The old man in science fiction and fantasy is multitudinous. He shows his age in ways physical and spiritual. He can be a wise old mentor or a forbidding elder. He can be a distant God or a loving grandfather. He can be a mad king or a cackling peasant. Sometimes he is ancient without looking it—Tom Bombadil—sometimes he is jolly and kind—Tom Bombadil—sometimes he is unearthly and strange—Tom Bombadil—sometimes he sucks and is awful—Tom Bombadil.
My favourite hideous old men in books are the ones who are dreadful, but whom I also love on sight. I love little old men who cackle, and I love dignified greybeards, and grizzled old soldiers. But mostly I love them when they make me want to drink the cursed red liquid from the mummy’s sarcophagus, and die.