Why Do Women Heroes Kick Butt?

Sci-Fi Legend Reveals Why Women

Are Taking Over Movies, Science Fiction and Fantasy!

Topic Summary

It used to be that only guys went to action movies or read science fiction. It used to be that comics and video games were the sole territory of guys who couldn’t get dates. It used to be that only men could be action heroes.

Well, tell that to Angelina Jolie, Cameron Diaz, Sigourney Weaver, Zoe Saldana, Katherine Heigle, Megan Fox, and, well, just about any actress working in movies today. They might disagree, because they are all starring as strong, heroic characters in movies that are out this summer, including “Killers”, “Salt”, “Knight and Day”, “Jonah Hex”, “The Losers” and more.

David Weber, a New York Times best-selling author who is now launching his 15th book featuring his female hero Honor Harrington, called Mission of Honor, argues the point that women have come a long way in modern entertainment.

“Women have made science fiction, fantasy and action movies mainstream,” Weber said. “As recent as only 20 years ago, women weren’t as much characters as they were bait for villains, waiting to be rescued by a man. Today, women do the rescuing, and more and more women are watching them in movies, reading about them in books and even buying comics featuring female protagonists.”

Discussion Questions

What is it about today’s science fiction that has captured the imaginations of so many women?

  • How are the female heroes faring in the mainstream media, as well as in science fiction?
  • Who are your favorites, and why?
  • What inspired you to write science fiction?
  • What about your character Honor Harrington is so unique that she is now on her 15th book?

Topic Overview

David Weber thinks science fiction has come a long way.

“It used to be that the science fiction section in the book store was hidden away in the corner, and only those willing to be labeled geeks went near it,” said Weber, whose books own a serious piece of real estate in most book stores. “Today, it’s very prominent, as are graphic novels (remember when they were called comic books?), which are one of the largest parts of the store. And it’s not just the big recognizable franchises that are making money. Many less recognized books are being made into large movies. It’s not so much about whether people will recognize the title, anymore — it’s all about the story.”

Women have also come a long way in science fiction and fantasy, according to Weber.

“Back in the days of the pulp science fiction novels of the 1930s and ‘40s, women tended to be window dressing,” said Weber, whose primary heroine, Honor Harrington, is a female military commander. “They existed so they could be damsels in distress, always being tied to a ticking bomb or a rocket about to be shot off into space unless the male hero rescued them in the nick of time. These days, they’re heroes. I LOVED Sigourney Weaver’s role in Avatar. She had courage and heart, and was a lynchpin in the story — no window dressing there.”

While Sigourney Weaver may have been one of the most recognizable female heroes in the movies, dating back to the movie Alien, today’s top films are rife with female action stars.

Weber said that as women’s role in society at large has been accepted, even in the role of soldiers in combat, their role in science fiction and fantasy has benefited.

About David Weber

With more than six and a half million copies of his books in print and fourteen of his titles on the New York Times best seller list, David Weber is the science fiction publishing phenomenon of the decade. A lifetime military history buff, David Weber has carried his interest in history into his fiction. In the best-selling Honor Harrington series, the spirit of both C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower and history’s Admiral Nelson are evident. Mission of Honor is Weber’s 15th book featuring the character.

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