A Time for Heroes

Friday, October 8, 2010


I've been thinking recently about favorite characters, both in books and movies/TV.  I still love all the usual suspects: strong women, troubled heroes, characters of ambiguous morality.  But what I love about them changes over time.

It's only been a handful of years... 5 or 6? since I was introduced to the work of Lois McMaster Bujold, and now she's one of my very favorite authors.  (Sample book free at Baen!) Her main series, The Vorkosigan Saga, is a great example of what I'm talking about.  When I first read the books, all in a rush, I loved all of them, but was most interested in the first few about Miles: his adventures as a young man, the warrior women who tended to surround him and their daring escapades.  I still enjoy those books, but the ones I reread now are mostly the later ones, that center on coming to terms with adulthood, his parents' long romance, and the strength of Cordelia and Ekaterin, both strong female characters who are mentally, emotionally and politically strong, more than physically.

As a younger reader I needed my female characters to be badass on the same level as the guys.  Nowadays I'm more impressed when an author, particularly in fantasy, can sidestep the fallacy of making all women live in a strict dichotomy of either being “rebellious warriors” or “damsels in distress”, by making them interesting without giving them a completely unbelievable background. If I read another book where the princess has secret combat training, I may scream.

It starts to make me think it's a world made up exclusively of female mercenaries fighting to be recognized above their housewifely sisters.  And yes, that's meant to remind you of the last few panels of this.

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