Monday, May 2, 2011

Satisfaction

Well, I'm feeling very cheery to hear my favorite villain Osama bin liner is dead. There is something cathartic about finally getting the bad guy. Of course Kate's post some time back about the complexity of villains springs to mind: this was a man to whom life, innocent babies even, were chaff, to killed without qualm or guilt. The sort of human being who is model villain... but who convinced millions that he was a wonderful man and a great leader, and that somehow, just because he told them to do something which any human with a shred of decency or fellow feeling for anyone else would find abhorrent, and justified it in terms of their predjudices, he was worthy of their worship and unquestioning loyalty. The parallels with Adolph Hitler, Stalin, and even Mugabe are obvious. Some humans have a weakness for villains, and, even if it is not a majority of humans with this weakness , the minority following these pieces of snake excreta are most earnest and brutal in their following and unquestioning dumb 'loyalty'

It's a real challenge to get right in your writing. Because, yeah, the real major villain has people who believe in him (or her) and think their actions are heroic. And the trouble with doing it too well is of course that the book can become a masterpiece of realism... and an excercise in Mick Jagger (I can't get no...)
Because yes, it's not inevitable and it's not every book, but WE LIKE TO SEE THE VILLIAN GET HIS. It leaves us satisfied. It's as much of a delight that the noxious Dursleys get it Harry Potter, or Reacher Gilt fail to look at the door he's stepping through and all his greedy little cohort go down.

So what books left you feeling "YES, that sorted the Bastards!" and which didn't - but you still loved?

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Pure win goes to Cordelia Vorkosigan in Barrayar. "Shopping"

Dawn

MataPam said...

Well, Dawn beat me to the best one, but my next favorites were from my bloodthirsty teenage years.

Yes, I was a Lensman fan. The brave and heroic Lensmen not only killed the head Bad Guy, they usually destroyed his entire species, right down to the innocent children and newborn babes. Generally with some gigantic smashup of planets.

What's that, they say? A single death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic. I hope to never get to that point in the real world.

CKelsey said...

A hem... Ghost. Because this particular bastard bought it in that too...

Ori Pomerantz said...

The story of Sisera (Judges 4-5). I especially liked the part where a woman killed him, which was unusual in those days.

Chris McMahon said...

It's one of those times you can't believe what you are seeing in the TV. Certainly historic. I just wonder who Bin Laden forgot to pay off. The Pakistani government surely knew he was there.

I would love to understand the psychology of how these guys get intelligent people to sacrifice themselves and carry out horrific acts against innocent people.

Kate Paulk said...

I'm going to have to make Sarah and Dave blush here. Daddy Dearest's fate in DarkShip Thieves was a definite "he got what he had coming to him" moment. So was Cap's fate in Forlorn.

Somehow PTerry usually manages to make it more complex than that, although the Hogfather - and Mr Teatime's (pronounced "te-ah-ti-me", if you please) demise definitely met the standard.

On the world events front, one down, eleventy-zillion to go. Please form an orderly queue to speed up the processing. NEXT! (No, I never said I was nice)

Dave Freer said...

Dawn, I think that's one of the reasons Lois has proved so popular

Dave Freer said...

MataPam, ja. It's odd to picture the newborn as irredemeable.

Dave Freer said...

Ckelsey - I'd give it the satisfaction vote on that level.

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

I used to like Captain Morgan despite -- perhaps because -- of his hatred for Portuguese. And there's an anti-hero for you. He would kill people in the way of his getting what he wanted. it was supposedly justified because his honor was outraged or something. I don't know. I don't think I could read or write it now, but at 12 it was okay. Hormones? Or arrested development?

Stephen Simmons said...

The Baron in Saberhagen's "Books of Swords" trilogy who tried to sneak into the castle he was attacking -- through the cell that held a demon.

Horace Harkness destroying the ship that captured him and Honor Harrington.

On the other side of the coin, there's the ending of the Belgariad. For me, the constant intrusion of the prophecy made the clamctic fight with Torak less dramatic.

Dave Freer said...

Ori, a tent peg... I wonder if that had any other significance? I wonder how much iron was in those chariots...

Dave Freer said...

Chris, yeah, and they left with a lot of hard-drives. I think there are some ISI men looking nervously over their shoulders.

Dave Freer said...

Kate, I wanted Cap to die, and know he'd failed... just when he thought he'd won, again. I intensely disliked my villain. I've met too many like him, who don't get the come-uppance.

Dave Freer said...

Sarah you still have arrested development :-)( me too) So musta been hormones!

Dave Freer said...

Yes, Stephen, you have a point. The deus ex machina aspect of the belgariad bugs me. And I hadn't realised it until you said so.

Ori Pomerantz said...

Dave: Ori, a tent peg... I wonder if that had any other significance? I wonder how much iron was in those chariots...

Ori: I'm pretty sure the tent pegs were made from wood or bone. As you wrote in a book I'm currently rereading, metal was expen$ive.

The best theory I heard is that Sisera and his people came from Sardinia. They may or may not have been in the pay of Egypt, or had contact with the Philistines. The Philistines were the ones who brought iron to Canaan.

However, this is very early. I doubt they would have used iron unless absolutely necessary. Horse chariots predate iron, so it was possible to build them without this expensive resource.

Ori Pomerantz said...

I just realized what the tent peg probably means - a symbol of poor pastoralists (such as the Israelites), as opposed to farming, more hierarchal, richer Canaanites.

Synova said...

I think that the tent peg is a sort of lowering thing, isn't it? In so many cultures the possession of weapons was restricted to citizens, at the very least, or else to the ruling class, to the extent that the weapons themselves became symbols of worth and status. There's also likely some elements of a warrior mythos that glorified dying bravely in battle.

IIRC, not only was it a tent peg, but it was a tent peg by a woman in his sleep.

As for bad-guy deaths I found impressive... it must have been good because it was so long ago and I don't remember the story or the book or the author. The story had VR in it (when that was very new) and the villain died while demanding that the world reset and he get a do-over. I don't remember why it was poetic, I just remember that it was. That was just *exactly* the right way for that villain to die.

Synova said...

I'd vote for Cordelia, as well. The "shopping" thing was brilliant, but the death was well done... last words? Something like, "You can't do..."

Sigh.

I feel a binge re-read coming on. ;-)

(And maybe I'll actually read all the way through Cryoburn which I've been putting off due to profound dread. Every word written is the collapse of untold potential, sort of like death, and while I want to know where it goes I dread finding out what will never be.)

voradams said...

My favourite ending was in "Keating the Musical when Keating defeats John Howard and earns another term in power". Which unfortunately was not true.

Brendan said...

When it comes to Pratchett villains I would go with Mr Pin of the New Firm(The Truth). I must confess a sneaking admiration for Mr Teatime. He was the sort of villain you could almost imagine legends being made of.

Brendan said...

Stephen,

Don't forget there were two prophesies in the Belgariad. The whole reason for their meeting was to decide which predicted future would continue on past the meeting of Garion and Torak.