10 sci-fi books written by women of color to add to your reading list.

Female science fiction writers just swept the Hugo Awards.

Obviously, science fiction books by and about women of color exist.

But all too often, we don’t get to see them. Awards for literature overwhelmingly go to male authors who write about men or boys. Female writers of color face additional barriers in the literary world, especially in sci-fi, which tends to be dominated by male authors.

But at a ceremony earlier this week, something cool happened: The winners of the Hugo Awards, some of the most prestigious awards in science fiction, were announced, and the top four fiction awards were awarded to four women. Three of those winners were female writers of color.

In honor of these women, here are 10 recommendations for books about science fiction, fantasy, or speculative fiction by women of color:

1. “The Fifth Season” by N.K. Jemisin

We’ll start with the recent Hugo Award winners. If you like stories about collapsing civilizations and the apocalypse, you’ll enjoy “The Fifth Season,” which won the Hugo for best novel. (Fun fact: N.K. Jemisin is the cousin of comedian W. Kamau Bell!)

2. “Binti” by Nnedi Okorafor

The Hugo for best novella went to this story about a 16-year-old on a harrowing journey to get an education. It’s only 96 pages, so you can knock this one out on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

3. “Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang

The Hugo for best novelette goes to a story between 7,500 and 17,500 words. This year’s award went to Hao Jingfang, a Chinese writer, and her translator Ken Liu, for a story set in the Beijing of the future, where the city folds in on itself every day. “Folding Beijing” is also a commentary on the divisions between social classes. You can read the full novelette online.

Hao Jingfang and Ken Liu. Image via Charles Tan/YouTube.

4. “The Winged Histories” by Sofia Samatar

This novel by a Somali American author is about four women caught up in a rebellion. It’s riveting fantasy, especially if you like solid character development.

5. “Parable of the Sower” by Octavia Butler

OK, it’s not really fair to only put one Octavia Butler book on here because really you should read everything she’s ever written. But this book, the first volume of the “Earthseed” series, is a really good place to start.

6. “Ink” by Sabrina Vourvoulias

If you think our immigration system sometimes feels like a dystopia, you’ll want to read “Ink.” This speculative novel takes place in the U.S., and four central characters tell the story.

7. “The Island of Eternal Love” by Daína Chaviano

Chaviano takes the reader on a journey through time with this novel. Several complex plots thread through the book, which is the most translated Cuban novel in history.

8. “The Grass Dancer” by Susan Power

This novel, which centers on a Sioux reservation, weaves together mythicism and magical realism so skillfully that it’s hard to believe it was Susan Power’s first novel. But believe it – she won the PEN Award for Best First Fiction after its publication in 1994.

9. “Love Is the Drug” by Alaya Dawn Johnson

This one’s for all the young-adult fiction lovers out there. The book won the Nebula Award for Best Young Adult Novel in 2015.

10. “Legend” by Marjorie Lu

If you like young-adult dystopian series like “The Hunger Games,” pick up “Legend” at the library. Once you’re hooked, you’ll be happy to know that CBS Films has acquired the film rights for the novel.

Listen, I could keep going – there’s a whole universe (multiverse?) of science fiction written by women of color.

But if you’re still reading my words and not checking out these books, get out of here. Go read!

France’s ban on the burkini might not last much longer.

France just learned that telling women what they can or cannot wear never ends well.

When Aheda Zanetti designed the burkini more than a decade ago, she did it for one very simple reason.

“I created them to stop Muslim children from missing out on swimming lessons and sports activities,” the Australian-based designer told Politico. “There was nothing out there to suit their needs.”

For the uninitiated, a burkini – a portmanteau of “burqa” and “bikini” – is essentially a full-coverage wetsuit that some Muslim women choose to wear for personal or religious reasons.

Australian-Lebanese designer Aheda Zanetti. Photo by Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images.

The burkini was a huge success, as Zanetti explains, because “[it] did wonders for Muslim women and girls. It created confidence to get active.”

The swimsuit design has been in the news as it has come under attack in France.

Telling women what they can or cannot wear never ends well – and yet, that’s what some parts of France are trying to do.

In mid-August, a number of cities in France began implementing bans on burkini swimsuits on local beaches.

Fitness instructor Fatma Taha models a burkini swimsuit. Photo by Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images.

Those who proposed the ban on burkinis claim the garment is a threat to others. But they’re not. They’re literally just pieces of swimwear.

In Cannes, the ban says that “access to beaches and for swimming is banned to anyone who does not have (swim wear) which respects good customs and secularism.”

Cannes mayor David Lisnard, who introduced the local ban, said he did so to prohibit “beachwear ostentatiously showing a religious affiliation while France and places of religious significance are the target of terror attacks” as a means to avoid “trouble to public order.”

Others have championed the bans as a move meant to empower women, claiming that the burkinis are a symbol of oppression. They’re both wrong.

A woman wearing a burkini in Mahdia, Tunisia. Photo by Fethi Belaid/AFP/Getty Images.

In the last week of August, a series of photos from a beach in Nice went viral, highlighting exactly what’s wrong with the ban.

The photos show four police in Nice approaching an unnamed woman wearing a burkini on the beach. The officers hovered over her, forced her to publicly disrobe, and then fined her for violating the ban.

When you contrast that image with some of the reasons being trotted out in defense of the ban (like this one from French ambassador to the U.S. Gérard Araud), it’s really hard to see the logic behind the ban.

Araud suggests that by banning the burkini, it’s somehow liberating women from “a patriarchal, regressive and misogynistic clothing code.” But if the ban is about respecting women, it’s not quite clear how forcing a woman to publicly strip under penalty of law is empowering.

It also doesn’t account for the fact that many women simply choose to wear the burkini the way other women might choose to wear a bikini or a one-piece suit based on what makes them feel comfortable.

Sometimes it seems like no matter what women do, no matter how they dress, there’s just no way to win.

In recent days, the hashtag #WearWhatYouWant has gotten a lot of traction on Twitter to promote the idea that women should be allowed to make their own decisions about how they dress. In so many cases – whether it’s dressing too modestly or too provocatively – women are derided for making these choices.

One French artist summed up the whole conundrum perfectly:

The good news is that the attempt to ban the burkini has failed – for now.

On Aug. 26, a French court suspended the ban in Villeneuve-Loubet (near Nice), ruling that these types of bans may only be implemented if there was a “proven risk” to the public. No such risk has been established.

While this doesn’t affect the other 14 bans in effect around the country, this precedent will likely result in those being overturned as well in the near future.

A woman protests outside the French Embassy in London on Aug. 25, 2016, during a #WearWhatYouWant beach party. Photo by Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images.

Amnesty International lauded the court’s decision, issuing a statement saying, “By overturning a discriminatory ban that is fueled by and is fueling prejudice and intolerance, today’s decision has drawn an important line in the sand.”

Zanetti has hope for the future – not only about the burkini, but the way society treats women.

“It doesn’t matter why they make these choices,” Zanetti added in her Politico interview. “The beach is there for everyone to enjoy. We are women. We should be able to wear whatever we want to and do whatever we want to do, whenever we want to do it.”

Three types of bathing suits. None more or less appropriate than the others. Photo by Fethi Belaid/AFP/Getty Images.

Long live the burkini.

Despite the odds, one young writer is passionately chasing his literary dreams.

‘I want to become a published author. And there’s nothing that’s going to stop me.’

Do you know what it’s like to have a dream that you’ll stop at nothing to achieve?

Justin Susan does.

When Justin first read a book that transported him to another world, he knew he wanted to re-create that magical feeling for others just like him.

“I want to become a published author. And there’s nothing that’s going to stop me.”

All images via Taco Bell.

Since then, he’s been working relentlessly to make his literary dreams a reality, one chapter at a time.

“When I feel like I’m going to stop, I think about if J.K. Rowling would’ve stopped,” he says with a quiet confidence. “If John Green, Steven Spielberg – all these great people – if they would’ve stopped. It just keeps me going.”

The odds, though, haven’t often been in Justin’s favor.

When Justin was in the eighth grade, he was reading and writing at a fifth-grade level.

Despite multiple attempts throughout high school, not once was Justin accepted into a college preparatory program. Justin is from the White Mountain Apache reservation, and organizations like College Horizons have reported the high school graduation rate for Native Americans is about half. And of that half, only 5% immediately go on to four-year colleges.

But Justin knows what it will take and is determined.

He wakes up around 5:30 a.m. to get his mind going and his blood flowing – a habit of some of the world’s most successful people. For him, something as simple as a morning walk can make all the difference when it comes to tackling the day ahead.

The most inspiring part, however, is what drives him every single day.

“I want to work hard for it. And not only for, you know, the fame or any of that. I’m doing it out there for the simple inspiration for another kid out there just like me, who may not have the right path in life. And hopefully, my characters, my words, can help them just get a little closer to that right direction. And that is the biggest reason why I do it.”

It’s no wonder Justin stood out from the crowd and was eventually awarded the Live Más Scholarship from Taco Bell.

“Hope … it gave me hope that my dreams are possible.”

Those were Justin’s words when he first found out he had won.

You see, Taco Bell is celebrating our young innovators, creators, and dreamers – the next generation of students whose skills go beyond the usual athletics and academics. Despite the challenges of the path ahead, these young men and women aren’t afraid to dream big and do what they love. They’re going after what they want in life and are doing it with determination and truckloads of heart.

Watch Justin talk about his inspirational journey:

Despite the odds, one young writer is passionately chasing his literary dreams.

Posted by Upworthy on Thursday, August 25, 2016

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