I can’t imagine anyone more perfect for the role. Novak is handsome, funny and fills the room as Nandor. He’s in an imposing presence, perfect for the chief of the sa-khui people, and yet you know he would be down to slap on some weird blue make-up and prance around naked in the snow. Novak is also 42 years old.
Now it was time to find Georgie. I know I wanted her character to be played by an actress of Inuit descent. This narrowed down my search and I found myself looking through IMDB for inspiration. My search allowed me to watch movies featuring Inuit actors and introduced me to new, wonderful stories. I watched several of those films, “The Snow Walker” staring Annabella Piugattuk and “The Grizzlies,” featuring Anna Lambe. I enjoyed “The Grizzlies,” an inspiring sports drama about the game of Lacrosse in a small Inuit town, but I adored “The Snow Walker.”
In particular, I loved Piugattuk’s performance as the heroic Kanaalaq. Kanaalaq was a young, resourceful, and selfless woman, forced to make peace with her tuberculosis and mortality. Despite her illness, Kanalaaq saves the young pilot stranded with her. Her performance was profoundly moving and left me in tears by the end of the film. I so was disappointed to learn that Piugattuk hasn’t been in many movies since.
I decided I wanted to fancast her in my fictional TV show because she was so good, and I thought she would play an excellent leader of the human women. As I looked up her name to include in my character notes, I checked her age, and I paused. Annabella Piugattuk is 38. This is older than book Georgie’s 22, and my intended Fictional TV Georgie of 25 – 27. For a brief second, I debated including her in my fancast because I thought she might be too old for the role.
Let me repeat this.
I thought that a 38-year-old woman might be too old to play a love interest to a 42-year-old man.
In an imaginary TV show adaption of a book series about sexy blue alien men with ribbed dongs.
I was irritated at myself for thinking something so sexist and ageist. And an outright double-standard. I promise I have a reason for why my thoughts went in this direction. The female characters in Ice Planet Barbarians are all 22 years old. In a TV adaptation, I do not think they should be so young for many reasons, including that age diversity in a group of women is more interesting to me. Also, all the male characters in “Ice Planet Barbarians” are of different ages. For example, Aehako is in his twenties, and his brother Rokan is 40. In the book series, both fall in love with 22-year-olds (Kira and Lila). Canonically, the sa-khui are “young adults” for much longer than humans, but the story is still that sometimes older men are paired with much younger women. I don’t think this is a good idea.
(Also, in my adaption, I plan on switching Aehako’s and Rokan’s ages and aging up Kira to be in her late 20s because I think it’ll be better for the story and more in line with their characters and experiences.)
I think Dixon does an excellent job in the Icehome series, which features female characters between the ages of 17 and 32. These are women in different stages of their lives, and as such, their experiences and worldviews are different. In addition, some of the women were even older than their love interests, like Penny, 29, and S’bren, 27. I thought this was a good decision that added a lot of nuance to the relationships, and it was something that I wanted to bring into my fictional TV adaption.
While I’m fan-casting these men and women, I am looking for actors and actresses who I think would shine in their roles. I am also trying to be conscious of age differences. Although some age gap relationships are happy and healthy (one of my best friends is dating a man 11 years older than her, and I think they’re a great couple), this is often the exception, not the rule. In real life, there are plenty of men in their late 30s and 40s who are way too eager to date women in their early 20s, and I’d rather not give that more attention. So while I try to respect people’s choices, I struggle endorsing these kinds of relationships.
And I definitely would not want to backtrack on all of Ruby Dixon’s writing choices. “Ice Planet Barbarians” is her series and I respect the choices she made – I wouldn’t be writing so many articles about this series if I didn’t love it and enjoy her work. I won’t be aging up all of the female characters because I think some of them, like Liz and Josie, feel younger. Young women deserve adventure and respect as much as older women. But I need to cast older women in these roles and allow them to be older women.
There is an insidious and pervasive thought that plagues most women once they hit the age of 25. This thought that once you hit 25, you are old and unworthy, and if you haven’t achieved all of your goals by this point, then that window of opportunity will close soon. It is a horrible, untrue cognitive distortion. And then there’s the thought that life only gets worse the older you are and that it is crucial to avoid aging at all costs.
Unfortunately, I know too many women who experience birthday anxiety and feel weird about “turning 35 because it’s close to 40.” How many women do you know who say things like, “Drop the skincare routine, sis!” to anyone without noticeable wrinkles, or talk about getting botox before they even turn 30? How much money do we spend on products desperately trying to avoid the inevitable?
I’ve been one of those women – I felt so insecure about turning 25. The funny thing is, only once I did turn 25 did I really start to love myself. I became so much more confident in my identity. I was older, and my age and experience allowed me to understand myself on a deeper level. This makes me excited to age because what if my 30s and 40s bring on something even better? I want other women to feel that security. I don’t want to fear wrinkles and grey hair because that is a part of life I should look forward to. If I had been kidnapped by aliens and resonated at 22, I would not be the person I am now and don’t think I’d like that person as much as I like myself. I was not done growing up. Hell, my brain hadn’t even finished maturing!
Our understanding of the importance of media representation has exponentially over the last few years. We’ve come to understand how important it is to show the equal representation of all kinds of people in media. This has to include older women, by which I mean any woman over the age of 25. Their stories and feelings matter, and not just in the context of “getting older sucks, and you must preserve your youth at all costs.” Maybe we should chill with the Elizabeth Bathory hysterics. Older women’s stories matter because they are human beings, and aging is part of being human. Being able to age is such a gift, and we don’t always realize that.
I never thought I would be the person who used “Ice Planet Barbarians” as her platform to complain about sexism and ageism. Though I suppose it does make sense. Romance novels, including erotic science fiction, are often a window into female psychology. An essential part of the female experience is how we age and how that affects our relationship with ourselves, our loved ones, and society.
Thus, in my Ice Planet Barbarians TV Adaptation fancast, I want Georgie to be played by the lovely Annabella Piugattak and Vektal to be played by Kayvan Novak. I think they’ll make a cute couple. I expect that in a few more years, they’ll be even cuter.