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Erin Lindsey

When Mary Sue Failed the Bechdel Test: In Search of A More Nuanced Discussion of Women and Gender in SFF

Thinking of writing a novel with a female protagonist? Excellent choice! To help you get started, here are just a couple of things you should bear in mind:

First, your heroine should be strong. What does that mean, exactly? Well, we have a slight preference for the action hero model, but we’re flexible. Inner strength is well and good, but should probably be complemented by something a little more badass—like, say, being a brilliant geneticist.

Be careful not to overdo it, though. She should be impressive enough to deserve her place as the main character, but not so impressive that she’s a Mary Sue. We’ll question her agency if she doesn’t solve most of the plot problems on her own—but don’t have her solve all the problems, either, because the line between Chosen One and Mary Sue is, for the female protagonist at least, pretty much invisible. She should rescue her companions from mortal peril as often as possible, but she herself should never, ever need rescuing.

Now that we’re clear about the precise formula for “strong,” let’s talk about the delicate PH balance of “female.”

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Six Things I Learned from The Empire Strikes Back

When I was four years old, my dad piled my brother and me into the back of our 1978 Buick station wagon and took us to the drive-in to watch The Empire Strikes Back. I trembled with excitement for the whole ride, and when we got there, I bounced around like a bumblebee on crank waiting for the sky to grow dark and the opening credits to roll. When John Williams’ brassy fanfare finally belted out from the speakers, I squealed and clapped my hands and climbed into my dad’s lap.

I promptly fell asleep and didn’t wake up until it was over.

I’d missed the whole thing, but it didn’t matter: my older brother had seen it, and my cousins and my friends, and they all talked about it—incessantly. When it finally came out on VHS, I felt like I’d already seen it, not once, but repeatedly. The Empire Strikes Back had seeped into my consciousness through osmosis.

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The Dragonlance Reread: Guest Highlord Erin Lindsey on Fun Fantasy

Seeing as we’re between books right now, we thought we’d ask another Guest Highlord to bring us their stories of Dragonlance, since part of the joy of rereading Dragonlance is realising how influential and far-reaching they are. Everyone’s read Dragonlance—and, if not, isn’t now the perfect time to start? It is no wonder this series is so influential; it had its sticky claws in all of our childhoods. This week, writer Erin Lindsey tells us about her love for dragons and elves – even the ones who aren’t that nice.

Caution: unlike our normal reread posts, this contains spoilers for the rest of the Chronicles. But you probably would’ve gathered that from the title.

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Series: Dragonlance Reread