Thursday, May 3, 2012

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sith

I find myself drawn to certain archetypes or tropes across many genres--well, mostly science fiction, but you know what I mean. I create my own versions of them again and again in novels and roleplaying games. Some of these probably already have more scholarly appellations, but here are my names for them.

  • The Fallen Antihero
    'Antihero' can refer to either a flawed hero or a sympathetic villain. I find the combination of those two the most poignant--the Hero who falls from grace.
    Examples: Lucifer (Paradise Lost), Anakin Skywalker (Star Wars), and Captain Ahab (Moby-Dick).

  • The Genius Advisor
    Not exactly a mentor, not exactly a sidekick, the Genius Advisor is an oft-overlooked character and a role model to many geeklings. His intelligence is the key to the Hero's success, and he is the 'good' counterpart to the Evil Vizier.
    Examples: Zhu Ge-liang (Romance of the Three Kingdoms), Spock (Star Trek), and Thufir Hawat (Dune).

  • The ÜberGeek
    If the Genius Advisor is a young geek's role model, the ÜberGeek is his fantasy self. He is intelligent, studious, and a complete badass in spite/because of it.
    Examples: Daniel Jackson (Stargate), Hiro Protagonist (Snow Crash), and Oracle/Barbara Gordon (Batman).

  • The Disciplined Sociopath
    Lack of empathy does not mean lack of self-control; the (typically hyper-intelligent) Disciplined Sociopath uses his powers for good...or not.
    Examples: Hannibal Lector (The Silence of the Lambs), Rorschach (Watchmen), and Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock).

  • The Razorgirl
    The original Razorgirl was Molly, a bodyguard/killer for hire in Neuromancer, but this type of ruthless female warrior is common in science fiction. Unlike the Femme Fatale, her power lies not in sex appeal, but martial prowess.
    Examples: Miranda Lawson (Mass Effect 2), Motoko Kusanagi (Ghost in the Shell), and Catherine Li (Spin State).

  • The Crossdressing Warrior
    Typically a girl disguised as a boy so she can go adventuring, but occasionally a man dressing in drag to evade detection, the Crossdressing Warrior serves as the heart to many a comedy of errors.
    Examples: Hua Mu-lan (The Ballad of Hua Mu-lan), any of the protagonists in All the Queen's Men, and Éowyn (Lord of the Rings).

  • The Faithful Retainer
    Under-appreciated and overlooked, the Faithful Retainer accepts his lot out of love for his master. He can be a font of wit, wisdom, and courage, morphing into the Everyman Hero in his master's moment of need.
    Examples: R2-D2 and C3PO (Star Wars), Samwise Gamgee (Lord of the Rings), and Sancho Panza (Don Quixote).

  • The Childlike Posthuman
    Maybe he can bench-press a car or recite Pi to the millionth digit, but he does not understand friendship or innuendo. Even if he kills without blinking, he retains a certain innocence, wonder, and vulnerability.
    Examples: Data (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Darman and other clone troopers (Star Wars: Republic Commando), and Seven of Nine (Star Trek: Voyager).

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