The XX Hard SF project begins

25 06 2013

I received some books in the mail yesterday, which I’d ordered a few weeks previously.  These, below, are the first four books in what I’m going to term the XX Hard SF book-review challenge* I’ve set myself: namely, to review at least five hard SF books by different female authors, before the year’s end. (If you’re curious as to the origins of the challenge, here’s how it started.)





(In case the covers don’t show up, for some reason, these are Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro, Dawn by Octavia E Butler, Cyteen by C J Cherryh, and The Bohr Maker by Linda Nagata.)

The above selection of books draws on the suggestions of Helen Stubbs, Patty Jansen, and Thoraiya Dyer (thanks, guys!); there are at least a couple more authors/books I’m keen to investigate for the project (Claire Corbett’s When We Have Wings is also likely to get a look-in, for example), but I’m certainly open to further suggestions. (Please leave a comment below, if any names–and, preferably, titles–occur to you.) The only stipulations are, 1, that the book needs to be hard SF, and 2, that it is by a female author (and ideally by an author different from those of the above books, because the intention here is to sample widely). Ultimately, I’m hoping to build up some kind of resource that might be of use in pointing aspiring writers of hard SF (of either or, indeed, any gender) towards role models other than the predominant male contingent, as well as, of course, to expand my own reading experience, and to help dispel the nonsense that women can’t, won’t, or shouldn’t write hard SF.

We’ll see how it goes. I’m aiming to have the first of these (probably the Asaro: alphabetical order seems as sensible as any other) read and reviewed within the next couple of weeks, with subsequent reviews appearing more-or-less on a monthly cycle until such time as I run out of either (a) books or (b) puff.

In my reviews, I’ll be taking note not just of general attributes such as characterisation, worldbuilding, and story arc, but also aspects more specific to hard SF: rigour and infodumping. And I will, as always, aim to avoid anything too spoilerish in the reviews: my general policy is that anything detailed within the first third of the book is usually OK to reveal in a review,**  but plot particulars past that point are probably best left for the reader to discover for themselves, although the review will, of course, be based on a reading of the entire book.

Oh, and if anyone else feels inclined to take up the challenge for themselves, please, be my guest.


(* I’m using ‘XX’ here to signify the author’s gender identification, not specifically restricted to the facts of their genetic identity. While, for example, I don’t know of any trans-female authors of hard SF novels, I’d be interested in including them in this.)

(** Unless it’s something along the lines of–and you may want to be sitting down for this one–Vader is Luke’s father, in which case I’d probably refrain from disclosing it.)




One response

3 03 2014
Book Review: ‘Cyteen’, by C J Cherryh | Simon Petrie

[…] on women writers of hard SF. For the purpose behind the series of reviews, see my posts here and here; for a listing of the books reviewed in this project, refer here. If you’d like to suggest […]

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