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100 Sci Fi women #42: Aura/Rashmika Els

Two characters from books in a row. Shock! We will return to the televisual women soon.

Aura/Rashmika Els  Absolution Gap Alastair Reynolds

Aura is a baby, ripped from her mother’s womb and implanted in another; operated on before born to implant devices which allow her to communicate with her mother; filled with impossible knowledge; a baby a man allows himself to be killed painfully in order to ensure she survives. But for me, it is as Rashmika Els that I really love her. She is willing to challenge orthodoxies and write polite letters to scientists she knows will probably never answer her. As a teenager she leaves her home alone and sets out on an epic journey to try and find out the truth. Her special skill, her ability to unfailingly tell when someone is telling the truth, takes her to places she didn’t expect to go. She is put in a position where, ultimately, she has to make a choice on which the fate of a planet, and, potentially, the universe, rests. But the most interesting thing about Aura is that, despite the masses of alien information she has had conveyed into her infant brain, despite this ability to understand when people speak the truth, despite the fact that many adults treat her word as gospel, her judgement is not always perfect. And she comes to understand and see this, and ultimately is willing to defer, at times, to those who might in fact know better. A rare talent for a girl who is born to believe she is one of the most important people in the universe.

She thrashed her head into the damp landscape of her pillow, smelling her own days-old sweat worked into the yellow fabric during sleepless, voice-tormented nights such as this. All she wanted was for the voice to silence itself; all she wanted was a return to the old simplicities, where all she had to worry about was the imposition of her own self-righteous convictions.

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