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Stina Leicht

Fiction and Excerpts [1]
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Fiction and Excerpts [1]

Empathy for the Devil: Villains, Antiheroes, and Origin Stories

“There are two equally valid sides to every story. Every warped viewpoint must be weighed seriously for any grain of truth it might contain. If you shout loudly enough, down is actually up.”

—“From Cruella to Maleficent to the Joker: Is It Time to Retire the Villain Origin Story?” by Stephanie Zacharek, TIME Magazine, May 26, 2021

I enjoy Horror as a genre. Stephen King’s novel Carrie captivated me early on as a reader. It still does. It’s a brilliant novel about mundane evil—one of King’s best. It’s also a villain origin story. A young, abused girl with powerful psychic abilities she can’t control, Carrie White destroys everything she wanted and everyone she loved. Stephen King takes a complex, nuanced approach, skillfully treading that fine line between humanizing Carrie too much—and therefore blaming teen bullies for their own horrific murders—and making a teen girl’s indignation into a horror monster. In the final scene of his adaptation, Brian De Palma highlighted the dilemma. When Sue Snell lays flowers on Carrie’s vandalized grave, Carrie’s gore-soaked hand reaches through the earth to attack her. De Palma and King seem to say, “Be careful who you empathize with, lest you too be dragged to hell.”

[Read more]

Five SFF Characters You Want to Trust, but Probably Shouldn’t

Everyone loves a smart ass. Whether it’s Loki from Norse mythology or Deadpool and his wise-cracking girlfriend Vanessa, tricksters are an important archetype. In novels, they lend a sense of unpredictability to the plot and in myth they challenge accepted norms, even gender norms. They teach us that human beings can survive by their wits. That can be reassuring during a time when the use of money and power—both physical and political—are in the forefront of everyone’s minds.

Tricksters are the vehicle through which human beings question and sometimes mock authority and the status quo. They’re quintessential rule breakers and can take the place of the hero or the villain—in some cases, they occupy both roles at the same time.

[Here are five great examples.]

Series: Five Books About…

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