Father’s Day at the library

Andi Cumbo raises a good topic for discussion for Father’s Day:

Maybe it’s just what I choose to read, but it seems to me that I’ve not read many books with father figures I just adore. Mothers, yes – Kate Murry from A Wrinkle in Time, Lamott’s Operating Instructions, Mrs. Mularkey in Firefly Lane. Not perfect mothers, of course, but mothers I appreciate and respect.

For the life of me, on this Father’s Day, I’m really having trouble pulling up the books where father character’s shine. … Father figures crop up — like Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings. But good, solid fathers, those are rare I think.

The list of “good, solid fathers” in our stories has to begin, I think, with Atticus Finch.

That’s a good start, but Andi is right — after that it gets tricky.

Shakespeare provides a treasure trove of great characters, but if you’re looking for “good, solid fathers,” the Bard isn’t much help. I grew up on the stories of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Walt Disney, George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg and they’re not much help either. Neither is Jane Austen.

There’s Jonathan Kent. And if we’re counting step-fathers, then also probably Jean Valjean. Umm, Charles Ingalls. And Cliff Huxtable, the archetypal sit-com dad.

Carson Drew, maybe (but definitely not Fenton Hardy). Arthur Weasley. George Bailey. Marlin from Finding Nemo.

More recently I suppose we could include Josiah Bartlett and Eric Taylor. Probably also a handful of the good people of Port William, Kentucky. Maybe “the man” from Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.

Do vengeful dads count? Like Liam Neeson in Taken or Denzel in John Q?

What if we consider “the Bible as literature”? That doesn’t do much to add to our list. Joseph (if he doesn’t count as a repeat of Jonathan Kent). Jairus. And … well, let me think. I’m sure there are other “good, solid fathers” in the Bible, but just as with other books, plays and movies, it’s far easier to think of counter-examples than it is of candidates for this list.

We could speculate as to whether this tells us something about fathers or something about storytellers and stories, but let’s try to flesh out this list a bit more first. Who am I forgetting? Who else belongs on the list of “good, solid fathers” in literature?

 

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

     I have to ask where the parallel is.  Jonathan Kent was Clark’s adoptive father.  Ben Parker was Peter’s uncle. 

    Not that I think that Ben shouldn’t be included, but there actually is a difference between an adoptive parent and a parental figure.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=659001961 Brad Ellison

    Trevor Bruttenholm, especially in the movies.  It takes a special kind of man to adopt a literal demon from Hell, and a really, really special kind of man to raise that demon to be a hero and all around good guy, but Bruttenholm managed it, while simultaneously devoting himself to protecting the world from the supernatural forces that threaten it.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Kamina’s dad from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann – he had such a profound effect on his son that it drove Kamina to start the movement that would end with humans ruling the world.

    Hakoda from Avatar: The Last Airbender obviously had great love for his children, and Sokka in particular really looked up to him. There’s also Tenzin from The Legend of Korra.

  • Tehanu

    Of course Aral Vorkosigan has received a lot of shout-outs here, as well he should, but there’s another good dad in the Vorkosigan books:  Captain Koudelka, father of four daughters who take no crap from anybody.  Delia, Martya, Olivia and Kareen all get to show their stuff and their stuff is great.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira


    If you are a young American man, take this father’s day to remember how fathers are an abused class of people

    Wow what a bunch of shit.

    I know one woman who was raped by her stepfather as a teenager and one who was raped by her grandfather when she was a toddler. Neither of those men were punished in any way.  Men sexually abusing the girls they are supposed to care for and protect is incredibly common — fathers raping daughters, uncles raping nieces, on and on and on. 

    And right now across the nation the control of women’s bodies is being taken away from women by the state. 

    Not getting your own way all the time is not being “abused”. I know plenty of men think that their privileges of ownership of women and children were “rights” — guess what, they weren’t. Your misognynistic bullshit about “vindictive women” is not going to fly here. Go crawling back to your buddies about how evil we are for not offering up our bodies to whatever you want to do with us. We are no longer your slaves. Deal with it.

  • Wish I was opie.

    Sheriff Andy Taylor. Best Dad Ever.

  • Ursula L

    If we’re  talking Doctor Who, there is the relationship between Rory and Melody/Mels/River.  It’s odd, and it isn’t a continuous relationship.  But Rory manages to adapt to every odd twist in the relationship, and to treat his daughter appropriately even when their respective ages are quite out-of-synch and her behavior is odd.  In the end, Amy, Rory and River have a comfortable and affectionate connection despite every twist in their lives. 

  • http://twitter.com/HustonW Will

    I think the parallel between Pa Kent and Uncle Ben Parker is that both Peter and Clark were infants, toddlers at the oldest, when they lost their biological parents and were really raised by Jonathan and Martha/Ben and May.  There are several recent issues where Peter refers to Aunt May as Mom.  I’m not sure if its ever established that Peter was legally adopted by May and Ben, but they were his legal guardians for most of his life and its pretty clear that Peter considers his parents to be Ben and May. 
    And I just kind of have to pop in and say that I really dislike viewing Superman as a Christ-analogue.  I think there’s a Grant Morrison quote on this that I can’t find at the moment that goes something like this.  ”Christianity would be a lot different if Heaven blew up right after God sent Jesus.” 

  • Vermic

    From TV: Veronica Mars had a pretty awesome dad.

    From movies: Mel Gibson’s character in Ransom. Whatever his flaws as a businessman, a husband, or a person, he’s one hell of a devoted father.

    Disney’s Hercules had a cool loving bio-dad AND a cool loving adopted dad.

    Seconding the dad from Yotsuba&!

    There’s a good dad in Psychonauts, although to talk about it would be kinda spoilery. I feel OK with bringing a video game into the conversation because it was written by Tim Schaefer and is therefore fine art.

  • Ursula L

    Another Bujold father.  In “The Sharing Knife” series, Dag is a father at the very end, and from the little we see, a good one.  And unusual for this list in that we see him only as a father at the stage of caring for an infant.  

  • erikagillian

    Of course Sam Vimes, he can teach him to walk, he’s good at that, having just been a father figure to himself in that book ().  Carrot’s adoptive parents, I can’t remember if we know which was which(Guards! Guards!).  Susan’s father, Mort, Susan’s grandfather Death(Mort to start for Death, .  I think Esk’s dad (Equal Rites) was a good dad in a hard situation.

  • PJ Evans

     it might have been, except they knew each other existed – and they didn’t meet until many years later. Screwed up the daughter, though: her mother was… not good for her.

  • Michael Pullmann

     Ben effectively is Peter’s adoptive father. It may never have been official on paper, but after Peter’s parents died, Ben and May were his mom and dad.

  • http://twitter.com/Lyssiechan Lyssie

    @ShifterCat: Even better, there’s still no hint of “less of a man” when the battle comes to him and he’s traumatized into a catatonic state and Nightfall has to telepathically coax him back out of it with reaffirmations that she is the fighter and he won’t have to do that again.

    I love Redlance and Nightfall so very much.

  • arghous

    The Baudelaires in A Series of Unfortunate Events (at least based on the movie).

    Brother/surrogate father Simon Tam in Firefly (and maybe Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice (at least based on the 1997 adaptation)).

  • ReverendRef

     There was at least one episode and one TNG movie in which Picard has a family in some kind of alternate reality,

    Ah, yes . . . I forgot about The Inner Light episode (with the famous flute).  It took him awhile to get past the whole Starfleet thing, but once he did, he was a pretty good family man and dad.

  • erikagillian

    Oh, and Diana Wynne Jones.  The parents in her books are usually flawed in some way, and sometimes the growing up for kid is realizing that they are flawed but either they had good intentions and tried or decide that they were terrible parents and try and find some other way of dealing with things.  Archer’s Goon is pretty graphically that way, you have an instance where he realizes his dad is a passenger and content to be carried along and some other stuff, but then a few pages later his dad does something good and he comes to a conclusion that his parents are a  mix of good and bad.

    But some of the parents are just plain *bad* as parents, or even as people.  Christopher Chant’s parents are both bad parents, but seem to be weak but ok people if they aren’t being ambitious. 

    One of the worst fathers is Himself in Time of the Ghost, he and their mother neglect the kids almost to the point of malnourishment and when he does notice them it’s with anger, and hitting and calling them bitches, etc.  What’s interesting is this book is the most autobiographical of them all, her parents raised her and her sisters that way.  At some point in her early adolescence her grandmother took custody of them, which may have saved their sanity.  So I don’t think you’re going to find a thoroughly good father in a Diana Wynne Jones book, though there’s a lot that try hard and do love their children.

    If you’re interested there’s an autobiographical essay at her offical page and she also talks about being evacuated during WWII to a house near Arthur Ransome, and how he hated children.  How her sister at age four or so got yelled at by Beatrix Potter for swinging on her gate.  And when she went to Oxford:  “However, C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien were both
    lecturing then, Lewis booming to crowded halls and Tolkien mumbling to
    me and three others.”

  • Nenya

    @google-9b1956a71f731854c88308094ddb5fc3:disqus : Yes, David Sheridan! I can see why John named his son after him. Also I’m pretty sure we hear good things about Jeff Sinclair’s dad, whom he followed into the military pilot business, but we never actually met him. 

    Oh, and on the Sisko family front, Ben’s dad Joseph Sisko was pretty damn awesome too. Not military in the slightest, but loved his captain son and his writer grandson to itsy bits. And a damn good chef. 

  • Shishberg

    Darryl Kerrigan.

  • http://www.quirkyknitgirl.com/ Stephanie Ivy

    I agree with whoever said Carl ‘Helo’ Agathon from BSG. I’d also say Admiral Adama; yeah, he isn’t perfect and he screws up (a lot) but he does apologize for his mistakes and he tries.  Sometimes I think fallible heroes are better than perfect ones. 

    Josiah Bartlet, certainly and Eric Taylor. If we’re counting step-fathers or father figures, Luke Danes on Gilmore Girls may not have been Rory’s father, but he acted as one. Agent Booth on Bones is a great dad to his kid, even as the non-custodial parent. 

  • SisterCoyote

    As long as we’re going to be throwing Vorkosigan Saga characters of integrity and depth around the thread, there should probably be a link – Baen Publishing has released the entire series (except Memory and one of the framing short stories) online, here: http://baencd.thefifthimperium.com/24-CryoburnCD/CryoburnCD/ *

    And seconded on Koudelka as a good father-figure character, although he definitely makes some interesting mistakes later on in the series. (And early on! Oh, Kou, you poor egotist.)

    *I should note: they’re in a slightly weird order – about halfway through “Miles, Mutants, and Microbes,” it’s best to stop and buy, borrow, or download Memory (available for, IIRC, $6 in any downloadable format), read that, then read Miles in Love, and then go back to finish Miles, Mutants, and Microbes before continuing – the chronology is a bit screwy, otherwise.

  • Nicolae Carpathia

    A vote for Marlin.

    Seriously, he crossed half the ocean and became a legend throughout the animal kingdom, all on his quest to find his son.

  • Joshua

    Yeah, Veronica Mars’ Dad is simply a superhuman father. A perfect mix of personal integrity, respect for his child, massive support in a highly toxic world, and the incredible paranoia and deviousness to be able to keep a step ahead of her, some of the time.

  • Nicolae Carpathia

    Something else just occurred to me. Though we don’t see all that much of him, Dave Lizewski’s dad is pretty good, since one of the things Dave complains about at the opening of Kick-Ass is that he didn’t even have bad (or missing/murdered) parents to spice up his superheroic origin story.

  • Trixie_Belden

    I didn’t see this when I read through the comments – how about the dad in The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly? 

  • Ursula L

    Thinking a little more of the Aral/Gregor pseudo-father/son relationship…

    While Aral is, in some ways, obviously Gregor’s foster-father, he also did an admirable job of resisting that role.

    It might have been easy, and tempting, to want to provide a parent’s care and love to the parentless and frightened Gregor.  

    But Aral had a vital political obligation not to step into the role of Gregor’s father.  More specifically, Gregor’s father, Serg, should have inherited the throne from Ezar, and Gregor should have inherited from Serg.  But if Aral replaces Serg in that equation, he is usurping Gregor’s claim to the throne as the next living heir of Ezar.

    And this was a threat that Ezar was very, very aware of.  That any regent for the child Gregor would have the potential of stealing the throne from Gregor.  And it need not be out of greed.  Excessive affection for Gregor, excessive desire to protect Gregor from the dangers and incredible stress of being Emperor, excessive over-identification with the role of being Gregor’s replacement father could all lead to political disaster.  

    Gregor needed to grow up, not just seeing Aral as his regent and caretaker, but also seeing that even Aral could be a potential threat.  Aral was not raising Gregor to be a good prime minister in a parliamentary democracy, to wrangle his party or coalition into effective governance.  He was raising Gregor to be an emperor in an empire where the emperor has very real autocratic and dictatorial power, tempered only by the local control of the regional dictators that are the Counts.  

    But at the same time, Gregor had to grow up with the potential for the self-confidence to realize that he could be a genuine leader, even leading Aral, and leading Aral and Aral’s opponents to work to serve his, Gregor’s, needs. 

    And he needed to grow up thinking not that it was natural for Aral, his guardian and regent, and everyone else just to obey him, but rather that it was normal and natural for him to have the charisma and intellect and persuasive skills and political power to lead and have everyone follow his lead.  Gregor has imperial rights, but he also had imperial obligations, and the two are utterly entwined, at least from Aral’s perspective of what makes a good emperor.  

    ***

    Now, going back to the Aral/Mark relationship.

    After the minefield that was his relationship with Gregor, having an unexpected adult son who was raised to be his assassin is easy for Aral.  

    To be very clear, Aral wants to get Miles back, and wants to have a good relationship with Mark, but is having a hard time distinguishing between Mark-as-Mark and Mark-as-a-Miles-replacement.

    And “Mark-as-a-Miles-replacement” has two meanings in Aral’s mind.  One is the potential for a second chance, a way to replace the (sort-of) dead Miles as Lord Vorkosigan and a future Count Vorkosigan.  The other is Mark as the threat of someone who is supposed to assassinate Miles, impersonate Miles, assassinate Aral, and then destroy all the work Aral did to ensure that Gregor was an effective emperor, capable of keeping the peace and leading Barrayar to a better future.  

    Aral very much wanted, intellectually, to establish a good and appropriate father-son relationship with Mark, modified from the traditional forms to accomidate Mark’s unusual origins and to integrate Mark into the family and into high-Vor society and politics.  

    Emotionally, Aral was wading through an absolute mess, dealing with the issues arising from Mile’s being dead/missing, Mark being his potential assassin, and everything else that was going on for Aral in “Mirror Dance.”  

    Politically, Aral knew that he had to, somehow, fit Mark perfectly into the role of the spare-heir to Vorkosigan District.  And that if Mark couldn’t be made to fit that role, the only viable options were either killing Mark (the most politically stable outcome) or convincing Mark to remain in some sort of exile and never, ever make any sort of claim to Vorkosigan power or property.  

    And I have no doubt that Aral would have had Mark executed, if Aral thought it was necessary to ensure the stability and peace on Barrayar that he had worked so hard, as Gregor’s regent, to create and maintain.  

    ***

    As Gregor’s regent, Aral successfully navigated the conflict of interest between being Gregor’s guardian and protector and ensuring that Gregor would grow in to having genuine power under his own control.

    After that, negotiating the various conflicts and inconsistencies in his relationship with Mark was in some ways easier that being Gregor’s regent.  Aral always had the option of having Mark either legally executed or quietly assassinated.  Aral never had that option with Gregor.  

    But Aral resisted taking the easy route of getting rid of Mark and all the associated problems, and instead found a way for Mark to not only live, but live as himself, both a recognized and welcomed spare-heir to the Vorkosigan dynasty, but also as someone who was clearly alien to Barrayar, who had his own interests, both political and financial, and for Mark to be someone who, in spite of all the harm done to him by his creators, nevertheless had an extended family who genuinely wanted what was best for him and who would, within certain Barrayar-specific political limits, use their extraordinary power within a multi-planetary government to look out for him.  

  • http://blog.carlsensei.com Carl

    Hank Hill of King of the Hill isn’t perfect, but he’s one of the few exceptions to the rule that sitcom dads are always dumber than their wives and children. Even Raymond—universally beloved!—is then umber than his wife.

  • flat

    Dr Cox from scrubs.

    One tough as nails badass with a troubled youth and married to somebody who he first loved then hated and then loved again.

    That he discovered he liked being a father and that his fear of being a bad father made him such a good one.

    Dr cox get a lot of crap poured over him during the series but at the end you can see that he is a happier better man than when the series started.

  • malpollyon

    If I might be permitted to bring video games into the mix, the Nier stands out a a portrayal of a dedicated father caring for his sick daughter as best as he can (except for the Japanese PS3 version, in which Nier’s role is that of brother instead).

  • Steele

    The dad in Mary Poppins. He starts out not the best, but grows into it.

    I think that great parents in fiction need to have their parenting put to the test and come out with the right answer. That’s why I’d say Helo in Galactica is great, because he has a motivation NOT to be. Sam Vimes in Discworld also has to prove himself as a good dad. Oooh. In Silent Hill 1, Harry Mason’s motivation the whole game is “Save my daughter, even if it means that I may get murderfied by these zombies.”Funny that he got a gender change when the movie came out.I think that perhaps in society, men being good parents isn’t seen as the ‘standard.’ He was a guy in the game because we gamers are all men, so to play a character and empathize with him he must be male. However when the movie came out, we aren’t supposed to BE the good parent. So it’s a woman now. And Sean Bean is just kinda… There.When there’s a good male parent in a story, very often the story is about that person’s parenting, or that person, or that person’s kid’s relation to them… Very rarely about the kid NOT having a struggle with their father. If fatherhood isn’t key to the story, then it’s easier to right a mother in.OOH! Turk in Scrubs is good.

  • TheoLib

    Fictional Dads?  The father in Johnny Cash’s “A Boy Named Sue” (by Shel Silverstein)?  :)

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    My favourite as a kid was the dad from “Danny, Champion of the World” by Roald Dahl. From memory, he was poor, intelligent, and spent a lot of time hanging out with his son. Reminded me of the best bits of my own father.

  • Riklurt

    Charles Halloway (Will’s father) from Ray Bradbury’s _Something Wicked This Way Comes_ certainly counts. He’s a little awkward around his son, but ultimately very caring, and there are some really striking father-son scenes in that book. 

  • Parisienne

    My favourite childhood book was A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Sara Crewe’s Papa is utterly devoted to her.

    Admittedly that whole dying and leaving her supposedly penniless thing was a bit of a black mark against him but he couldn’t really help that.

  • Revelshade

    Amen! I can’t believe I got to the 3rd page of comments before someone mentioned this, especially so soon after Bradbury’s passing. Have a cigar, Sir! (Handy for throwing Dust Witches off the scent)

  • S_Pho

    First, the father played by Jimmy Stewart in “Shenandoah” popped randomly into my mind.

    Second, and this is a stretch — Walter White in “Breaking Bad?”  He very quickly stops being a good husband, a good teacher and a good human being.  But does he ever really stop being a good father?

  • purpleshoes

    I was just thinking of this guy! One of the things that really made an impression on me when I was a child is how involved William was – and had to be – in the real logistics of caring for a child in an impoverished situation.  Sure lots of fictional fathers raise armies or invade countries or make supernatural pacts for their children, but there aren’t a lot of scenes of most of them dealing with how to give a kid a bath in a house with no running water. 

  • Dragoness Eclectic

    Second the Heinlein reference. His juvenile protagonists almost always have good, solid father figures; off-hand, I cannot think of one that does not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=30319652 Tim Lehnerer

    I hope nobody mentioned Theodore Knight from the 1990s STARMAN yet. One of the coolest mad-science-powered ex-superhero squares in comics history. Watching Jack Knight’s relqtionship with his father improve over 80 issues was a real treat.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    What about Jesse Pinkman? He becomes a surrogate father of sorts to Brock, and he hates the idea that anyone might hurt the kid.

  • TheFaithfulStone

     How do I go about reading these?  I’d like to but I can’t figure out where to start.  The wikipage says I should start with a book that’s not on that website, so now I’m confused.

  • lowtechcyclist

    Stephen R. Donaldson’s Mordant’s Need books have two very good fathers – King Joyse and the Domne – as well as one really bad father, Terisa’s.

    Also seconding Joe from Great Expectations, and Sam Vimes from the Discworld books.

  • TheFaithfulStone

     I always like the portrayal of King Albereth in The Hero and the Crown.  I don’t think he’s necessarily the world’s best father, but like most things about that book, it’s not what you’d expect from a work of “children’s” literature.   He clearly loves his daughter, even though she might not really be his daughter and her mother might have “magicked” him into marrying her – but at the same time he’s caught in this kind of web of obligation that prevents him from doing what he wants to do.

    The books itself is largely a sympathetic portrayal of people caught in interlocking and conflicting obligations and desires – so even though the Father is kind of an obstacle for much of the story, he doesn’t really come across as an antagonist.

  • Jim from BC

    Ned Stark from Game of Thrones, Giles from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Arthur Weasley from Harry Potter, Gerard Butler’s character in How to Train Your Dragon was a good, though flawed, father figure, Bill Adama from Battlestar was good for the first season or two until the show jumped the shark. From Avatar the Last Airbender we’ve got Katara and Sokka’s father Hakoda, and Aang’s father-figure monk Gyatso, But Zuko’s father-figure Iroh is probably the best example of a father figure in Western Animation. In the sequel series we also get Aang’s son Tenzin. For anime there’s also Edward Elric’s father Hohenheim from Fullmetal Alchemist  (the manga not the original anime) who is another example of “good but definitely flawed”. Light Yagami’s father from Death Note is also a stand-up guy, despite how his son turned out. I also thought the Knight from the first Dragon Heart movie was an interesting take on a father figure.

  • Jim from BC

     Oh and there’s also Rodrigo Borgia from The Borgias. He’s certainly not an ideal father by modern standards but considering the social standards of the era he lives in…

  • Ursula L

    How do I go about reading these?  I’d like to but I can’t figure out where to start.  The wikipage says I should start with a book that’s not on that website, so now I’m confused. 

    Bujold has written a lot of books in the Vorkosigan universe, starting in the 1980s.  Keeping all of them in print, now, would probably be impractical from the standpoint of her publisher, Baen.  But there is still interest in the whole series.  So the compromise is that, these days, most of the earlier books are published in omnibus editions, each of which has, generally, three novels.  

    The exeptions to this is the novel “Memory” which is absolutely pivotal in the series, but which doesn’t fit neatly into the groupings of the omnibus editions, and Cryoburn, the most recent novel, which, as with any new novel, was first published as a stand-alone, and the first printing of the hardcover included the CD which contained all of the earlier stories except “Memory” and which Baen and Bujold granted explicit permission for people who bought “Cryoburn” to distribute freely.  

    According to Bujold, as posted to her fan mailing/discussion list, “Memory” was omitted from the CD by accident, because they discussed including all of the earlier Vorkosigan works, and put in all the omnibus editions, but forgot/overlooked that “Memory” wasn’t in an omnibus.

    The other thing you loose with the omnibus editions, and with the free CD released e-books, is the framing story that Bujold wrote for the novel release of “Borders of Infinity” which contained three shorter works originally published in “Analog” magazine, with the framing story linking them together.  The framing story is one of the earliest stories which included a lot of Illyan, and it is helpful to know when you’re starting to read “Memory”, but not essential.  

    Bujold mostly writes so that her works can work as stand-alone stories, with the exception of her “Sharing Knife” series which is very much one very long story split between four covers.  So you can read them in any order you want, mostly, although some of the Vorkosigan novels work better as stand-alones than others, while other Vorkosigan books (particularly “Memory”) work best when you know what came before, in the sense that you’ll appreciate things better when you know what came before.  

    The Vorkosigan series was not written in internal-chronological order.  So the big question, for most new readers, is whether to read in publication order, internal-chronological order, or the order in which you manage to obtain copies of the various works.  

    I’m agnostic on that question.  Just read them!

    But if you have a preference, then what you probably want to do is buy or legally free-download the omnibus editions, and buy either print or e-book versions of “Memory” and “Cryoburn”* and then go through and read the individual stories in your chosen order. 

    If you’re dealing with the omnibus editions, and don’t want to bounce back and forth between novels, I’d suggest this order:

    1.  ”Cordelia’s Honor” – Two novels, “Shards of Honor” and “Barrayar.”  These have Cordelia, the mother of Miles, as protagonist and point of view character.  Miles is the protagonist and point of view character (or, in more recent works, one of several tightly-written point of view characters) in all but two of the rest of the Vorkosigan novels.

    2.  ”Young Miles.”

    3.  ”Miles, Mystery, and Mayhem”  This includes “Ethan of Athos”, where neither Miles nor anyone else in the Vorkosigan family is an active character, which is told from the POV of a character who doesn’t appear in any other stories, and where Eli Quinn, who is in several other stories as a secondary character is also a secondary character.  This is still very worth reading, if only for the chance to think about the sociology of the culture on the planet of Athos.  

    4. “Miles Errant.”

    5.  ”Memory” – a single novel, not in any of the omnibus editions.

    6. “Miles in Love”

    7.  ”Miles, Mutants and Microbes”  This includes “Falling Free”, a stand-alone novel set in the Vorkosigan universe several centuries before the rest of the stories, the novella “Labyrinth” which was also one of the shorter works collected in the novel “Borders of Infinity” with two other works and a framing story and which is earlier in the internal-chronology, and the novel “Diplomatic Immunity” which is the reason for this omnibus edition being in this place on my list.

    8.  ”Cryoburn” – the most recent story, currently only available as a stand-alone.

    There is also this:

    9.  ”Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance” which is the Next Thing, due out in November.  Those who are familiar with the series will recognize, from the title, Bujold wrote this with the working title of “Ivan, His Book.”  

    ********************

    * I can’t remember, offhand, if the e-book of “Cryoburn” was included on the CD released with the first hardcover printing of “Cryoburn.  But if you get this far in the series, then I figure that you like it enough to not mind paying Bujold for both “Memory” and “Cryoburn” and your local used-book store for the novel version of “Borders of Infinity” for the sake of the the framing story.  

  • http://willbikeforchange.wordpress.com/ storiteller

    Ursula Le Guin notes in one of her books that a lot of us always write
    from the younger generation’s perspective and not the older, even when
    we are older ourselves.  I am trying to write a story inspired by this
    comment, but I’m stuck (probably not for this reason, at least I hope
    not).

    On the Big Idea series on his blog, John Scalzi recently featured a Hero’s Journey / Coming of Age story that was specifically from an older, menopausal woman’s point of view. It’s also a werewolf story:  http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/24/the-big-idea-catherine-lundoff/

    The Redwall series is filled with good fathers. To go back to YA, Myron Krupnik from the Anastasia Krupnik books is an excellent father who is very present in the series

    I adored both of those series. My dad is wonderful, so I wonder if that’s related to my enjoyment of them?

    Ron’s father and Harry’s godfather (Sirius Black) in the Harry Potter series.

    I read somewhere that J.K. Rawling had planned on killing off Mr. Weasley, but she was too fond of him to actually go through with it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/j.alex.harman John Alexander Harman

    Stash Slovotsky, in Joel Rosenberg’s “Guardians of the Flame” series, is portrayed in his son Walter’s memories as an excellent father.  Walter himself is a pretty good father, as is Karl Cullinane to both his biological son and his adopted daughter.  Interestingly, Stash was apparently based on some of Rosenberg’s few positive memories of his own abusive father — the bad side of whom appears in the “Keepers of the Hidden Ways” series as Ian Silverstein’s abusive father.  (That series also features a much better father in Thorian del Thorian, though.)

    Eldrinson Valdoria, in Catherine Asaro’s “Tales of the Ruby Dynasty” series, is another good example of a loving and supportive father.  I’d also second the mentions of Eddard Stark, Aral Vorkosigan, Anton Zilwicki, and Dr. Alfred Harrington.  Actually, David Weber offers a bunch of examples, including, interestingly enough, some of his villains.  In the Safehold series, both Haarahld and Cayleb Ahrmahk come to mind, but also their enemies (at least at the start) Prince Nahrmahn and Prince Hektor.  Back in the Honorverse, Albrecht Detweiler of all people is portrayed as a fond and doting father to his clone-sons, and Rob Pierre’s coup in the People’s Republic of Haven was partly motivated by the desire to avenge a beloved son who the Legislaturalists had sent into harm’s way in an irresponsible war.  The Bahzell Bahnakson series gives us Prince Bahnak and Baron Tellian.

  • Raymond

    Wow. No mention of Andy Taylor yet?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    I’m reminded of the protagonist’s father in Steven Gould’s “Wildside,” if that hasn’t been brought up already. The whole thing is told from the pov of his adolescent son, so of course he comes across as sort of clueless and authoritarian, and in the early parts of the novel he’s clearly someone to subvert rather than involve. Then things get hairy, and he actually gets some agency, and turns out to be a reasonable human being and a useful ally, as well as a loving father, somewhat to his son’s surprise.  (He remains kind of clueless, granted. But no more so than the rest of the human race.)


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