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02 June 2009 @ 05:48 pm
Programming Inspiration  
Hi, everyone!

I’ve been pondering my programming submissions. The submissions deadline has been extended to June 7, in case you haven’t heard, so if you’re on the fence or if there’s a topic you’d like to discuss, please do put together a proposal! Everyone’s welcome to submit, whether you have a PhD in Literature or Women’s Studies, are a woman working in publishing, or like me, you only have degrees that are utterly useless in this field, but you’re a huge fan of women fantasy writers and women fantasy characters.

Anyway! I have been pondering my programming submissions, which are bouncing around in my head like pinballs, and I thought maybe we could all use a little inspiration and celebration.

So do tell me, please, who are your favorite female fantasy characters and why do you love them so much?

Here are some of mine:

Keladry, from Tammy Piece’s Protector of the Small quartet: Kel is the first openly female knight in over a hundred years, and she trains and achieves her knighthood despite ongoing bullying and undermining from others in her life. Also, her mom is a badass and her queen is a badass and every time I read her conversation with Alanna after Kel’s achieved her, ahem, distaff shield, I have a little cry.

Ellen, from Cinda Williams Chima’s Warrior Heir, et al: I can’t really tell you why Ellen is a badass without giving away huge plot points, but Ellen is a complete badass. If you’ve read the books, I bet you know what I mean!

The White Witch, from C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: Yeah, I know C. S. Lewis had serious women issues (“Battles are ugly when women fight,” indeed), but from his women issues sprung one of the most terrifying, powerful villains in fantasy literature.

Alice, from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: I don’t know that Carroll thought he was telling anything other than a cute adventure story, but Alice has always been one of my favorite heroines because she finds herself having an adventure, and uses her wits to stand on her own two feet and navigate Wonderland (all that eating and drinking of unknown substances aside!).

Meg, from Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time: Okay, okay, Wrinkle is more sci-fi than fantasy, but it was the first book I read as a child that had a “difficult” heroine and praised her for being “difficult.” Meg, I ♥ you!

And yours?

thistle in greythistleingrey on June 3rd, 2009 02:50 am (UTC)
Hmm, this is almost as hard as "Which are your favorite books?" :)

Joanna from Barbara Hambly's The Silent Tower + The Silicon Mage, quite possibly because she's a computer programmer (in books published during the 1980s) who keeps her head despite stepping into a world very foreign to her own and making a difference there. *sidles past spoilers*

Ariane of Greer Gilman's Moonwise, who has one of the spookiest quests told in the best-fitting language ever.

Aliera e'Kieron and Sethra Lavode, both of Steven Brust's Dragaera books (particularly Five Hundred Years After): Aliera kicks ass gracefully and with singular determination, and Sethra is an ancient sorceress who moonlights as [spoiler] to keep from falling out of touch with younger acquaintances. That's a flat description, not the reasons why they're awesome, but the latter are necessarily story-destructively spoilery.

Faris Nallaneen of Caroline Stevermer's A College of Magics, who shoulders responsibility. Ack, spoilers. That'll have to do. For similar reasons but in very different circumstances, Polly in Diana Wynne Jones's Fire and Hemlock, and not only because I'm a sucker for ballads transformed intelligently into novels.... In like manner, Arry of Pamela Dean's The Dubious Hills.

Arya, the tomboy of G. R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire, despite my conflicted relationship with those books' setting. (I know too much about the material on which he draws to believe in the particular world he's built, much though I respect how he's done it.)

And yes, L'Engle's Meg is indeed difficult and awesome. :) If I can add another SF heroine: Dairine Callahan of Diane Duane's So You Want to Be a Wizard et seqq. I always respected Nita, her older sister, more, but Dairine has harder battles to overcome--and when I was a teenager, I wanted that fictional Apple III.

This is depressingly culturally monotonic, but the not-European-or-mainstream-American examples that come to mind are all SF, not fantasy. hmmm.
misscake: Booksmisscake on June 3rd, 2009 07:43 pm (UTC)
I think one of my new favorites in Anigel from The Black Trillium. She starts off thinking she is physically, mentally, and emotionally the weakest of her sisters, but in the end she shows strength in all of these areas, far more than she ever thought possible. It's the idea that all of us have the ability to rise, not only beyond other's expectations, but beyond those of our own, that really appeals to me.
Negotiation Barbiepraetorianguard on June 4th, 2009 06:51 pm (UTC)
I thought the flaws, foibles and strength of all three of the girls in that book were really well drawn. :)
Tour Guide Barbie: book addictkinderjedi on June 3rd, 2009 07:58 pm (UTC)
Meg, from Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time: Okay, okay, Wrinkle is more sci-fi than fantasy, but it was the first book I read as a child that had a “difficult” heroine and praised her for being “difficult.” Meg, I ♥ you!

Yes, I have to agree with you about Meg. *loves*

I'm also fond of Mel from Sherwood Smith's Crown Duel, because she grows so much as the story goes on, learning that things are not always black and white.

And I love Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter series, because she's so fabulously open-minded that it would never to her that something can't be done, or that just because something can't be seen, it doesn't mean it's not real.

Edited at 2009-06-03 08:01 pm (UTC)
The Katanasmilie117 on June 4th, 2009 12:13 am (UTC)
Mel is awesome! She can handle a sword as well as ballgown and a fan while at court. :)
The Katana: *bounces*smilie117 on June 4th, 2009 12:10 am (UTC)
So do tell me, please, who are your favorite female fantasy characters and why do you love them so much?
Ellen, from Cinda Williams Chima’s Warrior Heir, et al: ...

---*agrees* I know what you mean! Ellen is totally a badass. :D

Some other favorites include:
Jane Roland from Naomi Novik's Temeraire series: She's not a main character, rather secondary in the scheme of things, but I think she is awesome at what she does and how she says exactly what is on her mind, even if it throws Laurence off and for a loop time and again. She's an aviator and so has her own dragon too! :D

Katsa from Kristin Cashore's Graceling: Some people are born with an extreme skill known as a Grace. Katsa has the Grace of killing, but hates that fact. However, Katsa eventually learns the truth of her own Grace and manages to kickass along the way.
delightfully mediocre: matildanotasecretagent on June 4th, 2009 02:25 am (UTC)
It's really hard to choose favorites! Hmm. A few of my favorites that immediately come to mind are:

Alia, from Dune by Frank Herbert. She's decidedly flawed (and admittedly the Dune books are probably considered sci-fi, but if Meg counts - who I also ♥ - I'm counting Alia), frankly in the books following Dune she's devious and nuts - but it's not really her fault. She's powerful and makes the most of it. At one point I think she even means well.

Matilda, from Matilda by Roald Dahl. She's so smart, her smarts start leaking out her eyes and moving things around because she's not being challenged enough in school. She's insanely clever and for a kindergartner (first-grader?), kicks some serious ass.

Coraline, from Coraline by Neil Gaiman (maybe I just like books with girls' names in the titles). I haven't seen the film, but what I've heard from friends suggests a significant change to her character (presentation topic?) from a brave and intelligent young girl to a girl who can't solve problems on her own and needs the help of a little boy not present in the novel. What?! Yikes.

I don't know if this counts (not only is it a comic, but it might also be a bit sci-fi slanted), but 355 from the graphic novel Y: the Last Man by Brian K. Vaughn is interesting and fantastic. While she appears at first to be a one-dimensional ass-kicking woman from a mysterious government agency (soooo done), her character is slowly explored and revealed over the course of the comic as she spends more time with the title character, and it's fantastic to watch/read.

And I adore Ginny Weasley - probably an obvious choice, but Ginny rules.
I'm shiny, Captain.lessthanpie on June 4th, 2009 02:35 pm (UTC)
I LOVE 355. She is so, so awesome.
delightfully mediocrenotasecretagent on June 4th, 2009 11:25 pm (UTC)
I just realized that all my choices, save Ginny, were created by men. Whaaaaat? That might be weird.
(Deleted comment)
delightfully mediocrenotasecretagent on June 10th, 2009 03:09 am (UTC)
I think it does. A quick glance at my bookshelves reveals that most of my books were written by men in general, but the only female-penned fantasy novels I have boil down to Twilight, Harry Potter, and a few books I adored as a child that nobody else will have heard of. Weird.
artemisgreyartemisgrey on June 4th, 2009 02:37 pm (UTC)
Jaenelle Angelline, of the Black Jewels Trilogy. She embodies every female aspect, and she doesn't need a man to validate her, although she has several lovely ones devoted to her.

Katsa of Graceling. She refuses to change herself in order to fit in the way society thinks she should. She finds a way to love without giving up any part of who she is.

Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games. She's self sufficient, and driven by brutal commonsense but not without a heart

Valeriana Ebonstar of Villians by Necessity. She a bad girl. A very bad girl. And she's perfectly happy that way.

Kitiara uth Matar of the original Dragonlance Trilogy. She a woman who know what she wants, how to get it, and what the price is going to be.

I love female characters that are strong individuals, who have friends, and rely on friends, but who can function just as well on their own. My biggest turnoff is when a strong female lead starts doing stupid things for love, or changing herself for love. Love is good, and it can be confusing so making mistakes is okay. But when the fundamentals of a strong female character get negated by love and everything that goes with it, if they suddenly become dependent on their significant other - even if that person is another female - I loose respect for them and it ruins the book for me.
misscake: Sirensmisscake on June 4th, 2009 06:18 pm (UTC)
But when the fundamentals of a strong female character get negated by love and everything that goes with it, if they suddenly become dependent on their significant other - even if that person is another female - I loose respect for them and it ruins the book for me.

YES! It's not that I mind a romance at all, but sometimes it feels like it's thrown in for reasons that do not advance the plot or character and it becomes very difficult to read. Yay for finding someone else who feels this way!!
halliethalliet on June 4th, 2009 07:06 pm (UTC)
Piling on to say me too. I love a good romance, but I don't need one (to happen simultaneously with an adventure, for example) . I've seen it handled well--Graceling and Crown Duel are two that spring to mind.
artemisgreyartemisgrey on June 4th, 2009 07:07 pm (UTC)
Don't know if you're going to Sirens (sounds stupid, but I presume that LiveJournel users can post even if they're not going) but I am and I'd thought about proposing something to do with the whole love angle. Only problem is that I don't have any credentials and I can't even say that I've had much experience with love myself, because I haven't. But it's good to know someone out there gets my position on that subject! :)
Sometimes, I feel as though love is thrown in on female leads as an afterthought. 'Oh, and since she's a girl, she fell in love and the guy took care of her forever. The end' As if there COULDN'T possibly be a happy or satisfying ending if the girl didn't find herself a guy (or girl).
misscake: Sirensmisscake on June 4th, 2009 08:20 pm (UTC)
I am definitely going!

I toyed with the idea myself, but time just got away from me this month (work, end of school year, funerals, etc.) and I haven't had time to focus on putting a proposal together of my own but I totally think you should propose something (but hurry because the deadline is approaching fast!) on this.
artemisgreyartemisgrey on June 4th, 2009 08:41 pm (UTC)
So, I'm going to go home and toy with the idea of proposing a roundtable discussion. I looked at what's been approved thus far, and the only listed roundtable discussion isn't on the subject, but compliments my idea...
I'm shiny, Captain.: willow -by ladydewinterlessthanpie on June 4th, 2009 05:01 pm (UTC)
Clary Goodwin, from Terrier and Bloodhound. This isn't her story of finding herself or whatever; Clary already knows just who she is, and she's perfectly comfortable with herself, a tough cop and a happily married woman without having to choose one or the other. I love that she's the scary one compared to her much more physically imposing partner, and she keeps the crime off the streets mostly by knowing which battles are worth fighting and when it's better to look the other way. She's such a good role model, both in the story and for the reader.

Annabeth Chase, the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. It's not her story, but Annabeth often saves the day with her brains, and she chooses to fight with a knife instead of a sword even though it's harder because of [spoiler]. Plus, she wants to be an architect. How cool is that?

Morgaine. Okay, I hate hate hated The Mists of Avalon, but if it had just focused on Morgaine's story, I might have liked it. She was kind of badass, taking off on her own all the time, refusing to marry, and generally trying to save her world from the idiocy of the menfolk. I like Morgaine.

Willow Rosenberg. No way could Buffy have saved the world so many times without Willow's help. I loved how she grew into herself without ever changing her geeky awesome ways.

Granny Weatherwax and Susan Sto Helit, from Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. I can't say why Granny is so fantastic without giving away the plots of several books, but I think DEATH is a little bit afraid of her and so she wins. And Susan is the best nanny ever, because she knows there really are monsters under the bed but she just isn't going to take any crap from them.

Also, though already mentioned, Luna Lovegood and Katsa and 355. ♥
Negotiation Barbiepraetorianguard on June 4th, 2009 05:07 pm (UTC)
When are you going to cave to my constant whining and do a roundtable on sidekicks? When? ♥
I'm shiny, Captain.: letter from bad horse is hardcorelessthanpie on June 4th, 2009 05:16 pm (UTC)
I was just going to ask when I ever give into your whining, but since the answer is "almost always", I guess I won't bother except to say: um, now, maybe?
Negotiation Barbiepraetorianguard on June 4th, 2009 06:50 pm (UTC)
:P But all these awesome sidekick/supporting girls that you love: Clary, Hermione, Annabeth (though I'm totally a Thalia girl, surprise). And girls as sidekicks (especially girls as sidekicks to boys) deserves discussion.

Deserves, I tell you! *shakes fist at sky*

Speaking of Thalia, there's an awesome warrior girl. The shield of doom, the lightning bolts, the [spoiler]. She's awesome. Thank you, Rick Riorden.
I'm shiny, Captain.lessthanpie on June 4th, 2009 07:05 pm (UTC)
I think there's an interesting dynamic in both girls as sidekicks to boys and boys as sidekicks to girls (Xander!).

Thalia IS an awesome warrior. Riordan did a good job with the girls in what could have been just a story about a boy. Besides Annabeth and Thalia, there's Artemis and Athena and Rachel and Percy's mom (Her story is really interesting, though it's so much in the background.), and I kind of loved the meaning of "The Last Olympian". That was unexpected.
delightfully mediocre: matildanotasecretagent on June 4th, 2009 11:24 pm (UTC)
I can't believe I forgot Willow! Good choice. She's an amazing example of someone, like you say, growing into herself. So much better than forgetting who one's self is!

It's been way too long since I've read any Discworld, but Granny Weatherwax is an excellent choice. ♥
auror fanny pants: Alanna Lioness Rampent by innerslytherinmagic_at_mungos on June 7th, 2009 03:07 pm (UTC)
Clary is indeed made of win. I love her so much!
halliethalliet on June 4th, 2009 05:46 pm (UTC)
I agree with many of the above, and a couple different sorts of fantasy women that weren't mentioned that I've liked a lot:

Reason in the Magic or Madness series. She's an urban fantasy heroine where math is her magic!

If you consider steampunk under the fantasy umbrella, Hester Shaw and Anna Fang (and even Katherine Valentine) in Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines. I love how Hester breaks the mold of the beautiful love interest, how Anna is the pirateyest of queens and definitely wears her pilot pants unashamedly, and even how Katherine doesn't run out to save the world, but doesn't accept the status quo.

And finally, I love Violet for being smart, but I really, really love Sunny Baudelaire (if you'll consider my very large fantasy umbrella) for proving that even if you're just a baby, you can do a hell of a lot.
General Manda: FCkettricken Sacrificegeneralmanda on June 5th, 2009 02:12 am (UTC)
Althea Vestrit from Robin Hobb's Liveship Traders. I couldn't help but love her from the start--such a willful tomboy! A very determined character that drove me through a lot of emotions.

Kettricken from Robin Hobb's Farseer Trilogy and Tawny Man Trilogy. What I wouldn't give to be a vixen in her guard! Truly, she is Sacrifice...

Aisling Grey from Katie MacAlister's Aisling Grey, Guardian Novels. These books are like drugs. Hilarious and steamy with that twist of classic fantasy. Aisling is a brilliant action/mystery/romance lead... how can you not want to run around foreign cities with a demon lord/guardian/wyvern's mate?

Laurana Kanan from the Dragonlance books. I think a bit of me always wanted to be The Golden General after I first read these books a long long time ago...
(Deleted comment)
delightfully mediocrenotasecretagent on June 10th, 2009 03:06 am (UTC)
I don't know why I forgot Aly! She's fantastic.
auror fanny pants: Alanna of Trebod and Olau by innerslythemagic_at_mungos on June 7th, 2009 03:10 pm (UTC)
Most of the women form the Winding Circles series. They all know who they are and aren't afraid of standing up for what they believe in.