Chemistry between characters

Chemistry between characters, when achieved, is a truly amazing experience for the SF fan. I’m talking about chemistry that’s not just between partners with a sexual interest in each other. To me, the perfect example of this  continues to be the first several seasons of the Stargate SG-1 television series. The characters in that show seemed to be able to complete thoughts for each other. They seemed to care. It made me pull for them all in a more emotional way than if that chemistry hadn’t been there.

That same onscreen connection is also in the Firefly series. The depth that that ragtag crew seemed to care for one another remained the core of the series, more so than the SF elements or the external plot.

Is it as simple as writing great characters? Is it luck to have the onscreen presence along with great writing? On the page, when moving the plot forward, detailing the SF tech, working through the main characters’ issues, do friendships get explored enough to give the reader that true feeling of camaraderie, or is it something that can only be done on screen, through the time needed to build a series?

The camaraderie in Lord of the Rings is perhaps the most important aspect of the evolution of that series. It’s almost as if Sauron is there simply so that we can enjoy the bonding between characters and their own growth of internal strength.

On the SF side of things, I recently read Shawn Kupfer’s 47 Echo in which the developing friendships of men in danger was the main element that came to me as a reader. That chemistry is there.

What other SF books have you read that have that chemistry, that undefinable thing that make you like a character more simply because they have the kind of friendships that you’d value?


Ella Drake is a dark paranormal and science fiction romance author. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, & Goodreads.



  1. cmtorrens · · Reply

    Great post.

  2. David Weber’s Honor Harrington series comes to mind (actually, it excels at many SF tropes). It probably doesn’t hurt that he has had a dozen or so novels and shorter works set in that universe to help expand on relationships, but even in the first book, “On Basilisk Station” you could feel the connections. Though these are military folks, so I wonder if that has something to do with it.

    As much as I enjoy SFR, I do love a good story of any genre where you can imagine the characters hanging out “off page” 🙂

  3. I think it requires time to build those types of relationships. That’s the reason we watch series tv and love trillogies in novels. Not that it can’t happen within a single book, but it would have to be a book where that relationship is the main focus. I miss the good sci-fi series tv shows – we need another!


  4. It’s an interesting question. As I sift through my mind for examples of the chemistry of which you speak, it DOES seem to be series and trilogies, etc. that spring to mind. In my life, though, I’ve had to form fast connections with people for work and the like. Similar, I suppose, to 47Echo, where the characters would not have been able to survive unless they did form those connections – and form them fast.

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