Tough Traveling – Moms


Tough Traveling is a weekly feature, created and hosted by Nathan at the Fantasy Review Barn, in which participants come up with a list of books that follow the fantasy tropes that can be found in Diana Wynne Jones’ The Tough Guide to FantasylandEach week, Nathan picks a new subject. In honor of Mother’s Day this Sunday, this week’s topic is:

MOMS: Everyone has a mother. Including people in fantasyland. Just in time to be slightly early for Mother’s Day.

OK, I’ll admit some of my choices are not exactly fantasy, but hey, that’s just the way I’m rolling with this! I was thinking at first I would divide my choices into two categories, “good moms” and “bad moms,” but it looks like every example I came up with falls on the “good mom” side. Nothing wrong with that!

The Scroll of YearsGaunt and Bone series by Chris Willrich. In this series, Persimmon Gaunt is the mother, and what a cool mom she is. She’s still pregnant when The Scroll of Years begins, which is a bit unusual in fantasyland, and then when she has her baby, she and her partner Imago Bone end up hiding him in a magical scroll for safekeeping. OK, so they basically abandon their child, but it’s not without reason. Gaunt still gets points for being a good mom!

Harrison SquaredHarrison Squared by Daryl Gregory. Teenaged Harrison actually has two moms in this story, or at least two women who take on the roll of mother. First, his real mom drags him to the creepy seaside town of Dunnsmouth in order to look for an elusive sea creature. But when she is apparently lost at sea, Harrison’s Aunt Sel comes to Dunnsmouth to stay with him and act as his guardian, and she was one of my favorite characters in the book. If you haven’t read Harrison Squared yet, you really should:-D

Broken MonstersBroken Monsters by Lauren Beukes. I adored the characters in this story, especially teenaged Layla and her mother Gabi. Gabi is a single mother who is not only raising Layla by herself, but she’s also a detective, and has a pretty dangerous job. When Layla engages in some risky online behavior, Gabi’s job gets even harder, because a serial killer is on the loose in Detroit. Gabi definitely gets the “single mom” award!

The Girl with All the GiftsThe Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey. The “mother” in this story isn’t a true mother. Miss Justineau is actually a teacher, but she might as well be Melanie’s mom, as she is the most loving person in her very small world. This zombie story had so much unexpected emotion, mostly due to the wonderfully drawn characters. There’s no need to look any further for a perfect example of a mom in genre fiction.

ThreeThree by Jay Posey. Wren is a small boy who lives in a very bleak dystopian future, where zombie-like creatures called the Weir roam at night, looking for unlucky humans to be caught outside the gates. His mother Cass is on a mission: to take Wren to safety in another town. Doing that means crossing a very dangerous area called the Strand, where there are very few places to hide from the Weir. Cass is a firm but loving mother who only wants the best for her son.

I know there are lots more great examples of moms. Let me know what I’ve missed!

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Posted May 7, 2015 by Tammy in Tough Traveling / 28 Comments


28 responses to “Tough Traveling – Moms

  1. You know, when I was reading the Tough Traveling entry at Bibliosanctum a few minutes ago and started thinking about the SFF books I’ve read… I actually couldn’t think of many mothers except for the ones in the Big Stories (A Song Of Fire And Ice, The Hunger Games, Divergent, etc.). It seems like a lot of the characters I’ve read about are orphans, or their parents simply aren’t in the story for one reason or another. But here are a few I can remember:

    – Yelena Zaltana meets her birth mother in Maria V. Snyder’s MAGIC STUDY.
    – There’s a lot of discussion about mothers in Kristin Cashore’s FIRE, from Fire’s deceased mother to Queen Roen’s relationship with her sons Nash and Brigan, to Fire’s wobbling between having children and not.
    – In Ursula K. Le Guin’s TEHANU, Tenar from THE TOMBS OF ATUAN “adopts” a scarred little girl she names Therru, but Therru is much more than the human she seems to be…
    – Just remembered Marissa Coulter from Phillip Phullman’s DARK MATERIALS Trilogy, who is Lyra Belacqua’s (somewhat deranged) birth mother.
    Sara L. recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday, Vol. 7: “Siren’s Fury” by Mary WeberMy Profile

    • I thought of Mrs. Coulter too! Didn’t end up listing her because I (as always, it seems) get lazy after writing 5-6 examples… but she is a memorable mother, lol.

      It’s true that there are an awful lot of orphans in SFF. I’m looking forward to reading the lists this week and finding some books that buck the trend!
      Jenn recently posted…Tough Traveling: MomsMy Profile

    • Tammy

      Those are great choices! I had forgotten all about Lyra’s mother in His Dark Materials:-)

  2. Don’t feel bad. My choices are never completely Fantasy related. I have to throw in some sci-fi and horror. I feel like as long as I’m in the speculative vein, I’m doing good. LOL. I have The Girls with All the Gifts on my TBR pile and it sounds like I need to get around to it soon.
    Tiara recently posted…Tough Traveling: MomsMy Profile

  3. Ahhh, Persimmon Gaunt is a great example…even if I’ve used the book before in TT I think I would have included her if I had thought about it. So few fantasy series start with the couple in love and already expecting their first child 🙂

    And good call with The Girl With All The Gifts, because mother figures are important too!
    Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum recently posted…Tough Traveling: MomsMy Profile

    • Tammy

      One of the reasons I love that series is that they are married with a baby, I think that scenario scares off a lot of writers!

  4. Looking forward to reading Broken Monsters! I actually started it about a month ago but had a backlog of library books to read and so didn’t finish it before I had to return it…. this is a good reminder that I should put myself back on the holds list for it 🙂
    Jenn recently posted…Tough Traveling: MomsMy Profile

    • Tammy

      I my gosh, I don’t think I would be able to stop in the middle of Broken Monsters…I hope you get the chance to finish it!

  5. Being a single mom must be incredibly difficult. I think women raising their children on their own should get an award or something!
    I’ve seen great reviews of The Girl With All the Gifts, I’ll have to check it out soon.
    Kaja recently posted…Tough Travels: MomsMy Profile

  6. I like good moms in stories. I haven’t read any of these, but I like the sounds of the girl with all the gifts. I didn’t realize there was a nice ‘human’. I’m not a fan of pregnancy in fantasy, mostly because they’re in so much danger all of the time.
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    • Tammy

      Ha ha, well now that you said that, I’m going to worry about all the pregnant women in fantasy (although they seem to be few and far between:-D)