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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

GUEST POST: Villains by Wesley Chu

The fine folks at Fantasy Book Critic were kind enough to let me man the helm today, so I’m going to talk about villains. Now, I consider myself a connoisseur of villains, but let’s get a few things straight. I’m not talking about just any ole’ villain; I’m talking about the good stuff; top shelf villainy. By the way, if there isn’t a tequila by that name, there should be.

One of the big trends right now in SFF is the brainless bad guys. That would be the zombies, trollocs, goblins, orcs, and almost every single villain in a Joss Whedon movie. Oh yes, I just went there. Before I rile up the geek kingdom’s panties (of which I am a card carrying member) about the creator of Firefly and Avengers, might I remind you that his bad guys were either the Reavers who were insane flesh flaying psychopaths, or galactic lizards that rode on space chariots, who incidentally lost to five (albeit steroided up) earthlings and a petulant god with a hammer. Oh yeah, one of the guys use a bow; a frigging bow. You’re either the worst alien invasion force in the history of Earth invasions or you had very little competition back on your home planet.

But Joss Whedon aside, I’m down with the brainless bad guys, or as my old Kung Fu buddy calls them, arrow fodders. They’re cool and there’s a place for them, but I’d much prefer my flavor of bad guys to drool less than my dog. Why are they all flesh rending human eaters, anyway? I mean, unless you’re Hannibal Lecter, is it really necessary to hunt the hardest thing possible as your source of food? Does it taste that much better than say, steak or a pork chop?

There’s also the matter of purpose. Why is he the bad guy? What’s in it for him? I don’t buy into evil for evil’s sake. That would include Sauron, Bane, Gollum, Cobra Kai’s sensei in The Karate Kid, Freddy, Jason…etc… you get my drift. When the ultimate purpose of your badness is to be two dimensionally bad, then someone just needs a hug or ice cream or something.

Personally, I want a certain level of respectability in my evil-doers. They should be dudes that make villainy proud. I’m a big believer that the bad guy in any story should be stronger, smarter, better dressed, and more suave than the hero. Yes, I said better dressed. You can’t just beat someone; you got to do it with style, because looking good counts. Otherwise, you’re just a two-bit variety. That’s why I never bought into Emperor Palpatine. He’s the emperor of the known galaxy and he wears a potato sack on his throne. Child please!

The villains I like have their suits tailored and will only kick your ass if it makes sense. Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to have a sadistic streak, but kicking ass for the hell of it just means the villain’s eyes aren’t on the prize. There should be rewards consummate with the risk of being the antagonist. After all, bad guys have to deal with so much more crap than the good guys. Chances are, the law’s after them and there’s that whole living life a wanted man deal that kind of sucks. Plus, they probably just got their suit back from the cleaners. And at the end of the day, for me, they need to have gone the dark route for a higher calling, be it money, power, hot women, hot men, a religious fervor, or whatever.

My villainy philosophy will probably follow me for my entire writing career. How long that will be depends entirely on you readers. For me, antagonists are the most fun to write, but it depends on the sort of bad guy. Bad guys, like cats, come in all different shapes and sizes, and they all should be defeated in different ways (I’m a dog person), but I do want my readers to almost root for the baddies.

So, as a final plug before I hand the helm back to FBC, my debut novel The Lives of Tao, is out April 30th 2013 by Angry Robot Books. In it, I present to you, Sean Diamont, the kind of bad guy you hate but want to bring over for dinner, and then a game of chess while discussing the finer points of Chinese swordplay over a glass of scotch. By the end of the night, you’ll wish he’d date your sister, and maybe babysit your dog while you’re on vacation. And he’ll do it all while planning the destruction of the world. For good reason of course. Oh, and did I mention he’s well dressed?

Official Author Website
Order The Lives Of Tao HERE
Read an excerpt HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's Interview with Wesley Chu

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Wesley Chu was born in Taiwan and soon immigrated to USA. He was then raised in Chicago, Illinois. Wesley graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is also an avid gamer and a contributing writer for the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland. He has previously worked as a stunt man as well as a Senior Software Systems Engineer and is a member of the SAG. He has worked in Hanes and Chicago Blackhawks commercials and also films like Fred Claus. He currently works as an Associate Vice President at a bank and spends his time writing and hanging out with his wife and their Airedale Terrier.

NOTE: Author picture courtesy of the author himself. Vilains picture courtesy of L. R. Talbot.


Paul Weimer said...

Emperor Palpatine would have been laughed at by even the least fashion-conscious Roman Emperors.

The Reader said...

I think he was going for a zombified look ;)


Tabitha (Pabkins) said...

HELL YES! I love myself an awesome bad guy! The smarter and sexier and more driven they are with a purpose it what it's all about. I often find myself rooting for them. Wesley I highly suggest you read a short story anthology called Villains Victorious! Its all about the bad guy having his day in the sun. Remains one of my favorite anthologies to this day and I read a bunch of them.

Now I can't say that I don't enjoy the mindless crazed baddies - because those are the stuff of nightmares.

I can't wait to meet your villain and yes he can totally babysit for me. Heck you want to babysit while I read? Come on over - you can teach my son how to be the next great Villain.


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