Sunday, 25 June 2017

Recurrent Villains

(A classic "hero and villain stalking each other" illustration. Look at Flandry's face.)

As a rule, recurring villains are never killed, because they are recurring characters, and never reformed, because they must return as villains. There are exceptions.

In Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry series, when Aycharaych's motivation to work for Merseia, therefore against Terra, had been removed, he might have reformed but unfortunately he never returned. Also, he would have had to overcome his aesthetic pleasure in the manipulation of intelligent beings and the fomentation of strife.

IIRC, SM Stirling's Rudi Mackenzie spared his antagonist, Graber. Will anything come of this? Might Father Ignatius be able to exorcise whatever it is that possesses leading Cutters? I have a poor track record for anticipating authors but I wonder whether anything might come of this line of enquiry. In another timeline, I imagine that Stirling's Count Ignatieff was irredeemable.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Dominic Flandry did take pleasure in being SKILLFUL at his work as an intelligence agent. But he did not take PLEASURE in killing people, and tried to kill only those who had it coming to them. Such as those deliberately trying to undermine the Empire. I recall how he mentioned in THE GAME OF EMPIRE how he regretted needing to kill a Merseian intelligence officer, for example.


S.M. Stirling said...

Flandry usually (unless he has has a particular grudge) has a "nothing personal" attitude towards killing his opponents -- he doesn't like it, does it only when necessary, and sometimes regrets it if his opponent is brave and skillful, but doesn't hesitate if he has to. Just as he doesn't particularly mind his opponents attempts to do likewise to him.

When he's chasing that undersea Mersian agent, he wonders sadly if somewhere on a watery world cubs are asking when their father is coming home.

Back at the end of the Falklands War, I saw an American reporter's interview with some British soldiers. She asked them, among other things, what they thought of the rights and wrongs of the war. The sergeant she was talking to looked at her with the sort of gentle good manners you use with the truly stupid, and said:

"Well, miss, that's not rightly none of our business, is it? We're soldiers. We took the Queen's shilling, we go where she sends us, and we fight whoever the officers tell us to fight. We're soldiers. It's our trade."

Sean M. Brooks said...

Dear Mr. Stirling,

I agree with you said about Dominic Flandry. He was professional who killed only when necessary and with no pleasure in doing so. And was not offended when Merseians tried to do the same to him. Just part of the job, nothing to take PERSONALLY.

And, yes, I remember the sadness Flandry felt when he had to kill Aa'u on Nyanza. And I recall similar moments of regret by Flandry on other missions.

And I like that story you told us about the British soldiers! I think the point is that soldiers don't make policy, they EXECUTE it, in obedience to orders from their officers, who in turn were obeying policies set by the Queen's gov't. An attitude I agree with.