This week’s Influential Lady of Science Fiction is a lady you want with you when aliens attack.

When I was a teenager, my brothers and I saw a movie titled, “Aliens” (yes, we saw the 2nd one first). There were hardcore marines, a greedy corporation, nasty drooling aliens, and a female character who kept me from having nightmares of the aliens. I am speaking of none other than Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley.

Courtesy of
Courtesy of

The Alien franchise started in 1979 and introduced one of the first women to survive a horror movie…by herself (unless you count the cat).

The introduction of Ellen Ripley onto the screen brought women a new type of role. Instead of being the woman saved from the alien by a man, we received a woman who did her best to save everyone else. Granted only she and the cat made it, but that was just the first movie. In all of the subsequent sequels, while our intrepid heroine did meet other men, she was never truly rescued by one.

Sigourney Weaver brought to life a role which showed that women didn’t need to have the knight in shining armor because we can rescue ourselves. She didn’t need a Han Solo, Captain Kirk or Superman. She was the one rescuing the kid, the men, and the android.

Ms. Weaver was even nominated for both the BAFTA Award for Best-Leading Newcomer and a Saturn Award for Best Actress for her role as this butt-kicking, monster-alien killer. Her iconic character is well known and loved by sci-fi/horror geeks of all ages.

This franchise of four movies, two spin-offs, two crossovers and two video games, was the catalyst for new roles for women in horror and science fiction movies. No longer did the woman have to be rescued by a man and only survive to the end to be an ornament on his arm. Now, thanks to Sigourney Weaver’s amazing portrayal, we now have women who show us that we can do bad all by ourselves.

Ms. Weaver is an influential woman to me because she was the first character I’d ever seen who showed women that we don’t have to live by the old standards–women can save and take care of themselves.

Join me next week when I introduce you to another Influential Lady of Science Fiction: Kate Mulgrew as Captain Kathryn Janeway.

Until then,

Ripley: I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

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