LitStaff Picks: Our Favorite Literary Bastards

The Shriketheshrike
Hyperion Cantos
Dan Simmon

It’s so hard for me to like villains — even the ones you’re supposed to sort-of like.  I’m usually on-board with the heroine or hero and think the villain should go jump off a bridge.  Sometimes, in rare novels, you’ll get that villain who really doesn’t get that they’re a bad guy.  They are misguided, or hung up on some ideal or concept that blinds their judgment and clouds their reasoning.  Those you sort of pity.

Then, of course, there are those bad guys who don’t seem to have motivation, that are almost living embodiments of evil or horror — and I don’t mean manic chaotics like Batman’s The Joker, I mean something like The Shrike from Dan Simmon’s Hyperion Cantos — a creature so bizarre, so menacing, whose machinations are as mysterious as they are horrifying and yet, for the bulk of the story, a creature who defies understanding.  And so somehow, instead of it seeming a villain, it seems — cool.  Badass.  The crazy, uncontrollable force of destruction that you can’t escape.  You don’t root for it, but you watch it in awe.  I suppose if I had to like a literary bastard, it would have to be a villain like The Shrike — a seemingly merciless killing machine without an explanation.  Because as you’re waiting for everything to be made clear, you start to admire the mystery, and the mysterious thing becomes larger-than-life: almost mythical.  Those are the villains I keep turning the pages for.

-Kira Apple

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3 thoughts on “LitStaff Picks: Our Favorite Literary Bastards

  1. You’re on an Alan Rickman tear today. I love him. He’s a fascinating actor, best when he’s playing a bad guy or an ambiguously good or bad character. And I think there were interesting villains in those mentioned, especially Jacques.

    1. Oh, no doubt he is an amazing actor. I really adore him as an actor. Snape, however, is not the hero folks have made him out to be…especially those folks who confuse the great actor with the bastard of a character. 🙂

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