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10 Most influential women of Sci-fi

The Women of Sci-Fi and James Cameron?

By Mason Brown     March 03, 2010

10 Most influential women of Sci-fi
© Mania/Bob Trate


The Academy Awards are a days away and The Hurt Locker's Kathryn Bigelow is  the fourth woman nominated for Best Director.  To some of us, this honor seems late in coming... she was totally snubbed for Point Break.   Sexism, or just the Academy's well-known hatred of 100 percent pure adrenaline? Either way, we got to thinking... Which women have made the most impact on society and film through their work in genre movies? Here are our top 10:

10. Mary Shelley

Bet you forgot about her! But you shouldn't! Kenneth Branagh can't make "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" without Mary Shelley. But you couldn't have Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein"without Mary Shelley!   Or the 1931 James Whale version with Boris Karloff.  How could Abbott and Costello possibly hope to meet Frankenstein if Mary Shelley hadn't set pen to paper in 1881? And don't get us started about Edgar Winter's Frankenstein!  Talk about making a cultural impact! Not too shabby for a Victorian-era woman who was only 20 years old when she wrote her all-time classic monster novel. 


9. Milla Jovovich

To men of certain age, watching scrambled HBO late at night and seeing super-model Milla Jovovich get naked in Two Moon Junction was a life-altering experience. But when Jovovich moved into sci-fi, she somehow got even hotter. She killed as Leeloo in The Fifth Element.
Jovovich went on to become the world's greatest "ass-kicking amnesiac" in her role as Alice in three Resident Evil movies (she's also scheduled to star in Resident Evil: Afterlife which will be coming out in September). 


8. Kathryn Bigelow

Hey, she's what got us thinking about this article in the first place! So what has she done? Well, besides directing The Hurt Locker, she also somehow survived directing K-19: the Widowmaker, which was killed by critics as K-19: The Career Tanker" Although if you ask anyone from New Jersey, they'll tell you that Bon Jovi was great in that movie. 
Bigelow was also married to James Cameron (isn't he nominated for Avatar this year? Awkward!) Speaking of Cameron, after the divorce she directed Strange Days, which her ex wrote and produced. It's nice that theirs was an amicable breakup. 
And one great thing did come out of their marriage. Point Break.   How good is Point Break? So good that it has inspired a theater production, Point Break Live, in which random people from the audience are tapped to play Keanu Reeves. 
Further proof of Point Break's awesomeness? It made it onto MythBusters. Jamie and Adam tested the scene where Johnny Utah jumped out of the plane without a parachute to catch up to Bodhi and found parts of that scene "plausible." 


7. Sigourney Weaver

Sigourney Weaver is such a great actress that she got nominated for an Oscar for her role in a sci-fi film!  Now that's hard to do! Of course, it didn't hurt that the movie was Aliens, one of the great sci-fi films of all times (directed by James Cameron, by the way). But no one would deny that she was fantastic!
And don't forget Weaver as Dana Barrett in Ghostbusters.   She was fantastic as Dana Barros, and super sexy as Zuul. How lucky was Rick Moranis to be the Keymaster, with her as the Gatekeeper!   Ivan Reitman has confirmed that we will see her reprise her role in the third Ghostbusters, scheduled for release in 2012. 
We've also heard Weaver's voice in a number of projects. She was Dr. Grace Augustine in Avatar, she was the ship's computer in WALL-E, and she was Planet Express Ship's voice in Futurama.


6. Liv Tyler

It was Tyler's role in The Lord of the Rings trilogy that sealed her place as a genre giant. For one thing she reportedly learned how to talk in Elvish, bringing misguided hope to Quenya speakers around the world that maybe one day they might get to "speak 'friend' and enter." Enter her that is. Hey-o!
Tyler is more than just the sexiest woman in Middle Earth. She's also been influential in philanthropic ventures. She was America's goodwill ambassador to UNICEF in 2003, and has been extremely active in raising breast cancer awareness. 

5. Linda Hamilton

Yet another one of James Cameron's ex-wives (his fourth to be exact), Linda Hamilton is a no-brainer for this list. Her portrayal of Sarah Connor in the first Terminator was great, and then she raised the bar to new heights. In Terminator 2, she totally changed the idea of what a female heroine could be. She trained six days a week for three hours a day, and it showed. She was buff!   And she set the fitness standard for action heroines for decades to come.  
Not only that, the ideal of women's beauty changed throughout America, as women started wanting muscles, not just weight loss. Watching Sarah Connor crank out chin ups in the insane asylum turned out to be an inspiration for single mothers pursued by killing machines from the future everywhere.

4. Carrie Fisher

Princess Leia is on this list because... well, because she's Princess freakin' Leia! Star Wars is the most influential sci-fi movie ever made.   Generations of future comic-store customers watched in awe as she lounged seductively in front of Jabba the Hut. And some of us were surprised at the mild tingling we felt when she strangled Jabba with her chain. 
How did she get the part? The old fashioned way. According to a 2006 “Vanity Fair” article, Fisher said she "slept with some nerd," probably George Lucas.   Turns out, it's good to be the director!
But Carrie Fisher's influence on pop culture goes well beyond Leia. She married and divorced Paul Simon, who references her in many of his songs, including "Graceland". She wrote the bestselling novel "Postcards from the Edge," as well as "Delusions of Grandma" and "Surrender the Pink." And less visible to the public, but influential nonetheless, she has worked regularly as a script doctor, polishing such films as The Wedding Singer and Sister Act

3. Anne Rice

We're giving the vampire nod to Anne Rice, because she did it first! Oh, and she remembered to make it sexy!  And we're going out on a limb and guessing that both Meyer and Charlaine Harris, the author of True Blood, were influenced by Anne Rice. Which makes Rice a seminal author! Sounds kind of dirty, doesn't it.
Rice is also partly responsible for allowing the movie-going public to see Dan Akroyd and Rosie O'Donnell cavort in fetish gear in their buddy comedy movie, Exit to Eden. In Rice's defense, the book was an erotic novel she wrote under a pen name, and she didn't have anything to with the screenplay.
Rice has since reconverted to the strict Catholicism of her childhood, and is now writing books about the life of Christ. In other words, no one reads her anymore. But still, there was a time when she was the most popular author in America.  



2. Gale Anne Hurd

Why is it that every woman James Cameron marries turns to gold? He must have King Midas' dick! Gale Anne Hurd is Cameron's first ex-wife, and arguably his most influential. Hurd produced all of Cameron's early movies, including Terminator, Aliens, and The Abyss.   That's a pretty good track record!
Of course, not everyone is a fan of hers. Critic Todd Jones wrote... "The perfect example of why the Producer is NOT a creative force: Gale Anne Hurd... After she had a falling out with [him], Cameron went on to direct T2: Judgment Day, True Lies, and Titanic.  Gale Anne Hurd went on to produce such classics of modern cinema as Switchback and The Relic... Producers are just shmoozing phone jockeys who don't have an ounce of talent in them, except maybe for finding money."
Harsh words, but not entirely true. For one thing, movies don't get made without money, so that's a pretty significant skill.   Moreover, she has writing credits on the Terminator movies and TV show, so she must have helped out at least a little creatively. 


1. Angelina Jolie

So hot. So influential. So very, very hot!  
Let's start off with her sex appeal.  Every single game fan in America saw Tomb Raider. The movie took in $275 million dollars at the box-office worldwide. And she was fantastic in Wanted, Beowulf, Kung Fu Panda and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. She's almost as strong as Linda Hamilton, but she's a bat-shit crazy, bisexual, kink-machine who loves BDSM. So, no offense Linda, but she's sexier.
As a result, America is fascinated with her, on-screen and off. From the moment she got married to Billy Bob Thornton and they wore "his and her" blood vials around their necks to the time she stole Brad Pitt away from Jennifer Aniston, her life has been the stuff of tabloid legend. You want proof? Millions of American women have injected their lips with foreign substances in a vain attempt to look like her, only to end up looking like they got stung in the mouth by wasps. And when you get married and the press coins a new word like "Brangelina" up to describe the new couple, you know you're big!
HONORABLE MENTION: Tara Perry. Mania.com's own Movie Maven hasn't made the list yet. But it's a-coming. Oh yes, it's a-coming. All she has to do is marry James Cameron.
Speaking of influential, last month was Black History Month, here was Mania's 10 Most Influential African Americans In Sci-Fi. If video games are more your flavor, check out 13 Video Game Women Who Could Kick Your Ass. If you want to see the future of ass-kicking women, check out Hit Girl in the latest Kick-Ass Trailer.

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MASON BROWN was managing editor of the National Lampoon back when it only sort of sucked, and later wrote bubbles for "Blind Date." He has also story produced several reality shows, including "Daisy of Love", "For the Love of Ray J", and "I Love Money". Currently, he lives off the state of California while looking for his next TV gig.



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TayDor 3/3/2010 1:57:08 AM

Meh.  In my opinion, dump Jolie from this list.  She hasn't done anything truely amazing in Sci-fi.  Put Nichelle Nichols up for her work in Star trek and influencing young women to be more.

hanso 3/3/2010 3:18:16 AM

LIv Tylyer over Sigourney Weaver is just wrong.  Weaver influenced the makers of the game Metroid to make Samus Aran a woman.  That has to count for something.

Mr. Brown would you be so kind to share something regarding the writing of the bubbles for Blind Date.  That shit always made me laugh. 

karas1 3/3/2010 4:03:48 AM

You forgot to mention Linda Hamilton in Beauty And The Beast, fantasy TV when that was few and far between.

tiberiuscan 3/3/2010 5:23:41 AM

I agree TayDor Nichelle Nichols should be on the list. Just ask Whoopi Goldberg and Zoe Saldana. Sigourney Weaver should be much higher on the list. Her acting chops aside, she brought both a strength and a vulnerability in her role as Ripley. Standing up for her 'adopted' child in Aliens is a classic.

I guess it's all in what you think 'Influential' is. If being 'Hot' as you describe Angelina Jolie makes in the reporters mind the most influential character in Sci-Fi then you are thinking with your little brain.

You could also mention Linda Carter for that matter. Who comes immediately to mind when you think of Wonder Woman?

dbrock06 3/3/2010 5:25:11 AM

Sorry,  Sigourney Weaver needs to be higher up on the list.  Don't forget Galaxyquest, a highly underrated movie in my opinion.

jacobjoseph 3/3/2010 5:36:00 AM

That's Dana BARRETT

DangermouseZilla 3/3/2010 5:49:46 AM

Maybe Billie Piper is worth a mention for being a decent assitant in Doctor Who. Instead of a screamer who was simply there so the Doctor could explain the plot, she helped to balance the Doctor and helped a new generation of fans embrace the series.

dbrock06 3/3/2010 5:54:16 AM

What about Nichelle Nicholls?  Uhura anyone?  at least an honorable mention.

millean 3/3/2010 6:07:11 AM

 I'd be almost willing to bet the house that some talking head executive/editor at Mania has told all of these writers to put something ridiculous in the number one spot for all of these top 10 lists as a way to generate a bunch of comments!  At least the top 10 for the most over-hyped list had a picture of TDK with the article as a joke (that was actually kind of funny).

Nichelle Nichols, Lynda Carter, Billie Piper are more deserving than Angelina.  Hell, I'm no Harry Potter fan, but I'd even put J.K. Rowling waaaaaaayyyy ahead of Angelina (& Liv Tyler).

Tomorrow on Mania: The Top 10 TV shows that Maniacs Hate (topping the list will be LOST).

At least these top 10 lists are funnier than anything you'll get on Letterman.

everdreaded 3/3/2010 6:14:15 AM

 yeah, where is Uhura and you should have a face hugger jump on your face..WEAVER should be number one no question!

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