Have To Be Right...

  31. This is a lovely list. I’m honored to be on it. Thank you.

    Sometimes you can hear stories from the three print magazines on Escape Pod, even if you aren’t subscribing to print.

  32. Thanks for doing all the work to compile this. It is an important project.

    I’d like to point out that “Scorched Supper on New Niger” is available as an ebook at

  33. So “All Cats are Gray” by Andre Norton makes the list and “Killer Thing” by Kate Wilhelm and “Komarr” by Lois McMaster Bujold do not. And “The Long Tomorrow” by Leigh Brackett isn’t there either. No, I can’t buy it.

  34. Reblogged this on New Eastbourne Writers and commented:
    Some interesting reading here…

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  40. Thank you for this list! Reading down and coming across Olivia Butler…truly got a frisson when I read her name. Her works changed my mind…changed the way I see the world…I love her work.

    Am familiar with many of the authors, but here are many new riches to explore.

    Again, my thanks.

  41. I’m happy to see “All My Darling Daughters” on there. What an amazing and disturbing story.

  42. James Tiptree Jr. is charming and verbally dazzling and it is nice to see her in the list. Favorite: “All the Kinds of Yes”.

  43. Well, what about….oops, a novel. Never mind.

  44. Any such list that doesn’t include Rachel Pollack is not worth reading.

    • Right. So because your favourite author isn’t there, the entire list is invalid. Perhaps you’d better explain that to all the authors who are on the list…

  45. Alice (or Raccoona) Sheldon’s The Screwfly Solution should be on the list for multiple reasons. SF and horror all rolled into one.

  46. How about The Funeral by Kate Wilhelm? Tiptree has many other great ones, including Love is the Plan, the Plan is Death, The Man who Walked Home, Her Smoke Rose up Forever and The Screwfly Solution.

    Also, Tananarive Due has a great story called Like Daughter, that is the best argument against cloning I’ve ever read.

    If you can still find them in print, there are two volumes of short stories by woman edited by Pamela Sargent called Women of Wonder. They are fantastic.

    • There are actually five Women of Wonder anthologies – three in the 1970s and two in the 1990s. ‘The Funeral’ is in the second one from the 1970s, More Women of Wonder. At the time I compiled the list, I’d not read it, or I might well have chosen it. Though, to be fair, the one I did chose is a very good story, and is perhaps on balance better constructed than ‘The Funeral’.

      The Due one is new to me. I’ll keep an eye open for it. Thanks.

    • Also, see my review of 1995’s Women of Wonder: The Contemporary Years here and here, and the 1974 Women of Wonder here. My review of More Women of Wonder (1976) will go up on SF Mistressworks next Wednesday.

  47. Pingback: The 100 Best Sci-Fi Stories by Women Writers (Read 20 for Free Online) | wine making

  48. How exciting, thank you! When I was a grade-schooler and teenager in the 70s and 80s, it was maddeningly difficult to find science fiction that had heroines and/or simply didn’t insult me (I remember wanting to set Clarke’s “Childhood’s End” on fire). BTW, I too appreciate your use of “great” rather than “best.”

  49. Love your list and that Bujold is on there.

  50. Interesting list – though my reading habits tend strongly toward Novels, and occasionally anthologies. If I could find my copy of “Uranian Worlds” that might add somemore authors and short stories.

  51. Elisabeth Vonarburg – Stay Thy Flight, though i like her novels better.
    Ellen Klages – Time Gypsy Both of these were in “Bending the Landscape: Original Gay and Lesbian writing Science FIction. Edited by Nicola Griffith and Stephen Pagel. 1998

  52. This is fantastic, and so welcome. I’d especially like to thank you for qualifying that the list is not exhaustive, that these are 100 *great* stories, not the 100 *best*. That’s an important distinction to make, and the fact that you recognize it is impressive – especially since it’s evidently being reported elsewhere as a “100 Best ” list.

    And thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for giving Pamela Zoline’s “Heat Death of the Universe” a wider audience. Reading that story at 13 changed my understanding of what it’s possible to do with fiction, and I still love it ardently – in fact, I bought her collection of the same name just a few months ago.

    You made my day with this list. So much great stuff to explore.

    • especially since it’s evidently being reported elsewhere as a “100 Best ” list

      It is? Most of the link-throughs I’ve seen so far have used the title of the post, but there are several forums I don’t have access to which have also linked to the list.

    • Aha. I’ve just noticed the Open Culture article calls it “best”. I have left a comment there.

  53. I’m a huge Lauren Beukes ‘Zoo City’ fan, but not sure what she’s written in short form

  54. How about James Tiptree, pen name of Alice Sheldon. I’d suggest, yes, with a soupcon of irony, “The Women Men Don’t See.” (Thanks for doing this, BTW. It’s insane that so many talented voices are left out of ostensible “best of” lists.)

    • Tiptree is on the list at #19 with ‘And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side’, which happens to be one of my favourite sf stories. But it’s certainly true there was plenty to choose from her oeuvre.

  55. Pingback: ספרות ברשת: חוק הספרים אושר סופית בכנסת; עשרת האנשים המשפיעים ביותר בספרות הישראלית; 40 שנה לפרסום הנסיכה הקסומה; תחרות אגרסיבית על מכירת ספר

  56. FYI, you can listen to “Jagannath” for free via podcast at:

    This is such an awesome story, and the production’s amazing too.

    Thanks for putting together such a great list!

  57. Pingback: 100 Science Fiction Stories Written by Women | The Mad Owl

  58. I usually don’t read short stories but gosh … I’m amazed at the number of stories on this list (and also on commenter Bob Blough’s list) that I HAVE read (“Letters from Laura,” YES!) and even more at all the different writers. Wow! I’m bookmarking this and I’m going to make a real effort to broaden my reading. Thanks for this.

  59. Would you consider Zenna Henderson’s People stories fantasy or science fiction? I love her stories.

  60. Pingback: What do people read? What do they like? - Alma Alexander: Duchess of Fantasy

  61. Great list! I would certainly add Lisa Goldstein, Kate Wilhelm, Elisabeth Vonarburg,
    And the feminist classic Herland, 1915, written by feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman. A wonderful book that explores ideas, easily as much as it preaches. And it may be short enough to qualify as a novella. Any excuse to squeeze her in.

  62. Thanks so much for starting the discussion. What a great way to provoke us to read beyond the usual. I am at least as excited about finding new authors to read as I am about finding old favourites on the list.

  63. “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” — Le Guin
    “The man Who Bridged the Mist” — Kij Johnson.

  64. Diary of an Interesting Year by Helen Simpson available here: Excellent story, often over-looked.

    • I’m a big fan of Helen Simpson’s fiction – I have all of her collections – but it never occurred to me she’d written anything that qualifies as sf… and I must have read ‘Diary of an Interesting Year’ when I read her last collection, In-flight Entertainment. Thanks for reminding me of that story.

  65. Delighted to see Doris Piserchia in there, she wrote a few classic short stories in the seventies, whilst Margaret St Clair is one of my favourite writers of the fifties who’s almost forgotten now (and I’m glad to see you didn’t choose ‘The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles’, which seems to be the story she’s most remembered for but is – for me – just fairly good (she really deserves a NESFA or Subterranean collection).

    Of the omissions, from the fifties I’d mention Evelyn E Smith, who was the only woman writer who could be classed as a regular in ‘Galaxy’: she’s very funny: e.g. ‘The Last of the Spode’ which is a piss-take of english SF. From the modern era, I kept on thinking of names, only to find you’d included them – but Ekaterina Sedia and M Rickert deserve a mention; I couldn’t see Sarah Monette, but I guess most of her work is fantasy (though there’s her excellent SF collaboration with Elizabeth Bear, ‘Boojum’). I know I’ve read some Nina Kiriki Hoffman stories that have impressed me, but can’t remember if the were SF.

  66. Need to add Dust and Shiva Apparatus by Allison M. Dickson to this list. Amazing.

  67. Pingback: Link Roundup 8-5-13 | Rachael K. Jones

  68. Oh, and Tina Connolly’s “The Bitrunners” too.

  69. I must admit that the only one of these that I’ve heard of before is Bloodchild. Incidentally, that story is also my favorite piece of prose of all time.

  70. Pingback: BIG list of SF shorts (some of them free!) | The parasite guy

  71. Reblogging this on because we [i.e. female sci-fi writers] are still largely invisible. Thanks for posting this. I’ve read far fewer on this this than you, and that needs to be rectified. 😀

  72. Reblogged this on Meeka's Mind and commented:
    I’ve long known there are some fantastic female sci-fi writers – Ursula K. LeGuin and C.J. Cherryh are two of my all time favourites – but like most people I always believed we were a sort of token force. I’m ridiculously happy to be proven wrong. 🙂

  73. Anything but a token force and when you finish your current work it will be bale to be listed too won’t it? xxx Huge Hugs xxx

  74. I’ve just been proof-reading a novella by an author named Shanna Lauffey. She’ll be one to watch for future lists like this.

  75. Pingback: A SF and Pop Culture Round-up | Selected Tales

  76. Pingback: The list: 100 Great Science Fiction Stories by Women

  77. Rokeya Sakhawat Hussain’s “Sultana’s Dream” (1905) is often cited as one of the first pieces of SF, and especially of feminist SF.

  78. Pingback: Goings on and off | It Doesn't Have To Be Right...

  79. Pingback: Women in Science Fiction, a Guest Post from Ian Sales | the Little Red Reviewer

  80. Pingback: Then Will The Great Ocean Wash Deep Above | Fantástica – Ficción

  81. Andre Norton is a she?? Well, strike me down! Forgive me, my interest in science fiction was limited to Heinlein until the mid-80s when I discovered Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series.

  82. Reblogged this on JDSFiction and commented:
    Found this bit of coolness! I’ve read close to half of the authors on this list. With some of them I read a different work by the author, and it was good stuff. I wish I had read more of them, but now I have a goal!

  83. Pingback: Popping up here and there in 2013 | It Doesn't Have To Be Right...

  84. Pingback: A Concise History of Science Fiction Short Stories | Auxiliary Memory

  85. Ian: Just an FYI regarding your story #47: Judith Moffett’s Hugo and Nebula award-nominated novella, Tiny Tango, has just been published as a Kindle single on Amazon. Just follow that Amazon link.

  86. Pingback: My final Hugo ballot | It Doesn't Have To Be Right...

  87. Pingback: A quarter of top fives | It Doesn't Have To Be Right...

  88. While not prolific, Raylyn Moore (Ward Moore’s wife — ), her shorts are worth reading.

  89. Pingback: The History of Science Fiction Literature Challenge – Update | theforgottengeek

  90. Pingback: Deal Me In Challenge, 2015 Edition: Sign-Up and Story Roster | Read the Gamut

  91. Good list. One I would have put on there would be kij Johnson ‘ s “the man who bridged the mist”

  92. Pingback: Friday Links | Writing and Rambling

  93. I’d add “Even the Queen” by Connie Willis, if you can have two Connie Willis pieces.

  94. Pingback: Friday Finds |

  95. Pingback: 100 Great Science Fiction Stories by Women – LearningMore

  96. Pingback: Explore Science Fiction: The Literature of the Future | CONTRARY BRIN

  97. Pingback: Guest Post Series Announcement: SF Short Stories by Women Writers pre-1969 | Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations

  98. Pingback: Guest Post: From Pulp to New Wave: “Space Episode” (1941), Leslie Perri, “Recruiting Officer” (1955), Alice Eleanor Jones, “When I Was Miss Dow” (1966), Sonya Dorman | Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations

  99. Note on #96 — Yoon Ha Lee came out as trans male, likely after this list was originally posted.

    • Yes, a few years after I put the list together. Probably best to remove them from the list. I’ll look for an alternative story to put in at #96

  100. “Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain” can be found here: Thank you for the mention!

  101. Pingback: 100 books, part 1 | It Doesn't Have To Be Right...

  102. Pingback: “100 Great Sci-Fi Stories By Women Writers” – The Cultural Gutter

  103. Pingback: Reading diary 2021, #5 | It Doesn't Have To Be Right...

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