Friday, April 2, 2021

Five SFF character pairs with ever-changing relationships

Catriona Silvey was born in Glasgow and grew up in Scotland and England. After collecting an unreasonable number of degrees from the universities of Cambridge, Chicago, and Edinburgh, she moved back to Cambridge where she lives with her husband and son. Her short stories have been performed at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and shortlisted for the Bridport Prize.

Silvey's new novel is Meet Me in Another Life.

At she tagged five science-fiction and fantasy character pairs with ever-changing relationships, including:
Anyanwu and Doro—Wild Seed by Octavia Butler

The most literally Protean duo on this list, Butler’s warring immortals are shapeshifters of very different kinds. Anyanwu, a healer by nature, can alter her body to take on the shapes of people or animals. Doro, controlling and ruthless, survives by killing others and possessing their bodies, wearing out their flesh until he is forced to move on. Doro is obsessed with breeding a lineage of humans with special abilities; Anyanwu wants only to nurture and protect her descendants. The story of their slow-burn conflict spans centuries and continents, from their first meeting in West Africa to the novel’s resolution in Louisiana, as the two go from lovers to enemies to something else, long-fought-for and indefinable.

The tension of the story comes from the fact that Anyanwu and Doro’s obvious differences are balanced by irresistible similarity. Long-lived and powerful as they are, they are the only people who can surprise each other; they also know each other too well to be able to lie or pretend. Shapeshifters though they are, their weakness is their intransigence: Doro’s inability to imagine how Anyanwu’s motives differ from his own, and Anyanwu’s habit of submitting to Doro instead of imagining another way forward. But they remain, both of them, capable of change, at least with respect to each other. Only when Anyanwu grasps the true power she has over Doro, and Doro learns to ask rather than command, can they fulfill the half-promise, half-threat that runs through the novel: ‘Because of me, you will never be alone.’
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue