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Sci-Fi Villains…The Beacons of Morality

Ward at Mod-Blog takes a thoughtful look at Moral Complexity in Sci-Fi:

It’s always struck me that considering that science fiction is supposed to be morally complex and supposed to point us to our own humanity, it is often times terribly shallow. And no where does this show up more frequently than in the ‘bad guys’ in science fiction. Having a cardboard cutout baddie might be sufficient for a summer action flick. But when it comes to science fiction, it always struck me that the evil characters should really drive a lot of the moral issues. But this hasn’t been the case, by and large. Instead, they are often times virtually just parodies. They are mostly corporate leaders of some massive conglomerate of the future, or alien invaders simply bent on taking over earth, or some other cheap and easy story.

He then goes on to show how the sci-fi has taken a turn for the better and cites villains from Farscape, BSG, Heroes and Flash Gordon. (Ah-Aaaaah!)

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

3 Comments on Sci-Fi Villains…The Beacons of Morality

  1. “is supposed to be morally complex and supposed to point us to our own humanity”

    …umm, says who?

    No, really… where is it written that this is a defining trait of science fiction? I’m not saying that it ISN’T written somewhere, I’m just saying that I haven’t seen it and that it doesn’t make sense. It makes no sense because the same applies to ALL genres of entertainment. Why, exactly, is scifi supposed to be the moral compass of the entertainment media?

    It’s rare that somebody has something good to say about the latest Flash Gordon incarnation. I won’t disagree because he’s obviously seen more episodes than I have, but I wasn’t too impressed with the Ming I saw in the first episode. Maybe I’ll watch the other one I recorded and see if I agree.

  2. joshua corning // September 1, 2007 at 10:26 pm //

    The villain in Sci Fi staple “The deepness in the sky” was one dimensional.

    As was the villain in Iain M Banks “The Algebraist” Strangely enough that villain ended up not really doing anything…he actually had less to do with the plot of that book then Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker and the Emperor did in the ultimate success of the rebels blowing up the death star in Jedi.

    Unlike Lucas, who is just a terrible writer, I think Banks was trying to make a point….something to do with 9/11 and Bin Laden I think.

  3. Joshua Corning // September 1, 2007 at 10:35 pm //

    Come to think of it the villain in “The algebraist” really seems out of place in an Iain M Banks Sci fi…

    Just off the top of my head I can think of three books of his where the villain is the main character “Consider Phlebas” “Use of Weapons” and “Against a Dark Background”

    And in “Look to the Wayward” It is near impossible to judge the villain badly…in fact i was upset that he did not succeed. More of a failed hero rather then an anti-hero.

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