Star Trek Discovery Review

Star-Trek-Captains-790x424

I am a Star Trek fan. I have been a Star Trek fan for as long as I can remember. I am named after the TOS character Zarabeth. The Voyage Home was the first movie I can remember quoting as a child. When Undiscovered Country came out, my parents pulled us out of school early so that we could go see it. To this day, I can still identify Voyager episodes by a single still frame. Star Trek is in my blood. Okay, perhaps I should rephrase that: Star Trek’s prime universe is in my blood. When JJ Abrams took over the franchise with his reboot in 2009 I abandoned the franchise. Much to the chagrin of most of my Trekkie friends, I have never seen the reboot movies, nor do I have any desire to see them. Abrams cemented that fate himself when he made it clear that he was making a Trek film for non-Trekkies.

When news of Discovery was first making the rounds, I dismissed it. Then I learned that Discovery would not be set in Abrams’ Kelvin timeline, but rather in the prime universe. I was intrigued but discouraged to learn that it would be another prequel, filling the gap between Enterprise and TOS.  Here’s the problem with prequels: prequels must constantly be vigilant of established canon. This isn’t something that studios, production companies, and writers aren’t inherently good at (especially when one has to consider the established canon of five television shows and ten movies). That’s A LOT of history to remember mess up! But, Discovery is going to feature a WOC main character, and so I felt encouraged to at least give it a try because at least Abrams can’t mess this up, right?

star-trek-lens-flare

Coming Soon Star Trek: Lens Flare

It’s well known that Battlestar Galactica was in many ways influenced by Ron Moore’s time working on Voyager.  The lack of continuity and realism of Voyager’s journey through the Delta Quadrant upset Moore.  He felt that the ship shouldn’t be pristine at the start of each new episode; that the crew should be more desperate and less rigid in their Federation principles. He felt Voyager missed the opportunity to explore the realism of their situation. When the opportunity to run Battlestar Galactica was presented to Moore, he took all of those lessons he learned on Voyager and poured them into Battlestar Galactica.

In many ways, Battlestar Galactica reshaped the face of modern sci-fi. It was darker, grittier, and more intense than most sci-fi had dared to be in the past. A wave of darker series followed suit, including the much darker Stargate Universe (which incidentally helped kill another beloved franchise). “Gritty” sci-fi has been in vogue now for over a decade. This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily.  Battlestar Galactica is one of my favorite shows of all time. It did re-introduce me to Mary McDonnell, after all, and we all know how that story goes. However, it becomes a problem when we’ve gotten to the place where we believe that all sci-fi must be ‘dark and gritty’. It becomes a problem when we believe that sci-fi that predates this move to realism is inherently lesser.

It’s a problem because Star Trek Discovery is billed as the grittiest Trek yet. Above everything else, Star Trek is the utopian vision of humanity. The Federation rules a planet Earth that is freed from war, poverty, greed, inequality, and all the other defects of modern life. When I was a kid, I loved Star Trek so much more than Star Wars because Star Trek was optimistic. The United Federation of Planets is the most powerful force in the Trek universe. And it is a force that constantly strives to do what is right. Discovery betrays that in an effort to be edgy and hip. Discovery’s first two episodes make it clear to me that those running Discovery have no appreciation for Roddenberry’s vision.

Breakdown: I went into Discovery with very few expectations, and somehow I was still disappointed.

Things I Liked – I enjoyed the way that the theme song sampled the theme from TOS.  And for a few moments, I hoped that the sampling of TOS’s theme meant that Discovery would also embrace TOS’s spirit.

– It is obvious that Discovery devoted a huge chunk of their budget to effects. They did not disappoint. The visual effects on Discovery are by far the most beautiful effects of any Trek series.

 

Things I Disliked – Regardless of what the show runners say, it is obvious that Discovery does not exist in the prime universe. One need only watch the first Klingon scene to realize that these are not your parents’ Klingons. Michael Burnham is the adopted sister of Spock (a sister that has never been previously mentioned). The ships are far too advanced to exist in the prime universe, five years prior to Kirk helming the Enterprise. Discovery is a reboot, plain and simple.

vlcsnap-2017-10-01-23h17m32s215 – Lens flares and angled shots. Nothing says “We’re trying too hard” as much as the combination of the two. Seriously, lens flare overuse is a blight upon the genre. For the love of god, STOP USING LENS FLARES!!

All of the promotion for Discovery has revolved around the Shenzhou, Captain Georgiou, and Burnham. CBS used Georgiou to help sell Discovery as a diverse production. So, you can imagine my irritation when Georgiou is killed before the end of the second episode.

 

Star Trek fans are a lot of things – one of those is vocal. Trek fans have resoundingly echoed that they don’t like the Kelvin Universe, but prefer the Prime Universe.  Trek fans have made it clear that they want Trek’s story to carry on, not in reboots and prequels, but in story lines advancing from Nemesis. Trek fans have stated that they want to see a return to Trek’s roots and optimism. It is time for the CBS executives to get their heads out of the sand. Either make Discovery more in line with Trek’s ideals, or let the Trek franchise rest in peace.

I will give Discovery a few more episodes but my low standards are already not being met. I continue to be disappointed by Trek’s current path.

 

Advertisements

Making the Case for Donna Noble

I have been thinking about Donna Noble a lot recently.  Ok, I think about Donna Noble a lot of the time.  It’s not everyday that one is presented with so perfect a tragic character. And boy am I a sucker for tragic characters!

DonnasOcean

Recently, after having the opportunity to meet Catherine Tate at Awesome Con last month, I’ve been rewatching Doctor Who and reevaluating Donna’s character. There are a few key aspects to Donna that I had missed in previous viewings.

Donna is the empowering woman we should all strive to be. She does not treat other women as competition.  As much as I love Rose and Martha, both of them fell into the trap of seeing other women as a challenge to their romantic interests in the Doctor. Because Donna doesn’t have any romantic interest in the Doctor, she does not exhibit the same jealousy.  Instead, Donna takes joy in the Doctor’s potential reunion with Rose at the end of season four. Donna delights each time that she meets a new woman. She is thrilled to meet Agatha Christie, and goes out of her way to encourage her (The Unicorn and the Wasp). Donna and Martha become fast friends (The Sontaran Stratagem).  Donna encourages Miss Evangelista (Silence in the Library) after the others insult the young woman’s intelligence. Donna encourages the Doctor to give Jenny a chance (The Doctor’s Daughter). Throughout her series, Donna Noble is an empowered woman that seeks to empower the women around her. It is a beautiful thing to watch.

 

Donna is not the ‘desperate to marry’ woman that I thought she was. All of the times that I’ve watched Doctor Who, I’ve always felt that Donna was that woman who was desperate to get married.  I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with having such a desire.  As long as the characters are acting with agency I’m (mostly) happy.  However, after Rose and Martha’s desires to be with the Doctor, I was worried that the show was pigeon-holing women as relationship-dependent. It is easy to think Donna fits into this mold. When we are first introduced to her, it is the day of Donna’s wedding.  She spends the entire Christmas special in a wedding dress. Similarly, Donna’s last scene shows her finally getting married to a decent guy.  When you consider the simulated-reality in “Forest of the Dead,” that’s three times that we see Donna Noble in a wedding dress. However, to dismiss Donna as a woman who is desperate to marry is to ignore a very important part of a characterization – a part that I’m embarrassed it took me this long to pick up on.

Donna doesn’t want to be married.  Donna wants to be validated.  The old Donna views marriage as the tool for achieving this goal. As soon as she meets the Doctor, Donna has no use for marriage or romantic entanglements.  She even tells Martha “I’m going to travel with that man forever”. Since Donna shows no interest in romantic attachment while traveling with the Doctor, then it’s logical to assume that Donna had no intentions of marrying while she was a companion. Donna came into her own with the Doctor. She did amazing things and, in the very last moments, found her own worth (even though we’d seen it all along). This is evident when she tells the Doctor that she doesn’t want to go back to the way that she used to be.

a26fc858c6ca4945bdc3b4208d2a6c7c88f4bba0_hq

In what is one of the saddest character endings I’ve ever witnessed, Donna’s memory is wiped and she’s reduced back to the woman she was at the beginning of the series – a woman incapable of seeing her own worth. It’s a rare day when I leave a show thinking that it would have been more merciful for them to kill off my favorite character.

In “The End of Time,” the Doctor visits all of his companions for a final farewell. We see Donna walking out of a church, having just married Sean. She is overjoyed, seemingly the happiest that she’s ever been.  When the camera angle switches to the Doctor, he is visibly upset.

vlcsnap-2017-07-14-23h50m24s999

Because the scene is from the Doctor’s POV and not Donna’s, the Doctor’s emotions set the tone. We realize that Donna’s marriage is the consolation prize for her never being able to remember the Doctor. Sean will love and respect her – but she’ll never love and respect herself.  Not the way that she did when she was with the Doctor. The theme is cemented further when you realize that the Doctor and Donna are separated by a cemetery (Donna’s figurative death).

vlcsnap-2017-07-14-23h50m29s910

Donna was never a woman desperate to marry.  Donna is a woman restricted by the belief that she can only find value and validation through marriage. That is the second tragedy of Donna’s ending.

An Easy Step-By-Step Guide to Creating the Sanctuary in Sims 4

So, you’ve watched Sanctuary, you love the Sims, and you’ve decided that nothing will make you happier than recreating the Sanctuary. I am happy to assist you with this task in my easy, step-by-step guide! Simply follow this tutorial, and you too can have a Sim Sanctuary!

Step 1

First, you’ll want to find the largest plot available in Sims 4.  I used the 64×64 lot on the island in Windenburg for my Sanctuary because the water surrounding the lot best matched the Old City Sanctuary’s surroundings. Then, using a set of exterior shots of the Sanctuary, I did my best to replicate the exterior layout.  I had to make a few changes in order to fit within the confined space, but overall I was able to stay pretty true to the original.

blog 1

Sims Sanctuary (top) with the Old City Sanctuary (below) for comparison.

Step 2

Before getting started on the interior, it’s best to identify the most easily recognizable rooms. By looking through screen caps, I was able to locate the position of several main rooms.

sanctuary layout

I narrowed down these locations by looking both at the backgrounds as well as comparing windows, etc.

For rooms that aren’t readily obvious, you can still use views in windows for guidance. If water is visible, you know the room has to be on the back of the lot. If city views are visible, you know it has to be in one of the right-side buildings, or on the front of the mid-section.  (The cathedral on the left-hand side is completely abandoned, save for the chapel seen in Eulogy, Vigilante, and Chimera).

Step 3

Download AS MANY lamps, couches, artwork and tables as you can.  Seriously, the Sanctuary is huge.  Helen has art work and lamps everywhere! Her office alone has 15 lights. (Yes, I counted). Every hallway has either tables with various flowers and artwork, or couches and chairs. You will need a lot. When you think that you’ve downloaded enough custom content, download at least twenty more.  Of each.

I like to search The Sims Resource, Around the Sims and Mod the Sims for as many different styles as possible. I am a stickler for accuracy, so I look for items that are as close to screen accurate as possible.  Unfortunately, unless you are willing to take up creating your own custom content (which I’m considering), you’ll have to sacrifice some accuracy.

The Sims 4 does not have spiral staircases (as seen in the library) or elevators (seen in just about every episode of Sanctuary), so you’re already having to make a few compromises in order to build a Sims Sanctuary. Try – unsuccessfully – not to let this fret you.

Step 4

Some people would probably map out all of the rooms in the Sanctuary at one time.  However, I like to take the rooms that I know, place them first, and then go from there. I like to start with one of the most used rooms, and our first introduction to the Sanctuary – the foyer.

foyer

In Sims there is no easy way to create stairs with a landing in the middle, so decide that you are ok with the increasing Sanctuary-inspired rather than Sanctuary-accurate Sims lot and grudgingly accept this fact.  Go back to your exterior pictures and note that the main entrance is in the diagonally oriented building on the right side. Attempt to set staircases in this room.  Realize that you cannot place stairs on a diagonal in the Sims.

Get frustrated.

Look for mods or tutorials or cheats that will allow you to put stairs on an angle.  Turn up nothing.  Consider redoing the entire Sanctuary on an angle so that the only room you need stairs in can be accurate.  Realize that this is a bad idea (hopefully before you get halfway through the rotated Sanctuary). No, seriously.  It’s a really bad idea.  Stop thinking about it.

Get even more frustrated.

Decide you’ll work on a different room for now while you contemplate how best to handle the foyer situation.

Step 5

Decide to work on the library instead, since you have determined its location.  Examine screen shots from End of Nights. Curse the storyboarder, the director, the editor, and the visual effects supervisor who all managed to forget the actual location of the library in the second scene. Carry on with studying screen caps.

Start to build your library.  Remember that the library played a big role in season three with the map to Hollow Earth.  Study screen caps from Vigilante. Realize that the library in Vigilante negates the library in End of Nights.

Send your friend a scathing essay on how the room in which Helen and Nikola unlock the map to Hollow Earth can’t actually physically exist.

rant07.jpg

 Oh, it happened

Curse everyone involved with Sanctuary’s sets and visual effects (not Amanda.  Never Amanda).  Consider starting a petition, demanding that television shows develop and stick to strict floor plans for their locations.

Realize this is crazy; you’re getting too worked up about a room.

Settle with creating the Sanctuary as it was in End of Nights.

Step 6

You need something easy, something to take your mind off of how stressful this is becoming. At this point, work on Ashley’s room.  You have two options when it comes to this room.  You can use her layout from the series, or her room from the web series.  I prefer the regular series, because the webisodes were just crey-crey, but do whatever feels right to you.

vlcsnap-2016-07-22-01h45m38s420.png

I just really wanted an excuse to include Ashley’s flowered gun closet

The Sims 4 has lots of great exercise equipment.  And the punching bag is a wonderful addition since it’s featured heavily in Ashley’s room.  Throw as much equipment in there as you want, Ashley will use it all.

Feel pretty confident about how easy Ashley’s room was.

Step 7

Consider where you should put the foyer.  Decide that the only logical place for it is at the other entrance near the cathedral ruins.

07-20-16_12-33-17 PM

Decide that the foyer isn’t a total loss. It’s not perfect, but having the foyer at the wrong entrance is still manageable. Feel a new sense of confidence. Perhaps this Sanctuary will still turn out ok. Even if you can’t put stairs on a diagonal, and the visual artists don’t know where the library is, and everyone has to enter the building from the wrong entrance, it’s still the Sanctuary.

Step 8

Consider doing Helen’s office next.

Hold off.  You’re on such a roll now, consider doing the basement or sub-basement.

Start with the SHU.

07-28-16_8-27-33 PM

Ignore the doctor’s office in the corner for now.  It’s there just for reference materials.

On a roll now, go ahead and create Helen’s lab, her infirmary and her operating room. If you’re feeling really productive, create a wine cellar or Biggie’s secret hang out.

Step 9

Riding high on your success with the basement, decide it’s time to conquer Helen’s office! You know that her office is in tower, thanks to a fabulous pan out at the end of Revelations Part II.

vlcsnap-2016-01-04-13h30m15s085

Revelations Part II shows us that Helen’s office is in the South tower on the back end of the Sanctuary

But wait.  Doesn’t Helen’s office have two huge, long hallways off of it?  Yes, it does.  She walks through one of those hallways in EVERY. SINGLE. EPISODE.

Double check the Revelations shot.  Nope, they definitely pan out from the back tower.

Realize that Helen’s office cannot possibly exist in this space.  It defies the laws of physics.

Unless the Sanctuary is the blasted TARDIS there is ZERO chance that it can exist where they are telling you that it exists!

Question your entire existence – everything that you know.

Become visibly upset whenever someone brings up anything even closely related to Helen’s office: antiques, hallways, lamps,  people named Will, etc.

Curse everyone involved with the production again (still not you Amanda). Swear to write a paper calling out the inconsistency. Threaten to have it published so that the entire world can read of the failure on the part of the special effects company. Realize only two people would read that paper.

Rage quit the Sanctuary plan.  Uninstall Sims 4. Swear that you’ll never try to build another replica of anything. Swear to stop watching sci-fi, with their unrealistic expectations and refusal to abide by the laws of physics.

Wait six months.

Step 10

Decide you want to build a screen accurate version of the Sanctuary.

When your fave turns out to be a big ol’ meanie

I have been very fortunate in my fan life. This is largely due to the fact that I am a tried-and-true sci-fi fan and sci-fi fans get pretty much unparallelled access to our faves through the majesty of sci-fi conventions.  Over the years I have attended numerous conventions, both large and small, and gotten to meet so many of the actors who portray my favorite characters. Still working on meeting Amanda Tapping (if she could just stop cancelling con appearances), but let’s not dwell. Overwhelmingly, these experiences have been positive.

Edward James Olmos is literally the nicest guy.  Teryl Rothery told me that she loved my shoes and admired them repeatedly. Kandyse McClure spent five minutes complimenting my hair. John Billingsley walked up to me at a con and said “I know you,” after I’d hung out with him in the hotel lobby at a previous con. I have met Mary McDonnell four times, each time being better than the last. And the stories go on and on.

I don’t say all of this to brag. I say this to preface what I am about to talk about. It is always encouraging when you meet someone who is as genuine in person as you’d hoped that they would be.


celebs


However, there is a darker side to fandom and celebrity-meeting that a lot of people don’t want to talk about. What happens when you meet your favorite celebrity, and discover that they are not at all who you thought they were?

I’m not talking about someone having an off day.  That happens to all of us.  I’m also not talking about celebrities being less than accommodating to fans invading their personal lives/spaces. Their desire to be left alone during their down time is absolutely justified.  I’m talking about those encounters at public functions that make you question why you ever invested any energy into this person. I’m talking about ‘mean’ celebrities.

Several years ago (well, I guess almost a decade now), I went to a small convention to meet an actress I will not name. I’d followed her career for many years and was ecstatic at the opportunity to see her at a con.  Unfortunately, The Actress didn’t want to be at the convention – and she wasted no opportunity to make it known. She was standoffish, and at times down right rude to attendees who had traveled to see her. During a Q & A session, she grew visibly annoyed with a fan asking a question about an episode that The Actress could not recall. Her autograph session was rushed and she kept her head down, acknowledging only a handful of the people who spoke to her. Her photo session involved her offering a half-hearted smile and nothing more.  Apparently eye contact or any other form of acknowledgment was too much for her that day.

While I was upset, I rationalized that perhaps she was just having an off-day and I tried to remind myself that at least my friends and I had gotten to opportunity to meet her. Even though I’ve worked in the hospitality field for over a decade, and I can show up day after day and behave politely and professionally, I excused her behavior. I wasn’t ready to admit the truth yet.

Several months later, at another convention by the same company, The Actress’s behavior became the topic of discussion again.  We had befriended the organizers of the convention and they filled us in on her nothing-short-of-diva behavior and how ugly and condescending she had been to the staff. This apparently wasn’t her first time doing this either. When I got home, I began re-reading articles, interviews, any and everything that I could get my hands on, hoping to confirm that the convention staff was simply over-exaggerating and she was still the positive role model that I had believed she was.

I found the exact opposite.  Interviews were full of self-appreciation, over-inflated ego, and nastiness toward female co-stars that I had previously overlooked. When she made a passive-aggressive statement about one of my other favorites, I threw my hands in the air and walked away.  The rose-tinted glasses fell off and I saw The Actress as she really was, not through a lens of appreciation. The Actress I had spent so long admiring was a person undeserving of such time and energy.

It was heartbreaking, but I learned some very important lessons from the experience:

In fandom, it can be very difficult to make the finite line where the character ends and the actor begins.  We spend so much time enjoying and admiring characters, and then their actor is just walking around with the character’s face on.  It’s very easy to project feelings from a character onto an actor.  While the actress may be the living physical form of the character, it’s important to remember that so many other people play a part in forming the character: script writers, directors, editors, and on and on and on. It taught me to be more discerning in where I choose to focus my fangirl energies – to stop ignoring problematic things.

You absolutely can dislike an actor and still adore a character. Let me say that again. You absolutely can dislike an actor and still adore a character. Do not ever let anyone tell you that your dislike of the actress means you dislike the character. That’s a load of bs. It took me time after my disappointing realization to accept this, partly because I bought into that lie that other fans were telling me.  I had to stop watching the show all together for a bit. I stopped talking to other fans about my negative experience.  After some time passed, I realized that The Actress’s character will forever be one of my favorites. Nothing will change that. In fact, when I stopped misplacing my affection for the character onto the actress who portrayed her, I appreciated the character even more.

It will suck. Finding out that someone you admired is not a very nice person is disappointing. It hurts. A lot.  The longer that you’ve admired them, the more intense the disappointment will be. But as with any other disappointment in life, it will get better.  Once you stop spending all of that energy on the wrong person, you can find the right fictional lady (because let’s be real – fictional ladies are the most worthy of appreciation) to flail over.

There are so many genuinely kind people out there.  I’ve read many stories of people having bad experiences with one celebrity and it turning them off of the entire experience. That is a perfect means of coping with the disappointment. It also showcases exactly just how much the whole thing can suck (See above point).   However, I want to remind you that there are so many genuine actors out there who are kind, generous, humble and worthy of being appreciated – like Mary McDonnell, who builds other women up instead of tearing them down, delights in her fans, remembers them, and donates profits from every convention appearance to charity. You didn’t really think I’d forget to mention Mary McDonnell here did you?

Celebrities are just like everyone else. There are nice ones. There are ugly ones. Navigating the waters can be daunting. But it can also provide you with legendary stories. If I’d let one bad experience (and one mean celebrity) turn me off to the entire concept of conventions, I would have missed out on walking up to Mary McDonnell’s C2E2 booth this year with my dear friend Suz and hearing Mary say ‘Ladies, it’s been a year!  How are you?’ I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world.

 

 

 

My Top Female Sci-Fi Characters

As with any list, this one is highly subjective based on my personal history, life experiences, personality, and preferences.  It is by no means meant to serve as a comprehensive ‘best of’ list. It is simply the female sci-fi characters who have influenced and inspired me the most.

Captain Kathryn Janeway

janeway_001.jpg

Star Trek: Voyager premiered when I was 13-years old. Even though I grew up in a house that regularly watched Star Trek, I’d never seen anything like Janeway before and I was immediately transfixed by her. Kathryn Janeway is the captain of the starship Voyager, when an alien transports the vessel to the Delta Quadrant – 70,000 lightyears away from home.  Alone in unknown territory, getting Voyager‘s crew home falls squarely on Janeway’s shoulders.

It was not lost on my young, impressionable mind that Janeway was unlike all previous Starfleet captains – she was female.  Amazingly, her crew never took issue with her gender. In fact, one main method the show used to show that a civilization was less advanced was to have the aliens take issue with it. Her crew adored and respected Janeway, to the point that they nearly committed mutiny to save her that one time (Resolutions). Nobody was risking their necks to save Chuckles.

There is a scene in the second season finale (Basics) when Maje Cullah and his clan have seized Voyager and taken the bridge crew hostage. All of the main officers are on their knees, and Janeway stands up to speak to Cullah.  When she does this, Cullah smacks her hard across the face, knocking her backward. Without hesitation, Janeway stands right back up.  That moment exemplifies the biggest lesson Janeway taught me.  No matter how many times you get knocked down, you get right back up and take your ship back like the BOSS you are.  And when all else fails, sometimes you just have to punch your way through.


Laura Roslin

Laura_Roslin_vignette.jpg

How does one even describe Laura Roslin? Laura is a woman who never wanted to lead. When a catastrophic attack by the Cylons (human-like machines) all but destroys humanity, she is the highest ranking government official left – the Secretary of Education – and is shortly sworn in as President of the Twelve Colonies. It becomes her duty to ensure humanity’s survival; all while secretly battling terminal cancer.

I will be completely honest.  I was pretty lukewarm toward Roslin for the better part of the first season.  I was not confident that she had the necessary skills to ensure the fleet’s survival. She and Admiral Adama frequently butted heads over the proper course of action – Adama always wanting to fight the enemy, Roslin recognizing the war was over and retreat was the only option. I thought that Laura was cowardly, that she was simply afraid of her own mortality, and that she should fight.  I was so wrong.

I can’t tell you the precise moment that I fell in love with every character on this list, but I can tell you when it happened with Laura. It’s at the end of Flesh and Bone when Laura intervenes on an interrogation that Kara Thrace has been conducting on Leoben, a Cylon that infiltrated the fleet. She appears to be showing Leoben mercy at first: ending the interrogation, releasing restraints, offering a peace.  When the offer is refused and Leoben attempts to undermine Laura’s faith, she has him immediately put out the airlock. “You don’t keep a deadly machine around when it kills your people and threatens your future.  You get rid of it.”

Laura isn’t afraid to fight.  She just knows how to pick her battles. Laura can exhibit ruthlessness that hedges on dictatorship at times. She will push the envelope for acceptable behavior. She can also be overwhelmingly compassionate, like when she pardons all colonists who participated in the Cylon government on New Caprica. At all times the survival of the human race is her top priority. All Laura wants is to save us all.

Laura Roslin taught me that there is no shame in retreat; recognizing a lost cause is a strength, not a weakness. She taught me that all good stories have endings. She taught me that it possible to be so completely devastated by a character’s death that even years later, thinking about it can get me all teary-eyed


Helen Magnus

helen

Helen Magnus is the woman that we all strive to be, if we could all live to be 270. As the leader of the Sanctuary network, Helen protects abnormals (unusual creatures, mythical beings, and the likes) from humans and vice versa. Helen heads a global organization, is respected by numerous governments, protects the innocent, fights villains, and does it all with perfect hair. She is the boss and she calls the shots. Helen doesn’t answer to anyone.

Coming of age in Victorian England, Helen audited classes at Oxford long before women were allowed to officially enroll in courses. She became a medical doctor in a period when women were still legally viewed as property. What’s unique about Helen, aside from her immortality, is her leadership.

Even while attending classes at Oxford in 1888, Helen is the leader of her scientific research group (The Five). When the group decides that another student(Adam Worth) will not be allowed to join, it is Helen who breaks the news to him.  In the 1890s, when the English Prime Minister makes a proposal to the Five, he addresses Helen first. Even once the others are admitted into the room, the PM directly addresses Helen. The others defer to her for their response.

This theme carries throughout the entire series.  When Helen finds herself in trouble, there’s no ‘higher up’ male for her to call. All of the men work for her. And she is the one constantly saving them, not the other way around.

Equally important, Helen is a bisexual character; yet her sexuality is never exploited.  It’s merely one part of her personality. The series ran for four seasons.  If you take the webisodes into consideration, Helen had five onscreen kisses over the course of the series. She is a refreshing break from the stereotypical, oversexed bisexual.

Helen taught me to be as crazy as possible, because no matter what I do, it’ll never be as crazy as she is. Helen taught me that sometimes life is incredibly painful and difficult, that you lose people long before you are ever supposed to, but that doesn’t mean that you give up.  You have to stand up and continue the fight, because if you don’t, who will?  Helen taught me to be my own hero.


Janet Fraiser

index

Janet Fraiser might just be the most underrated character on Stargate SG-1. I once sat down and figured out the amount of time that Janet would have spent in med school, doing residencies, etc. and determined that from the time that she finished training to the time that she became Chief Medical Officer at Stargate Command was roughly about five years.

The post at SGC would no doubt be one of the highest, and most sought out, postings in the Air Force; Janet got this posting in five years. When you factor in the fact that she didn’t join the Air Force until after she divorced her husband in her 20s, yet still has more medals than Samantha Carter, you start to realize just how amazing Janet is.

Janet generally treats alien diseases no one has ever encountered before and life threatening injuries.  Miraculously, she manages to keep the Stargate teams mostly intact against great odds. At the very least, she is an amazing doctor.

But she is so much more than that. Janet Fraiser is a good man in a storm.  She always shows up.  And she always has your back. Janet taught me that courage isn’t always swaggering into battle brandishing a huge gun.  Sometimes it’s showing up, doing your best, and supporting those around you.


Donna Noble

3342qdc.jpg

Donna Noble has never believed in herself.  She’s never thought that she had any potential at all.  Who can hardly blame her.  If we all had Sylvia whispering in our ears that we are failures, we’d probably be just as hard on ourselves. When we first meet Donna,  it’s on her would-be wedding day.  Until she finds out that her future husband has been conspiring with a giant spider to take over the world. Talk about a bad day.

When her would-be husband then breaks out into a tirade about how “tiresome” it was to have to tolerate Donna over the past few months, her face drops, her eyes tear as she soaks up all of those words and accepts them to be true. She believes herself to be unlovable and worthless.

Throughout her adventures with the Doctor, Donna is loud, outspoken, and boisterous. However, the front is only skin deep, and glimmers of Donna’s self-doubt are ever-present.  It’s evident anytime that the Doctor compliments her and she brushes it off with “I’m nothing special.” Even with her self-doubt, Donna manages to accomplish amazing things. She, quite literally, saves the entire universe from destruction.  Everyone else sees her as the most important woman in the universe, while she sees herself as nothing.

Donna taught me that we are all so much more worthy than we give ourselves credit for. She taught me that you have to face your fears and you have to try, because not recognizing your potential is a fate worse than death.


Sharon ‘Athena’ Agathon

2299993508_a0bf2bf011_b

Sharon Agathon is one of those characters that’s far too good for the world they exist in. A Cylon who has been ordered to seduce Karl Agathon in attempts of creating a human-Cylon crossbreed, Sharon redefines the very meaning of humanity. Sharon develops an intense bond with Karl, resulting in Battlestar Galactica‘s most consistent romantic pairing. In order to protect Karl, Sharon turns her back on fellow Cylons, joins the human fleet, is eventually welcomed as a crew member of the Galactica, and is revealed in the series finale to be the mother of Mitochondrial Eve. Wouldn’t that arguably make her ME?

Throughout her journey from Cylon to human, Sharon faces unimaginable hardships. When she and Karl are rescued and return to Galactica she is immediately imprisoned. Even though she provides the fleet with crucial intelligence and proves her allegiance over and over again, she is denied release. She has her daughter kidnapped and is misled to believe that the child is dead.  She is tortured and sexually assaulted.

And yet, she stays true to Karl, and to the humans she’s sworn allegiance to. She proves herself over and over again. She reminds the humans how to behave with humanity. Sharon’s lasting impact is the realization that no one else gets to define us – we define ourselves. She taught me that you pick your side and you stick – you don’t cut and run when things get ugly. Otherwise you’ll never have anything.


Samantha Carter

b1582b5b3daba7d9f0e9c27397a30dfd

Samantha Carter walked into the Stargate Command conference room, heels clicking and head held high, ready to take on the ole’ boys club.  As a career Air Force pilot, Sam is already well used to the discrimination and harassment military women face by the time we meet her. For the most part, she’s more than happy to prove those men wrong with her expertise rather than her words. That doesn’t stop her from getting her shots in every now and then.

One of the crowning moments in Sam’s introductory scene comes after the men in the room mock her credentials as a scientist and her right to be at the table. I logged over 100 hours in enemy airspace during the Gulf War. Is that tough enough for you? Or are we going to have to arm wrestle? Sam Carter came to do a job, and she’s not going to let outdated, sexist ideas stand in her way. And if you insult her intelligence one too many times, she might just punch you in the face. I’m looking at you Ba’al.

Sam is my favorite kind of feminist.  She finds herself in a position where her gender is viewed as a weakness.  And then she very quickly proves to the men at Stargate Command that she can do her job just as well as they can – sometimes better.

She also refuses to be sexualized without consent.  A lot of this is thanks to Amanda Tapping telling producers that she would not wear a different, more revealing costume than the men wore and insisting that if she was going to play the part, she be dressed the same way the men were.

In addition to being an adept military officer, Sam is also generally the smartest mind in any room.  She holds a Ph.D. in theoretical astrophysics and isn’t afraid to think outside the box.  No matter what the problem is, given enough time to figure it out, Sam Carter will find a solution – even if it involves blowing up a sun. She even has a trope named after her.

Sam Carter taught me to ignore the opinions of others. It does not matter what other people think of you. What matters is that you behave with integrity and follow your heart. Those who doubt your abilities will inevitably be proven wrong.


Martha Jones

martha

In full disclosure, I did not appreciate Martha appropriately the first time I watched Doctor Who. It’s embarrassing to admit that as a hardcore Rose/Doctor shipper, I disliked Martha simply because she wasn’t Rose.  I was upset that Martha had a crush on the Doctor. couldn’t she see how heartbroken and wounded he was over losing Rose, and could she please just give him a break already!

Upon re-watching the series, with my emotions more in check, I realized just how wrong my initial perception of Martha was. Yes, Martha had a crush on the Doctor. Who can really blame her for that, though? Wouldn’t we all be crushing if Ten showed up on our doorstop and offered to take us on the journey of our lives?

But Martha is so much more than a lovestruck woman. Of all of Russell T. Davies’ companions, Martha arguably has the most agency. When we meet her she is starting her residency program.  She’s intelligent, independent, and close with her family. She is tough and unafraid to stick up for herself. She comes from a middle-class family. And, most importantly, she knows her worth.

When Martha gets tired of being second-best and realizes that the Doctor will never value her the way that she deserves to be valued, Martha makes the painful decision to walk away, but not before calling the Doctor out. “I spent a lot of time with you thinking I was second best, but you know what. I am good.” Walking away allows her to get a job with UNIT (a job we see her thriving in later), to settle down with Mickey, and to live her own happily ever after.

Martha taught me that sometimes it’s necessary to walk away from what you think you want, in order to get everything that you need. She taught me that you should always know your worth, and be willing to walk away from anything or anyone who doesn’t value you.


Jillian Holtzmann

75ff4299606e77e78aff5953928c562b08026e52a9f5842c081d146c706ccb09.jpeg

Jillian Holtzmann has the distinction of being the most recent character on this list, as well as the only film character. As a general rule, it’s much harder for film characters to impact me in the same way that television characters do.  A two-hour story just doesn’t have the same impact that dozens of hours of story-telling do for making a character fleshed out, realistic, and relatable in my opinion.  I say all of this to preface just how significant Jillian Holtzmann is.

At the point of writing, I have seen Ghostbusters four times in the movie theater. This is an impressive feat because: 1) I very rarely see films in the theater these days, 2) The film came out three weeks ago 3) I’m probably not even done seeing it yet.  I’ll watch it at least once more before it leaves theaters.

Holtzmann is everything that I want to be.  She is unapologetically herself and she refuses to shrink herself. While most of the female team are quite comfortable in their own skin, Holtzmann seems to take self-acceptance to a whole new level. She refuses to hide her excitement. She dances around the room with glee. She slouches, puts her feet up on desks and generally “manspreads” all over the place. She is everything women would be if we weren’t conditioned from birth to shrink ourselves, to take up as little space as possible.

Holtzmann taught me to embrace my personal weirdness.  We all have those things that we geek out to. Whether it be sports, or politics, or female sci-fi characters, each of us have our passions. When a female character is seen fully embracing her passions and all of the other characters around her not only embrace but encourage that passion, it is a beautiful, validating experience. So many fangirls and fanwomen are shamed into hiding those more passionate sides of our personalities by society’s perceptions.  Holtzmann reminds us to be authentic to ourselves above all else. Her giant ‘Screw You’ to stereotypical gender roles is as visible as the necklace that hangs from her neck.


Safety lights are for dudes; Jillian Holtzmann is not

Last weekend, after a vicious internet smear campaign by angry fanboys, the all-female Ghostbusters reboot arrived in theaters.  While the film was by no means a runaway success, it did enjoy a solid opening weekend bringing in roughly $46 M. I saw the film opening night.  Since then, I’ve seen it twice more – and I’m trying to figure out who I can drag along with me later this week to see it again.

Reviewers and fans immediately recognized Kate McKinnon’s Jillian Holtzmann as the runaway fan favorite.  Holtzmann is gloriously and unapologetically weird. She is the nerdy genius in charge of developing all of the women’s ghost-wrangling equipment. It’s refreshing to see a female character so completely accepting of and confident in herself – and so unconcerned with the opinions of men.

holtz

This is what they call a ‘queer awakening’

As soon as the film premiered, the internet started chattering about Holtzmann’s sexuality.  When director Paul Feig was asked about it, his vague non-answer was less than satisfying for fans wanting a definitive answer. However, I don’t need a director to confirm to me that Holtzmann is queer.  I’ve known since fifteen seconds into her first scene. The moment that she came into focus with her flirtatious “Come her often?” her sexuality was perfectly clear.  If you need any confirmation, just watch the way that she sizes Erin up in their first scene together. If you’re still not sure, ask any queer woman with a pulse. Seriously.

It’s not a matter of subtext. Jillian Holtzmann is as queer as the day is long. But by no means is her sexuality the most interesting or important aspect of her personality. She’s  an inventor – a bit of a mad scientist; a loyal and trusting friend; funny as hell; and arguably the smartest person in the room.

charming

It is worth noting that Kate McKinnon herself identifies as a lesbian and brings a genuine effortlessness to Holtzmann’s sexuality that is often lacking when straight actresses portray LGBT+ characters. Queer women portraying queer characters is a beautiful thing that the world needs more of.

Sorry fanboys, I hate to point it out, but the Ghostbusters fandom is full of queer women who identify with Holtzmann. She’s ours. She was never created for you.

Jillian Holtzmann is everything that the science-fiction genre desperately needs: queer, geeky women who unapologetically embrace everything about themselves.