SF heroes and villains – a portrait gallery

I have been an avid manga reader (and anime fan) since childhood, and what I loved the most was to pick my hero and follow him (her) during the story. Or a villain, that sometimes is far more charming than any of the protagonists (just think about the Gundam multiverse, where villains are as a rule more engaging and even better characterised than all the others).

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I have therefore decided to do the same with my favourite SFF stories. I had purposely avoided taking into consideration the famous ones – so no Harry Potter, Frodo or even Arya Stark (yes, she’s my GoT darling) – because pretty much everything has been already said and written, and I have concentrated on literature, leaving out TV series and movies (i.e., Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate, etc. This has been done, however, and quite well – just have a look at this. For a female-only gallery, this other link is a good starting point).

handNext step has been to prepare a list of possible candidates, starting with some I know fairly well for having gone through many books in their company. A note: these ones are sometimes the main characters, sometimes not. In one case, it’s the villain (gender intended). But one thing they all share is that they have captured my interest for one or more features, and that they are different from the usual trope for that specific personage and / or role.

This is my initial pick of five (in no particular order or preference):

– Takeshi Kovacs (Richard Morgan, Altered Carbon and following books);

– Erick Thakrar (Peter F. Hamilton, The Reality Disfunction and the other books of The Night Dawn‘s trilogy);

– Severian (Gene Wolf, The Shadow of the Torturer and the rest of The Book of the New Sun);

– The Shrike (Dan Simmons, Hyperion and the other instalments of The Hyperion Cantos);

– Offred (Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale).


I will talk about them, and why they have got my fancy, in the following weeks – adding others  to this gallery when someone else pops into my mind or I read something worth having a place here.

By all means, please  do suggest names – I’m always glad to discover new stuff and unsung (anti)heroes.


  1. Tammy

    I completely approve of The Shrike as a choice, especially since I just listed Hyperion in a Top Ten list today:-)

    1. Stephen P. Bianchini

      Hello Tammy, thanks for this – I really need to have a look at your list then! 🙂

  2. calmgrove

    Offred I’m familiar with, having started (and temporarily stalled on) the novel, but the rest are all new to me, as are the authors (though I’ve heard of Gene Wolf). So many books, so little time is my perpetual refrain…

    1. Stephen P. Bianchini

      I definitively agree with you… but I do hope you will find some other good one in this gallery 🙂

  3. lynnsbooks

    I’ll be interested to read your individual pieces. The only book I’ve read off your list is The Handmaid’s Tale so look forward to that one!
    On a separate but slightly related note – as you mentioned your love of anime – I’ve just had recommended to me Psycho-Pass which apparently has a very charismatic villain named Makashima Shogo. Are you familiar with it??
    Lynn 😀

    1. Stephen P. Bianchini

      Hello Lynn, thanks. Yes I know Makashima Shogo, and he’s simply awesome! One of the best villains I have come across…You’re going to like that one 🙂


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