Top Ten Favorite Characters In X Genre was the exact marching orders this week from over at The Broke and the Bookish. I considered doing both horror/thriller characters and specifically Graphic Novel characters, but instead just went with the umbrella title of sci-fi. I know it’s a tad predictable for me, but that’s all I can do. I simply haven’t read enough, say, romances, to be able to speak to a wide berth of characters. So this is what we get: my Top Ten Favorite Science-Fiction Characters.
I will preface this by saying I’m taking this from all over the genre: not just books, even though this is a book blog meme. Thankfully there are, as always, TONS of tie-in novels to accompany every major franchise, so I think I can kind of sneak past the censors that way.
10. Jean-Luc Picard (Star Trek: The Next Generation): This is a character I had to grow into, and it speaks volumes to the lasting impression of this 25 year-old series. When I was young I watched it with my father (and read the tie-in novels) and really liked Worf, Data and Geordi… but watching it again when I got older, I fell in love with this character. All the moral debate I found tedious to sit through as a child I loved as an adult: there is something about this that just allows for amazing drama: a simple discussion of “what should we do?” each and every week. I think he’s one of the more well-rounded characters in science-fiction, so I couldn’t not put him on this list.
9. Master Splinter (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles): Yeah, so we knew we weren’t going to go this whole list without a Ninja Turtles reference, but I did want to limit myself to this one. So the question becomes: why this one? Why not one of the four? Or Casey? Or even one of the villains? Well to me Splinter (and specifically the Mirage Universe version of the character) is a great character from beginning to end. The end especially. I love that they weren’t afraid to write him out of the series and then, later, to kill him off: in a very human way. Spoiler for those not aware: Master Splinter has a heart attack reaching for the milk in TMNT vol. 4 #10. It is a huge, huge thing to me. While death happens constantly in science-fiction, it is rarely so natural and rarely so poignant. This rocketed the character onto my Top Ten list.
8. Mike Noonan (Bag of Bones): So if we’re following the same rule as above (and I think we are), then I can only pick one Stephen King character. Well the man’s published over 60 books each FULL of characters, so that’s hard, but this time the cake goes to Mike Noonan. Again, not surprising to regular readers: I love Bag of Bones. It was extremely influential on me, and still helps drive me to this day. As the main character and narrator, we see most of this world through the eyes of Noonan, and I enjoy every minute of it every time I read it.
7. Batman (Batman): Probably the only DC Universe character I really enjoy, because he’s the only one that’s relate-able. My only issue with it (and with most big-house comic characters) is that he’s never allowed to grow and progress. Really this character reached his peak with the Dark Knight movie. Although there are many more enjoyable stories, I think had this character been created for another genre (ie: novels) we’d get a lot more out of him.
6. Spider-Man (Spider-Man): it is really, really hard picking a favorite character from within the entire Marvel Universe. I mean, part of me wanted to go Wolverine or Iron Man or even Cable or Darkhawk… but in the end, let’s be honest, the company kind-of rises and falls on this character. Spider-Man is Spider-Man. He’s like the gateway drug for comics: once you try him, you’re hooked for life. But you do move past him, at some point. For me it was One More Day. I just haven’t been able to read the character since (though I have tried), and that’s just a shame to me.
5. Ender (Ender’s Game): now we’re getting into the high-concept stuff. Ender is the quintessential sci-fi character, in that he is at once a mirror of the type of person who typically reads sci-fi (out upon, degraded) and, simultaneously, the be-all end-all character that saves the whole universe. This is really self-insert fantasy at its best, and there’s nothing wrong with that, when it’s done right.
4. Spike (Buffy the Vampire Slayer / Angel): I’ve gotten away from it over the years (there’s only so much you can do without new material), but for a period of time during college I really couldn’t get enough of anything Buffy-related, and my favorite character across both shows is, unquestionably, Spike. While I enjoyed all the characters, he’s the only one to grow from a 1-dimensional villain into a full, three-dimensional character with wants, feelings, and motivations. I was going to put down Buffy herself, but she’s been inched out: I really, really love this guy.
3. Mal Reynolds (Firefly / Serenity): Another Whedon-character, Malcolm Reynolds takes what they learned on Spike and brings it to the whole cast of Firefly, making everyone well rounded and deep, but none more than the soldier from the losing-side of the Alliance-Brown Coat civil war. I will never stop being sad that we didn’t see more of this character. I can only hope that sometimes down the line they relaunch it and do it right.
2. Camper King (The Man with the Hole in his Head): really liked this character. He’s very high-concept, but at the same time accessible. He’s humorous and yet serious. You can really get a lot out of him, I think, and I can’t wait to see if author Kevin Woolridge has more in store with him or not.
1. Roland (The Dark Tower): Screw it, I’m counting the Dark Tower as separate from the rest of King’s work. Roland is, possibly, the greatest science-fiction character ever, combining the traits of everyone listed above and more (I’d be shocked to learn that Roland wasn’t at least partially responsible for Mal). He’s deep and full of character and wisdom and the series and the world he inhabits is just so… perfect. It’s perfect.
So hah, my Top Ten Favorite Science-Fiction Characters. And I didn’t cheat or use my own characters once. Not even that time I cheated at the end. Hah.
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