Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New Intro

So, almost two years ago (oh holy spaghetti monster!) I wrote a short story for my Science Fiction and Gender class as the final project. I spent so much time planning out this story - character development, charts, I even developed the entire creation story, history and geography of the alien race that they discover. The only problem was that I didn't time budget well enough, and I ended up rushing through the actual writing of the story. The whole thing was written in diary format, and I had these great, lofty ideas about it, but it didn't end up working as well as I wanted it to. I've been meaning to rewrite it since I finished it, and I've written a lot of side plots and histories of the characters, and I even started writing it from the POV of one of the aliens, but I was never able to actually start rewriting the MAIN STORY.

But today I did. I wanted to put in a quick excerpt from what I began writing, mostly just so I could look at it and admire it and hopefully motivate myself to write more.

Madeleine stared at the console in helpless frustration. She had figured out how to fix the problem that had been plaguing the other mechanics for days in less than five minutes. But she couldn’t do anything. Fixing the gravity feed had become a competition among her three male companions: a matter of pride for them. She knew the kind of reaction she would get if she said anything—it was always the same. Whenever she said something they didn’t know or did something they couldn’t do, they always stared at her. Six brown eyes just staring at her. There would be no words, no reaction, it would just be six silent eyes staring at her for a week, sometimes two, until one of them managed to do something commendable, and then they would all forget Madeleine and start congratulating and joking among each other. Madeleine could join in at these points. They accepted her as a companion, until she did something again that reminded them that she was better than them. She was more educated, had more experience, even had more political influence than them, so much so that if she had been a man, she could have easily been the chief engineer on one of the flagship cruisers. But instead, she was stationed with them, little better than rookies, on a crap research ship that was little better than a puddle-jumper. They knew it. They knew it well. They also knew that they were each in line for a promotion within the next year, while she had been doing the same job for three times longer than all of them. They knew it and were made uncomfortable by it. They were uncomfortable because Madeleine never acted bitter or resentful, or asked for her due respect. She just did her job.

Madeleine watched her companions closely. She knew how to identify their moods and predict their reactions to things. She was always careful not to be in their way and tried her hardest to only help if one of the men asked for it. She understood that her position caused tension among the four of them, but she was afraid to do anything to change her position.

She was afraid because she had seen what happened to women who tried too hard to advance their position in life. Her mother, a brilliant woman who had taught Madeleine everything she knew, had been unable to let go of the ideals that she had learned from her childhood in the Time Before, and the lessons taught her by her mother. Because of this, her mother had been unable to ever hold a job for more than a few weeks. Nobody wanted to hire a woman who held such strong beliefs that went completely against the principles being preached by the Government. Nobody wanted to hire a woman who believed, and flouted, the fact that she was better suited to do her superiors’ jobs than her superiors were. Madeleine had grown up surrounded by women who believed in equality and personal rights, but on a day to day basis she was bombarded by a culture that was trying its hardest to suppress any ideas of equality, rights and freedom.

The fact that Madeleine had even been accepted to the University, the fact she was admitted to the Military, and placed on a ship all pay tribute to how intelligent and hard-working she is. In University, women are out-numbered six to one; in the Military, ten to one, and of the crews aboard the hundreds of space cruisers in the air at any given time, 50 to one. Madeleine’s ship is a unique one however; it has been designed for scientific study, and carries close to 150 scientists, assistants, interns and scholars, many of which are female. While a ship of just over 200 members would usually only have four or so females, this ship carries exactly 16.


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Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr