Guest Post and excerpt by Brie McGill
Why I Love Byronic Heroes (Maybe Too Much)
Lord Byron, official founder of the archetype, was cited by a lover as “mad, bad, and dangerous to know.” According to legend, he had a club foot, drank wine from a human skull, and had an affair with his sister. Byronic heroes are often moody and brooding, feeling grief over loss, guilt over a past crime, or disgust with a personal shortcoming. They may self-medicate in excess.
Hold on--wait--why is this so appealing, again? Isn’t pursuing a dude like this recipe for disaster?
(In some cases, yes; I recommend Amanda DeWees’s A Sea of Secrets for an interesting twist on this trope.)
As a connoisseur of epic plots, the traditional alpha male--as brawny, shiny, and glorious as he might be--is comparatively boring. His quest will undoubtedly follow the hero’s journey (which is still interesting, but, predictable). He has big muscley arms. He fights for what is right. The Paladin. Snore.
The Byronic hero, by comparison, is never out for good. He’s often out for revenge; he’s always out for himself; and you’ll often find him locked inside, lurking in his castle, crumbling tower, or coffin, because he is too busy obsessing over that pesky dark secret.
If he chooses to engage the plot, at some point, a Byronic hero is forced to confront what haunts him. The real struggle a Byronic hero faces is not with the external world--it’s not a dragon, it’s not a supervillain--it’s himself. It’s about finding the fortitude to look within, and find the parts of one’s own psyche that are dastardly, vicious, or weak. And he must wrestle them. He may or may not win.
The real struggle engulfing a Byronic hero, then, is the struggle to become a better person. It’s about the struggle to get up in the face of pain--all-consuming, soul-eating, nightmare-inducing pain--and keep going. That’s a fight worth fighting.
It also makes it a story worth reading, because everyone struggles with various degrees of personal truth.
In Final Fantasy VII, the player encounters Vincent Valentine sleeping in a coffin at the bottom of an abandoned mansion, which was his company’s go-to spot for secret genetic experiments. Vincent will join the team and agree to help save the world to atone for his sin of failing to protect the woman he loved, if... if the player can convince him to leave his coffin.
In If You Come To California, the young and naive Josie gets a job cleaning Mickey Solomon’s house--the house where he runs his illegal green card racket and smokes drugs in the bathtub with hordes of naked women. He’s terrifying; he won’t hesitate to shoot a man; yet, he is one of the only people Josie can count on in a world full of fake people, because he is moved by her innocence--something otherwise missing in his life.
There are too many captivating Byronic heroes in fiction to list--Anne Rice’s Lestat, Vampire Princess Miyu’s Larva, Castlevania’s Alucard. While a Byronic hero is well-suited to be a vampire, he also makes a magnificent pirate, like Jack Sparrow, or a formidable wizard, like Harry Dresden or Severus Snape.
Of course, not every Byronic hero wins his battle with the inner demons: consider the case of Anakin Skywalker. But even when they fail, Byronic heroes are unforgettable, because they fought an internal battle to which we can all relate.
There was a second bumper stick that made me smile. It read: “Quiet guys scream the loudest.” Millions of women across the globe drooling over Christian Grey must agree.
Brigham loomed over the youth, and with a sharp gesture of the hand, spit the booming command: “Aadima.”
The youth stirred from his drug-induced catatonia. He rolled his head to one side, the silver wired crown tipping forward, and slowly sat upright, confined by the bonds of the chair. His eyes fluttered open, brown, wide, and blank, reflecting an awareness scrambled.
He squinted, struggling to draw Brigham into focus. A moment passed: he shook the fog out of his head, and his posture stiffened, recognizing the man in front of him. He pounded a fist against his chest in salute. “Commander Brigham, Sir!”
Brigham looked to the screen; he glanced at his watch, and turned to Skirra. “Thirty-seven seconds. Note it.”
Skirra fumbled with an electronic notepad, trembling and tapping in her notes.
Brigham knelt on one knee beside the examination chair, and waved an intricate series of hand gesticulations in the subject’s face. “Greetings, Kain.”
The man sat rigid in the chair, staring blankly ahead.
“Dvitiiya.” Brigham paired his command with a symphony of motor signals. “Disable.”
“Secondary Dvitiiya functions.” The youth spoke in an empty voice. “Disabled, Sir.”
“Kain.” Brigham climbed to his feet, clutching the back of the chair. “Tritiiya.”
The subject remained frozen in his chair, eyes glossy and unblinking.
“Damn you!” Brigham grabbed a flat remote from his pocket, pointed it at the man in the chair and clicked.
The youth moaned, violent tremors wracking his body. He convulsed and flopped in the chair, the leather bonds subduing him, holding him in place.
Skirra brought her hands to her head, watching in horror as graphs spiked and numbers soared.
“There are no uses for faulty machinery!” Brigham towered over the shackled youth, indifferent to his pain. “None! You remember that.”
Skirra glanced at the clock, and chewed her nails.
“Kain.” Brigham cleared his throat. “Load Tritiiya.”
The subject’s breathing slowed and he shifted his posture, sitting upright. He stared ahead, speaking in a monotone. “Tertiary Tritiiya functions loaded, Sir.”
“Kain.” Brigham waved his hand, and spoke in a thunderous voice. “Load Caturtha.”
“Identification confirmed: granting access to restricted Caturtha systems.” He mechanically rotated his head toward the floor, and spoke with eyes closed. “Proceed with instructions.”
Skirra slinked beside Brigham, and lifted a pair of clunky taupe goggles covered in a swarm of blinking lights. She leaned over the chair and rested the goggles on the bridge of the youth’s nose, and fitted the frames, one at a time, over his ears with a gentle touch.
“Kain, do you recognize the image of this man?” He drummed his fingers against the back of the chair.
“Recognition affirmative, Sir.”
“Spectacular.” Brigham joined his hands in a deafening clap. “Execute primary Caturtha commands, and target this man.”
“Target confirmed, Sir.” He stared in a daze at the lightshow provided by the goggles. “Requesting variables of mission duration, Sir.”
Brigham pealed his final command. “Caturtha functions will terminate when his Glorious duties are fulfilled.”
Sex, Drugs, and Cyberpunk
Genre: Cyberpunk/Steamy Romance
ISBN: 148267324XASIN: B00CQ8BJLI
Cover Artist: Jeanne Quinn
Counting days is irrelevant in the life of a well-to-do man, unless he counts the days passed in total service to the Empire. Salute. Submit. Shut up and scan the wrist. Therapists armed with batons and brass knuckles guide the derelict along a well-beaten path to Glory.
When human experiment Lukian Valentin escapes the Empire to save his crumbling sanity--through a grimescape of fissured highways, collapsing factories, putrescent sewers--he realizes the fight isn’t only for his life, it’s for his mind. Torturous flashbacks from a murky past spur him on a quest for freedom, while the Empire’s elite retrievers remain at his heels, determined to bring him home for repair.
Lukian needs one doctor to remove the implanted chips from his body, and another to serve him a tall glass of answers. Lukian attempts a psychedelic salvage of his partitioned mind, gleaning fragments of the painful truth about his identity.
A scorching, clothes-ripping rendezvous with a mysterious woman offers Lukian a glimpse of his humanity, and respite from his nightmarish past. It also provides the Empire the perfect weakness to exploit for his recapture.
To rise to the challenge of protecting his new life, his freedom of thought, and his one shot at love, Lukian must reach deep into his mind to find his true identity. To defeat the Empire, he requires the deadly power of his former self--a power that threatens to consume him.
About the Author:
Doctors suspect Brie developed an overactive imagination during childhood to cope with the expansive corn maze known as rural Pennsylvania. Unable to afford an operation to have the stories surgically removed from her brain, she opted instead to write them down.
Brie lives in British Columbia with her boyfriend and naughty black cat, somewhere not too far from the sea. She enjoys trips to the local farm, chatting with her long-distance friends on a rotary phone, and roflstomping video games from the nineties.
Brie's favorite authors include Anne Rice, George Orwell, and Hunter S. Thompson.
Official page: www.sexdrugsandcyberpunk.com
More of the tour...
September 17 Spotlight
Let’s Start Saving Now –
Book Worm & More,
September 18 Spotlight
September 19 Spotlight
Share My Destiny
September 20 Guest blog
September 23 Interview