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Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Best Classic Sci-Fi Not Written by a Cis Het White Man

What is the best science fiction book or series written by a woman or POC or member of the LGBTQIA+ community that is over 20 years old? 

Please consult this post if you have any questions about the limitations of this poll or the reasons why we're running another nine months of such polls.

The classics!  Some of the literature upon which the entire genre rests, and some of the best to stand the test of time. While it is harder as we look back to find offerings that were not written by the usual line up of white dudes, they are out there. Our year of diverse polls will cover all the most popular polls we've ever done here at WAW (but with a single limitation), and while we just finished up dystopia and modern science fiction, now we're doing classic science fiction and like all our polls, this one will be made up completely of audience generated nominations.

The Rules:

  1. Please note the diversity requirements above.
  2. Nominations must be copyrighted no earlier than 1997 (twenty years). Any series with books after that cannot be nominated as a full series (but individual books still may be). 
  3. As always, I leave the niggling over "Science Fiction" to your best judgement because I'd rather be inclusive. If you feel like Pern is science fiction, I'm not going to argue. (Though you might need to "show your work" to get anyone to second your nomination.) I'll only throw them out if they get super ridiculous. 
  4. You may nominate two (2) books or series. If you nominate three or more, my eyes narrow like that meme with Fry and I boil over––a cauldron of unmitigated rage. But more importantly for you, I will NOT take any nominations beyond the second that you suggest. (I will consider a long list to be "seconds" if someone else nominates them as well.)
  5. You may (and absolutely should) second as many nominations of others as you wish. So stop back in and see if anyone has put up something you want to see go onto the poll. Seriously, nothing that doesn't at least have ONE second will ever make it onto one of our polls.
  6. Please put your nominations here. I will take nominations only as comments on this post. (No comments on FB posts or G+.)
  7. You are nominating WRITTEN SCIENCE FICTION, not their movie portrayals. CGI may make A Wrinkle in Time pretty fun to look at, but if you find the books to be a little contrived, you shouldn't nominate it.
  8. No more endless elimination rounds. I will ONLY take somewhere between 8-20 best performing titles and at most run a single semifinal round. So second the titles you want even if they already have one second. (Yes, I guess that would make them thirds, fourths, etc...)


  1. The Dispossessed by Ursula le Guin.

  2. Witch World by Andre Alice Norton.

  3. The Screwfly Solution by Raccoona Sheldon

  4. Dragonflight and Dragonquest - Ann McCaffrey. Yes those are the same series so I could just nominate the series but as time went on I think it got less good and those first two books are really the standout ones. I read them (and the third book The White Dragon, which is almost as good) 7 times in junior high. On the 7th readthrough I stopped halfway through TWD and decided it was time to move on to something else :)

    1. very seconded. That whole original series is worth nominating, though I agree about the later books.

  5. Cyteen - CJ Cherryh - so, so many to choose from from her, but of her greats Cyteen is book I come back to over and over again.

  6. Slow River - Nicola Griffith

  7. Elizabeth Moon - Hunting party

  8. Replies
    1. I second this. It doesn't get more classic than Frankenstein.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Pride of Chanur, CJ Cherryh -- The Zero Stone by Andre Norton (Person can't get the comments to work from Wordpress)

  11. Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler, a great African American female writer and only science fiction writer to ever receive the prestigious MacArthur genius grant for her work. Very important, thought provoking, beautifully written science fiction that will kick your butt.

  12. Okay, so - if I have to pick one, I pick The Ship Who Sang.

    I want to just nominate Ann McCaffrey's whole freaking universe. She was my sci fi gateway drug - my dad pointed out that the same lady who wrote the dragon books also wrote space ship books, and maybe I should try them out.

  13. Ann Carol Crispin - Starbridge - The Book not the series, because the last was copywritten in 1998. D’ oh!
    Always enjoyed her work. Of course I knew her as A. C. Crispin for too long of a time. 😶

  14. Animorphs Series by K. A. Applegate

    (Nominated by someone without a Google account)

  15. Lois Lowry, The Giver.

    Sci Fi status: The authorities medically suppress the ability to see color, to entirely inhibit sexuality for an entire population for entire lifetimes, and they're able to transfer memory by touch.

    This book changed the way I read. It shaped important parts of my morality by making me think hard about the choices we make as individuals and as a society, and whether authority should get to make those choices for us, even for "good cause".

  16. Orlando by Virginia Woolf. A great example of super high-art ideas being applied to a super sci-fi concept by one of the greatest sentence spinner of C20th.

    Shikasta by Doris Lessing, she has to be the only space opera writer with a Nobel prize.

  17. A couple of nominations:
    Anne McCaffrey The Ship Who Sang.
    Ursula LeGuin. The Left Hand of Darkness.

    Both of these books had a big impact on me as a teenager in how I thought about writing and storytelling. I've never looked at the songs of Bob Dylan the same.

  18. Octavia Butler Patternist series and Kindred

  19. Dawn and Adulthood Rites, Butler.

  20. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Plant -Becky Chambers

    So many more are missing the mark by a few years. As there appears to be far to much fodder in that pile in these comments I'll drop my mic with Becky.

  21. Pilgrimage: The Book of the People (1961) and The People: No Different Flesh (1966) or anything else at all by Zenna Henderson

    Incidentally, in the Rules section up above, I think you meant to write:
    2. Nominations must be copyrighted no LATER than 1997 (twenty years). Any series with books after that cannot be nominated as a full series (but individual books still may be).

  22. Just for the fun of it (Chris, next time, do specify 'in English') (if that's what you're after, that is):
    Jules Verne, From the Earth to the Moon (original title, De la terre à la lune).
    Although his biographers at the time didn't mention it, Jules Verne's name shows in many lists of famous homosexuals.

  23. Binti series by Nnedi Okorafor

  24. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany

    Still far and away best thing I've ever read.