Fathers in SFF

I was hoping I’d remember to do a Father’s Day post, and sure enough, I did, so here we are! But I’m not going to try to do a top ten list because honestly, I’m not completely sure that in all of SFF, there are ten fathers worth putting on a Top Ten list of great fathers. That’s why there’s so much repetition when you look at lists of SFF fathers — it’s all Arthur Weasley all the time, and honestly, he’s a pretty minor character, it seems to me. Granted, it’s been a good long time since I read the series, but still.

When I think of a list like this, I want a father who is:

–More than a minor character.

–Competent, because I can’t stand ineffectual characters and I particularly dislike ineffectual parents who ought to step up, but don’t or can’t or are just oblivious.

–An actual good father, not just an important character. Someone who acts as a father during the events in the story.

I’m going to stick to a Top Five list because that is actually doable.

1) Sam Vimes

I know a lot of the Discworld series get picked out as favorites, and actually I’ve never read the Granny Weatherwax ones — I should do that — but my favorite series in this world are the Vimes books, excluding the first one. The character arc in the first book is Sam pulling himself out of the gutter, and fine, whatever, but I prefer to skip that part and begin when he’s already the competent, take-charge, dedicated cop we all know and love from the other books. Also, he’s a great father. That Where’s My Cow? scene at the end of Thud! is marvelous. All the scenes with Where’s My Cow are marvelous.

2) Aral Vorkosigan

Aral is probably going to appear on every SFF Father’s Day list. There’s a reason for that. I think he only marginally counts as an important character once the focus shifts to Miles. BUT, Aral is an enormous presence in Miles’ life even when he doesn’t have a lot of time on the page.

3) I don’t want to pick just the obvious fathers, so how about Isaac Grant in Obsidio. In this YA SF trilogy, young protagonists get center stage, but I really liked Isaac, so I’m stretching a point. He’s competent, determined, and steps in as a dad not just for his own daughter, but for other young characters who have lost their own fathers. I particularly appreciate that Isaac is competent as a father, not just in other aspects of life.

I think all three books in this trilogy are excellent and great fun — which is not to say precisely plausible — but the wildly implausible plots are part of the fun. Here’s my post on the first book.

4) Derk in The Dark Lord of Derkholm. Derk has seven children, you may recall — Shona and Blade, who are human, and Kit, Callette, Don, Lydda, and Elda, who are all griffins. What a splendid, fun story this is. It’s not my absolute top favorite DWJ title, but it’s up there. And Derk is a committed, caring father, though I grant creating the griffin children is a little unusual.

5) Sinowa inGara. The reason I’m picking him for this list rather than Daniel is because Daniel is Jenna’s father, but Sinowa steps into the father role for practically every boy and young man he encounters. His central conception of himself is as a father, plus when he sees other men failing their responsibilities as fathers, he steps in there as well.

Anybody spring to mind for any of you? Who else belongs on this list?

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8 thoughts on “Fathers in SFF”

  1. Harry Callahan in Diane Duane’s Young Wizards books. He’s baffled at first but endlessly supportive and makes a very good job of (eventually) being a single dad. Nelaid, his daughter’s boyfriend’s father, comes to learn from him.

  2. There is a little problem in that the characters mostly likely to have fathers — the young — would be in many cases be shooed firmly away to let the grown-ups handle the plot in many stories if they had actually good fathers.

  3. Ned Stark in ASOIAF.

    Greenwing and Dart by Goddard has some great father figures. I’m not sure if all of them fit your more than a minor character cathegory. Anyway, Perry Dart is raised by an older brother and the brother’s male partner, both very supportive. Hal’s great-uncle. Jemis’ father and stepfather, although a lot of what we know of them is through Jemis’ memories, but they are still more present than many SFF fathers I’ve read about. He is very deeply influenced by the both of them.

  4. Tier, the male protagonist in Raven’s Shadow duology by Patricia Briggs. He becomes a father of 3 (there is a time jump after the opening) and is a good father, even though he doesn’t get as much as page time as the female protagonist (who is the mother). It’s also one of the few SFF stories I know that features a whole family, which is nice. The two older children especially are major characters in the second book, and even little sister gets to make her mark as well, though she is very properly sent away for her own safety for much of the story.

  5. You’re right, I should have thought of the Raven duology! That’s an interesting relationship between Tier and Seraph; they’re almost in denial about their own relationship — but they’re both good parents. Great family dynamics in that duology.

    Mary Catelli, yes, but it would be nice if more authors took the trouble to move parents out of the way without orphaning the protagonist. Though I’ve killed my share of parents in the backstory in order to reduce the clutter and smooth out the plot, so I definitely agree that’s a big reason so many protagonists have dead/absent/neglectful parents.

    I really ought to start the Young Wizards series over from the top because you all keep mentioning it. I’ve got at least the first three on my shelves.

  6. Late Father’s Day addition. I have been rereading the Penric & Desdemona stories, and in the later ones Penric shows as a good father. He does travel a lot, but when he’s there he’s very engaged. And he serves as something of a father figure as well as mentor to other characters as well.

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