June 8, 2010

Top Ten Most Fascinating Men of Sci-Fi

Lately I've been playing around with some character studies, and these exercises got me to thinking about all the great characters that pulled me into the fantasy and science fiction genres. Today's list is the first of four top ten lists as I see them, though I am open to suggestions, especially when it comes to women of fantasy.

(You wouldn't believe how hard it is to think of truly fascinating female characters in the fantasy genre. Then again, maybe I just haven't perused enough material.)

If the lists seem a little heavy on Stargate, Star Trek, Battlestar Galatica, and the works of Anne McCaffrey, I did ask for suggestions on both Facebook and Twitter for the past month. I only received one answer that you'll see in the women of fantasy list next week, so these other lists are the characters I could think of based on the series, movies, books, and comics I've read or seen, and the series above are my favorites.

(Star Wars is among my favorites, but the majority of the characters got beat out by better written ones. Sorry.)

Oh, and fair warning, some descriptions contain spoilers.

10. Peter Reidinger from Anne McCaffrey's "Pegasus in Flight" and "Pegasus in Space."

Peter became a paraplegic when a wall collapsed on him early in his adolescence. He was discovered as a "talent" when he began astral projecting himself into Rhyssa Owen's room without realizing what he was doing. After years of training, he becomes a key part of humanity's journey to the stars.

The sheer power of Peter's telekinesis make you want to scream Stu, but McCaffrey's handling of his disability and fight to learn fine control of his telekinesis to give himself the appearance of normalcy make him one of the best teenage science fiction characters around. Plus, his interaction with surrogate little sister, Amariyah, is just adorable.

9. Darien Fawkes from "The Invisible Man" (2000 TV Series)

(This one was suggested by Mom. I really don't remember much about this series as it never caught my fantsy.)

Darien believed he was following in his father's footsteps when he began picking locks as a teen. Then he chose to perform CPR when his latest robbery victim suffers a heart attack instead of fleeing, resulting in his third strike and a life sentence until his brother gets him released on the condition he becomes a test subject. He becomes a reluctant agent for "The Agency," who funded the project, if he wants access to the Quicksliver counter-agent that can keep him from going insane as the substance builds up in his system every time he goes invisible.

8. Quinn Mallory from "Sliders"

Mallory is a physics prodigy who discovers a way to travel between parallel worlds. Along with his college professor, friend Wade, and a passing singer who happened to drive into the interdimensional vortex, Quinn "slides" through the multiverse searching for home after the algorithm which should have taken them home is corrupted.

Often sweet and possessed of an overgrown sense of responsibility, Quinn tries to right wrongs throughout their journey. Though he does take to brooding and becomes a pain in the rear and a real jerk in later seasons due to those same traits and his tendency to take everything onto himself, be it responsibility or criticism.

7. Leonard "Bones" McCoy from "Star Trek: The Original Series"

Abrasive, grouchy, occasionally bigoted, but ultimately a caring and good man with a quirky sense of humor, Dr. McCoy is one of the most interesting and least annoying characters of the original series. He wasn't shy about stepping in as the voice of Kirk's conscience and provided a perfect foil for Spock's logic.

6. Shepherd Book from "Firefly"

Okay, I know I didn't mention this series in my list of favorites, but I'm a total brown coat. Half the sci-fi lists for both men and women could have been made up of Firefly characters, but I didn't think that'd be fair.

Book is Whedon's second take on a scary preacher man. Unlike Caleb from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Book is mentally stable and not at all prone to torturing and killing young girls. He even warns Captain Reynolds, ironically played by the same actor who played Caleb, of the special hell reserved for "child molesters and people who talk in the theater" when Reynolds accidentally marries a young girl via an archaic ritual.

Though Shepherd book hails from Southdown Abby and is often seen performing the duties of a preacher, as well as studying his Bible, there are hints given throughout the series that he wasn't always a preacher. In fact, he's shown downright fear a few times when his identity or at least his ID is revealed. His past remains a topic of speculation.

5. Michael from "Stargate Atlantis"

And now we come to our first true villain on the list, the human-wraith hybrid Michael. I like my heroes a bit on the Byronic side and my satans Miltonian, which is why I'm so fond of this character in particular. He's psychotic and as evil as they come, but you can't help but feel sorry for him.

I mean first he's captured and used as a lab rat, and then he's tossed out on his rear by his kinsmen because he's no longer fully wraith. He's cast out everywhere. Is it any wonder he's a little touchy?

Though his obsession with Teyla's magic baby was a little over the top on the creep out meter.

4. Jean-Luc Picard from "Star Trek: The Next Generation"

I know some of you are probably clamoring that Kirk should be up here, but let's face it, Kirk's a big ol' Gary Stu at the best of times, and although I enjoyed the latest Trek movie, it just made the character more of a Stu than ever.

Picard is an interesting character without being over the top. He has strengths and flaws, which do a fine job of making him stand out without having to hog the spotlight. His adventures with Q and the friendship/flirtation he had with Dr. Crusher, balanced by an irritation with her son's involvement on the ship, were key points for the character.

3. Dr. Daniel Jackson from "Stargate SG1"

If Dr. Jackson were to write a memoir, it'd have to be titled "Confessions of a Frequently Dead and Often Insane Archeologist." The man just can't stay dead, and he has worse luck with women than BtVS's Xander Harris.

After being laughed out of academia for his theories regarding aliens and the pyramids, Jackson was hired by the U.S. government to make some translations for them. In doing so, he discovers how an ancient artifact called the Stargate works and goes through with the first team. After his wife is taken by alien parasites, he joins SG1 as he searches for her. While often being one of the brains of the team and a major moral compass for the SGC, Jackson has his fair share of dark side moments up to and including becoming an agent of the enemy, for those of you who don't like to pretend like the last two seasons never happened.

(Though if there's a Stargate equivalent of Clan Denial for seasons 9 and 10, sign me up.)

2. Scorpius (and Harvey) from "Farscape"

Ah, another villain makes the list.

Scorpius is one of those characters that can pull you in and make you gag at the same time. He's enigmatic, depraved, cultured, and barbaric all at once.

He's a balance of opposing forces by his very nature, being half heat intolerant Sebacean, half warmth loving Scarron. He's the result of the Scarron's attempt to further their race by blending genetics. He's rejected by the Sebaceans, who are nearly fanatical about genetic purity, and by the Scarrons who see his need for a coolant suit to survive as an unforgivable weakness. Because of this, he holds no loyalty to either of his parent races, and ruthlessly seeks after his own ends.

His desire for the wormhole knowledge John Crichton possesses leads him to implant a neural clone of himself in John's brain. John spends much of the series trying to have the clone removed, but eventually gives up, dubbing the clone Harvey as it begins to take on a character of its own. Harvey, who is mostly interested with staying alive, does whatever he can to keep John alive and sane, even at Scorpius' expense.

1. Gaius Baltar of the new "Battlestar Galatica"

I'll admit, I've only ever caught a few episodes of the original Battlestar Galactica, so I'm not exactly familiar with the character's original incarnation. (I'm a character driven kind of girl with a yen for dark fic, so the new series holds a thousand times more appeal for me personally.)

With the allegorical leanings of this new series, Baltar is its Paul. Being a self-centered playboy genius and eventually selling out humanity to make his latest conquest, Baltar is the chief of sinners. Even after he realizes what he did, he continues in his self-serving ways even as a mental incarnation of his Cylon lover whispers about God's plan for him in his ear. Redemption begins for him during his presidency on New Caprica, where he secretly aids the resistance. He's reviled for his public displays of cooperation and barely escapes being put to death. However, the memoir he partially published while in the brig makes him something of a spiritual leader for a segment of the fleet.

He shares his pondering on God and life, at first to keep his place among those who support him and thus ensure his safety, and later because of genuine belief. Eventually he is redeemed through his first selfless act in the series as he helps defend Galatica against a Basestar and helping Caprica Six find Hera, the half human, half cylon Eve.

* The pictures are screen caps and promotional shots.

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