Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Six protagonists you should totally go camping with

Here is a post by James Davis Nicoll at tor.com: Six Characters With Whom You Should Never, Ever Go Camping

The chances that you or someone close to you will vanish into the wilderness are even greater if you are a fictional character. Particularly a secondary character (known in the SF field as a redshirt). If you are, you should definitely read the following essay, which discusses the protagonists with whom you should never, under any circumstances, go camping. They will survive. You probably won’t….

Odysseus was skillful and cunning; he survived the decade-long Trojan War and came up with that notorious horse gambit. But Odysseus was not canny enough to avoid pissing off the god Poseidon. This is why it took Odysseus ten years to find his way across the thousand or so kilometers between Troy and his home isle of Ithaca. Odysseus’ companions were seasoned warriors, too: None survived, having fallen to a variety of outlandish hazards.

Nicholl then names five other protagonists who are dangerous to hang around with, including … drumrollllll … Cordelia Naismith! Is that funny? I thought it was funny. Nicholl is referring to the situation that took place right before she met Aral Vorkosigan for the first time. It’s true that was pretty hard on everyone she was with at the time.

Nicholl also includes Rowan, the Steerswoman. I don’t know. Very important characters have survived so far. I’m sure a lot of people died, but sorry, I don’t actually remember much about them.

Hanging around with virtually any protagonist in SFF is likely to be bad for your health, isn’t it? If the story is filled with exciting violence and battles and so on, then a lot of extras are going to get killed … having said that, though I can think of plenty of examples, I believe I am now changing my mind about universally needing to avoid camping trips with protagonists. I can actually think of authors who never, or hardly ever, kill anybody important. Let me see if I can think of six protagonists you would absolutely want to go camping with.

1. Miles Vorkosigan. Hanging out with him may well get you into trouble. But if you’re his friend, he will move heaven and earth to save you. That’s worth a lot.

2. Travis Chase in The Breach and the others in that series. The phrase “he will move heaven and earth to save you” brought this series to mind, because wow, if someone can and will do that, Travis is the one. Mind you, it’s possible you’ll go through the wringer en route to the end of the story. Especially if you’re his girlfriend, because in that case there might be a teensy tendency for you to get kidnapped by bad guys.

3. Oh, hey, in honor of Murderbot winning the Hugo, how about Murderbot? Camping qua camping might not be the murderbot’s idea of a fun leisure activity, but I’m sure it would be happy to stand around watching media while you and your friends went camping. And when something went wrong and someone started trying to kill you, as long as you were nice people, it would go to a lot of trouble to save you.

4. Cassandra, in the Touchstone Trilogy. Cassandra has a pretty tough time, but most — granted, not all — of the people around her tend to come through just fine. Plus if you have been turned into a ghost and a power source for an artificial reality, she might be able to make you alive again. Plus Mauna is a lovely planet and a camping trip there would be great.

5. Any Sharon Shinn protagonist, but especially in the Elemental Blessings series. Few people get killed in those, especially not named, important friends of the protagonist. That is why they are so comfortable to read.

6. Keri, in The Keeper of the Mist. As long as you’re on her side and not trying to betray her or her country, you’ll probably be just fine. And Nimmira is a nice place to live. A camping trip there would probably be peaceful and pastoral.

Who would you gladly go camping with, if invited?

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8 Comments Six protagonists you should totally go camping with

  1. mona

    Cimorene, Morwen & co, from Wrede’s Enchanted Forest series. They’d plan everything *and* protect you.

    Also, Araene.

  2. Rachel

    Definitely Cimorene and the rest from that series!

    And thanks! I wouldn’t mind going on a picnic with Master Tnegun and some of the other mages, actually. Though I doubt they can cook.

  3. Kim Aippersbach

    Puddleglum!

    Murderbot: “The only smart way out of this was to kill all of them. I was going to have to take the dumb way out of this.”

    Also Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr from Tanya Huff’s Valour and Peacekeeper series. I haven’t read The Breach, but Travis sounds like the male version of Torin. She brings her people back alive.

  4. Rachel

    Oh, yes, definitely Torin Kerr!

    Murderbot sure produces a lot of quotable quotes, doesn’t it?

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