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mark211Fantastic Fantasy Heroines?2016-07-24 01:41:04
mark211Last week's discussion was about how dating and romantic relationships might be affected in the future and whether or not this could make fertile ground for SFF fiction. One comment that cropped up in that discussion, which came from QM contributor Wesson, was a pondering of the 'What if?' variety that suggested that: "maybe the future will look more like the past Ė a Victorian past. But instead of men imposing social constraints on women, it will be women who define what is and what isnít proper behavior for men." And this got me to thinking about this week's topic for discussion ... 2016-07-24 01:51:28
mark211There are three questions here basically; the first is the easiest: Who are you favourite and/or most memorable women characters in SFF fiction? I've said 'heroines' in the title, but really this could be any protagonist, main character or villain who is female - Daenerys Targaryen, Cersei Lannister, the Stark sisters, Arya and Sansa, and Brienne of Tarth could all be examples - and they, of course, all come from just one single series!2016-07-24 01:55:20
mark211The second question is what traits or features - if any - do you think have made these characters particularly memorable or interesting or strong? Do they have anything in common?2016-07-24 01:56:15
mark211The third and last question is slightly different: Do you think that the market for female-driven SFF stories has become saturated and that we may soon see a swing of the pendulum back towards more rugged, 'Conan' type heroes, or do you think that the market is simply correcting itself, and that we now have a more even balance of male and female leads in fiction? The last question is based on a Reddit comment I came across not long ago where the poster said this: "I was at a book fair recently where a couple of books had signs proclaiming "female protagonist!" While I'm all for the lady protags and I know heroines are hot right now, I also feel like they're so hot that having a female protagonist doesn't make you special anymore - it's no longer a useful [sales pitch]" I found that to be quite an interesting comment - that not only did that poster feel that women as protagonists had become more popular, but that the reason for this was part of a sales pitch. 2016-07-24 02:02:12
mark211So ... thoughts on any of those three questions anyone?2016-07-24 02:02:47
r.tornello3rd question, not saturated but a recognition that there are a lot of women and girls that like SCIFI and fantasy. It's been assumed that this was a male dominated subject. More female writers and more female main characters in different roles. Strength is more than just muscle.

BTW this was a subject discussion at last years BALTICON. RT

2016-07-24 17:43:38
mark211"Strength is more than just muscle." Heh - I like that. I wonder if that was where that Redditor commenter that I spoke about had been?2016-07-25 03:15:52
mark211I'm inclined to agree with you that this is more likely a case of the market correcting itself so to speak i.e. properly reflecting the large and committed female readership for SFF. Having said that, I think it's worth bearing in mind that women readers and writers of SFF have actually been there in force for a long time - Elizabeth Moon's 'The Deed of Paksenarrion' springs to mind as just one example. One other thing I'd add is that I rather baulk at the idea of having a female protagonist because it's 'cool' to have one (i.e. as opposed to there being a good reason to have one).2016-07-25 03:20:55
rt SIMTNJM, That's my quote.I'm not sure Redditor is. I'll lokk it up.

I've mentioned previously I enjoy technical, historical and fact based writing more than fiction. One reason being, like a lot of the current Science Fiction "art", it's much the same. Unique is out there and when it's good, it's excellent.

The other reason, I have a short attention span and many of today's novels put the Classical Russian and Chinese long novels to shame. I need a white board to set up the history and character interaction. It's like each novel is a crime and I'm a freeking detective. I've got no time for such nonsense.

2016-07-25 09:15:22
WessonMost of my stories have female protagonists or antagonists but thatís because I donít like many of the female characters in our culture today. I my experience, they are too often portrayed as flawless / invincible or portrayed as victims (Not the damsel-in-distress types, Iím taking about characters who claim to be strong but constantly whine about how hard it is to be a woman in a Ďmanís wordí). I try to create female characters that are middle of the road: flawed but strong enough to not hide behind their gender when the going gets tough. As far as a possible return to Conan-types, I wouldnít bet on it. The industry is apologizing for those types of characters. Thatís my prevailing theory as to why Ghostbusters was remade with an all-female cast: to apologize for the first movie. 2016-07-26 09:08:06
WessonI guess I went a little off topic. There are many heroines I admire but they're not very well known, I tend to hang out in sub-cultures that aren't mainstream. 2016-07-26 09:10:42
mark211@Wesson: I think you're describing 'Mary Sue' characters, is that right? I've literally only just come across that phrase recently. If you've not heard of it either, a 'Mary Sue' is "an idealized and seemingly perfect fictional character, a young or low-rank person who saves the day through unrealistic abilities. Often this character is recognized as an author insert or wish-fulfillment" They can have their place - Pippi Longstocking is a great example of a nearly too-perfect character that works in the context of a children's story. But in fiction aimed at more mature and adult readers, it is generally laughable for the wrong reasons unless it is being played with an ironic twist or else for satire and laughs. When George RR Martin has been asked how he can write such strong women characters, he simply replies that we're all human. Cersei Lannister is a superb female character for that reason, I think. She is not simply the villainess, but a deeply disturbed and disturbing character, one that is highly complex. 2016-07-27 07:47:19
mark211@Wesson: Regarding 'Ghostbusters 2016', we actually discussed that a while back on here and although I haven't seen it I feel pretty much the same way about it now as I did then - which is I just have no issue with an all female cast. Helen Mirren did a great version of 'The Tempest' in the role of a female Prospero, named Prospera, so why not this? I'm actually quite a fine of re-boots, revisions and covers of things - even when they go wrong, which as I understand it, this one has. If they'd re-booted the movie with an all-male cast, it would have suffered just as much criticism for not matching up to the original in quality, but would have lacked any new angle. For what it's worth, I don't think it was a bad move at all to have an all-woman cast. What IS a big problem I think, is that when it was heavily criticised for looking cheap and awful, those comments were ignored and it suddenly blew up into a huge politicised and gendered debate about safety online and misogyny(!?!) I understand why they would have done that, but think it's a mistake.2016-07-27 07:52:37
WessonI apologize for going off topic with the Ghostbusters thing, I know that's been visited already so I'll close the door on it. I partially agree with you about 'Mary Sue' characters. I think there are a lot of idealized female characters out there that don't suffer from the drawbacks you normally see in male characters (stupidity, lust, lack of moral center). Characters who save the day don't bother me. In fact, I think we need to bring a few of those underdog types back. We're so obsessed with apocalyptic doom we could use a positive story, a story that's free from the dogmatic wail of critics: "It has to be realistic!" 2016-07-27 08:29:42
micheledutcherOne of my favorite strong female characters is Ayla in the Earth Children series of books by Jean Auel. Ayla's family of CroMagnon are killed by an earthquake and she is eventually taken in by Neanderthals, growing into a strong woman able to tame animals and plant veggies and such. As she grows up she sees humans like herself from a distance, finally becoming one of her 'own tribe'. I enjoyed the archeology aspect to this series - 25000 BC. 2016-07-27 09:03:49
mark211I've not read Auel's book, but there was a movie version with Daryll Hannah I think it was.2016-07-28 03:28:34
mark211@Wesson: No need to apoologise! Nothing's out of bounds here (well, almost nothing) - but certainly not that. I just happened to mention because as it happens it's true that we did talk about it a couple of months ago. "We're so obsessed with apocalyptic doom we could use a positive story, a story that's free from the dogmatic wail of critics: "It has to be realistic!"" I don't know if you've ever heard of Scottish graphic novel author Grant Morrison, but he has argued something very similar and set out to write much more 'feel good' stories as a result. He tried to bring back that kind of optimism to his run as Superman writer for DC. He also wrote a book about his views called 'Super Gods' which I thought was pretty interesting on this topic.2016-07-28 03:32:21
r.tornelloMark, I think it was Clan of The Cave Bear, BARF2016-07-28 06:35:27
mark211@r.tornello "BARF" Not a fan then ; - )?2016-07-29 07:28:44
r.tornellojust a bad movie, and kind of blond light skin vs dark skin overtones.2016-07-29 11:07:05
Wesson@r.tornello: Racist! Sorry, just a joke, I always like to make fun of our hypersensitivity to that type of thing. Mark, this Grant Morrison character might be right up my alley, Iíll have to look into him a little more, thanks. 2016-07-29 20:49:33
RT@Wesson, re Hypersensitivity, no it's just a thought that came to mind when I was writing the comments the other day. I hadn't considered it as such the time I viewed the movie centuries ago. Though the CM vs Neanderthal intelligence aspect, was if nothing else, "in your face".

I'm not familiar with the director or the author to make statements regarding overt or covert racism by either one. And like many things written, new interpretations do come to light over time. Whether or not they hold under the weight of debate and evidence, is another issue.

2016-07-30 06:15:14

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