Choose Your Specialty Lecturer

Hey, guys! Thanks for this week’s challenge to Sunless Nick. If you suggest something and I don’t credit you when it’s published, I apologise in advance; I either had already thought of it and had it scheduled for publication before it was mentioned, or simply forgot who gave me the idea by the time I got around to writing the piece. But I’m really grateful for everyone’s suggestions, it’s twice as much as I could have thought up on my own! XXOO Gabs.

OK, this week’s challenge: Pick three women who are the top in their field whom you would pay good money to go to a lecture where they tell you what their job entails and how they got to the top of their game. (Bonus points if you have someone who’s had to prove she’s twice as good as the next best man to get every inch of her rung up the career ladder.) And let’s just ignore the inconvenient little detail that no way are various governments going to let these women talk about their successes to the unwashed masses…

My picks:

Dr. Temperence ‘Bones’ Brennan from Bones. Nothing gets past this forensic anthropologist – at least not in professional terms. I bet if the Catholic Church came to her claiming to have the bones of Christ, she could tell if they were real or fake with a bored glance.

Dr. Samantha Carter from Stargate: SG1. Given that the Gou’ld like to keep civilisations down technologically, she’s not only one of the brightest astophsyics minds on Earth, but much of the Milky Way, too. And she kicked McKay’s ass whenever they crossed paths.

Irena Derevco from Alias. Initially trained as a Russian spy to infiltrate the mind and heart of Jack Bristow, she hightailed it out of there when her cover was blown and succesfullly faked her own death by sucking the air out of car tyres while submerged underwater for several hours. Seasons 2-4 proved impossible to work out exactly which side she was playing for; I was always sure the end-game made perfect sense in her head. And since I refuse to acknowledge the existance of season 5, to me, she’s still out there, maneuvering and counter-maneuvering her way into out and out trouble.


  1. Maartje says

    Bones and Carter were the first two I thought of when I saw the title too! But here’s three others:

    Ziva David (NCIS) who will give a lecture named ’20 different ways to kill someone with a paperclip’ or ‘assasination 101’

    Armina-Dottir (Thule trilogy) who runs her own matriarchal country but finds herself opening herself up to some male perspectives as well, so setting the country on its way to equality. She could lecture on SO many topics, to name a few: ‘How to reform criminals’, ‘Putting your country first’, ‘If you work with nature, nature will work with you’ and it’s follow up ‘unconventional warfare’ and so on, and so forth.

    Sheherazade (1001 nights) because who wouldn’t want to hear her speak? Obviously, one of her lectures would be: ‘the importance of storytelling’ and ‘storytelling: a how to’

  2. JohnB says

    Dr. Susan Calvin from I, Robot. I probably couldn’t understand the physics of a positronic brain, but the psychology is fascinating.

    Dr. Patricia ‘Pat’ Medford from Them! I find ants fascinating. Giant ants doubly so.

    Dr. Grace Augustine (Avatar). Who wouldn’t want a slideshow and lecture about the Na’vi?

  3. SunlessNick says

    My initial picks have already been picked. :) So…

    1. I love to hear Helen Magnus (Sanctuary) give a talk on any of history, biology, or cryptozoology, or if I’m just in the mood for tales of death-defying adventure. I seem to pick Helen Magnus a lot. I don’t know whether to revel in how awesome this makes her, or mourn the dearth of good rivals; or both.

    2. If I wanted a talk on archaeology or fringe-history, though, I’d be signing up for lectures by Safia al-Maaz (Sandstorm by James Rollins). Not only is she totally the type of expert who can follow the evidence through ancient ruins and featureless desert, but she’s also the genetic daughter of the Queen of Sheba – granted, that last part doesn’t reflect her expertise in her field, but it makes me think she’d be a mesmerising speaker.

    3. For a talk on the spying craft, I’d like the hear Lily Sharpe talk on the subject (Whiteout, the graphic novel by Greg Rucka, not the film). Not quite the superspy that Irina Derevko is, but there’s a lot of interesting stuff hinted at, quite apart from her stint in Antarctica. And she’s definitely faced male-shaped barriers on her way up.

  4. The Other Anne says

    I’m going to be a little different and list my three picks who are real women who I desperately want to see speak someday.

    Here they are:

    Greta Christina, whose experience as a female atheist blogger at the top of that game is particularly interesting to me, and I’d say she’d be on the level of Dawkins and Hitchens if she were a man–which is to say, there’s a particular kind of sexism among atheism that I find utterly terrible, and I love her writings and want to hear it in person!

    Nnedi Okorafor, who is a teacher in Chicago and a very awesome writer of all things fantastical and science fictiony. She seems like an amazing person, who is also involved in her students lives (to the point of being support for one student who was recently imprisoned). She’s a Nigerian-American who is fighting the politics of her home country through writing and she’s just amazing. I’d want her to lecture about writing from the imagination as it relates to the real world, and how her identity and experience and past has shaped the worlds she travels in when she writes.

    Then, I’d want Alice Guy-Blache to lecture on her experience shaping filmmaking, in particular narrative filmmaking, and her thoughts on the takeover filmmaking saw mid-century by men who pushed women out of creative jobs and into the menial “women” jobs like producing and editing. I’d want her to talk about what brought about her then novel fictional films, and how that style changed in her eyes over time, and about her experience being head of production in pre-Hollywood studios.

    Sorry if that’s not quite what this one was about, but those are whose lectures I would most want to attend! :)

  5. Ara says

    Buri from Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books. She’s always a secondary character but from what we’ve heard of her backstory– she was left to die by her husband and then served her princess through said princess’s father trying to kill them, all the way to the princess marrying the King of Tortall, and then she founded and was day-to-day commander of a whole organization of irregular fighters that answered directly to her Queen.

    Barbara Gordon from Batman. She was Batgirl, then she was Oracle, she fought crime…

    Celeste from “The Books of Insanity” by K.T. Pinto. Because she has magical insanity, but this is her strength and she sees the world really, really strangely, but she also manages to get into and out of a lot of crazy situations and usually learns something… usually.

  6. Nina says

    Professora Helen Vorthys of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series – a history professor (my field!) who I think was one of the first women to gain tenure at her university; she taught (and continues to teach) a demanding course schedule, conducted research, and raised 4 children; also, she is apparently a popular lecturer, so I bet she gives a good talk.

    (Dr.?) Luzelle Devaire of Paula Volsky’s “The Grand Ellipse” – she is a trained anthropologist in a Victorian-style setting, the first woman to lecture at her university, and then of course there’s her experiences in a race around the world!

    Can’t think of a good third one at the moment, but I’m sure I’ll come up with one later!

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