The most famous princess in peril is Princess Leia of the Star Wars Trilogy (I was going to add her mother but of course she's Queen Padme Amidala) who of course is kept by Jabba the Hut as a pet, thereby spawning the obsession with Leia's metal bikini amongst geekboys (according to Ross and Chandler in Friends ;-))
Looking at books, one of the earliest SF princesses in peril was Edgar Rice Burrough's Dejah Thoris, who was introduced in the first of the Mars series, A Princess of Mars thus:
She was as destitute of clothes as the green Martians who accompanied her;
indeed, save for her highly wrought ornaments she was entirely naked, nor could
any apparel have enhanced the beauty of her perfect and symmetrical figure.
It seems the obsession with nude or nearly-nude princesses started back a long time ago. However, I'm not here to delve into the male fascination with the damsel-in-distress archetype (we need only read most pulp stories written in the 1930s-1960s for copious examples), but specifically the princess. John Carter of Mars saves and marries Dejah Thoris and becomes ruler of Mars. So maybe the fascination with the princesses in peril is not just the damsel-in-distress situation but the idea that the hero will afterwards be rewarded by endless power.
OK, so in my story the heroine saves the princess (yes, there are a few f/f elements *g*) but my question is this: Is the princess-in-peril archetype a little bit cliched? Or are do we still find it as fascinating as ever?
(BTW, has anyone read the Star Wars spinoff books where Han Solo married Leia? What happened there? Did he become Prince Han? Just curious *g*)
*Picture of Deja Thoris from Overlander at Deviant Art