Moms in Science Fiction and Fantasy

Moms in Science Fiction and Fantasy

I took a random and perfunctory look at lists of mothers in SFF, what with today being Ma Day and all. (My grandma’s term for the holiday.) Below are the three that I found. I even dove into the comments sections, hoping to avoid the usual twits and get some more ideas, but there were more of the former than the latter. Unfortunately, most of the lists start with Star Trek and end with Harry Potter, usually with a stop in between at Sarah Connor and/or Eleanor Ripley. Not a lot beyond a very superficial and commercial collection. I will give credit for those that suggest Lady Atreides (Dune) and the Wired list that includes Cordelia Naismith (The Vorkosigan series).

This got me to thinking, “What other moms are there worth mentioning?” I couldn’t think of very many. This may be a reflection of my reading habits, or it may be that SFF is low on moms. I have a lurking suspicion that fantasy might have more than science fiction, especially the Hard SF and space opera that I favor. It may just be that the sorts of epic adventures SFF tends to focus on are generally undertaken by those without a reason to stay at home. Perhaps I can revisit this question on Ma Day 2014 and see if my list has expanded. For now:

1) Hiroko in Robinson’s Mars Trilogy – While there were plenty of moms in that one, Hiroko and her brood may have had the greatest influence.

2) Eunice Akinya in Reynolds’ Blue Remembered Earth – Technically a grandma by the time of the book, Eunice overhauled science, built a commercial empire, and made at least two or three of the biggest discoveries of that book’s era.

3) Chrisjen Avasarala in Corey’s Caliban’s War – Another grandma here, but grandmas were moms once too! Avasarala is a foul-mouthed, high-ranking UN officer from South Asia who holds the fate of billions in her hand, but is also a very nice grandma.

4) Several characters in Aliette de Bodard’s short stories – a number of these count, so I recommend picking up pretty much anything out there. Any Nebula nominee list from the last couple years will have a few.

So there’s an assortment of mothers that stood out in my recent reading. I’ll have to think more deeply about this next year, as I’m sure there’s an actual worthwhile post buried in here somewhere. Finally, the other lists I found:



2 thoughts on “Moms in Science Fiction and Fantasy

  1. Damn you. This has been winding me up for a couple of days now and I’ve still got nothing. At least not if we’re going to stick to the harder end of the SFF spectrum.

    If we’re happy with the Fantasy aspects like some of those lists, then it’s slightly surprising that Dany gets the mention from A Song of Ice and Fire and neither Catelyn or Cerci do, both who are far more defined by their motherhood (Catelyn to the point of annoyance and beyond. I highly recommend looking up the Tiger Beatdown articles about ASOIAF).

    As for hard(er) SF, I dunno. Once you get beyond Ripley and Connor there’s not a whole lot is there? The hive societies in the Destiny’s Children series, perhaps. Mothers or wives tend to either get borderline fridged (The Road, I am Legend), or represent some sort of hideous Oedipal metabeing (Hull Zero Three, Jagannath). Difficult to pick out (m)any who stand as characters in their own right.

    Oh, I just got one! The mother and grandmother (especially) in vN, but even then they’re more notable for being physical clones of the protagonist. Now there’s a book with a lot of problems, but at least they’re interesting ones.

    • I’m trying to think of more. Did the Ender’s Game series have moms? I can’t remember. Wilson’s Spin focused on a couple of families, but the mothers were kind of weak and marginal. (Not because he’s a jerk. Other female characters drove that bus.) It seems like Eric Flint has some butt kicking moms in his stories. Beyond that though, I’m running out of ideas.

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