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Who would you list as the greatest characters in s.f. literature?


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Showing 1-25 of 38 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 1, 2012 4:48:08 PM PDT
I'm thinking of reasonably well-known, iconic characters who'd have some name recognition among non-hardcore fans. I'm restricting it to science fiction (and science fantasy), not out-and-out fantasy.

It's harder than you'd think, because so many of the genre's iconic popular characters are from film, TV, or comics. And it's a dismaying truth that a lot f s.f. literature is not very character-driven, relying more on concept and setting for reader interest. Most of H.G. Wells's characters don't even get proper names, and a lot of classic s.f. stories have generic "Joe Smith" heroes who aren't the least bit memorable.

Some good ones I can think of are:

Captain Nemo
Victor Frankenstein
Frankenstein's Monster
The Invisible Man
Susan Calvin
Hari Seldon
Lazarus Long
Paul Atreides
Adam Link, Robot (obscure these days, but he was once well-known)

Who are some others you can think of?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 1, 2012 5:17:36 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 1, 2012 5:25:22 PM PDT
Tom Rogers says:
Ender Wiggin
Katniss Everdeen
Zaphod Beeblebrox and Arthur Dent
Henry Dorsett Case

ETA probably should have included Gully Foyle.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 1, 2012 5:55:42 PM PDT
R. Wilde says:
Not sure exactly what you're loooking for.

For example, Buck Rogers first appeared in literature, and I'm sure has a lot of name recognition... but a lot of that recognition is almost certainly from other media.

Posted on Nov 1, 2012 6:03:33 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 1, 2012 6:25:03 PM PDT
Tom Rogers says:
The name that's really stuck with me, but probably is not that recognizable is "Icarus Montgolfier Wright"--though it might count as semi-canonical, since I actually read it in school before I saw it in the wild.

Posted on Nov 1, 2012 6:35:57 PM PDT
Kim Kinneson from the "Galactic Patrol" series. Doyle's Professor Challenger also comes to mind.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 1, 2012 6:54:56 PM PDT
MommaCat says:
Tough one...

Flinx
Charles Wallace

Posted on Nov 2, 2012 4:26:54 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 2, 2012 5:21:04 AM PDT
Gregory Lee says:
Robert Hedrock
R. Daneel Olivaw

Posted on Nov 2, 2012 5:12:45 AM PDT
Lord Baal says:
I think the problem is the use of "Non hardcore fans" as this pretty much limits your list to characters that have translated from literature to screen or TV. Most casual readers of Sci Fi are picking up on franchise books be it Trek or Wars and their knowledge of anything outside this narrow sub genre is sketchy to non existent.

Posted on Nov 2, 2012 7:15:06 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 2, 2012 7:17:54 AM PDT
W.T. says:
John Carter
Tars Tarkas
Dejah Thoris

Jommy Cross (Slan)

Henry Jekyll (and Edward Hyde - do they count as one or two???)

Posted on Nov 2, 2012 7:48:36 AM PDT
M. Carole says:
Rick Deckard (that movie translation thing again.) Honor Harrington.

Posted on Nov 2, 2012 7:59:53 AM PDT
Lilacteapot says:
Isaac Edward Leibowitz

Posted on Nov 2, 2012 8:30:42 AM PDT
W.T. says:
Ayesha (She Who Must Not Be Named)

Posted on Nov 2, 2012 8:32:18 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 2, 2012 8:33:36 AM PDT
Tom Rogers says:
a couple more candidates:

Valentine Michael Smith

Perry Rhodan--probably better known in Europe, but it's a name that's got some pop recog.

Posted on Nov 2, 2012 10:59:14 AM PDT
Chance says:
Juan Rico.

Posted on Nov 2, 2012 3:18:28 PM PDT
Captain Future, and Dominic Flandry.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 3:35:22 PM PDT
Tom Rogers says:
Jame Retief gets mentioned fairly often on the forum.

Posted on Nov 2, 2012 3:36:42 PM PDT
B. A. Dilger says:
Jason DinAlt and The Stainless Steel Rat.

Posted on Nov 2, 2012 3:43:51 PM PDT
B. A. Dilger says:
Nicholas Van Rijn (sp)----Poul Anderson character.

Posted on Nov 2, 2012 5:16:15 PM PDT
Yog-Sothoth says:
John Carter
Randolph Carter
Cthulhu
The [unnamed] Time Traveller (HG Wells)
Impey Barbicane
Bedford and Cavor

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 5:37:51 PM PDT
Old Rocker says:
Indeed. Perry Rhodan gets my vote. Fifty plus years and over one billion items in print and still going.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 6:06:54 PM PDT
B. A. Dilger says:
Herbert West

Posted on Nov 2, 2012 6:09:02 PM PDT
B. A. Dilger says:
The Alien and The Predator.

Posted on Nov 2, 2012 6:16:47 PM PDT
B. A. Dilger says:
Rex the Wonder Dog

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 7:51:14 PM PDT
Yog-Sothoth says:
Henry Armitage
"Poor Lake"

Posted on Nov 2, 2012 8:42:01 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 3, 2012 5:00:24 AM PDT
B. A. Dilger says:
From the prelude to Harry Harrison's "The Stainless Steel Rat":

"From the original publisher's blurb:

We must be as stealthy as rats in the wainscoting of their society. It was easier in the old days, of course, and society had more rats when the rules were looser, just as old wooden buildings have more rats than concrete buildings. But there are rats in the building now as well. Now that society is all ferrocrete and stainless steel there are fewer gaps in the joints. It takes a very smart rat indeed to find these openings. Only a stainless steel rat can be at home in this environment."

[Wikipedia]
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Discussion in:  Science Fiction forum
Participants:  18
Total posts:  38
Initial post:  Nov 1, 2012
Latest post:  Mar 25, 2013

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