Strong Female Characters in Science Fiction

I did not set out to write a science fiction series with strong female characters. Although I’ve always been an independent woman, I’ve never been a women’s libber. The only bra burning was for comfort, not to make a statement. I don’t even get along with women as well as I do with men, because I’ve never quite fit in with the traditional woman’s lifestyle. Kids, cooking and cleaning were never my strong suit.

I was more comfortable patching wallboard, painting a house, admiring the engine of a hot rod, and even climbing up on the roof to replace shingles, but I am not a tomboy. I was the last kid picked for teams in gym class, because if you lob a ball at me, I don’t want to catch it, I want to DUCK so that it doesn’t whack me upside the head.

So how did I end up writing a sci fi series with strong, independent women? Lars Bergen may get credit on the cover, but my words dominate, or at least they were supposed to. As for the why, you’ll have to ask the characters. I’d sit down to write one thing, and they’d grab the story and take off running in some unexpected direction, so fast that I couldn’t catch up to stop them. By the time they slowed down, several chapters were already spat out with their names engraved.

Characters that I intended to be major, became minor, and those who were supposed to just peek in for a moment took lead roles. Brigit decided that she was going to be one of the main characters in Fomorian Earth. I can’t say it was a total surprise, because historically she was so beloved by the “pagans” that they refused to give up their worship of her.

I despise the word pagan since it lumps people together whose beliefs are different, but that’s another topic. Not all pagans sacrificed humans in the Samhain fires, and some of them actually put a stop to human sacrifice. But I digress.

Brigit’s people were some of the greatest builders and teachers of ancient Ireland, and several were worshipped as gods. When Christianity came to Ireland and thereabouts, one of the biggest obstacles in convincing pagans to adopt Christianity was their love for Brigit, and Christians had to merge the worship of the Celtic Brigit with the Christian St. Brigid of Kildare, in order to convert the pagan heathens. Brigit’s memory became a merged entity — two women’s lives blended into one goddess, or one saint.

But the original Celtic Brigit was a person, who got married, and became the queen of Ireland, who was married to the Fomorian giant Bres(s), the High King of Ireland. Together they had a son Ruadán. She also had children with either Tuireann or Delbáeth, or both for those who believe it was two names for one man. Their names have been changed in the Star Borne series to Turenn and Dell, for simplicity.

Fomorian Earth: Star Borne: 1 takes you through some of Brigit’s actual history, though it’s given a science fiction twist based on the premise that her people were extraterrestrial.

The other strong lead is Dornolla, who is introduced in Shades of Moloch: Star Borne: 2. Historically, she was the gruesome daughter of a man, or soldier, who trained warriors. Her claim to fame besides being hideously ugly was that she fell head over heels in love with Cú Chulainn — a hero in Irish, Manx, and Scottish folklore.

Cú Chulainn was descended in part from Brigit’s people, and his father was a primary Celtic god. The trouble was that Cú Chulainn was a handsome devil, a ladies’ man who had many love affairs (or lust affairs) even after he got married. He must have had some potent pheromones because everywhere he went, the women wanted him: single women, married women, young women, old women, and the hideously ugly Dornolla.

Of course he wanted no part of her, and hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, especially a sorceress with the power to implant visions, so Dornolla vowed vengeance and performed some sort of voodoo on him. Her tale in history comes and goes quickly, as it was meant to do in Shades of Moloch.

But this powerful woman, a big, strong warrior in her own right, took hold of her story in Shades of Moloch and said, “No! I’m tired of being remembered only as the ugly girl that Cú Chulainn spurned — I want my story TOLD. And since they didn’t deem me worthy of more than a paragraph in history, then by golly, I’m going to take hold of this book and give myself a story to be proud of!”

And that’s what she did. Dornolla is now a permanent character in the Star Borne series. When Eleanor Hull described Dornolla in 1898, as translated from older Irish legends, she wrote:

“Then the daughter of Donall, Dornolla (i.e. Big-Fist) by name, fell in love with Cúchulainn. Her form was very gruesome, her knees were large, her heels turned before her, her feet behind her; big dark-grey eyes in her head, her face as black as a bowl of jet. A very large forehead she had, her rough bright-red hair in threads wound round her head. Cúchulainn refused her. Then she swore to be revenged on him for this.”

In attempting to unravel Dornolla’s lineage for the series, it is possible that she was heavily tattooed. The Picts were a people who lived in what’s now Scotland, Britain, Wales, and the Hebrides Islands in the era of Cú Chulainn. Many were painted or tattooed — hence the name Picts. They decorated their bodies blue in order to appear more fearsome on the battlefield. As tattoos could also be done in black, and Dornolla’s family lived in Pictish territory, this may account for her description.

Dornolla’s father forced his warriors to work a foot bellows, and bellows are commonly associated with blacksmithing which produces soot. A powdery black soot could linger in the air and stick to their skin, and soot was also used in ancient tattoos.

Initially I assumed by her description that Dornolla was of a darker-skinned race, but when you attempt to trace lineages around her, and match up their descriptions in history, it doesn’t bear out. Thus in Shades of Moloch, the red-headed, grey-eyed, black-faced Dornolla is of the Picts of Alba, an ancient name for Scotland.

Dornolla and Cú Chulainn are two of the major characters in Shades of Moloch, with Brigit’s dilemma being one of the major storylines. Thus, Shades of Moloch is science fiction with strong female characters, or heroines. Another strong woman is the human Almu, who appears briefly in both books.

If you are tired of sci fi where women are just playthings who don’t get the big roles (although there’s plenty of plaything steam in Shades of Moloch,) then Star Borne is the place for you! Fomorian Earth kicks off the series, and it gets a wee bit bloody as that’s how the Fomorian giants lived. With the giants evicted, there’s a lot less blood in Shades of Moloch, but a lot more hanky panky going on. Some of it will appeal to women, and some to men.

Oh, and for the guys, men are allowed two wives, and there are intensely feminine women in the series. In fact, there’s an entire race of women whose pleasures are titallating. See if you can figure out the Easter Egg in the name of their race, and no, it isn’t a missing letter, though I’ll confess to missing the obvious!

  • Star Borne Series

    Fomorian Earth


    Shades of Moloch


    Renegade Genius


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