Best 10 Heroines of Literary Sci-Fi & Fantasy — Part 2

[Editor’s note: This continues Christina “DZA” Marie’s list of the top ten heroines in literary sci-fi and fantasy. Part One of this series posted yesterday.]

  1. Katniss Everdeen, from Hunger Games

The second person on this list whose story isn’t named after a guy! (The whole “so many stories are centered around and named after men/boys and girls can only be supporting characters” thing is a post for another time. For now, let’s just celebrate the fact that the Hunger Games story stars a girl.)

Annoying love triangle aside, Katniss leads a revolution with some cameras and arrows. After surviving a gladiator ring . . . er, gladiator forest. And she did it all for her sister! I know we’re supposed to pretend that movies don’t exist here, but every time I hear her scream I volunteer! I just get chills. That was done so well.

  1. Daenerys Targaryen, from A Song of Ice and Fire (or Game of Thrones)

George R. R. Martin’s series provides a wide cast of powerful women. Sansa has finally gotten interesting, Arya is a freaking assassin, Cersei is such a bitch . . . but honestly the true heroine here would be Daenerys. In such a dark, gray world, she’s one of the few characters who is a genuine good guy. (Yes, she is! The woman is literally crusading to make the world a better place. She’s not perfect, but admit it: Westeros would be a much better place under her rulership.)

Of course, there are plenty of ways to make the world a better place without sitting on an ungodly uncomfortable throne forged from the swords of your enemies, and for most of book one, Dany is fine taking a backseat and avoiding the big, world-changing stuff. But then she claims one of the most dangerous traits a woman can have: ambition. She now has to walk a tightrope between her desire for power and her compassion for people.

Oh, and then she has to worry about ice zombies.

  1. Lia, from Nova

Nova is a relatively new futuristic sci-fi book by Margaret Fortune, the first of her ongoing Spectre War series with Lia as a very prominent figure.

We meet Lia when she realizes she’s a genetically engineered human bomb . . . that’s a dud. She spends all of Nova trying to figure out who she is, who sent her, why they wanted her to blow up a space station, etc. Kind of a tricky topic in this day and age, but a relevant one that Fortune handles with skill.

Lia is likable because she’s a very relatable sixteen-year-old in that she’s trying to discover herself, albeit on a much more extreme level than most teenagers go through. She’s also smart, but in a different way than Hermione and Annabeth. She goes from apathetic (and somewhat sociopathic, considering how fine she is killing thousands of people at the start of the book) to one of the most compassionate characters I’ve ever read, and in the end . . .

Well, spoiler.

  1. Jossette Dupre, from The Guns Above

Another new series on the SFF scene, Robyn Bennis’ Signal Airship novels are dieselpunk military sci-fi, with a feminist perspective. Seriously, this story rocks.

Jossette Dupre is the first woman to be appointed captain of an airship in her country, which is at war. She’s at once very confident and very insecure, knowing that her career and life hang in a very delicate balance.

She’s also sarcastic and sassy as fuck. One of those unapologetic, “Yes, I am a woman. Yes, I am in charge. No, I will not sugarcoat anything for you.” I may be a little in love.

  1. Danny Tozer, from the Nemesis series

What happens when a closeted trans girl inherits the powers of the superhero Dreadnought? She gets her ideal female body and a whole mountain of trouble.

The Nemesis series is what would happen if Marvel ever truly dedicated itself to diversity. (Black Panther is a big step in the right direction. They just need to make a million more.) You have superheroes, but like all public figures they are embroiled in controversy and . . .*sigh* politics. As such, when the most powerful superhero turns out to be a queer trans girl, it causes problems.

Danny Tozer handles these problems the way any teenager would: with a lot of swearing, complaining, and sarcasm. Oh, and punches powerful enough to knock supervillains into orbit. Literally. Half of Book Two, Sovereign, is spent in space, either taking the fast route from Antarctica to Oregon or fighting evil mercenaries.

Danny is far from perfect. She’s essentially the poster child for why so many trans/non-binary kids stay in the closet: horrible family and crappy self-esteem, which soon manifests itself into some terrifying anger issues. Combined with a big heart and the genuine will to want to do good, and you have one of the most interesting characters in the speculative fiction genre.

That’s my list of personal favorite heroines of literary sci-fi and fantasy! Who are your favorite SFF girls?