Formidable Female Protagonists in Science Fiction Part 10

Now I have fifty formidable females on my list, this weeks lucky winners features the legendary Friday Jones. Whenever I ask people for suggestions to the list I get – “Where is Friday?”, “You have to add Friday” etc. So here she is, Friday is on todays pick but so are the equally legendary Molly Millions who is my one exception to being a protagonist (as far as I know she has never been a protagonist in a novel).

As always it has been fun researching the list, I pick up new books to read all the time. 50 down and 25 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.

  1. Friday Jones – the Sometimes Single Cyborg (Robert A. Heinlein)
  2. Esmay Suiza – Landsbride Officer (Elizabeth Moon)
  3. Gloria VanDeen – Glorious Bureaucrat (C. J. Ryan)
  4. Molly Millions – The Original Razor Girl (William Gibson)
  5. Cassandra Blaine – Cyber Star (Wilhelmina Baird)


Friday Jones – the Sometimes Single Cyborg

Books: Friday (1982)
Author: Robert A. Heinlein
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: ‘Holt, Rinehart and Winston’, Del Ray, Nel

Engineered from the finest genes, and trained to be a secret courier in a future world, Friday operates over a near-future Earth, where chaos reigns. Working at Boss’s whimsical behest she travels from far north to deep south, finding quick, expeditious solutions as one calamity after another threatens to explode in her face….

The book’s protagonist is Friday, an artificial person both mentally and physically superior in many ways to an ordinary human, but who faces great prejudice if her “non-human” status is discovered. Employed as a highly self-sufficient courier, her various missions take her throughout North America The novel is set in a complex, Balkanized world, and Friday is caught up in several civil disturbances during the course of her travels. She reaches her employer’s home base safely, but is soon displaced by her boss’ death. Sent on a space journey as a courier, she realizes that the journey is likely to end with her death, and evades the ship’s authorities to settle on a pioneer world with friends made earlier in the narrative.

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Esmay Suiza – Landsbride Officer

Books: Once a Hero (1997), Rules of Engagement (1998), Change of Command (1999), Against the Odds (2000)
Omnibus: The Serrano Connection, The Serrano Succession
Series: Familias Regnant universe | The Serrano Legacy | Esmay Suiza continuation | Suiza and Serrano
Author: Elizabeth Moon [profile]
Genre: Space Opera | Military Science Fiction
Publisher: Baen |  Orbit

Once a Hero: Esmay Suiza wasn’t a member of a great Navy family like the Serranos. She’d had to make her way on grit alone, which meant it wasn’t likely she’d make admiral, but all she wanted was to be part of the Fleet. But then she ended up a raging space battle, and was the only one who could stop a superior office turned traitor. She had never wanted to be a hero, but fate had other ideas. . . .

Rules of Engagement: Brun Meager is a young woman from a rich and powerful family, which had a lot to do with why Esmay Suiza didn’t get along with her, not to mention both having an amorous interest in Barin Serrano. When Brun was abducted by a repressive religious militia movement that makes the 21st century Taliban look like a bunch of Unitarians, Esmay was suspected of having connived in the capture to eliminate a rival. To clear herself, it looked like Esmay would have to locate and rescue Brun. Time to be a hero again. . . .

Change of Command: Esmay and Barin are reconciled—but their universe is falling apart! The exposure of defective rejuvenation drugs has sent fear sweeping across the known galaxy, including the Regular Space Service, while neighboring states fear the aggressive expansion of the Familias Regnant. Fear begets violent reactions—from foreign governments, from great Families determined to hold on to power, from internal rivalries in the Fleet—and nothing escapes the resultant bloodbath unscathed, including Esmay and Barin.

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. But when Esmay Suiza-Serrano is unceremoniously booted out of Fleet, the apparent victim of Family politics, she has no idea of the conflict into which she has been thrown. As the noose tightens on galactic civilization, great battles will be fought and greater loves affirmed . . . and old friends will meet their destinies.

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Gloria VanDeen – Glorious Bureaucrat

Books: Dexta (2005), Glorious Treason (2005), The Fifth Quadrant (2006), Burdens of Empire (2007), Kiss of the Gods (2008)
Series: DEXTA
Author: C. J. Ryan
Genre: Space Opera
Publisher: Bantam Spectra | Stellar Phoenix | Random House

Dexta – C. J.Ryan is a pseudonym for an author alleged to live in Philadelphia/Boston writing randy SF. The protagonist is Gloria van Deen a low level bureaucrat in Dextra, the organization that runs the Empire. She is also a stunning beauty and the ex wife of the Emperor. But Gloria has set out to make it by herself. The story begins with the aliens of one of the planets Gloria monitors killing off a few humans. Gloria has this one night stand with the emperor at about the same time, he wants her back. When the news about the night is leaked to the press, Gloria decides to stand her ground and publicly make it known that it was just a mishap between former lovers and she might se him again in five years or so. She then continues to take control of her destiny by deciding to go to the trouble spot herself and deal with it.
So she and Petra, her new assistant takes off for the trouble spot. This book reminds in not so tiny bits of Barbarella, where the main point was showing off the heroine as nude as possible and as sexually active as allowed. Gloria takes on the indigenous revolt and the human corporations’ maneuverings to exploit their holy drink that by the way work as a strong aphrodisiac with bravo and personality.
It’s not the best SF ever written, but it is a good read and Ryan pulls it off with a great deal of humor and panache.

Glorious Treason – C J Ryan’s second randy Dexta novel. The ever sexy Gloria is back for another Barbarella impersonation. This time the Emperor is in cahoots with the Big 12 (the 12 corporations that are the economic backbone of the empire) to strip-mine Sylvania, a backwater planet where they found Fergusite, the mineral needed for FTL travel. The Fergusite is flawed though, and will eventually lead to a decline in interstellar travel if it is mass used. Dexta sends Gloria there on a voter registration drive. She also has a secret mission to destroy or hinder the use of the Fergusite.

The Fifth Quadrant – In the 33rd century, unbridled pleasure and unparalleled peace make the world go round—under the watch of a vast corporate order that includes living goddess Gloria VanDeen, a powerful player as gutsy as she is gorgeous. More popular and more ambitious than ever, Gloria is entertaining two tempting offers: to become Empress, or to rise through the ranks of the Department of Extraterrestrial Affairs and take out some bad guys along the way—if they don’t get her first….
When someone takes a potshot at Gloria with a weapon unseen since the Empire’s last great war, it’s clear that success won’t come without a price. For among power brokers, warriors,and rebels lies a dirty secret that could crack the Empire wide open. And Gloria is determined to get to the bottom of it—even if it means going to the top.

Burdens of Empire – It’s the 33rd century, a time of unparalleled peace and prosperity, but on a far-flung planet, humanity’s reign may be about to end…. Alien terrorism, sectarian violence, armed insurgency–it was a police action on a backwater planet that many on Earth believed was a tragic mistake. Now the kidnapping of a human VIP has raised the political stakes to the breaking point. Enter the gorgeous and sexy Gloria VanDeen–ex-wife of the Emperor, media darling, and humanity’s favorite heroine. She’s been sent on a secret mission to extract the hostage and avoid a PR nightmare. But the situation on Denastri is a lot worse than reported Earthside.
With violence escalating daily, and with an indigenous population whose customs and religion are a mystery, Gloria finds herself on the toughest assignment of her career. Now she’s faced with an enemy that may be even more dangerous than the assassins and fanatics of the alien insurgency: an army of freelance killers run by an Earth-based corporation motivated by pure greed.

Kiss of the Gods – Bold, brainy, and dangerously sexy Gloria VanDeen is back to face another challenge, as the Empire’s favorite bureaucrat battles to survive amid political chaos at DEXTA and a civil war between a fascist tyrant and a religious zealot with a strange power over his people. In this fifth volume of C. J. Ryan’s popular DEXTA series, Gloria is tested to — and beyond — the limits of human power and desire, and the fate of the Empire will be decided by a single kiss — the Kiss of the Gods!

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Molly Millions – The Original Razor Girl

Books: Johnny Mnemonic (1981 Shortstory) , Neuromancer (1984), Mona Lisa Overdrive (1988)
Series: Sprawl Trilogy
Author: William Gibson
Genre: Cyberpunk
Publisher:  ACE | HarperCollins | Gollancz | Grafton | Phantasia Press | Voyager | Bantam Spectra

Molly isn’t really a protagonist in any of Gibson’s books but she is here by sheer formidableness, and it is okay to break rules once. Molly Millions (also known as Sally Shears) is a recurring character in stories and novels written by William Gibson, particularly his Sprawl trilogy. She first appeared in Johnny Mnemonic, to which she makes an oblique reference in Neuromancer (where she is mostly referred to as “Molly” with no last name given). Her most recent appearance was under the name “Sally Shears” in the book Mona Lisa Overdrive.

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Cassandra Blaine – Cyber Star

Books: Crashcourse (1993), Clipjoint (1994), PsyKosis (1995)
Author: Wilhelmina Baird
Publisher: ACE | Roc UK

New-to-to me formidable protagonist is the perpetually wisecracking heroine Cassandra Blaine.

Crashcourse – Cass, Moke, and Dosh do not know what they are getting themselves into when they sign a contract to star in a cyber-cinema film, which enables the audience to plug into the stars’ emotions.

Clipjoint – Two years after taking part in a cyber-film to make enough money to leave Earth–a film that left their friend Dosh dead and them fleeing for their lives–Cass and Moke return to uncover the truth about the tragedy.

PsyKosis – In order to avert imminent war, the Earth’s government agrees to negotiate with alien invaders. The military’s representative is Swordfish, a veteran of the Third Alien War. A delegation travels to meet the aliens–an enemy whose nature no human being will ever truly know or trust again

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