Friday, September 12, 2014

Martha the ship captain

Even in our day, a character like this is going to be controversial. The author Linda Grant dePauw, whose characters I illustrated, wanted to make sure that there were people of all sorts on board her ships, rather like the "Star Trek" series so many years ago. But dePauw also set her space saga in an artificial 18th century naval milieu transplanted into space, so having respectful ethnic and racial diversity in this context would be more difficult. Here we see an older woman of color, Martha Edwards, in a high-ranking position, possibly even a ship's captain. DePauw took care to describe this character to me as a warm, caring, motherly person who crochets and knits in between hours of duty. Other authors would almost always cast this character as a swashbuckling bad-ass beautiful young babe with a great figure and a taste for weaponry. I honor dePauw's choices in creating characters for older women and people of different races and ethnicities in science fiction. 

This book was privately published and I still have my complimentary copy. DePauw wrote a sequel to it which was never published. It dealt with yet another very controversial topic which is usually ridiculed and treated as comedy: menopause. Somewhere I have a copy of that manuscript. I have only a vague idea of where it might be in my cluttered dwelling. 

Martha Edwards portrait is watercolor on illustration board, 8" x 10", spring 1990.

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