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“Let me buy you a pint, Elric…”

This week, we posed the following to our panelists:

Q: We’ve all encountered characters in stories and novels that we’ve felt a real connection to, and would love to chat with more. Maybe buy them a drink. What characters have you encountered in Fantasy and SF that you’d like to buy a pint for?

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MIND MELD: Worthy Media Tie-ins

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From Star Wars to X-Men, Halo to Star Trek, many media franchises also offer tie-in novels, giving fans another way to enjoy their favorite worlds and characters.  But which media tie in novels are the cream of the crop? we asked some experts:

Q: Many movies, TV shows, comic books, and even video games have gotten the novelization or media tie-in treatment. Be it a direct novelization of the original property or an original story based on the characters, what media tie-in books have been a worthy addition to their franchise?

Here’s what they said…

Tricia Barr
Tricia Barr writes about fandom, heroines, and genre storytelling at her blog FANgirl and contributes to her Star Wars expertise to Suvudu.com, Lucasfilm’s Star Wars Blog and Star Wars Insider magazine. She has completed her first original novel, Wynde, a military science fiction epic with a twist of fantasy.

Over thirty-five years later, many fans do not realize that A New Hope, known simply as Star Wars back in 1977, used a novelization and Marvel comics to generate considerable pre-release buzz. The Prequel Trilogy continued this tradition, with April publications of the novelizations in advance of the May movies. When Episode III novelization author Matthew Stover stepped on stage for his book panel at the official franchise convention Star Wars Celebration III, after the book’s release and before the film opened, he was greeted like a rock star. The impending release of Revenge of the Sith certainly helped spur on the fan hoopla, but it was the way Stover masterfully wove together the fall of the Jedi Order and its hero, Anakin Skywalker, that excited a fandom that had survived the Dark Times – the period between the Original Trilogy and the Prequel Trilogy – by reading books and comics. The standing-room- only crowd of novel enthusiasts appreciated the way he had turned a visual story into powerful prose. While much of the Revenge of the Sith novelization maintained the traditional third-person-limited point of view narrative, Stover ventured into second-person explorations of the key characters like Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Count Dooku, and Padmé Amidala. He also explained at his panel why the battle scenes that took place on Chewbacca’s home planet of Kashyyyk were not included in the novelization: to maintain the thematic focus on Anakin Skywalker’s fall. While there were no Wookiees in the book, Stover used a recurring metaphor of a dragon to foreshadow the story’s conclusion.
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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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