The Women’s Press sf

During the mid-1980s to early 1990s, The Women’s Press published a line of feminist science fiction novels and collections by women writers. The books all boasted the same design: a grey border and spine, and distinctive cover-art. Later this changed to white borders and a black-and-white-striped spine. The books were a mixture of new works and older classic books (the years of publication by The Women’s Press is given in brackets; asterisked titles were original to The Women’s Press).

Grey spines
*The Birth Machine, Elizabeth Baines (1983)
Kindred, Octavia Butler (1988) – review, review
The New Gulliver: Or The Adventures of Lemuel Gulliver, Jr in Capovolta, Esmé Dodderidge (1988)
Native Tongue, Suzette Haden Elgin (1985) – review, review
The Judas Rose, Suzette Haden Elgin (1988)
*The Incomer, Margaret Elphinstone (1987) – review
*Carmen Dog, Carol Emshwiller (1988) – review
*The Fires of Bride: A Novel, Ellen Galford (1986)
The Wanderground, Sally Miller Gearhart (1985) – review
Herland, Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1986)
*Despatches from the Frontiers for the Female Mind, Jen Green & Sarah LeFanu, eds. (1985, anthology) – review
*The Godmothers, Sandi Hall (1982)
The Book of the Night, Rhoda Lerman (1986) – review
*Accommodation Offered, Anna Livia (1985)
*Evolution Annie and Other Stories, Rosaleen Love (1989, collection)
*The Revolution of Saint Jone, Lorna Mitchell (1988)
Memoirs of a Spacewoman, Naomi Mitchison (1985) – review, review
*The Mothers of Maya Diip, Suniti Namjoshi (1989)
*The Planet Dweller, Jane Palmer (1985) – review
*The Watcher, Jane Palmer (1986) – review
Woman on the Edge of Time, Marge Piercy (1987) – review, review
Star Rider, Doris Piserchia (1987) – review
Extra(Ordinary) People, Joanna Russ (1985, collection) – review, review
The Adventures of Alyx, Joanna Russ (1985, collection) – review, review
The Female Man, Joanna Russ (1985) – review, review, review
The Two of Them, Joanna Russ (1986) – review
We Who Are About To…, Joanna Russ (1987) – review, review, review, review
*Queen of the States, Josephine Saxton (1986) – review
*The Travails of Jane Saint, Josephine Saxton (1986, collection)
I, Vampire, Jody Scott (1986)
Passing for Human, Jody Scott (1986) – review
A Door Into Ocean, Joan Slonczewski (1987)
*A Spaceship Built of Stone, Lisa Tuttle (1987, collection) – review

Black and white stripes
*Walk to the End of the World and Motherlines, Suzy McKee Charnas (1989, omnibus) – review
Machine Sex and Other Stories, Candas Jane Dorsey (1990, collection)
*The Start of the End of It All and Other Stories, Carol Emshwiller (1990, collection)
The Language of the Night, Ursula K Le Guin (1989, non-fiction)
*Women as Demons, Tanith Lee (1989, collection) – review
*In the Chinks of the World Machine, Sarah LeFanu (1988, non-fiction)
*The Total Devotion Machine, Rosaleen Love (1989, collection)
*Moving Moosevan, Jane Palmer (1990)
On Strike Against God, Joanna Russ (1987)
The Hidden Side of the Moon, Joanna Russ (1989, collection)
*Jane Saint and the Backlash, Josephine Saxton (1989, collection)
The Wall Around Eden, Joan Slonczewski (1989) – review
*Correspondence, Sue Thomas (1992) – review
*Skin of the Soul, Lisa Tuttle, ed. (1990, anthology)
The Silent City, Élisabeth Vonarburg (1990)
Across the Acheron, Monique Wittig (1989) – review
*Busy About the Tree of Life, Pamela Zoline (1988, collection) – review

Livewire (YA imprint)
Skirmish, Melisa Michaels (1987) – review
*The Hidden Ones, Gwyneth Jones (1988)


Also, worth seeking out is the Women of Wonder series of anthologies edited by Pamela Sargent. Three were published in the 1970s, and a further two in the 1990s.

Women of Wonder (1975) – review
More Women of Wonder (1976) – review
The New Women of Wonder (1978) – review
Women of Wonder: The Classic Years (1995)
Women of Wonder: The Contemporary Years (1995)  – review, review

Other women-only science fiction anthologies:

The Venus Factor, Vic Ghidalia & Roger Elwood, eds. (1972) – review
Aurora: Beyond Equality†, Vonda N McIntyre & Susan Janice Anderson, eds. (1976) – review
The Crystal Ship‡, Robert Silverberg, ed. (1976) – review
Millennial Women, Virginia Kidd, ed. (1978) – review
Cassandra Rising, Alice Laurance, ed. (1978)
Isaac Asimov’s Space of Her Own, Shawna McCarthy, ed. (1983) – review
New Eves: Science Fiction About the Extraordinary Women of Today and Tomorrow, Forrest J Ackerman, Janrae Frank & Jean Marie Stine, eds. (1994) – review, review
Future Eves, Jean Marie Stine, ed. (2002)
Daughters of Earth, Justine Larbalestier, ed. (2006)
Women Resurrected: Stories from Women Science Fiction Writers of the 50’s, Greg Fowlkes, ed. (2011)
The Mammoth Book of SF Stories by Women, Alex Dally McFarlane, ed. (2014)

For more information, see posts on my personal blog here and here.

† a specifically feminist anthology, it does include three stories by men: David J Skal, PJ Plauger and Craig Strete.
‡ Silverberg edits and provides an introduction to three novellas by women sf authors: Joan D Vinge, Marta Randall and Vonda N McIntyre

26 thoughts on “The Women’s Press sf

  1. Most of those Women’s Press titles had the distinctive grey spines, but a handful of the later ones had the more general Women’s Press black & white stripes even when clearly labelled as SF. Russ’ The Hidden Side Of The Moon is one.
    There was also at least one noteworthy additional title, published after the SF line stopped being separate. Josephine Saxton wrote Jane Saint & the Backlash, a sequel to The Travails of Jane Saint.
    In the Chunks of the World Machine, Sarah Lefanu’s study of Feminism & Science Fiction, was also a Women’s Press volume.

    1. Edited to add In the Chinks of the World Machine. Ta.

      The Candas Jane Dorsey collection also has the black & white striped cover design.

  2. There is what may be a more complete list of included titles here. I have a copy of Joan Slonczewski’s A Wall Around Eden in a Women’s Press edition from 1991, badged with “sf” on the front, and it’s on the longer list I link to, but I haven’t otherwise double-checked the longer list.

    1. I seem to recall checking that list when I originally put together mine, but there was some confusion over whether certain books were badged as “sf” or not. It didn’t help that some had the standard black-and-white striped design but with “sf” on the front, whereas the others were all plain grey and labelled “The Women’s Press SF”… Like you say, it needs double-checking.

    1. You’d have to ask the people who edited the line, but given that Finch didn’t win the Nebula until 1999 they were likely unaware of her. Although I suspect the Nebula Award, was not on their radar anyway.

    2. It has just occurred to me you may mean on the site rather than the Women’s Press list. She’s certainly on our radar, and she appears in several of the anthologies reviewed here. But no one has yet to contribute a review of novel or collection by her.

  3. this is going to be some solid internet necromancy here, but if the author of this blog ever checks their comments – I used this list to hunt down every single one of these wherever they could be found, and have now read them all as a counterbalance to my marathon read of all the gollansz sf masterworks. Thank you for compiling it – they all deserve much better than they received!

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