Catherine Lundoff is the author of Silver Moon (Lethe Press, 2012), a novel about menopausal werewolves and new beginnings. Website: www.catherinelundoff.com
I recently moderated a #Feministsf twitterchat on the topic of depictions of aging in science fiction and fantasy. It makes for a surprisingly complicated conversation to have via 140 characters on an hour long “chat” consisting of linked Twitter posts. To start with, how do you define “aging” or “older,” for that matter? Defining who is an “older” protagonist is made harder by the reader’s notions of “perceived” age – a character who seems significantly older or younger than their stated age. Usually younger. Then there are the workarounds to the problems of aging – “Sure, I’m chronologically 80 years old but thanks to genetic modification/alien technology/magic potions, I have the body of a 25 year old!” No lack of wish fulfillment there. For the purposes of our discussion, I set the age limit at over 40 (standard Earth years) and began compiling a resource list here – http://catherineldf.dreamwidth.org/261709.html.
Overall, we found that what makes an older protagonist or the process of aging believable hinged on a lot of the same things that make for a good story: well-written characters engaged in interesting activities. I might add that all of us found characters who actually felt the physical effects of standard human aging to be far more real and relatable.
Do you have any favorite older protagonists in sf/f? Why or why not?