What's Your Fictional Type?

I definitely have a "type" when it comes to fictional characters. These are the sorts of folks who I wouldn't find myself associating with in real life: they'd be unbearable to be around, impossible to talk to, or just intimidating as hell. But on the page or the screen? It's true love. The Strong, Silent Type

John Thornton

Dudes who are supremely self-contained, whose moods occupy the eye of the storm until they are the storm itself, who communicate volumes with their eyes alone... it's no surprise I love them, right? One of the first - and possibly most embarrassing - fictional crushes on this sort of fella was Conner McDermott from Sweet Valley High: Senior Year. When you identify strongly with bookish, rule following Elizabeth Wakefield as a teen, it's kind of hard not to fall for the boy you 100 percent shouldn't. But, this archetype is an interesting one, and has appealed to me the longest possibly because I want to believe there are hidden depths to everyone... or want to justify my tendency to lose my tongue in the company of quiet, steely-eyed, handsome dudes. Noteworthy SSTs: Bran from Son of the Shadows, Mr. Darcy, John Thorton from North & South.

The Scoundrel

Malcolm Reynolds

I really ought to know better about this one, and while I've certainly crushed hard on some real-life troublemakers in my time, I much prefer the fictional variety. No consequences with those - and no need to confront the reality that you neither can nor should try to change who someone is to accommodate your love of law and order. This guy can make a girl laugh even when he's about to get her killed. I've not found many mischievous book characters I find believable or likeable, which makes me worry about attempting to write this sort of person myself. But I'm sure someday I'll try. Noteworthy miscreants: Han Solo, Sky Masterson, Malcolm Reynolds, Rosto the Piper from Tamora Pierce's Terrier and Bloodhound.

The Boss Bitch

Aeryn Sun

I want to be her and I want to be her best friend. She's tough, smart, and capable. There's not a day in her life she's taken shit from anybody. I like that these women are strong, physically and emotionally, and I swear half the reason I've been working out lately is to be more like the fictional women I admire. I doubt my capacity to ever write this sort of woman, though, because I am, regrettably, too much of a pleaser. I blame being raised in the Midwest, and, as my best friend recently pointed out to me, the sort of person who apologizes when other people bump into me. Noteworthy bosses: Katniss Everdeen, Beka Cooper from Terrier, Bloodhound, and Mastiff, Garth Nix's Sabriel, Aeryn Sun.

So, who's your type?

To Boldly Grow Up

The cutest, right? nnaj on DeviantArt has a lovely sense of humor. I'm sure I'm not the only nerd writing about Star Trek today, but reading these memories from other fans of the franchise on its 50th birthday got my warp plasma flowing.

I didn't grow up with TOS, but rather, TNG. Thanks to my dad, I was lucky to be the kid who watched Reading Rainbow and wondered what Geordi La Forge was doing there, rather than the other way around. I remember Riker without a beard, though whether it's from initial viewings at 5 years old or later reruns, I can't tell you. I definitely recall with terror and wonder first contact with the Borg, whose soulless assimilation has informed my understanding of true villainy to this day.

I was of the tender generation who never found Wesley Crusher to be obnoxious, but instead a character who created a space for somebody like me on the bridge of the Enterprise.

As I grew up, other series attracted my interest, most notably Voyager and Enterprise, the latter of which I will not tolerate any bitching about unless you've actually seen it in its entirety. As a writer, I found their plot lines and character dynamics the most compelling, and resistance to my love of this series is futile. Voyager I watched on Netflix well after it aired, and it gave me the female captain I hadn't known I'd always wanted - and a bit of a grudge against my dad for not introducing me to Janeway when I had been a teenager much in need of a boss lady bending the Prime Directive under duress.

One of the most powerful sentiments I read regarding the franchise was this:

"The show delivered good news: there might be a future that included peace, hope, and bold adventure, and it came in bright colors, featured space travel, and was fun!"

This has always been the thing that I have loved best about Star Trek, that human beings could overcome all of the nonsense, violence, and bigotry to be better, to be a force for peace and friendship in the galaxy. I appreciated seeing the trope of invading alien species uniting us against them turned on its head, with humanity's first contact with the Vulcans instead revealing all that we could be and aspire to, rather than disparage and fear. I grew up with a series that embodied what a society fully entrenched in this kind of noble stability could look like, and to this day it is the utopia that appeals to me the most. It's what I hope for when I see people doing good for the sake of doing good, making sacrifices for others without recognition or compensation, when our ugliest impulses as human beings are forgotten in moments of compassion, creativity, and selflessness.

We have the opportunity now to be bolder than ever, 50 years later.

Saturday's Child: Raising Arizona, Hope, and Me

First of all, let me tell you that my love of Raising Hope has only a very little to do with the fact that it stars the not-whiny gal from The Goonies all grown up. When I was a kid my parents loved Raising Arizona, and I remember just finding it awkward and embarrassing in its near depiction of my own awkward, embarrassing family. Which isn't to say my mom and dad wanted for kids enough to go around thieving them, but still. These folks were poor and inarticulate and taken advantage of. They weren't so much real people as caricatures, and when paired with their socioeconomic equals on Married With Children, I was made more than a little bit uncomfortable.

Hope's family is poor and rowdy and none too bright but they love the shit out of each other, and for me that is the strongest narrative thread in the series. My love of queering the traditional family delights, too, in the role reversal of Jimmy's parents. His father is the one who needs to be hugged, who cries, who shelters him, and his mother plays at sympathies she sometimes simply doesn't have. For all of the outlandishness somehow tidily resolved by the end of an episode, these crazy folks are real and I love them.

Just like my folks are real and crazy and I love them.

U.S.S. Enterprising

Years ago when M and I painted the living room of the house that wasn't yet half mine, we pushed all of the furniture into the middle of the room and crab-walked the perimeter, brushes and rollers stiff as sore limbs and caked with pumpkin-colored paint. We queued episode after episode of Star Trek: Voyager and Tuvok's stoic acceptance of the vagaries of children's tempers helped me to control mine. House projects are something I have accepted with reluctance, and perhaps only because of my love for a man who is convinced that if he doesn't know how to do something, he'd rather learn than pay someone else. So it was that when we agreed to begin tearing up the kitchen floor, I indulged in a little TNG and sliced up some watermelon. Stealing bites between peeling tiles, unable to hear over the roar of the heat gun but having seen enough to know just what Wesley Crusher was prattling on about, I found comfort in being part of a crew of two. We're always doing or dreaming big, and for all it might seem that our projects are for the someday that hasn't happened yet, I know these are the memories the rest of our lives are going to be built on. I think our kids might be as inclined to groan as I have been, but I'll share with them my secrets: suck on cold fruit, escape into utopian fiction, trace the patterns of paint and stain and grit on the same pair of old work pants, remembering where you've been and what you've done. Work together. Be a family.

Or maybe because he's their Daddy they won't be so buggered.

Saturday's Child Works Hard for a Living

I've always loved that particular folk rhyme, or perhaps it was the book I read as a child where the children - named after the days of their birth - are all turned into the foods they like best and nearly eaten by a witch. I was born on a Saturday. For me at least this doesn't mean I'm living by the skin off my hands or the sweat on my brow, but by the drive I have to do and be, to feel guilty for every moment of rest away from the work of my life: writing. It isn't that I consider time spent away from my work necessary, because I totally do, but the murderous, ruler-rapping impulses courtesy of my Type-Triple-A personality - kind of like the T-888, only soft and prone to tears - make everything that isn't something feel like I ought to flog myself. I could and did skip any number of classes in college without warranting this kind of response, but if I elect to read before bed instead of tap-tap-tapping out a few words I might even end up deleting tomorrow, it's on.

Maybe I ought to have been Wednesday's child?

But I do give myself a break, even when I don't feel like I deserve one. With that in mind and my desire for something here to cater to my exhaustive hunger for geek culture - and what my obsessive fervor often transmutes to geek culture, like honing my gardening and sewing skills for the zombie apocalypse - I bring you Saturday's Child, where I am admitting the opposite of what I ought to be doing. What I'm reading, watching, playing; the things that just took my heart and squeezed it like a naughty cat.

  1. I've got a crush on the Naz'jar Battlemaiden. World of Warcraft has some really tremendous storytelling, and as I tend only to game when there's a rich world and story involved, this is dangerous business, indeed.
  2. I'm not a genius, which explains why I'm late to the Eureka party. The success of this show, I think, lies in what a friend smartly called the fact that it's "light on the science, big on the fiction." I love a space opera or fantasy epic as much as the next geek, but a romp that doesn't take itself so seriously is refreshing.
  3. Jason Sanford's Never Never Stories, especially the scope and sheer weirdness of the science fiction stories, are just captivating. Every question I felt I needed answered on the first page was forgotten in the wandering and wondering pleasure of just reading.

Guilty pleasures? Spill 'em.

Get Lost

My husband and I , well behind the curve of your average primetime television viewer, only recently watched the conclusion of Lost, and while I have a great deal more to say about it than this, all I want to write about is my abruptly realized fear of dying. The thing most likely to get the tears flowing from me is fictional lovers parted, by death or otherwise. I missed a question on a test in college for having thrown Cold Mountain across the room but a few pages from the end, and I never watch the ending of Titanic or Moulin Rouge. Once is enough. Just knowing that they end the way they do is enough to set me sulking for the rest of whatever prospective day I've decided to torture myself.

It isn't that I don't believe in something after death, it's that I can't name it or describe it and I don't have the faith to follow those who claim that they can. Fragile, human doubt about what comes after is as real to me as the notion that these feelings must mean there's something more. I want to live with as much heart as possible because even if there's nothing once it stops beating, I won't know until it's too late to have done or said or dreamed. I don't want to make excuses - even though I do - because I know I have more to fear in regretting what I haven't done than anything I have or would.

It's just a television show, but what I wanted they couldn't show me. Life seems hard and little and mean, but at least I know what to expect.