The 12 women who rule the sci-fi universe (my own list)

So I was surfing through when I came across blogger The Linster’s new blog post, “Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley tops Sci-fi’s list of 25 Best Female Characters“. Her post comments on a new list released by which listed “The 25 Women Who Shook Sci-fi“. Since I am a total sci-fi geek – I’ve read books from H.G.Wells and Jules Verne,to Robert Heinlein, Poul Anderson,Frank Herber, Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick (overrated) and some of the newer authors and have watched sci-fi movies and TV shows like a zealot, this list was right up my alley.

Total Sci-fi’s top 25 has made me exclaim, “Yes!” “Wow!” and “Really?!?” as I went through  the list, since it made me. While I agree with some of the characters they listed, the others just made me scratch my head. Note to the lazy top 25 writers: don’t release the list unless you are really sure that the readers who will read it have never seen any of the TV shows or movies and do not know the difference between sci-fi and fantasy. You forget sci-fi and fantasy geeks are usually well-read people (I like to think) who do know about these things. The list:

1) ELLEN RIPLEY (Sigourney Weaver, Alien, Aliens, Alien 3, Alien Resurrection)

2) BUFFY SUMMERS (Sarah Michelle Gellar, Buffy the Vampire Slayer)- Really? Really?!? I am a  huge, huge, massive fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the series is sorely missed, but the TV show was about vampires, werewolves, angels,demons, zombies, gods, dwarves, witches, wizards, ghosts, poltergeists – in no single episode was there mention of space, the final frontier, of boldly going where no man has gone before, of space ships, aliens and star wars. Go figure. 

3) STARBUCK (Katee Sackhoff, Battlestar Galactica)- Yay! Starbuck made the frakking list!

4) DANA SCULLY (Gillian Anderson, The X-Files)- Yay! Dana amde the list too!

5) SARAH CONNOR (Linda Hamilton, Terminator, T2)- She is an 80s icon! She’s up there with other 80s icons, like Arnold Schwarzenneger’s Terminator and Harrison Ford’s Bladerunner.

6) PRINCESS LEIA ORGANA (Carrie Fisher, Star Wars)- really? Her character may have wielded guns, but Star Wars was Luke Skywalker’s game,not hers. She was basically the token damsel that needed rescuing in “Return of the Jedi” and the token love interest to Han Solo. Even in interviews with Carrie Fisher,she admits the character is much more flat than her male counterparts and George Lucas’ one regret is that he didn’t write a much more well-rounded female character.

7) ROSE TYLER (Billie Piper, Doctor Who)

8) SAM CARTER (Amanda Tapping, Stargate SG-1)

9) NYOTA UHURA (Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek)

10) LEELOO (Milla Jovovich, The Fifth Element)- Monosyllabic Leeloo? Why? Yes, I admit she kicks ass, but for most of Luc Besson’s sci-fi drivel, she just spouts gibberish, makes out with Bruce Willis’ Corben Dallas and generally needs rescuing more often than not. I love how campy and cheesy this film is, and it has a kick-ass soundtrack and costume design, and Leeloo in a basically nothing but white strips of cloth is amazing,but she doesn’t merit being listed as one of the top 25 women of sci-fi.

11) CLAIRE BENNET (Hayden Panettiere, Heroes)- Claire Bennet?!? Why? Why? Why? I am going to get a lot of shit for this, but “Heroes” is crap. Her character is crap. Her acting is crap. There have been more well-written sci-fi/fantasy TV shows (like Battlestar Galactica), and this is not one of them.

12) STORM (Halle Berry, X-Men) – Again another character whose inclusion in the list perplexes me. She does not do martial arts, is not self-sufficient and whenever there is trouble,her eyes just cloud up, turn white and the clouds come, and even then, Mystique just comes up and pounds the living daylights out of her. Now Mystique – there is an interesting character!

13) PRIS (Daryl Hannah, Blade Runner)

14) CATWOMAN (Michelle Pfeiffer, Batman Returns) – Yet another perplexing choice.

15) BARBARELLA (Jane Fonda, Barbarella)- I don’t know why she was included in the list. Wasn’t she much maligned in feminist circles?

16) KATHRYN JANEWAY (Kate Mulgrew, Star Trek: Voyager)- Awesome choice. I love Captain Janeway! I love that gravelly voice ordering her crew to “Engage!”

17) MIKAELA BANES (Megan Fox, Transformers)- This entry just makes me want to shoot the ones who put her in the list.

18) SUSAN IVANOVA (Claudia Christian, Babylon 5)

19) NUMBER SIX (Tricia Helfer, Battlestar Galactica)- Hmmm…I’ve always been ambiguous about Number 6 – she’s quite a character, hell, she’s a number (quite literally) of characters, so she shouldn’t really be in this list, since she is a complex number of characters. But she gets an award for being the many different permutations of Number 6. She should get her own award!

20) SARAH JANE SMITH (Elisabeth Sladen, The Sarah Jane Adventures / Doctor Who)

21) WILLOW ROSENBERG (Alyson Hannigan, Buffy the Vampire Slayer)- Really? Really?!? She is a witch who just happens to be a geek, in a fantasy TV show about vampires, werewolves and other mythological/supernatural characters. Why the hell is she on a list about sci-fi?

22) WONDER WOMAN (Lynda Carter, Wonder Woman)- I love Wonder Woman,but strictly speaking she is in fantasy, not sci-fi, since her origins and her powers have nothing sci-fi about them. In fact, her origins and powers have more of the mythical and the mythological in them. Hence, she shouldn’t be in this list.

23) XENA (Lucy Lawless, Xena: Warrior Princess)- While I love Xena, I seem to recall that nowhere in the series is there any incestuous interaction of the sci-fi and fantasy genre. In fact, the series was ferociously on the fantasy side, and stuck to mythology the whole time, mixing up creatures and gods and goddesses from different myths (Greek, Roman, etc.), but still, it’s not sci-fi. 

24 ) SYDNEY BRISTOW (Jennifer Garner, Alias)- I watched Alias – there is nothing sci-fi about this show. I stopped watching it because it just became too melodramatic and convoluted and contrived for me. It was just too hard to suspend disbelief and believe all the ideas from this show.

25) MARINA (Stingray)

I rest my case.

Anyway, being gay and being a writer and a sci-fi geek, I have decided to come up with my own list. Rather than put up with a crappy list, I’ll just come up with my own. And so…


This list will expand, as I am still trying to recall the women in sci-fi who’ve rocked my world. Since TV shows and movies sometimes lack sufficient female characters, I shall turn to books and comics as well.

1. ELLEN RIPLEY (Sigourney Weaver, Alien Quadrilogy)

I must confess when I was 9, I’d seen “Alien” on TV and that movie scared the bejesus out of me. The scariest moment has to be when that little alien explodes out of that guy’s ribcage. That freaked the hell out of me. But Ripley left an impression on me, and I thought she was a frigging cool hero. You have to remember I grew up on Captain Kirk and Superman re-runs, so to see a female hero was just one mindblowing experience. Anyway a few years later, I muster the courage to watch the Alien Quadrilogy and I was blown away by Ripley. James Cameron’s “Aliens” is as iconic as it is one of the coolest cinematic experiences for me. Ripley will always rule MY sci-fi universe and deserves to be number one in any list.

2. SARAH CONNOR (Linda Hamilton, Terminator Series)

I must admit I saw Linda Hamilton first on TV show “Beauty and the Beast” with Ron Perlman, and though at first that show captivated me, I got bored after awhile. This must have been because I was young and liked my films and shows to have more action in them, than talking. So, imagine my surprise when I see Linda Hamilton in The Terminator, all buff and ready, wielding machine guns, ready to kick anyone who dared to kill her son. I loved it. And I loved her. I believe she deserves the honor of the second top spot in any list of the top women who rock sci-fi.

3. CAPTAIN KATHERINE JANEWAY (Kate Mulgrew, Star Trek Voyager) I tell you I grew up on Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Scotty, Captain Pickard? No? Well, now I am. I used to follow all the original Star Trek episodes. And though the episodes escape me now (I was pretty young then – 9 I think), that series left an impression on me and cultivated in me an life-long love for sci-fi. Now that I am older and have read and watched my share of sci-fi,I still love Star Trek, but I would have wanted a more egalitarian final frontier. Hence, coming across Star Trek Voyager, by accident, is a godsend. I loved Captain Janeway. She had strength, intelligence and she was tough and cool when she needed to be. The series is sorely missed, but I still love her.

4. SEVEN OF NINE (Jeri Ryan, Star Trek Voyager)

Alright call me shallow, but one of the first reasons I started watching Star Trek Voyager was precisely because of Seven of Nine. What? She was attractive, she was intelligent, she was cold and calculating, but she was a former Borg – a constant fascination for me in the Star Trek universe – and so she straddles the line between being human, machine and alien. I loved it. Her journey in Star Trek Voyager is one of self-discovery, of rediscovering her own lost humanity and I loved that about this character. Seven of Nine rocks and it doesn’t hurt that she has the best costume (and make-up!)in the whole of the Star Trek universe. Need I say more?

5. STARBUCK (Katee Sackhoff, BattleStar Galactica)

Battlestar Galactica wouldn’t be Battlestar Galactica without its strong female characters: President Roslin, Six, Boomer, and especially Starbuck. In fact, sometimes, I think Battlestar Galactica is Starbuck. She smokes cigars, she drinks, she punches people who piss her off, she defies orders, she can go head-to-head with any of the other soldiers, she is a source of consternation for Captain Adama and Admiral Adama, and best of all, she is a damn good pilot. She is also a complex woman who loves and loses and fails but she makes up for it with a damn good comeback. Is it any wonder Starbuck is in anyone’s list? ‘Nuff said.

6. DANA SCULLY (Gillian Anderson, The X-Files) may not have the brawns, but she has the brains to make up for it. I remember my favorite X-Files episode: they are stuck in a ship that is supposed to have survived the Bermuda Triangle (the details are a bit hazy, it’s an old episode) and they realize, too late, that the water they are drinking in the ship has some supernatural powers that can age anyone rapidly and eventually kill them (I like this one better than the hyped-up Benjamin Button). At once a sci-fi episode, it turns suddenly philosophical, and as Scully ages, she talks about finally coming to terms with death and dying and that one single episode won me over to this character. She rocks, what can I say?

7. TRINITY (Carrie Anne Moss, The Matrix) the movie “The Matrix” opens with Trinity running away from Agent Smith and there is that iconic shot of her leaping into the air, a la Karate Kid, frozen then instantly kicking everyone’s ass, then leaping again into the air, on building upon building and fly right smack into a window,shattering the glass,landing on the floor, handguns in tow, unfazed, cool,ready to fight, I was thunderstruck. Trinity heralded a new kind of cool, a cool that Milla Jovovich in Resident Evil, and Charlize Theron in Aeon Flux would duplicate. Dressed in leather, and a trenchcoat, with cool shades and a gun, Trinity was the epitome of awesomeness. Then Keanu Reeves came and the two horrid sequels (don’t get me wrong – I love them, I just think they’re too convoluted for their own good) that came with it, and then she is relegated to the background – as a love interest, and that was it. But, for that moment, and scenes like it, in the first Matrix, I think Trinity deserves to be part of any rocking sci-fi list.

8. MAX (Jessica Alba, Dark Angel) is a genetically altered killing machine in search of her real identity. She is slight,looks vulnerable, even angelic, but don’t let that fool you. She is as lethal as any weapon, is fast and deadly. This girl rocks.

9. CAMERON PHILIPS (Summer Glau, The Sarah Connor Chronicles)

One of the most interesting characters in The Sarah Connor Chronicles is Cameron Philips,the terminator sent to protect John Connor in the past. She is a machine on a mission, cold, precise, inhuman, but she is also, as the later episodes reveal, fascinated with humanity and this is revealed one day when she reveals a secret interest in ballet. As she twirls and pirouettes in her room, there is a scary sense of foreboding in her movements – as if she is foretelling what machines will eventually become. And for that, I think this character is the most fascinating terminator in the sci-fi universe.

10. RIVER (Summer Glau, Firefly/Serenity)

This short-lived Joss Whedon original series (as you will already know, I am a big Joss Whedon fan) has a character, River, whose past and future are hazy and uncertain. She is weird and child-like and only at the end will it be revealed what she really is. And that part of the end, is what makes this character thrilling to watch. This series has been misunderstood as it is darker, but no less quirky than Whedon’s Buffy series. But, this character certainly kicks ass.

11. ALICE (Milla Jovovich, Resident Evil) I love Milla Jovovich as Leeloo Dallas Multipass in Fifth Element, I actually much prefer her in the first installment of the Resident Evil franchise. I loved her kick-ass, no-nonsense character and it is thrilling to watch her do her own fights as well.

12. THE BORG QUEEN (Alice Krige,Star Trek: First Contract), and of course who can forget the diabolical, hypnotic Borg Queen, of which Seven of Nine is a direct descendant? ^^ The Borg Queen is elegant, vile, but also fascinating and intelligent. I rest my case.

What about you? Who do you think should be on the list?

2 thoughts on “The 12 women who rule the sci-fi universe (my own list)

  1. I like your list better (though i don’t know the Star Trek ones or the Battlestar Galatica one) and i don’t think people who write those lists don’t know the meaning of Sci-Fi or they just don’t know how to name their lists….glad you kept Mila Jovovich in your list (she was awesome in The 5th Element and in the Resident Evil movies)…

    1. Thanks! Yes, those people at need to review their list first. 🙂 Any other women in sci-fi you’d like to add? 🙂

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