Formidable Female Protagonists in Science Fiction Part 24


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

I am still taking suggestions, there is a list of the ones taken at the Index page. If you wonder about the order, It is random.

I would like to thank you all for your suggestions; I love new books to read especially about formidable female protagonists.

This week’s FFPinSF are a good selection, three I know and love Alex, Kendra and Lessa. Ash is on my to be read list and Annie might end up there soon. With no further ado, here is this week’s list.

  1. Captain Alexandra “Alex” McLaughlin – Valkyria (Patrick A. Venner)
  2. Kendra Pacelli – New to Freedom (Michael Z. Williamson)
  3. Lessa – Dragon Rider of Pern (Anne McCaffrey)
  4. Annie ‘Mama’ Jason Masmajean – Ecological Troubleshooter (Janet Kagan)
  5. Ash – Imperfect Amazon (Mary Gentle)

Captain Alexandra “Alex” McLaughlin – Valkyria

Books: Ragnarok (2010)
Series: Ragnarok book 1

Author: Patrick A. Vanner
Genre: Military Science Fiction
Publisher: Baen

I am reading this book at the moment and it is entertaining military action with a truly formidable yet human protagonists. It is also Patrick A. Vanner’s debut novel. It looks promising and you should expect a review next week.

Captain Alexandra “Alex” McLaughlin is not a woman to be underestimated. Under her petite exterior is a spine of solid steel and a disposition to laugh in the face of impending death. A former member of the Terran Navy’s elite force, the Dead Jokers, electronic-warfare pilots with a mortality rate to match that of old Japan’s Kamikazes, Alex is a born survivor. But sometimes survival can be a curse.

Humanity is locked in a war of survival with the Xan-Sskarn, an alien race that refuses to acknowledge the rights of “weaker” creatures to live. It is a war that will not end with a peace treaty, but only the complete subjugation of one species to the other. And right now, the alien side is winning.

However, the enemy on the outside is not the only one to be faced. As the battles take on an eerily familiar pattern of no-win scenarios, Alex realized the horrifying truth; humanity has a traitor, and it’s somebody close. As each battle brings more death, Alex’s ghosts grow and so does her desire for vengeance. There is only one way for this to end, and Alex is just the human to take it there—to Ragnarok

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Kendra Pacelli – New to Freedom

Books: Freehold (2004)
Series: Grainne War (Freehold)
Author: Michael Z. Williamson
Genre: Military Science Fiction
Publisher: Baen

Freehold is a really great book told from the pov of Kendra who has to escape Earth’s society to make a new life for herself on the radically different planet Freehold. It is an entertaining journey of discovery with nice character development and some military action.

Kendra Pacelli flees from Earth to Freehold after getting implicated by association in the embezzlement of her UN bosses. You don’t take any chances with UN security; they usually arrest everyone and create their own scapegoats as needed. And Kendra don’t have the money to bribe anyone.

What Kendra meets on Freehold is completely different from the mostly socialistic and decadent Earth. Freehold is a utopia of personal freedom where everyone is armed to the teeth. Good character description and logical buildup of the story. The story is pretty PC, even if I think Republicans like it better. It is also good military action in the second part when UN troops invade.

I really enjoyed how Kendra grows as a person during the book. I really liked Kendra. I would love to read more stories with her.

Freehold is available online or as a download through Baen’s Free Library.

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Lessa – Dragon Rider of Pern

Books: Dragonflight (1968), The Skies of Pern (2001)
Series: Dragonriders of Pern
Author: Anne McCaffrey
Genre: Science Fantasy
Publisher: Ballantine, Walker & Co, Corgi, Sphere, Del Rey

Dragonflight was one of the first Science Fiction books I read so Lessa is not really new to me but I have to admit I have not read The Skies of Pern yet. If I remember correctly she figures in quite a few other novels to. I haven’t read them all, is she a major character in any more?

Dragonflight chronicles the story of Lessa, the sole survivor of the noble ruling family of Ruatha Hold on the northern continent of Pern. When the rest of her family is killed by a cruel usurper, Fax, she survives by disguising herself as a drudge (a menial servant) partly through simply adopting a slovenly appearance, but also using her hereditary telepathic abilities to make others see her as far older than she is. She escapes notice completely. Her only friend is a watch-wher, a somewhat telepathic animal that guards the castle. Lessa’s ability to psychically influence the thoughts and actions of others plays a role in various parts of the series.

The Skies of Pern: It is a time of hope and regret, of endings and beginnings. The Red Star, that celestial curse whose eccentric orbit was responsible for Thread, has been shifted to a harmless orbit, and the current Threadfall will be the last. Technological marvels are changing the face of life on Pern, and the dragonriders, led by F’lessan, son of F’lar and Lessa and rider of bronze Golanth, and Tia, rider of green Zaranth, must forge a new place for themselves in a world that may no longer need them.

But change is not easy for everyone. There are those who will stop at nothing to keep Pern and its people pure. And now a brand-new danger looms from the skies and threatens a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions. Once again, the world looks to the dragons and their riders to save the world. But now, as the friendship of F’lessan and Tia begins to bloom into something more, unforeseen tragedy strikes: a tragedy destined to forever change the future–not just of the two young lovers, but of every human and dragon on Pern . . .

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Annie ‘Mama’ Jason Masmajean – Ecological Troubleshooter

Books: Mirabile (1991)
Author: Janet Kagan
Publisher: Tor

Annie is new to me and her creator too but the book sounds like good fun.

On the distant planet of Mirabile, a settlement of human colonists from Earth is jeopardized by genetic mutants of Earth plants and animals, and it is up to ecological troubleshooter Mama Jason to destroy the menacing mutants.

From a review by “kangarex” (Keokuk, IA United States) on Amazon: What can I say about Janet Kagan? She’s written three books, and all three of them could have been justly called Mirabile (Wonderful in Latin). The other two, Hellspark and Uhura’s Song are also favorites, but Mirabile is a delight, and just pure fun. Kangaroo rexes! Odders! Tulip bats! Oh the wonderful and surprising things that can happen to the wildlife when someone’s been mucking around in their genepool. Annie Jason Masmajean is our heroine, I guess you would call her profession field genetics. It’s her job to provide the colonists of Mirabile with the critters and plants they need to survive, and ensure that the strange beasties that keep cropping up (The scientists back on earth got cute with genetic redundancy), don’t harm the colonists or the vital species that they need. It’s a very light-hearted read, but not lacking one iota of depth. Between this book and her other two Janet Kagan has me itching for more. Anything she produces, I will buy, and there are very few authors I can say that about.

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Ash – Imperfect Amazon

Books: A Secret History (1999), Carthage Ascendant (2000), The Wild Machines (2000), Lost Burgundy (2000)
Omnibus: Ash: A Secret History (2000)
Series: Ash
Author: Mary Gentle
Genre: Science Fantasy
Publisher: Gollancz, Eos

I got Ash: A Secret History in the mail last week and it is in my To Be Read List. It is not the first Mary Gentle book I will read but it is the first about Ash. I have Ancient Light here on a bookshelf but I was a bit underwhelmed by the pessimistic tale there.

For the beautiful young woman Ash, life has always been arquebuses and artillery, swords and armour and the true horrors of hand-to-hand combat. War is her job. She has fought her way to the command of a mercenary company, and on her unlikely shoulders lies the destiny of a Europe threatened by the depredations of an Infidel army more terrible than any nightmare.

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