Babes with Blasters – genre guide

Front cover

Dont mess with Kylara Vatta

What I mean by Babes with Blasters is:  science fiction with a strong female protagonist, with a military context. The alliteration was too fun to pass up.

  1. Number one in my category – the Vatta’s War series by Elizabeth Moon. Pure fun!  Military science fiction, and excellent covers in the copies I’ve seen.
  2. Hammered, Scardown, Worldwired – Elizabeth Bear. I think the middle book is the best of the series. Here we notice the bizarre trend in this genre to crop the heads off female cover models who wear tight space-suits.
  3. Babe number three is Tanya Huff’s Sergeant Torin Kerr, in the Valor series.  The first books are: Valor’s Trial, Valor’s Choice, The Better  Part of Valor Torin wears a reasonable space-suit on that cover.
  4. Sauscony Valdoria kicks butt as a Jagernaut and heir to the Skolian Imperial throne – Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro launched her many-book sago on that universe.
  5. Women of War is actually the anthology that inspired me to collect this list. Some of the shorts in this anthology are AMAZING. Some, well, not so much. I was hoping it would lead to more authors for this list, but many of the writers were very new.
  6. C.J. Cherryh’s Jago, e.g. in Destroyer. The Foreigner Universe by C.J. Cherryh features a strong female alien character – Jago – a member of the assassins’ guild. I’ve included ‘Destroyer’, book 7  of the series, because Jago and her blaster are featured very prominently in the art.
  7. The Serrano series by Elizabeth Moon is right up there in my esteem along with Vatta’s war, but I wanted to leave room for the other very good authors; and for the books that fit the list theme very well.
  8. Kristine Smith’s Law of Survival. This is the third or fourth in a series, but the first books are not available in our library. I am still finding this fun, though I would probably be annoyed by the exposition if I HAD read the earlier books. Hmm, no thumbnail image of this cover – is that because it’s a chick in a tight and shiny spacesuit? Why does she have a CD on her leg, anyhow?
  9. Mike Shepherd’s Kris Longknife, starting the series with Mutineer.  There are MANY Kris Longknife books – this is merely the first. A phrase I read elsewhere said ‘Good for reading when there are no new Elizabeth Moon books available’ Book 2: Deserter – warms up a bit and the characters are more lifelike… although the gun on the cover looks just as much of a super-squirt water-toy.
  10. Song of Scarabeus by Sara Creasy. Our heroine is a hacker-bio-programmer-tech-pilot-space… you get the picture. It fits the category, more or less. The heroine is a stronger lead than the Army-of-Darkness-type cover art would have you believe.
  11. Enchantress from the Stars – Sylvia Louise Engdahl. A childhood favourite of mine, and only loosely fits the category. But, it does have the female protagonist in an SF setting, so it’s included! This must be considered retro because there are no tight spacesuits in this book.

September 2011: Well… drat.  I decided to Google Babes with Blasters, and aside from the stuff filtered out for a PG audience… There’s clearly prior art in place using this phrase:  take a look at this collection of vintage SF pulp cover art.

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