Tough Traveling is an interesting and thought-provoking meme started by Nathan @ Fantasy Review Barn: each week Nathan chooses a topic from The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, by Diana Wynn Jones, and challenges everyone to come up with a list of books featuring that trope.
Come join the fun!
This week we talk about MOMS
Everyone has a mother. Including people in fantasyland. Just in time to be slightly early for Mother’s Day.
This time I’m going to pick my examples from the screen – no books will be harmed in the process…
Star Trek gave several examples of mothers in the course of its distinguished career, and one of the very first is Amanda, Spock’s mother: she is a remarkable lady indeed, what with being able to live on a planet where her human emotions are anathema and having to accept the decades-long rift between her husband and her son. If it had been me, I would have bashed both of their hard Vulcan heads against each other and hammered some sense into them…
The original series offers us a very unusual kind of mother with the Horta, a silicon-based creature that’s mistaken for a dangerous monster only because she attacks the miners who are threatening her large cache of eggs, the future generation of her species. Dr. Beverly Crusher, from the Next Generation, is a mother both in the strictest sense of the word and in a more general meaning, being tasked with the crew’s health and well-being. On the other hand, Lwaxana Troi is the kind of parent everyone dreads: strong-willed, unashamedly meddlesome and bound to speak her mind at the drop of a hat – that is, when she is not picking yours through telepathy!
In the movie Aliens we see two formidable mothers square off against each other: on one side there’s Ellen Ripley, the heroine of the first movie, a woman who can battle her fears and go straight down to the monsters’ dens to retrieve the child she’s grown attached to. Even though young Newt is not strictly her daughter, Ripley fights for her facing the Alien Queen: this monstrous creature defends her eggs with a mother’s courage, and even though the metamorphs have been depicted by the movies as dangerous, predatory critters that use people as incubators, it’s impossible not to understand the Queen’s scream of impotent rage when Ripley destroys her nest and torches everything both in self-defense and vengeance.
Motherhood can be a curse as well, as Xhalax Sun from Farscape learns at her own expense: having conceived her daughter Aeryn through an unsanctioned liaison, she has to decide between the life of her child or that of her lover, and therefore is forced to kill the latter to regain her superiors’ trust. The long, hard way back has scarred her in body and mind, and when she meets her daughter again she’s so full of anger and self-loathing that all she wants is to exact some payback on her offspring. When Aeryn Sun becomes a mother herself she goes on a totally different path, though: the fierceness learned as a warrior goes toward the protection of her child, both when it’s almost removed from her because of its precious DNA and when the boy is born, in the midst of a heated battle. Fighting enemies even during the pain of labor (because, as she herself says, shooting makes her feel better) she proceeds to help herself and her friends out of a tight situation by wielding a gun with one hand and holding on to her baby with the other. Give her a prize for Best Fighter Mom Ever!
When Kiera Cameron (Continuum), a 2077 City Protective Services officer, is sent back in time to what is our present, all she can think of is going back to her time, and her family: not so much, in my opinion, to a shifty and philandering husband, but to her young son, the only person she focuses on when the going gets though. Highly trained and enhanced with biotech, Kiera is an interesting blend of professional efficiency and understandable weakness, especially where her son is concerned: two of her most prized possessions are a piece of the time device that sent her back and a toy soldier given to her by her son, to keep her safe, and I’ve always thought that the toy is the most important one to her.
And lastly I’m going out on a limb and postulating that Person of Interest can be labeled as sci-fi: if a supercomputer, a machine that spies on you every hour of every day and gives out social security numbers of potential victims or perpetrators is not science fiction… well, can I get away with it just this once? That said, Detective Joss Carter is not just a good police officer, both strong and compassionate, but she’s also a great single mom. Juggling a difficult, dangerous career and the hard tasks required by parenting is not at all simple, but Carter does it in an apparent effortless way, giving her teenage son a good role model. And apart from that, she’s just plain awesome…