Top 10 Women of Sci Fi – Part 8

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Delenn

(Babylon 5)

I have written about how it took me years to watch Babylon 5 because I naively thought that Star Trek was in the end all be all when it came to science fiction television. Babylon 5 had many fascinating characters including number 8 on my list: Delenn.

Delenn was the Minbari Ambassador on the Babylon 5 station. The Minbar were an interesting species who divided their society three separate castes: Warrior, Spiritual and Working classes. Delenn belong to the spiritual caste but she was so much more that a spiritual being. She starts out as a very mysterious but well-respected figure on the station. During the course of the series she undergoes a major transformation and not just a physical one. She becomes one of the most important people in the class and along with Captain Sheridan, G’Kar, etc helps transforms the known universe.

If you haven’t seen the series, do yourself a favor and check out the wonderful world created by J. Michael Straczynski.

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Top 10 Women of Sci Fi – part 7

Now for the grand dame herself – Lt. Uhurauhura

Lt. Uhura is my first fan girl crush. Seeing her on Star Trek as a little girl, I was mesmerized by her glamour. Being swept up by the adventures of the Enterprise crew, I too wanted a fabulous life in space with flawless eyeliner and mini-skirts.

As an adult, I gained a deeper appreciation of the character. Knowing that Gene Roddenberry wanted the Uhura to have a larger role in away missions as a communication officer. We got to more fully fleshed out
character in Star Trek:TAS and the movies.

Mission Log Podcast conducted a fascinating interview with Ms. Nichols here

Top 10 Women of Sci Fi – part 6

With the presidential elections weeks away, it’s time to write about my favorite President: Laura Roslin.

When we first met Laura Roslin in the rebooted Battlestar Galactica, she is the Secretary of Education on board for the decommissioning of the Galactica. After the Cylon attack, she is left as the senior member of the administration and takes command as president. Over the course of four seasons we really see a growth in Roslin and her style of leadership. In the beginning, she believes by following the rule of law and maintaining order humanity will be able to survive. Overtime, she keeps her ideals but becomes more ruthless from air locking enemies o kidnapping babies. All for the greater good.

Roslin embodies the characteristics that I admire in leaders: strength, confidence, compassion and resilience. Qualities that you will see again and again in the women that I have highlighted in my top 10 list.

Women Talk Sci Fi has a thought provoking conversation on BattleStar Galactica. One comment that stood out for me is that why did the colonies need a president since there were so few of them left. The conversation was short but it is a fascinating concept nonetheless. Check it out here: Podcast 10

Top Women of Sci Fi – part 5 – UPDATED

Olive, you were always the strongest – Nick Lane

Olivia Dunham
(Fringe)

I was hesitant to add Olivia Dunham to my list of Top 10 Women in Science Fiction because her story is incomplete with the addition of a final Season five but she is too compelling of a character to ignore.

When we first meet Dunham, she is an inter-agency liaison with the FBI investigating an horrific event that happened mid-air on a flight from Hamburg, Germany to the United States. During the course of the investigation her partner is gravely injured and she puts to get a team of eccentric people to save him and to aid the investigation: Walter Bishop, Peter Bishop and Agent Astrid Farnsworth aka Astro aka Aspirin.

The following exchanges with Peter in the pilot episode shows what a strong and resourceful person Agent Dunham can be.

Olivia: You heard of Flight 627
Peter: The Hamburg flight of course
Olivia: You may be able to help us with that
Peter: I think you got the wrong guy
Olivia: Your father is Walter Bishop
Peter: The last time someone asked me that it was an accusation
Olivia: He is the man who we are looking to speak with but do to his current status. You’re the only one that can provide us access
Peter: What possible help could that man be to you? And what exactly are you expecting me to do? Hop on a plane with you back to MA. I just here honey…
Olivia: …Your father maybe able to save someone who is dying. Someone I care about very much
Peter: Sweetheart, we all care about someone who is dying. I can’t help you. I’m sorry.
Olivia: I know why you are here. I have your file.
Peter: What file?
Olivia: The one the FBI would say doesn’t exist. And it has everything: where you’ve been; what you’re running from and what you need while your here. So, either you come with me or I let certain people know your whereabouts.
Peter: When do we leave?

Peter: What are you asking me to do? No, Guardian? No forgot it.
Olivia: He’ll do it
Peter: No I’ll will not.
Olivia: One phone call that’s it takes. Coz I got my phone in my pocket.
Olivia: Now it’s out of my pocket
Peter: You wanted my father – now you got my father which falls in the category be careful what you wish for. Sweetheart.

Peter: Tell what else tom the file say about yours truly? How bad was it.
Olivia: I’m not at liberty to discuss it.
Peter: why don’t you go ahead and liberate yourself because I’m here now and I kind of feel like I deserve the truth. Don’t you?
{long pause}
Peter: There is no file
Olivia: I needed you back here
Peter: That was what- you were bluffing
Olivia: I was desperate
Peter: I’m usually good and reading people that’s sorta what I do.
Olivia: I could see you were in trouble anyone could see that
Peter: I could have stay, I could have stayed in Iraq…

While these exchanges are simple in nature, the direct and passionate way in which Olivia delivers them gets her whatever she needs from information to personnel. Olivia has been shaped by her past experiences (her relationship with her family and being experiment on as a child, specifically) and it has prepare her to lead the Fringe team.

Over the course of four seasons, the team learns a lot about themselves and each other while they investigate unusual events. Standout episodes include: Inner Child, August, Northwest Passage, Peter, Worlds Apart,

With story arcs that span and entire season that dealt with patterns, human experiments, trying to understand the motivations of the Observers and dealing with mad geniuses, Fringe has been one of the best shows on TV. While the show has moved to a weak storyline that has Peter and Olivia destined to be together romantically, the ultimate plot is Olivia journey to find out who is she.

Fauxlivia gets an honorable mention. With the introduction of the alternate universe in season three, we get to meet Fauxlivia. Her load in life has been an easier one, quick with a smile and love for her job and colleagues, Ann Torv has create the polar opposite of Olivia.

To learn more about Fringe secrets

 

 

 

 

 

With the conclusion of Fringe, I felt the need to revisit one of my favorite characters.  The final season did a disservice to the once powerful women of the show.  Olivia, Astrid and Nina were all reduced to standing in the shadow and acting only to propel the relationship between Walter and Peter.   From being an active and intelligent FBI agent fighting to solve unusual cases and saving the world, Olivia was reduce to moping first over the death of her daughter and then over Peter’s quest to avenge her death.

The overarching theme of the show seemed to be should there be limits to the pursue of science.  In addition to Walter’s struggle to come to terms with the consequences of his research and actions, Olivia’s journey also seemed equally important to this theme. From being experimented on as a child by Walter and William Bell, to being kidnapped by Walternate and having her personality altered by drugs, Olivia has been the face of the ethically struggle of science. This season, she has been strangely passive.   We don’t get to see the original bad-ass Olivia until the penultimate episode.  The season suffered from her mis-use.

Boo on you show runners!

Top women in Sci Fi – part 4

Kathryn Janeway

(Star Trek: Voyager)

“Women leaders are more assertive and persuasive, have a stronger need to get things done and are more willing to take risks than male leaders….Women leaders were also found to be more empathetic and flexible, as well as stronger in interpersonal skills than their male counterparts” – 2005 Caliper study

This quote is the very definition of Captain Janeway.  As the first female captain to anchor a television show, Janeway bought a different viewpoint to the captain’s chair.

When we first meet Janeway she is leading a mission to track down a Marquis ship in the Badlands near Deep Space 9.  After both ships are brought to the Delta quadrant by the Caretaker, the crews are stranded there by Janeway’s decision to protect the Ocampa over the assured return of her crew.  After consolidating the crews, Janeway pools their resources and takes on new members in order to keep her promises her to return the ship home to the Alpha quadrant.

A recurring theme throughout the run of Voyager is Janeway’s willingness to ignore the Prime Directive to achieve the greater good.  Known as General Order No. 1, the Prime Directive dictates that there can be no interference with the internal development of alien civilizations. (wikipedia.org)

This willingness is highlighted in “Counterpoint.” Voyager helps a telepathic species cross Devore Emporium. With no immediate benefit helping her new found friends and with the real threat of having her ship confiscated and her crew imprisoned, Janeway is ready to antagonize a xenophobic species. We can only guess that she is only motivated by her sense of justice.

Her impersonal skills are on display in “The Void.” Voyager becomes trapped in a starless void with countless other ships. The emptiness has turned some into ruthless pirates but Janeway begins to build alliances with various species in order to find the most effective way to escape.

Outside of Captain Sisko, Janeway is the only captain to consistently show a nurturing side.  Sisko paternal instincts were a natural fit given he raised a young son by himself.  While Janeway had no children, she was able to nurture various members of her crew (B’Elanna and Seven of Nine are prime examples) during their seven years together.

While not the first female captain in Star Trek, Janeway is definitely one of the most interesting.

Top 10 Women of Sci Fi – part 2

Up next Martha Jones

Martha Jones was the second companion to the tenth Doctor. When we first meet Martha in “Smith and Jones”, she is a medical student training at a London hospital. The Doctor checked in as a patient after noticing unusual activity in the area.  The hospital is whisked away to the moon by the Judoon to further their search for a fugitive alien. After escaping the moon and returning to earth, the Doctor initially offered Martha a onetime ride through time and space.  As always to alleviate his loneliness, the Doctor asked Martha to become his long time traveling partner.

Throughout her season and it subsequent appearances in story arcs in later seasons of Doctor Who and in Torchwood, we see Martha grow from a smart young student carrying an unrequited love for the Doctor to a resourceful doctor battling to save the earth from various threats. Stand-out episodes that trace the growth and confidence of Martha include: “42”, when Martha helps save a ship full of people after the doctor is taken over by an alien. “Human Nature”/”The Family of Blood” where Martha is left alone to protect the Doctor who had to store the memory of his life in order to hide from aliens who are threat him. In the season ending episodes “The Sound of Drums”/”Last of the Time Lords”, Martha must travel the earth alone trying to singlehandedly save the world while the Master holds the Doctor hostage.  Martha leaving the Doctor on her own terms helped propel this character forward. After the events in the “Last of the Time Lords”, Martha choose to help her family deal with the repercussions instead of continuing her travels. These episodes also showed that the Doctor trusted her like no other companion before or since and heavily relied on her intelligence and bravery.

Martha remains one of my favorite companions even though the writers hampered the character with the unnecessary unrequited love thread that weaved its way through her initial run.  In the beginning much was made of Freema Agyeman being the first permanent companion of color to travel with the Doctor, that it seemed the story runners never knew what to do with her.  Giving such thin material, Ms. Agyeman still brought Martha to life and you couldn’t help but root for her.

For additional information Martha Jones check out  Tardis Index File

Top 10 Women of Sci Fi

Science Fiction has always been a haven for diverse and complex women. This is a first in a series of my picks for the Top 10 Kick-Ass Women of Sci-Fi.

First up:

Zoe

(Firefly, Serenity)

The Woman Warrior is a iconic image in literature.  A fierce warrior who has long been portrayed as a celibate hunter who devotes her life and energy to fighting. Classically personified as Arcadian Artemis, goddess of Hunting and Chastity. Typically, Women warriors live and fight with other females and myths based in numerous cultures around the world.  The Amazons are a famous example.

In Firefly and later Serenity, we see Zoe turn this notion on its head.  We first meet Zoe on the battle field alongside Caption Mal Reynolds fighting for the Brown Coats against the Alliance.  After the war, she continues to serve alongside Mal onboard Serenity as his second in command. Instead of the archetypal women warrior, a female warrior who lives and fights among other warriors. Zoe is happily married to Wash, pilot of Serenity. Not only content in being married but excited to plan for a future with kids:

Wash: All I am sayin’ is that we are living pretty deep in the rough and tumble and I don’t seeing that changing  any time soon

Zoe: Nor do I

Wash: Well, I’m not sure now is the best time to bring a tiny little helpless person into our lives

Zoe: That excuse is getting little worn, honey

Wash: It’s not an excuse dear. It’s objective assessment. Can’t help that it stays relevant

Zoe: I don’t give a good …  about relevant, Wash, or objective. I ain’t so afraid of losing something that I ain’t gonna try and have it. You and I would make one beautiful baby and I want to meet that child one day. Period.

Hearts of Gold

Had Firefly lasted longer than 14 episodes, it would fascinating to explore other sides of Zoe as a wife and eventual mother.

Check out the fabulous Gina Torres on Geeks On, discussing her career and the state of women’s roles in Sci Fi.

Geekson.com