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The Unlikely Kickass Heroes of Sci-fi

Updated: Mar 2, 2021

From space freighter crew to alien fighter she the best of them all?


Probably one of the most underrated parts of a successful sci-fi book or movie or tv series would be the really cool special effects...just kidding. Granted, the CGI and other tricks are integral to modern productions, but I'm thinking more about the geek or unlikely hero. So let's get right into it.

Faith Smith from Under a Graveyard Sky (and the sequels) by John Ringo

The number one, all time champion, blood and guts, kickass hero. Faith is a 13-year-old girl in a world of zombies. Seriously, this series of novels by John Ringo will win you over, and you will be rooting for Faith every time to goes toe to toe with zombies or humans. She's fearless, and she doesn't take crap from anybody and goes into battle with a pink teddy bear in her backpack. It's incredible to watch her progress from a young teenager to the undisputed, heavyweight expert at killing zombies and taking back the world. They're just really no flaws in her persona. Men overlook her, and they find out just how badly they've mouthed-off to the wrong kid. Unlikely in the extreme, but this is a girl who fights infected zombies below decks in dark passageways on a dead cruise-liner—that's just one example, and she proves herself because marines twice her age or older call the teenager their commanding officer. Just awesome! Start with the above-mentioned book, and you will be hooked.

Sarah Connor from Terminator 2

Sarah Connor! She is so damn impressive! How can you not love her? She takes on every badass that gets in her way. Sarah is locked up in a psych ward, abused, drugged, and

forgotten. But, she rises from the pit of despair to save the world. This was a single mom who goes from timid to kick-ass. Do I really need to elaborate? Just writing about her makes me want to watch her bust out of the psych lockdown and later become the assault-weapon toting momma. Damn!

Bean from Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card

If you haven't read this book, do yourself a favor. Read it. The main character is Bean, a genetically engineered child who survives the awful neighborhoods in Rotterdam in a dystopian world. That is completely unexpected because every one of Bean's fellow special toddler peers are murdered to cover up the illegal science experiment. Bean survives by hiding in a toilet tank as a tiny freakish infant. That alone qualifies the anomalous human as being a completely unexpected hero. The kid prevails and ends up as Ender Wiggin's backup—but he is much more than just a stand-in.

Bean is one of the most endearing of unlikely heroes in the history of sci-fi. He's tragic and brilliant, and his story is so compelling that it sucks in the reader as you travel with Bean through struggles and self-discovery. READ IT!

Sam Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings

Not specifically sci-fi, but let's face it. The books are great, and the movies are great, but one character who is not dead-center is Sam. It's not all about Frodo. Cut to the chase: Sam saves the world at two pivotal points in the story.

1) When Frodo is cocooned in a web by Shelob, a giant killer arachnid, Sam takes the One Ring. This action pretty much keeps Sauron from getting it and completing his evil plan of world domination

2) When Frodo can no longer walk as they approach the Cracks of Doom, Sam utters his gutsy and heroic line, "I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you." Let's be honest, Elijah Wood's character, Frodo Baggins, was toast at that point. Without the gardener, Sam, the whole effort goes to hell in a hand-basket, and Middle Earth is gone. Hurray for Sam, the real hero of J.R.R. Tolkien's masterpiece.

Harry Potter

Not much to say here. I almost didn't want to put him on the list, but let's face it, a kid who lived under stairs? At the Dursley's? Parts of the series rub me the wrong way, but essentially Harry is the epitome of an unlikely hero.

Jason Wander from Orphanage by Robert Buettner

What a punk! He gets the choice of jail or the military. Then goes off the battle with some of the most insidious aliens ever. You look at Jason and have to say the whole time, "No way!" Still, he prevails and succeeds big time. I recommend this series because it's just plain fun. To see someone like Jason Wander rise to the top is just cathartic.

It's important to mention, that the aliens in this series are disgusting and relentless. It's a complete surprise that the Earth didn't get utterly slammed, but hey, that's what happens when a loser of a kid ends up rising to the challenge.

Uhura played by Nichelle Nichols from the original Star Trek

Wow! What a pick. It was the late 60's, and Uhura smashed barriers in the racial divide. Not to get off track with racial politics, but Uhura was just so damn competent and cool. I can't remember one time when she didn't handle obstacles with complete style and class—case in point: The Savage Curtain (Season 3 ep 22), President Abe Lincoln is brought aboard the Enterprise and makes an unintentional mildly racist comment. He apologizes for his "words," and Uhura's classy response to Abe is, "In our time, we've learned not to fear words." That was certainly not the only time that Uhura showed her strength of character. I guess the thing is that Kirk, Spock, and McCoy all have their moments when they come off as complete turkeys, but never Uhura. The communications lieutenant never has a stupid moment. The fact that she outshines the big three lead actors is unexpected, but welcome.

Please, Please, Please—send me your thoughts on Unlikely Sci-fi heroes. I would love to read your personal choices.

Until next time, check under your bed for aliens, just to be sure.

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