Last month, the internet became aware that Lee Pace—Thranduil, Ronan the Accuser, Brother Day, any number of other SFF-adjacent and beloved characters—likes science fiction. In fact he loves science fiction. He talked about it a lot. And then he tweeted the picks for his (imaginary?) science fiction book club, which was slightly baffling given that he paired the books with the images from an Esquire photo shoot in which he was (handsomely) dressed in very expensive outfits. But this is certainly not a complaint. Just an observation.
Lee Pace likes science fiction, and the internet likes Lee Pace, and I like all of these things. I also like recommending books. So in the spirit of everything good online being mashed together, I present to you: science fiction book club picks for some of Lee Pace’s SFF (and SFF-adjacent) characters.
I’m going to cheat and pick fantasy sometimes. Just to get that out of the way up front.
Aaron Tyler (Wonderfalls, 2004)
Leah Schnelbach recommends A Canticle for Leibowitz for Aaron, Jaye Tyler’s brother, which is quite appropriate given that Aaron is a comparative religion grad student and also a nerd. But I haven’t read it, so I get to pick another book, too. I think Aaron might enjoy discussing Becky Chambers’ A Psalm for the Wild Built, which asks a lot of questions about humans and happiness and existence, and asks them in ways that may not come up in his PhD studies. Aaron asks a lot of questions when he suspects inanimate objects are talking to his sister, but perhaps with the right book, he might cut her some slack and realize that everyone moves through the world in their own confused way. With or without talking cow creamers.
Roy Walker/Masked Bandit (The Fall, 2008)
This was the hardest pick on this list. The Fall is my favorite movie, and Pace is incredible in it. The whole thing is lush and stunningly envisioned and symbolic and rich and just so many things at once—a movie about a heartbroken stuntman, about a brave child, about the stories we tell ourselves and the stories we create for other people, and about the way our stories overlap and connect. (And so much more, too.) In the end, there’s only one book for Roy: Catherynne M. Valente’s Radiance, which is about movies and mysteries and stories and family, and, like The Fall, can sometimes feel like a beautiful secret that not enough people know about.
Ned (Pushing Daisies, 2007-2009)
I’m very protective of Ned and also he is always a little bit sad, even when he isn’t acting like it, and I just think he might appreciate Charles Yu’s inventive and lonely and meta How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe. Not just because Ned and Chuck have to do a lot of work to live safely in their own universe; and not just because the main character has a dog, but not really, and issues with his father; but partly because of those things, and partly because it’s lovely and gently clever and affecting and I just think Ned would like it. It’s a story about a life that is notably particular, but also just like any other life. Kind of like Ned’s own story.
Garrett (Breaking Dawn Part 2, 2012)
Somehow I never actually watched the final Twilight movie, which is a terrible oversight on my part as Breaking Dawn Part 1 was an off-the-rails delight. Looking at screenshots of Lee Pace’s character in this film is also a certain kind of delight; he looks kind of like a ragged elf-vampire who doesn’t quite know how he got here, wherever “here” is. He wears leather vests and velvet blazers, though not at the same time. Garrett’s vampire book group should settle in with a warm glass of blood and the vampire novel that made me love vampire novels again: Holly Black’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. Everyone knows about vampires in Black’s world—but that doesn’t exactly make things easy for them, or for the teenage girl who wakes up in a house full of bodies with only one ex-boyfriend and one vampire for company.
Thranduil (The Hobbit movies, 2012-2014)
Do elves… read? Thranduil is extremely fantastic, breathtakingly well dressed, and prone to riding around on an elk (which was apparently, in the movie, played by a horse called Moose). But does he read books? Scrolls? Ancient tomes? Would he make someone read to him, doing all the voices as any given book requires? I just can’t see him relaxing his shoulders enough to lean over the book in his lap. But if he would—if he’d consider taking off that crown and setting into a more comfortable chair (though still in a fabulous robe, of course)—he ought to read Nalo Hopkinson’s Midnight Robber, a story about a girl named Tan Tan who is sent to a prison planet along with her terrible father. This book was a game-changer for me and honestly I think every book group ought to read it, but if Thranduil needs a specific reason, he should know that Tan Tan finds a new home among people who live in trees. He likes trees, right?
Ronan the Accuser (Guardians of the Galaxy & other Marvel movies, 2014-eternity)
This guy definitely does not read. One cannot force Ronan to join a book club. He would simply murder you for suggesting it.
That said, he might enjoy Gideon the Ninth. There is a lot of inventive death.
(Please don’t judge me, comics people. I am only speaking to movie Ronan here.)
Joe MacMillan (Halt and Catch Fire, 2014-2017)
Shockingly, I have also not watched this show. This is a serious oversight on my part as it combines many things I like a lot, including Lee Pace, Mackenzie Davis, and being online in the 1990s. Going only off what little I know about the show and Pace’s character, I assume Joe Macmillan would probably exclusively read seminal cyberpunk, like Neuromancer and Snow Crash. But because this list of recommendations obeys no laws of time or space, I would like to give him Nicole Kornher-Stace’s Firebreak, so he can see what the internet might lead to, way on down the fictional line.
Brother Day (Foundation, 2021)
Every Lee Pace character—and Lee Pace himself—ought to read N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy. But I’m dropping it (with a heavy and painful thunk, I hope) in the lap of Brother Day, who could certainly stand to learn a few things about power, oppression, family, love, hard choices, and the incredible things the world is capable of. I also chose Jemisin’s series for Day because, as one in a long line of clones, he needs something with a massive sense of scale. He will see himself in all the wrong characters and be baffled by the end, probably, but I want him to remember that rocks will last longer than he does, no matter how many times he clones himself.
(Or he can read Never Let Me Go and have a long think about what he and the rest of him have done. Up to him. One simply doesn’t boss around the Empire.)