Monday, July 23, 2007

Fearless - Why Do We Need Heroes?

And are there any heroes for us today?

Today we start another CSFF blog tour featuring the novel Fearless by Robin Parrish.

This book was just featured through the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, which is where my review of Fearless can be found. Something to add would be that this book is hard to categorize as just science fiction or fantasy. It has both elements involved through the story. It should appeal to any fan of speculative fiction in general (Dekker, Peretti, John C. Wright).

Robin's web site and blog are recommended stops for this tour. He just posted an original graphic novel presentation of a story from the Dominion Trilogy set between books 1 (Relentless) and 2.

Since I've posted a review already, I thought about what I could add to this tour. My mind came back continually to the thoughts of heroes. Fearless tracks Grant Borrows and his fellow Ringwearers as they deal with the amazing powers they had developed out of the events of Relentless. Grant especially desires to use his phenomenal powers for good, as his abilities were conceived as a force of evil (or so it seems). A major conflict in the book is Grant dealing with his destiny: can he make good with the gifts he's been given, or is his destiny foretold and pre-ordained, out of his control?

Why do we have an innate attraction to the ideas of heroes? We ask people who their heroes are. Kids and adults both delight at the stories of superheroes, people with extraordinary powers who seem to save the world again and again. We always like it when a regular person makes good: the local hero who saves someone. Every story needs a hero, doesn't it?

Our collective imagination seems drawn to the idea of people who have a greater power or call. A look at the top box office of all time for the US and worldwide shows the list dominated by familiar names: Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Spiderman, Jack Sparrow. All of these stories feature larger than life figures who overcome overwhelming odds to triumph.

I've always day-dreamed of some cataclysm happening in my regular life, only to find that I could fly, had super something-or-other in order to save those in peril. It's in the fabric of who I am. I grew up on Star Wars and Super Friends, and this summer I couldn't wait until the latest Spiderman movie came out. Recently I've gotten back into enjoying comic books, which shows different aspects of heroes from when I was growing up. Nowadays these heroes struggle against inner darkness or temptation and deal with more real life scenarios over the classic comics when Superman never doubted what was right and was always there to save Lois Lane.

I know that some people prefer down to earth heroes in their entertainment - the cop, the spunky Nancy Drew type, people who don't have a special ability. Others may even prefer the "anti-hero", the character that may otherwise be very unlikable in a story, but is portrayed from a sympathetic viewpoint. However, in general we are drawn to those who are greater than us in both their abilities and trials. I could go on, reaching back to mythology and stories of Hercules, Achilles, and so on, but I think this point is coming across.

Having made the argument that this desire is there, now we may ask "Why is it there?"

Could it be, perhaps, that it speaks to who we are? Does it draw from our deepest heart and unconscious needs?

I would argue that heroes are so compelling because we need a hero. We realize, whether directly or subconsciously, that we cannot overcome all that we encounter on our own. Try as we might, we are not able to complete our own salvation. We may fight valiantly, but our struggle is ultimately doomed against the supreme villain.

In the end, this attraction to heroes points us to the one who fought evil without ever turning to temptation. He went toe-to-toe with our greatest foe on our behalf. He sacrificed himself in defending truth, justice, and mercy. And when all seemed lost, he rose in even greater power and strength for the ultimate victory.

Jesus is my hero.

Fearless may not be an overtly Christian novel. This is fine with me, as I don't require every story to have an overt religious element in order to be a good story. I think Robin taps into this intrinsic need for a hero with his story. I am eagerly anticipating the third book Merciless (seriously Robin - you need a proofreader, I'm all over it...) and I wonder what the ending will hold. I can't allegorize what he's written, partly because that's not his intention, and I don't know how the story will work out. It still speaks of this great human conflict, the desire to rise up over the insurmountable odds. The heart of the gospel speaks to this, and that's what makes heroes a powerful story element, especially to a Christian writer.


Check out my fellow tourmates for other features of Fearless:

Trish Anderson
Brandon Barr
Wayne Thomas Batson
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Amy Browning
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Frank Creed
Lisa Cromwell
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Merrie Destefano
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Russell Griffith
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Christopher Hopper
Dawn King
Tina Kulesa
Lost Genre Guild
Rachel Marks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
John Ottinger
Lyn Perry
Cheryl Russel
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
Mirtika Schultz
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Daniel I. Weaver


  1. Wow, pretty comprehensive thoughts on the series. Thanks. Although I haven't read the book, I do have a 3-part Q&A with Robin at Bloggin' Outloud that readers might like. Lyn

  2. I enjoyed your musing about heroes and superheroes!

  3. Jason, I think you're right on in contemplating our innate need for heroes. The human race needs them. Partly because of who we are, and who we aren't.

  4. Excellent thoughts, and I agree with you :)

  5. Great thoughts about superheroes. I will always love them especially X-men!

  6. John Eldridge has some good thoughts on the hero archetype in his book Waking the Dead.

    I think we love heroes because we know that we need to be saved.

    You said, "We always like it when a regular person makes good." There's a flip side to that too. Americans at least love to see people fall as much as we like to see them rise.

    We adore the success story of google until the company gets too big. Then we secretly enjoy any hiccup they encounter to prove they aren't really heroes. Just like I'm not really a hero.

    We love to see people rise. But we love to see them fall, too.

  7. Very well thought-out and well said. I could probably read and ramble about the hero archetype all day. I especially liked how you mentioned that comic book heroes have evolved into more complex characters that struggle with their own darkness.

    Okay, I can't take it anymore, I'm going to my library's website and searching for these books.