Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Genre Character of the week: Leo Graf

One kind of character I don’t see enough of in genre fiction is the problem solver. There are a lot of leaders and fighters out there, but not so many guys who are just working to get the job done. I guess the most famous one is Montgomery Scott from Star Trek, as he tended to be the guy focused on getting the ship to go, but there aren’t a lot of others like him out there, especially as main characters; which bring me to this week’s genre character, Leo Graf.

The main character of the novel Falling Free, by Lois McMaster-Bujold, is a welder. He’s been hired to go out to a remote space station and train a bunch of people of the techniques of welding in zero gravity, and upon arrival finds the students are actually a bunch of genetically modified humans called quaddies (they’ve got two sets of arms and no legs), who in addition to being his students are also all under the age of twenty.

Leo gets himself busy training these kids and even though he’s incredibly focused on getting the job done, he can’t help but notice some nasty trends going on – like for starters, these kids are genetic property of a company (considered "post-fetal experimental tissue cultures" for legal reasons) and therefore don’t actually have any rights, which makes them pretty disposable if anything bad were to happen.

Inevitably something does, and then Leo Graf makes a desicion, basically he does what needs to be done and he becomes one of my favourite characters in Science Fiction. If you've never read Falling Free, I strongly recommend it.

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