The top 10 most EPIC villains from a sci-fi book/series of all time.

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Ordered from 10 to 1 below based on your votes in the group and on this blog, this week we've got your top 10 selections for the most EPIC villain/group of villains, in a sci-fi book or series.

Click on the links to pick up the books antagonized by each of these epic villains to add to your collection, and then add your comments at the bottom of this post (or in our Facebook group) to let us know if you agree (or not!).

*The results were decided by you based on votes tallied up between our Facebook group and on our blog.

10. The Puppeteers from Larry Niven's “Worlds” series

Rounding out the top 10 list are the Pierson's Puppeteers, often known just as Puppeteers, who are a fictional alien race from American author Larry Niven's Known Space books. The race first appeared in Niven’s novella, Neutron Star.

A technologically advanced race of three-legged, twin-necked herbivores descended from herd animals, and noted for their so-called cowardice. Their commercial empire directly and indirectly controls events throughout Known Space and beyond, and Puppeteer plots are behind many of the larger events in Known Space. The name “Puppeteer” is purportedly derived from the twin “heads” (not enclosing brains) which perform as both mouths and hands, which strongly resemble sock puppets. The Puppeteer voice range is far greater than the human one, but for speaking to humans they adopt the tone of a very seductive female. It is also suggested that the “Puppeteer” name may derive from their social tendency to be very manipulative. The species were also depicted in Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials.

9. The Bene Gesserit Sisterhood from the “Dune” series by Frank Herbert

Coming in at number 9, in Frank Herbert's 1965 novel Dune, the Bene Gesserit are a secretive matriarchal order who have achieved superhuman abilities through physical and mental conditioning and the use of the drug melange. Under the guise of humbly “serving” the Empire, the Sisterhood is in fact a major power in the universe, using its many areas of influence to subtly guide humanity along the path of its own plan for humanity's future.

8. Gavin Stark from the “Crimson Worlds” series by Jay Allan

Gavin Stark is the main antagonist in Jay Allan's expansive Crimson Worlds books. The former head of Alliance Intelligence, and the bitter nemesis of the Marine Corps, he makes his bid for power over the universe. The manufactured clone soldiers of his Shadow Legions have seized control of dozens of colony worlds, imposing his brutal rule over millions of colonists. His plan is no less than to subjugate all mankind under his iron fist.

Will mankind live under the iron boot of Gavin Stark and his clone descendants forever? Or will the series's antagonist Erik Cain and his team of Marines defeat him once and for all? You'll have to dive into the series to find out…

7. Khan from the “Star Trek” franchise

Coming in at number 7, Khan Noonien Singh, commonly shortened to Khan, is a fictional character in the Star Trek science fiction franchise. Although the Star Trek books were written after the TV show came out, they are loved by sci-fi fans everywhere.

The character once controlled more than a quarter of the Earth during the Eugenics Wars of the 1990s. After being revived from suspended animation in 2267 by the crew of the Starship Enterprise, Khan attempts to capture the starship, but is thwarted by James T. Kirk and exiled on Ceti Alpha V to create a new society with his people. In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, set fifteen years after “Space Seed”, Khan escapes his exile and sets out to exact revenge upon Kirk.

6. Scorpius in “Farscape”

Scorpius, is the half-Sebacean, half-Scarran Peacekeeper, and the primary antagonist of the Farscape series of TV shows, books and comics. He relentlessly pursues John Crichton for the secrets of wormhole technology locked in John Crichton's unconscious mind to create a wormhole weapon.

He is the product of an experiment by the Scarrans – his Sebacean mother was raped by a Scarran to see if there would be any benefit in a hybrid. Raised by Scarrans, he has come to hate them, to reject his Scarran side, and to live for revenge against them.

5. The Boskone from the “Lensman” series by E.E. Smith

The Boskone or Boskonia is a criminal organization in the Lensman series of Sci-Fi novels by writer E.E Smith.

Boskone is one of the two superpowers in the Lensverse, and is opposed to Civilization. Having been created possibly even billions of years ago, when the Eddorians first entered our universe, it is much older than Civilization. Due to the nature of the Eddorians and the system they created, it is both extremely hierarchical and utterly ruthless: the concept of “the end justifies the means” is taken to extremes, as Galactic Patrol notes: “Anything – literally anything at all that produced the desired result was commendable; to fail was the only crime. The successful named their own rewards; those who failed were disciplined with an impersonal, rigid severity exactly proportional to the magnitude of their failures.

4. The Mule in Isaac Asimov's “Foundation Trilogy”

Coming in at #4, The Mule is a fictional character from Isaac Asimov's Foundation series*. One of the greatest conquerors the galaxy has ever seen, he is a mentalic who has the ability to reach into the minds of others and “adjust” their emotions, individually or en masse, using this capability to conscript individuals to his cause. Not direct mind-control per se, it is a subtle influence of the subconscious; individuals under the Mule's influence behave otherwise normally – logic, memories, and personality intact. This gives the Mule the capacity to disrupt Hari Seldon's** plan by invalidating Seldon's assumption that no single individual could have a measurable effect on galactic socio-historical trends on their own, due to the plan relying on the predictability of the actions of very large numbers of people.

*The Foundation series placed at #1 on our list of top 10 sci-fi books of all time. Click here to view the complete list.

**Hari Seldon came in at #1 on our list of top 10 most EPIC sci-fi characters. Click here to view the complete list.

3. The Borg from the “Star Trek” franchise

At #3, the Borg are a fictional alien group that appear as recurring antagonists in the Star Trek franchise. The Borg are cybernetic organisms, linked in a hive mind called “the Collective”. The Borg co-opt the technology and knowledge of other alien species to the Collective through the process of “assimilation”: forcibly transforming individual beings into “drones” by injecting nanoprobes into their bodies and surgically augmenting them with cybernetic components. The Borg's ultimate goal is “achieving perfection”.

2. Darth Vader from the “Star Wars” franchise

At number 2 comes Darth Vader, the primary antagonist in the Star Wars franchise. Star Wars creator George Lucas has collectively referred to the first six episodic films of the franchise as “the tragedy of Darth Vader.”

The first Star Wars novel was published in 1976. In the decades since, dozens of books set in the galaxy far, far away have been released.

1. Baron Vladimir Harkonnen from the “Dune” series by Frank Herbert

Coming in at #1 is the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, a fictional character from the Dune franchise created by Frank Herbert.

The Baronial leader of House Harkonnen, he rules from his ancestral homeworld of Giedi Prime, exercising a tyrannical rule of exploitation and sadism over the lives of the slaves unfortunate enough to end up in the service of his House. A long-standing rival of House Atreides, the Baron is determined to bring about their end, with particular emphasis on seeing Duke Leto Atreides' humiliating defeat.

Well, what do you think of that list? Do you agree, or do you feel as though your most-loved (feared?) villain is missing/didn't place as you think it deserved? Feel free to join us here in our Facebook group to chime in on the debate, and then check out our most recent poll while you're there. Don't have Facebook? Feel free to add to the comments below.

*All book-related copy in this post was pulled from Amazon & Wikipedia.

2 replies
  1. John Mills
    John Mills says:

    Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) from Blade Runner certainly deserves honourable mention as a serious villain, who at the very end has a change of heart. The scene where Roy is holding Decker by the arm and musing about memories is a very moving and poignant moment.
    I am surprised that the T-1000 (Arnold) from The Terminator and the next 2 terminators in that series did not make your short list.
    Also the hard-ass marine from Avatar.
    Just a few thoughts…

    • JBL
      JBL says:

      Likely additions to a list of villains, but these are movie villains, not book/series villains (and I disagree with some of the list on the basis that the books are just derivative of the movies). I would not have included any of these three as book villains.


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