May 142010

This week’s Formidable Female Protagonists contain one of my favorite protagonists, Nimisha. Its fun researching the list; I pick up new books to read all the time. I got 47 more protagonists to go, got six more last week. 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.

  1. Margaret Bain – Seven of One (Sheri S. Tepper)
  2. Jenny Casey – Cyborg Pilot (Elizabeth Bear)
  3. Nimisha Boynton-Rondymnse – First Family Castaway (Anne McCaffrey)
  4. Freya Nakamachi-47 – Soulful Machine (Charles Stross)
  5. Nausicaä – Ecological Princess (Hayao Miyazaki)

Margaret Bain – Seven of One

Books: The Margarets (2007)
Author: Sheri S. Tepper
Publisher: Eos (Harper Collins) 2007
Genre: Science Fiction | Fantasy | Space Opera

Margaret Bain grows up a lonely child on Martian moon Phobos and as many such kids she has make-believe friends. The friends include a healer, a telepath, a warrior, a linguist, a queen and a spy who had different names and lived on different worlds. The difference is that her friends come alive as extensions of her personality at different times in her life.

  1. When Margaret is nine Wilvia is the first to split off when she meets her future husband Prince Jozire.
  2. At twelve, she is on earth and is granted a water ration while another one of her imaginary splits off is not granted a water ration. She becomes the foster daughter of the being known as the Gardener on another planet.
  3. At twenty-two another split occurs and one Margaret is sold as a bond slave.
  4. Another Margaret marries the man who loves her and goes to the colony world Bright.
  5. One Margaret is a shaman
  6. The lone male of the split becomes a warrior.

Full of fascinating characters and beautifully detailed settings, Tepper’s complex and multifaceted far-future SF novel follows the many selves of Mars colonist Margaret Bain on a mission to save the human race from annihilation.

Humanity got the eternal hatred of tha foul-tempered Quaatar a long time ago when some pre-humans stowed away on one of their survey ship. Now humankind is at the brink of self-destruction through overpopulation and ecological collapse. The farsighted Gentherans have taken up the human cause within the Interstellar Trade Organization, but as Earthgov struggles to conform to ISTO’s enforced sterilization laws while trading excess children for offworld water, the Quaatar continue plotting to destroy humanity.

Only Margaret, a secret organization called the Third Order of the Siblinghood and the truth behind an old Gentheran folktale can stop the genocide and give humanity a future.


Jenny Casey – Cyborg Pilot

Books: Hammered (2004), Scaredown (2004), Worldwired (2005)
Series: Jenny Casey Trilogy
Author: Elizabeth Bear
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Military Science Fiction | First Contact | Space Opera

Jenny Casey used to be a former retired Canadian special forces living in the hellish streets of Hartford, Connecticut. Earth is in shambles from environmental disasters. Jenny becomes a pawn in game of world dominance between Canada and China over being the first to reach the stars. In Hammered Jenny tries to survive, in Scardown she has to fly and in Worldwired she has to teach the aliens to talk with each other. The world is a bit noir and gritty as Elizabeth Bear likes to write.


Jenny Casey is hiding from herself and the Canadian authorities in former USA. She is half metal since a war accident, now her metal half is acting up. And now her former handler wants her back so he sends her whacked out sister. Mix in an escaped AI and new technologies derived from alien space ships found on Mars and you have a very down to earth Space Opera. Jenny might be the only one that has the reaction time and the wiring to handle the new tech. But she will have to work for people she hates again and suffer another set of operations to replace her failing prophesies.


For being about the world’s first FTL ship it’s a lot about earth and staying in orbit. More about the interesting alien tech is revealed in this novel. International tension rises as Canada and China race to be the first to fly faster than light. There are many aspects to this book. I like the ecological aspect and the aliens that comes to visit. I would hate to live in the world she paints, but it is very realistic.


The second book in the Jenny Casey Trilogy, Scaredown left the world on the brink of war just as the aliens arrived. World ecology is in scrambles after centuries of misuse and the PanChinese dropped a meteorite on Montreal, center of the Commonwealth since England sunk under the sea, causing further damage to an already fragile system. The world face a few years of darkness and cold before global warming kicks in with a vengeance. As a last resort Casey and company crashes one of the starships into the sea infecting the world with hacked alien nanites under the command of Richard, the AI.

Elizabeth Bear has an annoying habit of building up to a decisive point and then spending twenty pages talking about other stuff until you get any resolution. Otherwise it is good. It’s all good, it’s just frustrating sometimes. I think she does it just to tease us readers.

Wordwired is the final book in the Jenny Casey Trilogy, but I hope she will write more books in this universe and the people in it. The contact team tries to establish communication with the birdcage aliens and the shiptree aliens. Elizabeth has made up some really original aliens; I haven’t heard anything like the birdcage people before.

The AI’s Richard and his alter ego Andre try to save the planet from catastrophe while the sleazy political intrigue continues unabated. PanChina is responsible for the meteor hit on Canada and the Commonwealth wants them to pay. At the same time both countries are suffering from internal political conflicts. The Unitek Corporation play commonwealth against PanChina and uses the opposition in both countries to help. Unitek wants control of the alien nanotechnology.

Exellent series. Pity it’s over. Hmm, I need more books


Nimisha Boynton-Rondymnse – First Family Castaway

Book: Nimsha’s Ship (1998)
Author: Anne McCaffrey
Publishers: Del Ray | Corgi Adult| Bantam Pres | Random Houses (UK) | Ballantine
Genre: Science Fiction | First Contact

This is one of my favorite Anne McCaffre books, mainly because of Nimisha’s charming personality, her competence and the emphasis on friendship and romance. The first contact situation and how it is resolved is also quite attractive. If you are new to Anne and into gritty fast paced adventure you should maybe start with her Pern stories.

On Vega III, Lady Nimisha Boynton-Rondymense loves the challenging world of her father, Lord Tionel, owner and principal starship designer of the famous Rondymense Ship Yards. Precociously gifted, Nimisha becomes his secret assistant–and, in the aftermath of a shocking tragedy, his chosen successor at the helm of the Ship Yards.

When Nimisha takes an experimental ship on a solo test flight, something goes horribly awry, marooning her light-years from home on a planet as deadly as it is beautiful. Now the ruthless members of a rival branch of the Rondymense family are given the chance they’ve been waiting for: to reclaim the Ship Yards by any means necessary.

Only Nimisha’s ingenious child, Cuiva, stands in their way. But for how long? For just when her daughter needs her most, Nimisha is in a precarious situation herself–and unable to help. But Nimisha has never given up in her life–and she’s not about to start now . . .


Freya Nakamachi-47 – Soulful Machine

Book: Saturn’s Children
Author: Charles Stross
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Science Fiction | Space Opera | Post human

Drunk on battery acid Freya consider jumping from the balcony of the pleasure palace floating in the stratosphere of Venus. It is the 200th anniversary of the extinction of her One True Love, the human race. Some bored Aristos stumbles on her there and take enough interest to start a fight. Annoyed and drunk Freya ripes the head off one of them. That particular Aristo take offence and promise to pay her back. Aristos is the name of the cruel slave owning class. Most of the robots are slaves and called arbeiters.

Freya is of a line of pleasure robots, the Rhea line that help each other out, they buy out indentured siblings and they also share memories of each other’s lives with memory chips. Freya has just put in Juliett’s chip and now she has to get off Venus before the aristo or his henchmen can find her. She is offered a job on Mercury that includes the travel there, she jumps on the opportunity.

After she lands on Venus and make the acquaintance of the sentient hotel she has a run in with some siblings of the offended aristo. Her new job turn out to be to work for the Jeeves Corporation as a courier carrying some organic matter in her womb, avoid the pink police (nice name), and deliver it to the recipient on Mars.

This is when it starts to heat up for her. She learns more about Julietta during her trip. There are enemy operators on the ship but she succeeds in avoiding them and the pink police. She is also more or less force-seduced by Aristo Granita Ford who turns out to be in league with the police.

The rest you have to read yourself.

This is another story about Freedom and self governance. It is thought provoking, action packed, seedy (at least some) and in an imaginative original world. I love it!


Nausicaä – Ecological Princess

Comics: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind 1-7 (2004)
Author: Hayao Miyazaki
Publisher: VIZ Media
Genre: Manga

Manga isn’t exactly new to me but it’s not something I usually reads, Nausicaä comes well recommended so I think I can include one as a teaser.

Nausicaä (ナウシカ Naushika?, pronounced [na.uɕika]) is a fictional character from the science fiction manga and anime film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind created by Hayao Miyazaki. Nausicaä is the princess of the Valley of the Wind, a very small nation with fewer than 500 inhabitants (and steadily declining in population). She is the eleventh child of King Jihl, and the only one to live to maturity. She is rarely seen without her Mehve or her companion, Teto the fox-squirrel. In the legends of Dorok, she is also called “The Blue Clad One”.

Nausicaa is the gifted teenaged princess of a small valley on a devastated far-future Earth, where a growing poisonous forest is threatening the last human settlements. As an excellent gunship pilot, she is drawn by an old alliance into a war between neighboring kingdoms. But the pacifistic Nausicaa is much more interested in exploring the secrets of the forest. This complex ecological adventure epic – a true comics classic – is the only extended manga work by renowned anime director Miyazaki (Spirited Away). His lush, detailed art, reproduced here in sepia ink, is more reminiscent of European artists such as Moebius than of most manga, but manga fans will be drawn into the story nonetheless. Highly recommended for teens and adults alike, this tremendous series belongs in every library.


Read Part 1 | 23 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | index | afterword

May 072010

This week’s Formidable Female Protagonists contain both Nimue and Ofelia two of my favorite SF characters. It’s fun researching the list, I pick up new books to read all the time. I got 46 more protagonists to go and later today you will have the first FFP in Science Fiction TV. 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. Ofelia Fulfarres – Nest Guardian (Elizabeth Moon)
  2. Bella Lind – Icon at the End of Time (Alastair Reynolds)
  3. Helva – The Ship Who Sang (Anne McCaffrey)
  4. Nimue Alban – Mind of a Dead Starship Captain (David Weber)
  5. Rowan – Steerswoman (Rosemary Kirstein)

Ofelia Fulfarres – Nest Guardian

Book: Remnant Population (1996)
Author: Elizabeth Moon
Publisher: Baen
Genre: Science Fiction | First Contact

Meet one of my very best dearest friends, sorry books.

Meet Ofelia Fulfarres, she is a mature woman past childbearing who never got a chance to make something of herself. The setting is the one town on a company owned colony. She lives with her obnoxious son Barto and his wife Rosara in town when we learn that the company lost the franchise to the planet. All colonists have to leave. Ofelia has had enough and decides to stay when the others leave. I love to listen to Ofelia’s thoughts and to see her planning to stay behind.

She avoids the last shuttle and she is left all alone. The only human left on the planet. Ofelia can now live her own life as she like. It feels so liberating to read about it all. I want to be there all alone too that’s how wonderful it reads.

Half a year or so later the colony’s radio comes alive with human voices again. It’s the new company with a shipload of settlers. They don’t know Ofelia is down there, and their plan is to settle their colony closer to the equator on the grass plains there, far away from the old colony. They land and start to clear the area with heavy machinery when unknown aliens with knifes and spears attack and kill them all, to the last man, woman and child. While Ofelia listen to it all on the radio. Ofelia gets the scare of her life and she can’t talk to the ship before it leaves because the colonist realigned the communication satellite to the new colony.

Being all alone doesn’t feel safe anymore for Ofelia. She lives her life in fear now, in fear of the killers that lives somewhere on the planet. She starts to see dangers here and there.

One rainy stormy night she makes contact …

And that’s when the real story begins :-) Read it!

Elizabeth Moon has a real knack for lovable characters especially when it comes to formidable old ladies. Remnant Population is a very personal first contact story told from both Ofelia’s point of view and the aliens. It is intense and both the aliens and Ofelia act in believable ways that makes sense to the reader. It is in my opinion one of the best first contact stories ever and it should be a good story to start with if you are new to science fiction because it’s so character driven while providing most of the allure of the genre.

[Back to list]

Bella Lind – Icon at the End of Time

Book: Pushing Ice (2005)
Author: Alastair Reynolds
Publisher: Gollancz
Genre: Science Fiction

This is true Space Opera. It starts in the far future when humanity has conquered the stars and inhabit thousands of planets. Senator Chromis Pasqueflower Bowerbird proposes a program to memorize Bella Lind, the hero that started it all. Then it shifts back to 2057.

Rockhopper is a nuclear powerd mining ship, one of many that fuel earth’s space economy with a steady stream of comet raw material. Bella Lind is the captain of an elite crew of 150 or so. They call their work Pushing Ice.

So when Janus, one of Saturn’s ice moons breaks orbit and heads for the stars, Bella and her crew are the only ones that can reach it in time before it leaves the solar system.

The mission is voluntary and most of the crew is behind it. But the company has lied to them and faked their fuel situation. It is a suicide mission; they will not be able to return after reaching Janus. But SvetlanaBella’s best friend and the ships chief engineer starts to suspect the truth. Bella confronts her former lover who is the CEO of the company but due to lack of proof she decides to continue the mission. This leads to a break with Svetlana.

The book focuses to a large part on the conflict between Svetlana and Bella. That deep friendship can turn to extreme hatred.

The Rockhopper ends up slip streamed with Janus and heading for a mysterious alien cylinder some hundred light years from earth at 99% of light speed. Svetlana blames Bella and with a majority of the crew behind her they exile Bella while they try to survive on Janus.

But that’s only the first step of their travel. They are propelled at near light speed to a gigantic alien Meta structure in the far future. Someone is collecting civilizations at the end of time.

The circle closes both with the future history of Man as their memento reach Bella and with Bella’s and Svetlana’s friendship. It’s a truly epic story. The painful conflict between two good friends is so well told you can feel their anguish.

[Back to list]

Helva – the Ship who Sang

Books: The Ship Who Sang (1961), the short story Honeymoon appears in Get Off the Unicorn (1977)
Series: Brain & Brawn 1
Author: Anne McCaffrey
Publisher: Random house and more, there is
Genre: Science Fiction

First she has to deal with becoming a Brain, then a ship, then with being a human. Helva is a formidable young female.

The Brain was perfect, the tiny, crippled body useless. So technology rescued the brain and put it in an environment that conditioned it to live in a different kind of body – a spaceship

Here the human mind, more subtle, indefinitely more complex than any computer ever devised, could be linked to the massive and delicate strengths, the total recall, and the incredible speeds of space.

But the brain behind the ship was entirely feminine – a complex, loving, strong, weak, gentle savage – a personality, all-woman, called Helva . . .

[Back to list]

Nimue Alban – Mind of a Dead Starship Captain

Books: Off Armageddon Reef, By Schism Rent Asunder, By Herseis Distressed, A Mighty Fortress
Author: David Weber
Series: Safehold
Publisher: Tor
Genre: Military Science Fiction

In this universe the last colony of the human race hides from the genocidal Gbaba on the planet Safehold. The colonists’ minds are changed while in cold sleep and they wake to a medieval world governed by an artificial religion where the colony leadership has taken the roles as angels. Some of the crew set up a high tech enclave, but they are ruthlessly exterminated by orbital strikes, weapons still active today, striking any semblance of higher tech. Sympathizers set of a nuke at a summit, killing most of the leaders. The Church of God Awakening is set up in the following period.

Nimue Alban is an android with the mind of a long dead starship captain. Her human self sacrificed herself to become a second or third line of defense against the suspected treachery of the leaders of Humanity’s last colony. She wakes up 800 years later with a mission to restore civilization.

The fourth book A Mighty Fortress was published April 13. The fifth book, title unknown will be out in 2011.

The Safehold Series started with Off Armagedon Reef where Niume Alban wakes up, assess the situation decide to back the kingdom of Charis for their enlightened royal family and general inventiveness. After a sex changing morph she dons the identity of Merlin a Seijin warrior, save prince Cayleb of Charis from assassins, becomes his bodyguard and start to change the way they think.

The Church of God Awakening is lead by the greedy and power blind Group of Four who conspires to send a fleet to destroy Charis. They are defeated by the new and improved fleet of Charis Off Armagedon Reef.

In By Schism Rent Asunder the church retaliates and massacre Charis’ unarmed civilian traders and their families. Cayleb now king, retaliates by sending a fleet half way around the planet. He also makes peace with Chrisholm, falls in love with their queen Sharleyan and in their Marriage creates the New Empire of Charis, united against the rest of the world.

In By Hersies Distressed it is Charis turn to go on the offensive, invading the island princedom of Corisade. Charis get to show up their new and improved army and artillery before they defeat prince Hektor’s army. Hektor is killed by church assassins. His son and daughter flees to exile with thoughts of revenge on Cayleb who they believe killed their father.

We have also learned that there is an Order inside the church that knows the truth about Safehold, that their religion is a fake and that suppression of scientific methods and innovation have been built into their society by the former colony founders. Now Cayleb, his wife and a few others know the truth. The brothers have an elaborate procedure before approving any new member and they are frankly scared of the rapid changes.

There is yet another group, the Circle, inside the Church that doesn’t know the truth, but they oppose greed and corruption inside the church. But they have been betrayed by one of their own when A Mighty Fortress starts. The only question is when the Inquisition will strike

[Back to list]

Rowan – Steerswoman

Books: The Steerswoman (1989), The Outskirter’s Secret (1992), The Lost Steersman (2003), The Language of Power (2004)
Omnibus: The Steerswoman’s Road (2003, book 1-2)
Author: Rosemary Kirstein
Series: Steerswomen
Publisher: Del Rey, Random house
Genre: Science Fiction

This was recommended to me and sounds intriguing, a world that isn’t what it seems, similar to Safehold but its own. Science and technology as magic I can’t wait to find out what kind of formidable Rowan is.

The Steerswoman’s Road

If you ask, she will answer. If she asks, you must reply. A steerswoman will speak only the truth to you, as long as she knows it—and you must do the same for her. And so, across the centuries, the Steerswomen— questioning, searching, investigating—have slowly learned more and more about the world through which they wander. All knowledge the Steerswomen possess is given freely to those who ask. But there is one kind of knowledge that has always been denied them: Magic.

When the steerswoman Rowan discovers a small, lovely blue jewel of obviously magical origin, her innocent questions lead to secret after startling secret, each more dangerous than the last—and suddenly Rowan must flee or fight for her life. Or worse, she must lie.

With every wizard in the world searching for her, Rowan finds unexpected assistance. A chance-met traveler turned friend, Bel is a warrior-poet, an Outskirter, and a member of a barbaric and violent people. Or, so it would seem.

For Bel, unknowing, possesses secrets of her own: secrets embedded in her culture, in her people, in the very soil of her homeland. From the Inland Sea to the deadly Outskirts, surrounded by danger and deceit, Rowan and Bel uncover more and more of the wizards’ hidden knowledge. As the new truths accumulate, they edge closer to the single truth that lies at the center, the most unexpected secret of them all. . . .

The Lost Steersman

The steerswoman Rowan has learned that Slado, a mysterious wizard, has secretly been working spells of incredible power. Both the Inner Lands and the Outskirts are now threatened by his Magic – and before the destruction becomes too great to reverse, Rowan must find Slado so that he can be stopped. But how does one stop the most powerful man in the world?

In the seaside town of Alemeth, the Annex holds centuries of steerswomen’s journals. They may contain clues to Slado’s location, but combing through them would take more time than Rowan has to spend. Then she encounters a lost friend: Janus, one of the few rare steersmen. But Janus quit the order without explanation. Now the bright, beloved companion of Rowan’s student days has become a man dominated by dark moods and even darker secrets.

When sleepy Alemeth transforms into a place of chaos, terror, and sudden death, Rowan wonders if all the secrets are connected. The shocking answer will change the steerswoman – and her world – forever.

The Language of Power

The steerswomen were seekers, collectors of knowledge, and whatever they learned was free for the asking. The wizards also had knowledge– the knowledge to command nature itself–but they jealously guarded their dark wisdom. The two groups have been at odds for centuries:

They do not agree, they do not converse, they do not associate.

Now the steerswoman Rowan has uncovered evidence that the master wizard, Slado, is conjuring dangerous spells in shadow, devastating the distant lands called the Outskirts and changing the course of the world. Rowan has no choice: Slado must be stopped . . . if he can even be found.

Following a dubious clue, Rowan and her friend Bel, an Outskirter, have come to the city of Donner, seeking answers from the past for a danger in the present. But the secrets go deeper than Rowan had ever imagined, compelling her to wonder: What if all this time she has been asking the wrong questions?

[Back to list]

Read Part 1 | 23 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | index | afterword

Apr 302010

This is my third post of formidable females in SF and after last weeks boost in suggestions from the nice folks at 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:

  1. Heris Serrano – Civilian Warrior (Elizabeth Moon)
  2. An – Transcending Egghead (Emily Devenport)
  3. Adele Mundy – Sharpshooting Librarian (David Drake)
  4. Michelle Henke – Unpolitical Stateswoman (David Weber)
  5. 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.

Hunting Party

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.

Sporting Chance

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.

Winning Coulors

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)
Series: Heads
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
Publisher: Baen
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


  • 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
Publisher: Baen
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
Publisher: Tor
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)

Behemoth: B-Max

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. . . .

Behemoth: Seppuku

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.


Read Part 12 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | index | afterword

Apr 232010

Here is this week’s list of formidable female protagonists in SF literature. I was questioned about my criteria for choosing who to list and the answer is simple:

  1. Is she a protagonist in a science fiction novel?
  2. Is she female?
  3. Is she in any way formidable?

The third is subject to my subjective interpretation but I have a fairly wide appetite for all different kind of SF out there and I am open to suggestions.

This week’s Formidable Females are:

  1. Benita Alvarez-Shipton – the Perfect House-wife (Sheri S. Tepper)
  2. Kris Longknife – Princess & Officer (Mike Shepherd)
  3. Tobin Kerr – Leading From Below (Tanya Huff)
  4. Sassinak – Older Than Her Mother (Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Moon & Jody Lynn Nye)
  5. Sharrow – Symbol of a Solar System (Ian M. Banks)

Blurbs/Synopsis are from a major online outfit, but they are often in error so I won’t tell you which one.

Benita Alvarez-Shipton – the Perfect House-wife

Book: The Fresco
Author: Sheri S Tepper
Pulisher: Eos Nov 2000 | Gollanz, 1st March 2001
Genre: Feminist science fiction

This is one of Sheri S. Tepper’s more controversial works. It is about Benita Alvarez-Shipton a housewife of Hispanic descent trapped in an abusive relationship. She meets two aliens that do her a ‘good turn’ after choosing her as their ambassador to Earth. She has to break free of the relationship, convince earth’s leaders to listen to her, survive another group of aliens hunting her and save an ideal. The Fresco is an indulgent fantasy in justice with amusing twists like the ugly plague in Afghanistan to protect their women’s virtue and alien wasps impregnating pro life politicians. Sheri S. Tepper is usually more subtle than this but it is still a good read and Benita grows and takes charge of her life as in the best of space operas. She is a housewife that fixes a galactic civilization. That is formidable.

One day, in the midst of strange events that are occurring throughout the United States, plain-spoken, 36 year-old bookstore manager Benita Alvarez-Shipton is greeted by a pair of aliens who ask her to transmit their message of peace to Washington.

And so begins a fantastic adventure more perilous and important than Benita can imagine, because the envoys have come with a dire warning about another extraterrestrial race: predators with their attention focused on Earth, who may have already made their first “visit”.


Kris Longknife – Princess & Officer

Books: Mutineer (2004), Deserter (2004), Defiant(2005), Resolute (2006), Audacious(2007), Intrepid (2008), Undaunted (2009), Redoubtable (Oct 2010)
Series: Kris Longknife
Author: Mike Shepherd
Publisher: Ace Penguin
Genre: Military Science Fiction | Space Opera

The Kris Longknife series is about a formidable woman with a knack for getting in trouble and getting out. She is one of them Longknifes and if life wasn’t enough complicated being an officer in the navy; the society of humanity dissolve and her grandpa is named King making her a reluctant princess. The Peterwald family with their long standing grudge with the Longknife set up their own little pocket empire and starts to make life for Kris and her family difficult. Lots of humor, fantastic characters by Mike Shepherd (links to profile with links to my reviews). The next book Redoubtable will be out in November this year and Daring will be out in 2011.

Mutineer: As a marine of Wardhaven, Kris Longknife has a lot to live up to and a lot to prove in the long-running struggle between her powerful family, a highly defensive-and offensive-Earth, and the hundreds of warring colonies. But an ill-conceived attack is bringing the war close to home and putting Kris’s life on the line. Now she has only one choice: certain death on the front lines of rim space-or mutiny.

Deserter: A search for her lost friend leads the female space warrior into a galactic hellhole with no way out.

Defiant: As part of an agenda to oust her father from his political position, Kris Longknife is relieved of command. But when an alien enemy launches an invasion, she defies both government and military authority to lead a rag-tag fleet against the threat

Resolute: Kris Longknife has been given her first independent command in the very remote system of Chance, an assignment that’s as much exile as promotion. But Kris isn’t on the job long when she captures pirates hiding the location of an uncharted and unpopulated planet of miraculous technology.

Audacious: You can’t keep a good woman down-Kris Longknife returns. Once again Kris finds herself caught in the crosshairs of unknown enemies who want her dead. Factions, both legitimate and underground, vie for control of the planet New Eden. And someone is taking advantage of the chaos to unleash a personal vendetta against Kris.

Intrepid: Kris Longknife has been assigned to The Wasp, the best warship beyond the Rim of Human Space. But while hunting for pirates, Kris stumbles upon something. It’s a plan to kill one of the members of the aristocratic Peterwald family—and the would-be killers are setting her up as the assassin.

Undaunted: Kris Longknife encounters some peaceful aliens that almost exterminated the human race a generation back or so who have come to warn humanity of an unidentifiable force that is roaming the galaxy, obliterating everything in its path-a path now leading directly toward the human worlds.


Tobin Kerr – Leading From Below

Books: Valor’s Choice (2000), A Confederation of Valor (2006), The Hearth of Valor (2007), Valor’s Trial (2009), The Truth of Valor (Sept 2010)
Series: Confederation of Valor series
Author: Tanya Huff
Publisher: DAW
Genre: Military Science Fiction

Tanya Huff’s Confederation books are an excellent example of the life and career of a Non-Commissioned Officer. Tobin Kerr comes alive as a believable person whoes motivations make sense. She have to fight to keep her troops and leaders alive through all the military actions, in the best tradition of her trade. The science fictions parts also play a significant part in the stories about aliens, their society and alien technology. There is an arc across the whole series concerning ‘older’ more ‘wise’ races keeping the ‘young’ races at each other’s throats.

Tanya Huff is very good at dialogue. There is a lot of bickering in the books, and I love bickering. Portraying a sergeant of the right stuff is done beautifully.

  • “Figures,” Torin sighed. “Officers get a proposal and the rest of us just get screwed.”
  • The Krai have a taste for human flesh. “Marines do not eat other Marines,” Torin muttered absently.
  • “Begging your pardon sir, but you’ll be giving orders to this platoon, not to the general. It might be best if
    you think for yourself.”
  • “You’re just jealous my species has more opposable parts than yours.”

I have recently read the four published books and wrote about it here: Valor’s Choice, Better Part of Valor, The Heart of Valor and Valor’s Trial

Valor’s Choice: In the distant future, humans and several other races have been granted membership in the Confederation—at a price. They must act as soldier/protectors of the far more civilized races who have long since turned away from war….

A Confederation of Valor: Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr’s goal is to keep both her superior officers and her troops alive as they face deadly missions throughout the galaxy. She more than proves her mettle when a diplomatic assignment and a scientific expedition both turn dangerous.

The Hearth of Valor: The fast-paced third military SF novel in Huff’s Confederation series (after Valor’s Choice and The Better Part of Valor) examines how an interplanetary confederation might unite several distinctive species into an effective military organization despite widely differing physiologies, customs and mores. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Torin Kerr, recovering from injuries suffered in a first contact situation, accompanies a recruit platoon into the Crucible, a training planet where they apply their lessons in a realistic live-fire exercise against robotic drones. While the exercise is underway, the drones begin acting aggressively, without regard to fail-safes or their programming. Has the platoon come under attack by the mysterious Others, or is this related to the alien escape pod that everybody has forgotten exists except for Torin, her lover and an obnoxious reporter? The intriguing and well-designed aliens and intricate plotting keep the reader guessing.

Valor’s Trial: In the rough-and-tumble fourth military SF adventure for Marine Gunnery Sgt. Torin Kerr (after 2007’s The Heart of Valor), Kerr is more than a little surprised to wake up after a disastrous battle and find herself in what appears to be an underground prisoner-of-war facility, since the enigmatic aliens called the Others take no prisoners. At least, that’s the claim made by the Confederation of nominally pacifist older races that provide advanced technology to humans in exchange for waging war against the Others. Kerr soon encounters earlier arrivals, who seem oddly lethargic and resigned to their fate. She must learn what’s sapping their willpower, organize an escape and figure out what the Others and the Confederation are up to. Huff’s appealing heroine is as fiercely maternal as she is fierce in battle, sometimes to a degree that verges on cliché. The denouement is not unexpected, but Huff skillfully accomplishes its exposition while still managing a few surprises.


Sassinak – Older Than Her Mother

Books: Sassinak (1990), The Death of Sleep (1990), Generation Warriors (1991)
Omnibus: The Planet Pirates (1993)
Series: Planet Pirates
Authors: Anne McCaffrey(#1-3), Elizabeth Moon (#1,#3), Jody Lynn Nye(#2)
Publisher: Baen
Genre: Military Science Fiction

Sassinak is just one of them unforgettable characters, she grows a lot in the series that is a bit towards pulp fiction in some regards. Lots of emotions. I like the name, Sassinach is a Scottish/Highlander name for ‘lowlanders’ especially English I gather. If I remember correctly it means saxon man but has evolved to something you taunt strangers with? Anyway, great story by Anne McCaffrey, Elizabeth Moon and Jody Lynn Nye.


The Planet Pirates traces the careers of two remarkable women. Sassinak escaped from slavery to freedom, and then used that freedom to fight the evil that had wrecked her world, first as a cadet, later as a captain, and finally as an Admiral of the Fleet.

Lunzie, one of the galaxy’s greatest healers, is Sassinak’s great-grandmother — but in actual years she is her junior; Lunzie spent nearly a century in coldsleep waiting for rescue when her ship was destroyed. Imagine their mutual surprise when Sassinak rescued her.

How together Sassinak and Lunzie save first a world, and then a confederation of worlds — and almost in passing establish amity between the genetically engineered Heavy Worlders and normal humanity

Sassinak: The first in the Planet Pirates series, this science fiction yarn offers a vivid universe inhabited by cardboard citizens. Sassinak, the heroine and the only developed character, steps straight from a formula: When she is 12, pirates raid her native colony, enslaving her and g murdering her family. Abe, a fellow captive, befriends her and, when they are emancipated by Fleet (the military), becomes her guardian until he is slain in a barroom brawl. Intelligent and daring, Sass joins Fleet, seeking vengeance on her enemies. She becomes the classic fictional commander: a loner whose entire life is subsumed by the military. Fortunately, Sass’s exploits are so expertly recounted that their intrigue and adventure compensate for the hackneyed plot line. Cleverly drawn aliens, supporting characters here, allow the authors to explore various aspects of prejudice. Sass’s appraisal of men, however, verges at times on sexist.

The Death of Sleep: Lunzie Mespil, Healer, is blown out of a space liner. She’s not too worried; a month or two in cryogenic stasis awaiting inevitable rescue, and then on with her life. Only, it’s not a month or two . . . Lunzie waits for 62 years before she is finally picked up!

Generation Warriors: Lunzie, fresh from her adventures in The Death of Sleep,has discovered that the one good heavyworlder she ever met isn’t so good after all…
Fordeliton, sent off to investigate the connection between the super—rich and the planet pirates, is now dying of a mysterious slow poison. His aunt’s spiritual advisor wants to give him her “special cure”.
Dupaynil, having made the mistake of pushing sassinak too far, has been exiled to Seti space aboard a tiny escort vessel—where he’s discovered that the crew are in the pay of the planet pirates…
Aygar, the idealistic young Iretan, is out to prove he has brains as well as heavyworlder brawn… but there are plenty who’d like to blow them out before he can learn to use them.
Then there’s Sassinak, ordered to report to FedCentral for the trial of the mutineer Tanegli. She’d been told to disarm her ship when it enters restricted space; she’d been told her crew can’t have liberty or leave; and she’d been told to follow all the rules. You remember Sassinak…the only person who might be able to stop the disaster ahead has never been one to follow the rules…


Sharrow – Symbol of a Solar System

Book: Against Dark Background
Author: Iain M. Banks
Publisher: Orbit 1993
Genre: Military Science Fiction

Lady Sharrow is said to be a metaphor of the solar system where the story takes place. Iain M. Banks don’t write happy stories so I am expecting Noir with this one. This is a character I am not familiar with but she comes recommended as a strong formidable woman.

The heroine, Sharrow, chases after the Lazy Gun, a long-lost military artifact of tremendous power, while being chased by a religious cult dedicated to killing her. She rounds up her old war buddies for one last hurrah and they are off to the races, punctuated with flashbacks about the war and Geis and Breyguhn, her cousin and half-sister, respectively.

Sharrow was once the leader of a personality-attuned combat team in one of the sporadic little commercial wars in the civilization based around the planet Golter. Now she is hunted by the Huhsz, a religious cult which believes that she is the last obstacle before the faith’s apotheosis, and her only hope of escape is to find the last of the apocalyptically powerful Lazy Guns before the Huhsz find her.
Her journey through the exotic Golterian system is a destructive and savage odyssey into her past, and that of her family and of the system itself.


Read Part 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | index | afterword

Apr 162010

Welcome to my new Friday series on Formidable Female Protagonists in Science Fiction. One thing I enjoy reading about in science fiction is strong female  protagonists and I would like to present some of them so you might get to know them too. I like lists, and I have assembled a long list to pick from so you can expect five new examples of the ‘stronger’ sex every Friday for the next ten weeks.

This week they are:

  1. Alicia DeVries – Cadre and Fury (David Weber)
  2. Terese Drajeske – Ex Field Commander & Mother (C. L. Andersen)
  3. Mackensie Elizabeth Winifred Wright Connor Sol (Julie E. Czerneda)
  4. Zoe Boutin Perry – Teenager & Holy Icon (John Scalzi)
  5. Parrish Plessis – Postapocalyptic Bodyguard (Marianne de Pierres)

There is also undiscovered Formidable Female Protagonists out there that you can recommend to me in comments to this post, please.

Alicia DeVries – Cadre and Fury

Book: Path of the Fury (1992), In Fury Born (extended version, 2006)
Author: David Weber

Path of the Fury starts when her family is killed while In Fury Born is an extended version that starts with her being recruited as a potential Cadre trainee. Alicia DeVries is a good example of a formidable female protagonist in a Military setting. She is very talented, bound by her honor and quickly rises through the ranks while putting her life on the line for her Empire. I would recommend that you go for the extended version with the background story to why she becomes one of the Furies. The books are really entertaining and funny.

Imperial Intelligence couldn’t find them, the Imperial Fleet couldn’t catch them, and local defenses couldn’t stop them. It seemed the planet-wrecking pirates were invincible. But they made a big mistake when they raided ex-commando leader Alicia DeVries’ quiet home, tortured and murdered her family, and then left her for dead. Alicia decided to turn ‘pirate’ herself, and stole a cutting-edge AI ship from the Empire to start her vendetta. Her fellow veterans think she’s gone crazy, the Imperial Fleet has shoot-on-sight orders. And of course the pirates want her dead, too. But Alicia DeVries has two allies nobody knows about, allies as implacable as she is: a self-aware computer, and a creature from the mists of Old Earth’s most ancient legends. And this trio of furies won’t rest until vengeance is served.


Terese Drajeske – Ex Field Commander & Mother

Novel: Bitter Angels (2009)
Author: C. L. Anderson (
Sarah Zettel)
Random House

Terese Drajeske is a different kind of formidable, she is competent, reluctant to enter service again and more than a little bit cynical about it. But she also have a talent for it. Read my review

An Imploding Star System.
A Murdered Galactic Spy.
A Woman Seeking the Truth—and Finding the Unbelievable…

The Erasmus System is a sprawling realm of slavery, smugglers, spies—and constant, creeping decrepitude. Here everyone who is not part of the ruling Four Families is a slave of one kind or another. But the Guardians, a special-forces branch inside the United World Government for Earth, have deemed Erasmus a “hot spot.” Somehow, it is believed, this failing colony intends to launch a war upon the solar system.

Ex-Field Commander Terese Drajeske, now a mother of three, has been called back to active duty and sent to Erasmus, ostensibly to investigate the murder of her colleague—and friend—Bianca Fayette. At first blush, the death defies explanation: Bianca was immortal. But beneath that single murder lies a twisted foundation of deceptions. Suddenly Terese is plunged into a vortex of shattered lives, endemic deceit, and one dreadful secret. In this society without hope, someone has put into motion a plan that will cast humanity into chaos. And Terese, who has given up her family and her sanity to prevent war, may be asked to make the ultimate sacrifice….


Mackensie Elizabeth Winifred Wright Connor Sol

Books: Survival (2005), Migration (2006), Regeneration (2007)
Series: Species Imperative Trilogy
Julie E. Czerneda

Mack is one of my favorite characters. She is down to earth, a researcher thrown into an alien situation that just handle the situation as any problem she is used to. Humor and suspense also helps. The Species Imperative trilogy forms a circle and the Sinzi (a leading alien race) have a thing for circles. It’s a great story with a successfully told Big Idea, the characters are to love, and the science is beautifully and skillfully presented by Julie E. Czerneda. Read my reviews: SurvivalMigration and Regeneration

Survival: When her Field Base is mysteriously attacked, Dr. Mackenzie Connor must flee for her life. Joining forces with an alien archaeologist, she escapes to his planet on a quest to find a defense against the unknown agressor-before they launch a full-scale invasion of Earth.

Migration: Dr. Mackenzie Connor races against time to help the Interspecies Union devise a plan to prevent an interstellar enemy from conquering world after world.

Regeneration: With the alien Dhryn cutting a pathway through the inhabited spaceways-bringing about the annihilation of many of the races who have the misfortune to lie along the star trail they are following-time is running out for all sentient life-forms. Can biologists Mackenzie Connor and Emily Mamami solve the riddle of the Dhryn before their part of the galaxy becomes as dead as the mysterious region known as the Chasm?


Zoe Boutin Perry – Teenager & Holy Icon

Book: Zoe’s Tale
Series: Old Man’s War Universe
John Scalzi
Tor Books

Zoë Boutin Perryis the 17-year old adopted daughter of John Perry and Jane Sagan, two former-soldiers-turned-colonists.  Her biological father, Charles Boutin, created a device capable of giving a race of creatures, called the Obin, consciousness. The Obin worshipped him, but he was killed for being a traitor to mankind and wanting to overthrow the colonial Union, and so his daughter, Zoë, became a demigod to them. A strong YA novel.

How do you tell your part in the biggest tale in history?

I ask because it’s what I have to do. I’m Zoe Boutin Perry: A colonist stranded on a deadly pioneer world. Holy icon to a race of aliens. A player (and a pawn) in an interstellar chess match to save humanity, or to see it fall. Witness to history. Friend. Daughter. Human. Seventeen years old.

Everyone on Earth knows the tale I am part of. But you don’t know my tale: How I did what I did — how I did what I had to do — not just to stay alive but to keep you alive, too. All of you. I’m going to tell it to you now, the only way I know how: not straight but true, the whole thing, to try make you feel what I felt: the joy and terror and uncertainty, panic and wonder, despair and hope. Everything that happened, bringing us to Earth, and Earth out of its captivity. All through my eyes.

It’s a story you know. But you don’t know it all.


Parrish Plessis – Post Apocalyptic Bodyguard

Every week I intend to introduce a new-to-me heroine, that both you and me might be tempted to try. Parrish Plessis comes highly recommended as a kick-ass cyberpunk heroine. The Parrish Plessis series is a SF action adventure set in future Australia. According to the author it is multi layered text, offering a combination of thrills and spills and social satire.

Marianne de Pierres is also known for her Sentients of Orion series.

Book: Nylon Angel (2005), Code Noir (2006), Crash Deluxe (2007)
Series: Parrish Plessis
Author: Marianne de Pierres, Marianne Pierres
Publisher: Roc books (US) | Orbit books (UK)
Cover art: Larry Rostant

Nylon Angel: Nylon Angel introduces a startling new femme fatale and all-around bad girl.

While trying to send her sadistic boss to death row, she finds herself sheltering a suspect in the murder of newsgirl Razz Retribution. In a world run by the media, the truth isn’t relevant-it’s bad for ratings. Which is why Parrish finds herself tagged for the murder-and up to her tricked-out leather tank top in trouble.

Code Noir: The Tert war is over, and bodyguard Parrish Plessis has gotten a piece of the toxic pie-and the responsibilities that go along with it. To pay off a blood debt to the Cabal Coomera tribe, she must enter the heart of tekno-darkness-the slum town of Dis-to find their missing shamans and to kill her ex-lover Daac. But Parrish still has feelings for Daac-feelings that run as deep as the high-tech parasite he infected her with. Bad blood never boiled like this.

Crash Deluxe: After inheriting a less-than-glorious empire within the Tert, Parrish Plessis-coup leader, bodyguard, and overall dangerous vixen-has her hands full, and her head even fuller. She’s still under a blood debt to the Cabal Coomera. She’s trying to take care of the growing population of stray social castoffs who have come to her for protection. And the nasty high-tech parasite her treacherous ex-lover hit her with is about to turn her into something much less than human…


Read Part 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | index | afterword