As holidays go, Valentine’s Day has never been a favorite: So rarely does reality live up to your fantasies (not to mention the fact that we have the worst luck with boxes of assorted candies—who the heck actually likes chocolate-covered cherries?). Better to keep the romance confined to the imaginary realm. That’s why we’re sharing our swoon-worthy crushes from sci-fi and fantasy. Better to have loved and lost, but even better to have loved, and to just be able to flip back to the start and read the book again.
Nicole: Morpheus (The Sandman, by Neil Gaiman)
You really discover things about yourself when reading. For instance, you might learn that your “type” is misunderstood, burdened by responsibility, way too old, and full of angst. Fantasy provides a host of hunks that fulfill these requirements, including Aragorn and Sirius Black, but those are just my kosher crushes. The best unrequited fictional loves are the inappropriate ones, so I’m here to announce that I had (have?) the hots for Morpheus—Robert Smith hair and all—from Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. Because eternal torment fans the flames of desire like nothing else.
Ceridwen: Spider Jerusalem (Transmetropolitan, by Warren Ellis)
Look, I know how embarrassing it is to be crushing on a comic character, but given how many people confess to shameful lust for Cheetara or the the foxy Disney Robin Hood, I figure at least my squeeze is human. What’s worse is that Spider Jerusalem is a no-shirt-wearing, tribal tattooed, unhygienic wastoid, none of which would fly for me in real life. However, he’s got a dreamy commitment to the power of the written word, and secretly, under layers of misanthropy, believes truth-telling is transformative. Hubba hubba.
Rich: Evey Hammond (V for Vendetta, by Alan Moore)
Alan Moore’s graphic novel made it hip for folks other than English history majors to fight the power in the name of Guy Fawkes. While the masked anti-hero V was the book’s marquee face, I always had warm, fuzzy feelings for poor Evey Hammond, handpicked to be V’s star pupil in The Shadow Gallery. The girl survived a rough family life (parents killed by nuclear blast!), made a questionable career choice (street prostitute!), and suffered torture and interrogation (sure, it turns out to just be a test, but she didn’t know that!). When Evey rose up to carry on the violent revolution after V died in her arms, it was a pure and simple mad crush moment for me. It doesn’t hurt that in the film, Evey is portrayed by Natalie Portman with a shaved head. Nerd bonus win!
John: Chani (Dune, by Frank Herbert)
Predictably, I’m going with a character from Dune. Not so predictably, that character is Chani, bound concubine of the Muad’dib Paul Atreides, who commanded more respect than most characters in the series (respect is totally sexy). She was hunted, hated, revered, and feared, but she took it all on the chin, saw through lies, and never broke loyalty. Her tragic end only reinforced those characteristics, making her the kind of girl I want to take on a desert hike, then watch Netflix with for the rest of the weekend.
Kelly: Han Solo, et al.
My crush isn’t so much one character as it is a category of them: The Scoundrel On the Side of The Angels, an obsession that started with a paragon of the genre: Han Solo. (I was supposed to choose Luke over Han? Come on.) Solo was followed by plenty of others like him: Silk from The Belgariad, Ammar from The Lions of Al-Rassan, Seregil from Luck in the Shadows. These guys might not win any prizes for moral leadership, but they sure as hell were a big reason I stuck around to see some slightly lame princes win their kingdoms.
Ross: Tyrion Lannister (A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin)
You could do a whole lot worse than to bag the smartest guy in Westeros, and the only one with any sense of humor. Granted, the height difference might be a bit of a barrier, and the constantly cutting retorts would get old (real quick). On the plus side: given Tyrion’s twin penchants for annoying the powerful and for falling in love with inconvenient prostitutes, we’ll both surely lose our heads long before the romance fades.
Sam: Rachael Rosen (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick)
While Rachel may be lacking in empathy compassion, the idea of two people helping each other figure out who they are, and what that means, is an important part of a relationship. Hell, most of the human condition is figuring out who we are, and it would be nice to have some company for the journey, even from a robot. That she’s modeled after a femme fatale from a film noir doesn’t hurt, either, I’m not gonna lie about that.
Joel: Mieli (The Quantum Thief, by Hannu Rajaniemi)
There was a lot of competition for this slot (sorry, Verity—though I did try to convince my wife to name my daughter after you), but in the end, I had to go with Mieli, the post-human, quasi-immortal warrior commando from Hannu Rajaniemi’s mind-shattering sci-fi trilogy. Born in the Oort Cloud 3 light years from the sun, a onetime resident of Venus, owner of the coolest ride in the galaxy (cheeky sentient spaceship Perhonen), Mieli definitely brings a lot of history to the relationship, which I like (it’s always good to find a partner who will challenge your sense of adventure). She’s also damaged goods (that can happen when your former lover killed herself and you serve the whims of a mad techno-goddess), so my sensitive nature wouldn’t go to waste. Plus, you don’t want to hurt the feelings of the lady with quantum wings and weaponry fused to her skeleton (not to mention a fusion reactor in her thigh).
Adam: Dana Scully (The X-Files)
Anyone alive in the ’90s knows why Scully is the best: Professional in the face of ice worms, telekinetic serial killers, humanoid tapeworms, mutants, hallucinogenic worms… Man, there were a lot of worms on The X-Files. Regardless of the threat, Scully could handle it, and look good doing it, all while attempting to bring a little logic to the situation. She truly won my heart in the second season episode “Humbug.” Any Valentine of mine needs to be able to eat a cricket when called for.
Who’s your SFF crush?