Fans of SCI-FI know there’s nothing quite like watching your favorite UNDERDOG rise against the odds. When they fail, we feel their pain; but when they succeed, it gives us Hope. Male or female, old or young, Unlikely Heroes from Science Fiction have inspired us all. Let’s consider a few examples:
Roy Neary — Close Encounters Of The Third Kind — (1977)
The only Sci-Fi Hero to carve a mountain out of mashed potatoes, Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) is the ordinary, unassuming centre of an extraordinary conspiracy. An Indiana blue-collar lineman who sees a UFO while working late one night, his subsequent interest in all things flying saucer-related gradually tips over into relationship-wrecking obsession.
Equal parts saucer-age fairytale and character study, Close Encounters views “first contact” with Alien life from the perspective of ordinary people as opposed to scientists or the military. Roy Neary evolves throughout the story — from ordinary guy … to a pilgrim tormented by his search for Truth … to eventual Enlightenment.
Ellen Ripley — Alien — (1979)
The crew of the space tug Nostromo inadvertently brings an Alien life form on board that grows into a menacing creature that picks them off one by one. Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) has to watch as her friends are all murdered around her. Then, when she ends up being the last person on board, she has to kill the alien Xenomorph on her own, though it vastly outclasses her in strength, speed, and endurance.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, Ripley ends up having to fight the Xenomorphs over and over again in the Alien franchise … which sees her get stranded in space for 57 years, infected with a Xenomorph egg, killed, and cloned into an Alien-human hybrid. The fact that she keeps surviving says a lot about her indomitable spirit.
Sarah Connor — The Terminator — (1984)
The Terminator saw a young Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) graduate from innocent, poodle-haired scooter rider to foul mouthed cyborg killer … to a fully-fledged warrior mother.
By T2, she is so haunted by her knowledge of the future, and so obsessed with protecting her son from harm, that she’s in danger of becoming as cold and inhuman as the cyborgs who’ll one day rule the planet. Connor makes up for the imbalance of so many other films dominated by male heroes — at least a little — because she’s without doubt one of the most memorable Sci-Fi heroes in movie history.
Jake Sully — Avatar – (2009)
A former Marine paralyzed from the waist down, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is recruited to replace his deceased identical twin — and travel through space far away to Pandora, to serve in the Avatar Program as a “driver” (miraculously enabling him to walk and run).
Bonding with giant-sized native blue-skinned inhabitants, (called Na’vi) Jake’s perspective on the mission is transformed as he finds Enlightenment. The horrific battle waged over a powerful natural substance called “unobtanium” is uneven from the start — and turns Jake against the human military oppressors — to put his life on the line and help the Na’vi defend their homeland.
Meg Murry — A Wrinkle In Time — (2018)
Before her adventure through time and space, Meg Murry (Storm Reid) is just an ordinary student. Fueled by frustration and impatience, and struggling with her self-confidence, Meg is a heroine in the making; she just never realized it until she journeyed away from home to rescue her father.
With the enemy being the Universe’s greatest evil, and Meg being ill-equipped and unprepared, her victory in the end goes to show you that sometimes you just need to have faith in yourself.
THE SURVIVAL TRILOGY
As authors of The Survival Trilogy, we offer inspiration in the form of Una Waters.
Book 1 A GLEAM OF LIGHT explores Native American Mythology as UNA, half-Hopi bureaucrat from D.C., is summoned to Hopiland. Her connection to the white man’s world makes her uniquely qualified to help solve a mystery linked to an ancient discovery, as she tries to reconnect with her roots and cultural identity.
Book 2 THE DRAGON’S GLARE explores Asian American Mythology with UNA on special assignment to investigate unexplained violence in Chinatown, New York City. She discovers a deep-seated cultural connection with Tibetan immigrants as Ancient Chinese wisdom battles a threat from Ancient Evil.
Book 3 BEYOND THE WORLD explores African American Mythology as UNA, stranded on her honeymoon adventure in Yosemite, uncovers a UFO mystery that leads to an Alien Conspiracy. Together with Explorer’s Club teens from the Kikuyu Tribe, she tracks down the source of strange events and fights to save humanity.
Everyone loves an UNDERDOG. Science Fiction has given us many to root for — male or female, old or young, of every size, shape and color … Unlikely Heroes to remind us of ourselves, inspire us and give us Hope.
Something we all need … maybe now more than ever.