Oh No, He Said, Wringing His Hands, Where Are All the Men in Science Fiction?!?
I don’t know if you knew this, but in certain quarters of the Internet, it is currently the fashion to suggest that men are being squeezed out of mainstream science fiction and fantasy, as it is being overrun by all the people who are not men, writing stuff that men certainly would never read because the man quotient in it is too low (or something).
Well, I am a man, and I write science fiction and fantasy, and I was curious if indeed I and other dudes like me, being men and all, were currently in the process of being squeezed out the genre. I figured a good place to start would be my own publisher, Tor Books. As it happens, I have access to the Tor Books catalogue for 2022, detailing the titles that it is publishing in hardcover and in trade paperback. The hardcovers are all new releases, while the trade paperbacks are either new releases or re-releases of titles previously in hardcover. Because Tom Doherty Associates has several imprints (aside from Tor, there’s Forge, TorDotCom, Nightfire, Tor Teen and Starscape), I decided to focus specifically on Tor Books, i.e., the imprint my work is published with (save for one novella at TorDotCom).
For the purposes of this exercise, I will be counting authors (as opposed to editors) and if an author appears twice — as several do, because they are either releasing two new books in 2022 or (more usually) one new book and one reissue of the previous hardcover into trade paperback — I’ll count them only once. I’m also not counting editors, no matter how large their name is on the cover (sorry). If a book has more than one author, I’ll count them both. Also, and finally, this analysis comes from the Tor catalogues I found on Edelweiss; it’s possible there will be late additions/subtractions and that I might have missed a few titles here and there. But I did try to be careful and also made sure to double-check publicly-presenting genders when I was in doubt.
So for 2022, I counted 38 male authors with work coming out from Tor Books (alongside 31 authors who are women or non-binary/genderfluid). These male authors include debut authors, current bestsellers, genre stalwarts, beloved authors, authors lost to time but being reintroduced, and authors expanding on the worlds that others originated. There’s fantasy, science fiction, alternate histories and the stuff that slides in-between the usual categorizations.
It’s a pretty good range of (male) authors, presenting a pretty good range of material! One might say, with literally dozens of books across several subgenres, that there might be something for everyone there. And that’s just a single imprint of a single publisher — albeit the imprint and publisher that so many of the folks wringing their hands about the state of men in SFF like to single out as being at the forefront of stomping men out of the genre. However, the numbers, at least, do not seem to support this argument.
Where are the men in (mainstream) science fiction and fantasy? They are, literally, right in front of y’all, and have been all this time. What has changed, I suppose, is that the genre is now wider than it used to be, and that it’s not just men (and not just white men), or at the very least, not just mostly white dudes with a sprinkling of others. This is not to suggest there’s not still work to be done expanding the genre even further. But it’s a more diverse genre than it used to be, and in my opinion, better for it.
So, yeah, if you see someone out there complaining that they can’t find work from men in the SFF genre, remember that there are literally dozens of dudes putting out books this very year, from a single imprint, from a single publisher. I would be very surprised if Tor’s output here is notably unusual for the genre; other mainstream SFF publishers seem likely to me to have more than a smattering of men among their authors.
Maybe if the people complaining can’t find them, it’s because they’re not bothering to look all that hard. Try a bookstore or a library, folks. These titles, and authors, will be there, waiting for you.