Sunday, July 24, 2011

Kick Ass Heroines

(I'm sorry I'm putting up this guest blog by Beth Barany late, I tried to send her a blogger link so she had total control of the formatting. It may not have worked, and I wasn't able to check because my wife and I spent a night in a hotel due to air conditioning problems in a heat wave.)

Kick Ass heroines, Bad Girls, in Science Fiction and Fantasy
by Beth Barany

David, thank you for having me on your blog to write about kick ass heroines in fantasy and science fiction.

Major confession up front: I love kick ass heroines in science fiction and fantasy and love to write and read about them, too.

I've recently published my first novel, a YA fantasy, Henrietta The Dragon Slayer. Yeah, she's a bad ass!

Henrietta is a bit of a bad girl as the story opens. She’s gettin’ out of Dodge, leaving her hero days behind, not wanting to be her kingsdom's hero anymore. She's leaving behind her responsibilities for a life in the sunny beaches down south. Her heart is hurting and she doesn’t even know it. Yet.


Henrietta, the legendary Dragon Slayer of the Kingdom of Bleuve, can’t stomach the thought of one more kill. Yet, in order to save her dying mentor, she must go on one last quest. But will misfit companions, seasickness, and an ego maniacal king derail the quest for the healing stone? And will she be able to cut past her conscience and kill the dragon?

Read an excerpt of Henrietta The Dragon Slayer here.

Where did the inspiration for Henrietta come from?

Other bad girls!

I devote this post to the bad girls and kick ass heroines I know and love, drawn mostly my favorite authors, books, movies and TV shows. And from a few surprises thrown in for good measure.

The Bad Girl archetype is a powerful and ancient one, and well represented in our modern stories.

The Bad Girl archetype is about reclaiming female power for the good of the community and for benefit of the Bad Girl, who sometimes becomes more than just a Bad Girl. But more on that in a future post.

I'll be doing a giveaway at the end of the month for a free copy of Henrietta The Dragon Slayer and picking a winner from all the people who comment during my blog tour, so please to chime in with your favorites!

In Science Fiction...
Elizabeth Moon writes smart science fiction featuring most often women space captains. Ms. Moon was one of the first women in the Marine Corps in the 1960s and her military knowledge flows through her stories like a second skin. I love reading about women facing leadership challenges in space. There is nothing like the threat of zero atmo to make a leader come alive.
My current favorite book of hers is Once a Hero in The Serrano Legacy series. I also loved the Vatta’s War series, and the stand-alone, Remnant Population.
Sharon Shinn writes fantasy and science fiction, for young adults and adults. The first book I read of hers is still my favorite: Mystic & Rider, the first in the Twelve House series. A hardened warrior devoted only to his king and a mystic shunned by her family but trusted by the king must roust out those that scheme in secret against the kingdom.
Her heroines are complex, the love stories unique and varied in each of her books, and her worlds feel so full and real.

In Fantasy...
I have a primary place in my heart for Nikita in the original Luc Besson film, La Femme Nikita.
She’s bad out of choice and circumstance. Then she gets a chance at redemption. Or does she? I like how she has the opportunity to remake her life.
Another kick ass heroine I like is Lara Croft in Tomb Raider.
She's a spoiled rich girl, or is she? Not just. She lost her beloved father early and seems to be driven by some sort of justice. She’s strong, she’s capable, and she won’t stop until she gets what she wants.
And then there's Lilu in The Fifth Element, another Luc Besson film.
She may not be considered a bad girl, because she’s supposed to save the world. But if the world is not worth saving she will let it be destroyed. That is definitely a Bad Girl trait, in my book. That takes guts, and the strength of doing what’s right, in the face of the potential horrible loss.

In Archetypes...
The ultimate bad girl is Kali, the Hindi goddess of birth and destruction, and eternal energy.
I’ve been drawn to her all my life, without consciously knowing why. Then in preparation for this article, I read this: “She is also revered as Bhavatarini (literally 'redeemer of the universe').”
I love stories where the Bad Girl gets redeemed. She’s on the outside looking in, her violent tendencies seemingly keeping her at odds with the expectations of what it means to be a woman.
Only through acceptance of her benefits to the community that both she and the community agree on, can she find her place in the community.

In History...
Lastly, I want to mention the book, Warrior Women: An Archaeologist’s Search for History’s Hidden Heroines by Jeannine Davis-Kimball, with Mona Behan.
From an editorial review at Amazon: “Nearly one-quarter of the women buried in some late Iron Age sites were either warriors or priestesses. Even the remainder ‘hearth women’ were important players in the tribes’ surprisingly egalitarian societies. Further, southern Kazakhstan’s famous ‘gold man’ was in fact, a ‘gold woman.’ ”

I know I come from a long line of warrior women, many of them viewed as Bad Girls from the culture of their day.
It’s time for us, for me, to reclaim our Badness and use it as a force for good! And use our considerable abilities to be kick ass heroines in our own lives.
Who are your favorite Bad Girl or Kick Ass Heroines?!

P.S. All who answer the question and comment on this post are eligible to enter my July book giveaway for a copy of Henrietta The Dragon Slayer (print or ebook -- your choice!) and also the blog tour Grand Prize, Henrietta's necklace, featured on the cover. All the Giveaway rules here: Henrietta The Dragon Slayer Summer Blog Tour. The novel is available is Amazon US, Amazon UK, Nook, Smashwords.

PPS. An earlier version of this article first appeared on my blog,


  1. Thanks for posting this, David! Here's the link to my excerpt:

  2. I'm partial to Trinity in the Matrix. Then there's Boudica, a famous queen of ancient Briton who led a rebellion against the Roman occupiers.

    P.S. I love the cover of Henrietta The Dragon Slayer. So cool! It sounds like the book is as awesome... Can't wait to read it!

  3. Funniest thing. I just mentioned this book (Henrietta) on my blog as one I'm currently reading. Two others I'm also into include a goddess/vampire mix (not sure how that happened) and a daywalker vampire. I may set aside the vamp books for awhile. Don't want to get oversaturated with blood.

    Other kick-ass heroines include my own Remy Belieux, a martial arts trainer and officer in the Incorporated Planets military force. Title: Ultimate Duty. Published by Eternal Press.

    Her kickass precursor, Nyra Hutchings, is pretty much the same plot, but written for a younger audience. No sex scenes. First Duty, originally published by Sam's Dot, and re-released myself.

  4. When I was a kid, I really liked Pippi Longstocking. She never assumed her gender or age limited her.

    In more general terms, I like people who claim whatever labels they want, but who do not define themselves by one label, and do not limit themselves or let others limit them by their labels.

  5. Still wanting to get a copy of that book, Beth. ;) My favorite kick ass girl was Catabrie in the Drizzit novels.

  6. Thanks for sharing. The book sounds great.

  7. Ann, Glad you like the cover! Thanks! And love Trinity and Boudica!

    Marva, Thanks for mentioning my book on your blog. And for sharig your fav heroines with us.

    Deirdre, Oh, yes, Pippi! I like what you say about labels. Thanks! Pippi is a great example of not falling into any one category.

    Stewart, i dont know Catabrie in the Drissit noevls. Will check her out.

  8. Beth, you might like The Flight of the Sorceress by Barry S. Willdorf. It's an historical novel based on real women and events that took place during the fall of the Roman Empire. The main characters are two women deemed heretics, a healer and the last librarian at the Library of Alexandria. I haven't gotten to read it yet, but it's on my list.