Formidable Female Protagonists in Science Fiction Part 15

I prefer female protagonists and this series of posts is homage to some of the most formidable female main characters in science fiction novels or series.

This week’s FFPinSF:

  1. Dakota Merrick – Machine Head (Gary Gibson)
  2. Kivrin Engle – Temporal Historian (Connie Willis)
  3. Rydra Wong – Poet Captain (Samuel R. Delany)
  4. Miriam/Helge – Queen World Walker (Charles Stross)
  5. Ruby Kubick – Agoraphobic Salvage Artist (Laura J. Mixon)

Dakota Merrick – Machine Head

Books: Stealing Light (2007), Nova War (2009), Empire of Light (2010)
Series: Shaol sequence
Author: Gary Gibson
Genre: Space Opera
Publisher: Tor

Dakota Merrick is a machine head, a human with implants that were made illegal after a terrible attack that killed many innocent humans. Humans have achieved a limited interstellar civilization but FTL travel is controlled by the Shaol. Dakota becomes involved in an attempt to circumvent the Shaol monopoly. An alien non Shaol derelict is discovered with a working FTL engine and Dakota is hired to fly it. But they discover much more than they bargained for.


Kivrin Engle – Temporal Historian

Book: Doomsday Book (1992)
Author: Connie Willis
Genre: Time travel
Publisher: Bantam | NEL | New English Library

Kivrin is a young historian that travels to early 14 century England and by mistake land in 1348 in the middle of the Black Death epidemic.


Rydra Wong – Poet Captain

Book: Babel-17 (1966)
Author: Samuel R. Delany
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Ace | Gollancz (SF Masterworks)| Sphere | Gregg Press | Orion

Babel-17 is one of that books that makes you think afterwards.

In the far future, after human civilization has spread through the galaxy, communications begin to arrive in an apparently alien language. They appear to threaten invasion, but in order to counter the threat, the messages must first be understood. Rydra Wong is a beautiful starship captain, linguist, poet, and telepath. She is recruited by her government to discover how the enemy are infiltrating and sabotaging strategic sites. The novel has a Whorfian view of language


Miriam/Helge – Queen World Walker

Books: The Family Business (2004), The Hidden Family (2005), The Clan Corporate (2006), Merchants War (2007), The Revolution Business (2009), The Trade of Queens (2010)
Series: Merchant Princes
Author: Charles Stross
Genre: Multiverse
Publisher: Tor

Miriam got a modern upbringing in the US and one day she learns she has the ability to walk to another world. It starts with: Ten and a half hours before a mounted knight with a machine gun tried to kill her, tech journalist Miriam Beckstein lost her job.  The first books in the series are great but the final book was a downer for me.


Ruby Kubick – Agoraphobic Salvage Artist

Books: Glass Houses
Author: Laura J. Mixon
Genre: Cyberpunk
Publisher: Tor 1992

Both are new to me, I like gritty cyberpunk.

A dystopian Manhattan of the next century is the setting for this tough, gritty sf debut featuring an agoraphobic salvage artist who uses virtual reality to connect her with the machines that face the world in her stead. Part cyberpunk, part mystery, Mixon’s first novel introduces a lesbian heroine whose life is made up of second-hand encounters until reality comes calling with a vengeance. The author’s razor-sharp prose catapults this story beyond the bounds of genre. Recommended for most sf collections.


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