Random (but not really)

Sunday, May 14, 2023

My Life in Fictional Characters

The latest episode of Book Riot’s SFF Yeah discussed Characters Who Make Us Feel Seen, and I decided to wander down the path of what fictional characters am I most like?

I had an extremely hard time coming up with SFF characters, because I very feel rarely like the characters you find in SFF books. There might be bits and pieces that fit perfectly, but as a whole? Not so much.

Mysteries were even harder, because although I am ridiculously curious, I am anxious, so I couldn’t sneak into a house where people were sleeping or walk into a situation and confront people.

I had a far easier time with characters from romance novels, probably because I read a lot of books with broken or struggling characters. I’ve read many books in recent years that have resonated deeply with me–far more than any other genre.

So here are some characters who make me feel seen.

Murderbot, from the Murderbot series by Martha Wells.

All Systems Red

Obviously not the murdering parts, but often something Murderbot says will hit me like a punch.

“Why don’t you want us to look at you?”

My jaw was so tight it triggered a performance reliability alert in my feed. I said, “You don’t need to look at me. I’m not a sexbot.”

Murderbot exists to protect people, to help people, but it doesn’t want to have to directly deal with people, and it really doesn’t want to have to make conversation.

I didn’t want to be stuck in a chair within easy unwanted talking range.

Interacting meant talking, and eye contact. I could already feel my performance capacity dropping.

Murderbot also loves comfort reading / watching.

(T)here wasn’t time to start anything new before we reached the station. (Being interrupted isn’t nearly as annoying when I already know the story.)

The first book, All Systems Red, might only have 150 pages, but I have 60 passages highlighted.

(If I got angry at myself for being angry I would be angry constantly and I wouldn’t have time to think about anything else.) (Wait, I think I am angry constantly. That might explain a lot.)

Discworld by Terry Pratchett

The DEATH of Rats

I decided there had to be at least one character in Discworld who I felt like. I came up with two: The DEATH OF RATS and The Librarian.

The Librarian has a strong sense of justice and a love of books, is typically misunderstood, and is fine with who he is and resists any attempts to change him into a human.

The Librarian rolled his eyes. It was strange, he felt, that so-called intelligent dogs, horses and dolphins never had any difficulty indicating to humans the vital news of the moment, e.g., that the three children were lost in the cave, or the train was about to take the line leading to the bridge that had been washed away or similar, while he, only a handful of chromosomes away from wearing a vest, found it difficult to persuade the average human to come in out of the rain. You just couldn’t talk to some people.

The DEATH OF RATS is often silly, coming up with ridiculous ideas.


Neither is a main character, but both make themselves felt when around, and both enjoy what they do.

Cooper Dayton from the Big Bad Wolf series by Charlie Adhara

The Wolf at Bay

I’m not brave and would make a terrible secret agent, but things Cooper says and thinks are things that have gone through my mind repeatedly.

Cooper wondered who he’d be without any of the negative experiences of his life. Was it even worth asking?

“I’m sorry,” Cooper blurted. His heart was beating hard, but fuck it, what were they here for if not this?

Park looked at him. He had that same odd look on his face he’d had when they first got to Jagger Valley that looked so much like nerves, but a little hopeful, too. “For what?”

“Everything. Well, for earlier, and for being, you know, me.” Cooper laughed awkwardly.

“What the hell, Dayton,” Park said, sounding angry. “That’s a horrible thing to say.”

(Both quotes from The Wolf at Bay.)

I try to hear Park being angry when I find myself apologizing for being me.

the frustration that came from relearning what he could and couldn’t do for the second time in less than two years threatened to tip him over the edge from restlessness into depression.

Not two right on top of one another, but I’ve had a life-altering injury, and I know how much hard work it takes to come back from that, and to learn the new ways your body works (or doesn’t).

Sam from Play It Again by Aidan Wayne

Play It Again

With Sam, we get closer to things that mirror my life–and not just working at an IT help desk.

(W)ith his job being IT, there were often good reasons he came home having exhausted his social-skill quota for the day and was only up to playing some games or reading a book before crashing. Books and video games also didn’t yell at you, or snidely act as though you were a waste of space.

(T)alking on the phone gave him enough anxiety as it was. Never knowing whether a call might turn nasty made him dread it every time he was given a ring.

To be clear, I love helping people and working help desk type positions when the users were polite and nice, but even a single rude or horrible person can ruin my day and send my thoughts spiraling.

I’m a vegetarian. I don’t mind if other people aren’t of course, it’s not my job to regulate, but it’s my own difference I’m making, yeah? I’m a gentle soul, really. I can’t even squash bugs; I try to catch them and take them outside. No reason to harm a spider if there isn’t need, after all. And they’re such good bugs, spiders are. I mean arachnids. And sorry, there I seem to have gone off on a tangent.

I feel like this is something I may actually have said, right down to the spider tangent.

People in general made Sam nervous, but he’d mentioned a few times how he was “slightly bothered” by crowds especially, particularly noisy ones. He’d said it in the same offhand way Sam used to downplay all the things that made him unhappy or caused him distress.

Fred the Vampire Accountant series by Drew Hayes

The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred the Vampire Accountant

Like Discworld, I thought through the characters in the Fred the Vampire Accountant series to see if anything clicked, and decided I am most like Alfred and Charlotte.

Charlotte because she likes taking care of people and is also extremely protective of those who living within her, and Alfred because he’s kind and as much of a pacifist as he can be. Also, he frequently misses social cues.

Zach from That Kind of Guy by Talia Hibbert (Ravenswood)

Zach has learned to recognize the ways he puts others first–even to doing things he didn’t like.

In truth, Zach was a messy fucker who resented his own compulsion to fill in other people’s gaps but couldn’t make himself stop.

What he did feel was a familiar tug in his chest, that nagging pull he always experienced when faced with someone who needed something. It was an urgent whisper he couldn’t ignore: You’re the only one people can rely on. That makes it your duty to help.

UGH. I recognize that pull, and how hard it is to stop doing things you don’t want to solely to please those around you. It’s ridiculously hard to say no when you’ve said yes for so long.

(H)e’d made himself a promise, recently. One designed to break his habit of handing out Yeses he didn’t mean.

That is a far harder thing to do than you’d think–people assume you’ll do as they ask, and get mad when you don’t, so you have to come up with reasons and excuses, which is exhausting.

Ruth from A Girl Like Her by Talia Hibbert (Ravenswood)

Like Zach, Ruth makes me feel seen.

She wasn’t graceful. She was, in fact, the opposite of graceful. He worried for her safety once every five seconds at least. When she poured half of the hot water onto the counter, he was only surprised that she didn’t scald herself in the process.

She rolled her eyes and picked up the mugs. He deftly took them from her and carried them into the living room, as if she wasn’t capable of handling it herself. True, she usually spilled tea everywhere. But her balance would never get better if she didn’t practice.

Artificial Condition

Spoiler: practice doesn’t help.

Ruth disliked phone calls—it was hard to really hear someone’s words, when you couldn’t see their face

Ruth realised that she was rubbing her own hands—wringing them, people said—and made herself stop, even though the action was calming.

It’s so affirming to see someone else deal with things I thought were my own quirks.

Now she didn’t know if she should laugh or gasp. She compromised by choking on her own spit.

Yes, I’ve done that too.

Clem from An Unseen Attraction by K.J. Charles (Sins of the Cities)

I have reread this book multiple times and have more than 80 highlights, mostly of Clem.

Look me in the eyes, boy! had been a constant refrain at school, but they said the eyes were the windows to the soul, and Clem didn’t feel comfortable peering into people’s windows.

Rowley had thought at first the beast had no name; it had taken him a while to understand that it had a perfectly good, descriptive name to which it was as likely to answer as any other, and that name was Cat. There was something terribly Clem about that.

I annoyed a friend as a kid, because I didn’t give my stuffed animals “real” names.

“But, but—” Clem flailed a hand. Mark snatched his pint out of the way.

There is a reason people do not set their drinks near me.

He’d spent his life carefully not looking into an abyss of rage like the pit of hellfire he’d so often been told awaited pagans, because if he ever really looked, he feared he might be angry forever.

Jordan from Upside Down by N.R. Walker

Upside Down

Jordan is another character that makes me feel seen on multiple levels.

My phone beeped in my hand and I tripped over my own feet, almost falling to the ground but catching myself just in time. “Motherfucker.”

I mean.

Geek also probably fits, though mostly for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I mean, the other Star Treks are fine and I don’t disparage anyone for liking them—Janeway and Picard are credible—but I just prefer Sisko as my captain,

“There has to be a reason you picked Sisko.”

He smiled at me and seemed to relax before launching into a spiel on consistency and compassion and how Sisko’s being a father in the show made him more relatable.

The only way that would have been better was if Garak had also been brought up.

“Good afternoon,” he said, grinning as I walked up to take my seat.

“Top of the day to you, kind sir,” I replied, for no other reason than I’m an idiot.

Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. I do that all the time.

“We had the early learning kids in today. That’s always fun, if not rather loud, but I like reading to them. I make it exciting and interactive so they all think books and reading time is amazing, so I’m like a superhero to them. And being a superhero to a bunch of three-year-olds is a civic responsibility I take very seriously.”

I love finding a book that a kid loves almost as much as I love making them enthusiastic about things and pointing out wonders they might not have noticed.

Bonus Quotes

Waiting for the Flood

Some passages floor me every time I read them.

“You’ve been through a lot today,” he said. “There’s no need to diminish it.”

“Yeah, but if I don’t diminish things I have to face them at their normal size, and that’s horrible.”

Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

(H)e’d effectively removed the stressor I carried with me every minute: the fear that if I had to choose, I would choose wrong and something terrible would happen.

Rend by Roan Parrish

It would be nice to believe in something like God. To believe some higher power with a greater purpose was concealed behind the violence and chaos.

Come Unto These Yellow Sands by Josh Lanyon

This is the story of my life: standing on the edges of things and worrying, when I’m supposed to just walk through them.

Waiting for the Flood by Alexis Hall

“I’m more interested in someone’s excitement over something they have just discovered, than someone’s smug, pompous insistence that there is a right and a wrong way to learn to love something.”

Hottie Scotty and Mr. Porter by R. Cooper

I keep having thoughts I didn’t authorise.

Work for It by Talia Hibbert

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