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    17 Science-Fiction Novels By Women That Are Out Of This World

    As recommended by Goodreads users.

    BuzzFeed Books recently asked Goodreads about the science fiction novels, particularly those written by women, that its users have loved. Here are 17 of the highest-rated sci-fi books written by women:

    1. Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson

    Grand Central Publishing, David Findlay / Via

    Tan-Tan is a young girl growing up on the Caribbean-colonized planet of Toussaint, a place where a high-tech computer known as Granny Nanny takes care of the needs of all citizens, effectively keeping things in order. However, when Tan-Tan's father commits a crime, she is exiled to New Half-Way Tree, a place with no technology, no law, and none of the comforts of home. Now, she must do what she's never had to do before: take matters into her own hands and fight to survive.

    Promising review: "A magical story-telling style, musically told, with a plot that weaves its way through some horrific landscapes in the most uplifting way. A science fiction rumination on the power of myths, on the nature of humanity, but oh such a damn fine story!"— Alexa

    Find it here.

    2. The Book of M by Peng Shepherd

    William Morrow, Rachel Crittenden / Via

    In the not-so distant future, the world is plagued with the Forgetting — people's shadows inexplicably disappear, along with their memories, but they gain a mysterious new power. Married couple Ory and Max move into hiding to avoid this new plague, but when Max's shadow begins to disappear as well, she runs away to protect Ory. Ory goes on a journey to find his lost love before she forgets him, while Max searches to find a possible cure that could save everyone.

    Promising review: "This book deserves ALL the stars!! ALL!! It’s brilliant, beautifully written, and one of the most hopeful post-apocalyptic books I’ve ever read. The Book of M is by far my favorite read so far of 2018. Whenever I think of my favorite all-time epic books in this genre (The Stand, The Passage, and Swan Song), The Book of M will now and forever more be on my list." — Karen's Library

    Find it here.

    3. The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord

    Del Rey, Marlon James / Via

    After their homeland is destroyed, a "proud and reserved alien society" have no choice but to turn to the humanoid natives of their adopted home for help. A man and a woman from each community pair up to save the vanishing race, only to discover ancient secrets that could compromise everything.

    Promising review: "Wow! That was a true pleasure! WHY can't I find more books like this?! The best I can describe the reading experience for me is that it was like one of those film clips of a flower slowly blooming — the story opened, unfolded, and grew more intricate and lovely the further I read. Plus, I loved the characterization and the dialogue as the characters interacted. The humor was lovely." — MB (What she read)

    Find it here.

    4. How Long 'til Black Future Month by N.K. Jemisin

    Orbit, Laura Hanifin / Via

    In this collection of short stories, Jemisin weaves magic into modern society. In one story, "spirits haunt the flooded streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina." In another, "a utopian society watches our world, trying to learn from our mistakes." In nearly two dozen tales, she shares political commentary in a captivating and creative way.

    Promising review: "How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? is simply superb. There wasn’t a story in the twenty-two that didn’t impress. Jemisin is a science fiction and fantasy powerhouse, and that is clear by the sheer variety of tales told — there are a dozen novel-worthy worlds crafted in this volume." — Leah Rachel von Essen

    Find it here.

    5. Binti by Nnedi Okorafor, Neilson Barnard / Getty Images

    Binti has just been invited to study at Oomza University, the best school in the galaxy. However, accepting will mean not only leaving behind her family and the Himba people, but also putting herself in the middle of a war with the Meduse, a terrifying alien race not to be reckoned with.

    Promising review: "Okorafor has created in Binti a speculative fiction gem where a reader is led along a culturally alien yet approachable thrill ride. At once fascinating and hair raising, Okorafor has crafted a dynamic tension that grips the reader throughout this short work." — Lyn

    Find it here.

    6. Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer

    Tor Books, Ada Palmer / Via

    Mycroft and Carlyle live in a 25th century, technologically-advanced utopia that's carefully managed to "keep the peace." But when Mycroft, a convict forced to be helpful as punishment, and Carlyle, a spiritual counselor, stumble upon a boy who can make his wishes come true and inanimate objects come to life, they realize that they may just be able to topple they system.

    Promising review: "Ambitious. Complex. Thought-provoking. Ada Palmer’s debut novel, Too Like the Lightning, is all those things and more. The book truly an intellectual piece of science fiction literature, not only in its themes (political, societal, philosophical, and religious) but also in the ornate, elegant, and nuanced writing style. Demanding your full attention, this novel’s complete depth cannot be appreciated without devoting time and effort to first consuming it before slowly sorting and digesting all its potent ingredients." — Bookwraiths

    Find it here.

    7. Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

    Back Bay Books, Simone Padovani / Getty Images

    In an America where abortion is illegal, in-vitro fertilization is banned, and embryos have rights, five women struggle to define motherhood, identity, and freedom. Especially, when one of them is put on trial in a modern-day witch hunt that connects them all.

    Promising review: "I could go on, and on, and on, and on about this book, but really the most important thing I can say is that this is now an all-time favorite. It is absolutely brilliant, and I expect to see it not only on 'Best Books of the Year' lists, but also 'Best Books of the Decade.' It's that good." — Emily

    Find it here.

    8. The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold

    Harper Voyager, Carol Collins / Via

    Cazaril is not pleased when he's tasked to become the secretary-tutor of a noble girl, whose brother is next in line to rule. But that's only because in doing so, he'll have to face the royal court of Cardegoss, which is made up of many of his enemies. As if that wasn't bad enough, he and the entire House of Chalion are cursed. But he'll stop at nothing to protect his charge, even if it means putting himself in harms way.

    Promising review: "I've read Curse of Chalion twice over the years and loved it both times. It is a fantasy story with an original feel and with a truly unique main character. The story was not high on action but had plenty of intrigue and a dose of interesting magic and world building that resulted in it always being a compelling read." — Gavin

    Find it here.

    9. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

    Ace Books

    The Ekumen of Known Worlds sends an ethnologist to the planet Winter to learn about the Gethenians, a race with no gender and the flexibility to become male or female during each mating cycle. Once arrived, the ethnologist struggles to understand the Gethenians unique social systems and ways of thinking. But, he manages to meet a Gethenian he can actually understand and an unexpected relationship develops between them.

    Promising review: "This book is quite astonishing. Hannah Gadsby has made me reluctant to say 'ahead of its time,' but if any book is ahead of its time then this one is. It's a fascinating read, complete with rich world-building, detailed descriptions of the Gethenian customs, an exploration of an ambisexual society, and an examination of how political and cultural norms can force a wedge between societies." — Emily May

    Find it here.

    10. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North


    Harry August is a man on his eleventh life. After death, he begins again as a child, with all the memories of his previous lives fully intact. And throughout each of Harry's lifetimes, nothing has ever changed. On his deathbed, on the brink of his twelfth life, a young girl appears at his side to deliver a message: The end of the world is quickly approaching. Armed with new information, Harry works to use his past to save his future.

    "Wow, whatever I was expecting, it definitely wasn't this. It's historical, it's science fictional, it's a spy novel, it's a long episode of Doctor Who sans the time & space travel, it's a spiteful letter of twisted friendships and vengeance. WHAT DOESN'T HAPPEN IN THIS BOOK?!" — Jenny

    Find it here.

    11. The Power by Naomi Alderman

    Back Bay Books, Stuart C. Wilson

    In a modern world, something dormant awakens in young girls, giving them the power of electricity in their hands. As more and more girls, and later older women, gain and harness the ability to shock and kill with just one touch, society's dynamics shift drastically. Through they eyes of three women and one man, we learn just how much this new ability can shift politics and religion, sex and love, as well as fear, strength, and power.

    Promising review: "This book doesn't just flip gender roles. It delves into complicated discussions around systemic oppression, power, rape culture, gender, and religion. The book is an unflinching dystopian yet also a mirror of our world today. It forces you to ask hard questions about your beliefs. It's also a ridiculously gripping story that had me sucked in and invested in every character." — Monica

    Find it here.

    12. Kindred by Octavia Butler

    Beacon Press, Cheung Ching Ming / Via Beacon Press

    Dana is a young, black woman living in 1970s California with her white husband. But, suddenly and inexplicably, she's pulled back in time and space, to antebellum Maryland. There, she saves a young, white boy from drowning before being thrust back to her present. She continues to hop back and forth, each time interacting with the young slaveholder as he ages. It's only after being assumed for a slave and forced to spend time on his plantation that she realizes he's an ancestor.

    Promising review: "While the book was written to make the reader ponder some serious issues such as man's inhumanity to man, inequality and courage in an environment where you are made to feel worthless, at no point did I feel like being lectured to. The author knows the importance of communicating through the story, and I was completely swept away by it. Whatever I read next will likely suffer from being compared to this book. This goes in my all-time greats list." — Apatt

    Find it here.

    13. Severance by Ling Ma

    Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Liliane Calfee / Via Macmillan

    In this post-apocalyptic office satire, a plague called Shen Fever spreads across New York City, causing people to turn into tame, mindless zombies doomed to repeat the same mundane tasks over and over again. Candace, a self-proclaimed millennial drone, continues to work at her office unfazed. Eventually, she joins a group of survivors led by Bob, a former IT guy who's drunk with power. He might've been fine before, but now she's got a secret and if he finds out, it could jeopardize everything.

    Promising review: "This was a slow burn for me, but once I got to the last 100 pages I couldn't stop. This is the first time I've connected personally with a protagonist in a long time, and whether or not you're a 'millennial,' this book is more important than the trendy book cover color would lead you to believe." — Katie

    Find it here.

    14. Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie


    Breq is a solider and the last human manifestation of Justice of Toren, a sentient AI spaceship that was once linked to thousands of soldiers forced to work for the Radch, the empire that conquered the galaxy. That is, before it was destroyed. Now, Breq is on a quest for revenge.

    Promising review: "This was the best sci-fi book I've read in a long time. It was one of those rare books that got the blend of ideas and story perfect. It made you think but also engaged and entertained." — Gavin

    Find it here.

    15. Vox by Christina Dalcher

    Berkley, Laurens Arenas / Via

    In an America where the government has decreed that women aren't able to speak more than 100 words a day — nor read or write, or work — a mother fights for herself and her daughter to have their voices heard.

    Promising review: "It is so well written and the prose flows effortlessly. I couldn't seem to get through it fast enough and read it in a single sitting as a consequence! Having raced through it, I was then sad it had ended - the sign of a throroughly addictive book, in my opinion. As the story twisted and turned its way to its conclusion, it gradually got more and more exhilarating to me." – Lou

    Find it here.

    16. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers

    Harper Voyager, Bára Hlín Kristjánsdóttir / Via Harper Collins

    Rosemary Harper tends to keep to herself. If nothing else, it's the best way to avoid questions about her past. But, when she joins the crew of the Wayfarer, the last thing she expects is for the motley crew to become her family. Together, this rag tag group journeys through the galaxy, having one adventure after another. And, when things get dangerous, Rosemary learns that opening up and leaning on others is one of the best ways to get through it.

    Promising review: "Characterization. This is how you do it. This books was SO well written. It felt so real. Don't go in expecting space battles and an epic space opera. Go in expecting superb characters (many of which are aliens) against the backdrop of space. Loved it." — Dana Kenedy (Dana and the Books)

    Find it here.

    17. The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

    Tor Books, Rod Searcey / Via

    After a meteorite crashes into Washington D.C. in 1952, it's only a matter of time until the climate repercussions make Earth inhospitable. Cue Elma York — a service pilot and mathematician hired by the International Aerospace Coalition, along with many other female scientists, to figure out how to put a man on the moon. But, why not a woman? A fire is ignited within Elma causing her to stop at nothing to become the first lady astronaut, even if it means defying the conventions she's known her whole life.

    Promising review: "A good, solid alternate history; a very involving story; characters I can believe in, invest in, and even identify with; and an author whose capabilities, established in earlier books, make the catharsis of reading this book as bracing as a pitcher of 'tinis." — Richard Derus

    Find it here.