“…and we were the good guys. And they made a very satisfying thump when they hit the floor.”
Thus concluded one of my favorite scenes in the TV show Babylon 5, indeed one of my favorite scenes anywhere. I was browsing YouTube for other things and it popped up in “related videos” and I just could not resist. I rarely do when that one comes up.
There is very little more satisfying than a clear cut fight, “no moral ambiguity, no hopeless battle against ancient and overwhelming forces” good guys vs. bad guys where the good guys come out on top and the bad guys make a very satisfying thump when they hit the ground. At least, there isn’t when it’s well executed.
Some of my favorite scenes in fiction have been just such scenes. Eric Flint’s novel “1632” is full of them. When Mike Stearns rescues the Abarabanel’s from oncoming Spanish forces. Jeff Higgins and his friends at the “Battle of the Crapper” (Trust me; it’s a lot more exciting than it sounds.) Julie Simms with her rifle sweeping the field ahead of Captain Gars. Crack. Crack. Crack. Crack. These and scenes like them are why this book is my favorite in the series.
It’s a hard thing to pull off, the good guys vs. bad guys with the decisive, indeed overwhelming victory of the good guys. Finding the balance of tension, enough to make the threat real, yet having the good guys able to plausibly win through to the victory that has everyone off their seat and cheering.
But when you can do it, you can make magic happen.