Manly Men Doing Manly Things in Manly Ways- By Tom Knighton

Manly Men Doing Manly Things in Manly Ways

By Tom Knighton

 

I don’t recall exactly who, but one of the better known authors of our genre once claimed that all people like me wanted in our books was, “Manly men doing manly things in manly ways.” Obviously, this was a snide way to say that I and people like me have no interest in female characters. So, I thought I’d take advantage of Sarah’s platform to talk about some of the books that have impacted me in various ways and see if this attestation holds any water at all.

 

For me, the list should start with Michael Z. Williamson’s Freehold. You see, that’s the first science fiction book I’d picked up in a long time (had been mostly reading fantasy, which I’ll get to in a moment). Manly men? Well, unless I’ve been completely misreading everything Mike wrote about Kendra Pacelli, not so much. She is a she, to start with. It’s through her alien eyes that the world of Grainne is explained to the reader. Mike takes a shot at those who complain about diversity, and it’s awesome.

 

Now, what about “manly things in manly ways”? Well, a nice chunk of the book deals with an invasion of Grainne, and Kendra does her fair share of kicking butt, so that might qualify. However, considering how the left feels about stereotypes, this should be a good thing. Kendra, a female, easily handles combat and dealing with males in a combat environment.

 

After that, let’s talk about Larry Correia’s work.

 

First, the Monster Hunter books. Yes, Owen Pitt is a man. He smashes things with his fist, he shoots things with his gun, and he makes monsters into corpses. Manly man doing manly things in manly ways.

 

Oh, but what about Julie Shackleford? I mean, she’s a badass too, serving as the team sniper (and anyone who thinks sniping doesn’t require a level of badass doesn’t know squat about sniping). She’s also described as a brilliant negotiator who sets up most of the team’s contracts and just generally smart as hell. Owen knows she’s smarter than he is, and is remarkably fine with that.

 

Yeah, yeah, you might think. She’s just a token chick with a gun, right? WRONG!

 

On the very same team is Holly Newcastle, one of my favorite characters in the series. Holly is a former stripper who is now one of the more vicious members of MHI. Her viciousness isn’t some symptom of “irrational woman” either, but is deeply rooted in her backstory. You see, for those who haven’t read the series, to be recruited to work for MHI, you have to survive a monster encounter. Holly’s is one of the more brutal and terrifying of the encounters.

 

Larry’s not done with just one series either. Take his Grimnoir series. Throughout the series, the most dangerous of the badasses is Faye. The Oakie girl raised by Portuguese dairy farmers is easily one of the most deadly of the heroes.

 

“Oh, but Tom, listen to the way she talks. Correia made her an idiot!” Again, WRONG! I don’t want to include spoilers, but let’s just say it’s revealed that Faye is also one of the smartest too. She’s uneducated, but she’s not stupid. The way she spoke was actually typical for rural folks of that era. Larry has her speak like that for a very good reason.

 

Now, let’s give a shout out to our esteemed hostess. Darkship Thieves, which features Athena Sinistra. Again, Athena isn’t a dude, though she’s not a typical woman either (again, avoiding spoilers). However, she also doesn’t engage in your typically male daring-do either.

 

Plus, I have to make a confession. Patricia Briggs. Yeah, love her Mercy Thompson series. Very much a case of “not a male” as well, and they’re some pretty good stories too in my opinion.

 

Then you take books by people like Robert Heinlein that routinely included non-male characters as the protagonist, and not in a whiney “damsel in destress” type of way either, or Ursula K. LeGuin, Anne McCaffrey, or any of a number of other talented authors who included strong female protagonists doing things in whatever way worked for their stories.

 

That’s the amusing thing about the accusations slung around. The books I’ve laid out are ones that many here have read and enjoyed to some extent.

 

By now, it should be abundantly clear that anyone who trots out the “manly men doing manly things in manly ways” meme is either disingenuous, ignorant of the works they’re disparaging, or perhaps a combination of the two. Just look at the examples Mad Mike gives of his own work, and that becomes incredibly clear.

 

What they’re insinuating is that those they attack—people like myself and many of you—are nothing more than unsophisticated in their choice of science fiction entertainment, which brings us to the root of the problem. You see, people who like many of these works are people who don’t care how beautifully you turn a phrase, but whether you tell a story that makes us turn the page.

 

The phrase is designed to paint us as sexist in our choices of entertainment, but I think it’s pretty easy to disprove that. So what are some of your favorite works that aren’t about manly men doing manly things in manly ways?

573 responses to “Manly Men Doing Manly Things in Manly Ways- By Tom Knighton

  1. Mr. Knighton, I am saddened. I am sadder than the puppies.
    How could you have forgotten Honor Harrington?

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Now now. To the Great And Wise Good People, Weber’s Female Characters aren’t “Real Women”. They’re “Men With Boobs”. [Sarcasm]

      • Patrick Chester

        Hm. Yeah, Abigail Hearns is totally a man. 😉

        • And Helen Zilwinki, too!

          • Patrick Chester

            And Michelle Henke. Heck, she calls herself “Mike” so she has to be a guy.

            • Oh, she’s doubleplusbad, since she can’t seem to figure out that she should still be suffering from millennia-old slave trauma. Never mind that she lives in a galaxy with, you know, real slavery and DOES SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

              I despise SJWs.

      • That, plus we’re dealing with some stuff on the family end and I just straight out forgot to actually write the section about Honor Harrington.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          What! No True Manly Man Admits “He forgot something”!!!! [Very Big Grin]

          Seriously, one of the best responses to the “Good People” is still “What’s the color of the sky in your world?”.

          The “Good People” really don’t live in the same world that we do. [Frown]

          • It’s all good. I still refuse to stop and ask for directions, so my man card is still intact.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Real Men don’t *need* to ask directions. We know how to read a map! [Very Big Grin]

              No offense intended to the Ladies here and I know that some men *should* ask directions, but I wonder how many times the situation is that the man *really* isn’t lost but the woman is the one who’s lost. [Smile]

              Note, Dad sometimes got Mom lost when he’d take the back roads home, but as far as I can tell, he was not lost. [Wink]

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                One time I wasn’t lost, just needed to rest by the side of the road, and the older man in the passenger seat insisted on asking for directions I didn’t need.

              • Joe Miller (@joethefatman1)

                This retired truck driver frequently asked for directions and used maps as well. 😛

                • If you had to drive some of the weird roads I’ve encountered this is quite understandable. Especially in the places where the roads were subject to undocumented construction.

                  • Joe Miller (@joethefatman1)

                    From the east coast to the Rockies. From inside Canada to the Mexican border. NY, DC, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, New Orleans before and after. From the back of beyond Ohio to the Ain’t No Such Place Texas.

                  • And of course Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut is always problematic.

                  • Crete. Main roads are as they are on maps, mostly. Side roads are all over, and the smaller they get the worse it is (yes I got lost, only time in my life so far. Fortunately the island isn’t all that big) Probably holds true for other places in that part of the Mediterranean, but I have only driven on Crete and northern Italy, and northern Italy has a lot more middle Europe than Mediterranean when it comes to things like that.

                • As a traveling consultant, I consider the Garmin to be another proof God loves us.

                  • I was using mine mostly for the traffic function for the few cities I ride through on trips (when it works … the cords are garbage and go bad fast) and as a more accurate speedo (Honda is quite optimistic with their speeds). I occasionally use the directions but ignore them until I am almost at the place I am headed. Or if it is a mix-master exchange and I’ve not ridden through there before and I need to know which lanes to be in. As my latest (3rd) Traffic cord died, I can’t use that, and will likely not get another cord.
                    Tomorrow I will use it to go to lunch.
                    In La Grange TX some 184 miles away … non for a change (normally it is for 11am) won’t really need it (basically follow 77 south until Colorado St.) but Reba’s Village Deli & Pizzeria is a calling, and it reminds me of how long I have to rubberneck.

                    • “as a more accurate speedo ”

                      Be careful with that. A couple of years ago, I got pulled over when my 5 miles over the limit turned into 10. I was relying on the Garmin and their update hadn’t caught up with the fact that the county had dropped the speed limits because of new growth.

                      I showed the deputy the reading, was POLITE, and he let me go with a warning.

                    • Oh. I ignore their speed limits. much of Texas is wrong (it often says 65 or 70 when it is actually 75) anyhow and I currently have no windows to update mine anyhow. But I have found a few places where it is lower than it says (Going into Taylor Texas is one off hand). For the most part I am not on the map page anyhow, so the limits don’t show up.
                      So I can go any speed I want … right?

                    • You keep telling yourself that….

              • If you ask for directions they take your spousd, so I never do. Drives Dan & boys nuts.

                • William O. B'Livion

                  “spousd”

                  > systemctl restart spousd
                  Failed to issue method call: Unit spousd.service failed to load: No such file or directory.

                  • ROFLOL. /etc/init.d/spoused restart was the first thing that came to my mind too.

                  • William O. B'Livion

                    Mr. Salomon:

                    I am in the midst of doing the kickstart install for over 500 servers, and transitioning from RHEL 6 to RHEL 7 in a 24x7x365 environment. Last week we peaked at about 744Gb/s.

                    Systemd changes *so* much about the way we manage our machines that even if it came with free oral pleasure and was better than sliced bread we would still be wary of it and I’m right in the middle of the transition and a lot of my (in house) tools aren’t transitioning well.

                    I’m not flaming it, I’m just leery.

                    Oh, and vi v.s. emacs? If you’re spending most of your day writing code on your own machine then emacs. If you’re a Unix/Linux admin you use vi *reflexively*. If you have a foot in both worlds you man vi as emacsie as possible without changing the base keybindings.

              • William O. B'Livion

                ” We know how to read a map!”

                I’ve worked with enough Lieutenants in my life to prove that’s not a Y linked trait.

                • Oh, my lords and little fishies, map reading is not an inborn trait for most people. So many troops, so much confusion.
                  It was odd which sexes generally had problems with different skills. Men tended to learn compass skills more easily. Women tended to learn to look up the details of the map legend much faster. Comparing the map to actual terrain features went to the men every time – they’re more used to looking at curves. 😉
                  And, of course, “You can always tell an officer, but you canna’ tell him much.” I had a group of Army aviation officers looking at a map and guessing what it meant for about 45 minutes once, before I directed them to the legend prominently displayed in the corner. They were also holding it upside down…

                  • I can read a map, but sometimes I have to think about it before I can orient myself to the map. See, I’m good with directions, but not very good with spatial volume. Also, a lot of my town is laid out on the “sudden dead end into a ravine or the side of a hill” system, so a straight line doesn’t always help. (Nor is Google always aware that there’s no through road. It’s getting better, but it’s not there yet.)

                    So I like knowing where the landmarks are in a town, so I can orient myself whenever I have a question; and then I like to think out how I’m getting from here to there, so I can reassure myself with checkpoints on the way, and know if I’ve gone too far.

                    • Men may be slightly better at reading maps, but women are much better at taking directions based on landmarks. My wife, of course, is very good a giving directions, or at least telling me what to do.

                      Fun fact – Pomeroy, OH is the only town of over 1,000 people in America with no cross streets.

                    • Maps is another area where Husband and I generally reverse the stereotypes. I can read ’em, no problem. I carry a map in my head if I’m in familiar territory. He memorizes routes. I’ll get you there faster and shorter. If he knows how to get from a to b and from a to c, going from b to c will take him through a. Drives me bonkers, especially when b and c are closer to each other than either is to a. We both try to follow the ‘shut up and let the driver drive’ rule.
                      But tech likes him and hates me. Trying to use a navigational program gets me on the wrong exit with no entrance. Same program will walk him to the doorstep he wants. (Except if we’re in our home canyon. Then it just sputters ‘No Signal!”)
                      Either of us will stop and ask for directions. He’s more likely to be able to follow them (turn left, which way is left? that’s me). But I’m less likely to need them if I know the area.

                    • Actually, google may be fully aware that there is no through road. Little known fact I learned from reading (ta-da!) science-fiction. All dictionaries, all encyclopedias, all maps contain deliberate errors. Publishing them is the least of their cost; preparing and researching them is expensive. Publishers are always checking other publishers versions. If they notice one of their deliberate errors in a competitors publication, they know they have a copyright infringer, and a valid cause for a lawsuit.

                      It was a Berserker story by Saberhagen where I learned that.

                • The most dangerous creature in the world is a 2nd Lieutenant with a map, a compass, and a plan

                  • Map and compass optional.

                    From Skippy’s List (http://skippyslist.com/list/):

                    61. If one soldier has a 2nd Lt bar on his uniform, and I have an E-4 on mine It means he outranks me. It does not mean “I have been promoted three more times than you”.

                • I’ve worked with enough Lieutenants in my life to prove that’s not a Y linked trait.

                  Maybe there’s just something in gold bars that suppresses those (and probably other) genes.

                • Learning how to read a map and actually translate that paper projection to live viewing was one of the major washouts from PI school. It is NOT intrinsic. Luckily I learned it at home, planning hunting trips. Oh, and it was equally difficult for men and women, so it’s not a X/Y difference. It’s the ability (or lack thereof) of visualizing three-dimensional spaces.

              • Real Men don’t *need* to ask directions. We know how to read a map! [Very Big Grin]

                But not so good at realizing when the map is wrong…

                My husband and I had a really long argument that was only solved when, finally, we ran into a sign that was physically impossible according to the map.

                In fairness, wasn’t his fault– the Forest Service *sucks* at updating their maps, they just resubmit the last plans that the loggers used before they got kicked off, and it’s not like they actually do much upkeep…..

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  The moral of the story is “the map is not the territory”. [Wink]

                • Usually the map isn’t wrong. Orienteerers have a term “bending the map” for when you try to explain away why you don’t see what you ought to see according to the map, rather than admit you aren’t where you thought you were.

                  Life is full of complexity.

                  • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                    “Life is full of complexity.”

                    Yep, and I get into this “Real Men know how to read a map” thing because I’m tired of the “Men don’t ask directions” thing.

                    I keep thinking “Well maybe the man knows where he is, it’s the woman who is lost”. [Very Very Big Kidding Grin]

                  • The important term here is “usually”….

                    There have also been times where the map isn’t wrong, it’s outdated– say, the road name was changed for a mile for a memorial– or the sign is wrong, but after two or three landmarks that are unlikely to have moved disagree with the map’s notion of what else is there…..

                    • If the landforms are right and I’m not driving too fast and there isn’t so much traffic I’d have to concentrate completely on that I can probably tell where I am on a map if it shows topography and is accurate about that. I did spend too many years orienteering by them to misread that part. Rivers, hills, valleys, what shape of hills and valleys, rock outcrops etc… And no problems if I am walking. Look at the map, look around, check the map again and aha. I’m slightly less good with a compass but can still use it well enough too.

      • Actually, that’s one of my issues with a lot of lit SFF. Certain authors will rail against any genre fiction, like Honor Harrington, where the women aren’t of the female power fantasy as “Men with Boobs” and then turn around and write actual “Men with Boobs”, usually nothing more than a sexually inverted male power fantasy written often in the most cringingly unaware ways that make Ringo’s Ghost seem realistic, yet they get a pass. I’ve yet to figure out if its hypocrisy or a failure of self-awareness.

    • How could HONOR have forgotten her gender reassignment?

    • What? No mention of Jirel of (effing) Joire? Of course, most of the SJWs probably haven’t even heard of C.L. Moore.

      And while we’re on the subject of strong female characters… Aleytys, from Jo Clayton’s Diadem series.

  2. Does it count if the man is not particularly ‘manly’, or engaged in doing manly things? (Miles Vorkosigan, for example, has to out-guile and out-charm his obstacles. Can’t exactly manly-man his way through them.) What about Ekaterin?

    How about Faith Smith, from John Ringo’s Black Tide Rising? Or her sister Sophia? Or their Chicago-raised Ukrainian gun-bunny?

    Honor Harrington gets to flat-out out-‘manly’ most of the men in the setting – she’s from a high-grav world, genetically modded to handle high-grav worlds better than baseline, and happens to be a galactic-class martial artist and a deadly quick-shot.

    The most badass individual in Eric Flint’s and Ryk Spoor’s Boundary series is the secret agent, who happens to be a woman(been a few years, so I don’t remember her name).

    Ryk Spoor’s Grand Central Arena crew is commanded by a woman considered to be the best high-risk pilot the human race currently has to offer.

    Cally’s War. _Cally_. ‘Nough said.

    Troy Rising. Comet Parker.

    Paladin of Shadows. The pilot who played Dragonforce is scary. Katya is scary _as hell_. Mother Lenka is _scarier_. And her apprentice is going to kill anyone she has to in order to snag the Kildar.

    The list goes on.

  3. Terminator 2?
    The Sarah Connor Chronicles?

    • CombatMissionary

      Upvoted. And the Sarah Connor Chronicles even had mild ham-fisted leftist messaging in it. But the writing was good, or I wouldn’t have watched it, even in Afghanistan.

      Ooh, and don’t forget Mina Harker in Dracula. And even more so in the LXG movie.

      • Sara the Red

        Or how about Vanessa in Penny Dreadful? Sure, she’s not a typical “strong” woman, in that she doesn’t pick up a gun/blade, but she’s a terrifying, badass (and occasionally possessed) medium who can stare down a snarling, Lovecraftian vampire and other horrors without turning a single hair or batting an eye.

        (Anyway, I’m starting to hate the “strong” woman stereotype, because all too often, they end up as one-dimensional. They’re “strong,” and that’s it.)

      • Did it? I never even noticed, and I’m usually good at spotting such things.

        • CombatMissionary

          It’s been a few years, but I recall Sarah arguing a lot with their pet Terminator babe about not sacrificing people to prevent Judgment day. Maybe it’s just me, but it smacks too much of Hollywierd pacifism.

          Then again, I had to quit The Walking Dead at the end of season 1 because I continually alternated between “How are these idiots still alive?” and “I’d put a bullet in THAT guy, and THAT guy, and THAT guy… “

          • Professor Badness

            Yeah, me too.
            I’ve had to stop watching zombie movies on account of the characters being idiots. By the end, I’m usually rooting for the zombies. I can’t stand stupidity.

  4. One name: Wyoming Knott-Davis. OK, make that two: Peewee

  5. Cedar Sanderson’s Vulcan’s Kittens

  6. Hal O’ the Draft (PUCK OF POOK’S HILL) a man who mostly draws and talks? De Aquila, from the same book; “Fighting is foolishness, Craft and cunning are all.”

    Anna from the APLPHA AND OMEGA series by Patricia Briggs; her “power’ is the strength of will to ignore that she “should” do as others tell her.

    You know, it comes to me that the LIRPs and SJWs don’t really have an argument. They have a NARRATIVE, and theory have obfuscating jargon, but they don’t have an argument, even when there is one for their position. They don’t know how to debate, and have no interest in learning. Another way they are profoundly childish.

    • Sara the Red

      Exactly! And let us not forget Georgette Heyer, because her “manly” heroes (in the Georgian/Regency books anyway) are frequently all about their clothes and jewelry and get incredibly annoyed if someone ruins their coat. Heck, one of my favorites is the hero who is a hearty outdoorsy country squire type, and when the woman he loves ditches him for not being a “proper” man goes out and learns how to powder his hair, wear the makeup and heels and jewels, and how to act appropriately dandified. (And incidentally leads the bratty girl on a merry chase until he finally gets it through to her how idiotic it is to dump someone for such shallow reasons.)

      And her heroines are usually a ton of fun in their own way, even though they almost never pick up a weapon and literally kick ass.

      But I’m sure those don’t count, in the SJW world, because learning how to work limited social freedoms around to your advantage and *still* maintaining control of your life/destiny isn’t the “right” kind of feminism…

      • It astonishes me that nobody has ever made any of the Heyer books into a movie. Oh, there’s A german film based on THE RELUCTANT WIDOW, but nothing in English.

        GRAND SOPHY anyone?

        • Sara the Red

          Or SYLVESTER, or THE MASQUERADERS (which is one of the best and funniest examples of the brother/sister disguising themselves as the opposite sex I’ve ever seen).

          I would love to see FREDERICA on screen. That book is hilarious and awesome.

          (also, yay, a fellow Heyer fan!)

          • Just about any of her stories would make great movies, along the same lines as the Jane Austen stories that have recently been made into (very good) movies. How about The Toll-gate, or The Unknown Ajax?

            • Thanks to Heyer being traumatized by the “movie” “adaptation” done of The Reluctant Widow, she explicitly forbade movie and TV adaptations of her books in all her contracts and the stuff she left her kid. (Audiobook and radio adaptations she was okay with, and the estate makes some serious cash that way.) So right now, it’s pretty much The Black Moth only.

              But in 2045, we can have lots of Heyer movies!

              • Thirty years? That’s too bad because there are so many Heyer books I would love to see adapted.

              • Oh, dear. I was afraid it was something like that. And I can’t even fault her; the odds that Hollywood would get it right aren’t all that good. But given enough chances, ONE of them would turn out ok.

                *sigh*

                • Sara the Red

                  I wouldn’t trust Hollywood to get it right, or even bother to try. The BBC on the other hand…

          • Frederica was one of the books a friend provided to convince me that I really ought to take up reading Georgette Heyer. Very fun.

        • These Old Shades and Frederica!

          Yes, I am male, and I like Georgette Heyer. Must mean I’m unmanly. Go figure.

    • One of the pertinent characteristics attributed to “intellectuals” in Thomas Sowell’s Intellectuals and Society is their proclivity for making arguments without arguments. Essentially it comes down to asserting a position and decrying all dissenters as poopy-heads.

  7. Karl Sandwell-Weiss

    I always enjoyed Jirel of Joiry by C. L. Moore.

  8. WhiteKnightLeo

    Tom Kratman might have a negative opinion of women in combat, but even his books had excellently-written and important female characters.

    • It could be argued that it is less of a negative opinion of women in combat than it is a negative opinion of the way the never-to-be-sufficiently-damned liberal progressive social-engineering SJWs (please forgive the redundancies) will manipulate the lacking-in-intestinal-fortitude general staff, and DOD in general, into implementing it. Which will be the most disruptive, destructive, and blindly stupid way possible.

      • IIRC, Col. K wrote Amazon Legion to specifically address the issue of “women in combat” and what that would entail.

        • And also to give his…best idea of how it could be done/would need to be done to be successful.

      • My take on “Women in Combat” is complicated by a number of issues that people have brought to my attention;

        1) The DoD did a bunch of plain and fancy lying about what real physical requirements for combat positions were, in the early days of the debate. This is one of the reasons that Feministas are so completely unreasonable on the subject. Example; the old saw about “Women don’t have the upper body strength to throw a grenade beyond its kill radius”. Probably technically true, but an old hand pointed out to me that people who throw grenades and do not immediately take hard cover are what are referred to in the trade as “casualties”.

        2) The Feministas have completely failed to engage with the issue of the Draft. If combat positions are opened to women, at some point a bunch of young men are going to sue because they are required to register for selective service and their sisters aren’t. OK, the LIRPs would “deal” with this by doing a legal shuck-and-jive and hoping it goes away. But even as contaminated as the legal system is with LIRP “FYTW”, I suspect that such a suit would get a lot of traction. And the Feministas have not addressed this AT ALL, so far as I know. I predict a grand circus, with a full orchestra and dancing chickens in every corner.

        3) Somewhat connected to #1; the business of “Women can’t carry a combat load” is all very well, but a lot of our potential third world allies couldn’t either. Their militaries are all (or mostly) male, but those males are (for assorted reasons, including nutrition) smaller than us. Somehow the Military expects to deal with that.

        I have no great expectations of women in combat. Absent LIRP meddling, I suspect it would be largely a non-issue. At the same time, if we are to be equal before the law, I think the military standards should be neutral. I don’t expect a lot of women to get into combat unites with realistic standards, but there might be a few. They would be people who really WANT to go into combat, or at least train those skills.

        And this comes down to my core objection to the LIRPs and the SJWs; they take cases that might be reasonable (Women’s rights, Environmentalism) and make them idiotic.

        • re: Point 2

          Feature, not bug.

          Remember the demands for reinstatement of the draft by progressive opponents of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld’s War. Their goal is to establish a political price for going to war above what any president could pay. Ensuring a supply of dead/maimed/captured girls (they are only women when it suits their narrative purpose) for the TV cameras (notice how the MSM demands for access to coffin-return ceremonies has evaporated since 21 Jan. 2009.)

          • Not sure they’ve thought that through, not that they tend to. With or without an active Draft, they are still stuck with having to explain to a generation of young women what was so goddamned attractive in a military career in the first place. Unless I totally missed something (possible, but I don’t think likely) the REGISTRATION for selective service is still active. Boys probably accept it as one more example of grownup idiocy. Girls haven’t had to think about it at all. If they have to, and they are even dimly aware, they will blame the Feministas who campaigned to hard to bring it about.

            As fro a real Draft I don’t see that happening until some idiot terrorist manages to completely enrage the American people, at which point the LIRPs are going to be in so much political trouble that their little “make the Republicans responsible for a Draft” gambit will probably pass unnoticed.

  9. Matthew Asnip

    On a totally unrelated note (but funny story), the recent two volume biography of Heinlein has a letter from F M Busby (famous for his female characters) to Heinlein relating his visit with E E (Doc) Smith and his wife. Busby notes that Smith was constantly criticized for the lack of realism in his romance and relationships and then relates that the Smiths actually spoke the way Doc Smith described in his books.

    • I’ll take issue with F.M. Busby about one thing: All his other characters (male, female, or indeterminate) speak normally, but Rissa Kerguelen speaks like she learned English from a book. And I don’t recall any point ever being made that would support this as a character trait. Always irked me.

      • She was born into a UN ambassator’s family and was turned into a street kid when the UN was bombed. In my opinion this is reason enough for bad grammar.

  10. CombatMissionary

    It’s not sf/f, but most here seem to have been heavily influenced by Louis L’amour. Echo Sackett, Itchakomi Ishaia, the women in The Walking Drum, Ange Kerry, etc., virtually ad infinitum…

    CS Lewis has Susan and Lucy Pevensie in central, pivotal roles in the Narnia series, as well as Jill…

    I also probably read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series a dozen times over as a kid…

    Yup. Clearly just a big, big bigotty bigot. 😀

    • Yes, yes, yes, Echo Sackett. While she may not quite get the dangers and preditors of the big city once in her own territory she is more than capable of defending herself. You don’t get the feeling that she is ‘impossible.’

      You know, that makes me think — there are just too many good books to be read and not enough time to read them all, no less revisit the ones I’d like to. Sigh!

    • Sara the Red

      I think the problem is, as ever, with the SJW narrative. See, *they* choose books based on whether or not the protagonist (or author) is the correct checkbox of gender/race/etc. So naturally everyone does that, right?

      They can’t seem to grasp that, in the real world, most of us don’t actually care what gender/color/whatever the characters are, so long as they’re interesting and the story is good.

      • It’s my hope that this thread can serve as a quick link when that certain author starts up with his crap about how all we want to read is manly men doing manly things in manly ways, because it’s complete and total BS.

        Too many books already mentioned that don’t fit that mold.

        • Sara the Red

          One could almost argue that books that *do* fit that mold are extremely rare indeed (and even rarer if you don’t count deliberate parodies or send-ups). Because, amazingly enough, the vast majority of men do not hate/fear women, and the vast majority of women do not hate/fear men.

      • Joe Miller (@joethefatman1)

        I kept thinking that and trying to figure out how to frame it in a way that made sense, and there went an done wrote it better(of course) than I ever would have. Thank you and so very much agreeing with you.

      • I don’t even understand how they think that way. I was a socialist all through the ’90s, and I don’t remember ever choosing a writer based on politics or gender or race. I read Heinlein and Ellison and Spinrad and Anderson and never cared what the politics of characters in the stories were, because it was part of the character. Change Dubois to a progressive pacifist and he can’t teach Juan Rico anything, and the story becomes nonexistent. Maybe it was because I’ve never gone to a single con and I’m not part of Teresa Nielson-Haydon’s “conversation”, or that I rarely saw an internet connection till around 10 years ago, and only used it for research when I did. Or maybe I was just a very, very bad SJW, despite lecturing perfectly innocent bystanders on racism, homophobia and why it was wrong to report on the Americans who died in a plane crash without mentioning the demographic breakdown of the rest of the passengers and crew. Probably I was bad. I stopped, after all.

    • I read Ride the Dark Trail for the first time when I was nine or ten. Emily Talon was and remains my ideal of a strong woman, lasting even longer than my burning desire to be like Logan Sackett (all I managed was the scruffy part). Running into an homage to her in one of my editing clients’ books (vague to avoid spoilers) made me laugh uncontrollably for about five minutes, followed by a giddy message to the client: “That’s Aunt Em! You put Em Talon in your book! THAT’S SO COOL!”

  11. richard lewis

    How about the eleven year old heroine from Emergence. She saves the world by disabling a nuclear warhead. She was the only candidate who could fit through an access shaft.

    I would second Miles Vorkosigan. He fails on the first obstacle for his physical, yet manages stop a war and make himself an admiral: brains, charm and determination.

    • Sara the Red

      I *adore* Miles, so very, very much.

      And there’s Lupe dy Cazaril, too. Sure, he’s “traditionally” manly in that he’s an ex-soldier (a nearly crippled ex-soldier, heh), but he achieves his goals in the book via his humility and his profound loyalty and integrity, not strength of arms.

      • There’s also Iselle dy Chalion, and her grandmother, and her mother Ista, in “Paladin of Souls”, if you are looking for steely-spined women who don’t try to outmuscle the men.

        • Sara the Red

          Paladin of Souls is one of my all time favorite books. Ista is all the awesome. (All the more so for being such a rare creature: a middle-aged heroine!)

  12. if by Disingenuous you mean lying propagandist in the tradition of Baghdad Bob, Tokyo Rose, etal, you’re right. Lets see, all of the above, plus the Honor Harington series, literally anything Heinlein wrote, the Leary series….

  13. BTW, folks, Sarah left me with custody of the carp trebuchet, so be wary. 😀

  14. I’m trying to think what I like that’s outside of the scope of Conan of Cimmeria, John Carter of Mars, and Dumarest of Terra and I’m having a real hard time. I’m willing to broaden my horizens by reading about Cugel the Clever, I guess. Does that count?

    • My current audio book (How to Cheat a Dragon’s Curse) is all about Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III and his friend, Camicazi (daughter of Big-Boobied Bertha, the leader of the amazonian Bog-Burglars tribe) on a Hero’s Journey to steal “The Vegetable That must Not Be Named” from Norbert the Nutjob, chief of the rival tribe, The Hysterics.

      All books in the series are well-larded with “manly men doing manly things in manly ways” but such characters typically represent obstacles for Hiccup to overcome, not emulate.

      Delightfully read by David Tennant, BTW. I think that lad has a future as a reader of audio books.

  15. Mara Morai and the women of the Horseclans books. Milo Morai might have been the High Lord, but when Mara said “duck,” he ducked. In fact, beside some of the minor Dirttown women, I can’t think of a true fainting violet among any of Robert Adams’s female characters.

  16. S.L. Viehl’s StarDoc series is about a female genetically modified doctor regularly kicks ass. Mike Shepherd’s Kris Longknife series is about a female military officer who regularly kicks ass. I haven’t read Mike’s Vicky Peterwald offshoot series, but I expect she’ll kick ass, too. I’m currently reading Vengeance from Ashes by Sam Schall, and Ashlyn is an awesome heroine.

    As for Patricia Briggs, I haven’t read her yet, but urban fantasy is a cornucopia of diversity, but they’re the red-headed stepchild of SF/F, so I guess they don’t count with these people who shriek like harpies for diversity in writing.

    And yes, Faye from Grimnoir is awesome. Anyone who thinks she’s just a stupid Okie deserves whatever she can dish out.

    • As for Patricia Briggs, I haven’t read her yet, but urban fantasy is a cornucopia of diversity, but they’re the red-headed stepchild of SF/F, so I guess they don’t count with these people who shriek like harpies for diversity in writing.

      I think part of the reason they ignore it is because it’s the one subgenre that has a MASSIVE number of female authors. It undermines their point in so many different ways.

    • Ah yes, Faye…

      “GIVE ME BACK MY HANDS!”

      …Yep, that’s what happens when you dismiss her as “a stupid Okie…”

      • Patrick Chester

        …not to mention the things she does in the third novel. Such a gentle soul.

        • Teleporting ninjas fighting on zeppelins. you are forced to wonder if that is the entire image that Larry built the books around.

          • Patrick Chester

            I want to see the Grimnoir books made into a movie, though I’m afraid how it’d get warped.

  17. What, no love for Elizabeth Moon’s Serrano books? Chock full of fabulous female (and male) characters, both heros and villains. With genuine character development through adversity and everything. And as far as being “manly” women, you’d be hard pressed to apply that term to any of the Aunt’s Cabal, or any other number of mentally, but not physically tough characters.

    She also gets points for being one of the few to deal realistically with the issues of sexual assault and PTSD and their long term psychological effects (on both female and make characters) although I do feel she occasionally overuses the “rape as drama” you’re. Of course she once said something politely critical of radical Islam, do Sheba persons non grata with the right thinking folks this year.

    • I haven’t read her Serrano books myself, but loved the Parksenarion books.

      And yeah, she was less than polite regarding Islam and, in a classic case of eating their own, they went nuts and now pretend she doesn’t exist or something.

      • Being too “polite” is part of the problem. When everyone pussyfoots around never quite saying what they mean (because, ya know, offensive words and such), everything is opened to interpretation, and it encourages deliberate misinterpretation.

      • Most everything I said about the Serrano books applies equally well if applied to the Paksenarrion stories. I was trying to stick with SF though, since these days it comes in for more of the “manly man” criticism.

        • Yeah, her SF series is on my “to read” list, but keeps getting bumped.

          • Sara the Red

            I read the one she did with Anne McCaffrey and my impression was mostly “meh” but I *love* the Paksennarrion series.

        • She threw us a curve in the Oath of Fealty series, introducing a crazy old lady and then never using her again. How is that an Elizabeth Moon book? *g*

          • Sara the Red

            Gah, I’ve read that series twice, but I’m not recalling which crazy old lady you’re referring to…? Oh, wait, are you talking about the granny of one of the princesses they keep trying to get Kieri to marry? Yeah, she was hilariously awesome.

      • Why should anyone be polite about the Jihadis? They are evil with a capital E!

      • SheSellsSeashells

        I always adored Paksenarrion just for the opening, where her father throws the cliched “you’ll marry this boy or you’re no longer welcome here!” fit. “Okay,” says Paks, and strolls out the door on the first page….

        • I like that book for the fact that Paks’ military training actually takes a realistic amount of time. Oh, your the chosen one? Here’s your magic sword and you’re already far more accomplished than anyone who actually trained with one.

          The fact that Moon was a Marine helps.

          • Sara the Red

            I read somewhere that she wrote the Paks books because she was tired of how people played paladins in D&D and wanted to try her hand at writing a paladin who *wasn’t* lawful stupid. I think it worked.

    • Damn, but my original comment is full of typos. Sorry, I’m on my phone and autocorrect likes to ambush me. I thought I’d proofread before hitting send, but clearly I’m a victim of self-deception (again).

      • Autocorrect is by Nemesis, at the root of all my typos and malaprops (uness they are really funny, then I take credit). The damn thing randomly chooses to NOT correct when I type things incorrectly, then “corrects” things I typed correctly.

        I was actually on relatively good terms with the MS correction system in the Office tools in Windows, but since I’ve moved over to MacOS and iOS it’s been many, many miles of rough road.

    • I absolutely loved Esmay Suiza from Once a Hero. Both kickass and heartbreakingly damaged.

  18. BobtheRegisterredFool

    What exactly is wrong with manly men, doing manly things in manly ways?

    Isn’t it right and proper that people be allowed to write stories without any major female characters at all? Are not men human? Can you not as easily say something about humans with a cast of mostly men as with a cast of mostly women?

    Sure, stories like Akira Miyashita’s Otokojuku might get boring on their own. With enough flavors that a reader can have choice and variety in their diet, well, it is to my taste.

    • Absolutely nothing. Sometimes the entertainment you want is The A-Team. And there’s not a damn thing wrong with that; it fills a need and a niche.

      A pretty big niche, judging by The A-Team’s ratings…

      • Hell, I even liked The A-Team movie. :/

        Don’t judge me.

        • I didn’t understand the need that this sort of entertainment fills until I needed it myself.

          I worked in Hollywood for 5 years (bits and extras, nothing much), and those were long, long days. 12 hours on the set and another 3 hours in L.A. traffic. I’d get home Friday night and all I wanted was to prop my feet up and watch — egads, The Dukes of Hazzard? What the hell? I’d never liked that kind of thing, ever. I must be losing my mind!!

          But I figured it out: It let my brain relax with something that kept it occupied but didn’t require thought. You pretty much know how any episode of Dukes or A-Team will go; cars get chased and shit gets blown up. But it lets you decompress in a way that more ‘cerebral’ stuff doesn’t.

          Sometimes you want fine wine; sometimes you want a beer. Some people only like one or the other. But it all fills a need, or it wouldn’t exist.

          And I don’t think I ever saw the A-Team movie. I feel deprived. — I did once see geeky dude from Riptide on the freeway, tho… his license plate read: B-TEAM. 😀

          • OK, that’s funny about the dude from Riptide. (And how awesome was it that private investigators ALWAYS found a need for a helicopter?)

            • My favorite Thom Bray role was his appearance on Remington Steele‘s first season episode Singed, Steeled and Delivered. He played the nerd retrieval agent for the CIA who is so sure Remington must be who he is purported to be because having done a background check on him it came up empty.

          • Total tangent here: Back in college, I took a Mass Media class, taught by a professor who was clearly annoyed at the idiocy displayed at the college level. He did everything he could to actually give interesting information (such as how advertisers manipulate you) and to keep himself from being bored out of his skull.

            At one point, he was explaining pixels (this was almost two decades ago, so it was less universal knowledge) and the RGB color system. He called up a particular comedian that he’d often clashed with, put The Dukes of Hazzard up on the projector screen, and asked Big Ed if he could see the pixels, whereupon Big Ed turned around.

            Right as Daisy’s cleavage flashed right in front of his nose, five times bigger than life-size. “Oh, YES,” Big Ed said, causing the professor to turn around just as the scene changed again. The timing couldn’t have been better…

          • Patrick Chester

            But I figured it out: It let my brain relax with something that kept it occupied but didn’t require thought. You pretty much know how any episode of Dukes or A-Team will go; cars get chased and shit gets blown up. But it lets you decompress in a way that more ‘cerebral’ stuff doesn’t.

            Probably why I still play Mass Effect 3 multiplayer matches.

        • Sara the Red

          You aren’t alone. I enjoyed the hell out of that movie. 😀

        • RealityObserver

          I hew to “judge not, lest ye be judged in turn.”

          Loved it, too, Tom. Murdock wasn’t quite Murdock – but B.A. was even more B.A.

          • I didn’t mind the Murdock they did though. I thought it was a rather nice touch.

          • I thought Neeson pulled off a great Hannibal, too. And I still remember watching Gerald McRaney in Simon and Simon as a kid – and thinking that Rick was the cooler of the two brothers.

            • Simon and Simon? I shall ever be thankful for the scene where the young man sings the final verse of the best country song ever written (David Allen Coe’s You Never Even Called Me By My Name) as he climbs out a bathroom window.

              I enjoyed the gravelly quality of McRaney and it was nice to see Tim Reid as something other than Venus Flytrap.

        • I need to watch that, so I can see if I would like it or not.

      • I don’t know what you’re talking about. The A-Team was a superb example of trenchant social commentary, simultaneously evoking and inverting traditional roles in order to explore the dysjunctions between perception and reality. Its Swiftian satire stands as testament to the inherent contradictions of the social order.

        I could expand the thesis but to do so properly would require rewatching every episode while annotating scripts in order to bring out in full the subtleties and depths of its commentary.

        BTW, Stephen J. Cannell, A-Team (and Rockford Files) creator turned to novels as he got bored with television. I enthusiastically endorse his mysteries/thrillers, recommending Final Victim and King Con as good books with which to start.

      • Sometimes the entertainment you want is The A-Team.

        Isn’t that why they call us Facists? Though I always liked Murdock better.

    • What’s wrong with it? Nothing, really.

      However, there are some out there who think that’s both all some of us want to read and that’s all we want to see published, which is complete and total BS.

      Great stories. That’s all that’s ever mattered.

      • See, that’s the problem right there. Some people need everything perfectly categorized or they can’t understand it. You must only like A or B or C. Never A and B and C, because then they don’t know how to pigeonhole you. (As I ranted about a few days ago, right in this neighborhood.)

        Normal adults call this “obsessive-compulsive disorder”, and expect children to outgrow it.

        • I limit my OCD to how I color. Otherwise what I do depends on situation and circumstances within a framework of Western thought and cluelessness.

      • What, of all that they hold dear and near, has a great story?

        Heck, what of their literary fancrap, even has likable characters?

    • It’s my personal opinion that we now have *too many* feisty chick sorts of novels and not enough with men doing manly things. My feelings are almost certainly partly derived from reading too much urban fantasy, of which 90+% seems to have a feisty chick main character. The impression I get is that it’s more acceptable to have a female main character than a male, and that there are things the female character is allowed to do that would be totally unacceptable in a male character. That’s certainly true when it comes to sex. Female characters can use and discard sexual partners and nobody blinks or complains. If a male character did the same thing there’d be screams of outrage.

      • Yep, and that’s one reason I quit reading urban fantasy. And it’s to where if I see $feistychick, back on the shelf it goes. At one time it was fresh and individual, but now there’s a whole parade of ’em, all too much alike.

      • It’s my personal opinion that we now have *too many* feisty chick sorts of novels

        I made much the same point below. Maybe because I read so many female authors (which is also why I don’t see this ‘read more women’ thing as a big challenge. I’d rather read more MEN. I read plenty of women).

        One of the things I liked about Sarah Conner (mentioned above) is that she started out a girly girl and became a fiesty chick for damn good reasons. To protect her child. And the world. She also took the time to develop her skills.

      • Sarah has discussed this previously this, particularly in regard to Athena Hera Sinestra. In part it is a consequence of what editors demand/allow.

        See also Helen Smith:
        “It turns out that women enjoy a greater degree of sexual freedom than men do.”
        [SNIP]

        It turns out that women enjoy a greater degree of sexual freedom than men do. For instance, survey takers thought it was okay for a woman to choose either a dominant or a submissive role in sex, but considered it abnormal for men to experiment that way. And so on down the line through a variety of sexual opportunities, including using sex toys, playing with food during sex, and having sex with more than one partner at the same time.

        Men are often restricted in their social roles these days, now they are restricted in the bedroom. Maybe they always have been. The difference is that women are told that anything goes sexually these days for them. Men, on the other hand, are told that they better not cheat, that they better satisfy a woman and that anything she wants sexually is okay as long as she desires it and wants it, not him. Often, a sexually satisfied man is held in contempt by feminists, other women and the media.

      • I get daily email notifications from 5 or 6 free/cheap ebook groups that seem to push new and indie writers and the Fantasy group almost always comes up with the Paranormal subgenre which translates into monster porn. Drives me nuts. I have enough problems with the cats shedding on my pillows, I should invite a werewolf into my bed?

        • You’d be lucky to get a werewolf these days.

        • 4 words, of which 2 will likely apply:

          Earl Harbinger, Heather Kerkonen

          • Are those warnings or recommendations? 😉

            • Werewolves whom no one of the proper orientation would mind taking to bed.

              • Sir, I do object. I would most heartily mind taking one of them to bed, as I do believe that they are both a Mite Bit Possessive of their lover, and capable of bringing a world of hurt that no amount of sexy fun times could be worth.

                Were one of them to make a pass at me, I would respond in the same manner as when a very tipsy ex-girlfriend of mine climbed into my lap. “Darling, sweet, you are the loveliest woman in the entire place tonight, and I am married, and so are you. Let’s find your sexy man, so you can blind him with that bewitching little evil grin, shall we?”

            • Sigh. Now I have this vision of one of those internet quizzes (which Founding Father/Member of the Avengers are You most like?) configured to decide which SF/F character you should date. Probably too broad, so maybe doing it for specific series/authors, Matchmaykr-dot-com for RAH, GRRM, Jim Butcher, Larry Correia or Sarah Hoyt.

              • I would stay clear of all the vampires. I never got over the idea of taking a cold body to bed. Ew!

                • Gives a whole new meaning to getting cold feet!

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  Staying away from vampires is very good advice (for men as well as women).

                  The Romantic Vampire isn’t (Romantic that is).

                  All that believing a Vampire wants Romance does is make you a willing victim of the Vampire.

                  Note, the above is true for any Vampire that must drink Human Blood. A Vampire that can survive on non-Human Blood *might* be dangerous (just as a human might be). But those who must drink Human Blood are *always* dangerous.

                  • I think that MHI has the right view of vampires. They’re evil. Whatever they were in life, as a vampire they’re evil like Ray’s wife Susan is.

    • I once was outlining a story when an online discussion of the Bechdel Test so annoyed me that I performed a sex change on the character I had been about to introduce; the story ended up with no female characters with either lines or names. Ha.

      • I figured out a way to pass the Bechdel test with my current WIP because I wanted to pass the checklist portion of the SJW challenge (diverse cast, Bechdel test, etc) while STILL being a book they would despise.

        • Wouldn’t women discussing the evil and oppressive nature of the patriarchy fail the Bechdel Test?

          • Maybe not, if they were very careful not to name specific male characters.

            The original version of the test (going by my memory of the Dykes To Watch Out For strip where it’s most well known for having appeared) specifies:
            “(a) at least two female characters
            “(b) who have at least one conversation together
            “(c) about something other than a man.”

            This version could theoretically allow a conversation to pass if it was not about a specific male character but only about men in general, which complaints about “the patriarchy” might well fit. I have subsequently read about other versions of the test which provide interesting insights into how to analyze work for female presence:

            – One version only disqualifies the conversation if the topic is a man with whom at least one of the female speakers has had, is having, or wants to have a romantic relationship. Two sisters complaining about their brother or their father would therefore pass, as would a female detective and a female M.E. discussing how to catch a male serial killer, or a female captain and female XO discussing whether to promote a male subordinate.

            – Another, stricter version requires the female speakers to be named characters who also appear in scenes other than their conversation. If the female M.E. above only appears in one scene to feed lines to the female detective protagonist, or is never named on screen, then the conversation doesn’t pass.

            – The strictest version of all, of course, forbids not only discussion of any topic that might be construed as “about men or a man” but also forbids the presence of any male characters in the same scene, even if those characters have no lines.

            One thing I always try to remember nowadays about the Bechdel Test is that useful as it can be from time to time, it’s got a fundamental skew built into it because it was originally introduced by lesbian characters written by a lesbian author. In my own admittedly limited experience, the vast majority of straight women I’ve known like talking about men and their relationships with them; the Bechdel Test is only useful as a reminder that that’s not all they talk about.

            • The strictest version of all, of course, …

              So, two dominatrices discussing economic theories while knitting handcuffs and resting their feet of their kneeling (male) subs is right out?

              • Only if we know the subs’ names from other scenes. If they are merely (ahem) furniture in that scene, I personally would call it a pass. But I’m a straight white guy — Catholic, worse — so my opinion may not hold water in all circles.

                • Perhaps if the males’ names are “worm” and “mud” it would be permitted. I had to think long and hard to decide what might be appropriate knitted goods (I don’t suppose advocates of the Bechdel Test ever think long and hard.)

                  • I might recommend handcuff covers rather than cuffs themselves. Woolen yarn soaks up sweat and gets moth-eaten with startling speed, if my bachelor-days closets are anything to go by, and would probably snap under strain a lot quicker than expected. But I could be wrong.

                    Though if your dominatrices are willing to torment their poor subs by discussing economic theories, then I don’t know what worse cruelty is needed, really. 🙂

                    • Not torture if Discussing Sowell and Friedman and Hayek. The latest issue of GAAP might be a bit too esoteric. On the other hand the so called theories of Paul Krugman are quite torturous indeed.

  19. A couple more examples that leapt to mind:

    Karl Edward Wagner’s “Kane” series. When Kane gets bested, it’s usually by a woman, and then because she’s the smarter of the two.

    Just about anything by C.J. Cherryh, and if you want a tough woman, no one beats Bet Yeager of Rimrunners.

    As to faves in the “quite the opposite” category, a whole bunch of Jack Vance (my fave author) — don’t forget that most of his male protags are not ‘manly’ but rather just ordinary blokes swept along by events, and that his females tend to be very competent and self-willed.

    Bujold’s Sharing Knife series, another where wit gets you further than brawn.

    My absolute fave among the sweet and gushy: Nancy Springer’s Chains of Gold. Guaranteed to bring a tear. Most beautiful cover art ever.

    What was the question??

  20. Manliness does not arise from mere superficial masculinity, or obsessive male sexuality. The example of this kind of shallow machismo from Lord of Light is Madeleine/Brahma. Madeleine, before the events in the book, has become the chief god, Brahma. She has transferred her mind “time after time as an eminently masculine man,” and even though he/she has a large harem he/she “still felt somehow inadequate.” In a childish response to these feelings of inadequacy Madeleine/Brahma wanted “to stamp his feet and grimace.” Madeleine/Brahma also reacts in an immature and petulant manner when Sam guess his/her true identity. So while on the surface Madeleine/Brahma is a hyper-masculine male, she/he lacks the “inner values” of a true man.
    Thw main character Sam expresses true manliness when possessed by the demon chief, Taraka. While trying to eject the demon from his body, Sam says: “‘It is because I am what I am, demon,’ . . . ‘It is because I am a man who occasionally aspires to things beyond the belly and the phallus. I am not the saint the Buddhists think me to be, and I am not the hero out of legend. I am a man who knows much fear, and who occasionally feels guilt. Mainly, though, I am a man who has set out to do a thing, and you are now blocking my way.’”

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      That is one thing I like about Otokojuku. At the most superficial level, it is simply machismo packed onto the page at the greatest possible density. Below that, it is a comedy. Both in the absurd techniques of the ‘Life and death battles between men’, and the over the top parody blowhards. Below that are some subtle points about what it really means to be a man.

      When just about everyone has the superficial traits, you can show the full package, the truth by way of characterization.

  21. Reading this I realised what I like is competent people doing things competently – Mercy for instance is ‘Mercedes the VW mechanic’ as well as handling all the supernatural stuff competently.

    • Yep. Mercy’s damn good at what she does.

      I’ll be honest, Mercy’s occupation is part of what attracted me to pick up the books in the first place. I freaking HATE the “damsel in distress” trope as a general rule, and I figured anyone who would write a female protagonist who was also an auto mechanic wouldn’t go down that route.

      Briggs didn’t.

      • Sara the Red

        Heh, if I recall, half of Adam’s complaints revolve around the fact that 9 times out of 10 by the time he and the cavalry arrive, Mercy’s rescued herself. Or rescued him.

        And she’s also a fairly devout (but far from preachy) Christian. That’s a bit different in an urban fantasy protag. (I love her little sheep necklace, and what she does to vampires who entirely fail to understand the concept of a symbol of faith…)

        • I’d forgotten about the sheep necklace, but LOVE how that comes into play later.

        • And she’s also a fairly devout (but far from preachy) Christian.

          Most urban fantasy type authors more or less ignore religion. One of the reasons I love briggs and Butcher is that they don’t just pretend it doesn’t exist, they embrace it. Maybe Dresden doesn’t, but many characters in the books do and it is an acknowledged power.

          • Sara the Red

            Well, and Dresden has interesting character reasons for his relationship with God, such as it is. And alongside Paksennarrion, Michael Carpenter is one of the best (and rare) examples of paladin-done-right. (Though Sasha-the-agnostic is an absolutely hilarious overturning of it, also.)

            • Sasha makes me laugh so hard……

              • Sara the Red

                My favorite lines from involve Murphy (“Tiny! But fierce!”) and his assertions when someone demands to know how a Knight of the Cross could *possibly* be agnostic is “You never know. Could be God. Could be aliens.” (I have a feeling that Sasha enjoys watching stuff like Ancient Aliens. It would amuse him.)

                I love that the Dresden-verse God clearly has a sense of humor.

          • One of my minor peeves with Dresden has been his inability — in spite of direct evidence* — to accept the existence of the Christian god. I suspect that the series conclusion will address Harry’s refusal to see what is right before his eyes.

            I could make an argument that in this blindness Harry represents modern society and its fauxphistication but I’ve already burned through my daily allotment of pseudo-sophist jargon usage.

            *Available on request, but even the casual reader has to have noticed.

            • Dresden believes in God, it’s just that he takes the same approach to faith that Groucho Marx did to clubs.
              Sanya, on the other hand–well, he’s not an atheist, anyway.

              • Dresden believes in God

                Indeed. He just doesn’t embrace a personal relationship with God. Which makes sense for many reasons although I won’t get too into it since this is not the Dresden Files Forum 🙂

            • Harry believes in God, he’s just still stuck in the Problem-of-Pain mindset that makes him unable to accept God’s largely hands-off approach to the universe.

              Which is a very convenient stance for a dramatic protagonist, in much the same way that the Laws of Magic (no killing or polymorphing humans, no mind reading or mind-control, no interviewing the dead or screwing with time) are incredibly convenient for maintaining the workability of classic noir plots. 🙂

            • Sara the Red

              Actually, Harry explicitly acknowledged that he *does* believe in the Christian God. (I forget which book it was.) It’s just that he, Harry, doesn’t actually follow Him–not because he doesn’t believe, but because he’s fairly convinced that God would want nothing to do with someone like Harry Dresden. This is also why he has ongoing issues with going to Michael for help: Harry is so convinced that he’s one step away from being a monster and an evil man, and he values Michael’s opinion of him so much, he tries to avoid contact with Michael so as to preserve Michael’s supposed “illusion” that Harry is a good man. Michael has been trying for *years* to beat it into Harry’s head that, no really, Michael actually knows he’s a good man. And then, of course, there’s Uriel, who keeps dropping similar broad hints, and even granted Harry a divinely sourced ability. And the fact that Harry has been guardian for two out of three of the Holy Swords. He’s convinced it was pure chance; everyone else who knows him knows better than that.

              Harry’s problem has never been belief in deity (as he’s said a few times over the series, in his line of work it’s stupid to NOT believe in all the things). Harry’s problem is and always has been with how he views himself. He believes he tries to do the right thing and tries to do good, but he really has a hard time believing he’s a good man. The whole thing with Lasciel and then becoming Mab’s knight hasn’t really helped that, despite numerous people telling him that he has remained a good man in spite of all of that. (And c’mon, he’s one of the few people in history to actually resist one of the Denarii.) It’s been one of the major character growth things over the last few books–that Harry is finally starting to believe his friends when they tell him he isn’t a monster. 😀

              • There are two means of “believe.” One is “think true” or “think exists”; the other is “put your trust in,” or otherwise interact with.

                As in the Christopher Stasheff story where a woman refuses a drink with a curt, “I don’t believe in alcohol,” and gets told, “I assure you, it does exist.”

                C.S. Lewis observed that only the second is religious, and arguments for the existence of God can only produce the first. (It is, however, a precondition of the second.)

              • Perhaps (?) the original statement was hastily phrased, but if Harry refuses to accept the message of salvation through grace he does not believe in the Christian God — he believes in the Jewish one, or maybe the Islamic one, but not the Christian one.

                In spite of close encounters with believers and agents (including fallen ones) of that God.

                Sure, it is because he believes that he, Harry mumblety-mumble Dresden, is unworthy. But the central Christian belief is that ALL are unworthy, so rejection of that tenet is rejection of the gestalt. There is no a la carte menu; there’s one entree, if innumerable side dishes.

                As stated originally, I think Harry has a journey to make in this series and will not be surprised if the concluding trilogy addresses the flaws in Harry’s understanding of himself and of Grace.

                Yeah, I think Butcher may be the kind of evil SOB who tells an explicitly Christian version of the Hero’s Journey without warning readers (or editors or publishers) and without belaboring the point with a cudgel the scale of the original cross. Maybe he won’t make it a Christian tale, maybe it is just about Harry’s journey to “warts and all” self-acceptance, maybe it will end with Harry sacrificing his life to prevent evils unimaginable. But there is an elephant in Dresden’s living room which he is pointedly ignoring and I like to think it is not the author’s blind spot.

                And yeah, I have not yet read the last couple of books — some pleasures one wants to defer for savoring at leisure. Mebbe I should start all over again, with Storm Front and review the evidence.

                • Nah, that’s not the problem. Plenty of people don’t believe they’re loved by people who do love them, and usually it has to do with an icky childhood and a lot of trauma. Same thing with believing God loves them, usually.

                • Well, yeah. One can only give evidence for “believes THAT”. To “believe IN” is nothing that evidence can do.

              • Between Harry and Sasha, Harry is probably the more ridiculous in how stubborn he is about that. 😀

          • OK, y’all convinced me, just ordered the first Mercy book from Amazon.

            • Sara the Red

              lol, actually most of the discussion has been about Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series (which you should also totally order–the first one is Storm Front), but yes, Mercy is just as awesome.

              I mean, the only likable vampire character is likable in part because he drives a VW bus painted to look like the Mystery Machine, and wears Scooby Doo shirts. (And yet is still terrifying.)

              Though I think I might like Warren (and his boyfriend) best of all. :p

        • Ok, you just won a reader for Patricia Briggs. I usually avoid paranormal romance and had her slotted into it, but this… This sounds *good*.

          • I’ve read most of them, and I’ve never really thought of them as romance. In fact, I think you’ll really like them.

          • Karl Sandwell-Weiss

            Another up vote for Briggs. She’s an excellent writer.

          • Sara the Red

            Yeah, I wouldn’t actually classify them as paranormal romance, despite the fact that bookstores regularly shove them into that category. They are very much urban fantasy. And Briggs doesn’t go in for the explicit sex scenes, either, nor is there much in the way of love dodecahedrons. (They’re not entirely absent, but where they are present, thus far they seem to be low-angst and actually get resolved.) The world-building is quite well thought out as well. And the vampires, while on occasion might be considered attractive (and then only by someone who has no idea what they are), are hella creepy and gross. (Even the one vampire we all like.) The faeries are terrifying. The werewolves are not nice guys (though many of them do try) and despite looking human much of the time very much are not. It’s an interesting take on how paranormal beings try to make it work living somewhat openly amongst humans (the faeries and werewolves are out of the closet; the vampires are not), and how humans react to it (generally poorly, and there are some nice zings regarding government attempts to regulate things they know absolutely nothing about).

            • They’re not entirely absent, but where they are present, thus far they seem to be low-angst and actually get resolved

              Thank god too because the last thing you need is a love triangle that goes on for 22 books (yes, I AM looking at you Janet Evanovich!).

              • Sara the Red

                Yeah, that would be one of the reasons I stopped reading Evanovich early on…

                • I stopped reading her when Stephanie slept with Ranger. I mean, it was okay to flirt with him, but we always knew she’d end up with Morelli. It was just WRONG for her to sleep with Ranger and it icked me off the series.

                  • Somebody gave me the first like eight books to read in a clump so I can’t remember when that actually happened (I mean, I remember that it happened) but I think I wasn’t put off too badly. But I think she should have cut ties with Ranger or Morelli one a long time ago. It’s just gone on way too long. I’m not buying the books anymore, i get them from the library but I think it’s time for her to shut this thing down. The books are like 200 pages triple spaced at this point anyway…

          • Cedar, I give you this scene: (NOT a spoiler.) Bad guy shows up to threaten Mercy at her garage / deliver a message. Teenaged helper grabs nearest hunk of metal to come threaten bad guy. Mercy handles bad guy tactfully, sends him off after verbal altercation, then turns around and chews out shop help. No, not for getting involved in a fight bigger than him. Not for threatening someone far nastier and more powerful than the teenaged male can comprehend. No, it’s because he grabbed her torque wrench when there was a perfectly non-fragile, non-calibrated prybar just a few feet away…

            I giggled. I giggled so very much.

          • Here’s another vote for Patricia Briggs. I’ve read all her books, and she’s never let me down. I like some better than other, but she doesn’t torture you with relationship bullshit, and each book resolves enough that you feel satisfied (which is sooo not true of other “urban fantasy”).

            • Sara the Red

              I quite enjoy some of her earlier “traditional” fantasy, too. THE HOB’S BARGAIN in particular. And it is nice that you wouldn’t *have* to start at the beginning of the Mercy series; she writes them well enough that you can pick them up almost anywhere. (Although starting from the beginning makes for the most fun.)

  22. I will speak up and say I actually really enjoy the occasional books about manly men doing manly things. I see tons of books with a ‘tough chick’ or teenage girls having teenage thoughts. I personally enjoy the occasional non-tough girl and manly man.

  23. Elizabeth Moon’s Deeds of Pakenarrion, Vatta’s war, The Serrano Legacy; Gaie Sebold’s Babylon Steel; Kristen Britain’s Green Rider; Patrick A. Vanner’s Ragnarok, all feature a strong female hero,

  24. How about Kristen Britain’s Green Rider books or Gaie Sebold’s Babylon Steel for female leads? Though the PCers would not like Babylon’s profession.

    • Babylon Steel was an excellent read, but you’re right, she’s a bit unacceptable to the PC crowd, especially seeing as how she ENJOYS her work, yes?

  25. sabrinachase

    I’m very fond of H. Beam Piper’s Ruth Ortheris (secret agent!) and Martha Dane (middle-aged academic!) and Princess Rylla (sharp dresser and all-around badass!) And he was writing in the 1950’s, too. Same era, James Schmitz’s Telzey Amberdon, Nile Etland, and Trigger Argee.

  26. So many competent (and dangerous) women in the Dresden files books – Harry’s Aunt the Leanansidhe, Mab, Karrin Murphy, Molly Carpenter…

    Going older school, Polgara in the Belgariad always reminded me of my Mom, who is a very strong woman. In that same series, Ce’Nedra had a great scene where she essentially shanghaied the Tolnedran legions out from under the nose of her father.

    Granted, those are both fantasy works. For SF, the female characters in Marko Kloos’ Terms of Enlistment were competent and strong in their own right. Icerigger‘s Collete du Kane was formidable in more ways than one.

  27. James Schmitz books.
    The Witches of Karres (The Leewit is one five year old I wouldn’t mess with.)
    Agent of Vega
    Telzey Amberdon

  28. Y’all are terrible. Dispelling proglodytes’ delusions about you is the epitome of manly things in manly ways. If y’all can’t conform to their stereotypes y’all will have to submit for reprogramming.

    They don’t need to bother with facts, they have better ways of knowing things, womanly ways of knowing things, drawn from the deeper truths of reality and if reality doesn’t get in line and start conforming to their truths … reality is gonna get a shunning.

  29. P. C. Hodgell’s lead character in the Chronicles of the Kencyrath series is Jamethiel. Oh, I’m sorry, that one doesn’t count, she’s published by Baen, so she’s automatically part of the patriarchy. Or something.

    What else would you have besides manly men doing manly things in manly ways? Girlie men doing girlie things in girlie ways? The question is not whether the character is a manly man or a girlie man or a man with boobs or a manly girl or a girlie gurl or any thing else. The question is, am I having fun reading this? If the answer is no, then the author has failed. Admittedly, some scenes won’t be fun – but is the book/overall story fun? The answer needs to be a resounding yes.

    Now if only there were more people in the pews than just the choir… 🙂

    • It’s hard to write convincing women doing “women things,” at least for me. _Peaks of Grace_ is probably one of my weakest books thus far, IMHO, for that reason. It is a lot more difficult to write in enough believable tension to keep a reader hooked without on-stage physical threats. At least, writing well enough to keep the 50% of readers who will get to the running-the-household scenes and start skipping to try and find a more exciting bit.

      • Sara the Red

        I can see how that would be difficult. I’m a woman who does lots of supposedly “woman things” (Canning, knitting, making soap, etc) and while I do enjoy them…yeah, it’d be a challenge to write them into fiction and keep it interesting. (Okay, it would be easy to make the making soap stuff exciting, but not in a way that anyone would enjoy in real life, because it would involve shrieking and chemical burns…)

        • Ah. Like in Fight Club. 😀

        • Okay, it would be easy to make the making soap stuff exciting, but not in a way that anyone would enjoy in real life, because it would involve shrieking and chemical burns

          I looked into making soap and was surprised it sounded actually dangerous 🙂

          Now I want to write a story about canning.

          • I tried that once but found out I had a tin ear for the dialogue.

          • Don’t. It would be as boring as ten pages of how a spacesuit must function.

            • Never read the NASA contractor report on the Space Activities Suit, I take it?

              • Have you read RAH’s Have Spacesuit, Will Travel? If you haven’t you are in for a treat.

                • Hard to believe I haven’t, but it’s not coming to mind. Must be time to read it again.

            • If you’re canning something magical, it gets interesting.

              Re: the zapapple jam episode of My Little Pony, where we find out that earth pony kitchen magic is extremely complicated.

          • It can get really exciting if you include pressure canning. My sister covered the ceiling in green beans once by taking the lid off before the pressure was completely released.

          • Pressure canners, improperly used, fall into the blowing stuff up category, I believe.

            • Pressure canners, improperly used? Is there copper tubing involved? Bread dough for sealant?

              • Erm. See recent trials of mass murderers for one example of improper use. (Or was that a pressure cooker? Far as I can tell the difference is cooker is smaller than canner.)

                But I hear you can get steam explosions in a very ordinary kitchen just by screwing up. Of course, I keep lots of equipment in my kitchen that can be very dangerous if I screw up. Doesn’t everyone who cooks?

                “Hey, you lot! Get out of the kitchen! I can’t cook with the six of you underfoot and the dog!”

                • I do need to train up. I was trying to imply using it for a still. Joke fail :: BSOD :: reboot in ten seconds.

                  • Sorry, alcoholic beverage production is Husband’s department. Not your fault: I’m vaguely aware that there are glass containers involved.

          • Sara the Red

            I was really intimidated by the cold-process soap idea, on account of a.) lye being SUPER dangerous, and b.) the fact that it can take up to TWO DAYS for the ingredients to start actually getting soap like (it’s called “trace”). Soap making definitely falls under “chemistry”–but speaking as someone who sucked in science class, it’s actually fun chemistry.

            Then I tried it and learned that a.) lye isn’t so bad so long as you wear rubber gloves and safety glasses and open the windows, and also make sure to add the lye to the water and NOT the other way round, and b.) a stick blender is a glorious, glorious thing. Ten seconds to trace thus far, every time. 🙂

            Well, canning *can* be dangerous if you’re using a pressure canner…Explosions might happen. And even if it’s just a hot water bat, there’s always the so-fun “Oh, great, a jar broke in the water…” Not summer blockbuster riveting stuff (it’s more annoying than anything) but overall…canning is never boring, at least not when you’re the one doing it. ^_^

            Perhaps there is a fairy of canning…?

            • Then I tried it and learned that a.) lye isn’t so bad so long as you wear rubber gloves and safety glasses and open the windows, and also make sure to add the lye to the water and NOT the other way round,

              Yeah, that’s what put me off. I’ve been making my own bath salts for a while but that’s just dump and stir! I also can, but I don’t eat enough jelly to really make it worthwhile to do too much. I think this summer I’ll just freeze berries. Maybe I’ll make some preserves when the figs are in season. I never pressure can though. I am really not keen on the idea of things that might blow up and/or kill me.

              Although I do recall giving a coworker directions for boiling cans of sweetened condensed milk into caramel that mentioned that you HAVE to keep the cans covered in water or they might explode. And that doesn’t bother me.

              • Pressure canning is not actually dangerous if you follow the directions on the canner, and don’t allow yourself to get into too much of a hurry to open it up.

                And it is necessary if you’re canning things without enough acid or salt to prevent botulin growth. I didn’t want to believe it, but apparently botulinum spores (not the active bacteria) can survive up to 270 F, which requires pressure to achieve.

              • Sara the Red

                We do a lot of canning in my household. And I used to hate pumpkin pie…until I made homemade pumpkin butter, and used that instead of the canned squash horror that you get at the stores. It is now a speciality of mine. 😀

                Pressure canning at my elevation is…interesting. Following the directions doesn’t actually work, because those directions weren’t written by someone living at 7000 feet or so. So I’ve learned to do it by ear (literally, it’s listening to frequency of the hissing/rocking of the little weights). I have not yet (knock on wood) blown anything up or decorated the ceiling with green beans.

                • Do you not use the altitude adjustment tables? I’m at about 5000′.
                  I was going to try pressure canning last year, but baby. So maybe this year. The pantry looks awfully empty and sad at the moment, and it makes me unhappy to not have a pantry full of prettily colored glass jars.

        • Well, there’s Auri in “The Slow Regard of Silent Things” who does that kind of thing but you have to pretty much get through “The Name of the Wind” first to understand half of what’s going on with her.

      • Men tend to be in the high risk business. Even if you were willing to risk the females, there is the little side that the women tend toward work compatible with pregnancy and nursing.

        My idea of womanly women doing womanly things tend toward a woman holding down the fort while the man is off fighting a war, or trading, or what have you. Also having her save the day by sewing, but that was a one-shot idea.

        And in general saving the day more by craft than by fighting. An old tradition that.

    • Some SJWs believe that the only reading you should be of the “improving ” variety. No reading for fun. No fun at all actually.

  30. Recently stumbled across Seanan McGuire’s Cryptid series, an extended multi-generational family of cryptozoologists working to study and protect all the monsters in the world. Their nemesis is an organization that firmly believes that the only good monster is a dead monster. Every member of the family is death on two legs with guns, knives, bare hands, you name it. Except of course for the few who rely on magic or telepathy to overcome their enemies.
    Surprised no one mentioned Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake, monster hunter. Urban fantasy bordering on soft core porn, true, but if you skip past the naughty bits there’s a lot of great action battles and mayhem. Her Merry Gentry series much the same thing.
    Switching media:
    Jennefer Garner as Elektra
    Linda Carter as Wonder Woman
    Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
    The chickies in Hunger Games and Divergent

    • So McGuire wrote the anti-MHI?

      • Birthday girl

        Yes, what I was wondering … do she and Larry collaborate on characters, ’cause that might be interesting …

      • In a manner of speaking, but remember MHI differentiates between bad monsters and those who can peacefully co-exist with humans. (for some often rather twisted definitions of peacefully)
        Skippy and his people, the trailer trash elves, Earl Harbinger, Agent Franks are just a few examples. McGuire’s cryptozoologists will put down a monster when absolutely necessary, but would rather by choice push even the most dangerous off into uninhabited territory. It’s further complicated in that in her world there are both animal and sentient nonhumans with some of the sentients passing as human through various and sundry means. Four books and over 20 short stories so far, and i’m looking forward to more in the hopefully near future.

        • Sara the Red

          They are quite enjoyable. And frankly, worth reading for the Aeslin mice alone…

          And on the subject of Seanan MacGuire, I enjoy the hell out of the October Daye series. I haven’t read the Newsflesh books yet (under Mira Grant) but she’s also got a collection of short stories called “Velveteen vs. the Junior Super Patriots” about a former child-superhero who, having aged out of the kiddie superhero scene and retired from things, finds herself combating the incredibly corrupt system that exploits supers. They’re great fun.

          • Wearing the Cape series by Marion G. Harmon

            • Sara the Red

              Oh, yes, that’s an excellent series. Finally, a female teenage protagonist that I didn’t long to slap silly. (And Katniss, frankly, is one of the ones I long to slap.) She’s sensible, polite, and has a great relationship with her parents.

              And I do hope he writes another spinoff with the vampire superhero. She’s awesome.

            • I like that series.

              What’s more, it’s not a grim and gritty deconstruction of the genre. A reconstruction, maybe, with some classic tropes getting some intense glances. A rare thing in the adult superhero line.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                I see it as a realistic take on superheroes by a man who loves the old superheroes stories. [Smile]

        • Sounds like the TV show Sanctuary to some extent.

        • McGuire’s cryptozoologists will put down a monster when absolutely necessary, but would rather by choice push even the most dangerous off into uninhabited territory.

          This would be much more interesting if I didn’t grow up in the “uninhabited territory” where SoCal sends the cougars they catch stalking joggers. (Seriously, the mother of one of the girls in my class kept them in a dog pen out back of her house during the transition time.)

          • In the first book, she lets a serial killer ghoul off with a warning, and rages at another character who killed an unintelligent man-eating monster that had set up its nest in the city before it ate somebody.

            Gave me half an idea, for a world where the villains are not fanatic monster hunters but fanatic monster protectors, killing only to protect the secret of the monsters’ existence, and the renegades are those who kill monsters that do wrong.

      • Well, sorta. The protagonists’ family, the Prices (she switches protagonists from book to book and story to story, but all members of one family) used to belong to an organization which believes essentially “kill everything that wasn’t on the ark, prioritizing the ones which are an immediate danger to humanity”; generations ago they decided that not all monsters are bad, and they still feel responsible for what their distant ancestors did.

        The Prices *will* kill cyptids if necessary, but they’d really rather find ways for cryptids and humans to coexist.

        • I checked out because of the “exotic dancer by night” thing. As far as I’ve ever heard, anybody who’s a dancer by night has no energy to do anything else except dance practice.

          Yes, yes, I’m the person you don’t want as your DM, because I do worry about encumbrance.

          • Sara the Red

            She’s not an exotic dancer, she does ballroom dance (at least, the protag of the first two books does). And yeah, it did stretch the mind a bit that she’d even have time to do both…but on the other hand, she isn’t a champion either, and by the end of the first or second book has conceded that she really does need to pick one or the other, ’cause it ain’t working. (Her family mostly refrains from saying “Told you so.”)

            • I was reading the third book and got stuck a chapter in, so maybe I missed something explanatory. Well, if I can go back and see the others, maybe I’ll change my mind.

            • She’s a waitress.

              • Yep, in a titty bar where most of the dancers are non human.
                To be clear, it’s not that I agree with the entire premise of the books, but you have to admit it is something of a novel approach. And I like the way McGuire strings words together, for me a good entertaining story teller counts for a lot whatever the message.

    • Feather Blade

      Urban fantasy bordering on soft core porn

      Last book of hers I read (7-8 years ago maybe? how time does fly) there was no “bordering” about it.
      Offputting, really. I haven’t read her stuff since.

      • The crappy thing about that is that Anita as a character is so awesome. I read somewhere that Laurell K. Hamilton wanted to do so much more, but the pressure to make Anita a sex-magic-ninja-sniper with emphasis on the sex was too overwhelming, so she just said screw it, and wrote porn. I had to stop reading them too, as she went from killing supervamps to whining about her love life and defending her personal choices for hundreds of pages. Tragic.

        • Fortunately with the last couple of books she has gone back to writing stories and not so much the porn. And it got really bad before she finally burned out on the porn.

          5 pages of plot 10 pages of porn, 5 more of plot then 10 more porn…. That is how I describe it at the height of the porn versus plot in the Anita Blake series. But as stated the last 2 or 3 have been primarily plot and only a bit of porn.

        • It is a bad idea to let editors and/or fans control the direction of your books. Have input, yes, but not direction. That way lies self-loathing.


          Ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself.

        • Yeah. It was an alternate history urban fantasy where there is no masquerade; the monsters aren’t hiding out for inadequate reason.

          A lot of the fans go, but o persecution. And can’t explain why they ALL hide more thoroughly than any persecuted group in history when they have a lot more power than any human.

          • There are a few where it’s justified. Not many.

            • I figure that it comes down to the fact that humans have numbers, and that most of the monsters are entirely killable if you know what you’re dealing with. Even premodern, groups of humans would be dangerous.

              “You’re a werewolf who can go through a dozen people like paper? Great – here’s a Roman infantry maniple with silver pilae and gladii come to ruin your day.” (apologies for the poor Latin. I think I conjugated it right but I’m not sure). Consider Sir Pterry’s take on it in Carpe Jugulum.

              Or even – “Yeah, we hired this wizard who can store sunlight in a bottle. Have fun Mr. Vampire.”

              • Most persecuted groups have been outnumbered by their persecutors, and were entirely killable if you know what you’re dealing with.

                One also notes that this masquerade business has been going on for generations. Furthermore, those in the masquerade are the usual selection of human personalities — if anything, weighed toward the impulsive and risk-taking. They are not going to hide their existence with the necessary OCD meticulousness against a danger that no one alive has actually faced.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Barbara Hambly’s vampires are quite aware that “vampires don’t exist” is their best defense so once they are aware that somebody has convinced himself that a relative/friend was killed by a vampire, they change their hiding places and leave the vampire-hunter alone.

              • Yes, all the vampires are uniformly of one mind on the topic. . . .

                Small size and care in recruitment help make it more plausible there.

                • And the fact that when a thousand year old elder tells the new kid not to do something, the unstated addition to that sentence is “or I will kill you while expending almost zero effort”

      • there was no “bordering” about it.

        Seriously. I read the fairy ones which were bad but I couldn’t even get into the vampires. I finally had to dump the series because it seemed to be going nowhere.

        • Mentioning Hamilton never fails to stir up strong feelings.
          Funny story, when John Ringo was kicking around the idea that ultimately resulted in his writing the story “Ghost” he described his main character to some us over at Baen’s Bar as a male Anita Blake. John had no intentions of submitting the story to Baen as it was by no stretch SF, but did post a few snippets on the Bar. Jim demanded that John give him first refusal anyway. The rest is history.

  31. How about David Freer & Eric Flint’s Pyramid Scheme? I seem to remember a female biologist being part of the team. Or Ringo’s Princess of Wands & Queen of Wands? Barb Everett sounds like one heck of a strong woman to me, and I don’t think Janea is a slouch either.

  32. It’s interesting to ruminate on the byword/catchtag “strong”, especially with regard to female characters. Part of the disagreement over the term comes, I think, from the fact that when it was originally deployed it was used in two not necessarily contradictory, but not always fully correlated, senses:

    – It referred to characters who were independently competent under stress, who were able to and did solve their own problems without falling apart or giving up — sometimes while needing help, but never wholly helpless themselves; and
    – It referred to characters who were emotionally complex in their own right, full of flaws and conflicting desires, rather than being depicted solely in the context of how they related to other characters and how what they want impacts those characters.

    Part of the problem with both these requirements is that by definition, any character who isn’t a story’s primary protagonist tends not to be the person who resolves the story’s primary conflict, and tends to be depicted primarily in the light of their relationship to that protagonist. So there’s only so “strong” anybody can convincingly be if they’re not placed in a position of primary dramatic agency, which is why the demand is not just for the presence of a wide spectrum of characters but for the chance for those characters to be key protagonists.

    Unfortunately, protagonists are both in shorter supply than regular characters — there is only room for a few of them in any given story and the more of them you have the bigger your tale — and are held to stricter, and occasionally kafkatrap, standards about how they are written: if a protagonist demographically reflects his creator, it’s “lazy”, but if not, it’s “appropriation”, and a protagonist who acts and believes differently from the general category he is inferred to represent often “doesn’t count”. So the obstacles to creating such exemplars are harsher than first perceived.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      A strong female character has an impossible in real life for women strength stat of 9 or greater, and the sex flag in the file set to female.

      I don’t have any of those in text stories, because CRPGs are a different genre.

      🙂

    • Depends on the kind of story, doesn’t it? In a “Hero’s Journey” story, such as Stranger in a Strange Land or Citizen of the Galaxy we see protagonists surrounded by strong people who help the hero learn how to tap into his own strength.

      In Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, Kip learns how to be strong from the examples of his father, of Mother-Thing, Pee-Wee and even Oscar. Often, strength is an act of will more than of muscle.

      • Exactly; that’s why I didn’t limit it to mere physical or martial prowess, or even just to “courage” but described it as competence under stress. Somebody who can keep their s**t together, to be vulgar about it, even if they can’t maintain the badass unruffled casual look. (They don’t need to be able to do that all the time — every character should have a tragic flaw or weakness — but they do have to be able to do it more often than not.)

        And the whole point of character growth into being able to do this is to start from a point where you can’t, yet. Which is why you have to be patient with your protagonists in a long story.

    • Sara the Red

      “Strong” female character these days seems to default to “badass, beat-everyone up” type and almost nothing else. And okay, I love Buffy (well, the show, Buffy herself was a snot) and River Tam (who is at least crazy) but it seems as though folks who write “strong” female characters think that’s what it means, always: the female warrior-type. And absolutely nothing else. In cop-shows, she’s always a workaholic, always crap with the personal life (or almost always), has no interests beyond her career, etc. (Granted, the male characters are like this too.) That’s a lot of cookie cutter characters! 😀

      There are always exceptions, of course, but it does seem to be a growing problem with the concept of the “strong female character.” I mean, I like Black Widow. Scarlet Johanssen is awesome in that role. But, really, what is there remotely unique about the character? All she really does is beat people up. Woo. (Okay, actually there was a touch more to her in The Winter Soldier with her friendship with Steve, but not nearly enough, alas.) And it’s cool, but it would be awfully nice if Black Widow had some more human qualities to her. Hobbies. A pet. Something.

      • I thought Natasha’s key scenes in The Avengers weren’t her combat scenes but the ones where she (1) outfoxed Loki in the interrogation game (and personally I don’t think she was entirely faking the sting of his words), and (2) her conversation with Clint about debts and “red in the ledger”.

        Natasha has always come across to me as a person in a great deal of pain about her past choices who is working very stoically and steadily to redress things, and that’s not unique in itself, but I think the way Johanssen creates the character helps distinguish it.

        • Some of the pre-release stuff i have seen on the new Avengers flick has given the impression that Clint Barton has a wife and family to whom he is dedicated. The Marvel Cinema wiki entry for him reports:

          Around the time he joined S.H.I.E.L.D., he met and formed a romantic relationship with a woman named Laura, whom he married. Of his associates, only Natasha and Nick Fury seemed to know about Laura (and their eventual children), the latter of which excluded them from his S.H.I.E.L.D. file in order to protect them.
          http://marvelcinematicuniverse.wikia%5BDOT%5Dcom/wiki/Hawkeye

          We can only speculate how Hawkeye’s time as Loki’s puppet affected his marriage. The article indicates Barton has a farm in undisclosed location, without anything indicating his family is there.

          This certainly implies the relationship between Hawkeye and Black Widow is platonic, that they actually are just good friends. I didn’t think that kind of perversion was allowed in film any more.

          Black Widow, OTOH, is slender, sexy and able to kick-a (with a little editorial help.

          Maybe this is credible ..


          But as much fun as it is the most credible part, to me, is Happy Hogan’s fight with the guard. Lots of fun and glad to see they giver her plenty of toys to use, but most of those moves aren’t taking anyone out of a fight.

          An even better example of pushing the boundaries of credibility occurs throughout the (first) Avengers film in which she fires a pair of magic .45s without breaking her wrists or missing a shot. Sorry, those wrists aren’t doing that, not in those conditions.

          Of course, I can distinguish between a movie/comic/novel and reality so I can reinstate my disbelief after a brief suspension.

          • I *believe* that the Black Widow has some enhancements along the lines of Captain America’s super soldier serum via a partially successful recreation attempt. That would explain the increased strength and toughness she’d need to pull it off.

            • Yes, Black Widow is not entirely a normal human. There’s a lot of backstory to her character that the movies haven’t brought out.

            • It would also explain why she doesn’t look like she’s 75. Doesn’t explain why she’s slept with just about every second-tier hero in the Marvel universe though, with the possible exception of Northstar and a couple of the Young Avengers.

              • Sara the Red

                Yeah, I’d blame the comic writers for that one. Notably, movie-Black Widow has not, so far as we know, slept with anyone at all.

          • Those were Glocks. Established in canon.

            • Dude, i read everything Marvel published (except True Love comics) from FF #4, Spiderman #2 and Hulk #1 up until the mid-90s and I no longer believe in the canon. They have done so much retconning that the ship sails backwards.

              As for the movies’ canon, it has yet to be established.

              Regardless, I doubt Glocks have the kind of kick that allows such shooting. I can accept she may have received some sort of “empowerment” but they haven’t said it yet.

              Still doesn’t uphold the “no super-powers” principle.

              I’m still trying to figure out how Superman stays so buff without doing any kind of heavy workout. That’s a guy who can do arm curls with Tom Knighton an M1A1 — how does he get so chiseled?

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                It’s his costume. He’s not really that “buff” but his costume makes him look buff. [Wink]

                Somewhat more serious, in Wearing The Cape the main character meets one of the other super-beings who is “out of uniform” and notices the difference.

                He explains that his costume is designed to make him look more buff. [Smile]

              • “They have done so much retconning that the ship sails backwards.”

                I just want to take a moment to applaud the brilliance of this particular turn of phrase. Well said.

                • (blush) Thank-you.

                  Although I think …

                  “They have done so much retconning that backwards sails the ship.”

                  … might have worked better, but i didn’t think of it in Time.

                  • Sara the Red

                    I agree. That was a brilliant turn of phrase, and no, I actually prefer your original version to the latter. Your original version flows better. 😀

                  • If you didn’t think of it in Thyme, what did you think of it in? Rosemary? Sage? Parsley?

                    • One of my regrets is that, at a convention a number of years ago (probably Worldcon, but perhaps NASFIC), I did not purchase the cookbook being put together by the con, titled, “Adventures in Thyme and Spice.”

                    • U.S. News and World Report

          • Sara the Red

            I am totally a supporter of Clint/Natasha being a platonic friendship. (And yes, movie-version Black Widow does have more depth than many, I agree.) Also Natasha/Steve having a platonic relationship.

            I love the idea that Hawkeye is (happily, hopefully) married. That was one of the things I loved best about Firefly: that the first mate and the pilot are happily married.

      • Patrick Chester

        Actually, I liked that scene early on where she was being interrogated by Russian mafia… or actually she was interrogating them until Coulson interrupts it with that phone call.

        (I did rewind on that scene. She’d make some statement about whatever group the thugs were with, and the leader would correct her and give away info on who was what in that area. I was… amused.)

      • I agree with your first point, but Black Widow, IMHO, is not the character to take to task about it. She’s a comic book character, and deep characterization takes a long time there. If Interesting Things are not happening often enough, people get bored.

      • Okay, actually there was a touch more to her in The Winter Soldier with her friendship with Steve

        I didn’t care anything about Natasha in the avengers but I adored her with Steve in the winter soldier!

        Apparently there is some sort of tumbler dust up because of something the actors said about the characters and they made chris evans apologize (which he did well) and the other guy (who did a kind of sorry you were offended apology). Bleck.

    • I have actually heard people arguing that an author should have thrown in a random scene with two female characters discussing embroidery solely to pass the Bechdal test.

    • What’s really fun is what I have seen people argue for: that a woman who lives up to society’s expectations is thereby weak, you must defy them to be strong.

      So: poison the hero — STRONG. save the hero from the poison — WEAK.

      And then they complained that all strong women were depicted as evil.

  33. RealityObserver

    OK, I see James Schmitz already mentioned – can only agree with those.

    But Tom mentioned Anne McCaffrey. A *big* favorite of mine (going by dog-earing) is the “Singer” sub-series of Pern. Which I would have to describe as being about “Womanly women doing womanly things in womanly ways.”

    Which is the main difference between myself (most of the people here, too) and creatures like Chu and Hayden. If we were the stereotype they want to cast us as, checking our own set of ideological boxes off, we would fly into a berserker rage at the mere mention of those books. McCaffrey would certainly have a blank scoresheet on my purely hypothetical “Social Injustice Warrior” form.

    Instead, we pick them up, read them, and enjoy the obvious quality of writing, the clearly evident personal knowledge of the dramatic arts, and the excellent research that went into building out some very fine details of a low technology world.

  34. I like Nathan Lowell’s Tanyth Fairport books, which feature a post-menopausal leading lady. His Solar Clipper series also features strong women, many of them starship captains. In fact, the hero of that series, Ishmael Wang, is a bit more wimpy than some of his female shipmates.

  35. Rob Crawford

    Paksennarrion, Honor Harrington. Just off the top of my head.

    Or, heck, Arya Stark, Catelyn Stark, Cersei Lannister, Brienne, and more just from Game of Thrones.

  36. The lead character in Tuf Voyaging is certainly not a manly man doing manly things, although he is a man.

    I do like Burroughs and Mundy (particularly James Schuyler Grim) for manly men in older action/adventure tales that border on F/SF.

    • Sara the Red

      Hell, even Burroughs managed to make Jane NOT a damsel in distress in at least a couple of books, and had her doing cool jungle stuff she’d learned from her husband. (Before he either decided he didn’t like it, or–and I suspect this is more likely–his editor made him change her back.)

      • My dad had a complete set of the Tarzan novels at one time and I read all of them in my misspent youth. Jane was always being kidnapped or something and Tarzan was always having to go to her rescue, but she was no hothouse flower. She kept her wits about her, plotted escape attempts, and defied the bad guys. She disappeared after Tarzan and the Ant men (#10) and reappeared only once, in “Tarzan’s Quest” (#19), doing the cool jungle stuff. Then she vanished again.

  37. RealityObserver

    Apply heel of palm to side of head… I have no excuse for missing them earlier, as I am currently overdosing on my shelf full of Asprin.

    Tananda the Trollop, Bunny the Moll, Pookie the Pervect, Massha, Queen Hemlock (brrr…).

    Back to work…

  38. A lot of the female characters praised here are women doing manly things in manly ways. A woman doing womanly things in womanly ways is less common. Ofelia from “Remant Population” by Elizabeth Moon is a decent example. Ekaterin Vorsoisson/Vorkosigan is another.

    • Oh, there’s also Fawn Bluefield, from “The Sharing Knife” by Bujold, who is a womanly woman doing womanly things in womanly ways. Dag is a manly man doing manly things in manly ways, but the two of them make quite the team.

    • Sara the Red

      Yes, that is why I always very much liked Ekaterine. AND Fawn. Also Queen Elana from the Elenium–she was a diplomat and ruler to her fingertips, but left the heavy armor and weapons to the (male) knights.

    • I once had a crit of a story complaining that the heroine saved the day by sewing — how unfeminist!

  39. Hmm… Given that Fantasy and Science Fiction books (shorter works sometimes don’t follow this pattern) are typically “quest-like” in that the protagonists either get enlisted to do something to avert some disaster/defend against evil/fulfill some prophecy, or else are chronicling the adventures of someone in a larger, already-ongoing campaign, it is typically going to be that the main characters are doing what could be considered “manly things in manly ways”, because that’s what is typically called for in such a plot, whether the protagonist is a man or a woman.

    But how about the supporting characters who aren’t onscreen enough to consider main characters, who are still badass, but don’t have to kick ass in a big way to prove it? For example: Dora, from Time Enough for Love, was “willing to be raped all night” if it would give Lazarus time to take out the three men who had invaded their home. Granted, she did shoot one of them, but that was incidental to helping defend the home.

    That’s all I can think of at the moment, but I’m sure there are others.

  40. What is a “manly thing”, anyway, other than something that typically a man likes to do or does more often than a woman does?

    • It is anything of which an SJW disapproves. Actual definitions vary according to the polemical needs of the plaintiff.

      • But they seem to like it when female characters do those things, like treat bedpartners casually, dole out violence, and intimidate both superior and inferior people with steely-eyed charisma.

        • But that is manly women doing manly things in manly ways, so it’s all good.

        • Sara the Red

          Of course, nevermind that actual, real life (good) men (not manchildren) don’t do most of that either (on account of it translating more to ‘sociopath’ than ‘decent human being’)… 😀

          Hmmm. Possibly the problem lies in a misconception of what men do? (ie, men do human things, good and bad. Just like women. Imagine that.) Wouldn’t be the first time SJWs made that kind of misinterpretation or attempted to paint entire groups with the same brush…

          • It is a form of penis envy: people with penises get away with doing bad things, so Justice requires that people without penises be allowed to get away with bad things, too.

            The flaw in that logic should not require exposition in this venue. Of course, logic is a tool of the patriarchy.

            • Sara the Red

              There’s also the rather distressing SJW attitude that all people are inherently nasty, vicious creatures. Whereas I’ve always believed that many–perhaps even most–people are more decent than not, and frequently good in ways that don’t involve shouting that goodness from the mountaintops. Sure, there’s many, many truly evil types in the world…but I don’t buy into the idea that we’re all born evil. That’s a choice.

              • That we’re “all born evil” reeks of gnosticism, a philosophy antithetical to humanity. That it so commonly accompanies a belief that all human action is motivated by material factors is no surprise.

              • This is weird, too, because an alleged SJW claim is that there’s nothing akin to Fallen Man; instead, we are all born good, and if only we could rid Society from its EVILZ (aka Capitalism and Free Markets and allowing individuals to be individuals and speak their minds, and so forth) we become nasty, vicious creatures. (Of course, according to some environmentalists, the only good human is a dead human…)

                Personally, I have come to realize that it is true: we are born inherently good. We have a desire to help others out, and be nice towards each other. Otherwise, the free market wouldn’t work at all. On the other hand, we are also born inherently evil, and we are also born with the desire to club people and take their belongings–thus, no matter how hard we work to make the Perfect Society, we’ll never elliminate evil.

                And all this–both Good and Evil–is, at a minimum, because humans have the intelligence to weigh the costs and benefits of *all* options–and some of them will be good, while others, evil…

              • Regarding that difference in attitude, both you and the SJWs are projecting. They know, on some subconscious level even if they won’t admit it to themselves, that they’re acting nasty and vicious, and so they justify it to themselves with their assumption that all people are inherently nasty and vicious. Whereas you know that you’re a decent person deep down, and so you also project your own tendencies onto others.

                • Witness pro-gun-control leftists who admit, in unguarded moments, that they should not be trusted with guns.

    • This is where the whole ‘choose your own [adventure]/gender’ thing bugs me. I thought the point was that you could do what you liked? But apparently not.

  41. Terry Pratchett’s Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, Magrat, Agnes, Tiffany, Susan, Sybil, Ptraci, etc.
    Chris Nuttall’s Emily, who hasn’t finished school yet.
    David Drake’s Adele from the Lt. Leary series, arguably the most dangerous librarian in the universe.
    Alma Boykin’s Elizabeth and Rada Ni Drako, who is no longer allowed to attend sexual harassment training sessions.
    Sarah Hoyt’s Nell from Witchfinder, who doesn’t like fancy dresses.

    And that’s off the top of my head, from the most recent books I’ve read.

    • Adele Mundy doesn’t count because she doesn’t express emotions like a woman and is totally uninterested in sex. If she was a real woman she would off Daniel and take over herself because she’s a woman. Besides Drake is icky because he was in Vietnam and stuff in the Army, and he wrote Hammer’s Slammers. How much more icky than that can you get?

      Ow! I think I bit my tongue…

  42. “Manly men doing manly things in manly ways, with lots of other manly men…wait, what?”

  43. I’m cheating because this is a movie rather than the original book, but I absolutely loved the character of Mattie Ross as depicted by Hailee Steinfeld, in True Grit.

  44. Christopher M. Chupik

    I wish the folks accusing us of being he-man woman-haters would take a gander at this post and its comments. 🙂

  45. Mr Knigthon,
    I think one of the many things that separates a Julie Shackleford, from a typical “Womyn heroine” is realism. In many ways the first few Anita Bake books were exemplars of this.Neither Julie nor (early) Anita tried punching men in the jaw anymore than Batman attempts to Box Waylon Jones.

    In each case there is a realistic usage of strengths versus weakness, A real woman understands that she has no hope of arm wresting a cicra 1982 Arnold, so she doesn’t bother to try. That does not mean however that she does not fight. By the same token, Batman does not attempt to arm wrestle Superman.

    Its not about sex, its about understanding who you are, and who your opponent is. (whether the you is YOU or your character).
    I guess what annoys me the most about the “90 pound woman knocks out a 300 lbs UFC fighter with one punch” trope isn’t how idiotic or even unrealistic it is, its how lazy the writers are.

    Its easy to write that (as an example) Rhonda Rousey kicks the crap out of out Ken Shamrock, Dan Severin, and Hoyce Gracie at the same time in a cage match because of “feminism”. its a hell of a lot harder to show how she does so.

    • Yeah, but Rhonda Rousey can kick my butt any time she likes. 😀

    • … a realistic usage of strengths versus weakness, A real woman understands that she has no hope of …

      They are in denial of reality. Q.E.D.

      … its about understanding who you are, and who your opponent is.

      See prior comment. They are demanding the world adapt to their vision.

      … what annoys me the most about the “90 pound woman knocks out a 300 lbs UFC fighter with one punch” trope isn’t how idiotic or even unrealistic it is, its how lazy the writers are.

      This is the sort of idiocy that can only be believed by somebody who has never actually thrown a punch. Whether the pitcher hits the stone or the stone hits the pitcher, it will be bad for the pitcher. The likely result of a 90 pound woman hitting a 300 lb man is the women breaks several bones in her fist.
      http://www.cracked.com/article_19654_6-painful-things-nobody-tells-you-about-fighting.html
      “There are at least as many ways to break your own fist with your opponent’s body as the other way around. Say you align your fingers ever so slightly wrong. Too bad, they are now broken. Hit the target with the wrong knuckle? Enjoy the dislocation of said knuckle. Get the angle wrong? Congratulations, you now have a broken wrist.”

      • I don’t mind denial of reality in stories, so long as its done well. My Momma is five foot nothing. I was six foot at 12. But when she had a cast iron skillet in her hand and got mad i ran. Course the time she threw a rock through grannys window while drunk. I picked her up, threw her over my shoulder and carried her home. Niether of these incidents cancels out the other, but the context, the story behind each incident makes all the difference. I don’t care if a story tells me that Sarah beat the crap out of Achilles with one hand tied behind her back while pregnant; but you damn well better make it a good enough story to believe.

      • And if the big guy ever gets hold of them, it’s gonna go badly. Like Loki and the Huik badly.

  46. Don’t forget Rita Longknife from Michael Gear’s “Spider” series.

    • And Susan Garcia, and Leeta Dobrin, and a few others. The ‘Manly Men’ in there were mainly enemies. John Smith was too commonsense to really fit that description and Friday Garcia Yellowlegs was practically Grouch Marx taking scalps.

  47. Maybe I missed it. Has anyone mentioned Dr. Skye Chadwick of Stephanie Osborn’s Displaced Detective series?

  48. I hate scrolling through 233 comments while screaming “ALMA BOYKIN! ELIZABETH OF STARLAND!!”
    Even when I passed TxRed’s posts I’m still screaming that.
    Elizabeth showed me the Two Conspiracies about writing strong women: They are all beautiful, and have no menstrual cycle. Not true with Elizabeth! One character says she has a face like the back end of a dead mule. And she has to find clean cloths to use when her period starts, and she ALSO has to go fight when she has cramps. That’s a REAL WOMAN! and not a barbie-with-a-gun or a man-with-boobs.

    • To be fair, the majority of male heroes are usually found good looking by most people, too, even if they themselves are too humble or self-doubting to think so.

      • Wahllllll … here’s the thing.

        Our evolutionary programmed (you do believe in evolution, don’t you?) dictates that certain traits light up our “pretty” responder. Facial features ought be symmetrical (evidence of good genes free from manglement) and so on and so forth.

        The characteristics which define a man as “manly” and handsome tend, by and large, to conform to evolution’s diktats. Stregth, both physical and of character tends to be visible.

        The characteristics that make a woman “womanly” and pretty tend — in contemporary literature — to be inconsistent with evolution’s programming.

        • “The characteristics that make a woman “womanly” and pretty tend — in contemporary literature — to be inconsistent with evolution’s programming.”

          How so? Insofar as you can explain without slagging on specific authors or characters, if you’d rather not.

          • Can’t think of specific examples off-hand, in part because such characters tend to not be read by me. Many of L’Amour’s heroes are described as homely … but physical attractiveness in a mate tends to be less important to women.

            Historically, men are considered attractive largely because of character and women because of fertility.

            Sorry — lost the original thread there. Does that suitably expand on the argument?

            • I think so, yes; if I understand you right the basic issue is that where female characters are explicitly described as “attractive” by their creators, the physical and emotional traits ascribed to them don’t in practice match what men actually tend to find attractive in women, or what would make for a stable domestic pairing with an unusual man who did.

              (For a personal example, based on Laurell K. Hamilton’s descriptions, I suspect I would be quite physically attracted to a woman who looked like Anita Blake. But I was actually turned off the series well before it shifted into xenoerotica simply by the fact I had stopped liking Anita very much as a person.)

              • Yes, I think that captures the thought I was trying to express. Men tend to be shallower (slower to mature) and forget that “crazy” may be great in bed for a night or even a weekend but a very very bad choice for a lifetime or for raising his children.

                It sorta depends on what you’re shopping for, right? Our society focuses too much on guys getting laid and too little on guys looking for life partners. It is almost as if some pernicious force was promoting self-destructive goals.

          • Ah — now that the post has gone up I see it.

            The kind of musculature and skeleton required to do the things modern female protagonists do are inconsistent with the structures evolution provides for birthing babies. So SJW womyn are less believable.

            • Ah — so I didn’t follow you at all, then! Never mind, your point here makes sense too.

              • Er, uh, never mind. It’s a complex topic and I have just been winging it, feeling my way through an elephantine concept. If anything I’ve said makes sense it is probably by accident.

  49. AnotherOldNavyChief

    Can’t believe nobody mentioned Faith from Johnny Ringo’s Black Tide Rising series. A young female Marine who’s the baddest zombie killer in the Wolf Fleet. And her sister Sophia is no slouch either…

  50. Did anyone mention C.J. Cherrih’s Pride of Chanur series, or her very Oriental ‘Foreigner’ Series? There’s an old matriarch in the Foreigners that is Machiavelli on steroids! Didn’t read all 300+ comments so if I am duplicating, I apologize. ‘Pride of Chanur’ is one of my “Desert Island” trunk of books sets, along with LOTR and Ender’s Game, among others…

  51. And for those of us who identify with (merely extraordinary) men and women muddling through as best they can–often with heroism, humor and grace–read practically anything by Connie Willis.

  52. “So what are some of your favorite works that aren’t about manly men doing manly things in manly ways?”

    Let’s see… Most of the Humanx Commonwealth stories by Alan Dean Foster. Diane Duane’s ‘Young Wizards’ series (far better than that Brit author’s attempt at the same genre) and ‘Cat Wizards’ series, in which the main characters aren’t even human. See also Robert Sawyer’s Farseer trilogy (intelligent dinosaurs) and Robert L. Forward’s fabulous Dragon’s Egg, one of my favorite SF novels of all time.

    As for strong female characters: 300 comments and no one has yet mentioned Kitty Norville? (Granted, she starts out way over on the ‘powerless’ side of the scale, but over the series she develops a lot.) Or Kerowyn, Tarma, Kethry, all from Mercedes Lackey? What about Gil-shalos from Barbara Hambly’s Dark trilogy?

    • Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement. 18″ ‘caterpillars’ that are adapted to a world where the gravity ranges from 3G to 800G.

  53. What about Samantha Carter from the Stargate SG-1 series?

    • Drool.

      Had a serious crush on her. Sadly, I watched some Youtube interviews Amanda Tapping did. She’s an EXCELLENT actress – but it was Samantha Carter that I was lusting after, not Amanda…

  54. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    For two different types of female Main Characters, see Lisa Shearin’s books.

    Her Raine Benares novels (start with Magic Lost, Trouble Found) are set in an interesting fantasy world with her main character, Raine, living by her wits as a seeker of lost items (and sometimes people). Raine isn’t a “heavy hitter” in terms of magic and while she’s a fair fighter she also is willing to run away from somebody bigger/stronger (or a better fighter) than her. Raine is “Strong” in terms of character and experience. Minor note, there is a romantic triangle of sorts but one of the males is a classic “bad boy” and Raine knows it and the other one is basically is a cop with strong magic. Raine likes him but worries about him and her relatives who are mainly crooks. All I’ll say is that she willing to work with both of them while trying to ignore the “romantic vibes”. For some unknown reason (to her), both of “her” men have a “working relationship”. IE they are willing to work together.

    Lisa’s The SPI Files is set in “our world” where magical beings normally prefer to remain hidden but SPI exists to deal with those who cause trouble. Oh, the owner (& founder) of SPI is a female dragon who can appear to be a human. But the main character is a rookie at SPI, Makenna Fraser, who is a “seer”. That is somebody who can “see through” the disguises that allow magical beings to pass for human. While she has a Strong character, her inexperience is a problem and she knows it. The first book is The Grendel Affair which is followed by The Dragon Conspiracy. I’m looking forward to the third book The Brimstone Deception.

  55. Not SF/F but I always loved L.M. Montgomery’s books. Anne is wonderful, so is Marilla and I love how realistic her characters are.

    • Awww! I didn’t love the books as much as the movies, but Matthew is a good male example for me. He is more soft hearted one about Anne (vs. Marilla although she comes around), and I think that is sometimes very true to life.

  56. > So what are some of your favorite works that aren’t
    > about manly men doing manly things in manly
    > ways?

    I am quite fond of Eluki bes Shahar’s “Hellflower” trilogy, narrated in the first person by Butterflies-are-free Peace Sincere in a patois that would probably drive our gracious hostess mad. Apparently Ms. Shahar normally writes the kind of romance stories I’d rather poke my own eyes out than read, but those three are rockin’ old-school science fiction.

    Generally, the gender/sex/orientation/whatever of the main characters are of very little interest to me unless it’s somehow important to the story.

  57. For strong female characters, I’m partial to Antonina from Drake and Flint’s “Belisaurius” series, for a variety of reasons including the awesome knife-fight-in-a-kitchen scene. All the better that she’s based on an actual historical figure…

    …And from the same series, for much the same reasons: Empress Theodora. Her revenge on John of Cappadocia…Eek.

    • Do not forget Irene Macrembolitissa, and Shakuntala (the rescue scene in An Oblique Approach is hilarious, as Flint acknowledges the limitations of size). And later on, we have Rukaiya, Anna Saronites, and Ladies Sanga and Damodara.
      Flint regularly puts strong female characters into his work.

  58. How about the Skyrider series from Melisa C. Michaels? She does punch people out, but she breaks her hands on a regular basis. Her main strength is her piloting skills.

  59. I confess that this guest post has had the back of my brain playing the chorus to AC/DC’s Dirty deeds, done dirt cheap:
    Manly men, doing manly things
    Manly things, done in manly ways
    Manly ways, done by manly men
    Manly men and they’re doing manly things
    Manly things and they’re done by manly men

    And I’m not even much of a fan of that band.

  60. Not long ago I tried to explain on ars that I didn’t like the push for females in every game because not every story makes sense. I used the examples that in halo the soldiers are genetically modified in super suits, in buffy the vampire slayer she is literally magically super strong. On the other hand you have battlefield games where its supposed to be more real, no super jumps or hand flipping tanks. They literally laughed that I could make that distinction. Feels like the same thing, if the story makes sense, good, but shoehorning a petite fem in as a marine lugging 80lbs of gear just looks ridiculous.

    • I should point out that I mean in a fast paced combat game. I’ve known real life female Marines, they lugged their own gear as necessary but you could tell it was a different thing to them, even if they were jarheads’ who wouldn’t admit it;)

  61. I have to confess here. I’ve read Robert E. Howard and loved the stories. I’ve read most of L’Amour’s books, and liked the westerns with a lot of gunfighting, fist fighting, and manly stuff. Yep, I’m guilty.

    I also really loved “Once A Hero”, by Stackpole. The protoganist plays not only the hero, but the fallible human hero exceptionally well. I forget her name, but the uber cute Elvish love interest worked well as a strong, feminine heroine too.

    Serenity and River Tam, one of my favorite scenes in movies since the turn of the century is River beating all of those heavily armed SJB’s up, tossing them around like the turkeys they are.

    Or, how about the Fifth Element? You have both the manly man, and a strong, kickass {and beautiful} woman.

    She’s already been mentioned, but Patricia Briggs does Urban Fantasy right. Her main characters are women, and usually win with feminine traits. I believe there’s another one out, and I need to get it.

    CJ Cherryh wrote several great books. But my favorite is “Paladin”. On the cover is this uber cute Asian gal with a scar under her right eye, holding a sword, hilt next to her other eye.

    At times its hard to tell who the main character is, this older, crusty worn out noblemen, best swordsman in the kingdom, or this common girl who suffered a lot when her family was destroyed. She seeks him out to teach her how to fight with a sword, as she intends vengeance. Their chemistry and interaction is the basis of the story, and she refuses to allow him to teach down to her since she’s a “girl”. One of my favorites.

    Huh. Looking at what I wrote, I seem to have slipped off the “manly man” stuff. I do like it when well done, but there’s more to life, and more to fiction.

    Speaking of which, I need to get a hold of Jerry Boyd and see if he’s ready to read more of the two Korean gals/ wereleopards, and there adventures. It’s ready for the Beta read.

    • Since Serenity, Riverdance makes a completely different picture in my head. And yes, ship ’em out, any time. I’ll be out of town tomorrow, but I should be able to get started this weekend.

    • > River Tam

      I never understood the geek-guy fascination with River Tam. She’s like the ultimate Bad Girlfriend. She’s certifiably insane, generally views the entire universe as her enemy, and has super killer mojo. Not only not my type; she’s someone I’d send to town to borrow a cup of sugar, then take off and leave her behind. Brrr.

      • [Spoiler Warning]

        The insanity goes away by the end of Serenity, so…

      • But she’s a bird with a broken wing. A lot of geek guys and girls want to help somebody.

        • White Knight syndrome.

          The problem is, there’s a lot of ‘princesses’ out there who’ve made their ‘dragons’ (emotional problems, financial problems, problems in general) a defining factor in their lives. And when you slay their ‘dragon’, they come up with another one pretty fast, because ‘dragons’ get attention and White Knights.

          Lather, rinse, repeat. WKS is an insidious disease, and can cause real upset in your life. Sometimes the best thing to do is walk away from the princess when she keeps putting out dragon lures…

  62. Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
    But, But that’s bad!!! Really. I want John Wayne back.

  63. Loki's Biggest Fan

    Interesting discussion.

    I’d argue that even the oft slandered Doc Smith had a few impressive characters.

    The Red Lensman comes to mind.

    I just reread the final chapter of “Children of the Lens”.

    Her words with Mentor of Arisia weren’t exactly those of a shrinking violet.

    Her daughters were pretty impressive, too. And they didn’t need Lenses to get the job done (unlike the men).

    If you think they were all just Men with Boobs, I suggest the Boob might be in the mirror…

    • Point of order. None of the Children of the Lens needed Lenses. Christopher got his as a matter of course, and the girls showed they could make their own if needed.

      • Loki's Biggest Fan

        Agreed, indeed.

        The point I was trying to make (badly) is that these poor, defenseless, girly-girls were so powerful they not only didn’t need Lenses, but the only time one made a Lens was to show it almost as a fashion accessory. The line was something like “I found it useful occasionally, but not necessary”.

        Doc Smith gets a very bad rap among the SJW crowd, IMHO. Usually by those who never read him.

  64. Okay… top of my head.
    Hellspark and Mirabile, Janet Kagan’s masterpieces.
    The whole Liaden Universe series — usually a couple. Miri and Val Con, our latest Theo Waitley.
    Telzey, Trigger, etc. by James Schmitz, of course.
    Butterfly and Hellflower! Eluki Bes Shahar!
    Barrayer by Lois McMaster Bujold?
    Jo Clayton’s Shadow (Shadowplay, etc.)
    Gordon Dickson Spacial Delivery and Spacepaw (hard to be a manly man when you’re being delivered as mail, eh?)
    Philip Jose Farmer Father to the Stars
    Zenna Henderson The People
    Nick O’Donohue Trilogy about a female veterinarian?
    Alexei Panshin — Star Well, Thurb Revolution, Masque World
    James White Hospital Station (et al) — a doctor?
    I’ll bet I can come up with more examples, if you really want them. But… manly men doing manly things doesn’t really cover what I find readable very well.

  65. Of the Liaden set, Kareen yos’Phelium is a very interesting female character. I could make a case for her being the most interesting simply because she’s so different from the rest of the Clan’s ladies.

  66. Oh and while It aint sci-fi, anyone who wants a really fun inversion of the “manly men doing manly things” should check out The Flashman Papers by George Macdonald Frasier. Just as proof of how good it is Terry Pratchett based rincewind on old Flash Harry. Funny and entertaining as hell but about as far as you can get from PC.

  67. how about TREMORS (ok not a book), but still kevin bacon fred ward doing manly men (running away), doing manly things (While falling down) + Burt has his own set of cannon fuses (for his cannon), and Reba supports her man.
    can not think of the actor who played Burt (and the dad in family ties)
    if this was a SF/F book, it would be the manlyist (yes a word) of all manly books, doing manly things, by real MEN.

    • Michael Gross. And the smart, plucky seismologist Rhonda, played by the terminally cute and so-far-as-I-can-tell-never-seen-again Finn Carter, who was so awesome she actually convinced manly man Kevin Bacon to change his tastes in women.

    • I rather like Hot Fuzz for mmdmtimw. Nothing is more manly than killing zombies with a cricket bat.

      • Oops — strike <Hot Fuzz, insert Sean of the Dead.

        Although fighting nanny-state government and developing a tru bro relationship is also very manly.

  68. I’ve lost track of women characters, but did anyone mention Queen Winton of Manticore? A woman through and through there.

  69. Forgive me, I may not have read all 26000+ words of comments; however,
    I do not think anyone has asked the question, what exactly is wrong about writing a book about manly men doing manly things in manly ways?
    The mission of an author of any fiction is to entertain. Adding social value and diversity are wonderful, but let us be honest. After a week of attending a sensitivity training class, or getting soaked walking past the handicapped parking getting into work, every man deserves to enter the man cave and have a testosterone-laden story about manly men doing manly things in manly ways, with any homoerotic subplots being subtle, and SJW personality types are seen only in the kitchen (barefoot and pregnant optional).

    • I don’t remember if it has been explicitly asked here, but that is likely because the consensus would be that there is NOT actually anything wrong with writing such stories. We’re just bringing up examples of stories that those who are associated with the Sad Puppies campaign to greater or lesser degrees aren’t calling for all stories to be that way.

      • Exactly.

        There’s nothing at all wrong with those stories, but we are constantly accused of ONLY wanting these stories. It’s not true, and this thread is an example of just how untrue it is.

        The truth is, we like a wide variety of stories. The key here being STORIES, rather than lectures with a thin veneer of fiction trying to hide the origins of said lecture.

        • I think truth and social justice are like the irresistible force and immovable object… They can not both exist in the same universe.
          Certainly a MM/MT/MW has some limit on plot and character development; but in the right place, like a story that has so much butt-kicking science (or fantasy, Niven’s “What Good is a Glass Dagger” has one star of the story, that is the Warlock’s Wheel.) Niven’s “Black Hole” is the SF version, the tidal pulls, the imagining what such an orbit would look like, etc. Actually, for short stories, perhaps novellas, such a story where the idea is the ‘wow’, I would find perfectly acceptable cardboard characters.
          The other end of the extreme would be like Cedar Sanderson’s Pixie for Hire series. Her fantasy environment is pretty mainstream, what makes her stories are the people, their interactions, their loyalties and duties. The plot, the mystery, the resolution in her tales. She even has the men in the kitchen, although I don’t think she got the barefoot part. Like the turtles, it is wow all the way down.

        • Sorry, Comrade. Fiction only exists to serve the Cause. Unauthorized fiction may promote wrongthink and wrongfun.

          Grab your toothbrush and report to the Re-Education Center for a week of rightthink and rightfun!

    • Nothing. Blackbird is purely about a manly man doing manly things, and the women are pretty much in the kitchen or bed-chamber (it’s told from his POV). But I think the post and comments pretty much killed, buried, and sent a very tasteful flower arrangement (in the shape of Kalashna-Kitty) to the argument that ALL sci-fi and fantasy not approved by the Usual Socially Aware Susupects is Gor-remakes or 1950s pulp covers.

    • There’s nothing wrong with that; we all (most?) enjoy a good MM/MT/MW story. Most of us have broader tastes, though, and like other stories as well.

      The lie has been told, though, that this is the only sort of story we like; for those of us to whom that does not apply, this thread was a chance to share the stories whose enjoyment breaks that stereotype.

    • “(W)hat exactly is wrong about writing a book about manly men doing manly things in manly ways?”

      Nothing in itself. What those decrying this idea are objecting to has, I think, several correlated aspects:

      1) The contention that there already are far too many such stories dominating the historical and current SF/F market, and that in the name of creative novelty, variety, and fairness to newcomers, other types of protagonists and plots should be championed — to the complete exclusion of new “Manly” stories if necessary;
      2) The assumption that the “Manly” catchtag is a shorthand — ironic on the complainers’ part, believed to be sincere on ours — not for courageous, morally admirable and heroic protagonists in general, but for straight, Anglo-Euro-Caucasian, male protagonists specifically, who are unfairly attributed the traits of “heroism” simply by virtue of taking the role of protagonist.
      3) The assumption that those who like and defend “Manly” stories, or even simply those who refuse to call them bad or outmoded in themselves, are actually profoundly prejudiced against those demographic groups not covered in the assumed meaning of “Manly” — i.e. any author or character who is not straight, male or Anglo-Euro-Caucasian — and are only objecting to choosing entertainment on a representational basis because they don’t want to lose their position at the top of the heap, which a more “balanced” selection on the basis of author/character representation would supposedly deny them.

      Much of this can only be believed if you have already bought into the bad-faith explanations of the “Manly” fans’ motives, but unfortunately it is precisely such bad faith that makes the reality of the “Manly” position impossible to accept no matter how patiently explained.

      • PFUI. My characters in AFGM are PROFOUNDLY manly. Even if they like ah… the company of other men. So PFUI on their assumptions.

        • Of course. But they assume AFGM is a token outlier and so “doesn’t count”. If they know about it at all.

          What proportion of popularly published protagonists (say that three times fast!) would have to be non-het — or not male, or non-Caucasian — to no longer count as “token”, I don’t know. I suspect that the real answer on the part of many advocates is simply, “Enough to make people I don’t like uncomfortable.” Which has the advantage not only of keeping the argument going as long as someone likes, but validating the moral-bullying urge that is a tragic temptation of the worldview.

        • Pfui — they was doing exceedingly manly things. Each other’s manly things, I presume.

          Whenever somebody goes off on a MM/MT/MW tirade I think about taking them to visit this brownstone I know of on W. 35th Street in NY.

  70. I would like to break the monotony of books without manly things, by suggesting a particularly manly book about manly things done by manly men: Dealing with Dragons, by the manly man author Patricia C. Wrede.

    In that book, the manly Cimorene is somehow mistaken for a princess, and is thus forbidden from pursuing the manly arts of fencing, cooking and cleaning; thus, she flees to become a princess to a dragon, where she can cook and clean to her heart’s content, and occasionally melt a wizard in the Manly manner of drenching him with soap and a touch of lemon.

    Actually, all the books, the the short story, of the Enchanted Forest chronicles, are written in this manly manner. If anyone needs to take a break from these other “girly” works, I would strongly recommend them! (Heck, I would recommend them regardless of whether or not you need such a break: they are a fun set of books to read…)

    • It has been a very long while since I read Robert Don Hughes’ “Pelman the Powershaper” trilogy (The Prophet of Lamath, The Wizard in Waiting and The Power and the Prophet) but recall it as an interesting commentary on Manly Things Done In Manly Ways by Manly Men and a few Womanly Women (as well as a very Dragonly Dragon) as well. Featuring a two-headed dragon occupying the central pass dividing a kingdom in three parts, Hughes explores the distinctions between magic, philosophy and faith. Holding a Ph.D. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary does nothing to diminish Hughes’ story-telling skills.

      Witty with surprising depths. I had quite forgotten about this series; it is unfortunate the author has given us so few works.

    • Love those books.

  71. Not wishing to come out of the closet, BUT has nobody here done J. D. Robb’s(Nora Roberts) “Dallas” series? A seriously strong female-cop lead character with major history issues working in a future cop-shop. Quasi- S/F soft-porn, but future cop stories that just take a lot of neat future-tech for granted with interesting detective plots thrown in.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      The most recent Eve Dallas novel has her dealing with her self-appointed “Best Friend” who has started murdering people that this “Best Friend” thinks hasn’t given Eve the respect that Eve deserves.

      Needless to say Eve doesn’t think much of this “Best Friend” and is interviewing people who sent her “fan letters”.

      One of the people is a woman who thinks women haven’t been treated “fairly” while obviously not the murderer, Eve doesn’t think that much of that women. IE while Eve has had her problems in life, the problems weren’t caused by the “Patriarchy”. [Very Big Grin]

  72. Thanks, Paul, I was worried that I might be the only one…(OTH I have also pretty much read everything she wrote as Roberts as well – shhhhhhh – white noise for the eyes and brain.)

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  77. On planet Dorsai, there was 92 year old Amanda Morgan, the district leader who implemented her part of a plan that destroyed the invasion force landed to destroy Dorsai as a planet. And incidentally her forces captured the real leader of the invasion force who wanted to eliminate the Dorsai Mercenary’s.