No Golden Childs

Golden Child: (n) A person who people love no matter what. A person who has everything fall into place through luck <slang>

I’ve always loved science fiction. I can remember sitting in front of the TV with my brother watching Star Trek back in the 70s. That began a long and nearly constant exposure to the genre. However, one thing that has always bothered me is how often there was never any real danger. Face it, Kirk wasn’t going to die. Neither was Luke or Han. Ripley was pretty safe too.

I understood why. If you kill main characters, how does the story move on? Well, I believe you do it through good writing. Television shows in the UK are much more severe in that main characters are sometimes killed off in their prime. I believe this adds a lot to a series. It’s much more exciting to read series like Honor Harrington if you have a lingering doubt about her survival. Or Admiral Gary or Desjani. I love all those characters but I’d trade one of them for the excitement that would be added by their uncertain futures.

In the novel Red Storm Rising, a submarine captain who had been in the entire story (over 1,000 pages) died with the simple sentence of, “The two blips merged and that was that.” I remember being unable to process the sentence. I reread it more than just a couple times before realizing that Clancy had just killed off a very likable, main character from a torpedo hit with so little fanfare that I almost missed it. It was so cold and impersonal and after I thought about it, I LOVED it. War is cold and impersonal, and trumpets and glory don’t always (in fact, rarely) herald the death of a hero.

After a brutal beginning in This Corner of the Universe, the Anelace crew was relatively fortunate in the second installment, No Way to Start a War. Because they were skillful (lucky?) enough to avoid major damage, the crew remained intact throughout the book. Sadly, this wasn’t true for Kelly Gary’s ship. However, can Kite’s luck extend two books in a row? In a series about war and with an author that prides himself on the tension added to the story by not having any “unkillable” characters, I’ll leave the answer up to you.

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