Sirens 2019

Below you will find the handout and additional resources, including book recommendations, discussed at Saturday’s panel. A google doc link complete with navigational content headings can also be found [here].

Why We Write About War

Handout & Resources for the panel presented 26 October 2019

Panelists: Cass Morris, Tina LeCount Myers, Rook Riley, K.B. Wagers
Organizers: Emma Whitney, Cristal G. Thompson
Moderator: Cristal G. Thompson


Why do we write about war? Whether or not we believe war to be an inextricable part of the human condition, it has been a defining aspect of human evolution. War has shaped human culture—economically, technologically, and socially. War has shaped geography; it has destroyed, created, and destroyed again and again and has contributed tremendously to the globalization of the past two centuries. War is not an experience limited to any one race, ethnicity, or even gender, despite repeated claims by dusty historians that war is the theater of men.

The earliest history of literature is, with notable exceptions like The Tale of Genji, a history of war literature, the roots of which are found in epic poetry like Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad, the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Sanskrit epic the Ramayana. Science Fiction and Fantasy developed from those same roots, though it would not be until the 19th century that they would begin to find recognition as distinct genres. Even still, they battle for legitimacy in academic and literary circles.

The Industrial Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment fostered within humanity’s collective imagination both fascination and horror for the potentials of science and technology. The first recognizable science fiction writings were born out of the chaos and steam of the 18th century, with fantasy not far behind. Reason reshaped fantastic cosmologies, turned them into mythology, legend, fairy tales and Romance, to finally form the foundational fancies of writers like George MacDonald and Gertrude Barrows Bennett.

World War I transformed them all. War literature, Fantasy, and Science Fiction were forged into their modernly recognizable selves in the crucible of global warfare. War stories became identifiably male, despite an abundance of women writing about war. Today, the historical narrative remains male-dominated, falsely- shaped by a patriarchal and misogynistic society, but war has never been restricted to male pursuit nor constrained to male experiences. Women and nonbinary individuals are not exempt from war; we do not fade fainting into the background. We fight, we die, and we endure. We tell our stories.

For well over a century now, women have found the genres of science fiction and fantasy to be (comparatively) more welcoming of their experiences and stories than the lofty vaults of “serious literature.” Here, we absolutely write about war, and for many reasons, some of which we will discuss today. Some of us write to remember; some write to understand. Some write that we may never forget the horrors humans are capable of visiting upon other humans. For others, war is a complex but useful world- and character-builder, and no wonder. It has certainly shaped our own.

Panelists’ Works 

Cass Morris (

  • From Unseen Fire: Book One of the Aven Cycle. DAW, 2018.

Sirens Benefit Anthology: Witches and Warriors. “The Price.”

Tina Le Count Myers (

  • The Song of All. Book One: the Legacy of the Heavens. Night Shade Books, 2018
  • Dreams of the Dark Sky. Book Two: the Legacy of the Heavens. Night Shade Books, 2019
  • Breath of Gods. Book 3: the Legacy of the Heavens. Coming from Night Shade Books, 2020

Sirens Benefit Anthology: Queens and Courtesans. “M:ITE” 

K.B. Wagers (

The Indranan War Trilogy:

  • Behind the Throne. Orbit, 2016.
  • After the Crown. Orbit, 2016.
  • Beyond the Empire. Orbit, 2017.

The Farian War Trilogy

  • There Before the Chaos. Orbit, 2018.
  • Down Among the Dead. Orbit, Coming December 2019.

NeoG Adventures:

  • A Pale Light in the Black. Harper Voyager, Coming March 2020.

Sirens Benefit Anthology: Rebels and Revenants. “Reformation Day”

Rook Riley

Sirens Benefit Anthology: Queens and Courtesans. “Down the Crooked Way.”

Sirens Benefit Anthology: Witches and Warriors. “Withdrawal.”

Sirens Benefit Anthology: Rebels and Revenants. “Under a Dreaming Moon.”

A digital copy of this handout as well as additional resources, including links, articles, nonfiction, fiction, and timelines can be found [here]. If you would like a copy or google doc link emailed to you, please see Cristal or Emma for the signup sheet after the panel. Thanks!



Abercrombie, Joe. The Blade Itself trilogy.

Bardugo, Leigh. Grishaverse Series

Barton, Emily. The Book of Esther.

Bujold, Lois McMaster. Vorkosigan Saga, esp. Shards of Honor and Barrayer.

Cixin, Liu. The Three Body Problem.

Cornwell, Bernard. The Last Kingdom.

de Bodard, Aliette. On a Red Station Drifting. The House of Shattered Wings.

Dickinson, Seth. The Traitor Baru.

Friedman, CS. In Conquest Born

Gray, Claudia. Lost Stars

Hawke, Sam. City of Lies.

Homer, The Odyssey, ed. and trans. Emily Wilson, 2017. (1st translation by a woman)

Huff, Tanya. Confederation Series.

Hurley, Kameron. Multiple works including, The Light Brigade, God’s War (to name but two).

Ireland, Justina. Dread Nation.

Jemisin, N.K. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (The Inheritance Trilogy)

Kenyon, Kay. At the Table of Wolves.

Khan, Ausma Zehanat. The Bloodprint.

King, Sara. Forging Zero.

Kuang, R.F. The Poppy War.

LaFevers, Robin. His Fair Assassin Trilogy.

Leckie, Ann. Ancillary Justice.

Lee, Fonda. The Jade War.

Lee, Victoria. The Fever King.

Lee, Yoon Ha. Ninefox Gambit. Conservation of Shadows.

Marks, Laurie J. Elemental Logic Series

Marshall, Alex. A Crown for Cold Silver.

Mejia, Tehlor Kay. We Set the Dark on Fire.

Miller, Madelyn. Song of Achilles.

Moon, Elizabeth. The Deed of Paksenarrion.

Pierce, Tamora. Most Works.

Pratchett, Terry. Monstrous Regiment.

Rivera, K. Arsenault. The Tiger’s Daughter.

Sanderson, Brandon. The Way of Kings.

Shannon, Samantha. The Priory of the Orange Tree.

Taylor, Laini. Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy.

Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse Five.


Beagle, Peter S., ed. The Secret History of Fantasy.  Tachyon Publications, 2010.

Black, Jeremy. Rethinking Military History. Routledge, 2004.

Bourke, Joanna. Dismembering the Male: Men’s Bodies, Britain and the Great War, Reaktion Press and University of Chicago Press, 1996. Fear: A Cultural History, Virago, 2006. Wounding the World: How Military Violence and War-Play Invade our Lives, Virago, 2014 (published in the US as Deep Violence: Military Violence, War Play, and the Social Life of Weapons, Counterpoint, 2015).

Evans, Martin & Kenneth Lunn, eds. War and Memory in the Twentieth Century. Berg Publishers, 1997.

Foreman, Amanda. A World on Fire: An Epic History of Two Nations Divided (Penguin, 2010), Reissued as A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War). The World Made by Women: A History of Women from the Apple to the Pill. Forthcoming, 2020.

Fussel, Paul. The Great War and Modern Memory. Oxford University Press, New Edition, 2013.

Goodspeed-Chadwick, Julie. Modernist Women Writers and War: Trauma and the Female Body in Djuna Barnes, H.D., and Gertrude Stein.  Louisiana State University Press, 2011.

Guanio-Uluru, Lykke. Ethics and Form in Fantasy Literature: Tolkien, Rowling and Meyer. Springer, 2015.

Hantke, Steffan. Monsters in the Machine: Science Fiction Film and the Militarization of America after World War II. University Press of Mississippi, 2018.

Lynn, John. Battle: a History of Combat and Culture. Basic Books, 2004.

MacMillan, Margaret. All works, esp: The Uses and Abuses of History, 2008. The Rhyme of History: Lessons of the Great War, 2013. History’s People: Personalities and the Past, 2015.

McLoughlin, Kate. The Cambridge Companion to War Writing (Cambridge Companions to Literature). Cambridge University Press, 2009. Authoring War: The Literary Representation Of War From The Iliad To Iraq. Cambridge University Press, 2014. 

Mendlesoh, Farah & Edward James. A Short History of Fantasy. Libri Publishing, 2012.

Seed, David. American Science Fiction and the Cold War. Taylor & Francis, 1999.

Sun Tzu. The Art of War

Winter, Jay. Remembering War: The Great War between Memory and History in the 20th Century.  Yale University Press, 2006.Thomas, Ebony Elizabeth. The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games. NYU Press, 2019.

Wood, Michael. In Search of the Trojan War.


Blakemore, Erin. “Women Write War Fiction Too.” JSTOR Daily, 28 April 2016.

Carter, Susanne. “Reshaping the War Experience: Women’s War Fiction.” Feminist Teacher 7, no. 1 (1992): 14-19.

Griswald, Eliza. “Women, Writing War.”  Words Without Borders, April 2016.

Hall, Sarah. “Women at War: Why Do We Still Struggle With the Idea of Female Soldiers?”

Hoffman, Cara. “The Things She Carried.” The New York Times. March 31, 2014

Miller, Laura. Dark Futures: What Happens When Literary Novelists Experiment with Science Fiction. Slate, 25 May 2017.

Onion, Amanda. “How World War I Changed Literature.”, 31 August 2018.

“Women and War Literature” (correspondence with Ruth Edgett, Siobhan Fallon, Daphne Kalotay, Judy Labensohn and Ruth Mukwana with Catherine Parnell for Consequence Magazine)

Consequence Magazine, Spring 2018 referenced in the above.

Wexler, Django. “So You Want To Have a War.” A Dribble of Ink, ed by Aiden Moher, 22 April 2013.

Williams, Kayla. “Women Writing War: A List of Essential Contemporary War Literature by Women.” May 26, 2014.

Other Resources

List: Early Female Authors of Science Fiction/Fantasy.

Timeline: A Brief History of Feminist SF/F and Women in SF/F.

Calloway, Catherine. “War in Literature and Drama.” Bibliography. Last updated: 11 January 2018.

Margaret MacMillan’s 2018 Lectures on war and humanity. Available to listen or download at:

The Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction, University of Kansas.

Science Fiction Studies. (periodical homepage with link to JSTOR archives)

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September/October 2019 Issue. (This issue had some great related reads).