On the Uglies series

A Special Hero

By J FitzGerald McCurdy

In fiction, heroes and villains are usually main characters, often in opposition to one another. Heroes are distinguished by their exceptional courage, fortitude, and boldness, while villains are depicted as egregiously wicked, corrupt, or malevolent.

In the Uglies series, Dr. Cable is clearly the villain. Her lust for power and control is right up there with that of our world’s most notorious bad guys, Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler. And like those historic villains, Cable is a sociopath who will do whatever it takes, even murder, to maintain the status quo, convinced that the end–keeping the population in its cage to protect the world–justifies the means. When Special Circumstances attacks the Smoke at her instruction and kills the Boss, the cantankerous middle-aged ugly who looks after the Smoke’s collection of old Rusty magazines, Cable displays neither regret for her troops’ excessive use of violence nor remorse over the old man’s death. After Tally and Shay accidentally destroy the Armory by letting nanos loose, Cable blames it on neighboring city Diego, which provides her with an excuse to attack them. Later, she confesses to Tally that she knew the truth all along, but lied so she could punish Diego for supporting the Smoke and taking in her city’s runaways.

While even our history’s worst villains possessed a sentimental streak–Hitler displayed an almost maudlin concern for injured or ill-treated animals, and Stalin choked with emotion whenever he gazed upon his favorite work of art–there is nothing sentimental about Cable. She was perhaps moved initially  …

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