Monday, 1 August 2016

Endless Villains

As long as action-adventure fiction endures, endless new villains must be created but who writes the best villains? Moriarty is a classic although he was created only to kill Holmes and die with him but failed in the first part. Ian Fleming had to create a new villain for each novel and co-created Blofeld very late in the series. (These examples are relevant here because Poul Anderson was a Holmesian and Flandry is kind of an sf Bond.) I identify two successors of Blofeld here.

Poul Anderson did not write only the kind of fiction that requires a villain in every novel. However, when appropriate, he created perfect villains, in particular Aycharaych and Merau Varagan.

SM Stirling excels at villains. William Walker has made John Martins, who reminds me of Ralph Barnes, work for him. Martins reflects:

"'Oh, man, that guy is, like, an orc...'" (Island In The Sea Of Time, p. 392) -

- and:

"This is, like, totally Mordor here. That dude's head is in a truly fucked-up place." (p. 394)

Escaped slaves brought back by hounds are flogged or crucified. As I remarked about the Draka theoretician here, I would like to put such a character in a society where she is free to flourish and prosper as an individual but not at anyone else's expense.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I agree with what you said about Aycharaych and Merau Varagan. I would even consider Aychraych slightly better than Vargan. The former had at least an understandable objective in mind, the latter was a pure nihilist.

Again, I agree. Stirling creates very convincing villains. And SMART villains. I would argue a bit with the analogy John Martins chose from Tolkien's Middle Earth mythos: Walker was more like one of the Nazgul, not an orc. I also have to disagree with Martins' comment about Walker's "head." Unfortunately, some very intelligent people can be very, very BAD. Some of the great tyrant dictators of the 20th century comes to mind!

Your comment about Elvira Naldorrsen was interesting. How would she fare in a society where she was free to speak and write about her horrifying beliefs without hindrance? I would hope she was tolerated and mostly ignored. I would also wonder or fear if she would become the ideological "seed" of a movement aspiring to found a "new humanity" along Draka lines. What SHOULD any reasonably decent society do with such persons: ignore them or destroy them? I would suggest the latter, but only AFTER such persons DID things threatening the overthrow of that society. Iow, committed TREASONABLE acts.


David Birr said...

As regards Varagan's objective, I find "ad majorem meus gloriam" (apologies for any grammatical errors in the Latin) a completely understandable objective. Evil, but understandable. He should of course have instead been working for "ad majorem DAVID BIRR gloriam." [Self-mocking GRIN]

And I took the "truly fucked-up place" remark about Walker's head to refer to insanity and evil, NOT stupidity, so I didn't see anything incorrect with that.

Paul Shackley said...

Ad majorem mei gloriam.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Hi, David!

Thanks, as always, for your comments!

I agree that basically, the objective of any Exaltationist was "to the greater glory of ME." That would seem more like solipsism than nihilism. BUT, the Exaltationists desired to mold the timelines into any shapes their whims favored, no matter the costs and the agonies still seems nihilistic to me.

I understand better what was meant by Walker's head being so "fucked up." But I disagree he was insane in any clinical sense. I doubt any truly insane man would be ABLE to plan and think as carefully as we see Walker doing.


David Birr said...

Thanks; I'd wondered if it might be "mei" (by analogy with "Dei" in the Jesuit motto I parodied), but my very limited understanding of Latin declensions SEEMED (incorrectly, I now see) to imply that was wrong.