This is my third post of formidable females in SF and after last weeks boost in suggestions from the nice folks at reddit.com I got at least nine more posts. Don’t let that stop you from suggesting other FFPs here in a comment. I love new books to read and write about. The last FFP every week is one I haven’t read but that has been suggested to me by nice people.
This week’s FFPinSF:
- Heris Serrano – Civilian Warrior (Elizabeth Moon)
- An – Transcending Egghead (Emily Devenport)
- Adele Mundy – Sharpshooting Librarian (David Drake)
- Michelle Henke – Unpolitical Stateswoman (David Weber)
- Lenie Clarke – Meltdown Madonna (Peter Watts)
Heris Serrano – Civilian Warrior
Books: Hunting Party (1993), Sporting Chance (1994), Winning Colors (1995), Against the Odds (2000)
Series: Serrano Legacy (Book 1-3,7)| Familias Regnant Universe
Author: Elizabeth Moon
Publisher: Baen (US) | Orbit (UK)
Genre: Military Science Fiction
This is one of my favorite characters by one of my favorite authors, Heris Serrano is of an old navy family and when she is forced to resign she thinks her life is over but she will find other places she fit in even if the navy is her first choice. She has a commanding presence but an open personality. The conflicts here might seem straight forward but there is much behind them that get their explanation later on in the series. I haven’t included book 4-6 because they are mainly about other formidable females (on the list for later FFPinSF). A honorary mention of Lady Cecelia de Marktos a truly formidable old lady featured in most of the books.
Heris Serrano was an officer born of a long line of officers, and a life serving in the ranks of the Regular Space Service was all she had ever known and all she ever wanted – until a treacherous superior officer forced her to resign her commission. This was not just the end of a career path; it was the end of everything that gave her life meaning.
But even ex-Fleet captains have to eat, and Heris finds employment as ‘Captain’ of an interstellar luxury yacht, working for the eccentric Lady Cecelia de Marktos. Being a rich old lady’s chauffeur isn’t quite the same as captaining a Fleet cruiser, but nothing Heris will ever do again will compare with that. Or so she thinks . . .
For all is not as it seems aboard the Sweet Delight. The smuggling ring is only the start of it. For on a visit to a seemingly innocuous pleasure planet, Heris stumbles across a very sinister hunting club and finds herself fighting for her life – and for the lives of friends she thought she’d never see again.
When a treacherous superior officer forced Heris Serrano to resign her commission in the Regular Space Service, she thought she would simply be marking time captaining a rich lady’s interstellar yacht. But things seem to happen when Heris is around. During Lady Cecelia’s most recent pleasure cruise, Heris exposed a sinister ‘hunting club’ which used humans as prey, and in the process rescued some former Fleet friends and colleagues betrayed by the same senior officer who engineered her own resignation from Fleet.
All well and good, but one of the hunters had been none other than Cecelia’s nephew Prince Gerel – first in line to the throne. In an attempt to avoid a royal scandal, Lady Cecelia volunteers herself and her yacht to take the Prince home. Cecelia remembers her nephew as a rather bright young man. So what possessed him to become involved with the ‘hunting club’? As the voyage proceeds, and the Prince becomes less and less like himself, Cecelia begins to suspect foul play. Someone is poisoning the heir to the throne, and once again Heris’s skills are called upon to solve the deadly mystery.
Heris Serrano thought her life was over when a treacherous superior officer forced her to resign from the Regular Space Service – the only life she had ever known, or ever wanted. But captaining a rich old lady’s interstellar yacht has proved more exciting – and fulfilling – than she could ever have imagined.
Having rescued some former Fleet friends and colleagues betrayed by the same officer who forced her resignation, and foiled a plot to poison the heir to the throne, Heris has at last been offered a chance for vindication and reinstatement in her beloved Fleet – and reconciliation with the family she thought had abandoned her. But it means standing alone against the military might of the Benignity, an interstellar criminal cartel more colloquially known as the Compassionate Hand. With only a few small ships and the space yacht Sweet Delight she must stop an invading fleet dead in its tracks . . .
Against the Odds
The worst has happened: Fleet is tearing itself apart. Some of the mutineers see injustice in the unequal spread of the rejuvenation drugs that offer virtual immortality to the rich; others are simply thirsty for power, or for blood. The Loyalists, meanwhile, fight desperately to preserve the rule of law in Familias Regnant space.
But when Esmay Suiza-Serrano is unceremoniously booted out of Fleet, the apparent victim of Family politics, she has no idea of the whirlwind of conflict into which she is about to be drawn . . .
Ann – Transcending Egghead
Books: Egghead (1996), Godheads (1998)
Author: Emily Devenport
Publisher: Roc Penguin US
Genre: Science Fiction
An(n) is resourceful and able to take care of herself. The story is also a bit saucy even with aliens. It was quite some time since I read these but the big idea behind it is quite something.
Jo and Ann are Eggheads, explorers specially equipped with an RNA drip that will enable them to decode the mysterious glyphs left in the ruins of an ancient civilization. But alien explorers seek the same information, and when Ann’s RNA drip begins to break down, it becomes a deadly race to solve the riddle of the glyphs before she loses her mind–permanently.
Frozen in stasis for 1,000 years, with her memory erased as punishment for a long-forgotten crime, Edna has been reborn as the chosen ambassador to an incredible new world. Now on a perilous mission–to infiltrate the vast communications monopoly of the GodWorld Net–visions of her past begin to surface, and her allies become her deadliest enemies. Now there is only one way to save her own life and find her way back to Earth: to find the missing pieces of her life before her future is destroyed forever.
Adele Mundy – Sharpshooting Librarian
Books: With the Lightnings (1999), Lt. Leary, Commanding (2000), The Far Side of the Stars (2004), The Way to Glory (2007) Some Golden Harbor(2008), When the Tide Rises (2008), In the Stormy Red Sky (2009), What Distant Deeps (2010)
Series: RCN | Royal Cinnabar Navy | Lt. Leary Series
Author: David Drake
Genre: Military Science Fiction
Adele is a really cool character with an interesting background, her whole family was persecuted and killed for treason and she is the lone surviver, now a scholar with spectacular information handling skills and uncanny shooting skills. She becomes the unlikely best friend of Daniel Leary. David Drake uses historical events, mostly battles as a basis for his stories in a clever and imaginative way I have enjoyed the last ten years. A new RCN book will be out later this year What Distant Deeps.
With the Lightnings
Daniel Leary is a lieutenant in the Republic of Cinnabar Navy with no money and no prospects since he quarreled with his ruthless, politically powerful father. Adele Mundy is a scholar with no money and no prospects since her family was massacred for conspiring against the Government of Cinnabar. Kostroma is a wealthy planet which depends on diplomacy to stay independent in a galaxy whose two great powers, Cinnabar and the Alliance, battle for supremacy. In a few hours, diplomacy is going to fail Kostroma. Daniel, Adele, and the scratch crew they gather aren’t much to stand in the way of a powerful invasion fleet, but just possibly they’re enough.
Lt. Leary, Commanding
Lieutenant Daniel Leary of the Republic of Cinnabar Navy commands the corvette Princess Cecile; his friend Signals Officer Adele Mundy has the latest in spy apparatus and the skill to prowl the most tightly guarded database. All they lack are enemies, and fate is about to supply that in abundance!
- A pirate chief joins in a cutthroat battle with a rival—and the Princess Cecile is a pawn!
- A hostage uses the Princess Cecile to regain his freedom—and his throne!
- An ally intrigues with enemies of Cinnabar—knowing the plot can only be safeguarded by destroying the Princess Cecile!
Daniel, Adele, and their crack crew must battle bureaucrats and traitors, the winds of a barren desert and the strains of a voyage never before attempted. If they succeed at every stage, their reward will be the chance to fight another enemy: one which can blow them and a hundred ships like theirs to vapor!
The Far Side of the Stars
While the Republic of Cinnabar is at peace with the Alliance, warriors like Lt. Daniel Leary and Signals Officer Adele Mundy must find other work—like escorting a pair of wealthy nobles on an expedition to the back of beyond! The Princess Cecile, the corvette in which they carved their reputations in letters of fire, has been sold as a private yacht, but she still has her guns, her missiles, and her veteran crew. Daniel and Adele will need all of those things as they face winged dragons, an Alliance auxiliary cruiser, jealous lovers, and a mysterious oracle which really does foresee the future. That won’t be enough, though, when they penetrate a secret Alliance base and find a hostile fleet ready for a war that will sweep Cinnabar out of a strategically crucial arm of the galaxy. Preventing that will involve skill, courage, and more luck than a sane man could even pray for; and it will require a space battle on a scale that a tiny corvette like the Princess Cecile has no business being involved in. But she’ll be in the middle of it anyway, because Daniel, Adele, and their Cinnabar crew would never turn their backs on a fight!
The Way to Glory
Violence racks Cinnabar. The fleets of the tyrannical Alliance are on the move, and at home class riots threaten to rip apart not only society but the Republic of Cinnabar Navy. Lt. Daniel Leary has earned promotion, but the needs of the Republic and the RCN require that he serve under an officer whose paranoia has already led him to execute crewmen out of hand. Signals Officer Adele Mundy has repeatedly proved her skills and loyalty as Cinnabar’s most accomplished intelligence agent, but now elements within the Republic want to draw her into a conspiracy like the one that led to her parent’s massacre. Leary and Mundy battle their way from riot-torn streets to spies in an outlying base and an anarchic planet where violence is the only law, but if they succeed at every stage, one test still remains: a space battle against an overwhelming Alliance force. Even for Daniel Leary it will be a difficult fight to win¿and almost impossible to survive.
Some Golden Harbor
The tyrannical Alliance continues its war against the Republic of Cinnabar, and Daniel Leary, newly promoted to Commander, and his crew have a new mission: Stop Dunbar’s World from falling to an invasion by the planet Pellegrino. Nataniel Arruns, son of the dictator of Pellegrino, has landed with a large contingent, intending to set himself up as the ruling warlord, with the planet’s population becoming workers—serfs—of the Pellegrinian overlords. And Dunbar’s world has no more than their local police force to oppose him.
But Leary again has the help of Signals Officer Adele Mundy, who can make computer networks do the apparently impossible. Leary, Mundy and the crew of the Princess Cecile have gone up against impossible odds before . . . and their opponents in those victorious missions are still wondering just what hit them.
Leary again commands the corvette Princess Cecile, but on this mission her missile tubes are empty. Only one man is in a position to aid Leary, but the rich and powerful would rather see him fail than succeed in stopping the invasion. Leary must somehow overcome a large entrenched force on an island defended by powerful plasma cannon and shipkilling missiles and backed up by a heavily armed warship in orbit, all while commanding only a small and virtually unarmed spacecraft.
When the Tide Rises
When the Republic of Cinnabar doesn’t have enough battleships to deal with all the crises in its war with the Alliance, it sends the next best thing: Commander Daniel Leary and his friend, the spy Adele Mundy. This time they’re off to help the Bagarian cluster in its rebellion against the Alliance, but they’ll quickly find that the worst threats to the rebels are the treacherous politicians
Leary and Mundy use electronic espionage, sub-machine guns, and shipkilling missiles to outwit political rivals, put down mutiny, and capture an Alliance fortress. When all else fails, they’ll strike for the heart of the Alliance—and then throw their tiny corvette into a major fleet action.
In the Stormy Red Sky
DANIEL LEARY IS CINNABAR’S MOST SUCCESSFUL SPACE CAPTAIN; HIS FRIEND, LADY ADELE MUNDY, IS ITS MOST EFFICIENT SPY—BUT THEY’VE GOT THEIR HANDS FULL THIS TIME AS THEY FACE:
- A Cinnabar Senator furious at losing an election—and still powerful enough to make her anger deadly.
- The boy ruler of a star cluster who thinks he’s a god—and who can sign the death warrants of even Cinnabar officials if a mad whimsy tells him to.
- A world of slaves and escaped slaves, where the most savage beasts in the jungle used to be human.
- An enemy base that could shrug off attack by powerful battlefleets—but which must fall to a single cruiser if Cinnabar is to survive.
From palace to reeking jungle, from gunfights in grimy hangars to the flagship’s bridge during a sprawling space battle, Leary and Mundy are in the thick of it again. Watch the galaxy explode—IN THE STORMY RED SKY
What Distant Deeps
Captain Daniel Leary and his friend, the spy Adele Mundy, have been in the front lines of Cinnabar’s struggle against the totalitarian Alliance. Now these galactic superpowers have signed a peace of mutual exhaustion… but the jackals are moving in! The Republic of Cinnabar was on the verge of collapse under the weight of taxes, casualties, and war’s disruption of trade. That the Alliance of Free Stars was in even worse condition helped only because it has made peace possible. Years of war have been hard on Daniel and harder still on Adele, whose life outside information-gathering is a tightrope between despair and deadly violence. Their masters in the RCN and the Republic’s intelligence service have sent them to the fringes of human space to relax away from danger. But the barbarians of the outer reaches have their own plans, plans which will bring down both Cinnabar and the Alliance. Unless Daniel, Adele, and their unlikely allies succeed, galactic civilization will disintegrate into blood and chaos. So they will succeed – or they’ll die trying
Michelle Henke – Unpolitical Stateswoman
Book: Storm from the Shadows (2009)
Series: Saganami Series 2
Author: David Weber
Genre: Military Science Fiction
Mike Henke is Honor Harrington’s best friend and here she finally gets her own story. She is a prisoner of War, paroled and put in command of 106th Battlecrusier Squadron(10th Fleet-Designate) sent to secure the Talbot cluster only to confront a sinister conspiracy by Mesa/Manpower and the very real threat of a war with the immense Solarian League.
Rear Admiral Michelle Henke was commanding one of the ships in a force ledy by Honor Harrington in all-out space battle. The odds were against the Star Kingdom forces, and they had to run. But Michelle’s ship was crippled, and had to be destroyed to prevent superior Manticoran technology from falling into Havenite hands, and she and her surviving crew were taken prisoner. Much to her surprise, she was repatriated to Manticore, carrying a request for a summit conference between the leaders of the two sides which might end the war. But a condition of her return was that she gave her parole not to fight against the forces of the Republic of Haven until she had been offically exchanged for a Havenite prisoner of war, so she was given a command far away from the war’s battle lines. What she didn’t realize was that she would find herself on a collison course, not with a hostile government, but with the interstellar syndicate of criminals known as Manpower. And Manpower had its own plans for elimating Manticore as a possible threat to its lucrative slave trade, deadly plans which remain hidden in the shadows.
Lenie Clarke – Meltdown Madonna
Books: Starfish (1999), Maelstrom (2001), Behemoth: ß-Max (2004), Behemoth: Seppuku (2005)
Series: Rifter Trilogy
Author: Peter Watts
Genre: Science Fiction
Free Online Book: Starfish | Maelstrom | Behemoth
Peter Watts’ Lenie Clarke is a very different darker kind of formidable. Almost nuked and betrayed she sets out on a course for revenge that ends with redemption of sorts. Both Peter Watts and Lennie Clarke are new to me and I look forward to read them, especially as I can get them free online.
Civilization rests on the backs of its outcasts.
So when civilization needs someone to run generating stations three kilometers below the surface of the Pacific, it seeks out a special sort of person for its Rifters program. It recruits those whose histories have preadapted them to dangerous environments, people so used to broken bodies and chronic stress that life on the edge of an undersea volcano would actually be a step up. Nobody worries too much about job satisfaction; if you haven’t spent a lifetime learning the futility of fighting back, you wouldn’t be a rifter in the first place. It’s a small price to keep the lights going, back on shore.
But there are things among the cliffs and trenches of the Juan de Fuca Ridge that no one expected to find, and enough pressure can forge the most obedient career-victim into something made of iron. At first, not even the rifters know what they have in them—and by the time anyone else finds out, the outcast and the downtrodden have their hands on a kill switch for the whole damn planet…
An enormous tidal wave on the West Coast of North America has just killed thousands. Lenie Clarke, in a black wetsuit, walks out of the ocean onto a Pacific Northwest beach filled with the oppressed and drugged homeless of the Asian world who have gotten only this far in their attempt to reach America. Is she a monster or a goddess? One thing is for sure: all hell is breaking loose. This dark, fast-paced, hard SF novel returns to the story begun in Starfish: all human life is threatened by a disease (actually a primeval form of life) from the distant prehuman past. It survived only in the deep ocean rift where Clarke and her companions were stationed before the corporation that employed them tried to sterilize the threat with a secret underwater nuclear strike. But Clarke was far enough away that she was able to survive and tough enough to walk home, three hundred miles across the ocean floor. She arrives carrying with her the potential death of the human race, and possessed by a desire for revenge. Maelstrom is a terrifying explosion of cyberpunk noir by a writer whose narrative, says Robert Sheckley (on goodreads)
Starfish lit the fuse. Maelstrom was the explosion. But five years into the aftermath, things aren’t quite so simple as they once seemed…
Lenie Clarke-rifter, avenger, amphibious deep-sea cyborg-has destroyed the world. Once exploited for her psychological addiction to dangerous environments, she emerged in the wake of a nuclear blast to serve up vendetta from the ocean floor. The horror she unleashed-an ancient, apocalyptic microbe called ßehemoth- has been free in the world for half a decade now, devouring the biosphere from the bottom up. North America lies in ruins beneath the thumb of an omnipotent psychopath. Digital monsters have taken Clarke’s name, wreaking havoc throughout the decimated remnants of something that was once called Internet. Governments have fallen across the globe; warlords and suicide cults rise from the ashes, pledging fealty to the Meltdown Madonna. All because five years ago, Lenie Clarke had a score to settle.
But she has learned something in the meantime: she destroyed the world for a fallacy.
Now, cowering at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, rifters and the technoindustrial “corpses” who created them hide from a world in its death throes. But they cannot hide forever: something is tracking them, down amongst the lightless cliffs and trenches of the Midatlantic Ridge. The consequences of past acts reach inexorably towards the very bottom of the world, and Lenie Clarke must finally confront the mess she made.
Redemption doesn’t come easy with the blood of a world on your hands. But even after five years in purgatory, Lenie Clarke is still Lenie Clarke. There will be consequences for anyonewho gets in her way-and worse ones, perhaps, if she succeeds. . . .
Lenie Clarke-amphibious cyborg, Meltdown Madonna, agent of the Apocalypse-has grown sick to death of her own cowardice.
For five years (since the events recounted in Maelstrom0, she and her bionic brethren (modified to work in the rift valleys of the ocean floor) have hidden in the mountains of the deep Atlantic. The facility they commandeered was more than a secret station on the ocean floor. Atlantis was an exit strategy for the corporate elite, a place where the world’s Movers and Shakers had hidden from the doomsday microbe ßehemoth-and from the hordes of the moved and the shaken left behind. For five years “rifters” and “corpses” have lived in a state of uneasy truce, united by fear of the outside world.
But now that world closes in. An unknown enemy hunts them through the crushing darkness of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. ßehemoth- twisted, mutated, more virulent than ever-has found them already. The fragile armistice between the rifters and their one-time masters has exploded into all-out war, and not even the legendary Lenie Clarke can take back the body count.
Billions have died since she loosed ßehemoth upon the world. Billions more are bound to. The whole biosphere came apart at the seams while Lenie Clarke hid at the bottom of the sea and did nothing. But now there is no place left to hide. The consequences of past acts reach inexorably to the very floor of the world, and Lenie Clarke must return to confront the mess she made.
Redemption doesn’t come easy with the blood of a world on your hands. But even after five years in pitch-black purgatory, Lenie Clarke is still Lenie Clarke. There will be consequences for anyone whogets in her way-and worse ones, perhaps, if she succeeds…
ßehemoth: Seppuku concludes the final act (begun in ßehemoth: ß-Max) of Peter Watts’s chilling and powerful Rifters series.