“No, I am your father” Parental Relationships in SFF
As much as I love a good romance or even a great friendship in my SFF narratives, one thing I have realized that I am constantly drawn to is father-daughter relationships.* This maybe perhaps due to the closeness of my own family and I like to see that reflected in the media I consume, but that is not really the point. As you all know I like having my SFF chock full of female characters, and the more I thought about it I noticed I find their relationships to fathers, mentors etc., to be more interesting than their other relationships. So now I would like to share with you my personal favorite father/daughter relationships.
*This post, despite the suggestion in the title, doesn’t include any Star Wars. Sorry if I have mislead you. Although regarding this theme, I find Leia’s relationship with the memory of Vader in the Thrawn Trilogy fascinating.
N.B. By virtue of the nature of the genre, many of these are adoptive/unofficial relationships. That, however, does not disqualify them from my list. My blog my rules. (Speaking of which, please check out my updated spoiler policy.)
On the literary side of things I would like to start with Alanna of Trebond and Sir Myles of Olau from one of the most formative books series I read as a child, Tamora Pierce’s Lioness Quartet. I appreciated Pierce’s focus on female heroes in her novels, and this is probably what set me up to expect fully developed female characters in ‘genre’ fiction later in life. But back on theme. Why was this relationship so great? Well unlike her biological father, Myles supports Alanna throughout her career, offering advice, spending time together, encouraging her. He even brings her away for a short period to his castle where she finds her sword ‘Lightning’ among the nearby ruins. Later, as we see in the other series in the universe, he works alongside her husband managing the spy network. He was a kind gentle soul, and when Alanna felt alone, masquerading as a boy to train to become a knight, her time with Myles – his kind words and company made all of the difference.
My next favorite relationship? Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace and Admiral Adama from the Battlestar Galactica reboot. Their first interaction characterizes much about their relationship, we see Starbuck running throughout the Galactica yelling at people who get in her way, but when she runs into Adama he brings out a softer side in her. “What do you hear?” “Nothing but the rain.” They share their inside joke, and smile and continue with their days. Throughout the extremely stressful series, these two very serious characters are able to relax around one another. Talk about their shared past and smile a bit. These relationships help motivate them as they struggle to survive. Their relationship is also made more touching as we learn about the difficulties in Starbuck’s relationship to her own father, and Adama’s to his own sons. Somehow, together, they manage to make it work.
The last pair I would like to talk about is Mako Mori and Stacker Pentecost from Pacific Rim. While he is extremely protective of her from the offset, we only later learn the extent of their relationship. He knows her instabilities because he experienced them, he saved her from a kaiju when she was a small girl. He then helped raise her. This all makes his decision to let her go that much more impacting. He gives her the chance to move on, progress from her past, and places trust and confidence in her growth. While this gets challenged when she first puts on the jaeger suit, it ultimately is not misplaced. Like the other relationships discussed, it adds a softness to was is otherwise a very ‘hard’ story. Perhaps that is why I am so drawn to them. These relationships help humanize the characters involved. It gives them a chance to stop and breath in stressful situations. A moment of calm before the storm. Something to live and fight for. Again maybe this is my own upbringing reflected but I love seeing the ‘fathers’ continually trust their ‘daughters’ even after the girls have tricked, disappointed or let them down, and ultimately it is the faith placed in them that helps them succeed.
Featured Image by Noelle Stevenson, or gingerhaze