Science Fiction and Bio-Terrorism

Women Survivors of Bio-Terrorism: Dana Scully and Elizabeth Shaw

It’s all about science fiction today with this guest post from the talented writer Natacha Guyot. You may remember her from a popular post called My Love of Spaceships. I’m happy to have her back to talk more about sci-fi, this time with an emphasis on two female characters whose names may sound familiar: Dana Scully and Elizabeth Shaw. The stage is all yours, Natacha!

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Guest Post from Writer Natacha Guyot

Author Natacha Guyot Discusses Science Fiction and Women.

Today, I would like to give a closer look at two female characters who could not only survive their ordeal but turn their circumstances around in an empowered manner. These two are Dana Scully from the X-Files and Elizabeth Shaw from Prometheus.

Both are submitted to traumatic experiments against their will. Several events occur between seasons 2 to 5 of the X-Files. Dana Scully is abducted and has her reproductive material harvested, leading her to be pronounced infertile.

What was stolen from Scully was partially used to create a human and alien hybrid daughter, Emily, she briefly knows before the girl’s death. Scully was also implanted with a chip during her abduction whose removal causes cancer.

In Prometheus, Elizabeth Shaw was impregnated with alien genetic material, thus finding herself pregnant with a monstrous fetus, although she stated earlier in the movie that she couldn’t conceive children.

Character Elizabeth Shaw

Elizabeth Shaw of  Promethius. (Twentieth Century Fox)

Following that, both Scully and Shaw must deal with what was done to them and reclaim their body and life. Now, Shaw’s arc is shorter because she was only featured in a single movie and the sequel to Prometheus, Alien: Covenant will only be released in 2017. Yet, she rejects being turned into a lab rat and fights her way to the high tech available medical pod aboard the ship her team traveled on. The pod was geared toward a male patient only and she must adjust to the possible commands to get the alien baby from her womb, as it grows extremely quickly.

She eventually succeeds and carries the trauma and medical lack of recovery as she goes on with the mission, eventually being the lone human survivor of the expedition. Her traumatic experience doesn’t deter her from her faith and her goal as a scientist to explore other worlds and uncover more about the alien civilization she is studying.

Bio-terrorism, Scully, and the X-Files

Dana Scully in the X-Files. (Twentieth Century Fox)

In the X-Files, Scully embraces the unknown when deciding to move forward with being implanted with another chip in hope to cure her mysterious cancer, which has positive results. It is in these dire times that she also reconnects with her Catholic faith. While her later pregnancy in the eighth season results in a child with special powers, her own DNA proves to be more than human at this point. In the 2016 revival, Scully’s unique DNA allows her to work on a vaccine to save mankind, thus showing her empowered by her difficult experience and owning the aftermaths that she went through.

I didn’t get the opportunity to work at length on a comparative work between these two female characters but I look forward to having such an opportunity, especially with how they not only are empowered survivors of women-target bio-terrorism but also Christian scientists.

How do you think that traumatic experiences can serve characters and not be simply cheap plot tools (especially when targeting women with social or reproductive violence)?

♀ ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀

About Natacha Guyot

Dream Crusher, a Science Fiction Book

Dream Crusher by Natacha Guyot.

Natacha Guyot is a French researcher, author, and public speaker.

After studying at Paris III Sorbonne Nouvelle and King’s College London, she relocated to Texas in summer 2016. There, she has embarked on a new academic journey: she started doctoral studies in Arts and Humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Her main fields of interest are Science fiction, Gender Studies, Children Media and Fan Studies. Besides her nonfiction work, she also writes Science Fiction and Fantasy stories. She is a feminist, nerd, Christian, cat lady, book dragon and Earl Grey drinker.

Her new Science Fiction novella, Dream Crusher, is recently launched in Kindle and paperback format in November 2016.

You can connect with Natacha Guyot at her BlogTwitterFacebook | Goodreads | LinkedIn.

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66 thoughts on “Women Survivors of Bio-Terrorism: Dana Scully and Elizabeth Shaw

    1. Aquileana

      Interesting approach… I agree with ArcaneHalloween as to Gillian Anderson being Such an amazing actress, Not only in XFiles But in the series The Fall 👍🏻🌟 Back to the post, good summary and inputs: I remember I had thought Dana was going to die after the implant… And also that show could have given had an extraterrestrial baby … No spoilers|||😧 I Still have to catch up with the last season, mind you… Thanks Ladies for sharing…. Love and Best wishes

      Liked by 7 people

      Reply
      1. Natacha Guyot

        I love Gillian Anderson. She is outstanding. I was blessed to see her on stage several years ago. The last X-Files season that came out this year left me with mixed feelings about it, but had great moments. I still hope for another short season now!

        Liked by 4 people

        Reply
  1. D. Wallace Peach

    Interesting guest post, Christy. Thanks, Natacha. I think women’s social and reproductive rights are violated all the time, and though we don’t have aliens doing the violating, the topic is relevant in today’s world as woman all over the globe struggle to reclaim their lives and futures. So I think this type of trauma is fine for characters. The challenge is that once introduced, the author needs to deal with it and can’t whisk it away without compromising the reality of the book. The same caution applies to any kind of trauma characters experience, man or woman. Happy Writing, my friends 🙂

    Liked by 7 people

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    1. Natacha Guyot

      I always saw Science Fiction as a way to talk about “real life” issues and topics while giving more distance that can make the discourse and discussion easier. I am fine with trauma happening to any kind of characters as long, as like you said, writers fully engaged with the aftermath and don’t just throw it under the carpet after the “shock” effect.

      Liked by 3 people

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  2. Sheila

    I love science fiction. It can be so imaginative while giving opportunities for strong female characters. When traumatic events are involved, I think it helps if you really care about the character first – so that the events aren’t seen as plot tools. I know writers are told to torture the characters and throw constant horrible things at them, but I don’t always like that as a reader because the traumatic events begin to lose their authenticity. I like to feel everything from the character’s point of view, so maybe that’s why I don’t always want to be constantly tortured while reading. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

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    1. Natacha Guyot

      I wholeheartedly agree with your view! I am all for trauma if it is wisely used. Pure shock value is of no interest to me if I don’t care about the character and that the character doesn’t grow because of the trauma. It should be an arc not just a cheap plot tool. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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  3. Resa

    Traumatic experience is always a valid plot tool, but I often do find it exploitive. To serve the character, I think the trauma result must stem from a depth of knowledge about a character, not just the fact that it happened to the character.
    We’ve come a long way since “Demon Seed”.

    Liked by 2 people

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  4. Mabel Kwong

    Such an insightful post about women and their control over their social and reproductive powers and right to live they want to, Natacha. We all go through traumatic times (from the perspective of women and issues affecting women today) and it is great to see these issues playing on TV, but then again, as some of the other comments have said, it can be exploitative as well. It is amazing to see how women can stand up and fend for themselves as in Dana and Elizabeth, but sometimes I wonder if there could also be more stories on changing the mindset that women have to be victims – that is, a lot of what we see on TV today start out with women being victims, and I’d like to see otherwise.

    That said, I really loved watching X-Files in the 90s. Haven’t had a chance to watch last year’s one 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Natacha Guyot

      I have a problem with cheap trauma in stories, when as in other comments as well as your own, this is just shock value. Many stories are also not creative in throwing violence against women just to “spice things up” without even bothering of giving said character an arc about it or going for other options as you pointed out!

      The 2016 X-Files revival had some amazing moments and some that made me shake my head in disbelief. Yet, I hope they do more! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    2. Christy B Post author

      Great point Mabel about women being victims in so many shows.. and it’s great when we see them begin with a powerful presence rather than having to fight for it.. Thanks for appreciating Natacha’s post here! Your comment is so insightful 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

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  5. Annika Perry

    Fascinating post. I started reading it as I was a fan of the X-files in its early days…your post raises some interesting questions and ones perhaps that are more easily raised in the realm of science fiction. Much to think about!

    Liked by 3 people

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  6. Otto von Münchow

    I think it’s interesting to see the parallel in the two characters. To some degree I agree with Resa that traumas can sometimes be too much exploited in a plot. But I also agree with you response, Natacha, to D. Wallace Peach on this.

    Liked by 3 people

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    1. Natacha Guyot

      I originally didn’t like Prometheus at all but found the movie much more interesting when I sat down to take notes for possible research. And yes, trauma can be cheap plot tools, which is sad, given all the opportunities for character arcs it can offer if used wisely. Glad you enjoyed the post!

      Liked by 1 person

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        1. Natacha Guyot

          There is a lot I still disliked about the movie, but was able to find elements of interest in it. I find that Ridley Scott, who used to be one of my favorite directors, hasn’t produced movies as compelling in the past decade.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Bun Karyudo

    I used to watch the X-Files, but Prometheus is new to me. I can certainly see some parallels between the two characters based on your description. I hope you do have a chance to develop the comparison in a bit more length because it’s an interesting topic.

    Liked by 2 people

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    1. Natacha Guyot

      I have written about Scully several times in the past and have notes for a critical study. I hope to get to write more about this specific comparison and am even taking a class next semester that I hope will nourish my research.

      Liked by 2 people

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      1. Christy B Post author

        How exciting, Natacha! Thanks for the wonderful responses her to Bun and the rest of the readers. I love the discussions that your post has prompted about sci-fi, women, plot lines, and more!

        Liked by 1 person

        Reply
  8. Pingback: Guest Blog Posts + New Author Interview – Natacha Guyot

    1. Natacha Guyot

      Thank you, Andrea! I still have issues with Prometheus but have such greater appreciation for it now, including as research ground. I think that the way they advertised the movie, as too close to be another Alien movie, rather than simply set in the same universe, hurt some of first viewing. I went in it with my Alien goggles and that is likely why I was so disappointed. When I went back to watch it as its own thing, it helped a lot and now I can see the ties to Alien mythology while appreciating the good parts of Prometheus by themselves.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
    1. Natacha Guyot

      Glad you enjoyed the post! Prometheus has a lot of issues but a lot of interesting aspects too. If you watch it for itself and not with Alien-related expectations, it is worth watching. My big mistake (partly due to how marketing went for the movie release) was to watch it the first time with my “Alien goggles” and I was sorely disappointed. The only reason I rewatched it was to take notes for a paper about how the movie was a failure and why. I had the surprise to find a lot of compelling elements in it and then liking the movie (despite still having issues with several things in it).

      Liked by 2 people

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