It is a new year, my friends, a time for new Goodreads goals, hastily dropped resolutions, and meaningful reflection. Or, if you’re not into meaningful reflection, you can talk about books instead. (That’s what we do around here.)
Cait, also known as Paper Fury, also known as Cake-Making Grandma of the Book Blogging Community, once upon a time began the Smashing and Dashing Character Awards, wherein awards are handed out to the characters who newly won your heart in the previous year. Tremendous fun they were. Seasons change and time flies, however, and now it is Katie Hanna who keeps the tradition alive and from her I have politely pilfered these questions.
And without further ado…let the red carpet be rolled out, the trumpets sounded, the mics turned on, and the awarding of the awards begun.
THE SMASHING AND DASHING
Most Relatable Character
Murderbot!!!! (From All Systems Red and at least the next two books in the series.) Murderbot is a…not really robot; it has organic parts and also Feelings, which it hates and doesn’t want to talk about. It’s an extremely skilled combat unit (not the part I relate to) who’s been treated like an expendable object all its life and then suddenly encounters humans who find this treatment horrifying. And then they are nice to it and want it to talk about its Feelings and obviously Murderbot has never been more traumatized in its entire life. Not even by that mysterious and terrible event in its past.
Also, its thoughts are so sarcastic, and it feels so much more emotionally secure when it’s in opaque armor so people can’t see its shape or facial expressions, and it skips the romance parts in shows.
Do you see why it’s so relatable???
(Also, I’m calling it “it,” but it has skin and I’m pretty sure your entire genome is in your skin cells, and so I’m pretty sure Murderbot has a gender, and I’m guessing male, but the books don’t actually tell you what it is. Which is really interesting! Because it’s kind of irrelevant to the story and themes, you know?)
Most Pure Animal Companion
First I wanted to say Gollum (from The Lord of the Rings), then Sycorax and Caliban (from The Wednesday Wars). Then I thought maybe I oughtn’t behave like a two-year-old possessed of a demon of contrariety, so I hereby give this award to Sea-cow, from the Breton fairy-tale Little White-thorn.
Hector of Troy.
And if you dare to say that perhaps, all things considered, I should give this reward to Achilles instead –
First of all, no.
And second of all, I will smite you in oddly specific places with my spear, right as your patron deity is sneezing so I know he or she won’t interfere, and cause a mist to come before your eyes and your life to leave you and your ancient father in far-away lands to be left grieving, heirless, and childless in his old age, before stripping you of your armor and making a speech in which self-aggrandizing boasts and insults to the dead are mingled in very bad taste.
And THIRD OF ALL, Hector *bursts into weeping* is my SON and nobody’s a fiercer fighter than him because he’s fighting for his wife and his child and his HOMELAND and has been for SO LONG.
Am Surprised That I Loved You??
Death, from Hogfather (and Terry Pratchett’s books in general, I think?). (You see by his name why I’m surprised.) He talks in all caps, which would, you’d think, be scary, but no. He’s actually fond of humans, enjoys philosophical discussions, practices his “Ho-ho-ho” (he’s impersonating Santa), and is on a mission to save Santa Claus from evil assassins.
Eugene Wrayburn, from Our Mutual Friend.
Eugene is my favorite can’t-stop-being-sarcastic-to-save-his-life young man since Eugenides. (Who was my favorite since Eugene Fitzherbert, aka Flynn Rider. Clearly it’s something about the name.) He’s very clever and absolutely incapable of being serious, and he first won my heart when he took poor bewildered Mr. Boffin to task for some reference to the exemplary diligence of honeybees and explained why he did not appreciate being compared to those thrice-accursed insects.
All to amuse himself, of course. Eugene is far too flippant (on top) and far too good-natured (at bottom) to be offended by anything Mr. Boffin could say.
Also can you tell that I love Eugene? Because I love him. And the things Dickens did to me with that love were Not Very Nice.
Sakr-el-Bahr, from The Sea-Hawk.
As awful as he is, I like him. He’s tragic, sardonic, faithful for years to one woman (whom he can never marry nor even see again) with his pick of the beauties of Algeria, and almost completely eaten up with bitterness.
The Best Friends of All
Father Brown and Flambeau.
This does not need explaining.
Best Villain TO HATE
Doug’s dad (and Ernie Eco), from Okay for Now. What he did to his sons (all three of them) is inexcusable.
Award for Best vs Worst YA Parents
Worst: Ezra’s mom in Illuminae. Lady is a creep.
Best: Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. I’m aware that they’re not technically Anne’s parents, that calling Anne of Green Gables YA might not be completely accurate, and that I’m cheating anyway because it’s a reread, but Matthew and Marilla do an actually excellent job of parenting their little red-headed orphan, and I love them both SO MUCH.
Ship of All Ships in 2020
I wasn’t sure how to answer this (did I even read any romances? were any of them not annoying?), but then I remembered: Eanrin and Imraldera, from Starflower. The mortal maiden who can’t speak and the cat-poet-fairy-man who simply does not tire of the sound of his own voice (at least at the beginning of his character arc) make a precious (if unusual) couple.
Abdullah, from Castle in the Air. He didn’t ask to be magically transported to the garden where the beautiful Flower-in-the-night dwelt (but falling in love with her was nice), and hence he is somewhat grumpy at being obliged to rescue her (but you can’t just let evil djinns carry off your lady love, y’know), and also Very, Very Done with all his nagging relatives and the flying carpet that requires a steady diet of flattery and the disgruntled genie that turns his every wish awry. And so he is magnificently passive-aggressive and spends most of his days bewildered at the unfortunate things that keep happening to him, and he does not trust cats.
Basically, he’s the best.
Must Be Protected
DOUG. SWIETECK. (From Okay for Now.)
My precious son who totally doesn’t do art and knows every baseball stat in existence and loves his mom and just wants to return all the Audubons to the big bird book in the library and get through the school year like he has every other school year. He must be protected from his father and from the cruel world.
Honestly Surprised You're Still Alive
Huon, from The Great and Terrible Quest. Not because he’s reckless, just…I’m surprised.
Award for Making the Worst Decisions
Don Pedro, from The Hounds of God.
Don Pedro, my buddy, my bro.
I still love you. But try not to kidnap ladies, would you? Even if you are desperately in love with them and they’re being bafflingly stubborn about returning your affections.
Most in Need of a Nap
Tye Sackett, from The Daybreakers.
Look, y’all. All Tye wants is for people to behave themselves, stop getting into gunfights, and just generally be as pleasant and self-effacing as he is himself. But will they? No, they will not. A marshal’s work is never done. A fond brother’s work is never done. Seriously, Tom Sunday, what’s your problem. Could Tye just get a day off so he can get married? Is that too much to ask?
(And in one sentence I have made a shoot-em-up Western sound like a rom-com. Oops.)
Want to Read More About You
Uncle Bawley, from Giant. HE CRIES ALL THE TIME FROM ALLERGIES AND IS SCARED OF WOMEN. And he wanted to play the piano.
I wish there was a whole book about him.
So ends 2020, a year in which I read a fair number of good books and met a fair number of fine fellows and fair ladies. (It didn’t compare to 2019, which was an amazing reading year, but whatever.) How did you fare on your readerly adventures? Are you going to participate in the Smashing and Dashing Character Awards? (You shooould, it’s lots of fuuuuun.) Do you find that “Most in Need of a Nap” applies to a lot of characters?
20 thoughts on “The Smashing and Dashing Character Awards of 2020!”
Oh goodness, I need to do this. Also your description of how you were going to kill someone Homer-style gave me war flashbacks to that book (pun intended). That book was…a trip. I think I would appreciate it WAY more if I read it nowadays, though.
😀 The categories are kind of the best. Also it’s a fun way to look back upon one’s reading year.
Heh, heh. Yes. It’s partly SO GOOD and partly so…excruciatingly weird. Which, if you’re in the right mood, is kind of hilarious.
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Oh. My. Goodness. Murderbot sounds amazing, and yes, extremely, exceedingly relatable. (I tried to chose Not Crying In Front Of My Family over Taking Deep Breaths yesterday, and puzzled all of my relations. But I have a feeling that Murderbot would understand.)
Umm, the things you would do if we disagreed with you about Hector were HILARIOUS. XD (But truly, I do agree with you about Hector. Especially because of what he’s fighting for.)
“Clearly it’s something about the name”. XD *dying* But clearly, I have to check out Our Mutual Friend.
ARGHHHHHH Doug’s dad is the WORSSSSSST. Doug is the best, but his dad is probably the reason why I like Wednesday Wars better than Okay for Now, just because WW doesn’t have the constant underlying irritation levels that Doug’s dad brings me. XD
Abdullah! Aaaahhh he is also the best. And your description of him is Absolutely Perfect.
MURDERBOT GETS YOU. (The books are fabulous, and also sci-fi!, but if you’re thinking of reading them, I do caution for: language [very annoying, but not frequent enough to make me stop reading] and…weirdness with side characters. Like one guy has four wives and one lady has two husbands and…it’s literally just mentioned and not part of the story AT ALL, but all the relationships are weird, basically.)
Excuse me, are you laughing?! You’re supposed to be INTIMIDATED!! (Ah, I am glad. Exactly.)
Yessss, Our Mutual Friend is an excellent Dickens! I hope you will like it very much and fall in love with Eugene.
ISN’T HE THE WORST THOUGH???? That is super valid! Holling’s dad is horrible too, but…not quite the same as Doug’s dad. And Doug’s dad, besides being, y’know, ABUSIVE, is also so childish and petty?? It’s just really irritating. (But Okay for Now is definitely my favorite of the two. Small towns>big cities, Doug>Holling (though I love ’em both), Audubon>>>Shakespeare, and the sibling content in both is superb.)
Ahah, thank you! I was mildly proud of that description. 😀 And Abdullah really is the best.
Saraaaahhhh this makes me so happy. *bounces around like a very sanguine-phlegmatic rubber ball*
Your paragraph on Hector had me in stitches. (Not literally, but mentally. It was hilarious.) “Oddly specific places,” yes, yes, that sums up SO MUCH about Homer’s narrative smile. But also the 3rd reason? That’s EXACTLY why Hector is our favorite? “Our” speaking collectively for the whole world? Because if anybody in the world actually prefers Achilles, they must simply be from another planet or be actually not, in fact, human?
(I should take that back. I have at least one dear friend who really does, for some unfathomable reason, prefer Achilles. I don’t know why, though.) (My sister is also fond of Achilles but she HASN’T READ THE THING, for crying out loud, so she doesn’t count.)
And Fr. Brown and Flambeau. *hugs the Fr. Brown mysteries*
Methinks I must meet this Eugene. Also Don John, whose escapades as related by you have made me laugh before.
Maybe…maybe…maaaaybe I should steal this, too. Except. Time. I don’t know that I have the time.
THEY MUST BE FROM ANOTHER PLANET, INDEED. (Are you perfectly sure your friend isn’t secretly an alien? Maybe your sister is an alien baby that your parents adopted without telling the rest of you? Actually…that would be a really really interesting conversation. “But why, pray, do you prefer large, petty, sulky bullies to heroic, noble warriors?” …Maybe with revised phrasing?)
You know what I like about Father Brown, too? He wouldn’t object to being hugged.
Yes, yes! I need to know that someone else went through the emotional turmoil that I did over the poor fellow! (And also I think you’d love him.) And, ha. Don Pedro. I love him. I don’t know why.
You should, you should! Just sneak it in before school starts! Or, if school has already started (?), use it for procrastination purposes. Many a blog tag has served me in that noble end ere now.
I adore this tag and I will certainly be doing it. Somehow I never have before? I loved reading all of your answers! Seriously, laughing and screaming all the way- on the inside.
I am intrigued by this Murderbot. Sounds really strange, and yet…also relatable and kind of great.
“Most Pure Animal Companion”: Sycorax and Caliban. For sure. That definitely made me chuckle.
“*Did* I even read any romances? *Were* any of them not annoying?” That is so me.
DOUG. WE MUST SCREAM ABOUT HIM SOME MORE. And he must be protected at ALL COSTS. His dad is a jerk. He’s horrible. And Doug is the best.
“Most in Need of a Nap” DOES apply to lots of characters. Characters should sleep more.
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And double hurrah!
Yes, it is strange. And yes it is relatable and kind of great. The books are a liiitle weird as far as content goes, so, just a warning. If you want it.
See, they ARE the purest of animal companions. I’m so glad you agree with my theory! They play a major role in Holling’s story and if you’re looking for “cute”…look no further.
Haha. Join the Curmudgeons Club. We have delicious cookies and no PDA!
YES. DOUG. I seriously just…want to WRAP him in ALL the blankets. I suppose I’ll have to wait till just after a run out to Ms Windemere’s, because then he might accept it. Doug is the best. His dad is the worst. Gosh what are these FEELINGS I’m having
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I’m so happy you’re helping keep the Smashing and Dashing Character Awards tradition alive–and I LOVE your answers!!!!
– I feel like I need to meet Murderbot now.
– HECTOR IS MY PRECIOUS BOI *sobbing*
– Terry Pratchett’s Death is an absolute treasure (I’m in the middle of Mort right now, where he takes a teenage boy on as apprentice, which is about as disastrously hilarious as you might imagine xD)
– Again, I feel like I need to meet this guy from Sea-Hawk???
– Father Brown & Flambeau as Best Friends of All does NOT need to be explained, NO INDEED IT DOES NOT.
– Bwahahahaha!!! The Daybreakers is 100% a rom-com and I will not be accepting criticism of this statement at this time. Also, Tye needs so many naps. So, so many. Plus a week off to get married.
Thanks so much for doing the tag! This was delightful!
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Aw thank you!! And thank YOU for helping keep the tradition alive – it’s such a fun one!
-Murderbot is a gem. A socially anxious, could-kill-you-but-would-rather-watch-its-shows, Very Tired All The Time(TM) gem.
-*sobs for eternity*
-(I am really, really considering running to the library and DEMANDING Mort. Right now.)
-Haha, I don’t know what you (or anyone) would think of Sakr-el-Bahr, but I sure loved him! Despite some of his more…questionable life choices. Like being a pirate and all.
-SO MANY. And you know what, yes. I think he and Drusilla also deserve an extended honeymoon.
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I just finished “Mort” and IT WAS SO SO GOOD.
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*prepares to storm the library*
First reaction: Most relatable character is … pardon?! After reading description: I can relate…
I’m afraid I’m not familiar with these, aside from Anne of Green Gables and Starflower, which are awesome books. But I’d like to read about this Eugene fellow. I haven’t picked my next Charles Dickens yet, so perhaps I could consider Our Mutual Friend.
Yes, the Most in Need of a Nap award can go to so many characters.
haha, yes. The name…requires explanation.
They ARE awesome books.
I certainly recommend Our Mutual Friend! I enjoyed it very much, for more reasons than just Eugene, although he’s my favorite. It’s Dickens’s last completed novel too, which for some reason I thought was interesting, although technically it’s just a fact and I don’t know what it has to do with anything. I guess I liked the note the story, and therefore Dickens’s writing career in a way, ended on.
So, so many. xD
This post was so much fun to read XD Thinking I might have to do this tag now…
Woah, Murderbot sounds like quite a character. It’s been a while since I read Castle in the Air and I don’t remember it super well, but the CAT. I remember the part when the soldier(?) guy was like “MUST PROTECT THE CAT” and I suddenly had newfound respect for him.
We love Doug. He is precious. He is my son. He is the best and we must protect him forever ❤
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Thinking I would looooove it if you did this tag pleeeease do it….
Murderbot IS quite a character. I am attached. It’s potentially a problem.
Haha! The cat! I remember that part. It was so awesome. Especially seeing it from Abdullah’s eyes, who’s all like “okay, the evil cat has enchanted him, now our safety is up to me HELP.”
Wait, Doug is MY son. I guess we can share?? That is probably good, actually. More effective protecting.
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