Linda Nagata: the blog at Hahví.net

My Science Fiction Moms

Sunday, May 14th, 2017

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

My two children are adults now, but I’ve always loved being a mom and still do. Perhaps as a consequence, moms have often been prominent in my fiction.

My children were quite young when I wrote my first novel, The Bohr Maker. In that story, Phousita, one of two main protagonists, is not technically a mother but she’s a mother-figure for many. In Tech-Heaven the solo protagonist is a widowed mother with a close relationship to her own mother, her mother-in-law, and her daughters. Deception Well is a bit short on mothers, but Vast makes up for it, I think. Limit of Vision doesn’t directly explore motherhood, but in Memory one of the driving emotional themes is the strong relationship between the protagonist, Jubilee, and her mother. The Red trilogy is lacking in motherhood — it’s Dad who gets the focus here. But in The Last Good Man motherhood returns as a powerful emotional force behind a fast-paced plot.

True Brighton is the protagonist of The Last Good Man. As a forty-nine-year-old mother of three adult children, she’s not your usual action hero–but then she’s not your usual forty-nine-year-old mom, either. True is an army veteran, working now as a military contractor. She’s seen her share of battlefield action and she understands all too well the pain that parenthood can bring. In this opening scene, True encounters a father desperate to hire the services of Requisite Operations to rescue his kidnapped daughter:

Lincoln returns his gaze to Yusri and says in a soft rasp, the result of more scarring in his larynx, “The United States government does not pay ransoms, Mr. Atwan. Ransoms only encourage more kidnappings. As a military contractor licensed to work with the federal government, Requisite Operations is required to abide by that policy. So we cannot help you pay a ransom.”

Yusri’s voice grows plaintive. “She is not political. She only wanted to help people, to do some good in the world.”

“I understand that, sir.”

True confronts the photo of Fatima Atwan. A bright-eyed young woman, the prime years of her life still ahead.

Yusri’s reserve slips. “She doesn’t deserve this!”

True looks up to see tears shining in his eyes.

Yusri Atwan is a Seattle native. He owns a small but prosperous company that manufactures chemical sensors. His daughter, Fatima, is a young medical doctor and an idealist, dedicated to helping those less fortunate than herself. She committed to a year of overseas service with a charitable foundation. And her father is right: She doesn’t deserve what happened to her. But then, most people overrun by the firestorms of chaos and anarchy don’t deserve their fates.

It takes Yusri only seconds to recover his composure, and when he speaks again to Lincoln, it’s in a hard, determined voice. “I’ve talked to people, Mr. Han. They say you, your company, can help when no one else can. I understand it costs money. I can pay. I can get six hundred thousand dollars in cash within two business days. It’s all I have and I know it’s not enough, but she’s with El-Hashem.”

As these words pass his lips, Yusri’s face flushes dark. He looks away; he looks at the wall. True watches him intently, sure that he is contemplating what that fact means for his daughter. Is there anything worse than knowing the brutality your child endures and being helpless to affect it? No, she thinks. There is not. Breathing softly, shallowly, she schools herself to stay focused.

Read the entire first chapter of The Last Good Man here.

Best wishes for the day, whether you’re a mother or not. 🙂