Use of the term Science Fiction to describe the genre of speculative fiction that deals with the impact of actual or imagined science on society or individuals is a fairly recent in the realm of literature. The term is believed to have originated in the 1920's by the American publisher Hugo Gernsback, for whom the Hugo Award, given by the World Science Fiction Society, is named.
Although the usage of the phrase to describe this genre only became popular in the mid 1950's, science fiction began to gain popularity much earlier in the 20th century.
But the work thought by many critics to be the first science fiction novel was actually written more than a century earlier, in 1818, by a woman. Can you guess what it is?
We are of course talking about Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Fueled by society's immersion into the Industrial Revolution, Frankenstein explores a scientist's use of electricity to reanimate a corpse who becomes the monster.
Despite the success of the teenaged Mary Shelley's novel, the literary world and the growing scientific community were almost exclusively controlled by men, and it would be the mid-to-late twentieth century before women were considered a prominent voice in science fiction.
Early to mid twentieth-century science fiction was viewed as a masculine genre, written for men by men- dominated by names such as Jules Verne and HG Wells. This viewpoint is illustrated by the fact that, of the 38 Grandmasters of Science Fiction who have been named, only 8 have been women.
But the encouraging news is that women have been named Grandmasters the last three years running!
Mercedes Lackey (2021)
Nalo Hopkinson (2020)
Lois McMaster Bujold (2019)
We encourage you to think of science fiction as a genre written by and for all. Here are some suggestions for female science fiction authors, both classic, ground-breaking, and up-and-coming, for you to read.