Team Duin vs Team Belloc

This post originally appeared on the Contact – Infinite Futures SF blog on February 26, 2012.

I love all of my characters, whether they’re heroes, villains, gamers, pub musicians or AI sims. I feel like a parent who refuses to choose favorites.

But the two main alien protagonists seem to polarize my readers. While they describe it in different ways, it boils down to this: Are you on Team Duin or Team Belloc?

Duin is intelligent, eloquent, resourceful, and passionately devoted to the cause of liberating his people, the Glin, from their insidious Tikati oppressors. At only 40 years old, he’s considered an “elder” on his planet, and can fly a space ship, quote Shakespeare, construct an orrery, or entertain children will equal ease. Depending on which reader you ask, he’s either sexy, patriotic and paternal… or he’s a pedantic pain in the ass.

Belloc is a mysterious young outcast with uncanny abilities and a tragic past. My sister dubbed him “emo Glin” and declared herself the captain of his fan club before the book was ever published. He kicks ass and spouts romantic sentiments, and… GASP …quits playing his video game when the heroine needs him. Truly a fantasy male. Depending on which review you read, he either gets in the way and should have been shunted off into the sequel… or he’s the best part of Stellarnet Rebel.

Both characters interact with the heroine, Genny O’Riordan, and while there are romantic elements to the story, there’s also a lot of action, adventure, and computer geekery. My goal was to create an unconventional friendship between the characters in the midst of the plot — after all, the two of them are aliens, not bound by human conventions. But many readers still feel the need to take sides. Or, as it’s referred to in other fandoms, to be “shippers.” It amazes me that I’ve created two very different personalities who evoke such strong reactions.

What do you think? I’d love to hear whether you’re “Team Duin” or “Team Belloc” — or like me, you’re “Team Everybody”! If you haven’t read the book, which team do you think you’d be on? Have you read other books that evoked a strong love/hate relationship with the main characters?

~ J.L. Hilton

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