Characters I want to see more of in SFF

Let’s face it, when it comes to the SFF umbrella there are plenty of characters we see over and over again. Fantasy and science fiction are awash with royals, assassins, rebels, thieves and soldiers–and I don’t have a problem with that at all!

There’s a reason those characters are so popular, after all, and I will forever be weak for stories about rebellions, thieves and soldiers. Sometimes, though, I’d love to see more characters at the centre of SFF novels that are often either side characters or characters that don’t appear at all…

Sex Workers

I know this probably sounds odd, but I’m fascinated by the history of sex work. I’d love to read more stories set in brothels, in these spaces inhabited by women who know that sex sells better than anyone, and I’d love to see more sex workers taking lead roles in the SFF genre because I think they’re characters that have been done a disservice thus far.

They’re either treated like a series of holes for someone’s penis – looking at you, Game of Thrones – or they’re tragic figures who have to sell their bodies to survive. I don’t want to imply for one moment that the history of sex work is full of women (and men, and enbies) who lived happy lives, because there are plenty of people in the past and today who have been sold into sex slavery and never actually see any of the money they earn anyway.

There are also people, however, who do this work because they enjoy it. That might be hard for us to understand when we live in a society that pushes the sex = love way of life, and this idea we have that sex for money can’t possibly mean sex with consent, but that’s not true, and I think there’s so much about consent that could be explored in SFF if we had more characters involved in sex work. Like Inara in Firefly, whose job is treated with the same amount of respect that everyone else’s job is.

Celebrities

Where are all the celebrities in fantasy books? We have royals and thieves and assassins but, if we’re in a fantasy world that doesn’t have the kind of technology we’re used to, wouldn’t this world still have incredibly popular actors on the stage? If they’re more modern fantasies, or science fiction, where are the kinds of celebrities we’re used to seeing in our own world?

In all honesty I always assumed that I wouldn’t enjoy reading about celebrities, but reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo has proved that I do love reading about actors–especially actors in the Golden Age of Hollywood. I’d love to follow actors in fantasy, though. Are elves tired of seeing humans with fake ears portraying them in the world’s media? Do sirens and banshees dream of making albums but can’t because they’ll accidentally kill their listeners? Are there discussions about whether or not dwarf women should keep their beards in the modelling industry? I need to know!

Estate Agents

Imagine this: an estate agent who specialises in haunted houses. That is all.

Lawyers

Someone please give me a novel about a lawyer who has to work with supernatural/fantastical creatures. What if two parents in a fairy tale village each made a bargain to sell their unborn child to a different witch? They need a lawyer to decide who gets the baby. Or maybe genies need some help sorting out the small print of their wish-making policy?

On a more serious note, though, we can understand a lot about different worlds by the way their legal system works, and the perfect way to understand a new legal system is to follow someone who works closely with it!

What kinds of characters would you love to see more of in SFF?

34 thoughts on “Characters I want to see more of in SFF

  1. dianthaa says:

    These are all great! The lawyers sorting out magical contracts would be lots of fun to read! I loved We Ride the Storm by Devin Madson because one of the PoV characters is a prostitute/assassin, I always thought that would be a very practical combo.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tooshorttooread says:

    Mmmm, yes please?! To, well, all of them. Youโ€™ve told me the estate agent one before and I say again WRITE IT WOMAN FOR GOODNESS SAKE. But I also really love the idea of the lawyer one.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. dinipandareads says:

    Wowow, I’ve never thought of reading more about any of these types of characters but I would definitely read books about all of them based on your post! The last point on lawyers reminded me of this webcomic that I came across on webtoons a few months back… If I’m not mistaken it was about this guy who became a lawyer for devils/supernatural creatures lol I didn’t read too much of it coz it’s quite dark but it was interesting, for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Line says:

    This is great! Loved what you wrote about celebrities because I never thought about that. I need answers to those questions you asked. Also makes me wonder if they would have crazy fans? How are you a fan in a fantasy world when you probably can’t buy merch? Would there be a sort of paparazzi too? (I’m going to be thinking about this for a while ๐Ÿ˜‚)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. JonBob says:

    I love this post so much! As for the lawyer aspect, Caitlin from Realms of my Mind just reviewEd a book called An Unnatural Life, about a lawyer on Europa who is called in to defend an AI accused of murder in a society where the AI have only recently been granted rights. It sounds so intriguing and I really wanna read it!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. acquadimore says:

    Great post! The “more fantasy lawyers” one has so much comedic potential…
    The treatment of sex workers has made me not want to continue several fantasy books in the past, so I agree. It’s far from limited to the fantasy genre – I’ve heard it’s even more of a thing in certain types of mystery/thriller – but something I find disturbing is how often they’re used as shorthand for “disposable people”. Like, they get killed off so often and it’s clear that the book thinks you’re not supposed to feel that bad about it, it’s just an ~edgy inciting incident~.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jess @ Jessticulates says:

      A big fat yes to all of this! It’s one of the reasons I tend to gravitate more towards YA thrillers–they’re real page-turners without treating certain members of society like crap. I have a rule that I call the “Dead Girl Test” whenever I read thriller; if a woman is found dead and at any point the MC describes her as beautiful, I’m out. She’s a corpse, she’s not there to be objectified, and how physically attractive she is shouldn’t have anything to do with whether or not we’re sad that she’s dead.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. acquadimore says:

        I haven’t even read a lot of thrillers and I sadly know what you mean. I have a very similar rule for the first chapter of any book written by men (if it starts by graphically describing the death of a beautiful woman emphasizing her beauty… instant DNF)

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Annemieke says:

    Oh a lawyer would be awesome, having to juggle sff elements with the law, ha.

    I did recently read Don’t Hex and Drive. I’m not sure if it is your cup of tea but it did have a celebrity as the love interest and mc.

    Liked by 1 person

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