The best classic space operas written by women

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been reading science fiction and fantasy, and specifically space opera, since I was seven and first discovered The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet. I read my way through every book in the school library and public library that dealt with aliens, space travel, starships, and especially adventure.


I wrote...

Nexus Point

By Jaleta Clegg,

Book cover of Nexus Point

What is my book about?

Dace only wants the freedom to fly her merchant ship where the trade takes her. But fate has other plans. Her crew betrays her and destroys her ship, stranding her on Dadilan, a low-tech world on the fringes of the Empire. The natives of the planet think she's a demon dropped from the sky in a ball of fire. The smugglers think she's the competition. The Patrol are convinced she's a pirate or worse. Her only hope of rescue is to convince the Patrol agent currently hunting her that she's innocent. But on Dadilan no one is innocent.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Beholder's Eye

Jaleta Clegg Why did I love this book?

Esen is a shapechanger, a young one. While exploring a world considered ‘safe’ by her matriarch, she is captured by the natives. Her only hope of rescue is to betray her species' strict rules and reveal her true nature to her fellow prisoner, a human.

I adore Esen as a character. She is very relatable. I also love the breadth and scope of species and habitats and worlds in this series. Julie Czerneda is one of my favorite authors. Her storytelling skills shine. Esen is definitely not human, but Czerneda creates such a warm character you can’t help but love her. Beholder’s Eye is part coming-of-age but mostly a darn good science fiction adventure.

By Julie E. Czerneda,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Beholder's Eye as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

United in their natural form they are one, sharing all their memories, experiences, and lives. Apart they are six, the only existing members of their ancient race, a species with the ability to assume any form once they understand its essence.

Their continued survival in a universe filled with races ready to destroy anyone perceived as different is based on the Rules. And first among those Rules is: Never reveal your true nature to another being. But when the youngest among them, Esen-alit-Quar, receives her first independent assignment to a world considered safe to explore, she stumbles into a trap…


Book cover of Hunting Party

Jaleta Clegg Why did I love this book?

Heris Serrano is a disgraced commander in the Regular Space Service. The only job she can land is as the captain of a rich old lady’s space yacht. Lady Cecelia just wants to ride horses and go fox hunting on a friend’s pleasure world. What could possibly go wrong?

Everything, and the trip turns out to be more than anyone bargained for.

I love Heris Serrano as a character. She’s one of the few heroes of an adventure tale who is not young and beautiful. Heris is very definitely middle-aged, competent, but angry over her unjust dismissal from the military. Elizabeth Moon builds a very complex, intriguing relationship between Heris and the Lady Cecelia in this book.

By Elizabeth Moon,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Hunting Party as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Heris Serrano was an officer born of a long line of officers, and a life serving in the ranks of the Regular Space Service was all she had ever known and all she ever wanted - until a treacherous superior officer forced her to resign her commission. This was not just the end of a career path; it was the end of everything that gave her life meaning.
But even ex-Fleet captains have to eat, and Heris finds employment as 'Captain' of an interstellar luxury yacht, working for the eccentric Lady Cecelia de Marktos. Being a rich old lady's chauffeur…


Book cover of Sargasso of Space

Jaleta Clegg Why did I love this book?

Young Dane Thorson signs on to the Solar Queen as an apprentice cargo handler. The crew of the independent ship pools all their resources to buy trading rights to a planet in an auction, hoping to strike it rich. But Limbo turns out to be more than they bargained for.

Rich with vivid imagery, weird aliens, ancient artifacts, remnants of a lost civilization, space pirates, and a whole lot more, Sargasso of Space has been one of my favorite books since I was a teen. No list of Female SF authors would be complete without Andre Norton. Her vision of aliens and space travel has been a huge influence on my own writing.

By Andre Norton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sargasso of Space as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Stellar exploration—and depredation—in the exciting first novel in the Solar Queen series from a “superb storyteller” (The New York Times).
 
In the future, venturing out into the stars is more than a way for humanity to chart the cosmos—it’s big business. Every time a new planet is discovered, the highest bidder gets first dibs with exclusive property rights for a year. Anything they can find, they can keep.
 
The planet Limbo was considered a waste of rock to most, which is the only reason apprentice cargo master Dane Thorson and the rest of the crew of the Solar Queen could…


Book cover of Downbelow Station

Jaleta Clegg Why did I love this book?

Pell was the first Station to orbit a living world beyond Earth. It now stands as the last link to the closed Earth worlds and the tight fist of the Earth Company. Beyond Pell, Cyteen and hundreds of new worlds have turned their back on Earth. Can the rebel Union leave Earth behind entirely?

Downbelow Station is a wide-reaching story of rebellion and politics and out-growing a past that is too small. I love how CJ Cherryh tells this huge story through the lens of one particular merchant ship and its crew’s struggle to survive and find their place in the larger scheme of things.

By C. J. Cherryh,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Downbelow Station as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Hugo Award-winning classic sci-fi novel about interstellar war.

The Beyond started with the Stations orbiting the stars nearest Earth. The Great Circle the interstellar freighters traveled was long, but not unmanageable, and the early Stations were emotionally and politically dependent on Mother Earth. The Earth Company which ran this immense operation reaped incalculable profits and influenced the affairs of nations.

Then came Pell, the first station centered around a newly discovered living planet. The discovery of Pell's World forever altered the power balance of the Beyond. Earth was no longer the anchor which kept this vast empire from coming…


Book cover of The Ship Who Sang

Jaleta Clegg Why did I love this book?

Helva is a ‘brain’, a person with a defective body who becomes meshed with a starship as its controller. Each brain-ship is partnered with a ‘brawn’, a human who acts as the liaison for the ship as well as its partner and protector. Helva loves singing and brings heart to her role as a scoutship brain.

Anne McCaffrey brings her signature romance to this book with a complex relationship that grows between Helva and her brawn as they explore the universe. McCaffrey is deft at creating characters that are vulnerable but still strong in their own way. Though Helva has no physical strength, she has a heart that loves to sing. Even though she is basically a starship, she holds on to her humanity.

By Anne McCaffrey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ship Who Sang as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The brain was perfect, the tiny, crippled body useless. So technology rescued the brain and put it in an environment that conditioned it to live in a different kind of body - a spaceship.

Here the human mind, more subtle, infinitely more complex than any computer ever devised, could be
linked to the massive and delicate strengths, the total recall, and the incredible speeds of space. But
the brain behind the ship was entirely feminine - a complex, loving, strong, weak, gentle savage -a personality, all-woman, called Helva...


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Conditions are Different After Dark

By Owen W. Knight,

Book cover of Conditions are Different After Dark

Owen W. Knight Author Of The Visitors

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Visionary Compassionate Imaginative Conspiracist Apophenia (or apophenic)

Owen's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

In 1662, a man is wrongly executed for signing the death warrant of Charles I. Awaiting execution, he asks to speak with a priest, to whom he declares a curse on the village that betrayed him. The priest responds with a counter-curse, leaving just one option to nullify it.

Over four centuries later, Faith and James move to the country to start a new life and a family. They discover their village lives under the curse uttered by the hanged man. Could their arrival be connected? They fear their choice of new home is no coincidence. Unexplained events hint at threats or warnings to leave. They become convinced the village remains cursed despite their friends’ denials. Who can they trust, and who are potential enemies?

Conditions are Different After Dark

By Owen W. Knight,

What is this book about?

In 1660, a man is wrongly executed for signing the death warrant of Charles I. While awaiting execution, he asks to speak with a priest, to whom he declares a curse on the village that betrayed him. The priest responds with a counter-curse, leaving just one option to nullify it.
Over four centuries later, Faith and James move to the country to start a new life and a family. They learn that their village lives under the curse uttered by the hanged man. Could their arrival be connected?
Faith and James fear that their choice of a new home is…


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