Round Peg in a Square Hole

A repository of reference material on a variety of subjects

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Getting in Touch with my Inner Zoe

O.K., I may not be the last person in fandom to get hooked on Firefly, but I am well and truly behind the curve, at the very least, considering it's been cancelled for over 4 years. But, through the magic of DVDs and long lunch hours, I've been wallowing in the Firefly 'verse for a while, and thoroughly enjoying it, though with the bittersweet understanding that it was dead before I got here.

Was just re-watching "War Stories" today, and marvelling at the fact that an episode which contains graphic torture scenes is hysterically funny in places. I am once again amazed at how the networks can cancel shows with such great stories, writing, dialog, but most of all, great characters. Those people are very real to me, in part because I know analogs of most of them.

I have to say, though, that Zoe is a balm to my feminist soul. In some ways, she is the direct descendant of Uhura, but she is what Uhura was never allowed to be. Zoe is strong, and loving and intelligent and funny and sexy and tough and unflinching and quick and competent and brave and loyal and so many more things, things that men have always been allowed to be (not that they always were, but such men were not deemed "unrealistic"). She is not perfect, she makes mistakes, but she is such a wonderful, admirable character, it's just a tragedy that she is not known to more people. We need such characters, such people and we need to know that they are possible, and not a fantasy.

I admit, even though we own the DVD of the theatrical release movie "Serenity", I haven't yet watched it. I ran through all the episodes in quick succession, and am now running through them slowly, savoring them. I am holding off on the movie because, once I see it, that will be the end, and I just don't want it to be over. I know there will be questions unanswered, and that always drives me nuts, but it's more than that. It's that I need to feel that Mal and the gang are still out there, still running, still a family, a team, a crew, still living free. The Zoe in me needs to know that.

Monday, June 04, 2007

No "Fan-Girl"ing Allowed

Many years ago, I was offered the chance to speak with Robert Heinlein on the phone. Now, you have to understand that I read everything I could get my hands on by Heinlein, and he was very influential in the formation of my concept of what a woman should be like, what she should do and be able to do. Yet, I declined the honor, knowing that I could say nothing he hadn't heard many times before, and fearing to sound like an idiot saying it.

Quite a few years later, I met J. Michael Strazyncki, shortly after the end of Babylon 5, when we were both guests of honor at a con, and I gibbered uncontrollably. Ever since then, I have tried to stay away from people around whom I feared I would act like a moron, with the sole exception of Lois McMaster Bujold, as she was so easy to talk to (and, I admit, Kate met her first, and insisted I talk with her. Thanks, Kate!). And even though David Weber is one of my favorite authors, and we were co-GoHs at Convergence, I was very leery of going "Fan Girl" all over him, so did not talk with him very much over the course of the weekend.

Well, it happened again at BayCon this weekend. I was called out of the audience of a panel to meet to an actual astronaut, and was introduced as a rocket scientist. I said I was delighted to meet her, thanked her for the picture that was taken of the two of us, then scurried back to my panel. I had seen her earlier, and it was obvious she was not a fan (not a con-attending fan, I should say), and I was somewhat uncomfortable, standing there in one of my many bimbo costumes. I only found out later that she had geeked out when, at her panel, James Hogan (who was GoH) had asked her a question, so she obviously reads the stuff. We would definitely have had things to talk about, even though I have never worked in the manned program. I was just self-conscious enough to not be comfortable, and that is sad.

Why did I feel this way? Lotta reasons. One is that it came at me cold; I wasn't expecting it, and I'm not too fast on my feet in social situations. Another is that I wanted to be an astronaut, applied to the program even. (Later, I was told by a woman who came that close to making it that you need both a pilot's license and a Ph.D to make it into the program, neither of which I have.) Even my family of origin plays into: being the youngest of a large family, I expect to be the slow one, to know less than everyone else around, to rank less, and that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But I also think it's more basic than that. Most women, and I would guess quite a few men, often have a feeling that they're faking it, passing, masquerading, that if people knew what they were really like, they wouldn't trust them or hire them or give them responsibility. So many of us feel like impostors, actors, building and shoring up facades; so many have no confidence. Some pretend better than others; some actually do have the confidence they project. But, from everything I've read and seen and heard, they are few and far between.

What I can't decide is if that is a failing or a virtue on our parts. Keeping on when one is terrified takes great courage; trying things we aren't certain we can do stretches us, makes us stronger. But it would be wonderful if we could do these things with a sense of hope, and of companionship with those around us. The saddest part of all is that the fear keeps us from sharing, and so knowing that others feel the same.