Congrats to Kameron on this week’s debut of her second novel, Infidel. I haven’t read God’s War yet* but it’s waiting on the reading stack and definitely sounds like something I’ll enjoy. That said, do remember to comment on this post and get a chance to win a copy of Infidel.
And now… my take on partnerships and ensemble casts. They are my favorite type of story because they’re more realistic, frankly. We’re all a small part of a whole. I know that a large sector of the population is madly in lust with the concept of every man** for themselves but that is a selfish fantasy. None of us makes it in this world alone no matter what the “Me Generation/Baby Boomers” say. One person can’t make a difference. It always takes a stalwart group. Yank all the factory workers, assistants, and friends away from John Galt and all you’ve got left is a spoiled sociopath with pretensions of grandeur. He may be wearing a crown and standing on top of a hill, but that hill is comprised of the backs of everyone else around him. A leader is only a part of a team, and possibly the least powerful aspect of it at that. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs a healthy encounter with Douglas Adams’ small piece of fairy cake.
Like Courtney, my favorite story partnerships involve a bit of friction. My theory is that they symbolically portray the journey into trust. In real life none of us would hang onto a relationship where the other person annoys us that much. Unless forced, we’d be out of there like a shot. Trust is huge–more huge than love. Love is nothing without trust. Trust is also terrifying, particularly when you’ve been let down, and face it, we’ve all been let down by others at least once in life. The more we’ve been hurt the harder it is to trust again. That’s what makes such stories so universal.
Some of my favorite examples in television/film are Buffy the Vampire Slayer and her Scoobies (naturally,) the unlikely partnership which develops between Stephen Rea (who plays a harried Russian coroner) and Donald Sutherland (who plays a political/military leader) in HBOs Citizen X (a fictionalised account of the hunt for world’s most prolific serial killer,***) the gang of theives from The Italian Job, and Mal and the crew of Serenity (of course.) In SFF lit, I’ll name Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastards, and Jonathan Stroud’s Nathaniel and Bartimaeus in The Amulet of Samarkand. Other works that I consider favorites that feature teams and partnerships are: A Wrinkle in Time, The Last Unicorn, The Faded Sun series, The Stand, Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Wee Free Men, Night Watch, Good Omens, Neverwhere, The Lord of the Rings, and V for Vendetta. Oh! As for female partnerships in SFF may I recommend Terry Pratchett’s witches?
What are your favorites? Do you have any theories about ensemble casts and partnerships in story?
* Did I mention I’m a slow reader? I really am. I feel horrible, but that’s just how it is.
** Women don’t count in their eyes–not really.
*** An under-rated film, frankly. Beautifully written, but definitely not for the squeamish. Oh, and there’s a third member of their little team–a terrified abnormal psychologist wonderfully played by Max von Sydow.