Women of SF: Guinan

Guinan is a mysterious alien who works as a bartender on the star ship Enterprise in Star Trek: The Next Generation.  She is a member of a scattered species known as “listeners” who were decimated by the Borg.  The reason for her presence on Enterprise is never revealed beyond reference to her close friendship with Captain Picard.   Star Trek: TNG generally does badly with female characters and the two regular female characters, Beverly and Deanna, have little personality, are both in caring roles and appear to be slightly drugged most of the time!   In a series as attached to gender stereotypes as TNG Whoopi Goldberg’s cool and androgynous Guinan is therefore a great relief and every scene in which she appears is something to look forward to.   She and Patrick Stewart have some amazing chemistry.   Although Goldberg is known as a comedian, she plays Guinan as a serious character and brings a certain gravitas to the show.   Deanna is the official ship’s counsellor,  but Guinan does the real counselling, usually stepping in to challenge the officers when they most need to be challenged.   If I have any complaints, it’s that they didn’t use Guinan enough and that we never found out about her abilities, which the alien trickster Q suggests are considerable.   She can fight too – beating the Klingon Officer Worf in a shooting match and fencing with Captain Picard.

No 51 on Godard’s Letterboxes’s list of 100 women in SF.

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  1. 100 sci fi women #51: Guinan « Godard’s Letterboxes

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