Tansy Rayner Roberts on portrayals of women in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books:
Once I had finished the 8 hours or so of listening to Wyrd Sisters, I moved straight on to Witches Abroad (1991), which has always been one of my favourites: this is the one which most effectively deals with the role of the witch in stories and fairytales, and is also pure Ogg-Weatherwax-Magrat hilarity from beginning to end.
But only when listening to Nigel Planer read it to me over the last few weeks did I realise something I had never entirely noticed before: this is a fantasy novel in which all the important characters are women. This is a fantasy novel by a bestselling male author in which all the important characters are women.
Max Barry on gender assumptions and the character of “the girl”:
Let me walk you through it. We’ll start with dogs. I have written about this before, but to save you the click: people assume dogs are male. Listen out for it: you will find it’s true. To short-cut the process, visit the zoo, because when I say “dogs,” I really mean, “all animals except maybe cats.” The air of a zoo teems with “he.” I have stood in front of baboons with teats like missile launchers and heard adults exclaim to their children, “Look at him!”
…Then you’ve got Smurf books. Not actual Smurfs. I mean stories where there are five major characters, and one is brave and one is smart and one is grumpy and one keeps rats for pets and one is a girl. Smurfs, right? Because there was Handy Smurf and Chef Smurf and Dopey Smurf and Painter Smurf and ninety-four other male Smurfs and Smurfette. Smurfette’s unique personality trait was femaleness. That was the thing she did better than anyone else. Be a girl.