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Sarah Vaughn’s Unconventional Heroines

Alex + Ada 11 Jonathan Luna
Jonathan Luna

Superficially the term unconventional refers to something which is different, For example, “my friend has this really unconventional way of eating pizza.” Yet, it also has a deeper implication of defiance. Someone who chooses to be unconventional in such a way that they challenge the expectations of society. They follow their heart in their own manner, dancing to their own beat as the old saying would have it. In the process they offer an example for how others can search out their unique voice. With this in mind, I wish to explore a pair of memorably unconventional heroines from writer Sarah Vaughn.

In late 2013, Jonathan Luna and Vaughn launched their Image collaboration Alex + Ada. Set in the near future, it opens with Alex’s melancholy observance of his twenty-seventh birthday. His girlfriend left him several months prior, and he is still in a bit of a fog. He listlessly goes through the motions at work. He smiles for videocalls with his grandmother and mixing with friends at a surprise party, but for the most part he is unengaged. He barely needs to interact with his surroundings as even the most mundane tasks, such as flipping a light switch, are performed via thought command. This all shifts when he comes home to find his grandmother’s present waiting for him: a state-of-the-art, fully functioning android. Alex names her Ada.

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