Is it Ever Mother's Day in Secondary Worlds?
Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there. This day got me to considering the relative paucity of mothers featured as characters in science fiction and fantasy. Get rather short shrift for page time, don’t they? This is simply an observation, I’m making no judgments, issuing no call to action for greater inclusion and representation of mothers. Screw that noise. Domesticity and child rearing are seldom prominent aspects of space opera or swords-and-sorcery. That’s just the nature of the beast. If writers found more entertainment value from motherhood they’d write in more scenes for our distaff progenitors.
But what examples do we have of dear old Ma in speculative fiction?
Well, there’s Heinlein in his later fiction. Perhaps its best not to dwell on that.
George R.R. Martin places a few mothers front and center, though one might legitimately discount Danaerys. This being “Game of Thrones” these mothers tend to fare poorly. (I just noticed Cersei sounds remarkably similar to Circe. I should have realized she’d be a villain immediately upon reading the name.)
James Branch Cabell introduces a few mothers as minor characters. Given Cabell’s mordant, humorously cynical view of all humanity and all human relationships and institutions it should come as no surprise that mothers receive no special consideration.
Lobelia Sackville-Baggins anyone?
Lady from Glen Cook’s “Black Company” series becomes a mother. That experience doesn’t work out so well.
Fafhrd’s mother? Mommy Dearest territory.
I’m sensing something of a trend here.
Jerry Pournelle’s “Janissaries” series does feature a mother as a major character. Of course that series has not been completed and may never be, so we don’t know how her character arc will resolve.
Doubtless I’m missing or just plain forgetting some excellent examples. Steve Erikson’s “Malazon Book of the Fallen” probably has terrific mothers as characters, but right now every one that springs to mind is a tragic figure. And that’s no way to celebrate Mother’s Day.
I know, I know. Happy, well-adjusted characters with a good home life make for boring drama. But surely speculative fiction has produced at least one equivalent of the immaculate TV sit-com mom. Who has a good one for me?