So, I’m really supposed to be working on items related to developing my marketing “street team,” but that’s not what I’m doing. Looking at my editorial calendar, I should be working on all the story introductions for the “Many Moons” anthology. (My desk is covered with science fiction magazines and anthologies, plus piles of old manuscripts.) But that isn’t what I have been working on either. In the next few months, I expect to launch the anthology as well as several other stand-alone books, so I really ought to be generating interior formatting and looking at book covers. Again: not.
For some reason this morning, my mind is lingering over “casting” considerations for my upcoming Time Wing Six novels. I’m not really looking to have a lone, central hero this time. Instead, I’d like to create a collective hero. A group of time travelers or dimensional travelers, with each of several main characters having separate moments of awesomeness. I’m not sure if I will start with a dysfunctional group that grows to work with one another or if there needs to be a central leader right away, although I know I want to show multiple aspects of loyalty and leadership as the team confronts the enemy and rises to each challenge.
For the moment, not knowing some of this is sort of fun and a little scary at the same time.
One of the team leaders should have at least beaten the odds and accomplished this or that impossible task a few times already. Maybe his or her superiors have taken notice and want to give the team a task to better solidify their reputation? I’m just not sure. I know that the Time Travel Forces are likely a self-funded, self-supporting military unit (as the TTF has been since I first started telling their stories as far back as 1976).
Having worked with (and been super-impressed by) Navy Seals and members of the Marine Corps while an active-duty Navy officer, I will probably look to examples of their teamwork and camaraderie for inspiration. For some reason, my thoughts keep coming back to team dynamics and character interaction.
So who are my top science fiction characters from TV and film? And from science fiction books?
Might thinking about some of them offer any level of inspiration? If I want to maintain the highest level of reader interest and entertainment, what kind of character interactions can I expect to generate and maintain with similar characters? And wouldn’t they all need to grow, change, and develop over time? After all, I am looking for long-term authenticity without ever copying anything someone else has tried. Knowing what I know (or remember) about each of these characters, how can I best learn from them so I can provide similar value and always put my readers first?
Okay, so I know I’m forgetting a BUNCH of vital characters, but here are some of the names that immediately jump to mind:
My TOP 25 Science-Fiction Characters from TV and Film:
Ellen Ripley, Alien & Aliens
Ben ‘Obi-Wan’ Kenobi, Star Wars
Han Solo, Star Wars
The Doctor, Doctor Who
Hoban “Wash” Washburn, Firefly & Serenity
Captain Malcolm Reynolds, Firefly & Serenity
Luke Skywalker, Star Wars
Captain James T. Kirk, Star Trek
Leeloo, The Fifth Element
Korben Dallas, The Fifth Element
Louise Banks as portrayed by Amy Adams in Arrival
Truman Burbank, The Truman Show
Neo, The Matrix
Spock, Star Trek
Kaylee, Firefly & Serenity
Physicist Robert Capa in Sunshine
Dave Bowman, from 2001: A Space Odyssey
Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek: The Next Generation
Rick Deckard, Blade Runner
Captain John Sheridan, Babylon 5
Jack O’Neill, Stargate SG-1
Amy Pond, Doctor Who
River Song, Doctor Who
Vincent Freeman (pretending to be Jerome Morrow) in GATTACA
Gwen DeMarco/Tawny Madison, Galaxy Quest
My TOP 25 Science-Fiction Characters from Books:
Erasmus in Neal Stephenson’s Anathem
Severian on Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun series.
Garion in David Eddings’ Belgariad Series (starting with Pawn of Prophecy)
Paul Atreides/Paul Muad’Dib in Frank Herbert’s Dune
Ender Wiggin in Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game
Corwin in Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber
Karou in Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Kevin Laine in Guy Gavriel Kay’s The Summer Tree (Book 1 of The Fionavar Tapestry)
Herrin in C.J. Cherryh’s Wave Without a Shore
Donel Aspic, the Hegemony Consul in Dan Simmons’ Hyperion
Pham Trinli (Pham Nuwen) in Vernor Vinge’s A Deepness in the Sky
Arthur Dent in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Kinnall Darival in Robert Silverberg’s A Time of Changes
Tom Bartlett in Robert Heinlein’s Time for the Stars
Dua in Isaac Asimov’s The Gods Themselves
Stavia in Sheri S. Tepper’s The Gate to Women’s Country
Captain Creideiki in David Brin’s Startide Rising
Kleph Sancisco in C.L. Moore’s Vintage Season
Koot Hoomie Parganas in Tim Power’s Expiration Date
Molly Millions in William Gibson’s Neuromancer
Luis Gridley Wu in Larry Niven’s Ringworld
Elizabeth Orme in Julian May’s Saga of Pliocene Exile (Starting with The Many-Colored Land)
Leisha Camden in Nancy Kress’ Beggars in Spain
Kitty McCulley in Elizabeth Ann Scarborough’s The Healer’s War
Shevek in Ursula LeGuin’s The Dispossessed
Yes, I know I’ve forgotten SO MANY! And, well, I’m not sure any of this has helped push the new project in any particular direction. I’ll have to kick around a bunch of ideas for a while. But at least it was fun thinking back to some of my favorite characters!
How many science-fiction favorites do you have? Please feel free to remind me of a few!