Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Five great books that do just fine without a villain

J.S. Dewes is an author, cinematographer, and video editor with a degree in film production from Columbia College Chicago. She cut her narrative teeth writing scripts for award-winning feature films and shorts which have screened at festivals and conventions all across the United States. A creative a heart, she enjoys video games, drawing, photography, graphic design, Pinterest, and all things visual.

Dewes's debut science fiction novel The Last Watch is coming from Tor Books April 20.

At the Tor/Forge Blog she tagged five great books that do just fine without a villain, including:
The Effort by Claire Holroyde

A massive comet is discovered to be on a collision-course with Earth, heralding an extinction-level event. While scientists from across the globe come together to devise a solution, civilization threatens to devolve around them.

A relatively new addition to the apocalyptic fiction genre, The Effort is the most recent book to have reminded me of my disaster movie lover roots.

The Effort is like if Karen Thompson Walker’s The Dreamers and the aforementioned Fail-Safe had a book baby, but swap the disease/nukes for a comet. It presents complicated sociopolitical issues through a disaster movie lens—featuring a sprawling cast and multiple storylines, each with its own unique set of crises and challenges to face.

The villain here is society itself, and the tentative, fragile instability of modern civilization that we take for granted every day. It’s another that fits nicely in the “hauntingly realistic” category. Contemplative above all else, it’s definitely the type of story with more questions than answers, leaving you with plenty to chew on.

As a kid, stories like these kickstarted my imagination more so than any other kind (and still do). They allow me to imagine a broader purview of conflict—one that doesn’t force a clear dichotomy of protagonist vs. antagonist, enabling a unique approach to storytelling you just can’t arrive at any other way.

Don’t get me wrong, I love me a well-realized villain—whether relatable, morally gray, lawful neutral, unrelentingly evil, you name it—but I’ll always hold a special place in my heart for these kind of high-stakes, all-is-lost narratives that are able to showcase humanity at its most stubborn and determined—and working together to achieve great things.
Read about another entry on the list.

My Book, The Movie: The Effort.

--Marshal Zeringue