By Caryssa Locke
Princess Leia was the first heroine I
ever aspired to. I was four years old the first time I saw Star
Wars, and I loved her. She carried a blaster pistol, stood up for
herself and her galaxy, and didn’t back down, not even against
But when we played Star Wars as a kid,
I wanted to be Luke Skywalker. I wanted to be the Jedi with the cool
lightsaber. Little did I know at the time, that someday Princess Leia
would have her own lightsaber and be trained (we assume) as a Jedi.
That didn’t come to light until many years later, with Return of
In the 1970’s, it would have been
inconceivable for the kick butt main character to be a woman. Too
often, women were relegated to the damsel in distress, or at worst,
the reward for the hero. Particularly in genres like Fantasy and
Science Fiction. Princess Leia broke that mold. She led the
rebellion! Even though she didn’t wield a lightsaber, she still
fought for the galaxy, and she was the one who rescued Han Solo, not
the other way around. Now, with heroines like Buffy, Ripley, Sarah
Connor, Katniss, and the rise of urban fantasy as a genre, we see
kick butt women as main characters all of the time. It has become
something normal and accepted.
I think SFR is a reflection of that.
Science fiction has more female fans than ever before. Women don’t
watch shows like Battlestar Galactica or Game of Thrones
because their husbands or boyfriends like it. We watch them because
we are fangirls. Because we love Kara Thrace, and Daenerys Targaryen.
I think most of us who read and write SFR
started out as fans. While I loved books like Dune and Ender’s
Game growing up (and still do), these were not books written with
the female fan in mind. As a reader, I started exploring SFR to find
books that blended two of my favorite things: science fiction, and
romance, with a strong female heroine. As a writer, it was natural
for me to move in that direction as well. I think SFR exists as a
genre, and has grown in recent years to meet a need that exists.
Female fans want more. We want more kick butt heroines. We want more
science fiction that is written with us in mind.
According to RWA and Nielsen, in 2014,
82% of romance book buyers were women. It’s difficult to find
similar statistics for SF/F fans. However, it is clear that more
women read than men. In 2012, 56% of women in the United States read
at least one fiction book, with only 37% of men reading at least one
fiction book. More and more women are appearing at events that cater
to SF/F fans, for example, San Diego Comic-Con has seen a huge rise
in the number of female attendees.
What do all of these numbers mean?
Well, I think it shows a pattern. More women like fantasy and science
fiction than ever before. Women also like romance, and more women
read than men. Our “niche” genre is here to stay, and the heroine
is going to have a huge part in growing it larger.
Backlist to the Future: Pauline Baird Jones holds The Key…#scifirom #B2F #TBT - Backlist to the Future is a weekly Thursday feature highlighting science fiction romances from authors’ backlists. To be notified of future Backlist to the...
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