The ability to reproduce can be frightening


Robin Roberts writes: “A witch is a type of female alien in a literary tradition that begins with Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein. In Shelley’s novel, there are no central female characters, and the female mate for Frankenstein’s ‘monster’ never even draws a breath. Victor Frankenstein is so horrified by the prospect of the monster reproducing, and of the possibility that the female creature would prefer him to the monster, that he destroys her body in disgust. This female creature is the first of a long series of female aliens, creatures who are frightening not only because of their superhuman powers, but also because of their ability to reproduce. The creature in Aliens, the tremendously popular science fiction film, provides one contemporary example of a depiction of a female alien.” (18)

Roberts continues: “Traditionally feminine traits such as mothering, nurturing, reproductive powers, and sexual attractiveness to human males characterize the female alien. In many cases, the female alien is not even humanoid, but she still represents human females because of her feminine qualities. The brain ship, Helva, from McCaffrey’s The Ship Who Sang, provides one example of a female alien. Her body has been encapsulated in a ship, but despite her lack of a fully functioning human body Helva is still decidedly feminine.

As Helva and other female aliens demonstrate, the patterns of science fiction provide a starting point for an entirely different view of the future.” (19)

Ref: Robin Roberts (1996) Anne McCaffrey; A Critical Companion. Greenwood Press: Westport, CT


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