Sci-fi is for women, too

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J. L. Hilton, circa 1978

I remember when the first episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” aired, and Patrick Stewart declared that the crew of the Enterprise would “boldly go where no ONE has gone before.” In the original Star Trek, they were only going where no MAN has gone before.

As a girl who grew up with Star Wars and Battlestar Gallactica toys instead of Barbies, that difference meant the universe to me. But guys didn’t get it. They would say, “When Captain Kirk said ‘man’ he meant the whole human race, OK?” OK. But with ST:TNG, I finally felt included in the ranks of sci-fi geekery.

Science fiction continues to be viewed by many as a man’s genre. Women, in their Federation-issue miniskirts and skinny cylon hotness, are just there as fanboy eye-candy. Did Han Solo ever end up in sexy slave garb? No, he did not.

It was important to me, when I wrote STELLARNET REBEL, that I created SF for everyone.

There’s technology, video games, lasers, aliens, fights and explosions. But the main character, Genevieve O’Riordan, is a woman. Not a man’s idea of a woman, like Robert Heinlein’s “Friday,” who felt just fine after being brutally raped and tortured. But an individual with realistic feelings, reactions and faults.

And Genny’s fellow heroes are not “typical” men—since they’re not men at all, they’re aliens. Duin and Belloc are Glin, a race in which the sexes are the same size and gender characteristics only appear after puberty. This not only shapes the dynamics of their culture, but affects how they relate to Genny throughout the novel.

My heroine is not just eye candy. Her genetic modifications might make her attractive by human standards. But that doesn’t mean much to aliens derisively called “frogs” because of their skin colors, large eyes and webbed fingers. It’s her personality, intelligence and loyalty that make her desirable. She’s no damsel in distress but saves her own butt and the butts of others—usually by some combination of wit, resourcefulness and courage, not just brute strength and a gun.

Who is your favorite SF heroine and why? Is SF still dominated by men, or is this changing? I’d love to hear your thoughts. One lucky commenter will receive promo items including your very own labradorite nagyx pendant on recycled sari silk cord—designed to look just like the “soul stone” necklace that plays an important role in STELLARNET REBEL—and a $10 gift certificate to ThinkGeek. Recipient will be announced in the comments on January 11.

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Welcome to Asteria, a corporate-owned, deep-space colony populated with refugees, criminals and obsessive online gamers. Genny O’Riordan has shifted in from Earth determined to find a story that will break her blog into the Stellarnet Top 100, and even better—expose the degradation of the colony’s denizens.

Duin is an alien—a Glin—a hero of a past revolution against the Glin royal family, yet branded a terrorist. Duin speaks every day in the Asteria market, hoping to spur humans to aid his home world, which has been overtaken by the evil, buglike Tikati.

When Genny and Duin meet, what begins with a blog post becomes a dangerous web of passion and politics as they struggle to survive not only a war but the darker side of humanity…

Read an excerpt of STELLARNET REBEL or buy it now.

Follow Genny and Duin on Twitter. Belloc will join them at the appropriate point in their timeline.

Follow the author at JLHilton.com or Facebook, Twitter, deviantART, Goodreads and Google+.