Anne (netmouse) wrote,

Female Friends

I keep accidentally starting topics I'd like to see discussion on, on fridays. When everyone is about to pay more attention to real life than livejournal for a while. (At least that seems to be the pattern.)

None-the-less, I've had this on my mind for a bit and I wanted to bring it up:

Where are all the women friends in SF?

There are some celebrated friendships in fantasy and science fiction. Frodo and Sam. Gandalf and Sam. Han Solo and Chewbacca. Yoda and Obi-wan. Spock and Kirk. Friendships that involve great and enduring loyalties. The sturdy dependable friendships of men.

So where are the pairs of female friends? Where are the bosom friends who listen to each other's fears and cheer each other on? Where are the women who mentor younger women, and the younger ones who pull older ones out of their shells? Where are the women who pick up where the last woman left off or fell sick or needed a break, and keep their society going?

Increasingly, I see strong female characters in SF. But they are isolated. I do not see the social networks I see in the SF fannish community represented in the pages of our literature. I am starting to see some, mostly in SF written by women, and I wonder if our female friendships are such a mystery, that men do not see them clearly enough to depict them, or if strong female characters are still so close to men with breasts that though they've stepped up into the role of "one of the guys" to take on leading positions, they are still not friends with each other, and the supporting roles that might be taken up by other women are still given to people with hair on their chests.

I can think of exceptions, and am pleased to realize that one author who comes to mind is Robert Heinlein. Criticised in many ways for his depictions of women, he still wrote about women who were close, affectionate friends to one another, and who enabled each others' successes.

I'm trying to think of other well-known authors who have and I'm failing. Orson Scott Card? No. Asimov? Nope. Even some prominent female authors didn't in their best-known works. McCaffrey has something of a friendship between women in Crystal Singer, but it isn't close friendship. In the dragonrider books? There were only a few, not counting the bond between the queens and their riders.

This thought process started when I read Crystal Rain, by Tobias Buckell, on Monday. It's a great first novel, well paced, intriguing, with good characters and a well-realized world setting. And after I read it swiftly in one day (hey, I liked it, I'm telling you!) I found myself commenting to scalzi that I was wishing that some of the females were Characters (with a capital C) or that at least one of the Characters had really been female. There is one main character who is technically a woman but there is almost no way in which she takes a different role than a man might have, and her only friend is an older man.

Perhaps this is a general problem with science fiction, that in telling sweeping epics we tend to create characters who are terrible lonely and isolated. Very few of our characters have to call home to say they're running late but are on their way to dinner. Which is what I just did, so I've got to go. But please, tell me, are there any friendships between women in SF that you celebrate unto yourself? Where are they to be found and read?

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