Top 10 Fictional Dads

With Father’s Day tomorrow, I thought that I would do a tribute to the fictional dads that I really liked.  Whether they are the biological fathers, or father figures, they are loyal parents and often go to incredible lengths to protect their children.  Sometimes they are diligent, doting parents, other times they are aloof but prove their loyalty in other ways.  I’m not limiting this to any one genre of fiction, because my favorite fictional parents come from all sorts.  Let me know the fictional parents who you admired most in the comments.

10. Sojiro Sakura
Persona 5
When you first meet Sojiro, he’s a stern and almost cold character.  He doesn’t like you and makes no secret of the fact that he sees having to watch over you as a burden.  However, as the plot unfolds you realize that there is a caring man, who has a secret.  He has been caring for the daughter of a dear friend who passed away a long time ago.  The girl is a shut-in and he desperately has been trying to be a good dad while also respecting her very strict boundaries.  But once she is able to come out from that shell, their bond becomes just that much more apparent, since he can finally be a doting father figure to a child who has had a very hard life.  Stern, yet compassionate.  A Japanese father to a fault.

9. Peter (last name unknown)
Animorphs
The father of one of the main characters, Marco, he is one of the most interesting literary parents.  His wife died a long time ago, and he has been looking to move forward with his life ever since.  This has caused more than a little strain between him and his son.  What I like most about the character is the fact that they show him to be human.  Very much so.  He’s lonely, and wants to be able to move forward from losing his wife.  Now, granted there is more to what’s going on with his wife, which makes Marco even more unhappy about how his father is trying to move on, but Peter doesn’t know that and so his son is trying not to hold it against him.  When you finally see the two of them bonding, it feels genuine.  Not the most dynamic character, but a human one all the same.

8. Lieutenant Colonel Griswald
Recess
A military man through and through, and father to Gus Griswald, the Lieutenant is probably the most stern character on this list.  He talks to his son as if he is one of the men under his command, and does have high expectations of him.  However, there are numerous times in the episode where you see him genuinely care for him and even go out of his way to help him in whatever way he can.  The fact that his son wants to follow in his footsteps as a soldier constantly makes him proud, along with the fact that he is loyal to his friends.  Again, not the most dynamic character but having known a few Army brats growing up, this makes me think of them.  One of them had a really shitty dad, but another had one who reminded me of the Lt. Colonel.

7. Hank Hill
King of the Hill
Hank is the quintessential typical American dad.  He’s conservative as all get-out, has no understanding of his son or the world he lives in, and constantly sees the youth culture as strange and disconcerting.  But despite all that, he is still a strong family man.  Not only does he constantly try to be a good husband, but he tries to be a good father too.  There are a lot of moments where he looks after Bobby despite not understanding the first thing about him and the world he lives in.  At the end of the day, him and the family can bicker and argue, but they’ll still have a grilled steak, so long as the grill uses propane.

6. Jack Foreman
Prey
A stay-at-home father who is trying to get used to the dynamic he is living in, all while battling his sense of uselessness and his growing sense of ownership over the home and the relationship with the children as his wife is growing more and more distant.  Jack is a fantastic father.  Not only does he make sure the house runs smoothly, he goes out of his way to try and be understanding of his wife’s situation with her increasingly demanding job.  However, when he gets involved in his former employer’s situation in the desert, and things are looking their worst, the first thought he has is to protect the children that he left behind.  The book ends with him taking radical steps in order to protect them, but he’ll do whatever it takes.  So loyal that he fights against forces so radically overpowering in order to keep what he has waiting for him safe.  Naturally he’s from my favorite book.

5. Bryan Mills
Taken (the first one, not the shitty sequels)
This character is probably the most loyal father ever.  A former CIA badass who ends up retiring so he can try and reconnect with his daughter.  However, when she is kidnapped by Algerian sex-slavers, he will stop at nothing to secure her freedom.  He’ll attack cops, shoot the wife of a former ally, even torture a man by electrocuting him until the power shuts off just to make a point.  Bryan is a no-nonsense, do not fuck with me dad, and has years of “specific set of skills” to prove it.

4. Victor Sullivan
Uncharted (series)
Sully has no children of his own.  However, as you learn in Uncharted 3, one day he happened upon a little punk in Spain who he took under his wing.  That punk just happened to be Nathan Drake.  What came from that was a relationship of two career criminals who just happened to rob the artifacts of ancient empires in order to sell them and live the good life.  Sully is crass, suave, a complete man-whore with all the talent to be cool as fuck while doing it.  He also has no problem using a gun. The scene where he tells Nate that he always saw him as the son he never had was pretty touching.  No matter how he may not have been the best father figure, he is Sully, and that’s all he’ll ever need.

3. Ethan Mars
Heavy Rain
Bryan Mills would kick whoever’s ass to keep his daughter safe, but Ethan Mars is a bit on the different spectrum.  After a moment of losing track of his first son led to him being tragically killed in a car wreck, Ethan and his wife are separated and he is a little overly protective of his younger child.  So when the Origami Killer steals him, Ethan is now in a position where he will do whatever it takes in order to keep him safe.  Even if that means complying with the increasingly-twisted demands of the killer, like to cut off one of his own fingers.  It’s horrifying, but when you see him weather it in order to get his child back, it makes you want to fight even harder to make sure it happens.

2. Maes Hughes
Fullmetal Alchemist
Probably the most doting father on this list, Hughes attachment to his little girl is more than a little insane.  And he makes sure that every single person around him is forced to suffer through it at all hours.  However, underneath that there is an incredibly intelligent investigator who is not only looking to keep his family safe, but also his best friend Roy Mustang.  When he happens upon a truth so horrible that it threatens to destroy everything, he rushes out without hesitation to confirm it.  But in the end, that determination to dig up the truth is what gets the better of him.  The enemy becomes the one thing that he can’t raise a weapon to – his wife.  A good man, a loving father, and a tragic end.  He is pretty awesome like that.

And my favorite fictional dad is…

1. Joel
The Last of Us
While the relationship he had with his daughter Sara is a profoundly beautiful and tragic relationship, we don’t get much chance to know them.  It’s his relationship with his companion Ellie, who becomes his surrogate daughter, that is the one I want to talk about.  Joel is a survivor.  After Sara is tragically killed, he has 20 years for his heart to harden to ice.  But when this teenage girl comes into his life, and goes out of her way to try and bond with him and reach him on a personal level, he finds that ice melting away.  Eventually, he grows to see her as his own child, and will stop at nothing to keep her safe.  To the point that when he finds out the only way to get Ellie’s immunity into a form where it can be made a vaccine would kill her, he sells the ENTIRE human race up the river to save her life.  A cold, calculating, kind of monstrous person, Joel finds his humanity again in that little girl.  When you hear him telling her unconscious body the things he said to Sara and he ran with he, it makes the situation that much harder.

Who are all of your favorite fictional fathers?  And to all the dads out there, Happy Father’s Day

Until next time, a quote,

“Yeah, you keep telling yourself that bullshit.” – Joel

Peace out,

Maverick

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Top 10 Favorite Books

Now, for a long time, after I made a Top 20 Favorite Films list, and a Top 15 Favorite Video Games list, people have been coming after me saying –

You say that you love all great stories, well then, where is the list of your favorite books, huh?!

And you know what, that’s a good point.  Since I do have a love of literature, I thought to myself – what are my favorite books?  This has been the hardest list that I have ever had to make.  I was determined to narrow the list down to my top 10.  I wasn’t going to let myself have to expand on it.  There are so many books that I could read, over and over and over again.  But I sat down, and forced myself to pick the top 10 books that just make me happy.  This is that list.  I should say, up-front, that this isn’t a list of the books that I thought were the best written.  Like my list of favorite movies, the are just the books that I could read, over and over and over again, and never lose enjoyment.  I hope you enjoy.

Watership Down10. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
When you hear that a book is about some cute little bunny rabbits, I bet that most of you don’t think that they could be in a very dark, very gritty and often-times very harsh story, do you?  I didn’t, when I first heard about it, and I was very happily surprised.  This book tells the story of a group of rabbits who are off to find a new home.  Their journey along the way leads them to some of the most disturbing places you can possibly imagine.  But even when it gets dark, you can still feel the hope behind these characters.  I think my favorite character was Fiver.  The little mystic of the group, the way he talked and the way he acted was always interesting.  And his visions were very cool as well.  This book tones up the dark in a huge way, and I loved every disturbing minute of it.

Jurassic Park9. Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton
Just to give you a heads-up, you are going to see several of his books on here.  Michael Crichton is, by far, my favorite author.  And this was the first book of his that I ever read.  It’s ironic that the film made from this book was the first film I ever saw in theaters.  When I was a little kid, I was a dinosaur nut.  And since I taught myself how to read, I couldn’t wait to read a book about dinosaurs that was set in modern days.  I just loved it.  This book was loads of fun.  I like that it wasn’t so much about the danger and action, as the movie was, but instead was about the discovery and the mixing of an old world with the new.  They really look at the world of the dinosaurs, and try to put you into the shoes of understanding what it would be like.  Also, as with all Crichton books, they REALLY get into the science of how they were brought back, and everything else.  Crichton loved his science, and to show off what a good researcher he was to write his books.  And I have yet to have a problem with that.  It made for a great book.

Ender's Game8. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
So, Ender Wiggin is one of my favorite characters of all time.  A very intellectual hero who is able to rise above prejudice, conflict and his own limitations with only the power of his mind.  The story of a war with an alien race known as “buggers,” this tale chronicles the genius children who are turned into officers in humanity’s space fleet.  Ender is the smartest of them, using his mind like a well-oiled machine as he becomes one of the shining examples of humanity’s strength in our darkest hour, against an enemy that could very well destroy us.  This is in no way a happy book, but it overcomes that with a great conflict, great characters and a lot of really heavy emotional moments that stay with you until the end.  If you haven’t read this book, I can’t recommend it enough.  This is science fiction among its best.  It was one of my favorite books growing up, and it still is to this day.

White Shark7. White Shark, by Peter Benchley
After having a book that is so emotionally and thematically powerful, you might be wondering what a not-too-complicated horror book is doing on my list.  Well, it is here for a reason.  For one, I like Peter Benchley’s writing style.  He is a lot of fun to read.  I have always liked it.  But this book is on here because I like how a lot of the perspective is from the creature.  It isn’t a man or beast.  It’s something else.  It has a mind, and this mind works.  It thinks, and can formulate plans.  This monster is a mix of everything there is to fear.  Plus, the characters in the island where it is taking place are a lot of fun too.  I especially like the neat little romance between the main character’s son and a deaf girl.  It is made to be a lot like how a young boy, almost a teenager, falls in love with a girl.  It is a lot of fun to read.  There is no real complexity to it.  This is just some nice cheesecake.  Something good to curl up with.  And really, is that so wrong, when enjoying a book?

Disclosure6. Disclosure, by Michael Crichton
See, I told you there would be some more books by this guy on the list.  Now, while most people will rightly lionize Crichton for his science-fiction work, I honestly think that some of his corporate espionage books were great too.  And of those, this was my favorite.  The book is about a man who works for a software company.  He is expecting a promotion as a new business merger is about to happen.  However, he is passed over, and the promotion is given to somebody he didn’t expect – an ex-lover of his, who left him long ago.  Being a married man, he wants nothing to do with this woman, but she invites him to his office and tries to put the moves on him.  He rejects her, but when he comes to work the next day, he finds out that he is being charged with sexual harassment.  Instead of bowing out gracefully, he decides to fight back, hiring a lawyer and charging her right back with sexual harassment.  This book takes a rather hard look at gender roles, and it doesn’t back down from its premise.  It makes the argument that men can just as easily be victimized, and that things are not as black and white as society wants them to be.  Looking at gender happens a lot in this book, and I love how much respect they give how heavy a topic this is.  Along the way, the man finds a trail of sex, lies, corporate greed, and how his company was intending to screw him and many others.  It’s a great book, if you like a good conspiracy story.

5. The Sacrifice/The Solution, by K.A. Applegate
I said that I was going to pick only my top 10, but I am cheating a bit.  Honestly, I just couldn’t find a way to pick between these two books.  They are both so similar in mood and tone (and in the same series), that I couldn’t pick between them.  I was pondering making a list of what I believe to be the Top 10 Underrated Series’s.  If I did, the Animorphs series, which these two books are both a part of, would be high on it.  This series tells the story of a group of children who, by sheer chance, is in a construction yard, where an alien life-form comes crashing down.  He tells them of an alien menace who has been slowly invading Earth, and is looking to take control of all life.  To date, there is no effort against them, because they are keeping their operation small, so no one will notice.  And they are winning.  The children are given a device that allows them to change into any animal (including people) that they touch and acquire the DNA of.  This series is amazing.  The themes at play are just great.  There is the loss of innocence, the cost of war, what it means to be human, how you cannot recapture your past life once you’ve lost it, and so many others.  And the two books that capture it best are these two.

The SacrificeThe first, The Sacrifice, is the third from the last.  Without spoiling anything, it has been a long war.  The Animorphs are tired, and ready for it to be over.  Things are getting worse and worse towards the end, and now, they have one last plan to do some major damage to their enemy, hoping that help that they sent message to would arrive.  Each book in the series is told from a first-person perspective of only one character.  This one is from the Andalite youth, Aximili, or just Ax, for short.  His people have commanded him to let the invasion continue on Earth.  That would have the Yeerk threat amassed on Earth, and able to be crushed in one swift blow.  It would be final, and it would be over.  But all of humanity would die in the process.  The internal monologues in this book are AMAZING!  Ax wrestling with himself over what the right thing to do is is so powerful that I could read just that scene alone a million times.  The conclusion he comes to is so brief in the end of the book, but powerful.  It’s great.

The SolutionThen there is The Solution.  This is from the character Rachel’s perspective.  As far as character growth is concerned, I think that Rachel is by far the crowning achievement of the series.  She goes from an adrenaline junkie who loves the fighting, to becoming consumed by her love of carnage, to the point where arguments have been made that she is kind of a sociopath.  By the end of the series, even her own mother is scared of her.  And in this book, she confronts her own internal darkness in a very big way.  The dialogue between her and Jake, her cousin and leader of the Animorphs, is another scene that is so good that I could read it over and over again.  These were great books, of an incredibly underrated and relatively forgotten series.

Carrie4. Carrie, by Stephen King
One thing that I, and pretty much every literature critic under the sun has gotten on King about is the fact that he cannot end a book to save his life.  Stephen King is a very good writer, but that has always been one of his Achilles Heels.  But this book does not suffer from that at all.  Telling the story, from multiple perspectives, of the events leading up to a girl with telekinetic powers going on a psychotic rampage, you get into a lot of character’s heads, and it has a conclusion that is so sad, yet leaves you with a feeling of disturbed dread, because it implies that this sort of thing is going to happen again.  You really do feel for Carrie.  Even though what she did was monstrous, you have to wonder – is it really her fault?  She tried to be a good person.  She tried to be a good Christian.  But the ugliness of the people around her, and the ugliness of the belief system her mother shoved down her throat tore this girl apart.  In the end, I think this was a brilliant critique on society as a whole, and religion.  Something King was good at.  I loved this book.  Every page of it.

Prey3. Prey, by Michael Crichton
This is the last book by Crichton, I promise.  But man, this is an awesome book!  This is the book which I think was the magnum opus of Crichton’s talent as a writer.  He took something that is still pseudo-science, to this day, and made it something we could all understand.  One of the cool thing about Crichton is that he takes things that are real science, and then moves them ahead to the next step.  In this book, it looks at nano-technology, and also the integration of science and nature.  The story is about a man, who goes from software developer to stay-at-home dad, but is forced back into the mix when a nano-tech program goes haywire, and things are getting dangerous.  This book has some great tension.  I won’t spoil it for you, but the last third of it is just great.  I was so pissed when I would have to stop reading to go to class or work or something.  It legitimately pissed me off.  This book was awesome, truly awesome.  From start to finish, it was Crichton’s best work, by far.

World War Z novel cover2. World War Z, by Max Brooks
When I first heard the title of this book, you can imagine that I was more than a little skeptical.  A book about a global zombie war?  Come on.  How can that possibly be good?  Thankfully, I got one of the best answers ever.  Max Brooks is another of those authors who really does his research, and isn’t afraid to show it off.  And he did just that in this book.  This book is told as a series of interviews with people who went through the events of a narrowly avoided zombie apocalypse.  It looked at the beginning, middle and end of the zombie war.  Man, the cultural authenticity to this book was great, just great.  You felt like all of the people belonged in their respective places.  From looking at the corruption of American politics, our over-blown belief in how badass our military is, to looking at a Japanese young man, who had hid from the world for his entire life, now having to face the world when it is falling apart.  I think that my favorite segments in the book were the one from the perspective of the soldier, talking about America’s failure that nearly cost them the war, to the segment about how the entire country of North Korea completely disappeared.  In one night, everyone from that nation vanishes.  When you look at how dogmatic that nation is, it makes sense, and the tension that that scene leaves is incredible.  This was a great book.  Don’t let the title fool you.

And my favorite book, to date, is…!

The Amber Spyglass1. The Amber Spyglass, by Phillip Pullman
I was battling between myself to cheat again and put the entire series up here, because I love all of these books so incredibly much.  But when I thought about this series, my first thought went to how much I love this book, the third and last.  This book was great.  There were so many emotional scenes.  The plot of this series is unbelievably complex, so I won’t go too much into that.  This book picks up where the last left off, with Lyra having been kidnapped by her mother, and Will, her traveling companion, looking to save her, with the help of two angels.  The events of this book are so dark, and so heartless at time, you do feel legitimately hurt by it.  The dialogue between Will and Mrs. Coulter (Lyra’s mother) when he finds her is so damn intense, but it gets into the darkness of both of these characters.  But my favorite scene, and I say this from my inner romantic, is from a scene towards the end, where Will and Lyra finally admit their love for each other.  That scene is so intense, and so beautiful, I love it.  But then it comes to the saddest, most unnecessarily painful ending of all time.  For real, this ending was brutal on a level that I have never seen, before or since.  I wonder if I actually had to be, but that’s nit-picking.  The fact is that I love this book, so incredibly much, and were it not for the ending, I would love this series like nothing else.

Until next time, a quote,

“I was awake and I wanted to tell you the same and now I know what I must have felt all the time: I love you, Will, I love you.”  – Lyra Belacqua

Peace out,

Maverick