Sunday, May 15, 2005

Fast Women Develop Slowly

I know perfectly well who Sheba Good was. Besides being a fictional character in a book I wrote, she was Arabella in Hardy’s tome, Jude the Obscure. And maybe one other person who is still alive, so I can’t tell. I modeled Sheba after two women who still linger in the back of my mind. They have been there for many years. Many years elapsed before they showed up in print.

But when I wrote a science fiction novel, I included another female, Moira, who was a stranger to me, her creator. That is, I don’t know whom I used for a model. All I know is that she is someone I once knew.

Moira was tough, single, at the cusp of middle age, good looking, and the owner of two heavy duty pistols (a .45 for her neighborhood and a smaller caliber model for polite society). She was volatile and likely to explode at any time. I often wondered what made her that way (and how many men she had shot), but didn’t go far enough into her background to find out. Perhaps such explorations would have caused me to dabble in the black art of psychology; I do not care for psychology. Besides, I am not qualified to dabble.

But I do know that when Moira suddenly found herself the belle of the ball in society in the year 2863, she had no trouble deciding what to do about returning home with her boyfriend to her own time in 2003.

Moira lived in a poor section of Portland, Oregon in 2003. She had not always been poor. As a child she was brought up in a solid American middle class family. So she knew well the attributes of both strata of society. She seemed to agree with her boy-friend, Andy Frost, when he observed:

That love was a luxury for the middle class. They could afford it. In his social system, people joined together because each had something the other needed. If someone came along who offered a better deal, then a new bond was established, the old one fell apart, and people moved on. That’s just the way it was.

Whether she was in her own time or eight hundred years out in the future, Moira, like most of my women characters, was unpredictable. Maybe readers will find them doing exactly what all other women would do in the same circumstances. Not I. (I have a feeling that men writers have the same problem with their women as I do.)

Moria was unflappable in the face of enormous change, hoping only to find an advantage somewhere. Traveling through time and meeting new people and places didn’t faze her. So you raised the Titanic? What else is new? Andy, on the other hand, could scarcely take it all in. He was my handle on reality.

Women have always taken advantage of me.

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