It’s Mother’s Day in Australia this weekend, and in honour of the occasion, I present you with my list of Five Notable Mums in Speculative Fiction (no doubt the Internet will abound with similar lists; never let it be said that I’m squeamish about jumping on overcrowded bandwagons).
A disclaimer: This is an entirely subjective list. I compiled it by jotting down the first half a dozen characters that came to mind. By no means is it intended to be definitive, so please don’t comment by saying, “You forgot about…” or “I can’t believe you didn’t mention…” I would, however, love to hear about readers’ favourites, especially if they’re different to mine, and extra-specially if I wind up learning something new.
Mrs Weasley reminds me of myself; she often has a slightly distracted, frazzled air as she rushes about wrangling her large family and various extra bodies who get swept up into her brood. She’s a bit dumpy and a bit frumpy; take away the fringe, and we even have almost the same haircut. Fortunately, I’ve never had the occasion defend my daughter from a murderous, wand-wielding Death Eater. But if I ever do, I’ll just ask myself – “What would Molly Weasley do?”
Sarah Connor in Terminator 2 is almost unrecognisable from the first Terminator movie. Gone is the puffy 80’s hair and the perpetually terrified expression. There’s nothing this mum won’t do to protect her child, including enduring imprisonment in a mental hospital, feigning catatonia to distract a lecherous orderly, later bashing the bejesus out of said orderly, shooting lots of things, and performing a shit-ton of pull ups.
But never mind all that – for me, it’s all about the biceps.
3. Debbie Maddox, a.k.a. The Chosen Mum – Yonderland
A bit of an odd choice for this list, seeing as I haven’t actually seen Yonderland. But this post by Tansy Rayner Roberts convinced me that I should. Tansy says:
“This is a kids show about how adults need to have something in their lives other than wiping up messes, driving you to and from school, and earning a living to put a roof over your head, and makes it clear that they are not selfish for following their dreams.”
Gee, can’t think why that might resonate with me…
4. Cersei Lannister – Game of Thrones (spoiler alert!)
(Note: this is based on the television series, not the books. I’m avoiding reading the books for the moment – spoiler alerts and all that.)
Some characters you love because they’re everything you’re not (see Sarah Connor), and some characters you love to hate because they’re everything you’re not. Cersei Lannister falls into the latter category. At least, I thought I hated her, with her corrupt power, her perpetually sour expression, her abominable child Joffrey, and her general all-round nastiness.
Until the latest episode, when a grieving Cersei has a conversation with Margaery Tyrell about the nature of unconditional love. She knew all along what a monster Joffrey was, it seemed, yet she loved him anyway.
Could I still love my children if they turned out as evil as Joffrey? Here’s hoping I never find out.
5. Remade mum – Iron Council
Anyone paying even scant attention to my blog will probably know that I’m a big China Miéville fan. I can’t tell you the name of this particular character, partly because I don’t recall ever finding out what her real name was and partly because to reveal her pseudonym would be a massive spoiler alert for anyone who has not yet read the book. In Miéville’s city of New Crobuzon, criminals are often punished by being Remade – their bodies are surgically altered, sometimes with the addition of human, animal or mechanical parts, in cruel and inventive ways. This character committed the crime of infanticide, and her punishment was to have the arms of her dead child grafted to her head, to serve as a constant reminder of her sins.
In my opinion, the murder of one’s own offspring is the ultimate unforgiveable act, so it’s a testament to Miéville’s art that I ended up feeling sympathy, perhaps even empathy, for this imaginary, broken woman.