Far be it from me to spend all my time talking about the good old days. One would think that all the good Science Fiction was already written. This is far from the case. As we continue the journey of exploration through the many artists who paint the portraits we all love to admire, I am happy to report that the artists are alive, well, and creating impactful works. There are hundreds of women that write incredible stories of Science Fiction and they come from every walk of life. Let us do our best to walk along with them and try to understand their journeys.
Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu was born in 1974 to parents of Nigerian origin who came to the US for education but stayed due to the Nigerian Civil War. As a youth, Nnedi was an exceptional athlete. Scoliosis and surgery left her partially paralyzed. With her great physical endurance, Nnedi walked again with the use of a cane. Beyond her outstanding physical achievements, she was equally impressive in the world of Science Fiction. She manages to sprinkle elements of diverse African cultures into her stories and celebrate them through the genre.
In 2011, she wrote a short story, Hello, Moto for Tor.com. It combined the Fantasy Element of witchcraft integrated with the Science Fiction Element of technology. The mechanisms were wigs that enhance the power of the witches or psychic vampires, only corrupting those who wear the wigs. Ultimately, the users turned on the creator as they transform from sucking psyche and emotional energies to sucking blood.
Starting in 2014, she produced one novel after another. The Binti Trilogy being the latest, spanning from 2015 to 2018.
Continuing this journey, we change paths and walk with another incredible writer. Malka Older was born in 1977. Although all my research could not produce an actual origin, Malka is noted as a Hispanic author. With both a degree in Literature from Harvard and International Relations and Economics from Johns Hopkins University, she is currently a Senior Fellow for the Technology and Risk at Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. From 2016 to 2018, Malka wrote Infomocracy followed by Null States and State Tectonics. Currently, she is working on her PHD at the Institut d’Études Politques de Paris. Many times an author expresses their view on society. This is evident in works like George Orwell’s book 1984 published in 1949. This is also evident in Malka’s works as well. This has come in the form of a decade of field work developing economic initiatives in many post-disaster areas like Darfur, Indonesia and Japan; Many of these experiences were as the team leader. Her education and background lends credence to her writing.
Let’s divert to another path. In our final steps, we will walk with an author of Asian descent. Marie Lu was born in Wuxi Jiangsu China. Her family moved to Texas when she was five to flee from the Tiananmen Square Protests in 1989. Marie studied at USC and at Disney Interactive Studios. She spent time professionally in the gaming industry and can be found playing Assassin’s Creed from time to time. Between 2011 and 2013, Marie wrote the Dystopian Science Fiction Trilogy, Legend. This series has been picked up by by LionsGate and various producer who participated in the making of Twilight. Though the release dates have not been announced, this is sure to be another hit in the world of Science Fiction. Marie has written a variety of other pieces and at 34, she is destined to be quite prolific storyteller. To what I have read and researched of this author, Marie brings a combination of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne into her art. Instead of necessarily pulling from past tragedies and issues, she writes for the adventure of it. Her inspiration for the Legend series came from watching a movie version of Les Miserables. Her stories come from the desire to find adventure from within and sometimes that can be more impactful than the most stern warnings of things to come. I refer you to my article Science Fiction Can Warm the Soul for further explanation.
There are thousands of great stories in the world of Science Fiction. These are written by incredible minds from all walks of life. It is important that we take a mindset similar to the world of Star Trek where our petty differences over gender and race are no more and see people for who they are and the value they contribute to the world. The more we unite and see each other for who we really are and the contributions we make to society, the less our race, religion, gender or any other human trait should matter. It is my fervent hope that this two-part article, this being longer than most, will help the reader to diversify their library. Happy reading.