Monday, 5 December 2016

Moral Change

The moral of much series fiction is that the villains are irredeemable - because they have to return as villains in later episodes. I am interested in the processes by which people, including you and me, not just fictional characters, can or might change for the better:

Fr Brown converts Flambeau;

in Smallville, not only does the friendly Lex Luthor become ruthless but also his amoral and manipulative father, Lionel, becomes concerned and self-sacrificing;

Poul Anderson's Aycharaych loses the motivation that had made him an artist of deception and manipulation;

SM Stirling's William Walker does not see other people as real but suppose something did happen to make him "realize" one of his victims and start to care about what he was doing?


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    I've read Chesterton's Fr. Brown stories and I remembered how Flambeau came to have a change of heart. Fr. Brown had deduced who had stolen the jewels and tracked down Flambeau. In their conversation the "little Norfolk priest" told Flambeau that while HITHERTO his prior crimes had not caused any serious harm, had in fact been perpetrated to demonstrate technical skill, NOW the latest crime would cause serious harm and injury to the victims. Fr. Brown asked Flambeau if he truly wished to continue on a path where he would be more and more causing pain and injury to people. It ended with Flambeau giving Fr. Brown the jewels to return to the owners.

    Re Aycharaych: did you have the Dennitzan bombardment of Chereion in mind as the incident causing Aycharayh to lose the motivation he had for being an artist of deception and manipulation?

    How might William Walker come to the moral epiphany of the kind you described? Perhaps if one of his children had died in a tragic accident?


    1. Sean,
      Yes, there is no longer any Chereionite heritage for Aycharaych to preserve.
      Yes, the loss of his child MIGHT make Walker perceive the loss of someone else's child in a different light. Horrible thought.

    2. Kaor, Paul!

      And in THE GAME OF EMPIRE, we see the Merseian Protector, Tachwyr the Dark, wondering if Aycharaych had survived the bombardment of Chereion. Even if he had, he seemed to have disappeared. No motive, after all, to continue serving Merseia. What was Aycharaych UP to if he did survive?

      I agree with what you said about William Walker. If the Nantucket series had been four volumes long rather than three, we might have seen something like that in Walker. Mere speculation, of course!


    3. Paul and Sean:
      One episode of *Star Trek: The Next Generation* featured a Romulan admiral who'd been perfectly fine with planning war against the Federation — and then he became a father. Seeing his newborn daughter's first smile, he realized that unless he could "change the world for her," she'd likely grow up to be a soldier ... whom someone much like him would lead to her death in battle.

    4. Kaor, DAVID!

      I'm not a STAR TREK fan, so I don't know much about the Romulans. I assume they were ruthlessly expanding their empire? Were they like the USSR or Hitler's Germany? And of course it was good of the Romulan admiral to prefer peace with the Federation if it was no danger to the Romulans.


    5. Sean:
      In the original *Star Trek* series, Romulans were first portrayed as enemies of humanity, but many of them brave and honorable, worthy of respect. The first Romulan ever shown told Captain Kirk, "You and I are of a kind. In a different reality, I could have called you friend." And Kirk had earlier said of him, "He did what I would've done. I won't underestimate him again."

      One of the series' writers described them as "...a good Romanesque set of admirable antagonists ... an extension of the Roman civilization to the point of space travel."

      Later series often showed them a bit more negatively, with a tendency toward racism and a "need for strict conformity." They still, though, included decent men and women who hoped for peaceful relations with other peoples (one officer was demoted to command a POW camp because he'd refused to murder the prisoners). The government, on the other hand....

      Wikipedia states that "...the Romulans are characterized as passionate, cunning, and opportunistic..." and "...females are equal to males, both having equal ability to rise through the ranks of the military. In fact, there are more notable female characters than male..."

      In an episode of *Star Trek: The Next Generation*, a Romulan officer explained that they'd been concentrating on internal affairs (not further specified) for the past fifty years. He described this isolationism as "negligent," and declared, "We are back." Romulans would again be active in galactic affairs.

      An unidentified Romulan sitting next to him, the two speaking as if they held equal authority, said in effect that Romulans had the right to enter any other people's territory without so much as a "by your leave."

      There was no indication they sought to EXTERMINATE anyone, but certainly to subjugate. Perhaps more like Draka than Nazis. (Coincidentally, Romulans originated as dissidents from the Federation world Vulcan, much as the first Draka were sore losers from the American Revolution.)

    6. Kaor, DAVID!

      Thanks for explaining the nature and role of the Romulans in the STAR TREK world line. In fact, after I posted my first reply to you, I thought of Chapter 3 of ENSIGN FLANDRY, where we see the Merseian Protector Brechdan Ironrede as a fond, affectionate grandfather to his recently born grandson. But, alas, he still thought in terms of conquest and expansion, crooning to his grandson: "You shall have stars for toyw." Perhaps Romulans might better be compared to the Merseians instead of the Romans or Draka?

      Merry Christmas! Sean