My full piece for Ladies of Literature Vol 2! Featuring Susan Sto Helit from Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. If you haven’t read Discworld before, I can’t recommend it enough. His characters and stories will leave an impression on you all while making you laugh and think at the same time.
Did you know there’s a prolific male fantasy author who has made several books in which the primary cast is mostly female characters?
Did you know that virtually every female character in his books are well-rounded people with a wide variety of personalities, body types, etc?
Did you know that some of the most badass characters in the series are women?
Did you know that even in the books with male main characters female characters are given respect and are rarely love interests?
Did you know that those that are love interests have their own lives outside of that, are more then matches for the main character, and in some cases it could be more considered that the main character is THEIR love interest?
Did you know that female warriors in this series wear sensible armour?
Did you know that the one character that ends up naked as a necessity treats it as a drawback and does her best to mitigate the issue without it ever turning into a sexual thing from a writing perspective, including, amazingly enough, the one time she had to fight another naked woman in mud?
Did you know there’s a feminist character who wields femininity as a strength, and not a weakness?
Did you know that the first serious, budgeted attempt to bring it to life in video was based on one of the books with a female protagonist?
The other teachers in the school were known as Stephanie and Joan and so on, but to her class she was very strictly Miss Susan. “Strict,” in fact, was a word that seemed to cover everything about Miss Susan and, in the classroom, she insisted on the Miss in the same way that a king insists upon Your Majesty, and for pretty much the same reason.
Miss Susan wore black, which the headmistress disapproved of but could do nothing about because black was, well, a respectable color. She was young, but with an indefinable air of age about her. She wore her hair, which was blond-white with one black streak, in a tight bun; the headmistress disapproved of that, too – it suggested an Archaic Image Of Teaching, she said, with the assurance of someone who could pronounce a capital letter. But she didn’t ever dare disapprove of the way Miss Susan moved, because Miss Susan moved like a tiger.
It was always very hard to disapprove of Miss Susan in her presence, because if you did, she gave you a Look. It was not in any way a threatening look. It was cool and calm. You just didn’t want to see it again.
The Look worked in the classroom, too. Take homework, another Archaic Practice the headmistress was ineffectively Against. No dog ever ate the homework of one of Miss Susan’s students, because there was something about Miss Susan that went home with them; the dog brought them a pen and watched imploringly while they finished it, instead. Miss Susan seemed to have an unerring instinct for spotting laziness, and effort, too.
Contrary to the headmistress’s instructions, Miss Susan did not let the children do what they liked. She let them do what she liked. It had turned out to be a lot more interesting for everyone.
Miss Susan held up the cardboard clock and said:
“Who can tell me what this is?”
A forest of hands shot up.
“It’s a clock, miss.”
Miss Susan smiled, carefully avoided the hand that was being waved by a boy called Vincent who was also making frantically keen “ooo, ooo, ooo” noises, and chose the boy behind him.
“Nearly right,” she said. “Yes, Samuel?”
“It’s all cardboard made to look like a clock,” said the boy.
“Correct. Always see what’s really there. And I’m supposed to teach you to tell the time with this.” Miss Susan gave it a sneer and tossed it away.
“Shall we try a different way?” she said and snapped her fingers.
“Yes!” the class chorused, and then it went “aah!” as the walls, floor, and ceiling dropped away and the desks were all hovering high over the city.
A few feet away was the huge cracked face of the tower clock of Unseen University.
The children nudged one another excitedly. The fact that their boots were over one hundred feet of fresh air didn’t seem to bother them. Oddly, too, they did not seem surprised. This was just an interesting thing. They acted like connoisseurs who had seen other interesting things. You did, when you were in Miss Susan’s class.
William de Worde, Otto Chriek, Lord Vetinari, Sam Vimes with Errol, Carrot, Angua, Cheery Littlebottom, Moist Von Lipwig, mr.Pump, mr. Teatime, Chidder(sitting one),Teppic, Ricewind,Mort, Death, Susan, Maladict, Lieutenant Blouse and Sergent Jackrum :)
(not even half of my most favorite discworld character….ok…almost every discworld character´s my favorite :3 )
“What precisely was it you wanted, madam?” she said. “It’s only that I’ve left the class doing algebra, and they get restless when they’ve finished.”
“Algebra?” said Madam Frout…“But that’s far too difficult for seven-year-olds!”
“Yes, but I didn’t tell them that and so far they haven’t found out,” said Susan.
Ladies of Literature is a zine dedicated to female authors and literary ladies. It’s a beautiful and impressive volume of over 100 depictions that I’m very excited to be a part of! Here’s some more preview images of my pieces for this amazing project. Please check it out and share!
Thank you to Arielle and Janet for putting this massive project all together!
Top 5 favorite Michelle Dockery characters: #2. Susan Sto Helit (The Hogfather) - “And then Jack chopped down what was the world’s last beanstalk, adding murder and ecological terrorism to the theft, enticement and trespass charges already mentioned, and all the giant’s children didn’t have a daddy any more. But he got away with it and lived happily ever after without so much as a guilty twinge about what he had done. Which proves that you can be excused just about anything if you’re a hero, because no-one asks inconvenient questions.”
‘All right,’ said Susan. 'I’m not stupid. You’re saying humans need… fantasies to make life bearable.’
REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.
'Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little-’
YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.
'So we can believe the big ones?’
YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.
'They’re not the same at all!’
YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET– Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS
IF THERE IS SOME… SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.
'Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—’
MY POINT EXACTLY.
She tried to assemble her thoughts.
THERE IS A PLACE WHERE TWO GALAXIES HAVE BEEN COLLIDING FOR A MILLION YEARS, said Death, apropos of nothing. DON’T TRY TO TELL ME THAT’S RIGHT.
'Yes, but people don’t think about that,’ said Susan. Somewhere there was a bed…
CORRECT. STARS EXPLODE, WORLDS COLLIDE, THERE’s HARDLY ANYWHERE IN THE UNIVERSE WHERE HUMANS CAN LIVE WITHOUT BEING FROZEN OR FRIED, AND YET YOU BELIEVE THAT A… A BED IS A NORMAL THING. IT IS THE MOST AMAZING TALENT.
OH, YES. A VERY SPECIAL KIND OF STUPIDITY. YOU THINK THE WHOLE UNIVERSE IS INSIDE YOUR HEADS.
'You make us sound mad,’ said Susan. A nice warm bed…
NO. YOU NEED TO BELIEVE IN THINGS THAT AREN’T TRUE. HOW ELSE CAN THEY BECOME? said Death.