WARNING: This post has some spoiler elements on the nature of heroes and villains in the TCOTU series. Since we’re four books in now, I hope we can talk about these things.
When I started writing This Corner of the Universe I knew I wanted to try something a bit different from all the other mil-sci-fi space opera series out there. I’ve always found it funny that when I pick up a new series, I automatically just assume that the main characters will be the good guys on the “right” side and so forth. I wondered if I could turn that on its head.
Now, I genuinely believe that readers do want to read about the good guys. I doubt reading an entire series from the villain’s perspective would be enjoyable or sustainable. My series is no different in that respect. Heskan and the crew, while flawed, are certainly the “good guys.”
However, I wanted to see if I could create a series where the actual people are heroes but the side they are on isn’t heroic. The first book doesn’t get into this too much. It was a story with a very narrow focus. However, Book Two opened up the universe and I spent a lot of time writing Brevic Propaganda for the reader. One thing was important though; I never wanted to “lie” to the reader when narrating. I believe that narration in a book should be detached and unbiased. However, dialogue or the internal musing of characters is fair game.
If you’ve read the series and think back, you can see spots where Brevic characters naturally make their government out to be better than it might actually be and their enemies (the Commonwealth) a little worse. I think by the middle of Book Two, a reader is pretty convinced that the Brevic Republic was attacked by the evil Hollaran Commonwealth and the Republic is fighting for “right.” Of course, the second half of the book shows the Republic to be darker than they might admit by virtue of their actions.
In Book Three, the readers get an unfiltered look at the Commonwealth. No longer is a reader constrained to learning about the Commonwealth only through the thoughts and opinions of Brevic loyalists. I would be curious to hear from readers their thoughts on exactly which side are “the good guys.”
One thing I was adamant not to do, however, was spell out which side wear the white hats and who wears black. In my humble opinion, they are both grey with one side being a touch darker than the other. But that’s just my opinion. There’s plenty of material in the series to come to different conclusions and I love the series because of that. This stream of thought is carried over to my characters in the series. Durmont was a self-serving asshat but even he had redeemable qualities. Brewer, a very dark character, wasn’t always so and you see a glimpse of that light in Loyalty To The Cause when he realizes Heskan has beaten him but instead of flying into a rage, Brewer actually smiles. Some of Brewer’s other qualities will come to light in the series finale. On the other side of the coin, Heskan, arguably the “hero” of the series, has a dark past. In this series, nobody is perfectly clean; nobody is eternally dirty. Isn’t that just like real life?
A side note. These questions or perspectives might be further explored if I write a series that contains Heskan’s father. The Republic looked A LOT different back then. Context given from the past might shed more light as to exactly what the Republic is and what is stands for.