ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Science Fiction Without the “Mushy Stuff”

Updated on May 21, 2012


Romance and affection may not be dead, but they sure are on life support in most early science fiction (SF). Much has minimal, if any, female characters. Early SF tends to be more focused on hard science and ideas than on relationships, romance, and affection.

War of the Worlds’ only real female characters are Mrs. Elphinstone and her sister-in-law, who run into the narrator’s brother in London and travel with him to a boat. The wife of the narrator is mentioned, but never as a character in her own right. We get the impression that the narrator does love his wife, but otherwise we don’t see much of a relationship. Similarly, The Time Machine has Weena, but she is a minor character, and he seems to care more about her as a child-figure than as a woman. “The creature’s friendliness affected me exactly as a child’s might have done…She was exactly like a child” (Wells, 59). The affection that is given is that of protector to protected.

“Martian Odyssey,” “Twilight,” and “Who Goes There?” all contain no women, while Foundation, “Nightfall,” and “Microcosmic God” mention women (in families that need to be moved, or by mentioning reproduction), yet have no true characters that are female. “Helen O’Loy” can also be seen as having no female characters, as the only “woman” isn’t a woman, but a construct, a robot created by men. While the men feel affection (maybe even love) for her, and attribute a human personality to her, she seems more a parody of what women are supposed to be like than a real woman. She watches soap operas, cooks, cleans, and pines for her true love. In some ways, “Helen O’Loy” is a humorous story of science gone awry. The robot loves Dave, and even commits “suicide” at the end, a nice touch from the many soap operas she no doubt ingested early in her life.

Regardless of who wrote it, “Mimsy Were the Borogroves” is another example of one-dimensional female characters that exist only as backdrop. In this case, however, one of the two female characters can be easily explained -- she is a toddler -- but the wife, unfortunately, follows the pattern that has already been set. She’s a parody of a woman: weak, frail, and afraid. She defers to her husband and the doctor constantly. While her husband seems to feel affection for her, he does not appear to respect her or her opinions, which to me contradict any “love” in the story. She is there merely to fill a role, and that role doesn’t include love.

“The Weapon Shop” is a welcome change. In it, we see the first strong female characters and get a little better view of affection, but it is still tempered. While Fara’s wife, Creel, and his mother-in-law both seem to have important roles, love and affection are not secondary, but possibly tertiary, to the concept being presented.

Finally, Bradbury also shows a lack of real women, and therefore real love or affection. In Fahrenheit 451, the women are just foils for Guy; they’re opposites of each other, meant only to provide him with a way to gauge himself. There is the remnant of love and affection that he once felt for Millie, but there is none left now. The girl he meets on the street is the only other woman of import, and her job is to show what he is missing -- freedom of spirit and the ability to question. He feels protective of her more than he truly loves her. I suppose it could be considered affection he feels, but he never gets the chance to show it as she dies. In “Mars is Heaven,” the story is again male-driven, with no females working on the ship (what a bleak future for women Bradbury imagined!). The only “women” are the Martians who have taken the form of women, and their fake interaction with the men is definitely not based in love or affection.

These early science fiction stories seem to be missing the base necessity for any true love and affection -- women who can be loved and cared for. The few women that are present are not fleshed out characters, with the exception of the two in “The Weapon Shop,” and therefore any love and affection that seems to exist is constrained and tempered, which shows that while it may not be dead, it is certainly close.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)