Character Spotlight: James Alan Gardner’s Oar (1 min. read)


Oar is one of my all-time favorite characters, and I discovered her by chance. I was reading through my husband’s considerable book collection, plucking books off the shelf at random. I’m not a stickler for digging through stacks and reading a series in order. I may be a plotter when I write, but I’m pantser when I read.

Even though Oar’s adventures began in a Festina-narrated book called Expendable, I came to know Oar in her own voice in Ascending.

If you haven’t met Oar, here’s a taste of her POV:

This is my story, the Story of Oar. It is a wonderful story. I was in another story once, but it was not so wonderful, as I died in the end. That was very most sad indeed. But it turns out I am not such a one as stays dead forever, especially when I only fell eighty floors to the pavement. I am made of sterner stuff than that.

And then you find out she’s made out of glass. Isn’t that delicious?

She begins the book as an entertaining, hyper-intelligent being with a low social/emotional IQ. Though she has the body of an adult (and naked) woman, she has the maturity level of a child.

Oar is not a perfect person, fascinating characters rarely are. She can be vain, petulant, and lacking in empathy. But over the course of the book, her understanding of the universe and other intelligent beings deepens as she blossoms into emotional adulthood. It is a beautiful and hilarious coming-of-age that is well worth the journey.

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