Formidable Female Protagonists in Science Fiction Afterword

I like reading science fiction about female protagonists that was why I started this series. It was also neat to have something to wrap up the work week with. I love other kinds of science fiction too, but a series do have to have a subject. It is the first major project I have undertaken as a blogger and I have learned a lot.

There are a lot of interesting formidable female main characters in science fiction. The competent bitch, the wide eyed wonder girl, the relentless huntress, the freed slave, the uncaring scientist, the damaged warrior, the sharpshooting bookworm and many more variations are among my favorites. Which ‘types’ do you like? The only type I do have problem with is the typical ‘damsel in distress’ types that are competent like hell everywhere else and then a guy comes around and they can’t do anything and needs saving. I have come across that in some ‘romance’ scifi and that is one of the reasons I avoid that genre in general. I love a good love story though so if you have any good suggestions I am all ears. I like colorful characters and I don’t mind one or another Competent-man kind of woman (some of you will hate that sentence; know I did it on purpose). A good friendly banter or a bitchy attitude hiding a heart is also enjoyable. Revenge or rightful fury has been a driving force of some of my favorites too. I am addicted to wow moments, characters or stories that surprise is the reason I read science fiction, that and the gadgets.

A character or a story is not complete without a plausible world around them but this post is about characters so I won’t dive into that now.

So what have I learned? I have learned that even making a simple series like this take a lot of time, doing research, finding covers and reading blurbs and reviews on characters I have not read myself. This series is a bit like me as a blogger. It tries different things and ways to tell the message. Friends of good copy can probably write a book about all the misses I have made. Some weeks I had both time and inspiration to write and other times it was a rush cut and paste job late on Thursday night. I would love feedback from my readers. Did you try any of the suggested books? What did you think about it? Any part of the series that you found interesting hated or loved? And most important of all, do you have any protagonists to add?

I would like to thank everyone at reddit-scifi and all the visitors here for their suggestions. Without you I would not have passed one hundred much less 125 formidable females. I would also like to thank everyone that helped spread the word on twitter, facebook and on the web. All the kind words helped. I was especially delighted by the mention in Genreville. That was a nice boost for my ego.

I will continue to add to the list when I have five for a full post or I might add them one at a time, I haven’t decided.

As promised I have provided my ‘top list’ as well as some of my top favorite types. Who is on your top list?

Type of heroines

Steampunk Woman

  1. Jezibeth ‘Jez’ Kyte – Half-Mane (Chris Wooding)
  2. Briar Wilkes – Persistent Mother (Cherie Priest)
  3. Venera Fanning – Queen of Candesce (Karl Schroeder)

Space Opera Queens

  1. Mearana – The Harper (Michael Flynn)
  2. Rydra Wong – Poet Captain (Samuel R. Delany)

Military Leaders

  1. Honor Harrington – The Salamander (David Weber)
  2. Heris Serrano – Civilian Warrior (Elizabeth Moon)
  3. Tobin Kerr – Leading From Below (Tanya Huff)
  4. Kris Longknife – Princess & Officer (Mike Shepherd)

First Contacts

  1. Ofelia Fulfarres – Nest Guardian (Elizabeth Moon)
  2. Nimisha Boynton-Rondymnse – First Family Castaway (Anne McCaffrey)

Alien POV:s

  1. Pyanfar Chanur – Alien Trader (C. J. Cherryh)
  2. Acorna – Unicorn Girl (Anne McCaffrey, Margaret Ball, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough)

Post-humans

  1. Freya Nakamachi-47 – Soulful Machine (Charles Stross)
  2. Ilia Volyova – Triumvir Ultra (Alastair Reynolds)

Best Pilots

  1. Dakota Merrick – Machine Head (Gary Gibson)
  2. Ariane Kedros – Killer of Worlds (Laura E. Reeve)
  3. Priscilla ‘Hutch’ Hutchins – Starship Pilot (Jack McDevitt)
  4. Jenny Casey – Cyborg Pilot (Elizabeth Bear)

Enhanced Ladies

  1. Nimue Alban – Mind of a Dead Starship Captain (David Weber)
  2. Helva – The Ship Who Sang (Anne McCaffrey)
  3. Jenny Casey – Cyborg Pilot (Elizabeth Bear)

Eco Warrior

  1. Shan Frankland – Immortal Diplomat (Karen Traviss)

Starship Captains

  1. Bella Lind – Icon at the End of Time (Alastair Reynolds)
  2. Signy Mallory- Bloody-minded Commander (C. J. Cherryh)

Best Young Adults

  1. Zoe Boutin Perry – Teenager & Holy Icon (John Scalzi)
  2. Caitlin Decter – Best Friend of the Web (Robert J. Sawyer)
  3. Sparta – Venus Prime (Paul Preuss)

Coming of Age Legends

  1. Nell – Mouse Queen (Neal Stephenson)
  2. Sweetness Octave Glorious Honey-Bun Asiim Engineer 12th (Ian Mcdonald)
  3. Lessa – Dragon Rider of Pern (Anne McCaffrey)

Agents

  1. Cally O’Neal – Secret Assassin (John Ringo)
  2. Morgan Roche – Agent of Change (Sean Williams & Shane Dix)
  3. Paula Myo – Intrepid Investigator (Peter F. Hamilton)

Romantic Adventurers

  1. Sarah – Skinned Quester (Anne McCaffrey)
  2. Cordelia Naismith – Free Your Mind (Lois McMaster Bujold)
  3. Sauscony ‘Soz’ Valdoria –  Empath Commando (Catherine Asaro)

Time Dilated Ladies

  1. Bella Lind – Icon at the End of Time (Alastair Reynolds)
  2. Sassinak – Older Than Her Mother (Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Moon & Jody Lynn Nye) – ok frozen in time

Trade & Business women

  1. Nimisha Boynton-Rondymnse – First Family Castaway (Anne McCaffrey)
  2. Kylara Vatta – Fixing The Family (Elizabeth Moon)

Steamy Adults

  1. Friday Jones – the Sometimes Single Cyborg (Robert A. Heinlein)
  2. Gloria VanDeen – Glorious Bureaucrat (C. J. Ryan)
  3. An – Transcending Egghead (Emily Devenport)

Banter Queens

  1. Tobin Kerr – Leading From Below (Tanya Huff)
  2. Cally O’Neal – Secret Assassin (John Ringo)

Dare Devils

  1. Athena Hera Sinastra – Intrepid Rebel (Sarah A. Hoyt)
  2. Y.T. – Yours Truly (Neal Stephenson)
  3. Boss – Safety First (Diving into the Wreck – Kristien Kathryn Rusch

Master Mind

  1. Moon – Clone Goddess (Joan D. Vinge)

Psionic Heroes

  1. Nual – Angel Assassin (Jaine Fenn)
  2. Sira di Sarc – Welcome Stranger (Julie E. Czerneda)
  3. Angharad Gwyn – the Rowan (Anne McCaffrey)

Intrepid Explorers

  1. Nimisha Boynton-Rondymnse – First Family Castaway (Anne McCaffrey)
  2. Priscilla ‘Hutch’ Hutchins – Starship Pilot (Jack McDevitt)
  3. Nicole des Jardins Wakefield – Stowaway to the Stars (Arthur C. Clarke & Gentry Lee)

Unlucky Ladies

  1. Sassinak – Older Than Her Mother (Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Moon & Jody Lynn Nye)
  2. Elizabeth “Bet” Yeager – Stranded Veteran (C. J. Cherryh)
  3. Ellen Ripley – Kick-ass Mother (Alan Dean Foster)

Most Troubled Childhood

  1. Adele Mundy – Sharpshooting Librarian (David Drake)

Cyberpunk Madonnas

  1. Molly Millions – The Original Razor Girl (William Gibson)
  2. Claire Haskel – Super Razor (David J. Williams)
  3. Y.T. – Yours Truly (Neal Stephenson)

Best Sidekicks

  1. Alicia DeVries – Cadre and Fury (David Weber) – a Fury and a starship
  2. Kris Longknife – Princess & Officer (Mike Shepherd) – a bitchy computer
  3. Honor Harrington – The Salamander (David Weber) – a telepathic treecat

Most Interesting Unread Females

  1. Katniss Everdeen- The Mockingjay (Suzanne Collins)
  2. Tatja Grim – Mensa-level Barbarian (Vernor Vinge)
  3. Teela Brown – Born Lucky (Larry Niven)

Best Series

  1. Honor Harrington – Honor Harrington – The Salamander (David Weber)
  2. Safehold – Nimue Alban – Mind of a Dead Starship Captain (David Weber)
  3. Familias Regnant – Heris Serrano – Civilian Warrior (Elizabeth Moon) and Esmay Suiza – Landsbride Officer (Elizabeth Moon)
  4. Hidden Empire – Nual – Angel Assassin (Jaine Fenn)
  5. Kris Longknife – Kris Longknife – Princess & Officer (Mike Shepherd)
  6. Aldenata/Posleen – Cally O’Neal – Secret Assassin (John Ringo)

My Top Protagonists

  1. Ofelia Fulfarres – Nest Guardian (Elizabeth Moon)
  2. Sarah – Skinned Quester (Anne McCaffrey)
  3. Molly Millions – The Original Razor Girl (William Gibson)
  4. Honor Harrington – The Salamander (David Weber)
  5. Nual – Angel Assassin (Jaine Fenn)
  6. Alicia DeVries – Cadre and Fury (David Weber)
  7. Kris Longknife – Princess & Officer (Mike Shepherd)
  8. Athena Hera Sinastra – Intrepid Rebel (Sarah A. Hoyt)
  9. Adele Mundy – Sharpshooting Librarian (David Drake)
  10. Cally O’Neal – Secret Assassin (John Ringo)

That was all for today folks. See index for a list of all 125 entries.

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indexauthorscharacterstimelineunread | afterword

  • lorq

    Here’s another category: “Temporal Adventurer.”
    Key examples:
    Una Persson. (Various stories and novels by Michael Moorcock, esp. the Cornelius Quartet, the Dancers at the End of Time Trilogy, and the Nomad of the Time Streams trilogy).
    Alyx. (Various stories and novels by Joanna Russ, esp. _The Adventures of Alyx_ and _Picnic on Paradise_. Also, many of Russ’s protagonists could fit easily into several of the categories above. Not to mention those of Le Guin and Tiptree. Well worth checking out!)

  • Thank you lorq,

    Temporal Adventurer sounds good, I have not read any SF by Mickael Moorcock just his Elric novels which I liked. Joanna Russ is totally new to me, I think. I will research her. Do you remember any particular Le Guin protagonist? most of the ones I have read are about guys. Tiptree is also new to me, any particular protagonist?
    I will do some research on them all and get back to you.

  • OldManGamer

    Where in the world is Dr. Susan Calvin from the Asimov robot stories. From I, Robot: “She is a small woman, but there is a towering strength in her face. Tensile strength, that speaks to endurance, to maintaining in the imperfect world.”

  • Will

    “Chanur”, in the series of that name by CJ Cherryh, is a clan, not an individual. Pyanfar was the protagonist in most of the series. Her niece Hilfy was the protagonist in the last 1.
    And while I am on Ms. Cherryh, I nominate Ariane Emory of the Cyteen & Regenesis to the Best Young Adult category.

  • That’s right, this Chanur is Pyanfar.

    The above protagonists are only ones I have read, I plan to read Cyteen & Regenesis at some stage.

  • Bentyersdesign

    http://www.iamliam.info/
    I am Liam follows the interactions of Liam and myself – his imaginary friend.
    Thing is, Am I real? or Just a figment of Liam’s imagination?