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There are now so many recommendations that I had to break this list into two parts! Below, please find Part 1 A-M by author/creator name); Part 2 (N-Z) is in the next post. I’m still taking recommendations (protagonists, only please; not secondary characters). The list is focused on older female protagonists in genre, "older" in this case meaning age 40 and up. To date, we have the following recommendations from online or my own reading:

Part 1 A through M. All listings by author’s last name or creator name.


  • Asimov, Isaac. Dr. Susan Calvin, robotics expert in I, Robot, etc.
  • Bailey, Robin Wayne. Bloodsongs (Frost Saga, Vol. 3). Frost is a female warrior who spends most of the first two books as a young woman fighting supernatural battles. At the end of book 2, she settles down, retires and has kids. Bloodsongs has her coming back from retirement as a middle-aged woman to fight her biggest battles yet.
  • Bear, Elizabeth. Lady Abigail Irene Garrett in New Amsterdam. Middle-aged female supernatural detective in steampunky NY, series of linked stories. See also Bone and Jewel Creatures and the Jenny Casey series (Scardown, etc.).
  • Bennett, Robert Jackson. City of Stairs and City of Blades. General Turyin Mulaghesh is a career soldier who gets brought in to deal with crises, military, magical and combinations of both. She’s one of several protagonists in the first book but is the main character in the second.
  • Berman, Ruth. Bradamant's Quest. Middle-aged female knight on a quest (sequel to Aristo's Orlando Furioso).
  • Bernobich, Beth. Nocturnall. A queen saves her husband from a magical assasination attempt, but at what cost?
  • Bishop, K.J. “Vision Splendid” in Baggage: An Anthology of Australian Speculative Fiction.
  • Bujold, Lois McMaster. Paladin of Souls. Ista is a middle-aged dowager queen on a quest to combat a god-driven curse affecting multiple generations of her family. Also, an older Vicereine and former Betan Admiral, Cordelia Naismith is the protagonist of Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen.
  • Charnas, Suzy McKee. Dorothea Dreams. Magical realist novel with elderly artist protagonist.
  • Cherryh, C.J. Downbelow Station. Interstellar battleship commander Captain Signy Mallory negotiates battles and a complex political situation. Also, Ajiji-Dowager Illisidi in the Foreigner series.
  • Connolly, Harry. A Key, An Egg, An Unfortunate Remark. Urban Fantasy. Vampire hunter  Marley Jacobs comes out of retirement to solve a supernatural murder.
  • Cooper, Constance. "The Carnivores of Can't-Go-Home" in To Shape the Dark. Botanist Dr. T must solve a murder mystery on an alien planet.
  • Cornell, Paul. The Witches of Lychford. 71 year old Judith Mawson has to gather allies to protect the boundary between worlds.
  • Cross, Helen. "Fur" in Wolf-Girls. A different spin on menopausal werewolves (an idea whose time has come!)
  • de Bodard, Aliette. "Crossing the Midday Gate" in To Shape the Dark.
    Scientist Luong Thi Dan Linh is recalled to court and an uncertain welcome by an AI after twenty years in exile, the result of vaccine development gone wrong. 
  • Dyer, S.N. "Sins of the Mothers" in The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy, (May, 1997). Protagonist's son (given up for adoption as an infant) approaches her about creating a clone of himself from her eggs.
  • Elgin, Suzette Haden. The Ozark Trilogy. Magic-working Grannies uphold the social order and dispense wisdom in a confederation of planets modeled on the Ozark culture of the southern Midwest. Responsible of Brightwater, protagonist ages over the course of the books.
  • Eliott, Kate. Black Wolves  Dannarah is a 59 year old reeve Marshall  for most of the book, and a key player in a shifting political landscape. (Multiple POV)
  • Emschwiller, Carol. "Grandma" in Report to the Men's Club and Other Stories. An adolescent is inspired to take on her grandmother's superhero role.
  • Fenn, M. "Chlorophyll is Thicker Than Water" in To Shape the Dark. Dr. Susan Yamamoto and her wife, Dr. Hina Okada, must foil a corporate saboteur out to steal their ground-breaking botanical research.
  • Fforde, Jasper. The Woman Who Died a Lot. Literary Detective Thursday Next enters middle age and a whole new set of adventures.
  • Files, Gemma. Experimental Film. Middle-aged former historian Lois Carns invesitages the death of an early woman filmmaker and gets sucked into a world of ghosts and monsters.
  • Fowler, Karen Joy. Narrator of “What I Didn’t See.” What I Didn’t See and Other Stories by Karen Joy Fowler.
  • Frohock, Teresa. Miserere. Multiple POV fantasy novel, including demon-ridden Rachael Boucher, who is in her forties, when the lover who abandoned her returns to pull her back into a war against the Fallen Angels.
  • Gilman, Carolyn Ives. Dark Orbit. Saraswati Callicot is a scientist on a mission to travel light years across space to explore new planets, but neither the planet Orem or her crewmates are what they seem to be.
  • Gladstone, Max. Last, First Snow. Elayne Kevarian is a 50-year old Craftswoman and veteran of the God Wars who must contend with foes new and old.
  • Goldstein, Lisa. Strange Devices of the Sun and Moon. Widowed bookseller Alice Wood works with Christopher Marlowe to rescue her son from Faerie.
  • Goodin, Laura. After the Bloodwood Staff. Sibyl Alvaro meets Hoyle at a used bookstore and proposes an adventure that more than either bargain for. Multiple POV.
  • Goto, Hiromi and Loup, Celine. Shadow Life. Forthcoming graphic novel featuring an elderly queer woman battling Death.
  • Grotta, Sally Wiener. The Winter Boy features an older woman, Rishana, who mentors and protects a young man in order to make him one of their tribe’s leaders.
  • Hambly, Barbara. Dragonsbane, Dragonshadow, Knight of the Demon Queen and Dragonstar. Middle-aged witch Jenny Waynest must contend with dragons, demons and threats to her loved ones.
  • Henderson, Zenna. “The Deluge.” Old female alien experiences the end of her world.
  • Hertling, Willing. Kill Process. Middle-aged IT professional fights domestic abusers and tech corps in this cyber-thriller.
  • Holmqvist, Ninni. The Unit (translated by Marlaine Delargy). Dorrit Weger expects to live out her few remaining days in the Unit where the single, childless and jobless live until their organs are harvested, but then everything changes.
  • Hopkinson, Nalo. The New Moon's Arms. Calamity Lambkin, middle-aged POC protagonist in Caribbean setting, rescues a magical sea creature.
  • Jemisin, N.K. The Fifth Season. Essun is an orogene, someone who can control the earth's energy, as well as a middle-aged school teacher dealing with unimaginable tragedy.
  • Jones, Heather Rose. The Mystic Marriage, multiple POV includes Jeanne de Cherdillac, patron and lover of the female alchemist Antuniet Chazillen.
  • Kagan, Janet. Mirabile, featuring Annie 'Mama' Jason Masmajean as an ecological troubleshooter on a colony world.
  • Kerr, Katharine. Lady Lovyan in Daggerspell and other Deverry series novels.
  • Klass, Fruma. "The Way We Were" in Triangulation (July, 2014), includes seven characters (four women, three men) living in a retirement home for indigent old werewolves. "Jennifer's Turn" in Gathering the Bones features a 68-year-old woman dealing with Social Security in 2020.
  • Kowal, Mary Robinette. "The Lady Astronaut of Mars." An aging female astronaut is torn between one last mission and staying with her dying husband.
  • Krasnoff, Barbara. “Red Dybbuk” (Subversion); “The Seder Guest” (Crossed Genres 15) and “The History of Soul 2065” (Clockwork Phoenix 4) all feature older female protagonists.
  • Kress, Nancy. Tomorrow's Kin. Middle-aged female scientist Marianne Jenner is amongst the first to meet the aliens who have just landed in NYC. (Multiple POV)
  • Lanigan, Susan. "Ward 7" in To Shape the Dark. Neurological scientist Vera Ragin is driven to experiment on herself to find a new way to detect disease, over the objections of her employer and her much younger lover.
  • Le Guin, Ursula. "The Day Before the Revolution" in The Wind's Twelve Quarters. Laia Asieo Odo is an elderly anarchist leader whose ideas are about to come into fruition. See also Le Guin’s Four Ways to Forgiveness and the character Tenar in Tehanu
  • Lewitt, Shariann. "Fieldwork" in To Shape the Dark. Geologist Irene Kolninskaya Taylor must journey to Jupiter's Moon Europa to investigate the disaster that killed her mother and her team and which still haunts her.
  • Locke, M.J. Up Against It. Jane Navio is the colony resource manager on an asteroid colony. (Multiple POV).
  • Lowell, Nathan. The Tanyth Fairport Adventures (Ravenwood, Zypheria's Call, The Hermit of Lammas Wood). Tanyth Fairport is an elderly herbalist and witch who goes on a quest to develop her powers and save those she holds dear.
  • Lundoff, Catherine. Silver Moon. Becca Thornton learns to embrace her inner, and outer, menopausal werewolf when she joins the local all-female werewolf pack.
  • MacAvoy, R.A. Tea with the Black Dragon. Middle-aged female protagonist goes on a quest with a magician who may also be a dragon.
  • Marley, Louise. Mother Isabel Burke in The Child Goddess is a medical anthropologist trying to save the child leader of a lost colony from an interstellar corporation.
  • McKillip, Patricia. Iris in Solstice Wood (multiple POV). Also, arguably, Sel in The Tower at Stony Wood.
  • McIntyre,Vonda N. "The Mountains of Sunset, the Mountains of Dawn" in The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy (February, 1974). Old female alien wants to experience flight for the last time before dying when a young male alien approaches her and wants to mate in order to transition to adulthood.
  • Modesitt, L. E. The Soprano Sorceress. Middle-aged college professor Anna Marshall finds herself in a parallel world where her musical talent gives her magical powers.
  • Moffett, Judith. "Surviving." Janet is a middle-aged psychologist, trying to come to terms with her failure to "save" and civilize Sally, a young woman raised by apes after a plane crash.
  • Moon, Elizabeth. Remnant Population. Ofelia is an eighty-year old grandmother making first contact  with hostile aliens on a new world. See also Moon’s Serrano Legacy series, which feature a number of older women as POV/primary characters.
  • Moraine, Sunny. "Thin Spun" in Hellebore and Rue: Tales of Queer Women and Magic Lakshmi is a wise woman, exiled from her people for having loved too well. Intriguing story of intergenerational cooperation and redemption.
  • Murphy, Pat. The Falling Woman. Liz Butler is an aging archaeologist who can see people in the past and talk to Mayan ghosts, but has less success communicating with her estranged daughter.
  • Myers, Jenn. All the Growing Things. Graphic novel about an elderly gardener named Maude who takes on monsters and solves mysteries.

End of part 1, A through M – see Part 2 for N-Z. All listings by author’s last name or creator name.

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