EVERYONE has their favourite science fiction heroes and villains – the tent-pole names upon whom a story stands or falls.
I don’t mean dwarfs. Oh no, instead I mean the characters who are in the same room as the superstars when epoch changing moments are taking place, but only by accident.
The ordinary blokes who got up that day contemplating another day at the office and whether the canteen was serving that tagliatelle thing you like, only to watch as a plucky band of freedom fighters strike a blow against oppression or see that bloke you went all the way through the academy with get snuffed out in an instant, rendering all that training and hard work meaningless.
Here’s to science fiction’s ordinary losers.
Counting down ….
5. Star Trek crew, including red shirts
How could it be anything else? The casualty rate among the good men and women of Star Fleet is shockingly high as they crew the likes of the Enterprise and Deep Space Nine, but are all but ignored.
No, all we see is the occasional piece of an arm as they hand in their report to one of the main cast, or a group of backs disappearing down a corridor.
These people went to Star Fleet academy for god’s sake! They dedicated their life to the defence of the United Federation of Planets and for what? Anonimity and having to faithfully man deflector control and watch the command crew grandstand their way to another exciting victory, often at their expense.
Oh yes my friend, because regular anonimity does not mean safety. Instead it means being first in line when the call for cannon fodder goes up, when all that training and effort counts for nada.
4. Starship Troopers troopers
In a similar vein to the Red Shirts, but these poor schmoes were given just enough screen time to make you care about them.
This shower scene is a great example of where minor characters tell their friends – and by extension us – what their hopes and dreams are. You know that by doing so, they may have doubled their screen time but at the expense of a one-way ticket to the death machine.
Especially if that death machine is made up of countless alien spider monsters with razor-sharp jaws and claws that will rip you to pieces or suck your brains out. This scene also has naked chicks getting showered, which has nothing to do with the blog but is fantastic to watch.
3. Mr Kinney
AH Mr Kinney. He was on the fast track to a fantastic life as an executive with Omni Consumer Products.
He’d made the board, and at such a young age too, and was no doubt only half paying attention to the new product on display as he pondered snorting cocaine off supermodels’ breasts.
But today was no ordinary day in Detroit. It was the day that the Robocop project was to get the green light and clean up crime, as well as striking a blow against corporate power and unchecked arrogance.
Unfortunately for Mr Kinney, the green light for that momentous event was him being shredded by countless rounds of high velocity ammunition.
“Dick, I’m very disappointed,” said the Old Man. Imagine how Mr Kinney felt.
2. Mr Decker
ON the face of it an MI5 technical drone of little importance, he is the textbook little man at the heart of events, but in his case he positively relishes his place in the grand scheme of things.
After years monitoring the airwaves for the return of the 456 and, you imagine, barely getting a second glance from his colleagues, he is suddenly thrust to the fore as they return although even then he seems to escape our attention.
Decker is also the only person to escape alive when the 456 release poison gas into Thames House – outliving poor Ianto (once a nobody too) and even Captain Jack, although he did come back, being immortal and all that.
He was also watching on with barely contained glee when Jack has to sacrifice his grandson to save the world, saying ‘The kid’s gonna fry.’
An amoral survivor who looks like a favourite uncle but would step over your still twitching corpse for the last bit of cake.
1. Star Wars Star Destroyer gunner
The ultimate little man, thrust to the centre of massive events.
The gunner on the Star Destroyer at the beginning of A New Hope – let’s call him Dave – must have shone at the Imperial Academy to get a plum posting on Darth Vader’s ship.
But Dave could have ended the whole shebang there and then by shooting down R2D2 and C3PO in their escape pod. No more Death Star plans, no meeting Luke, and Obi Wan, and Han Solo and … well, I think you get the idea.
In my idler moments a few years ago, I imagined that Dave was really a Rebel spy, who decided not to shoot as he had been told to let the droids go in a secret transmission.
He then escaped from the Star Destroyer before he could be discovered, and after a series of adventures, eventually took sanctuary … on Alderaan. Oh the irony!
I’ve never told anyone this before, so if you’re reading this you’re among the first to see how awesome I am and what I spend my spare time thinking about.
So there we have it. Ordinary saps like you and me who are right next to enormous moments of sci-fi adventure. Anyone I missed?