Nominated by: Dave B.
After 20 years of pleasant, egalitarian, genderless civilization on the thousand plus planets of the Collectivity where babies are made only in baby labs, nine people decide to make their own babies in their own bodies. Eight can. One can not. So the concepts "woman" and "man" regain flesh. Only "woman" can. And so men had to start controlling women all over again, didn't they?
The birthing circle would have remained a cozy elite fad but for Martin. Born on a green world, transferred to a metalbound city planet, she wanted to bring love and freedom to the whole galaxy. Jomo, the humble soy processor, who loved her, saw her astonishing transformation into a revolutionary. This is his story about her, told to their grandchildren. Martin is catapulted from her home farm into a galactic web of holie ghosts, pirates, buttoned-down followers of the Space Code, anarchists, sexless wraiths whose telekinetic powers spin the spaceships across the galaxy, spherical aliens and MAN, the virtual guru who keeps everyone under control.
Gendering is a trilogy of stories about gender and God, revolution and religion.
Clute, John: Appleseed
Nominated by: Petra M.
On a routine interplanetary delivery run, trader Nathaniel Freer is almost assassinated and forced to flee with a cargo that represents the best hope against the data-destroying "plaque" threatening the universe. The novel chronicles his fight against the forces of entropy, with the help of AIs, aliens, and Johnny Appleseed. It's not plot that drives this book--it's the turbine of Clute's joy in language coupled with layers of allusion to literature, pop culture, and the history of science fiction. This dense, literary postmodern space opera won't appeal to readers who prefer their SF easily digestible: most of the far-future background and lingo aren't defined, and it's possible to feel at sea as new ideas are introduced at a relentless pace. The reader willing to undertake the journey, however, will find a marvelous richness of ideas wrapped in a champagne fizz of language.
Forrest, Katherine V: Daughters of a Coral Dawn, Vol. 1
Nominated by: Faith R.
Katherine Forrest's best-selling Daughters of a Coral Dawn first appeared in 1984 and became an instant classic. Through seven printings, including the 10th anniversary edition published in 1994, this story of women creating their own world after escaping an oppressive society has continued to gain fans and influence writers for 18 years.
Late in the 22nd century, 4,000 women escape the tyranny of a male-dominated Earth and colonize the planet of Maternas. The story of how these pioneers created a society and culture in accord with their nature makes up the heart of this exhilarating, erotic, and hauntingly beautiful novel. But men eventually discover Maternas, and the women are faced with a critical choice.
Francis, Diana Pharaoh: Path of Fate
Nominated by: Maryelizabeth H.
This pleasant read by a new writer tells the story of Reisil. Once an orphan, taunted by the other children in her village, she is now a newly minted healer, hoping to find a secure place in a world that has known sporadic fighting for years. But the lady she serves chooses her to be ahalad-kaaslane, or a wandering judge-warrior-explorer bound through a companion animal to no one but the lady. Afraid of losing her newly won security to go adventuring, Reisil refuses the honor and the companion goshawk. She picks a bad time, however. The leaders of the warring lands have agreed to a truce as a preliminary to ending the war, but many who have suffered on both sides regard the truce as a betrayal. Moreover, Reisil's decision threatens the truce. Plausible, engrossing characters, a well-designed world, and a well-realized plot distinguish Francis' debut.
Frost, Gregory: Fitcher's Bride
Nominated by: Maureen K. S.
From Library Journal:
Swept up in the Rev. Elias Fitcher's apocalyptic predictions, the Charter family moves to upstate New York to await the final days as the gatekeepers of Fitcher's mansion, Harbinger House. When Fitcher chooses Vernelia as his bride, younger sisters Amy and Kate envy her happiness until events hint at a sinister purpose behind Fitcher's marriage and an even darker secret at the heart of Harbinger House. Frost's contribution to the popular "Fairy Tale" series, created and edited by Terry Windling, takes a unique approach to the horrific tale of Bluebeard, setting a seemingly cautionary tale about the dangers of curiosity against the messianic fervor of the mid-19th century. The author of The Pure Cold Light blends dark fantasy and social commentary in an intriguing tale that belongs in most libraries. Highly recommended.
Griffith, Nicola: Ammonite
Nominated by: Sue L.
In Ammonite, the 1994 James Tiptree Jr. Award winner, the attempts to colonize the planet Jeep have uncovered a selective virus that kills all men and all but a few women. The remaining women undergo changes that enable them to communicate with one another and the planet itself, and give to birth to healthy, genetically diverse children. Marguerite Angelica Taishan is an anthropologist who realizes this phenomena and makes the decision to give herself up to the planet to uncover its mysteries.
Hopkinson, Nalo: Midnight Robber
Nominated by: Marcie McC.
From Library Journal:
As the beloved daughter of the mayor of Cockpit County on the planet Toussaint, Tan-Tan grows up spoiled and cherished until her father's crime leads to her exile with him to the prison planet of New Half-Way Tree. Forced to survive in a lawless world, Tan-Tan takes refuge in childhood games, becoming the legendary Robber Queen, whose daring deeds provide the young girl with the courage to overcome her harsh surroundings. The author of Brown Girl in the Ring once again draws from African, Caribbean, and Creole folklore to flavor her tale of a fierce and resourceful young woman determined to make her way in a world she has not chosen. Highly recommended.
Kenyon, Kay: The Braided World
Nominated by: Maureen K. S.
From Publishers Weekly:
A desperate expedition from a dying Earth, financed by middle-aged singer Bailey Shaw, finds hope and despair on an alien planet in this sedate sequel to Kenyon's Maximum Ice. Bailey's objective is to recover the genetic diversity Earth lost when a dark-matter cloud killed off a large percentage of the population. These precious DNA codes supposedly reside on a planet that closely resembles Earth. When Bailey and her crew arrive at their destination, however, they find their movements limited by the Dassa, a people who look human but lack human morals. In order to proceed with their search, the crew must first cozy up to Dassa King Vidori, who may have a secret agenda, and come to terms with some unsettling cultural differences. Most Dassa females, for instance, can reproduce only by swimming in ponds called varium, and those who are able to carry a baby inside their bodies are sterilized and forced into slavery. Kenyon's talent for creating complex cultures shines through in the Dassa's many beliefs and customs. Unfortunately, the cultural clash between humans and Dassa and the search for humanity's lost genetic heritage causes far less conflict than what one would expect. As a result, this plodding story fails to hold readers rapt, but its cultural richness may appeal to those with an interest in anthropology.
Lang, Susan: Small Rocks Rising
Le Guin, Ursula: The Left Hand of Darkness
Nominated by: Crystal W.
Genly Ai is an emissary from the human galaxy to Winter, a lost, stray world. His mission is to bring the planet back into the fold of an evolving galactic civilization, but to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own culture and prejudices and those that he encounters. On a planet where people are of no gender--or both--this is a broad gulf indeed. The inventiveness and delicacy with which Le Guin portrays her alien world are not only unusual and inspiring, they are fundamental to almost all decent science fiction that has been written since. In fact, reading Le Guin again may cause the eye to narrow somewhat disapprovingly at the younger generation: what new ground are they breaking that is not already explored here with greater skill and acumen? It cannot be said, however, that this is a rollicking good story. Le Guin takes a lot of time to explore her characters, the world of her creation, and the philosophical themes that arise.