Tuesday, 2 August 2016


It is commonplace in fiction that villainous characters include those who are unscrupulous enough to torture for information or sadistic enough to torture for pleasure. Authors differ as to how much information they impart about the details of torture. (Too much would be unacceptable.) Poul Anderson and SM Stirling differ in this respect. We are left in no doubt about the inclinations or practices of Count Ignatieff, some of the Draka - or Alice Hong in Island In The Sea Of Time (New York, 1998).

I will say something now in case it becomes relevant later. In Island..., our main villain, William Walker, reflects that:

"...he wasn't what you'd call a squeamish man, but there were times when Hong's kid-in-a-candy-store approach to torture made him a little uneasy, not to mention this cult she'd started, with herself as the avatar of the Lady of Pain...." (p. 434)

Is this a first intimation that Walker himself will come to grief in such a way during a power struggle later in the narrative? This is a traditional way of offing villains.

I would not wish even on Walker any of the suffering that he is happy to inflict or let Hong inflict on others - but maybe it would be appropriate for him to experience the mental suffering of thinking that he was going to be treated thus? Unpleasant thoughts but such things happen in reality so they should be reflected in fiction.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

It will be difficult to say much about William Walker and Alice Hong without giving away some spoilers. But I will say I would consider Alice too much of a sadist (AND a masochist), IMO, for her to be an effective leader. So, she would need to be supported by someone like Walker.