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100 science fiction women #2: Perosteck Balveda

Continuing on – not necessarily in order, but more as I think of them. If you would like to submit a contribution, email me at

Perosteck Balveda – Iain Banks Consider Phlebas

This is a topical one for me as I am currently rereading Consider Phlebas. Iain Banks features a number of fabulous female  characters in his Culture novels in particular, and I am sure I will be including others later. Perosteck Balveda is a character whose inner life remains mostly walled off to us, as she is the enemy of the novel’s protagonist. However, as with many enemy scenarios, she and Horza maintain a degree of respect and admiration for each other, and generally do not underestimate each other. Balveda is resourceful brave and intelligent, and reappears in Horza’s life after he had written her off for dead. She can take on giant three legged warrior monsters to escape from captivity, and is always looking for a way out of trouble. A member of Special Circumstances, considered a necessary evil by much of the Culture, she fights for her society while deviating from its general rules to do so. She also has compassion and empathy and goes out of her way to try and warn her captors of danger to themselves, trying to save Horza at then end. Despite a broken arm and other injuries, she manges to create a gun from a memory-form in her tooth and survive.

She is someone you would always want on your side.

A steel-blue shadow of the struggling woman was thrown to one side in the silence, away from the moon and towards the dark and distant mountains, where a curtain of storm clouds hung like a deeper night. Behind the woman, her tracks led back, deep and scuffed, to the tunnels’ mouth. She cried quietly with the effort of it all and the numbing pain of her wounds.

2 responses to “100 science fiction women #2: Perosteck Balveda

  1. I just remember her crawling out at the end of that book and thinking she must be totally shattered: I almost had PTSD myself.

  2. Pat Sullivan ⋅

    I keep thinking of how brave and dogged she was despite getting bested many times, and rarely being listened to. I also keep thinking about how she probably could have used that memory form trick any number of times to kill her captors but she didn’t. She really respected Horza for the committed yet deeply conflicted person he was. It touched me how she was so scarred by everything she endured. Her name has just been bouncing around my head incessantly.

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