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E8 | Books | Heroes of Fantasy and Sci-Fi

The Hero Story is prevalent in fantasy and sci-fi, resonating deep in our hearts with stories of courage, endurance, peril, and triumph. We are excited to explore this topic, drawing on our favorite stories and love of heroes to break down what it means to be a hero, our favorite moments of heroism, and the heroes that are closest to our hearts.


What's on our Flight (00:59)

  • Dalton’s drinking: Booker's Bourbon ("Booker's Bluegrass," 2016-01 batch). This is one of my more favorite whiskeys in my collection, and the bottle I use as my "Celebration" bottle. This bourbon, gifted to me by my good friend Nelson after college graduation, is bottled at barrel strength (about 64%) so I prefer to water it back or it is a bit hot. When opened up, it is complex and rewarding, with vanilla and nuts in the nose and oak and spice in the taste.

  • Nelson's drinking: Wooden Bear Brewing's Pennsy Trail Ale. This is an APA from a local brewery in Greenfield, IN that Nelson has been visiting during the COVID-19 quarantine. This beer is less hoppy than an IPA, but more hoppy than a typical APA. Light-bodied and crisp, with a bit of a peppery taste, Nelson has filled a growler with this beer every visit!


What's On Our Minds (10:03)


  • Just finished The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, a book written about a genetics professor searching for the perfect romantic partner. This book feels like a Rom-Com for nerds, it is quirky, engaging, and entertaining. I worried at first that the book would focus too strongly on romance and lose my interest, but quickly found the main character to be charming, relatable, and highly amusing. I recommend this quick and easy read for any fantasy / sci-fi lovers looking for a change of pace!


  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars, an animated series taking place between episodes 2 and 3 of the Star Wars prequel trilogy. The show follows Anakin as he tutors his padawan, Ahsoka, and includes familiar characters like Obi-wan, Yoda, and General Grievous. With the final season out on Disney+, this is a great series for Star Wars fans to fall in to!

  • Anticipating the release of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins, coming May 19th, 2020! We are both a sucker for prequel series and are very much looking forward to Suzanne Collins exploring the setting of The Hunger Games Trilogy years ahead of Katniss and friends.


The icebreaker questions for this episode start at 20:41 in the episode

We entertained our first fan-submitted icebreaker question with this episode! What a great first question from our good friend, Reamer (that is his last name, not a terrible nick-name our fraternity made up for him). His question:

"Who is the best Transformer and why is it Bumblebee?"

Bold. Discerning. Provocative, certainly, but we love a good open ended question! We will do our best to give this question the quality answers it deserves:

  • Nelson: Appreciate the clever use of the car radio as Bumblebee's primary means of communication.

  • Dalton: He is yellow.

We decided to entertain a second icebreaker, though the first is certainly hard to beat. From Nelson this time:

"What is your favorite weakness in a hero?"

  • Dalton: A reluctance to hurt or kill. Probably made famous by Superman, but in my opinion shown best in Aang (Avatar: The Last Airbender), who struggles as his access to incredible power and duty wars against his upbringing in a gentle, pacifist society.

  • Nelson: When the power is also the weakness. For example, The Flash, whose power limits him when he losses friction. Also, his power creates a hyper-metabolism that he has to over come, which Nelson finds funny and relatable.


Topic Discussion starts at 27:41 in the episode

Hero: A person who in the face of danger combats adversity through feats of ingenuity, courage, or strength. We liked this definition as it encompasses those "everyday" heroes, such as nurses, firefighters, and policeman, and can be extended to "super" heroes in the stories we so love.

We started our discussion by highlighting defining traits and characteristics of a hero.

  1. Mission. A hero has a purpose, an overarching drive and motivation. The mission creates a reason for the hero to progress, to leave wherever they start and start on their journey.

  2. Courage. A hero feels fear, but meets that fear with action. There is a reason that the Harry Potter story is told primarily from the perspective of Gryffindor!

  3. Role Model. A hero embodies what we aspire to be. The hero of the story represents what the reader would want themselves to do in the same circumstances. Morality, endurance, courage, and competence all play in to this trait.

  4. Relatable. A hero has realistic fears, emotions, imperfections, and limitations. This allows the reader to feel like the hero is experiencing events how they would.

To give further context to this discussion, we talked about some of our favorite moments of heroism from our fantasy and sci-fi influences:

  1. Samwise the Brave carries Frodo up Mt. Doom. This iconic moment from Tolkien's Return of the King raises goosebumps with every read as we so strongly identify with Sam's incredible endurance.

  2. Midoriya rushes to save "Kacchan" from My Hero Academia, a show with "Hero" literally in the name. In this moment near the beginning of the series, Midoriya, the protagonist, runs from a crowd to save his friend from a villain, despite being powerless himself.

  3. Han rescues Luke in A New Hope. A character that has been built over the course of the movie to be a self-centered renegade puts aside his selfish ambitions to come to the rescue of our protagonist in his moment of need.

"Come, Mr. Frodo!" he cried. "I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you!"
"You're all clear kid, now let's blow this thing and go home!"

See? There is no need to credit these quotes, you heard their voices as you read it.

Next, we discuss what makes a hero interesting. Since we find ourselves reading about them so often it is important to understand what helps us enjoy them! A hero should have realistic growth. They should be skillful, but should require growth and training. An example of this done poorly is Rey in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. It feels like Rey powers up too quickly, like she does not earn her rights to Jedi powers, which have been shown throughout the series to require diligent training and focus to master. Contrast this to Harry in The Prisoner of Azkaban, where Harry summons a Patronus to drive off the Dementors. Harry has been struggling the entire novel to summon a Patronus and has to push through his fear and apprehension to rise to the moment.

Since we are talking about Harry Potter, let's talk about sacrifice. We talk throughout this episode that heroism often requires sacrifice, and the Harry Potter series highlights this theme beautifully. Nearly every hero in the series is called to at least one moment of great sacrifice, starting with Neville standing up to his friends in the The Sorcerer's Stone and culminating in Harry making the ultimate sacrifice with the help of his parents in The Deathly Hallows. Sacrifice ties back to one of our primary traits of a hero, that a hero does what we hope we would be willing to do if given the chance.

Lastly, it would not be a podcast with Nelson and Dalton if we forgot to give a list of our favorites on the topic! Here are some of the heroes from fantasy and sci-fi that stand out to us.


  • Aang, Avatar the last Airbender

  • Monkey D. Luffy, One Piece

  • Kaladin, The Stormlight Archives


  • Samwise Gamgee, The Lord of the Rings

  • Mark Dimond, The Pendragon Series

Thanks for reading! Let us know who your favorite hero is in the comments!


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