Monday, December 7, 2009

A request for recommendations

I've noticed a troubling theme in fantasy and science fiction stories. At least it troubles me as a handicapped woman. {bite lips}

When the heroine is handicapped, she doesn't get a romantically satisfying ending as far as I'm concerned. I don't think it's because I'm being too fussy. Wine, roses, champagne, and the like aren't required. All I want is for her to end up with a guy who, if he were direct enough, could honestly say "I could go it on my own, or find someone else, but I'd rather stay here with you." The only gal I know of is Myste in Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar series, and she's the hero's love interest than a major character in her own right. {smile}

Handicapped guys can find gals like that. It doesn't happen often, but there's Carradoc of the Shrunken Arm in King Arthur's legends, Tannim in Mercedes Lackey's Serrated Edge series, Alberich in Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar series, Gryffin in The Dream-Maker's Magic by Sharon Shinn, Philip Guthrie in Hope's Folly by Linnea Sinclair, Miles Vorkosigan in Lois McMaster Bujold's Vor series, and a few others I don't remember quite well enough to fetch the books for. {smile}

Now don't get me wrong: this is good. Handicapped guys need the encouragement too, and I'm very glad they're getting it. However... when it's a gal who has a handicap, she's practically never that lucky. I've seen more ways for this to get messed up than I ever expected:

1) The gal ends up with no romantic involvement.

2) The gal doesn't settle down with a guy until her handicap has been fixed, so she's no longer handicapped.

3) The gal settles down on a planet where her handicap isn't a handicap. (Who cares if you're deaf when every non-deaf human has to wear deafening earplugs to keep the local inhabitants from piercing their ear drums with their loud calls?)

4) The gal finds a guy, but they're united by a magical, psychic, biological, etc. bond they have no control over. This bond tends to ensure the guy either can't "make it" with the vast majority of otherwise eligible females, or can't happily settle down with anyone else. If the gal he finds happens to be handicapped, he courts her anyway. {lop-sided smile}

What's wrong with these stories? Nothing individually. None of them quite fit the romantic attitude I'm looking for, but I don't expect every story to end the way I'd like. The problem is that I haven't found any that do work out well. All the stories that don't work out well get frustrating when I look at them together, with so little to balance them out. {pause, bite lips}

That's why I'm asking for recommendations. I haven't read everything out there. Maybe I've missed something, or forgotten something. Does anyone know any science fiction or fantasy stories where a handicapped gal settles down with a guy who stays with her because he wants her, even tho he has the normal range of choices? He doesn't have to be in perfect condition himself. I'm counting both Alberich and Myste when they find each other. {smile}

I'm hoping there's more out there that I've missed, one way or another. {wistful smile}

Anne Elizabeth Baldwin


  1. Does crippling tinnitus (ringing in the ears) count? In THE BARBED COIL, Tessa gets transported from California (I think) to a fantasy world where she discovers her tinnitus is magically induced. It begins when she is desperate to escape a bad tinnitus attack.

    Oh, and she gets romantically involved and eventually decides to . . . I'll let you read it. It's J. V. Jones's best work, in my opinion.

    I can't think of anything else offhand.

  2. Yeah, I'd count ringing in the ears at this point, as long as it IS depicted as crippling to some degree. They don't need to be total invalids who can barely leave the house or anything. Myste, who I mentioned above, mainly needs thick-lensed glasses, and has some tendency towards clumsiness. {Smile}

    Thanks for the suggestion. I'll have to look into it. I'm not familiar with J.V. Jones; neither Mom, nor Dad, nor I seem to have any Jones books. It's good to know where to start with a new-to-us author. {Smile}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin