Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Usually, we skip posting on Thanksgiving so everyone can take time off to celebrate you know what: family. Family is the best, or the worst, depending on who you are talking to. But regardless, people have extreme opinions about family. You likely find yourself now asking, “do we have any recommendations for fantasy and science fiction books about family for the holidays?” Well, let us think about that for a moment… hmmm… well now that you mention it a few of them do come to mind. I guess if you give us a moment we could put together some sort of list of iconic families from SFF for the holidays. Just give us one second…. And here you go:
1) The Found Family – The Gentleman Bastards: You know what they say, “you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends, so why would anyone choose terrible blood relations over people who are actually fun to be around,” or something like that. To me, no other cast of fictional characters screams ‘Friendsgiving’ more than Scott Lynch’s Gentleman Bastards. All pseudo-orphans sold into slavery to a chained patron who forces them to steal things to eat, they are all wonderful examples of how the best family members are those who you choose from the small group of other orphans thrown into the gutter with you. They’re quite fun to be around, probably will steal great dishes from someone’s grandmother on the way to your potluck, and can always be counted on to avenge your death on the likely chance that it occurs. But, while found families are all well and good, let’s talk about some of the most iconic ACTUAL families of SFF and fantasy, starting with everyone’s favorite psychopaths – The Starks.
2) The Cold Family with No Fucking Chill – The Starks: These stewards of the North are a fan favorite, and you could forgive them with that kickass Direwolf sigil and the family motto “winter is coming.” They are known for their cold demeanor and even icier brand of justice as they seem to rule the north with a calm guiding hand. But is that really the case when they plunge the realm into a civil war not once, but twice?! I mean that’s before they sew their own destruction by breaking an alliance trying to maintain their bedside honor. You could say it’s the summer blood of the Tullys but how can you account for Ned Stark’s bungling of political affairs to maintain his strict code of honor? Honestly, this family is ready to throw down after a couple of small attempted murders, and when one is outright killed, it’s war. Definitely, some unresolved repressed emotions that would come out over slight jabs during the holidays hidden underneath the Starks’ cold exterior.
3) The “Still Better Than Your Racist Uncle!” Family – Portia and the Spider Colony: Sure, chowing down on some spider-planet turkey-analog with arachnids of human-level intelligence might sound like a terrifying Thanksgiving tradition. But one of the biggest hurdles to overcome at the dinner table with Adrian Tchaikovsky’s eight-legged friends is communication. It’s hard to talk freely with a species that uses subtle palp movements and leg twitches to make conversation. The flip side? These spiders don’t have YouTube (and if they did, they’d for SURE call it VidWeb). So they won’t spout racist “facts” or tell you that masks don’t work during dinner. These friendly spiders won’t regurgitate right-wing talking points halfway through the passing of the gravy boat. Instead, they’ll suck the innards out of unsuspecting insects, leaving a husk of a creature in their wake, much like far-right algorithmic social media rabbit holes have done to your pea-brained relatives. This Thanksgiving, the “Spider Families Are better than Some Human Families” award goes to the arachnids from Children of Time and Children of Ruin.
4) The Family That Hides Its Real Thanksgiving Until After You Leave – The Bagginses: We’ve all been there. Your halfling friend sends a flowery-hand-calligraphed invite to celebrate Thanksgiving in The Shire. You show up. You dine–no, you FEAST. You drink–no, you IMBIBE. You smoke–no, you look at your hands and think “man, these things are just weird.” You may even be graced by the presence of a riddle-tongued wizard. Songs ring through the burrowing halls of the Baggins residence, telling tales of folk heroes and daring adventurers who gave their lives for the greater good. All-in-all, it’s a fantastic day. The post-feast lull sets in, and all the Bagginses and their hobbit brethren begin to yawn. That’s your signal. It’s time to go. You venture to the end of The Shire and untie your steed, only to realize you left your horse keys in Frodo’s abode. When you saunter back to the house, the room once again blazes with light and merriment. They’re feasting AGAIN, singing better, longer songs, drinking stronger drinks, smoking more potent…hobbit drugs? And although you had the time of your life for the three hours you were there, this after-party, this…second Thanksgiving, appears to be the main event. You crumple up your invite, remember that horses don’t need keys, and meander back to your steed, dejected. Happy second Thanksgiving to you.
5) The Family With A Lucrative Business That Loves Their Golden Boy Heir – The Atreides: Do you know anyone that is a single child whose parents just seem to go to extreme lengths to set them up for life? The family that seems to have it all but consistently encourages their child to get involved in schemes that only one of absurd privilege could get away with? Well, if you don’t and need a good look at what that’s like, the Atreides are a shining example. Here you have Jessica, a mother who completely disobeys her entire religious order, the Bene Gesserit, that exists purely to manage bloodlines so she could have a son one generation sooner than the grand plan had in mind. Then the father, Duke Leto, in an effort to prove his loyalty to the Padishah Emperor, uprooted his family from the water-laden calm planet of Caladan to Arrakis. Also known as Dune, Arrakis is where the spice Melange is harvested, the literal lifeblood of interstellar travel within the galactic empire. Paul, their only son, is determined to live his life and ingratiate himself amongst the people of Arrakis so that he may better understand who he is ruling. If that’s not enough, the family exploits the culture and myths of a messiah seeded long ago on Dune by the Bene Gesserit so that the people of Arrakis start to see Paul as their messiah come home. I mean what more can they give him?
Thanks for taking time out of your holidays to read our post friends, and once again, have a happy Thanksgiving!