Once upon a time in the land of fiction there were heroes. And those heroes would be smart and brave and resourceful, because that’s what made them the hero. They were expected to be handsome, honest and full of ingenuity in the face of the trickiest of situations. Of course, they would be men. The heroine only had to be beautiful, and be awarded to the hero at the end. Then some ground shifted in the narrative topography, and the qualifications for these jobs changed. In order to be a good enough prize the heroine now had to be brilliant and fearless and inventive. The hero, on the other hand, dwindled into an everyman figure. The result is a whole solar system-full of stories about girls who are the hero in every aspect, except that they’re not. Some nondescript dude, standing in for the reader, still gets to be the hero, while his prize exhibits all the qualities that should make the story about her.
Douglas Adams was a pioneer of this narrative seismos, when he created Arthur Dent and his fellow galaxy wanderer, Trillian. Adams gave us so many wonderful characters, it is easy to forgive the small matter that most of the women were the author constructing imaginary girlfriends. I’m feeling a bit Life, the Universe and Everything this week, so our Friday Hoyden is the space-hopping astrophysicist heroine of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, Trisha McMillan, aka Trillian.
Trillian always knew when to stop putting up with Zaphod or Arthur. She had degrees in maths and astrophysics. She was the one who ultimately defeated the warrior robots of Krikkit. She didn’t mope about when her home planet was destroyed, she picked herself up and found a career in interstellar journalism.
Despite being really, really English in the books, and in the original radio series, Trillian was played as American both times the story has been committed to film. Sandra Dickinson played her in the 1981 TV series, and Zooey Deschanel in the 2005 film. I confess I don’t mind Deschanel in the role. If there was ever an appropriate time for all the quirky-geek-girl baggage she brings to be put into play, this would be it.
Here is Trillian via Deviant Art, looking much more like the description in the book.
Here is Trillian’s page on the Hitchhiker Wiki.
Do you have an image of who Trillian should be? (Parallel galaxies mean we can have as many as we like.) Is there someone out there who can write her as the hero of her own story?