Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Great dads in SFF

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! In a minute I need to go ice my dad’s favorite cookies, but first let me draw your attention to this post at Barnes and Noble, about great dad moments in SFF.

My favorite of their examples is the one where Aral Vorkosigan saves Miles by getting the collected-an-army charge altered to the more serious charge of treason. Aral was a great father all the way through the series, too.

Here’s another post, this one at tor.com. I don’t totally agree with picking out father figures like Giles from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but on the other hand, this post does depart from SFF enough to point directly at my favorite fictional father of all time: Keith Mars from the Veronica Mars series. I love Keith in that series and I was totally going to mention him if tor.com hadn’t beaten me to it.

keith-mars-whos-yr-daddy

Fathers in my own books tend to have rather fraught relationships with their children. Let me see. We have:

In The City in the Lake, we have some of my favorite fathers as secondary characters — Timou’s father Kapoen; and Neill and Cassiel’s father, Drustan. They are both seriously flawed men, of course, but I am very fond of them both.

In the Griffin Mage trilogy, we never hear about Kes’ father, and though we never meet Bertaud’s father, he was obviously a pretty unpleasant man. Mienthe’s father was horrible, though of course not much on stage either. But Tehre’s father, Eben Amnachudran, is another of my favorites among my secondary characters. The Kings of Feierbiand and Casmantium are also fathers, though we don’t see a lot of them in that role.

You remember Prince Tepres’ father in House of Shadows? Geriodde Seriantes? Yeah, talk about a fraught relationship. Pretty rough on them both, actually. In fact, I focused quite a bit on the relationship between Tepres and his father in the sequel, which of course I am determined that you will all get a chance to read *someday.*

In Black Dog, Grayson is everyone’s father figure, though no one’s actual father.

Nothing complicated about the father-daughter relationship in The Keeper of the Mist. Poor Keri. I hope few of us have fathers as selfish and short-sighted as hers.

In the forthcoming The Mountain of Kept Memory, Oressa and Gulien’s father, King Osir is . . . complicated. Not exactly likeable. In fact, not likeable at all, except that I admit I kind of like him, but then I know more about Osir from the beginning than the reader can. Oressa and Gulien have very different relationships with their father, I will say that, and neither of them is exactly objective. So that invites the reader to maybe be not quite sure about Osir until the very end. Maybe not then. I’ll be interested in seeing how readers respond to him.

I guess I would say that I have five fathers who are basically decent people and try to be good fathers, and three — four, I guess — who are not the kind of men you’d want as a father. I’m leaving out Geriodde Seriantes because it’s not really fair to judge him without reading the sequel first.

Okay, who’s your favorite father in SFF? Or in general fiction?

Since B&N mentioned Aral Vorkosigan and tor.com mentioned Keith Mars, my favorites are taken care of, but I bet I’m forgetting someone. Oh, of course I am — Griffin Tourmalyne in McKillip’s Song for the Basilisk. And come to think of it, Arioso Pellior, in the same book, is one of the scariest fathers ever. Who would you all pick as either a great father or a scary father?

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7 Comments Great dads in SFF

  1. SarahZ

    For best parents….
    Adam is a great dad in the Mercy Thompson books. It’s one of his defining character traits.

    Saetan in the Black Jewels is a pretty kickass dad. He doesn’t always succeed at protecting his children, but he does what he can. And, he is a surrogate father to tons of his adopted daughter’s friends, dispensing wisdom and discipline.

    Kate Daniels (by Ilona Andrews) has one of the worst dads – he’s an all-powerful ancient god who killed her mother.

    Lots of missing/bad parents in YA so that the kids can have adventures.P

  2. Rachel

    All good picks, Sarah! Yeah, the thing with Kate’s dad is getting pretty fraught. Kate and Curren are good with their adopted daughter, too.

    And yes, it definitely helps in writing YA to remove the parents. Also getting rid of parents just thins the crowd, which always makes writing the story easier. But it is awfully hard on the parents!

  3. Elaine T

    Tier in Patricia Brigg’s RAVEN duology.
    In a weird way Narn from McKillip’s BARDS OF BONE PLAIN. Also McKillip probably Danaan Isig but we don’t get to see a lot of him with family.

    Someone else is lurking in the back of my mind but refuses to come out.

  4. Rachel

    Having just re-read Bards of Bone Plain, I agree . . . and with the “in a weird way.”

  5. Maureen E

    Daniel Ryves from Sarah Rees Brennan’s Demon’s Lexicon trilogy. Definitely not perfect, but there’s one moment that gets me every time.

    Yes, Aral. (I think there’s a divide in the LMB fandom between people who started with Aral & Cordelia and people who started with Miles. I’m in the first bunch.)

    McKillip seems to tend towards warm-but-fraught.

    Tabini is a pretty great dad, all things considered. (Like, you know, constant assassination attempts, atevi culture, etc.)

  6. Rachel

    Oh, yes, great! I love all those fathers / father figures. … except maybe for Daniel Ryves. But I know the moment you mean and you’re right, it gets me, too.

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