Let me just start off by saying: everything by Lois McMaster Bujold is feminist friendly. I chose the first novel of the Vorkosigan Saga to post but I could have chosen anything! Instead of telling you about this book specifically, I will tell you about the series.
McMaster Bujold creates a universe that is rife with differing opinions and ways of life, anywhere from the patriarchal, military-obsessed planet of Barrayar, to the post-feminist utopia of Beta Colony. Every person of every gender has their own strengths and weaknesses, and their interactions and adventures will stay with me.
There is feminist theory and clever critiques of society woven into the storylines of her books – to take some examples from the Vorkosigan Saga – how does a genius who is physically crippled learn to cope with living in a world that judges worth by military accomplishments? How far can the idea of designer DNA go? What changes would a device that replicates a uterus make to a society, and how would that change a woman’s place in the universe? When everyone around you is some kind of hero, how do you live under that limelight? What is life worth on a planet obsessed with being cryogenetically frozen, or where rich people may clone themselves, transplant their brains to live forever? How relevant is race when everything about you may be altered?
The characters within McMaster Bujold’s books are unforgettable, thoroughly three-dimensional and beautifully written. Within her books I have met a hermaphrodite spaceship captain, a man escaped from slavery who is grateful for everything around him, a woman who is a genetically altered supersoldier with little life left to her, a clone who struggles to find his own idenity, and countless others.
If Science-Fiction isn’t your thing (I thought it wasn’t my thing until I found the Vorkosigan Saga!) then I definitely recommend you try The Sharing Knife quartet. It is a fantasy romance, about a woman, Fawn, who ran away from her abusive family home. Pregnant with a child neither she nor it’s father wants, she is trying to reach a city where she can support herself and her child. A chance encounter with Dag, a man who fights Malices for a living, sets off a chain of events rather unexpected by all parties concerned…
All in all, I do beg you give Lois McMaster Bujold’s novels a go.
This series, while telling the story of the main character Dar, examines the role of women in human society and compares it to the role of women in orc society. Dar, who grew up isolated in the mountains, is conscripted to serve the army and assigned to the orc regiment. The orcs are assumed to be barbaric but throughout the story they show more humanity to Dar than her fellow humans.
Dar learns about orc culture and even strives to learn their language in her struggle to escape from a life of servitude. The Queen of the Orcs series is full of adventure and great characters, especially strong-willed Dar. The worldbuilding, especially the orc’s matriarchal culture, is very unique.