We were inspired to speak to Aliette about representations of motherhood in speculative fiction after reading her excellent essay ‘On Motherhood and Erasure‘.

There’s no denying that mothers are demonstrably absent from most speculative fiction. Whether they died ‘off-screen’ or simply have no tangible presence in the narrative, there is a gaping hole in our stories where mothers should be.

If mothers do appear, they are fridged – relegated to having their entire character defined by their children in one way or another. Mothers are given none of the freedoms fathers are, while accruing none of the respect. And we’ve had enough!

If you’re interested in reading more, you can read Aliette’s other essay, ‘Horrific pregnancies and dead mothers: motherhood in fiction and how I learnt to love my pregnant character‘. During the episode, Aliette also references a Tor.com article by Kate Elliott which we also highly recommend: ‘Writing Women Characters Into Epic Fantasy Without Quotas‘.

Warning: This episode is a long one!

Texts mentioned in this episode include:

  • Black Panther
  • Grimms’ Fairy Tales
  • Stranger Things
  • A Quiet Place
  • The Walking Dead
  • The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
  • Court of Fives by Kate Elliott
  • Game of Thrones
  • Alien
  • Aliens
  • Harry Potter
  • Terminator 2: Judgement Day
  • The Belgariad by David Eddings
  • Terry Pratchett
  • Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
  • The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear
  • The Vagrant by Peter Newman
  • The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett
  • The Boleyn Inheritance by Phillippa Gregory
  • Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Becky Chambers
  • Ursula le Guin
  • Raven Strategem by Yoon Ha Lee
  • Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Children of Men
  • Fullmetal Alchemist
  • The Awesome by Eva Darrows
  • The Incredibles
  • Lucifer
  • Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames
  • Charmed
  • Brave
  • Lilo and Stitch

Aliette de Bodard – photograph by Lou Abercrombie

Aliette de Bodard lives and works in Paris. She has won three Nebula Awards, a Locus Award and four British Science Fiction Association Awards, and is a double Hugo finalist for 2019 (Best Series and Best Novella). Most recently she published In the Vanishers’ Palace, a dark retelling of Beauty and the Beast where they are both women and where the Beast is a Vietnamese dragon (2018 Lammy Award finalist for LGBTQ SF/F/Horror). Recent works include the Dominion of the Fallen series, set in a turn-of-the-century Paris devastated by a magical war, which comprises The House of Shattered Wings, The House of Binding Thorns, and forthcoming The House of Sundering Flames (July 2019, Gollancz). Her short story collection Of Wars, and Memories, and Starlight is forthcoming from Subterranean Press (Sept 2019).