Female Badassery

Indie writers who place women at the heart of adventure novels

The heroes of action-adventure tales are still most often male, following the model of James Bond, Jason Bourne, and Jack Bauer. Genre fiction has long challenged this notion, though, resulting in massive bestsellers such as The Hunger Games and Divergent. A recent attempt, by a group called the Sad Puppies and their allies, to skew the 2015 Hugo Awards toward mostly white and male creators was beaten back in the final vote, which gave no victories to Puppies-preferred nominees. The sci-fi website io9 recently noted in its rundown of the 2015 Comic-Con that “More than ever, everybody was accepting that female badassery is just a normal part of our heroic narratives.” Indie authors have written their own small part of that narrative, producing some exceptional tales of heroic women along the way.

In Clive Lee’s 2014 thriller Coral Hare: Atomic Agent, for example, a Japanese-American teenage OSS agent named Mina Sakamoto (codenamed Coral Hare) goes up against America’s enemies during World War II using an array of weaponry. “Every time it seems that Mina is about to catch a break and wrap up her adventures, another crisis sends her back out in the field,” wrote Kirkus’ reviewer about this superspy.

The Geneva Decision (2013) by Seeley James also features a seemingly unstoppable female lead: Pia Sabel, an ex-Olympic athlete who also heads her own security firm. She uses her many skills to solve a mystery involving several murdered bankers. The Kirkus review notes that this novel offers “intriguing locations, intricate plot twists and a complex heroine.”

Geonn Cannon’s stylish 2015 steampunk adventure The Virtuous Feats of the Indomitable Miss Trafalgar and the Erudite Lady Boone  has the titular early-20th-century explorers joining forces after a killer targets them. A starred Kirkus review highlights the book’s “bright, complex array of characters, mostly women and many LGBT and/or of color.” “It’s refreshing,” Kirkus’ reviewer says, “to see such classically underrepresented groups overcome adversity and save the day in smart, sexy style.”

David Rapp is an Indie editor.

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