It’s not true that every speculative story involves a young hero saving the world from a dark overlord determined to destroy the planet. But damn near every speculative story involves something like that. Something, usually described with monotonous regularity as simply “dark” is out to destroy the world.
Nearly every Dr. Who episode (the latest show I’ve been glomming) has a line in there somewhere about “It’s the end of the world” followed by the Doctor saving the day. Sometimes it’s the end of the universe or the end of time. But there’s an awful lot of evil out there large enough to destroy (at least) the planet. Enough for a new episode every week.
Yet despite decades of exposure to all the best villainy of our age, the villains rarely or never stick in my memory. When I try to create fiction, I’m often stuck when it comes to creating antagonists because it seems like all the stories about antagonists are trite and boring. A helluva lot of the time in speculative fiction the antagonist is nothing but a mysterious wave of darkness overtaking the world.
I call that “night time” and I don’t think it would be wise for my heroes to end it, since the cycle of night and day is pretty important to the growing of crops and the balance of the earth on its orbit and all that good stuff.
As far as I can tell, many villains are just an excuse to fake enough conflict to make the climax. But I’m a feminist. This isn’t the 1950s and women have learned to love their private parts, so let’s stop faking climaxes, eh?
There doesn’t need to be a big world-ending evil to create a good fantasy novel. The drama of one person’s private life is plenty. Hell, the little engine that could was a great story and all that little engine wanted to do was go over a hill. Why should every hero need to stop the destruction of reality itself?
Enough, I say. I’m not going to force in something that simply doesn’t fit with my story or world. I don’t want to tell stories about the destruction of the Empire.
Empires bore me. I prefer reading about people.