Our Favorite Badass Female Scientists in SFF - Tor/Forge Blog

Our Favorite Badass Female Scientists in SFF

Ready to celebrate some of our favorite, most BADASS women in the STEM field?! Check out our round-up of kick-ass female scientists in sci-fi here!

By Julia Bergen

When I was a little girl, books and movies were filled with the “lady scientist” trope. She never seemed to do much actual science but seemed more focused on supporting the male characters. Think Sigourney Weaver’s play on this character type in Galaxy Quest. Now that I’m raising a daughter of my own, I’m so excited that culture has moved away from this outdated idea of what women in STEM can be, and that she’ll have so many awesome scientists of all genders to read about and root for!

Evelyn Caldwell from The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey

Evelyn Caldwell’s personal life might be messy (that’s one word for it when your husband cheats on you…with your clone…and gets her pregnant) but her career is truly aspirational. She’s an award-winning geneticist at the top of her game. Her husband works in the field as well, but it’s clear that she has never played second fiddle to him.

Kira Navárez from To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

Kira Navárez is a talented xenobiologist, who travels the stars conducting her research surveys. Basically, the dream job. Until she finds an artifact that pulls her into galactic war. But hey, science isn’t always easy. Kira’s curiosity pulls her into a grand adventure across the galaxy which might not be the most pleasant for her, but is fascinating to read about.

Jack from The Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire

Both Jack and her more murderous twin Jill are such fascinating characters, the type that only Seanan McGuire can conjure. Growing up, Jack’s parents dress her in frilly dresses and never let her play sports or do anything traditionally masculine. They don’t even let anyone call her Jack, instead insisting she always be called Jacqueline. It isn’t until Jack and Jill venture into the magical world of the Moors that they’re able to become their full selves. For Jill, that means terrorizing villagers and hanging out with a vampire, but for Jack, she’s finally able to embrace her love of science, while studying under Dr. Bleak in his windmill laboratory.

Ye Wenjie from The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu

Liu’s entire trilogy is filled with incredible female scientists. I picked Ye Wenjie for this article not just because she’s a brilliant astrophysicist, but because she’s such a morally complex character. After seeing her father executed she decides Earth is beyond saving itself, and makes way for the alien Trisolarans to invade. She also kinda starts a cult. Yet through it all, the reader is always able to understand her motivations and see that her goal was always to help humanity. Women who are awesome at science and also deal with difficult ethical questions? Yes, please!

The narrator from Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer

Annihilation actually contains not just one, but four badass women who are experts in their fields. The narrator is the biologist of the group tasked with mapping the mysterious “Area X,” a vast plot of land teaming with bizarre organisms. Every mission beforehand has ended…poorly, but that doesn’t stop these women from using their knowledge and expertise to explore the unknown and attempt to bring order to the chaos of “Area X.”

Naomi Nagata, from The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey

Naomi Nagata, chief engineer of the Rocinante, is a genius when it comes to spaceships. Frequently the Rocinante and its crew would be killed in a variety of nasty ways if it wasn’t for her. She’s strong as hell, but Corey expertly avoids making her a Strong Female Character™ by giving her a depth and humanity that makes her such an amazing character.

9 thoughts on “Our Favorite Badass Female Scientists in SFF

  1. Seveneves has:
    Dinah MacQuarie
    Ivy Xiao
    Moira Crewe
    of the seven and numerous others.

  2. A few more:

    —Eleanor Arroway in Carl Sagan’s Contact;
    —Ada Lovelace (in various books such as The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage and The Difference Engine, and more);
    —Marghe Taishan in Ammonite by Nicola Griffith;
    —Alma Whitaker in The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert;

    (Hopefully soon the be in contention, the protagonist of this novel: https://books.apple.com/us/book/id1565679044 .)

  3. Dr. Avrana Kern in Adrian Tchaikovsky’s magnificent Children of Time is certainly brilliant. Well, that’s one way of putting it. She does create a world, anyway.

  4. Cordelia Naismith Vorkosigan, from Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga, captain of a Betan astronomical survey ship when we first meet her.

  5. Dr. Marci Jenowski, neuroscientist, from Will You Still Love Me If I become Someone Else by Jotham Austin.

  6. Allison Benton-Ramirez y Chou Harrington…A.K.A. Honor Harrington’s mother, is one of my favorites.

  7. It sure is quite a good list, the best thing is that there is still a lot of room for improvement, hope to see some retakes in the future.

Comments are closed.