Who is a Space Princess?
I am happy to announce that the New Space Princess literary movement now consists of two members: me and Edward Willet, a Canadian writer who would be profoundly embarrassed to be associated with me if he knew what a disreputable person I am. But no matter! Recently the SWFA Mansion in New Jersey was rocked and shattered with tumult as Mr. Willet and I disagreed over the definition of who is a “Space Princess” — for example, is Princess Padme of Naboo a Space Princess, or only a Space Senator? Do elected Princesses count? What about a girl whose father is the Tyrant of Pluto — if Pluto is no longer a planet, does that mean she is no longer a Space Princess?
I wonder if the guys over at the New Weird Movement or the Mundane SF Movement or the People’s Front of Judea have to make such nuanced and elaborate definitional arguments just to see what is inside or outside their literary cannon?
We lack as yet a ready definition to cover all forms of Space Princessship. Several possible criteria suggest themselves: (1) Does she wear a crown? (2) Does she have a bare midriff? (3) Does she have a raygun? (4) Is she from Outer Space? (5) Is she a non-reigning member of the Royal Family? (Non-reigning, because, of course, we are not the Space QUEEN movement — they are our rivals!)
In the interests, therefore, of obfuscating the matter, and making it look as if our literary movement is larger than it really is (three people instead of one and a half) I suggest a survey of all the great classics and popular blockbusters of science fiction, to see which of them can be shoehorned into membership in our mighty literary juggernaut of a movement, perhaps by some sleight of hand or by switching the definitions while you are not looking. Ready? Let’s begin!
WHICH OF THE GREATEST SCI FI STORIES ARE PART OF THE SPACE PRINCESS CANNON?
There are three qualities that a book, film, or teleplay must have in order to qualify.
First, the story must have a princess. A gorgeous princess is better than a fat and dumpy princess, but this is not a necessity. If she is not merely gorgeous, but so gorgeous that it breaks your brain, this is better. If she wears a shiny hat to show that she enjoys royal estate, this is even better.
SECOND CRITERION: MUST NOT BE REAL PRINCESS. Note Shiny Hat.
This second criterion has some wiggle room, in that if the story starts with a real princess, such as Cleopatra or someone like that, and makes out that she is really a robot from Mars or the reincarnation of a royal space-tyrant from Pluto or some wild idea like that, it might be allowed.
Cleopatra is so haunted with glamour and legend that we should not hold that fact that she is both real and not from Outer Space against her. Princesses of unusual legendary stature such as Boadicea, Semiramis, Dido, Penthesilia, or Princess Di, or someone else whose historical reality is in doubt, will fit into this Princess Cleopatra exception. But Princesses in this category have to be decided on a case-by-case basis. It also helps if the Princess is jaw-droppingly glamorous such as if she is portrayed by Gina Torres (than whom few actresses are more attractive).
THE CLEOPATRA EXCEPTION
The third and most important criterion is that the Princess be from space or rule space, preferably a planet we have heard of, like Mars, but in any case it has to be a planet, asteroid belt, nebula, galaxy, galactic cluster or supercluster or other heavenly body in space. Princesses from parallel dimension, Oz, Elfland, the World of Tiers, Amber, and the Looking-Glass World do not Count. So the White Queen from Alice is not a Space Princess.
THIRD CRITERION: MUST BE FROM OUTER SPACE
Princesses who inhabit the extremely far future, especially if the Earth is changed beyond recognition, might be considered. While technically these would be Time Princesses rather than Space Princesses, we dare not enact a rule so strict that it would exclude both the beautiful but diabolically evil Sorainya of the Gyronchi as depicted in Jack Williamson’s The Legion of Time, and her beautiful but virtuous counterpart Lethonee of Jonbar. For one thing, Sorainya is gorgeous, and scantily dressed in a clinging silken shift (which was really risque for 1938), as seen here using her time-projection image to lure an unsuspecting yet intrepid hero to his death in the ocean.
TIME PRINCESSES ALSO COUNT
I would not want to exclude the beautiful but diabolically evil Sorainya of the Gyronchi from consideration as a Space Princess for two reasons. First, I don’t want to anger her, so that she lures me to a watery grave using her time projection powers. (Note the shark fin in the lower left corner of the picture above.) Also, it would be cruel to the beautiful and virtuous Lethonee to exclude her. Second, if we exclude these two from consideration as a Space Princesses, some ill-bred yet logical reader would ask us to reject both the beautiful but diabolically evil Ineznia of Gonwonlane and the beautiful but virtuous L’onee who appear in Two Hundred Millon A.D. by A.E. van Vogt, which might seem, at first glance, to be inspired by a very similar idea (cough, cough, ripoff) as the classic by Wiliamson. So Time Princesses also count, even if they are evil.
Which brings us to the next point:
Please note that Space Princesses can be of any alignment! The beautiful as she is evil daughter of a space emperor is just as much a princess as the beautiful as she is spunky princess captured by the Space Empire and being tortured for the secret location of the rebel base. The difference is that Evil Space Princesses wear lavish eye makeup to make her eyes look more slanted and exotic, I guess because they are suffering from what is technically known as Fah lo Suee envy.
However, according to the official rules, if a Space Princess changes allignment, such as when she breaks the hero out of jail, she looses a level. That may be why super competent and ruthless evil space princesses usually end up, after chapter twelve or so, not doing so much when they turn good. They don’t seem to be that good at being kidnapped, which is one of the main past-times of Lawful Good Space Princesses, or of being spunky, which is the class feat of Chaotic Good Space Princesses.
There are other factors that, while not strict criteria themselves, may decide an otherwise uncertain case. These include whether or not the Space Princess is armed, such as with a ray gun, whether she wears a shiny hat, and whether she dresses in tight clothing which leaves her midriff bare.
Now let us examine possible candidates for induction!
1. A Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Justification: Dejah Thoris is (a) from Space and (b) a Princess. She does indeed have a bare midriff, since we are assured that on the remote and sub-arctic temperatures of planet Barsoom (Mars, to you Earthlings) the dress of choice is nudism, accompanied by massive amounts of jewelry. She also gets kidnapped a lot, which is a big mistake, because once John Carter, Warlord of Mars, best swordsman of two worlds is on your trail, just stick a fork into yourself. You’re done. It is like having the Grey Lensman after you. Speaking of which:
The Original Space Princess! Note bare Midriff!
2. Skylark of Space by E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith
Justification: Widely regarded as the first Space Opera and the first novel of interstellar (not just interplanetary) travel. Not only is Sitar of Osnome a princess, but Dorothy Vaneman is elevated to royalty by the Osnomians when she marries Richard Seaton on that remote planet of the Green System at the core of the Galaxy. She also gets kidnapped at least once by Blackie DuQuesne. The Osnomians are also nudists, which must be like a fad in Outer Space or something. Either that, or Sci Fi authors get lonely. I have never read a book where the nudists of Outer Space are overweight or old and saggy or anything.
I am sure there is a Space Princess aboard this ship. Trust me.
3. Dune by Frank Herbert.
Justification: Princess Irulan is clearly a princess. She is from outer space (Salusa Secundus, third planet of Gamma Piscium, to be exact — how is THAT for useless Geek knowledge, Fanboy? I could have spent the same brain cells I used up memorizing that fact to recall something like, I dunno, my phone number). And she is smokin’ hawt, at least when Virginia Madsen portrays her, and I have had a crush on Madsen since my schooldays. I even forgive her for Highlander 2.
4. Foundation, by Isaac Asimov
Justification: Uh. Okay, so this one is a bit of a stretch. But if you remember on the planet Kalgan, there is a minor character named Lady Callia, who is the mistress of the Warlord, and that is almost like a princess. I am the sure the Emperor of Trantor must have a daughter somewhere. Just play along!
Well, Okay, if Foundation does not count, how about 4. City of the Csach and Servants of the Wankh by Jack Vance? Ylin-Ylan, Flower of Cath (known by a dozen other names) was certainly a Princess, and a planet orbiting the star Carina 4269 is certainly in Outer Space.
I think she is about to go awaile in a minute, so duck. Space Princesses can be tempermental.
The series The Demon Princes by Jack Vance might also make honorable mention. While the five arch-criminals known as the Demon Princes do not have any sisters or daughters that could be called Demon Princesses, Alusz Iphegenia Eperje-Tokay from the mystical planet Thamber is royalty.
5. Glory Road by Robert Heinlein
Justification: Star (not her real name) the sexy space empress, aka Her Wisdom CCIV, is a princess. Oscar (not his real name) calls her Princess. The Twenty Universes are clearly in space, or else they are somewhere. She is also a nudist. I think that this is just a habit some space people have. I mean, c’mon, when is the last time you heard of those Little Gray Men who abduct people wearing clothing?
6. Weapon Shops of Isher by A.E. van Vogt
Justification: Isher the Empress is a Princess, and her empire extends to colonies on Venus and Mars, which means that she rules an outer space empire, whether or not her capital and headquarters are on Earth. Also, according to the description in the book, Innedal Isher is ferociously intelligent, vivid, graceful, and smokin’ hawt, and I have had a crush on her since my schooldays.
And, while we are at it 7. Players of Null-A by A.E. van Vogt has the daughter of the Earth President Patricia Hardy somehow (with typical vanvogtian Null-A logic) turn out to be Reesha the sister of Enro the Red, tyrant of the Greatest Empire Ever To Exist In Time and Space (which, in my opinion, is the best name for any space empire EVER), so ergo she is royalty. Convenient, if inexplicable. (And, yes, Reesha appears in my sequel, therefore this book 8. Null-A Continuum by John C. Wright is also in the Space Princess cannon.)
Space Princess Armed with Raygun! — Note bare Midriff!
9. Flash Gordon
Justification: this is one of the seminal works of the Space Princess movement, and the one from which we take our inspiration. Space Princess Aura is as evil as she is beautiful.
Hard to tell in this shot, but she does actually have the bare midriff which seems to be de rigour for Space Princesses.
I think Space Princess (when they are Beautiful-But-Evil Space Daughters of Space Tyrants) have to have sinister looking eye makeup.
And bare midriffs are a must.
Princess Aura! Not to be confused with Princess Aurora, who is just as beautiful, even if not as evil.
10. Buck Rogers.
Justification: Princess Ardala. She is as beautiful as she is evil. And as evil as she is beautiful. So there.
As Beautiful As She is Evil!
11. Ringworld by Larry Niven
Justification: I just added this one to the list to see if anyone was paying attention. Nope, no Space Princesses here. Teela Brown is smokin’ hawt as well as being bred for luck, but, no. No dice. Sorry.
12. Star Wars
Justification: One the one hand, we have Princess Leia and her smokin’ hawk mom, Princess Padme. On the other hand, when George Lucas made the three prequel movies he not only RUINED MY CHILDHOOD JUST TO SELL TOYS and ergo emotionally scarred me for life, he also added the rather dumb idea that (a) Jedi mind-powers come from midi-chlorians in the bloodstream, and (b) the princesses of Naboo serve an elective office rather than ruling because of the Divine Right of Kings as bestowed by the Great Galactic Spirit and the terror of the Imperial Space Marines who will serve any uppity space-democracy-types with a ferocious space-jackboot to the neck. Which confused me. So the first three movies both emotionally scarred me for life and also confused me.
Galactic Royalty! — Note Bare Midriff
Galactic Royalty doing her royal Fonz impersonation — Wait. Who is that? Some Space Commoner!
13. Star Trek
Justification: Um. This one is also a bit of a stretch. I am sure one of those space babes on one of those shows at some point had to have been a member of some royal family. Stands to reason. Wasn’t the mother of Spock’s brother Sybok a princess? I don’t recall what the class of T’Pring of Vulcan was, but she has the same eye makeup as Princess Aura of Mongo. Does that count?
Vulcan Space Princesses?
14. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
Justification: Prince Adam of Eternia must have a mom or a sister or something. Was She-Ra from a royal family? And what about Evil-Lyn, the beautiful but evil space sorceress and necromanceress? It certainly looks like she is wearing a crown, and as far as I can tell from the cartoon, her father, the Faceless One, is absolute ruler of his domain, and I never believed that backstory about her being a schoolteacher from Earth named Evelyn Powers. And she has the evil Space Princess eye makeup. And I have a crush on Meg Foster. I am sure that that counts.
15. Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny
Justification: In addition to the Nine Princes, there are at least four princesses (Fiona, Flora, Llewella, Deirdre) , but I do not know if Planet Amber counts as a planet. It is in another dimension, not in Outer Space. Unfortunately, much as I like these books, they do not qualify.
16. She by H. Rider Haggard
Justification: Cumae is not a planet, but a ruins in darkest Africa, so I guess that Ayesha She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed is not a Space Princess. However, she is as Evil as she is Beautiful, perhaps the first of that description, and I wanted to post a picture of Ursula Andress:
Justification: I know what you are thinking. “Isn’t Roswell a TV show from a few years back starring Katherine Heigl, an actress so gorgeous that it might break your brain to look at her? Wasn’t that show about a group of teens, two hawt girls and two hunky guys, in New Mexico who discovered they were space aliens? So ergo the show is about smokin’ hawt space teens, and not about smokin’ hawt space princesses, n’est-ce-pas?”
Well, loyal reader, stow your fancy French phrases! Your thesis might be right so far as it goes, but in the second season, it was revealed that the four smokin’ hawk and/or smokin’ hunk (depending on your sexual orientation) teens were none other than the Royal Four, of which two of them, the gorgeous Tess (who was evil) and the brain-breakingly gorgeous Isabel, would therefore be Space Princesses!
Gorgeous But Evil Space Princess Tess
Brain-Breakingly Gorgeous Space Princess Isabel
Space Princess Valandra with her Mouth Open (NASA file photograph)
Justification: For those of you who look back with disdain that the cinematic masterpiece known as Krull, let me just say, Krull was AWESOME. You just have to be nine to enjoy it, and have philistine, pedestrian tastes. Like mine. I can proof it was awesome by reference to the list of awesome things in it. Did it not have the spinning eight-armed switchblade thingie that the hero controlled with his mind, which was like a batarang, only awesomener? It did! And giant spiders? And cyclopes, shape-changers, and a dark castle that teleported to a different spot every night? Did it not have the hero and heroine able, at the last minute, and for no reason whatsoever, without the slightest pretense at logic or sense able to shoot out superawesome blasts of raging flame? And did it not have Frank Langella as Skeletor? Or was that another movie?
In any case, despite its look and feel as a fantasy film, this was a science fiction (I think) just in the tradition of Dragonriders of Pern or Darkover or other books that placed faux medieval trappings and props in front of science fictional space backdrops .
But it also had Lysette Anthony as Princess Lyssa, mother of the future ruler of the Galaxy. Like many a Space Princess of the Spunky-Good alignment, she gets space-kidnapped by a monster called The Beast, or maybe by a beast called The Monster, I forget which, and she helps the hero rescue her be suddenly being able, with at the last minute, and for no reason whatsoever, without the slightest pretense at logic or sense able to shoot out superawesome blasts of raging flame.
19. Crest of the Stars by Hiroyuki Morioka
Justification: Abriel Nei Debrusc Borl Paryun Lafiel is quitre clearly a princess and from outer space. Indeed, she is more from outer space than most of our other candidates, because her race was genetically bred for space conditions. Unlike every other Space Princess here, she neither bares her midriff, is diabolically evil, or gets kidnapped. Instead she does the kind of thing real royal family members do, like join the Navy and learn the art of government. If you look closely, you can see her shiny hat, and while she does not have the space eye makeup we are used to, she does have some impressive space ears.
She is shown here armed with a space cat rather than a ray-gun, but if you’ve seen the anime, this pic is slightly creepy, since that cat might or might not be her Mom.
Space Princess with Creepy Space Cat
20. Perelandra by C.S. Lewis
Justification: The Green Lady of Venus, also known as Tinidril, is clearly a monarchic, if not sacerdotal, ruler of this principality. Her superior station is recognized both by the human traveler and by the evil archangel sent to tempt her. And Venus, unlike completely mythical planets like Pern, Krypton, and Pluto, is a for-real place.
Is she really a Space Princess? Opinions differ. One the one hand, she does not have a shiny hat, nor is she armed with a raygun. She is armed with a philologist from Earth named Elwin Ransom.
On the otherhand, like Star the Sexy Space Empress, and Sitar of Osnome, the Green Lady is a nudist. Also, like Eve from Milton’s Paradise Lost, the Green Lady is described as being the classical poetic version of Smokin’ Hawt:
She, as a veil down to the slender waist,
Her unadornèd golden tresses wore
Dishevelled, but in wanton ringlets waved
As the vine curls her tendrils—which implied
Subjection, but required with gentle sway,
And by her yielded, by him best received—
Yielded, with coy submission, modest pride,
And sweet, reluctant, amorous delay.
Nor those mysterious parts were then concealed:
Then was not guilty shame. Dishonest shame
Of Nature’s works, honour dishonourable,
Sin-bred, how have ye troubled all mankind
With shews instead, mere shews of seeming pure
And banished from man’s life his happiest life,
Simplicity and spotless innocence!
So passed they naked on, nor shunned the sight
Of God or Angel; for they thought no ill:
So hand in hand they passed, the loveliest pair
That ever since in love’s embraces met—
Adam the goodliest man of men since born
His sons; the fairest of her daughters Eve.
Fortunately, I was able to find an artistic conception of the appearance of C.S. Lewis’s lovely yet dignified character.
Ho, ho, just kidding! That is not Tinidril of Perelandra! It is Batgirl, in her disguise as sensual yet psychotic green Librarian Barbara Gordon.
Here is the real picture of Tinidril. Albeit why Ransom describes her as so attractive is hard for me to put my finger on.