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Berserk
March 7th, 2007, 07:11 PM
I've been thinking about writing a science fiction novel in which the main character is evil throughout most of the book. Here's a summary of the story so you can tell what I mean by evil.

The time period is a few decades from now, based in the United States. America has experienced another terrorist attack on it's territory, and this time it is catastrophic. Because of this, the government has segregated non-Muslim Americans from the Muslim Americans. A Muslim boy, who is of Northern European ancestry(with blonde hair, blue eyes), wants to work to end the segregation.

His mentor, who is a Muslim man who preaches peace and reconciliation is assasinated by the government. The boy who is devasted, meets an extremist Muslim who teaches him a false version of Islam and he eventually becomes a terrorist as a result of this. After years of training, he enters the non-Muslim city through covert means and conducts terrorist operations. Meanwhile, there's a huge investigation to find him. Since he is White, and he has forged documents, the investigators cannot tell automatically that he's Muslim. He is eventually captured and informed that it was the extremist group he's a member of that actually assassinated his mentor, because they didn't want to end the violence.

The main character then has a change of heart and wants to make up for his past actions by bringing down the terrorist network. With the aid of the government, he accomplishes this, and brings the top members to trial. He is assassinated before he can testify at the trial however.


So, do you guys think that a story like that could work? Or would you be able to read it because the main character is a terrorist throughout most of it? Keep in mind also that I'm a Muslim, so I'm not trying to attack Islam with this story. I have knowledge of Islam, and will portray it in an accurate manner, representing all viewpoints.

Avi Morgan
March 7th, 2007, 07:16 PM
It wouldn't be the fact he was a terrorist that would throw me off so much as the view it takes. That's personal though. So, zooming out here and considering this from another point of view, I can see a book like that working, and people reading it. Yeah, I think people would read this. Definitely. The more I think about it the more likely it seems.

Berserk
March 7th, 2007, 07:20 PM
It wouldn't be the fact he was a terrorist that would throw me off so much as the view it takes. That's personal though. So, zooming out here and considering this from another point of view, I can see a book like that working, and people reading it. Yeah, I think people would read this. Definitely. The more I think about it the more likely it seems.

What do you personally have against the view? Be honest. I don't mind criticism.

Avi Morgan
March 7th, 2007, 07:48 PM
Actually, its something I <b>personally</b> wouldn't want to say. It wouldn't be criticism, more a personal taste, or opinion, of one considered by many narrowminded. Let me explain - I wasn't saying that I was against it, simply that it wouldn't be the first book I would run to when I got to Books-A-Million to spend my money on. I didn't say I wouldn't read it, however, or that it was a bad idea. I suspect most people would enjoy it very much. In my mind it has the making of a best-seller, really, what with all the things going on in this country right now. I really think its a good idea. Just forget what I said about it throwing me off. What I meant by saying it was personal was that it didn't really apply to whether it was a good idea or not, or whether you should pursue it or not.

Expendable
March 7th, 2007, 07:53 PM
There's a couple of things I don't understand from your synopsis, but I'd have to say I'd read a book with a 'supposively' evil main character as long as the story's good.

Something to keep in mind is only a few people think of themselves as being evil. Most would tell you they're fighting for everything that's right and good.

What I don't understand -
When he leaves to run terrorist ops, how does the government know he's the one they're looking for?

Why would he believe them that it was his friends in the terrorist group who killed his mentor and not the oppressive government?

AgentRustyBones
March 7th, 2007, 07:57 PM
On the overarching question of: "would I read a book with an evil main character?"

The answer is a resounding: Yes!

The caveat being that I could not really enjoy a mindlessly evil character.

I love mysterious, ambiguous, apparently, but not quite sure they are actually evil characters, something I try to include in my own work.

On the specifics of the story you mentioned...I definitely think it is important that you are Muslim, as that may deflect some of the criticism that would come from trying such a story.

I think such a story has potential to do well.

This kind of story could also turn the idea of evil on its head, since I am quite sure that terrorists don't see themselves as evil, but as fighters in a greater cause willing tomake great sacrifice. It could be a very hard, fine line to pull off, but with a character like you propose being on two different sides, fully committed to each at the time, you could challenge the idea of good and evil in such a conflict.

I say--Go for it!

Doug
aka Agent Rusty Bones

Miriamele
March 7th, 2007, 08:11 PM
I would read your book. Your main character changes a lot over the course of the book, and faces so many different challenges, which is why I think it would be so interesting. Also, the book would explore a lot of issues that people are thinking about more often these days.

From reading your synopsis, I don't feel that your character is really "evil"--there is a reason he choses the path he does. He is not mindlessly evil, as Doug mentioned. He does evil things, but deep down he believes they are the right things, right?

The important thing, I think, would be to create sympathy for the main character. Show the reader his inner struggles, his doubts, his feelings of guilt, so that he becomes a character the reader can understand, and not a character they dislike.

Berserk
March 7th, 2007, 08:18 PM
There's a couple of things I don't understand from your synopsis, but I'd have to say I'd read a book with a 'supposively' evil main character as long as the story's good.

Something to keep in mind is only a few people think of themselves as being evil. Most would tell you they're fighting for everything that's right and good.

I know. The point is that at the time that he is a terrorist, he views himself as a freedom fighter. One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, or so the saying goes. He believes that his actions are correct at the time, and doesn't see the negative effects of it until after he is captured and he is shown video of the aftermath of his attacks and is talked to by a Muslim cleric who has a correct understanding of the religion and teaches him that Islam is against terrorism.


What I don't understand -
When he leaves to run terrorist ops, how does the government know he's the one they're looking for?

Because he's the only one who is conducting non-suicide attacks. Since he's White, he can blend into the society more easily than an Arab would. Therefore, his attacks are conducted with thorough planning and with the aim that he will not get caught. The investigators notice similarities between his attacks in their level of sophistication, and the fact that he sends the investigators notes on targets that he will hit and he follows through. Therefore, because he's become such a big problem, all of the major agencies, including the FBI and the CIA will conduct a major search for him.


Why would he believe them that it was his friends in the terrorist group who killed his mentor and not the oppressive government?

This part I haven't worked out completely yet. However, it will probably be because another member of the terrorist group is captured and confesses to killing his mentor in return for a lighter sentence.

Berserk
March 7th, 2007, 08:23 PM
I would read your book. Your main character changes a lot over the course of the book, and faces so many different challenges, which is why I think it would be so interesting. Also, the book would explore a lot of issues that people are thinking about more often these days.

From reading your synopsis, I don't feel that your character is really "evil"--there is a reason he choses the path he does. He is not mindlessly evil, as Doug mentioned. He does evil things, but deep down he believes they are the right things, right?

True. That's what I was planning to do. At the time that he does these terrorist acts, he doubts his actions but the pain of his mentors death and the propaganda that he learned from the extremists has made him believe that he is following the correct path. The important point is that he is still a young man at the end of the novel, early twenties, so throughout the book his views are still developing.


The important thing, I think, would be to create sympathy for the main character. Show the reader his inner struggles, his doubts, his feelings of guilt, so that he becomes a character the reader can understand, and not a character they dislike.

Yup, will do that. Thanks for the tips.

James Carmack
March 7th, 2007, 09:10 PM
Would I read a book with an evil main character? Yes.

Really evil, only perceived as evil, or a good person whose deeds are evil? All the above.

From your description, your lead is not evil but misguided. There's a big difference. Now, will he be seen as evil because of his acts? More than likely.

Bear well in mind Expendable's point that few people actually see themselves as evil.

True evil is doing what you know to be wrong and enjoying it. It's one thing if young Kareem drops of a bomb somewhere and remote detonates without seeing his victims. It's another thing if he stays to watch and seeing a little Jewish boy walk by the drop point, his heart leaps. He thinks, "That descendant of apes, he's had his last bloody matzo" before gleefully pressing the button. That, my friend, is a truly evil character.

Playing with the degrees of evil and how deeply they resonate with a character is half the fun. We all have the potential for evil, but how far do we take it? How far do we enjoy it? Exploring that will be what gives your story merit.

I'm sorely tempted to read the book just to see how the cleric responsible for the hero's redemption refutes such commands as that of 9:29, for instance. It might just make a hero out of you, Berserk.