Formidable Female Protagonists in Science Fiction Part 5


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.

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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.

Hammered

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.

Scardown

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.

Worldwired

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

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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 . . .

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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!

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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.

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