Friday, May 23, 2014

Tired of Megalomaniacs and other thoughts

I read all sorts of books. I like character driven ones the most. I used to say that I liked epic fantasy and space opera, but maybe my tastes are changing. I am getting really sick of THE BIG BAD.

I lost interest in Star Trek TNG when the Borg arrived. And a variety of other shows when the evil that cannot be defeated showed up. I like the day to day conflicts. The problems that can be wrapped up with smarts and ethics (and superior firepower).

Megalomaniacs are an especial problem to me. There was a trend in writing to try to personify the villain. A lot of books went into the twisted point of view of the bad guy. After a few too many senseless torture scenes, I gave up. I'm tired of the quest for world domination. Why would a guy want to destroy the world to rule it anyway? I never quite understood that. If it all is blasted nothingness, what's to rule?

While learning to craft a story, I started writing from the villain's POV and realized I did not want to go there. How could I possibly understand a crazy killer? I didn't want to get all caught up in the dark thoughts and nastiness. What I ended up doing was writing from the other side. The reactions to the villain's deeds set the right tone for me.

I have found a bunch of new authors who are writing what I want to read right now. Daniel Abraham is wonderful. His stories are full of rich world building and interesting characters. I think they lean toward epic fantasy, but there are no doomed armies marching out to battle the undefeatable evil.

The real world is depressing enough sometimes, I don't need hopelessness in my favorite escape.


  1. Well said, Alice. I enjoy reading Michael Palmer, but since I don't have a science background, I could not write his stories. I do know daily trials and since those are the catalyst for most of man's inhumanity to man, I will write what I know.

  2. And you write it so well, Georgia!

  3. I’m starting to prefer books with a more psychological aspect. Authors such as Christopher Priest, Graham Joyce or Haruki Murakami – none of these author’s works (speculative fiction if you want to sort of categorise it) deal with your typical villain/megalomaniac characters. Sometimes it’s an entity or idea of something evil, or quite simply somebody with a broken and disturbed mind. I find this makes much more interesting than somebody that just wants to take over the world. Or when I look at my all-time favourite SF novel, The City and the Stars by Arthur C Clarke, there isn’t even a central villain as such, but independent machines and computers.

    1. I'll have to check out those authors.

      I agree, that those books are much more interesting. At least to me.