Saturday, December 19, 2015

Feminist Heroines in Science Fiction Romances

Posted by: Jody W. and Meankitty
My children, who've never been all that into SF, are, like the rest of the world, quickly being converted into Star Wars superfans. (NO WE HAVEN'T SEEN IT YET NO SPOILERS BUT WE TOTALLY WATCHED SPACEBALLS TODAY!) From what I hear, it won't pain me to take my daughters to The Force Awakens because the female protagonist is not stuck in a role of damsel in distress, prize to be won, evul sexorina, or what have you. They may not be getting a Black Widow movie anytime soon and the Supergirl currently on TV may be a little...pallid...but they will have Rey ( an article about how she's a great feminist character that I only read the first paragraph of to verify the spelling of her name). One day they may also have Furiosa, if they get tough enough to watch the herky jerky blood bath that was Mad Max 2015.

These two characters in particular have got me excited that it might be the first of a new breed of female protagonists on the screen and between the pages. And by "new breed" I know good and well these women have existed always, but they don't always capture the attention and respect of the masses and make the big bucks. SF romances, in particular, have never been a fantastic seller for romance publishers, as far as I can determine, though they do have a devoted readership. Before self publishing was such a thing, right when small internet-based publishers and ebooks were starting to take off, I had a pretty complete collection of "mainstream" mass market futuristics from the standard publishers.

Johanna Lindsey, Saranne Dawson, Marilyn Campbell, Susan Grant, Dara Joy, Stobie Piel, Pam Rock, Catherine Spangler -- many of these were released starting in the 1980s and early 1990s. With the onset of electronic publishing, the field became way too large for me to maintain any kind of complete list.

But I always loved romances with hearty SF worldbuilding and always hoped for characters like what I'm assuming Rey in The Force Awakens seems to be. (*Also, if anybody WANTS some of these old paperbacks, please let me know and I'll mail you a box of lust in space goodness!) In my SF series with Entangled, the Maelstrom Chronicles, I've written all my female characters with my daughters and with this type of female character in mind. Smart, self-reliant, in tune with their own strengths and weaknesses, Adelita Martinez (ANGELI), Sarah CallenJoseph (TRAITOR) and, in novel currently in edits, Claire Lawson (PRODIGAL) are as likely to rescue their heroes as they are to need rescuing. I can't imagine writing them any other way.

Please don't spoil Star Wars in the comments -- but please DO share some other books and movies which you think feature feminist heroines who are equal to the male characters in their world-saving abilities!

Incidentally SPACEBALLS does NOT qualify for this category of movie, but at least the heroine's uselessness was played for laughs instead of for serious.

Jody Wallace
Smart. Snarky. Seductive. And that's just the books.  *  

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