The greatest epic hero in the galaxy!
In a recent blog post by E. C. Ambrose, Kylo Ren and the Question of Parental Succession, she discusses how fictional children cannot become heroes in their own right until their parents are gone and they have nobody to rely on but themselves. I found this to be an interesting premise and it got me to thinking about the heroes in my own books. It also made me wonder if the same thing applies to female heroes -- are their heroic capabilities suppressed by their dependence on their fathers, or their mothers, perhaps? And what about male heroes and their mothers?
However, I don't feel The Termite Queen is a good example, because it isn't fantasy; it's realistic science fiction with a literary feel. So what about my termite series, The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head? We definitely have Greek-style heroes here! Ki'shto'ba and a few other heroes are said to be offspring of the King (read Zeus) of the Shshi's Mother Goddess.
Now to two of my other books (actually WIPs, since neither has been published yet). Robbin Nikalishin in The Man Who Found Birds among the Stars is a hero for the modern world -- eager to perform heroic deeds and capable of great things but often totally inadequate in dealing with his problems and tormented by events in his life that he can't wrap his mind around. His father, whom his mother divorced when he was eight, was a poor example of a man. Robbie never saw him again and he always rejects his father as a role model. It is Robbie's mother who has the greatest influence over him, and even after she is gone, he is tormented by things he can't understand. Perhaps the concept does apply that a hero never reaches his potential until he is orphaned, because ultimately Robbie gets his act together, overcomes his inadequacies, and achieves one of the greatest heroic acts in modern life -- making first contact with extraterrestrial intelligent life.
And finally the WIP I'm working on right now: Children of the Music. This piece is much more in the traditional fantasy mold, laid in a constructed world where two branches of humanity come together in a disastrous confrontation. One of the peoples could be considered traditionally heroic -- a barbaric horse-people composed of clans of male warriors and their retainers and women, some of whom are Priestesses and Seeresses of their sacred tree. The other people are meek, peaceable shepherds and farmers who don't even have a word for "murder" and for whom Music represents all that is Sacred.
I made Nebet an orphan. He is the seven-year-old boy who plays such an important role in the first section of the book, He isn't a hero except as a symbol, but still I find it interesting that I used the orphan aspect. (Actually, I had a prosaic ulterior motive, which was to keep Nebet a little separate from the rest of his family so he could get left behind at the end.) Daborno, Chieftain of the invading Clan of horse-people, is also an orphan, but his father remains Daborno's own hero, someone to be emulated. Unfortunately, Daborno never completely rises to the challenge of becoming a hero in his own right.
Interestingly enough, the second part of Children of the Music (laid 285 years later) opens with the death of the father of Horbet and Ondrach. It is the orphaned younger brother Ondrach who must rise to a semi-heroic status, making decisions and confronting dilemmas that are not natural for his pacific people. He would have never done what he did -- rebel against his people's way of life -- if he hadn't lost his father. And in an interesting parallel the Chieftain Cumiso and his own younger brother Sembal have also just lost their father when the section opens. Cumiso is not much of a hero in anybody's book, I fear, but again it's his younger, scholarly-minded brother who achieves a status much closer to heroism.
|The Madness of Ki'shto'ba|
(alternate cover for v.3)
I'm going to conclude with a quotation from a later part of The Man Who Found Birds among the Stars, where Capt. Robbin Nikalishin, who is suffering from PTSD after a space disaster where he lost a third of his crew, is giving a speech on the occasion of being awarded Earth's highest honor, the Crimson Ivy medal.
“Now, I’m no philosopher, gentlemen and ladies, and I’m no expert at formulating philosophical definitions. But it seems to me we ought to take a few minutes to contemplate what makes a human being a hero. And it seems to me that a hero is somebody who reacts with courage in an impossible situation so that a positive outcome is produced. ...
“But there’s a downside to any definition of a hero – it has a corollary, so to speak. It’s not enough that a hero win – a hero inevitably has to lose something. He has to lose something and react nobly in the face of that loss." ...
So it seems I do write about heroes after all.