10 Inspirational Disabled Characters From Sci-Fi And Fantasy
With the Paralympics proving not what the disabled can’t do, but what they can do, SFX honours 10 disabled sci-fi and fantasy characters who don’t let disability stand in the way of achieving their goals.
We’ve also concentrated on characters who truly have to cope with their disabilities. Losing limbs and having them replaced by superior cyborg parts (the Six Million Dollar Man, various Star Wars characters) is tragic, but the fact that the characters in question can get along pretty much as before (sometimes better) hardly feels like a real struggle against adversity. And yes, Dark Angel fans, we did consider Logan and his wheelchair, and he almost made the cut, but we felt his constant whinging about his situation wasn’t particularly “inspiring”.
So these are our 10 top true heroes, in no particular order (we’re just numbering them so you can keep track on how far you are into the feature)…
Words by: Jayne Nelson (1-7), Neil Ransden (8-10)
1 Gary Bell
Played with commendable dedication by Ryan Cartwright – it can’t be easy to act without looking any of your co-stars in the eye – Gary is the genius at the heart of Syfy show Alphas. He’s what the show refers to as a “transducer”, or “human antennae”, which is a fancy way of saying that he can see and feel electrical signals in the air around him and tap into them. This comes in very handy when you need to trace a phone call or use CCTV to find someone. The show’s FX team has also come up with some rather lovely effects to show us how he sees, with data streams forming beautiful patterns in the air as Gary plucks at them. Pretty cool.
Of course, some may object to the notion, propagated by films like Rain Man, that all autistic people are geniuses who have what amount to superpowers compared to the rest of the population (Gary’s powers are obviously a little more super than most…). There’s a similar character in Kiefer Sutherland’s new show Touch, a young boy who can interpret numbers and predict the future (again, another acting masterclass from David Mazouz, who can’t look anybody in the eye or even speak, except in voiceover mode). While it’s true that some autistic people can do extraordinary things, most are merely separated from the rest of us by a condition which locks them into themselves. Many would never function as well as Gary does.
Alphas doesn’t shy away from the fact that autism makes sufferers difficult to socialise with: Gary can’t relate to people properly, fails to understand certain emotions, and doesn’t think about how his words affect people. When it comes down it, though, he’s mainly just a computer nerd who’s been given powers that transcend his keyboard. Not a bad skill to have.
Read our interview with actor Ryan Cartwright
Tags: A Song Of Ice And Fire, Alphas, Batgirl, Batman, Daredevil, Dark Angel, Featured, Game Of Thrones, How To Train Your Dragon, Lois McMaster Bujold, Oracle, Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Guild, The Vorkosigan Saga, The X-Men, Twin Peaks