Girl Genius
Girl Genius

Colette Voltaire is one of the numerous offspring of Simon Voltaire and, when first introduced to the reader, serves in his intelligence division, in addition to studying medicine.[1] While her father has used cybernetics to radically extend his lifespan (200 years at a minimum), Colette gives every indication of being her apparent age of thirty or so.

In the Comic[]

She first appears in the "canon" on page (079) of The City of Lightning, wherein she gives her father a brief report on Agatha's arrival in Paris. Following Agatha's audience with the Master, Colette is assigned to be Agatha's designated guide and research assistant minder while the latter woman is in Paris.

Colette's first name is used in-strip for the first time by one of her siblings as she arrives, with Agatha and company in tow, at her family château; but it had been long known from her appearance in The Works (see below.) She has, on at least one occasion, been referred to as Mademoiselle Voltaire Cinq.[2] The significance of this is not clear.[3]

She unsurprisingly had adventurous dealings with Gil and Wooster when the latter two were students in Paris.[4] She also knows Tarvek, presumably from the same period, and is friends with Seffie von Blitzengaard, or at least as much as two women in their social position can be.

She has an unwanted horde of romantic admirers, including for a time Jiminez Hoffmann.

Heir to a City[]

It is eventually revealed that the Master has been training/testing Colette to be able to take over his position as leader of Paris (and human interface with the city). The Master’s motivations for this are never specifically stated, but he hints that he is nearing the end of his painfully-extended lifespan and/or ability to maintain control of his ever-growing city. For this purpose, Colette has had a data-port placed into her neck that allows her to connect to the city mainframe, granting her control over some of the systems. At first, she is not very good at this process, or at least states that the Master has much greater capabilities than she does. (Although at the time she says this, the city's systems have been infiltrated and disrupted by Drusus Beausoleil.)

On the positive(?) side, she has managed to learn things about the city that her father did not teach her, and while she is not a Spark when she first appears, in the process of emergency interfacing with the city's systems while assisting Simon in his fight against the resurrected Andronicus Valois, she begins to break through and rapidly assumes greater and greater control of (and physical connection to) said systems. Fortunately, Tarvek is present to deal with minor irrelevancies such as making sure she doesn't let herself burn to death.[5]

The fight, while successful, proves to be Simon Voltaire's last hurrah, and as he lies dying, he is stabbed in the back by Beausoleil with a specially-prepared "Heterodyne" sword which completely cuts him off from the city. This attack incidentally stuns Colette, but again with the help of Tarvek and Agatha's mini-Castle clank, she is able to recover and truly become her father's heir, taking complete and direct control of Paris. She destroys all of Beausoleil's clank bodies and, since his physical body is elsewhere, banishes him from the city. She then organizes a successful effort to cleanse the city of The Other's more willing minions, and officially assumes the title Master of Paris.

Sadly, in the face of the Other's ongoing threat, and the fact that a sizeable fraction of the city's population has been infected with Slaver Wasps, she declares that her father's utopian policies of open gates and free learning cannot (for now at least) be continued. She orders Paris sealed, and announces that disruptive elements like Agatha and the various members of the Von Blitzengaard family must leave.

And so pretty much all of Our Heroes end up congregating in England for a spell. When the Polar Ice Lords launch a massive attack on Europa, Queen Albia sends Gil and Tarvek back to the Continent at the head of a British airship armada, with their first stop being a meeting with Colette in Paris. Whereupon they (and Seffie and Trelawney Thorpe) learn that Colette has brought Paris back to full power, something that hasn't been seen in decades. She's even able to do a pretty good job at pretending to be a full-fledged Queen, though unsurprisingly Trelawney is able to see through the illusion.

Once the Lords have retreated, Collette brings an army to Mechanicsburg to assist in the removal of the time-freeze, and possibly deal with the unwelcome visitor looming over the city.

Othar's Twitter[]

Colette also makes a brief appearance in the Twitter-based adventures of Othar Tryggvassen, Gentleman Adventurer, when he sneaks into the sealed city in an effort to reunite with/meet his time-lost Geister love Oslaka; Colette, though not appearing to be a Queen at this point, still immediately catches him. She pumps him for information, and finally agrees to let him search the city's underbelly with a minder in the form of her half-brother Claude. Othar instead finds Agatha's old "friend" Eotain, and smuggles her out of Paris. Colette's exact reaction to this is not revealed.

The Works[]


Colette Voltaire as she appears in the card deck The Works.

Long before her arrival in the comic, Colette was included in The Works card game, looking almost identical to her first official appearance. Her epithets in the game are Hero and Spy.

Possibly Relevant Outside Information[]

Colette was the surname of the French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette.

Voltaire was the pen name of the famous French author François-Marie Arouet.

One might suspect a shoutout to the comic Athena Voltaire, a pulp action story which was nominated for an Eisner Award in 2005. But as The Works was published in 2001, and Athena Voltaire did not appear until 2002 (initially as a webcomic), this is impossible.


  1. "I'm a medical student!"
  2. Immortal Library Staff member: "And—we were warned to expect young Mademoiselle Voltaire Cinq and the Lady Heterodyne?", panel 3, page (022), The City of Lightning.
  3. Colette has been styled Mademoiselle Voltaire Cinq', "cinq" being French for "five". The meaning of this is unclear, but may reflect her mother being Simon Voltaire's fifth wife, the fifth generation of descent from the Master, or something of that nature. Notably, 'cinq' is five, not fifth. This is only used in formal address, at least so far.
  4. "We were all companions in adventure, were we not, Mister Wooster?"
  5. And wears some pants (synecdoche).