Top Women of Sci Fi – part 5 – UPDATED

Olive, you were always the strongest – Nick Lane

Olivia Dunham

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!

Fringe Rewatch

I’m in the middle of re-watching Fringe. I love all of the little tidbits that I am catching upon my second viewing. In the episode “The Road Not Taken” (air date May 5, 2009), Olivia and Peter are off to interview a conspiracy theorist, Emmanuel Grayson, regarding video of people spontaneously combusting. As he explains his theories of what going on, he mentions the upcoming invasion by a group of rogue Romulans bent on attacking the Federation. Nice shout out to the Star Trek movie released later that year.

An Evening of Love and Passion…

Who would ever think that the dark minds of Edgar Allan Poe and Clive Barker would inspire an original dance pieces by Astra Dance Company

The evening began with In Dreams inspired by I Dreamed I Spoke in Another’s Language. While a woman (Cynthia Marie Mendez) lies sleeping, a man (Ben Sayles) dances into her dreams. Various music and video images helped convey the different moods of the piece, whose goal is to communicate the different types of love.  The second segment was the strongest element of the piece, which conveyed a believable sensuality missing from the rest of the dance. With his acrobatic background, Sayles brings an air of vitality to the dance.

The evening’s main piece – Eleonora is a tale of loss and ultimately, a tale of redemption (director’s note) – is narrated by David Wilkinson. Andrew Claus stars as Pyrros, Georgia Reed as Eleonora and Autumn Fawn as Ermengarde.  The backdrop should receive its own credit. The digital screen really helped to express a since of time and place.  Pyrros and Eleonora lived and found love in the Valley of Many Colored Grass.  Claus and Reed do a great job of expressing love and loss.  They make up the night’s strongest dancing pair.  Claus and Fawn to a serviceable job in the second part of Eleonora and the piece ends on a surprising up note considering the source.

Tickets are at available on or

Two shows 7:30 and 10:00 at the El Portal Theatre through February 25

Links to the original poems:

I Dreamed I Spoke in Another’s Language


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:


(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.

Quick Movie Review

One of the best movies this year. Set in the near future, Hugh Jackman plays the unlikeable Charlie Kenton, who fights robots in the underground fighting scene. Destroying robots as fast as he can purchase them, Canton is soon saddled with new responsibilities: taking care of his son for the summer The movie really gels when we meet, Canton’s son Max Kenton played by Dakota Goyo. In stereotypical fashion, the two do not get along at first due to a long estrangement. Soon they are knee deep in the world of underground fighting. We meet the heart of the movie when the hero, Atom an expressive robot, is found in a scrap yard. The movie boosts great robot bouts and you soon wishing for a real WRB association.

Tim Burton at LACMA


For over 30 years, Burton has had a creative career with highs and lows.  For the past two years, an exhibit has been touring the world giving his fans a brief insight into his creative mind. 

The entrance hinted at the freakiness that await you inside.

Unfortunately, the museum staff kept a vigilant watch and banned all photograph from the exhibit.








A timeline on the first wall outline Burton’s history was one of the first items to greet the visitor, along with a museum attendant barking that no pictures were allowed.  This was to be an annoying recurring theme all night.

I was surprised by the amount of written detail included in the exhibition.  Mementos from Burton’s childhood including sketches and award winning signs produced for local businesses.  One fascinating item a book mock up sent to Disney along with the rejection letter.

Burton studied at CalArts and there were a significant number of drawing and sketches from this period. Rick Heinrichs, a fellow graduate of  CalArts, created three dimension images of Burton’s work.  Together they produced an absolute highlight of the show: Vincent.

Vincent, short stop motion film about a young boy who dreamed of being Vincent Price.  Although only seven, Vincent had ghoulish dreams straight out of the mind of Edgar Allan Poe.  Burton wrote and directed while Rick Heinrichs created the figures for the stop motion film. 

Another highlight were the demented sketches create while Tim worked as a concept artist at Disney.  Standouts included a man’s eyes undressing a woman and what not to do with a constipated dog, which made me laugh out loud.

Of course, there were dozens of props from feature and short films including the carousel hat and extending arms from Beetlejuice; Catwoman’s outfit from Batman returns, costume from Edward Scissorshands, etc.  In addition, there a lot of conceptual drawings, which was great so you can see where the project started and ended.

Interestingly there were a lot of conceptual photography.

I appreciate seeing how Burton’s style evolved through the years. The basic tenants of his work could be seen in his earliest works.  I also forgot a lot of the great work that Burton has down over the years like James and the Giant peach, which was sorely underrepresented. 

 Tim Burton at LACMA until midnight on October 31, 2011. 

 For those of you who can’t make it – checkout the following websites for images:

Tim Burton Exhibit at LACMA

Tim Burton’s filmography