NOTE: This installment of Special Needs In Strange Worlds features a guest post from author Ria Bridges! – Sarah Chorn

Ria Bridges is an ex-pat Brit currently living on the east coast of Canada, along with 5 cats and a glorified budgie named Albert. When not reading and reviewing books on bibliotropic.net, Ria can often be found obsessively playing video games, being an amateur photographer, or experimenting with various fibre arts. Ria dreams of someday writing something of publishable quality, and then finding the courage to actually follow through and try to get it published.

Meep Girl

by Ria Bridges

MEEP!

The sound is loud enough to travel beyond the closed door of the training room, to reach the ears of the employees siting in the lounge, startling one. “What was that?”

“Some girl in the new-hire class,” is the reply.

A third person pipes up. “Meep Girl. Yeah, she’s got some medical thing that makes her do that, I guess.”

The first person laughs. “Seriously? There’s no such thing, right?” She pauses, considering. “Is there? That’s just so weird!”

I’m sitting nearby, quiet, half afraid to speak up because I don’t want the focus of the conversation to shift to me, cowardly in the way that I won’t say, “It’s called Tourette’s syndrome, guys, and I’ve got it too.”
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[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

While it is important to recognize women writers in genre, it is ultimately the characters in the stories and novels that we read that draw our imaginations. With that in mind, in what has been often seemingly a dominated field, strong female protagonists sometimes get short shrift. So let’s hear it for female heroes!

We asked this week’s panelists…

Q: Who are your favorite female protagonists? What makes for a strong female protagonist, anyway?

Here’s what they said…

Jacqueline Koyanagi lives in Colorado where she weaves all manner of things, including stories, chainmaille jewelry, and a life with her partners and dog. Her stories feature queer women of color, folks with disabilities, neuroatypical characters, and diverse relationship styles, because she grew tired of not seeing enough of herself and the people she loves reflected in genre fiction. Her debut science-fantasy queer romance novel, Ascension, is now available in digital formats from Prime/Masque; the trade paperback will release in December 2013. You can connect with Jacqueline on Twitter at @jkoyanagi.

I look for agency in any protagonist—for example, bucking macro- or micro-level subjugation either through subversion or direct rebellion. Many of the female characters I’ve loved over the years developed into strong protagonists by rejecting the dominant culture and finding alternate paths to personal fulfillment. Others have taken more direct routes toward claiming their agency, or have worked on behalf of large marginalized groups.

Onyesonwu is the eponymous protagonist of Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death–a woman born into a violent world, conceived of war rape. It’s no wonder, then, that her personality is less likeable and more powerful; that power is fueled by both anger and magic. Her decisions reflect her position as a biracial women in the midst of a genocidal war, and the effects of her violent conception ripple out through the entire novel. It’s through Onyesonwu’s strength that the book explores oppression and the inherent power of story.
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