Cordelia is one of my top Formidable Female Protagonists read more about her below.
Someone asked why formidable female protagonists? Mainly because I like reading about them and because doing the research for this series is fun for me (I know it’s probably brain damage).
As always it has been fun researching the list, I pick up new books to read all the time. 45 down and 29 more protagonists to go. The females are carefully selected by me, their names written on paper, folded and put in one of two bowls, one for new-to-me and one for read-by-me. I then select four read and one new-to-me and write about them. I am open to suggestions for more females to include.
Here is the list, read about them below.
- Shan Frankland – Immortal Diplomat (Karen Traviss)
- Acorna – Unicorn Girl (Anne McCaffrey, Margaret Ball, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough)
- Moon – Clone Goddess (Joan D. Vinge)
- Cordelia Naismith – Free Your Mind (Lois McMaster Bujold)
- Catherine Li – Human Construct (Chris Moriarty)
Shan Frankland – Immortal Diplomat
Books: City of Pearl (2004), Crossing the Line (2004), The World Before (2005), Matriarch (2006), Ally (2007), and Judge (2008).
Series: Wess’har Wars
Author: Karen Traviss
Genre: Environmental Space Opera
Publisher: EON of Harper Collins
Shan is a formidable woman with strong personal principles. She is a hardened law enforcement officer that has a history of association with ‘eco-terrorists’. She is the protagonist of the Wess’har War novels. During the series she grows and develops more and more ‘human’ feelings as she deals with an alien empire of eco-facists do goodies that want to force other races to live in harmony with nature. She mainly deals with their outcast colony, who left because they didn’t agree with their aggressive methods. She also have to deal with a peculiar alien parasite that makes people it infect immortal, something that would destroy the human race if it become wide spread.
I read the books and made some short informative comments about each.
- City of Pearl - Eco cop Shan Frankland is sent to a presumed lost colony at Cavenagh’s Star only to find that it is still very much alive thanks to the alien Wess’har. Imagine humanity meeting a race of fundamental militant vegan eco-terrorist aliens …
- Crossing the Line - Shan takes up living with the wess’har.
- The World Before - Remember the echo-vegan-militant-fundamentalist aliens? Meet their relatives that sees them as lax hippies!
- Matriarch - Ade, Shan and Eddie fulfil their relationships.
- Ally - Okay, so the newly converted Skaven race are fanatic eco jihadiem, now they are brought in to beef up the local planet cleaning business.
- Judge - Time to clean up Earth.
Acorna – Unicorn Girl
Books: Acorna: The Unicorn Girl (1997), Acorna’s Quest (1998), Acorna’s People (1999), Acorna’s World (2000), Acorna’s Search (2001), Acorna’s Rebels (2003), Acorna’s Triumph (2004)
Author: Anne McCaffrey & Margaret Ball (1-2), Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough (3-7)
Genre: Space Opera
Publisher: Corgi | Severn House | Harper Collins
Acorna is a unicorn girl, lost in an escapepod in human space when her parents’ ship was attacked, so she grows up with humans. Her people are peaceful but she who has grown up among humans feels different about it. I like the early books where she fight evil aliens, frees slaves and try to find her way back to her people. Later books flip out a bit too much in my opinion. Time travel and improbable plot twists eventually made me abandon the series, but the first books are great.
Acorna: The Unicorn Girl - ”Something’s Alive In There!”.
She was just a little girl, with a tiny horn in the center of her forehead, funny-looking feet, beautiful silver hair, and several curious powers: the ability to purify air and water, make plants grow, and heal scars and broken bones. A trio of grizzled prospectors found her drifting in an escape pod amid the asteroids, adopted her, and took her to the bandit planet Kezdet, a place where no questions are asked and the girl might grow up free.
But Kezdet has its own dark secret. The prosperity of the planet is based on a hideous trade in child slave labor, administered by “The Piper” — a mystery man with special plans for Acorna and her powers. But free little girls have a way of growing into freedom-loving young women, and Acorna has special plans all her own. . .
Acorna’s Quest - Found as an infant drifting in space, Acorna, the Unicorn Girl, has become a young woman. She still has her tiny, translucent horn, and her “funny” feet and hands. And, she still has her miraculous ability to make plants grow and heal human sickness. But Acorna has strange dreams of a gentle folk who mind-speak by touching horns. With her “Uncle” Calum, one of the three grizzled asteroid prospectors who rescued, protected, and raised her, she sets off to find her people. No sooner does she leave than a mysterious craft appears, piloted by the Linyaari, a gentle race with telepathic powers. The Linyaari are roaming the galaxy, spreading the alarm about the deadly Khleev—And searching for a beloved little girl they had given up for lost, long ago…
Acorna’s People - ”Welcome Home, Linyaari Child!”
With the help of her “uncles” and the thousands of humans who love and admire her, Acorna has found her true people, the peaceful, telepathic Linyaari. But Acorna still has much to do before she can enjoy her new home. The legendary resting place of the lost Linyaari ancestors has yet to be found. And with the help of a rogue spacetrader and his feline sidekick, Acorna must strive to right an unspeakable wrong and defeat an enemy even crueler than the Khleevi. Along the way, she will at last uncover the Universe’s most carefully guarded secret—the true nature of the ancient link between the Linyaari and the space-faring humans she has also come to think of as her “people.”
Acorna’s World – Althought she has made peace with her Linyaari heritage, Acorna knows that only by returning to the frozen stillness of space will she ever truly feel at home. But the solitude she desires must wait. Answering a faint distress signal leads Acorna to a strange, perfumed world where plants are sentient and think. There she finds a burned-out ship with all the signs of a Khleevi attack. It’s been suspected that these enemy aliens have been planning a major assault throughout the region, and now it appears those rumors are true. Facing annihilation of her entire race, Acorna must discover the Khleevi’s weakness—and strike first!
Acorna’s Search – In this new tale, Acorna’s people, the Linyaari, have survived an attack from a mortal enemy, but their planet, naarhi-Vhiliinyar, and their original homeworld, Vhiliinyar, have been ravaged. Now, they are determined to restore both. But as their work begins, Linyaari begin disappearing, including Acorna’s lifemate, Aari. Searching for him, Acorna discovers the remains of a subterranean world that belonged to the Friends, an advanced society that populated Vhiliinyar long ago. What happened to the Friends? Acorna knows that to save Aari, she must find the answers—a quest that will take her back into deep space to uncover the origins of her people.
Acorna’s Rebels - Acorna’s people, the Linyaari, have begun reclaiming their homeworld from the ravages of the brutal Khleevi. But the first wave of explorers has unlocked a larger mystery about the origins of the Linyaari — one that has led Aari, Acorna’s beloved lifemate, on a dangerous journey from which he may never return.
Setting off on a quest to find Aari, Acorna and her friends — Captain Becker, Mac, Nadhari, and RK — are forced to crash land on the beautiful and barbaric exotic jungle world of Makahomia, home of the mysterious Temple Cats. But an evil scheme threatens to destroy the sacred felines. To save the cats, Acorna will lead a band of rebels on a journey into Makahomia’s temples and hidden sanctuaries.
And there, within one sacred shrine, she will discover shocking information that could lead to Aari . . .or to disaster.
Acorna’s Triumph – Aari has returned! Now he and his lifemate, the brave and beautiful Acorna, can finish rebuilding their once-decimated homeworld. Yet Aari’s travels through time have left him oddly changed, and he barely remembers Acorna or their love. And as Aari’s actions turn more sinister, Acorna must shift her attention to stopping the destruction of innocents by a vicious criminal. It is precisely the sort of weakness and confusion the dreaded Khleevi have been hoping for, as the brutal insectile oppressors set in motion their final invasion and the total destruction of the Linyaari and the conquest of their world. Though Acorna’s heart is wounded, her courage and determination must remain strong in this dark time — for only then will she be able to rescue the Aari she knows and adores, and halt the bloodthirsty alien menace for good and for all.
Moon – Clone Goddess
Books: The Snow Queen (1980), The Summer Queen (1991)
Series: The Snow Queen Cycle
Author: Joan D. Vinge
Genre: Space Opera
Publisher: Dial Press | Orbit | Questar | Easton Press | Warner books | Pan | Tor
Snow Queen – The imperious Winter colonists have ruled the planet Tiamat for 150 years, deriving wealth from the slaughter of the sea mers. But soon the galactic stargate will close, isolating Tiamat, and the 150-year reign of the Summer primitives will begin. All is not lost if Arienrhod, the ageless, corrupt Snow Queen, can destroy destiny with an act of genocide. Arienrhod is not without competition as Moon, a young Summer-tribe sibyl, and the nemesis of the Snow Queen, battles to break a conspiracy that spans space.
Summer Queen – Moon has succeeded the Snow Queen as ruler of Tiamat and, although still only a gentle 17-year-old, she must assume the powerful role of the Summer Queen. Through her tumultuous reign, she realizes that in order to save her universe, she must be more than a queen–she must become a goddess.
Cordelia Naismith - Free Your Mind
Books: Shards of Honor (1986), Barrayar (1991)
Omnibus: Cordelia’s Honor (1996)
Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
Genre: Space Opera | Romance
Cordelia is one of my favorite characters in science fiction.
In her first trial by fire, Cordelia Naismith captained a throwaway ship of the Betan Expeditionary Force on a mission to destroy an enemy armada. Discovering deception within deception, treachery within treachery, she was forced into a separate peace with her chief opponent, Lord Aral Vorkosigan—he who was called “The Butcher of Komarr”—and would consequently become an outcast on her own planet and the Lady Vorkosigan on his.
Sick of combat and betrayal, she was ready to settle down to a quiet life, interrupted only by the occasional ceremonial appearances required of the Lady Vorkosigan. But when the Emperor died, Aral became guardian of the infant heir to the imperial throne of Barrayar—and the target of high-tech assassins in a dynastic civil war that was reminscent of Earth’s Middle Ages, but fought with up-to-the-minute biowar technology. Neither Aral nor Cordelia guessed the part that their cell-damaged unborn would play in Barrayari’s bloody legacy.
Catherine Li – Human Construct
Books: Spin State (2003), Spin Control (2006)
Author: Chris Moriarty
Genre: Space Opera | Military Science Fiction | Romance | Noir
Publisher: Random House
New to me, space opera – check, military – check, female protagonist – check. This should be my kind of book.
Spin State - UN Peacekeeper Major Catherine Li has made thirty-seven faster-than-light jumps in her lifetime—and has probably forgotten more than most people remember. But that’s what backup hard drives are for. And Li should know; she’s been hacking her memory for fifteen years in order to pass as human. But no memory upgrade can prepare Li for what she finds on Compson’s World: a mining colony she once called home and to which she is sent after a botched raid puts her on the bad side of the powers that be. A dead physicist who just happens to be her cloned twin. A missing dataset that could change the interstellar balance of power and turn a cold war hot. And a mining “accident” that is starting to look more and more like murder…
Suddenly Li is chasing a killer in an alien world miles underground where everyone has a secret. And one wrong turn in streamspace, one misstep in the dark alleys of blackmarket tech and interstellar espionage, one risky hookup with an AI could literally blow her mind.
Spin Control – Call Arkady a clone with a conscience. Or call him a traitor. A member of the space-faring Syndicates, Arkady has defected to Israel with a hot commodity: a genetic weapon powerful enough to wipe out humanity. But Israel’s not buying it. They’re selling it–and Arkady–to the highest bidder.
As the auction heats up, the Artificial Life Emancipation Front sends in Major Catherine Li. Drummed out of the Peacekeepers for executing Syndicate prisoners, Li has now literally hooked up with an AI who has lived many lifetimes and shunted through many bodies. But while they have their own conflicting loyalties to contend with, together they’re just one player in a mysterious high-stakes game….