Most feminist moments in sci-fi history



I’d like to nominate Samantha Carter in Stargate, as well as Lieutenant Susan Ivanova and Ambassador Delenn in Babylon 5, to be added to that list - it always saddens me to know those shows continute to remain so largely underappreciated.

That said, I’m curious to hear who other readers and commenters would like to see added! Let us know which female sci-fi characters you’ve been inspired by!



There’s an odd comment in the article that the author “feels sorry” for someone who hasn’t read Octavia Butler. I’m not sorry for them at all – I’m jealous! Because they still get to read it for the first time.


What about Miss Austen’s contributions?

The one who I am surprised was not mentioned is Sheri S. Tepper: (although, I doubt that she has any major “moments” in her career)

Sheri Stewart Tepper (born July 16, 1929) is an American writer of science fiction, horror and mystery novels. She is known for feminist science fiction, often with an ecofeminist slant.
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I only got one paragraph into this article. How can the author possibly maintain credibility after summarily dismissing Robert Heinlein as writing almost exclusively about his own demographic?

He did no such thing. In fact, he was notably far ahead of his time in creating characters who were absolutely not from his demographic, even in his earlier juveniles.

Podkayne of Mars revolved around a teenage girl at a time when that was unthinkable in science fiction. While the hero in The Star Beast was an all-American boy, the ruler of the planet Earth is an African, Mr Kiku. Rod Walker, the main character in Tunnel in the Sky, is black.

He did even more in his Hugo award winning work. Juan ‘Johnny’ Rico, the hero of Starship Troopers, is Filipino. Manuel Garcia O’Kelly-Davis, the lead in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is a melding of many ethnicities as the name suggests.

While everyone is at least partly a product of their time and Heinlein didn’t even describe himself as tolerant, he was notable for trying to break down barriers. His most important characters consistently span barriers, of gender, race, age, sexuality and religion.

I’d argue that he should be all over this article.


Dana Scully Babysits Fox Mulder in The X-Files

Heh heh heh. It’s funny because it’s true.


Am I doing this right?


The author also tries to pull the standard “Literary books dealing with obvious science fictional topics aren’t really science fiction but speculative fiction” (in regard to Atwood’s Handmaiden’s Tale) which is one of my pet peeves. Why do people feel that calling something science fiction is an insult?


Surely the first woman to win a Hugo for fiction and the first woman to win a Nebula (and also used to make the actual Nebula trophies) should get a mention. From Pern to Ballybran, her work has always featured strong, brave, competent women; indeed, her first published novel was a direct swipe at the teatment of women in “modern” sci-fi works.

Anne McCaffrey


So a “top ten list” type article for political correctness basically?

Anyway since it is mandatory to complain about one’s favorite genre example being excluded from a list, I hereby formally object to Chris Moriarty’s Spin trilogy not being present in the article.

“ZOMG PATRIARCHY!!!eleventy1111” or something like that I guess?

Yeah I suppose. If you have no sympathy for the struggles of women to be accepted on merit in literature or society in general, you could probably read it that way.


What a lovely straw man! Wherever did you get it?

You’re welcome to expand on your comment and force me to reconsider mine. I’m not sweating it just yet.


Lieutenant Commander when the character first appeared, Commander for most of the show, Captain when she left.

Hell yeah. Even with those first few episodes and the terrible lines they gave her at first. Amanda Tapping, the actress who played her, has also talked about something that I’d say shows dedication as an actor. Carter got a lot of technobabble lines because she’s an astrophysicist. Amanda Tapping would get those lines and actually do research so she’d know the science behind them.

Because one time they read a story or watched a movie that was dumb and they didn’t like the experience. That story was from the science fiction section, probably from the middle of a little subsection from the same series of books or movies that look like something they wouldn’t like, either. So, because the massive city-sized dump truck full of entertainment they’re firehosed with must be filtered, they add a filter, “science-fiction stories are often simplistic tripe desperately hanging from the thread of a single improbable premise.” That filter isn’t necessarily wrong, they’ve inadvertently discovered the filter that can be applied to all genres, including the genre of “literature”.

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My initial comment was on the article itself rather than whether or not I have an opinion on “the struggles of women to be accepted on merit in literature ore society in general”. You might have noted that I also commented on the omission of an award winning hard SF/cyberpunk trilogy by a woman with a female lead character as well but instead you chose to cherry pick and setup a straw man reply. It was in fact a straw man since you didnt actually address my full comment but rather chose to make an assumption on my position rather than asking for clarification.

As to why I dismissed the article as a top ten list, there was little actual content besides listing authors/characters and based on the writer’s omissions (tip of hat to @dawtrina) and the seemingly forced usage of the politically correct term “cisgender”, Finally, there was nothing in the article to justify the headline claim of most feminist moments in sci-fi history at all. The article was in fact underwhelming.

I was following along until Starbuck…

No, nope, that character was one of the many reasons I stopped watching. And it has little to do with Starbuck just being female. As pointed out you can have serious badass potential in either gender…but this version of Starbuck was just too much a girl. I don’t say that in some sexist way, I honestly like Katee Sackhoff in a lot of other roles, but I’m not even sure what the producers were going for here. Because you can’t just say, alright the male Starbuck was all alpha male, testosterone all the time, so lets make that into some type of female Starbuck. That’s only vaguely what happened…instead you ended up with a somewhat emotionally unstable Starbuck who swings wildly from arrogant badass to pity party for one. Which for me makes little sense, perhaps with enough back story I could get there, but from the get go she’s all over the map. And I don’t see it having a lot to do with exploring the character or something, if anything I’d pick Aeryn Sun to be the basis of Starbuck. In 4 seasons she goes from military commando to badass renegade who develops a heart.

Speaking of which, I believe Lois McMaster Bujold has five Hugo awards. (Four for novels and one for a novella) and three Nebulas. Connie Willis: eleven and seven, respectively.

Why do people feel that calling something science fiction is an insult?

I don’t see where the author of the article insults science fiction or implies that it is lesser than speculative fiction. His example of The Handmaid’s Tale doesn’t feature science or technology in a way that’s necessary or central to the narrative. The only thing that makes it vaguely science-fiction-ish is that it happens in a post nuclear war US. In general, ‘speculative fiction’ describes it more accurately than ‘science fiction’. Personally, I’d be tempted to classify it as horror considering how harrowing and claustrophobic the premise is.

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