One thing that’s clear when you read enough science fiction is that the genre has more tough, scrappy, warrior women than any other genre I’ve tried. I’m a fan of dystopian sci-fi, and they seem to be even more prevalent in that genre. I’ve given them a name:
The Bad-Ass Female Main Character, or BAFMC
Let’s look at the first BAFMC I’m showcasing here: Diana Bishop from A Discovery of Witches: A Novel (All Souls Trilogy, Book 1). (Okay, okay. It’s fantasy, not sci-fi, but stay with me.)
Diana Bishop is the protagonist of the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness, sharing some of the main character space with her love interest, Matthew Clairmont. She’s the daughter of two powerful witches, but after their death when she was seven, she avoids using her power. Still, her magic is unavoidable. Furniture rearranges itself when she’s in a bad mood and falls to the floor only when she feels better. She needs to exercise constantly to ease her anxiety – you know, the anxiety that comes from all that built up unused magic – and runs and rows with her eyes closed, able to see where she’s going without her sight.
Others understand Diana’s power and wonder why she won’t use it. Matthew confronts her regularly. “It’s in your blood. It’s in your bones. You were born a witch, just as you were born to have blonde hair and blue eyes,” he tells her.
Diana spends most of this first book denying her power and dealing with the consequences of pretending to be someone she’s not. But as time progresses, it’s impossible for her to deny what a bad ass she could be. She bravely insists on watching Matthew, a vampire, hunt and kill for food, refusing to bring protection for when he experiences blood lust. She calls up the power of wind, water, and the goddess to protect Matthew and herself. She stands up to Matthew’s vampire mother, Ysabeau, who has nothing but disdain for both the witch and her relationship with Matthew.
In the second and third books in the trilogy, Diana comes to accept her incredible power and…I won’t spoil it. She is bad ass.
So I present to you the first attribute that makes a protagonist a BAFMC: she doesn’t know her own strength, but is thrust into the hero’s role. Whether she likes it or not, she’s a bad ass, and the people she loves need her.
What about you? What books are you reading that feature a BAFMC?