Off to the races.
One of the most fun aspects of science fiction and fantasy are races. Whether they’re from another planet or dwelling just over those forbidden mountains, outrageous races are one of the most wonderful features of sci-fi and fantasy. Whether the aliens are invaders or they come in peace, whether the elves are allies or ancient enemies, I look forward to discovering a setting’s non-human inhabitants. Over the years I’ve developed a few favorites, of which I will speak about in today’s blog.
After thinking on this for some time, I’ve determined that my favorite race in science fiction stories are not aliens, but humans. In two of my all-time favorite science fictions stories, Isaac Asimov’s The Foundation Trilogy and Frank Herbert’s DUNE, there are no aliens to be found. Humans have colonized space and are thriving, albeit in very different forms. I love seeing what’s become of us in the future. I love the idea of our expansion and travel among the countless stars, as explorers and nomads, venturing out as we always have to discover new worlds. Science fiction gives me a sense of wonder for what lies on the horizon for humanity, and that is something I sorely need these days.
It’s no secret that I love orcs in the fantasy genre. Tolkien’s classic monstrosities have evolved somewhat now that they’re established cast members of most fantasy settings and games. Half-orcs hold a special place in my heart because they get the worst of both worlds (typically not as smart as humans and not as strong as orcs) and I’m a sucker for an underdog. I’m partial to my own take on orcs in my previous webcomic, Dominic Deegan: Oracle for Hire, but I’ve lately become enamored with the orcs of Tamriel, the world of the Elder Scrolls. They’re just the right blend of civilized and savage for me to want to visit a stronghold or two, and their origin as former elves is a respectful nod to Tolkien. Is it weird that I want to give Malacath a hug?
I don’t normally like dwarves. I don’t dislike them, but they’ve always been “typical fantasy” to me and I find very little interesting about them. They have big beards. They swing battle-axes. They love beer and brew the best in the world. For some reason they have Scottish-ish accents. That changed for me when I discovered the dwarves of Dragon Age. My introduction to these dwarves in Dragon Age: Origins had me both intrigued and horrified. Dwarf society is awful! Their caste system is oppressive and brutal, and most of the nobility is corrupt. Many of them have no beards at all, speak with no accents at all (unheard of in the fantasy genre!), and their beer is god-awful because they have no choice but to brew it from fungus because they live underground. While I was mortified by their declining civilization, I was also enchanted by how different it all felt.
Finally, I love hobbits. They love food, a comfortable home, and fine company. Enough said.
There are countless examples and unique takes on humans, dwarves, orcs, and aliens across many genres in many forms, and whichever version of whatever race you like best is the right one.