To celebrate the imminent release of Bringer of Light, I’m doing a book giveaway. All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning your very own signed hardback of the fourth Hidden Empire novel is to tell who your favorite villain is, and why, in the comments below.
The competition runs until 5pm on Thursday, that being the day the book is out.
As far as villians go I always had a thing for HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Not a villian in a traditional sense but he is the baddy in the book. Being a computer he’s cold and heartless and creepy in a way that a person isn’t. He doesn’t had the ability to ‘think’ as a human might and that makes him dangerous, especially as he controls life support aboard the ship.
Interesting choice. That old truism that the bad guys don’t believe they’re evil would certainly be the case for HAL; he really was only following orders (well, programming).
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
Richard III. Just for those lines.
Ah yes. That somewhat refutes my comment above about most villains just being misunderstood.
A bad villain is one like Mastermind in the recent Anime version of the X-Men. His motivation as presented to the audiance seems to be simply that he wants to rule the world. No real reason presented for wanting that. He seems reasonable sane, and yet his chosen method seems to be to destroy the planet, with him still on it. Stupid.
A good villain is one that makes you empathise with them, or even end up agree with them. Typically they’re either the hero in their own inner monologue, or don’t even realise that others perceive them as the villain. Been racking my brains for a definitive example, but can’t seem to thing of one.
My favourite villain arcetype (as noted) is one who’s just decided to embrace the freedom from normal moralaity that a concious decision to be a villain. A couple more very different examples:
Keyser Söze – from the origin story in the Usual Suspects.
Dr. Frank-N-Furter – from the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Frank-n-furter isn’t evil, he’s just misunderstood! All right, perhaps I’m being generous there.
But you’re certainly right that no one with half a brain buys the ‘evil because the plot says so’ villain any more. And you’ve got me trying to think of examples of those first two cases now.
Kerchak, the king ape in ‘Tarzan of the Apes’. Just about the first book I remember reading, 43 years ago. I was fascinated by the idea that a villain could be a non-human.
Not a book I’ve read; I’d say my equivalent for that realisation would be General Woundwort from ‘Watership Down’ (I think I’ve remembered his name correctly; I just thumbed through my ancient copy of the book to check, but it’s falling to pieces).
My favorite villain is ‘Q’ from Star Trek, TNG. He is omnipotent, but acts like a spoiled child. We finally find out (if my tired memory is correct) that Q IS the equivalent of a child in his own species. . .
‘Q’ bugged me. I never thought of him as a villian per se – he was too irritating – but he does qualify, if only for his stunning amorality.
Haven’t read any of your books (sorry!), but I’ll have a stab at this…
Favourite villain? Surely Emperor Ming the Merciless in all his forms ranks as one of the best? And although Max von Sydow’s Ming from the 1980 blockbuster movie was most excellent, I’d have to say that Charles Middleton’s Emperor Ming from the late 30’s was the very definition of evil… lol…
Failing that, those vicious carnivorous dolls and the evil Duran Duran from Barbarella probably rank as potentially the most camp!
Ming is certainly a classic, perhaps one of the first classic SF villains. He also dressed like a proper villain.
TV – Hm, great fondness for Gul Dukat/Kai Wynn double act on DS9, though they descended into farce by the end. Garak, of course, is just a simple tailor, move along, nothing to see here. Wayoun is dryer than Dukat. “Time to start packing!” I think Wayoun wins.
Comics – Jean Grey as the Black Queen, dressed as Emma Peel in Fire and Brimstone. Binkin’ ‘eck. And she eats suns for breakfast.
Films – Lord Summerisle; frying tonight…
Books – Mrs Danvers from Rebecca, (though I freely admit that I may be influenced by Judith Anderson’s chilling performance).
Mrs Coulter. Nasty piece of work.
Oh, and, Cersei Lannister. Cow.
Blimey. That’s a bunch of villains. What is the collective noun for villains anyway…?
If I had to choose one, I think it would be Jean Grey as Dark Phoenix, there’s something about a good girl gone bad which appeals to me.
And, of course, she eats suns for breakfast, gotta respect that.
I’d vote for Dr Fu Manchu. It’s one of the few series of books I can read and cheer on the “bad” guys. For example in Drums of Fu Manchu he’s out to assassinate a German fascist dictator (yes Hitler under an alias) and Sir Denis Nayland Smith has to stop him. What’s not to like? 🙂
If your new book isn’t released until today how come Amazon posted me copy yesterday? It must be one of those Time Warp things. Which reminds me since when was Frank-N-Furter a villain?
Frank-n-Furter: bad, but not evil.
He’s a B-movie (parody) of mad scientist who cuts out the brains of his ex, ties up the lost visitors to his castle, before making them do his bidding against their will! Okay, so his bidding is just to do a song an dance number, but he’s still the villain of the piece.
Boss Tweed from John Varley’s *The Ophiuchi Hotline*: a person who introduces corrupt politics to a near-utopia, and revels in it. And still has an exit strategy planned when it all goes wrong – and it’s a pretty strange escape route too.
I know I’ve read The Ophiuchi Hotline, but it was a while ago. Perhaps a re-read is in order…