This one is for the Fictional Women who make their own rules.
Chiana from Farscape
There were a couple of people who were a little bit non-plussed that I left Aeryn Sun of my list of "Fictional Soldiers Who Rock My World," but here's why I left her off: Chiana.
Don't get me wrong, I like Aeryn just fine, but I preferred Chiana as a character by leaps and bounds. Over her four seasons on Farscape, Chiana's evolution was a wonder to behold as she progressed from an amoral thief always looking out for number one, to an indispensable member of Moya's crew fighting tooth and nail for the people she cares about.
What makes Chiana particularly fascinating is that she rebelled against her own societal norms (a veneration of control, order, and conformity that is best expressed by the repressive Nebari government) and was willing to flee her home with her brother and live by her own wits rather than simply submit.
In short: Chiana the tough customer is a hell of a lot more of a tough customer than anyone gives her credit for. And I totally love that in a kick-ass woman.
Sure, Chiana has a nasty habit of shooting herself in her own foot on a regular basis, but the point is that Chiana always picks herself up, dusts herself off, and keeps moving forward.
Chiana, highlighting that she's an expert at more than a few mad skillz:
Chiana: Don't tell me how to lie! It's one of the things I do best!"
Yes, I know the movie Amélie (U.S. title) is a total fairytale and that Amélie herself is a thinly disguised Cinderella figure.
But...and this is the important point: She's a Cinderella who actively takes a direct hand in changing her fate from a life of isolation and loneliness to one where she actively engages with the people around her in a positive way.
How does she do it?
Not by changing her looks (as too many movies in this genre require the leading lady to do). Not by changing her personality (Amélie remains the same basic person throughout the movie). No, she does it by deciding that it is time for her to change her own life. Yes, she vows to do it by secretly helping others, but she goes about it in such a tricksterish way that you can't help but think that the little con artist within has been screaming for years to be set free.
Watching Amélie evolve from a woman who settles for the simple pleasure of running her hand through a sack of grain, to one who's willing to chase down the identity of "the photo booth man" all over Paris in an effort to puzzle out his story and steal her father's gnome and send it on a photopictoral trip around the world is a feel-good delight that simply makes me happy.
And that fact that Amélie remains Amélie throughout even as she takes her life in her own hands and decides to change the way she approaches the world is more than just a bonus; it's the entire point. It really doesn't get much better than that.
Favorite Amélie quote (hey, it made me laugh):
Amélie: At least you'll never be a vegetable. Even artichokes have hearts.
Before there was a Veronica Mars and a Laura Holt, there was Trixie Belden, the teen-sleuth extraordinaire who ruled my little-girl daydreams. While other girls my age were devouring Nancy Drew books, I was devouring tales about Trixie Belden and her Bob-Whites.
[Funny now that I think about it: Trixie Belden and her Bob-Whites have more than a passing resemblance to high-school era Buffy Summers and her Scoobies...hmmmmmmmmm....]
Trixie Belden sprung to life in 1949, yet despite the fact that almost 60 years have come and gone from her debut, Trixie as a character would be right at home here in the 21st century. A tomboy with a keen instinct for solving mysteries, a sense self-reliance, a hot temper, is a sometimes ambivalent student, and has long-range plans to open her own detective agency with best friend Honey Wheeler, Trixie looks and sounds like the teen girl you already know.
Plus, her ability to trip over trouble is simply astounding. (Seriously, man, was Sleepyside-on-the-Hudson on top of a Hellmouth or something? You really gotta wonder in this fictional day in age.)
Although the series was out of print for awhile, Random House has done the world (and generations of girls who just can't dig Nancy Drew) a favor and is re-releasing all 39 novels (the series ended in 1986). Get one for your favorite mystery-loving girl right away!
Since I don't have any Trixie Belden books on-hand, here's a quote about Trixie Belden:
"Re-reading, you realize how advanced she is," said [Random House editor] Jennifer Dussling [who is responsible for bringing the Belden series back into print]. "Her brothers tell her, 'Oh, Trixie, you have to do the curtains for the clubhouse while we shingle the roof.' And she'd say that wasn't right. She really told her brothers what to do."
Elphaba and Glinda from Wicked
I'm talking about the play version of Wicked, as opposed to the book version in this case. Although, confession time here: I was pissed that the play changed the ending from the book. In fact, my brother and I said, "This sucks!" in unison when we saw the tacked-on happy ending the play saw fit to include.
That said, I adored the friendship between the dissimilar Elphaba and Glinda. Glinda, who taught Elphaba to be a little bit more social, and Elphaba, who taught Glinda to think for herself just a little bit more.
But, do you want to know what I really dig?
Their semi-falling out had nothing to do with a man (as faaaaaar too many falling outs between fictional women do). Instead, it's all because they have fundamentally different approaches to life. Elphaba in good conscience could not go along to get along, which led to Glinda accusing Elphaba that she enjoyed being the outsider too much. Glinda believed that the only way to change the system was to play the game, which led to Elphaba accusing Glinda of loving power and popularity too much.
The hell of it is this: They are both right, and they're both being fair.
I know many people love one over the other. As for me, I simply can't choose. I love them both equally, for their strengths and their faults.
From my favorite duet between Elphaba and Glinda in the play, "For Good:"
Like a comet pulled from orbit//As it passes a sun//Like a stream that meets a boulder//Halfway through the wood//Who can say if I've been changed for the better?//But because I knew you//I have been changed for good...
Granny is one of those cranky old crones with a healthy dose of pessimism, because she knows people. Nanny is one of those ribald old ladies with a healthy dose of optimism, because she also knows people.
Heeee! Okay, so the Witches of Lancre have a serious disconnect between their points of view, and they are fundamentally different in so many ways, yet together they are the dynamic duo, the steadying hand that keeps Lancre from falling into chaos or getting overrun by fairies or vampires, and making sure that wizards don't get too uppity when they drop by for a visit.
Ably aided by retired witch (now Queen of Lancre) Magrat and current "maiden" in the trio Agnes, Granny and Nanny adventure their way across the length and breadth of Discworld and still have time to take care of business at home, like making sure that a Fool went on to become the King of Lancre (and by all accounts, he's a Good King, even if he has some Modern Ideas).
Seriously, I'm not sure who terrifies me more: Granny with her expertise in "Headology," or Nanny, with her ability to manipulate even the most intractable person into doing the right thing.
So give it up for the Witchy Duo of Lancre, who always know when to cast a spell, and when not to cast a spell and let the pointy hat do the talking instead.
I can't pick one. Just go read the books, okay?
And therein ends my list.
Next time someone says that there are no interesting fictional women, I am soooooo pointing them to this list.
I mean, I have 19 Rockin' Women listed right here, and the list is nowhere near complete.