First off, hope everyone likes the new visuals here on the blog. If anybody has a line on where I can get some good space and/or tall ship images, let me know in the comments. Heck, if anybody’s a whiz in Photoshop or other graphic design and wants to make a sailing-ships-in-space header for the site…for free…well, OK, I might be asking a lot. Can’t hurt to put it out there.
Now, let’s talk about bromance.
Think about your favorite fantasy and science fiction stories, or even just great adventure stories. Holmes had his Watson, for instance. (And if you’ve not seen the BBC’s Sherlock series, then by God, get on Netflix now. No, really, go. Close the browser NOW and go.) Kirk had Spock. Frodo and Sam, Mal and Zoe, Aubrey and Maturin…you get the idea.
I couldn’t write an epic adventure story combining both science fiction and historical fantasy and NOT have bromance, not with this noble tradition before me. And more importantly, I found that these bromances furthered the story considerably.
Crack open any of Joseph Campbell’s works and you’ll see that the Sidekick archetype has a huge role to play in the hero’s journey. Sometimes they’re the comic relief. Sometimes they’re the deus ex machina. But a lot of times, they’re there to counter the negative characteristics of the heroes, allowing the heroes to become, well…heroic. They’re foils, occasional mentors, and always a neat tool for the writer to further both character development and narrative arc.
Watson gave Holmes humanity. Where would Kirk be without Spock’s logic and caution? And Malcolm Reynolds would be dead a dozen times over if not for Zoe’s unwavering loyalty. (Seriously, if you don’t know Zoe and Mal, when you’re done watching Sherlock, get caught up on Firefly. I recently did. Brilliant.) The relationship between sidekick and hero — the bromance — gives the hero that missing something that enables the hero’s journey to be a success.
So in my two settings, my protagonists have sidekicks. They have bromances. They face death and destruction, chaos and carnage, stupidity and comedy. They feed off each other, bounce off each other, knock heads and come to blows. But finally, after all that, the hero understands what has to happen to reach the end of the journey, and the sidekick knows how critical his role is in making the hero’s journey a success.
Call it homage if you like, and that’s certainly part of it. But while I’m really happy to follow in that well-plotted tradition, I’m doing it because, in the end, it works.