Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Feminist Science Fiction

Science fiction is the genre I love most in this world. You already know that most likely. However, I have to admit that as a genre it has taken quite some time to begin to see its own revolutionary potential in terms of race and gender.

Still, there are some who are very consciously moving the genre forward. To my mind, none more so than Ron Moore and Co. over on the reimagined Battlestar Galactica (official website). I think that what he's doing is incredibly smart, including the move to change some of the male roles from the 1978 show to females. Not only does this create a chance to tell some new stories, but it also creates a shift in the traditionally "boys only" club that is science fiction. Of course, the controversy over this (particularly the move to cast Katee Sackhoff in the role traditionally held by Dirk Benedict in the first incarnation of the show) is long since played out.

Still, I found someone had this bit of the documentary from the Season 1 DVDs, and I thought I'd share it because I think it makes some really interesting points about the pressure that Moore and the actresses felt early on for something as this-so-shouldn't-be-a-big-deal as just casting different genders for these roles:

(I'm not crazy about them using the term "babes" but I think that was a move that likely didn't come from Moore or the actresses, but more likely from the marketing department reflecting how they see those of us consumers of SF...*sigh* we've still got a long way to go).

I really wish there was something like this for the characters now that we're 4 seasons down the road, and all of them (especially Tricia Helfer's character Six) have had a chance to play so many more nuances of their characters. I'd also really like to have Mary McDonnell have a chance to talk about President Roslin, too (Those Helfer/Six nuances formed a major portion of the paper I delivered at PCA this year, in fact).

Sarah Lefanu has a really great critical book on Feminist SF if you're interested: Lefanu, Sarah. Feminism and Science Fiction. Bloomington, Indiana; Indiana U. P. 1989


cfa said...

I heart Katee Sackhoff. Thanks for this post - I love reading about BSG, and I agree that it's making some really progressive, provocative moves.

J. Campbell said...

I love all the Ladies of Battlestar; I just wish they'd had a doc that talked to all of them, like I said; I'd really like to hear Mary's thoughts on Laura.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever had a chance to check out Erotic Universe: Sexuality and Fantastic LIterature, edited by Donald Palumbo? It's from the mid-80s, which leads to potential arguments (naturally) about dating (as in old, dated, outdated, aged, obsolete, vintage -- not the social romantic encounters) and relevance issues, but personally I love it. It's got 4-5 essays each in sections on Theory, Themes, and Feminist Views, plus an essay about Fanzines (which focuses on Star Trek). Much fun and lots of interesting conversations in it. I think it's out of print these days, but a few copies still float around.

-- Sally

J. Campbell said...

I haven't had a chance to read it, but I've put it on my list of things that have to get read for the diss. Thanks for the heads up!