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Friday, March 06, 2015

Mailvox: writing sociosexuality

Stan Hai isn't sure how to go about doing it:
How can I write blue-shirt SF if I'm barely a Delta myself? Writing Alpha characters always turns out unrealistic for me, because I don't know what I'm talking about. I finally quit writing Gamma & Omega characters, but when it comes to a hero, I've got three choices: Superman/James Bond/Neo (i.e. Alpha Mary Sues who never lose), Beta who's competent in one thing (which I can't write about because that's not me) and Gamma Special (whom everyone is sick of.) The thing I'm working now is about a Gamma who becomes a Delta. He's offered Special Power, and rejects it. Thoughts?
Stan has already taken the first step, which is to understand that sociosexuality exists and that it affects how people think, act, and react. Rather like the process of learning a language, he finally is beginning to understand how much he doesn't know. This is true for EVERY man, of every rank.  Women, unsurprisingly, tend to do a better job of writing two very different types of male characters, Alpha and Delta. They even occasionally delve into a very extreme form of smothering Gamma when they want to creep their female readers out.

It is harder for men to differentiate between the different male classes as we tend to gravitate towards writing our own perspective large on all the male characters. The one thing Louis L'Amour and Neal Stephenson have in common is that they both base all the male protagonists on their own sociosexuality. They are both significant authors, but L'Amour's protagonists are all Alphas, brimming with self-confidence, laconic, proactive, and utterly certain of female interest in them, which is not at all surprising if you know his life story. Stephenson's are all Gammas, insecure, diffident, reactive, and forever bewildered as to why the woman with whom they are involved has any interest in them at all.

In this, Stephenson is all-too-typical of modern male SF writers. And as Hai implies, when the average Pink SF writer tries to address sociosexuality, even unconsciously, he makes a hash of it. Patrick Rothfuss's Kvothe is probably the best example, as it is hard to imagine a better, or more hilariously mistaken, Alpha-through-a-Gamma's eyes ever being written.

The way to do it is to first understand your own social rank and grasp that you should use it for characters of that social rank. Second, seek to understand the perspective of the others. The recent series on Gamma, which features current and ex-Gammas talking about their feelings and thought processes, has been INVALUABLE to me as a writer. I now have a much better understanding of what makes them tick; had I tried to write a Gamma protagonist before this I would have likely failed almost as spectacularly as Rothfuss fails with his Alpha. I had no idea, none, that the key to writing Gamma is a man at the bottom of the totem pole who knows he should, by rights, be at the top because Special.

However, keep in mind that you may, instead, wish to flatter various socio-sexual ranks rather than describe them. Gammas like Stephenson and Scalzi do a good job of appealing to Gammas because what appeals to them naturally appeals to other Gammas. But if a sociosexual-aware writer were to focus on flattering the various social ranks, he might have even more success.
  • Alpha. The protagonist is in charge. He seeks out, takes on, and conquers various challenges, many of whom are other Alphas. He also defeats the occasional Gamma who tries to stab him in the back. Deltas follow him gladly. Hmmm, sounds familiar, doesn't it, Mr. Howard?
  • Beta. The good lieutenant is given great responsibility by his Alpha. Loyally serves the Alpha and accompanies him through thick and thin. At times, his loyalty is tested, the enemy even tries to tempt him into betraying his Alpha by offering him a crown of his own, but he resists, he perseveres, and his Alpha is triumphant in the end, at which point he publicly credits the Beta and tells everyone how he could never have done it without the Beta.
  • Delta. He's just a guy, like any other guy. Larger events swirl around him, but the Delta gradually finds his place in the team, which comes to respect each other and learns how to work together as a unit. His side wins after much turmoil and suffering, although he doesn't have much to do with that. But he knows he did his part and has the satisfaction of knowing he has the respect and approval of the others. His captain tells him that he was the glue who held it all together. He gets a medal and wins the love of a good woman in the end. They have nice healthy children and make a nice modest home together.
  • Gamma. No one knows how special he is. The Alphas unfairly rule and keep him down by trickery. Even the girl he loves in a way no woman has ever been loved before doesn't realize how special he is or how happy he would make her if only she would let him. Bad people treat him badly and unfairly. But through his clever wit, the Gamma makes fools of everyone through always having the perfect thing to say, culminating when he totally humiliates the Alpha and reveals him to be an unworthy paper tiger in a brilliant verbal exchange front of everyone, including the girl. The Gamma is finally recognized as the true First Man in Rome by everyone as the girl shyly confesses that she has always seen and admired his specialness. He calls her "milady" and roguishly offers her his arm as everyone looks on enviously and applauds the smoothness of his style.
  • Omega. REVENGE.
  • Sigma. He is dragged from his solitary sanctuary by the desperate need of friends he hasn't seen in years, but whom he can hardly deny. Conflict abounds, mostly between posturing idiots concerning nonsensical trivialities that no one with more than half a brain could ever possibly care about. The Sigma contemptuously dispatches three foes in succession, one by utilizing superior logic, one by seducing her, and one by physical combat, before finally ending all the conflict with a brilliant masterstroke that convinces the blithering idiots to knock it off once and for all. Everyone agrees that the ultimate solution is for the Sigma to marry the beautiful princess and be crowned king. On the day of the wedding, it is discovered that the Sigma has vanished, as have two of the prettiest and most morally flexible ladies-in-waiting. A note is found rejecting both princess and crown, and inviting everyone in the realm to either fuck off or die, as they please.
  • Lambda. He always knew he was different. He exchanging longing looks with another boy once, but nothing happened. Mean boys called him names and beat him up for being too sensitive. Then he went to the big city. There he discovered discos and bathhouses and true love. Then his true love died of AIDS/was gay-bashed to death. So he went back to the discos and bathhouses and did too many drugs until meeting a rich, successful, and previously straight Alpha who is won over by his sob story of his tragic true love and helps him kick his drug habit. He and the formerly straight Alpha travel to Mexico where they pick up a pair of hot Latin twins at a gay strip club.
Which of those seven stories deeply appeals to you? Which of these fit the plots, protagonists and perspectives of books you know? See if you can identify a popular book or series that fits each of these sociosexual themes. Understand where you fit, then work to apply these basic filters in the way you describe your characters, and you will produce works that are more psychologically real to your readers, because you are reflecting the real psychological world back to them.

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448 Comments:

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Anonymous Wyrd March 06, 2015 5:12 AM  

I spat at the priest and cursed him roundly, and the kings as well, telling them that if I were to be skinned, by Crom, I wanted a good belly-full of wine before they began. Then I damned them for thieves and cowards and sons of harlots.

-Conan, Drums Of Tomblaku

Anonymous Remnant March 06, 2015 5:28 AM  

It might be instructive to also do this for literature generally, focusing on characters most educated people are familiar with.

Iago: I am guessing gamma because, although revenge (or really, sheer spite) is his motive, his social standing in the hierarchy is certainly not omega. (And, shifting to Milton, does that mean Lucifer / Satan is essentially a gamma as well?)

How about Othello himself? His power and presence might indicate alpha, but his oversensitive nature and caring to much seem slightly "beta" (in the non-Vox-hierarchy sense).

Would be interested to hear others' views on various characters in literature as a way of illustrating the ranks. I'm not well versed in science fiction.

Anonymous clk March 06, 2015 5:37 AM  

Wouldnt/shouldnt a good author be able to create chatacters characts outside their own socialsexual status ? That ability would seem to be one of the earliest skills a writer must have.... I mean really how many alphas a writing scifi, creating games etc.. yet there are alpha characters in all.... lets face it.. someone is writing scifi ... by definition that would preclude them from being an alpha wouldnt it ? Astronaut, test pilot, war hero maybe... but scifi author.. no ....So the advice needed would be how to create characters who are not me...? What the process there ?

Blogger MATT March 06, 2015 5:39 AM  

Oh come on. This guy is such a gramma queen. He doesnt know how to write an alpha?? It led to a good post, but this is ridiculous.

I have to say this description of Omega I think doesn't fit every one. I never wanted revenge on anyone who didn't actually personally do me harm. I just stopped caring altogether and was oblivious to a certain extent in a semi-detached manner without even realizing how I sabotaged myself at every turn either when facing or not facing reality and my status in the world. When you first started writing about the hierarchy in this detailed fashion it took a couple of days to accept that I was an Omega even with the years of evidence. I was very depressed for a few days ewpecially considering I had put myself there for various reasons, though not all were absurd. I was reacting naturally to the way I was regarded and treated by people, including so-called friends. A multitude of reasons really.

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 5:48 AM  

I have to say this description of Omega I think doesn't fit every one.

It's not about every Omega. It's about the story about an Omega that's worth telling.

Anonymous Smokey March 06, 2015 5:53 AM  

An Omega driven by revenge is an Omega ripe with the possibility of becoming an Alpha or Sigma if his drive is put to more...fruitful purposes.

Most Omegas tend to give up entirely, but I find that Omegas that really, REALLY want to get back at everyone, will be more receptive to the concept of improving thyself.

They really, REALLY want to become superior, and unlike Gamma, they're not delusional about their inferiority.

Come to think of it, anyone able to recommend any novels with any Omega-to-Alpha-or-Sigma transformations? I've been looking, but I can't really find any.

Blogger MATT March 06, 2015 5:53 AM  

"It's not about every Omega. It's about the story about an Omega that's worth telling."

Oh right.

Blogger Cataline Sergius March 06, 2015 6:05 AM  

Agreed, Robert Howard was Omega as hell, yet he created Conan.

Although, now that I think of it, all of Howard's characters were loners. Men followed them and profess their love of their leader but that came across as agape. Rather than the relationship between an Alpha and his troop. None of his heroes cared too much about what happened to the men who followed him.

Caring for your men is the big alpha tell.

Blogger Vox March 06, 2015 6:06 AM  

Oh come on. This guy is such a gamma queen. He doesnt know how to write an alpha?? It led to a good post, but this is ridiculous.

No, he's not talking about writing about an alpha character, he's talking about writing an alpha PROTAGONIST. That means writing credible interior monologue as well as actions and motivations. I think I could write a decent gamma character now, but I would have struggled to do so earlier. I had no idea that gammas tend to think of themselves as kings-in-hiding, no idea at all.

In the same way, the gamma probably can't guess that the alpha isn't faking his eagerness for conflict, that he is genuinely outraged that someone dared to challenge him and now he wants to kick his ass. Gammas are always bewildered that someone actually wants to punch them over mere words. Rothfuss's Kvoth is basically a hilarious Gamma interpretation of Alpha... and notice that the Gammas and women eat it up.

Those higher up the sociosexual ladder can't stand it because it reads like Mad Magazine. I mean, I tried three times and I barely got through more than a few chapters. It's that awful.

Blogger WildClaw March 06, 2015 6:06 AM  

I just realized How much of a Delta I was. Thanks Vox. Hey maybe I'll even get that good girl later on in my life. Who knows?

Blogger Vox March 06, 2015 6:12 AM  

I have to say this description of Omega I think doesn't fit every one.

Of course not. But it is the sort of story that is most likely to appeal to Omegas. Notice how it is the theme of almost every martial arts movie ever made? You can always tell the difference between an Omega story and a Delta story. In the Omega story, the family member is killed at the beginning. In the Delta story, the family member is kidnapped and has to be rescued.

Omegas dream of revenge. Deltas dream of saving the day.

I just realized How much of a Delta I was.

For some reason, a lot of Gammas and Deltas seem to think that Delta is something to be avoided. It isn't. It is normal, good, and necessary. Band of Brothers is the ultimate Delta story. Any story about a group of men becoming a unit is a Delta story. It may not be as exciting as the Alpha or Sigma stories, but it is usually more powerful and emotionally moving because it is about belonging. Deltas belong.

Blogger Vox March 06, 2015 6:17 AM  

Come to think of it, anyone able to recommend any novels with any Omega-to-Alpha-or-Sigma transformations? I've been looking, but I can't really find any.

James Bond is the Sigma story. But the written James Bond more than the movie version. The quintessential Sigma story is "Cincinnatus" by Joel Rosenberg. The protagonist is dragged in to lead the troops and saves the day while avoiding being assassinated by his own nephew at the orders of his own side because he knows they don't trust him. And, just as obviously, he doesn't trust them. At the end, he returns to his isolation.

Anonymous bub March 06, 2015 6:43 AM  

Is Judas Iscariot gamma? omega? frustrated alpha?
Is back-stabbing and deception a core gamma trait and/or is it gamma-defining?

Blogger njartist March 06, 2015 6:45 AM  

There has to be something lower than Lambda because I just saw a few seconds of a video of goths raving to Thomas the Engine.

Blogger James Sullivan March 06, 2015 6:54 AM  

Besides writing about Protagonists and Antagonists, he could focus on making the supporting characters just like most people he knows.

Populate the world of your story with humans (if it's a story about humans) that act like the vast majority of people you know. Don't make a transvestite were-seal or whatever unless the story needs it.

People just getting by, too worried about paying their bills, or taxes or staying out of the evil despot's eye.

By populating the background story with personalities we see everyday, he will get a fair representation of the hierarchy without too much mental gymnastics, while also foiling the SJWs.

Anonymous Harry P. March 06, 2015 7:02 AM  

I wonder where would Ender belong. Although he is kind of chosen one, he definitely isn't gamma, and although he conquers various challenges he isn't alpha either. Maybe the problem is he is just kid, so these categories don't really apply to him?

Blogger Ben Cohen March 06, 2015 7:09 AM  

Both the beta and delta descriptions appeal to me because of the unwavering loyalty, like a good squire. When I think of deltas I think of the space marines in Aliens II.

Anonymous Bz March 06, 2015 7:20 AM  

"roguishly offers her his arm"

So smooth. Chuckle.

Regarding Stephenson, I'm not sure how to classify him. He's not really pink -- recall Randy and the feminists in Cryptonomicon -- though on the other hand the recent REAMDE features a rilly super smart black girl who blah blah mmmhmm snooze guh where am I? My best guess is he's one of those libertarian engineers who came of age in the 90s in Silicon Valley before it went full retard. But is Stephenson a loser who regards himself as a thwarted king? Unclear. Haven't really seen the signs myself.

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 7:36 AM  

Is Judas Iscariot gamma? omega? frustrated alpha?

Mat 27:4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.
Mat 27:5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.

Ragequit. Gamma or omega.

Blogger Hammerli280 March 06, 2015 7:39 AM  

It's worth looking at examples.

Star Trek (original series):

Kirk - Alpha. Leader of Men. Cares about his men deeply. Has a girl in every port. (Kindly notice he does NOT have one in his crew, it interferes with being a Leader of Men)

Spock - Beta. Faithful First Officer who knows he's not quite suited for independent command. Good advisor to Kirk. Can get a girl in every other port.

McCoy, Scott - Lesser Betas. Experts in their fields, command Kirk's respect and he seeks their counsel.

Chekov, Sulu - Deltas. They do their part.

Sherlock Holmes: Holmes is Sigma. Watson is a study in Beta.

Gone With The Wind: Probably the ultimate sociosexual character study.

Ashley Wilkes - Alpha. Leader of Men, captain of the local militia, war hero. Cashed in his alpha chips on a wife who is beautiful and loyal.

Rhett Butler - Sigma. Leads when he must, otherwise standoffish. Pity he has the mother of all cases of Oneitis for the archvillianess, Scarlett O'Hara.

Scarlett's Other Suitors - Gammas.

But there is one other character worth examining. Horatio Hornblower. He's Alpha...but doesn't realize it. He thinks himself a coward because he feels fear, never mind that he goes in anyway. He thinks himself a manipulative SOB because he uses rhetoric and other leadership skills to motivate his men. A character really worth studying.

Blogger Vox March 06, 2015 7:39 AM  

Is Judas Iscariot gamma? omega? frustrated alpha?

Gamma. In addition to the ragequit, he was a member of the group and he actually tried to tell JESUS CHRIST, of all people, what he should do.

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 7:40 AM  

I sometimes think of Unforgiven as a Sigma story. Munny leads but not because he wants to lead... he just does what he does and men follow him.

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 7:41 AM  

Peter did that too, though. Hence the vade retro Satanas.

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 7:42 AM  

"In addition to the ragequit, he was a member of the group and he actually tried to tell JESUS CHRIST, of all people, what he should do."

Gamma is unlikely. Iscariat didn't just try to tell Jesus what to do. The Zealots were hebrew terrorists. Iscariat was one of Jesus' Killers... as you put it a few posts back. Alpha and Omega are the most obvious choices.

Anonymous PA March 06, 2015 7:43 AM  

A guess on us presidents in my memory:

Jimmy Carter - delta
Ronald Reagan - alpha
GHWB - beta
Bill Clinton - sigma
GWB - beta
Obama - gamma

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 7:45 AM  

Iscariat didn't just try to tell Jesus what to do

But he did it the gamma way - by complaining after the fact.

Jhn 12:5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 7:46 AM  

Then again, Peter directly confronted Jesus, the moment he heard of his thoughts. Very different responses.

Anonymous kfg March 06, 2015 7:47 AM  

My problem with Aragorn is that I've always felt that I was only told the anticlimax of his story. I've always wanted the hear the story of his exploits that made him a man of respect among the rangers.

Anonymous Mike M. March 06, 2015 7:51 AM  

"My problem with Aragorn is that I've always felt that I was only told the anticlimax of his story. I've always wanted the hear the story of his exploits that made him a man of respect among the rangers."

There's a fair amount of Aragorn's backstory in appendices to "The Return of the King".

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 7:52 AM  

't he did it the gamma way - by complaining after the fact."

My issue with the gamma assertion is the confrontation issue. Gammas, as Vox points out, are just oh so clever with their words. But what do they do?

The Zealots did stuff. Political and Religious assassination may be a Gamma game.. but I doubt a gamma would be the trigger puller.

Blogger Desiderius March 06, 2015 7:52 AM  

Where are you seeing the gamma in Stephenson?

Raven with his personal nuke? Jack Sparrow, er, Shaftoe? The Russian dude in Reamde?

Seems more sigma.



Blogger maniacprovost March 06, 2015 7:53 AM  

I'm still finding it hilarious that Vox didn't realize Gammas are mostly like the asinine Millennial stereotype... Snowflakes who think they should be made CEO for "working at a desk with a computer." Side note, out of 14 millenials in my department, only one fits the stereotype of willful ignorance, and he's a delta.

Paulie from Rocky. In his mind, he made Rocky and Adrian what they were.

Blogger Desiderius March 06, 2015 7:53 AM  

Not to mention Stephenson's ultimate loyalties pretty clearly lying on the Blue side of the fence.

Anonymous Mike M. March 06, 2015 7:54 AM  

WRT writing, there's always the classic sea fiction route of Working Your Way Up. The hero starts as a junior officer, moves up in rank as he gains experience.

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 7:54 AM  

The other thing Marrku.. gamma on the net and gamma in person are very different things. In person.. a Gamma will rarely if ever have the balls to question an alpha directly. They think all their super smart snark in their heads..and run around repeating it to themselves and to their friends... but they don't have the balls to say it to the alpha's face.

Anonymous p-dawg March 06, 2015 7:56 AM  

@ Hammerli280

Sorry. Kirk got with Nurse Chapel, remember? Also Uhura.

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 7:57 AM  

"Sorry. Kirk got with Nurse Chapel, remember? Also Uhura. "

oh God here comes the stormfront brigade...

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 8:01 AM  

What makes you say Judas was a Zealot? Based on a quick look at Wikipedia, this appears to be conjecture, originally from I, Judas from 1978, and later in the miniseries Jesus of Nazareth. And even then, it was about conspiring with them, not being among them.

Blogger Johan March 06, 2015 8:08 AM  

Han Solo - Alpha, leader, womanizer, knows Leia loves him and doesn't reciprocate.

Luke Skywalker - Gamma, Special, moves around and let's events work for him, kisses his sister.

Anakin Skywalker - Gamma, Special, Creeper, jealous of Obi-Wan.

Obi-Wan Kenobi - Delta, noble foot soldier of the Jedi.

Lando Calrissian- Beta, wants Han's leftovers.

R2-D2 and C-3PO- Lambda

Anonymous Aeoli March 06, 2015 8:10 AM  

The Count of Monte Cristo exemplifies Beta -> Omega -> Sigma.

Les Miserables also has an Omega -> Sigma. May even have two, I haven't finished it yet.

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 8:10 AM  

Pretty sure Han Solo is sigma. I get no feeling that he's interested in leading anyone.

Anonymous Daniel March 06, 2015 8:10 AM  

Hmm. The King In Yellow's first story, "The Repairer of Reputations" is the best Gamma protagonist I can think of, although it is a tragedy from that perspective. From a romance, the other story about the alchemical water that turns fish into statues does another good job. I need to go read that book again.

Very interesting.

Blogger Northern Hamlet March 06, 2015 8:11 AM  

VD,

A few weeks ago, I was considering taking a stab at sci-fi short stories to send to Castalia. One thing I considered was that sci-fi appears to focus a lot on socio-sexual roles as firmly set. I thought it was interesting that you also believe they are largely set aside from Gamma to Delta.

Blogger James Beech March 06, 2015 8:13 AM  

This may be one of the most brilliant posts on writing I've ever read.

Anonymous PA March 06, 2015 8:14 AM  

Jimmy Carter may be a case of delta-to-gamma change. A normal and honest man becomes president and does his best but is in over his head. Post-presidency becomes a bitter proto-sjw and writes a volume of awful poetry.

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 8:15 AM  

I would rather say that:

Darth Vader = Alpha
Anakin Skywalker = George Lucas taking a big diarrhea dump on his universe

Anonymous Aeoli March 06, 2015 8:18 AM  

Also The Gospel of Judas ends in Zealot territory, which is suggestive. The book was so Gamma-whiney I'm inclined to believe it's legit.

Another great Gamma -> Omega was Crime and Punishment.

Anonymous Weak March 06, 2015 8:19 AM  

I enjoyed the plot of the Kvothe books, but something about the protagonist always bugged me. VD nailed it - he's inauthentic. He's a Gamma's twisted vision of what it's like to be Alpha

Blogger Vox March 06, 2015 8:20 AM  

The Zealots did stuff. Political and Religious assassination may be a Gamma game.. but I doubt a gamma would be the trigger puller.

That doesn't mean that Judas did. I see no evidence that he was anything but a fairly typical Gamma. Gammas question Alphas all the time. In fact, that's a good way to ID a Gamma. They love to begin with "have you ever thought" or "it would have been better if you" or "that's good, but if you had only", as if they are in some sort of superior position and have a responsibility to critique your work.

Sigmas criticize Alphas too, but usually by refusing to endorse. That typical exchange goes like this:

Alpha: And that's the plan!
Beta: That's a great plan, boss!
Delta: Yes, great plan, now we just have to execute properly.
Gamma: Have you ever thought-
Alpha: Shut up, Gamma. (To Sigma) What? What's wrong with it? You haven't said anything since we started.
Sigma: Well, what's wrong is that it's a stupid plan.
Alpha: (dangerous voice) WHAT?
Sigma: Sorry, other than it's obviously going to fail and all, it's a GREAT plan. Two thumbs up, boss!
Alpha: (KABOOM!)

This is why Sigmas don't tend to last long working for Alphas.

Anonymous kfg March 06, 2015 8:22 AM  

"There's a fair amount of Aragorn's backstory in appendices . . ."

Richard III told as backstory to the final battle would not include the magnificent seduction of Anne scene. I want the literature, not the just the facts.

In a round about way I was answering this question:

"Which of those seven stories deeply appeals to you?"

The Rangers, Gandalf, Tom Bombadil; these are the stories in LR that appeal to me. I want to be Yojimbo/The Man with no Name when I grow up. Anyone who wants to make me a King might just as well shoot me and get it over with, rather than torture me to death.

Blogger Johan March 06, 2015 8:24 AM  

So a properly functioning organization will have Alphas, Betas, and Deltas. Would it be correct to say that Gammas, Sigmas, Omegas, and Lambdas are disfunctional?

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 8:25 AM  

A properly functional organization may have sigmas as subcontractors.

Blogger Josh March 06, 2015 8:27 AM  

A guess on us presidents in my memory:

Clinton is an alpha, W is an alpha.

No sigma wants to run for office.

I would guess at least half of the elected officials at the national level are alpha.

Blogger JAY WILL March 06, 2015 8:28 AM  

Applying the social hierarchy to Tolkien. The ring is like a gamma ring, the people who are best able to bear its weight are well-adjusted people, humble people like the hobbits. People who do not get ahead of themselves and can take pleasure in simple things.




Blogger Johan March 06, 2015 8:31 AM  

Obama is the prototypical Gamma. I would bet that Washington is a mix of Gammas and Alphas.

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 8:32 AM  

The ring is like a gamma ring

The ring caused all the kings of all races, that owned the other rings of power, to fall and turn into nazguls. Highly unlikely that all those kings were gammas. I would rather say that the delta is in a unique position to resist the ring longer than anyone else.

Blogger Vox March 06, 2015 8:36 AM  

So a properly functioning organization will have Alphas, Betas, and Deltas. Would it be correct to say that Gammas, Sigmas, Omegas, and Lambdas are disfunctional?

I would not say dysfunctional. I would say disruptive. An amount of disruption can be a good thing. I guarantee that Markku has, not infrequently, found himself scratching his head and muttering: "Good lord, what is Vox doing now?" Mostly because everyone I've worked with, or for, has done that. But then, nearly everyone I've worked with is quite willing to work with me again.

Also, Omegas are not disruptive. Unless they blow up. Then they are very, very disruptive. Gamma disruption can be managed by sufficiently strong Alphas.

OpenID cailcorishev March 06, 2015 8:37 AM  

Those descriptions explain why I was having a hard time thinking of stories with Beta/Delta protagonists -- they're not the "protagonist" type for an epic story. The main character of an epic tends to be a guy who either is already on top of his game -- an Alpha or Sigma -- or the guy on the bottom who needs some great quest to get to the top -- a Gamma. There's not much drama in, "And so he did his job well and enjoyed a pleasant retirement with his grandchildren." In terms of his dealing with women, you get the Bond/Garrett type who trips over willing women even when he's not looking for them, or the guy with one-itis for the unattainable Princess. There's not much in between, at least these days.

It occurred to me thinking about this last night that part of the answer might be in stories about real men, even if they're somewhat fictionalized. Real men who do things tend to be more realistic than either extreme that you see in fantasy. Whether it's Xenophon, or those guys in Kon-Tiki, or true-life stories of frontier people by authors like L'Amour and Zane Grey, you get ordinary family guys who went off and did something heroic or cool -- not because they were Chosen or Fated or anything like that, but simply because they had the will and desire.

That's not to say we should throw away all our fiction, of course. But in the case of a boy who shows signs of Gamma, it'd be good to steer him toward those kind of stories and away from the "hopeless loser gets bitten by a spider and becomes a hero" themes for a while.

Anonymous Mike M. March 06, 2015 8:37 AM  

"So a properly functioning organization will have Alphas, Betas, and Deltas. Would it be correct to say that Gammas, Sigmas, Omegas, and Lambdas are disfunctional?"

Sigmas are good for independent assignments. Red Team postings suit them well.

Omegas? Depends on the subtype. The No Good At/For Anything subtype is useless. The Loner Out For Revenge can be great for independent assignments, especially the hard ones. Just remember to hold a triumph if they return victorious.

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 8:38 AM  

I guarantee that Markku has, not infrequently, found himself scratching his head and muttering: "Good lord, what is Vox doing now?"

Not at all. I've known you long enough to not even spare a thought for that. Rather, it's "Vox is probably doing something crazy right now, I don't even want to know. I'll hear about it when he has results to share."

Anonymous SS March 06, 2015 8:43 AM  

Stephenson is able to write all sorts of characters (very believable alpha in Bobby Shafthoe) but it seems that the main protagonist is usually gamma. Richard Forthast might be more in sigma territory though.

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 8:44 AM  

Last time I didn't watch what he's doing, he brought a supermodel. True story.

Anonymous Working Class Brit March 06, 2015 8:48 AM  

@Vox

So in the caricatural "plan" exchange, does the Gamma get blown-off because of his attempted interjection or his pre-established status? Would a trusted Beta be allowed to voice legitimate (but unsolicited) concerns, or ought he stay quiet/consul his leader in private?

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 8:49 AM  

or ought he stay quiet/consul his leader in private?

It wouldn't even occur to the beta to do anything else. To the others, he would project full confidence in his alpha.

Anonymous Eric Ashley March 06, 2015 8:50 AM  

Books by type:
1. Alpha...I think a lot. Maybe Mike Hammer, and RAH non-juvies.
2. Beta...King Arthur's tales as Arthur is Beta to Merlin, and a bit OT, the Merlin/Arthur duo is my view of proper leadership roles for the Brilliant and the More Normal. Yes, you can probably make a good case for Arthur as Alpha.
3. Delta....X-men comics which appealed to me as it was like a family, and The General series which has a number of close officers who follow our hero. This could be Beta, but just a large group of them, the Companions.
4. Gamma....
5. Omega...and one of the most popular men's types out there....You dun killed me goilfriend, and I will now slaughter every last stinkin' one of yah.....Punisher, Crow....tons more examples.
6. Lambda....generally very hard to read. Sometimes TV sitcoms can back up on the ick factor, some like Torchwood can't. Interestingly one of the most disturbing as noted generally, and pissing me off most specifically was 'Children of Earth' by Torchwood. Gay and collection of ineffectual idiots sacrifice children. Did I mention I dislike Torchwood?

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 8:52 AM  

The gamma, on the other hand, would know that the alpha doesn't trust his judgement enough to grant him a private consultation, due to his alpha obtuseness clouding his judgement. So, it would seem to him, the best approach would be to snark publicly. So that at least after the fact, everyone would see that the gamma was right. That would put him rock solid on the pathway to leadership.

Or not.

Anonymous PA March 06, 2015 8:57 AM  

Prototypical gammas in 80s cartoons: inept, cowardly megalomaniacs Starscream and Cobra Commander in Transformers and GI Joe respectively. Hardly an episode went by without one of them grumbling, in his trademark screechy voice behind Megatron's/Serpentor's back "I should be the leader!"

Blogger Raggededge March 06, 2015 9:01 AM  

I always thought Breaking Bad was great because it nailed the sociosexual roles.

Blogger CM March 06, 2015 9:01 AM  

You described HP as a gamma... but that gamma description almost fits Tyrion in GoT better.

I've been reading The Belgariad, and even there, you have the "special hero"... only its not "no one knows how special you are." Its everyone else thinks your special and your just frustrated that you can't be left to live your own life the way you see fit and yet stuck with some feeling of obligation to be the hero they think you are.

Garion didn't do anything special to get "special status" except be born in a lineage he had no control over. But he DID do things after learning he was special that made him worth it. So is he leader alpha, reluctant leader sigma, or secret special gamma?

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 9:02 AM  

"as if they are in some sort of superior position and have a responsibility to critique your work."

yeah.. I see it online. I don't see it in person. In person... its more like this.

Alpha: Got it?

Beta: ***serious look. nod.*** thinking: "FUCK YEAH HOOAH!"

Delta: HOOAH! ***thinking*** HOOAH!

Gamma: ... ***thinking*** Did they see me not hooah? That show'd them. No one else has the guts to not hooah like me. Look at the these cowards just blindly following that idiot.

Omega: HOOAH ***thinking*** what am I doing here? God this is gonna be a disaster.

Lambda: WOO HAY!!!! ***thinking*** gonna get later girlfriend!!!

Sigma: ... oh... what? ***thinking*** do any of them realize there's a stripper under the table blowing me right now? how can they not know that? I bet if I put a stiffer recoil spring on my 1911 it would help... also the physics of counter steer bother me. I know the front wheel and back wheel can't be perfectly aligned because of the distance difference in the curve but it still pisses me off.

Blogger CM March 06, 2015 9:03 AM  

Yes my "you ares" are all screwed up. Something is wrong with my auto correct.

Anonymous Tom March 06, 2015 9:07 AM  

Tom Kratman's Carrera series has all of these different characters and their stories extremely well done, at least in my opinion. I'm pretty sure just about anybody who has read the whole thing could think of three or four examples of each level, even the Lambdas from the more recent books.

Vox, go get Kratman to tell us how he wrote all those different levels so very well!

Anonymous PA March 06, 2015 9:07 AM  

We dump on gammas but its good to remember the gamma's constant quality: his unhappiness. The lyrics in Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Simple Man" offer a way forward for a gamma who is willing to improve.

Anonymous karsten March 06, 2015 9:09 AM  

"Gamma. No one knows how special he is. The Alphas unfairly rule and keep him down by trickery. Even the girl he loves in a way no woman has ever been loved before doesn't realize how special he is or how happy he would make her if only she would let him. Bad people treat him badly and unfairly. But through his clever wit, the Gamma makes fools of everyone through always having the perfect thing to say, culminating when he totally humiliates the Alpha and reveals him to be an unworthy paper tiger in a brilliant verbal exchange front of everyone, including the girl. The Gamma is finally recognized as the true First Man in Rome by everyone as the girl shyly confesses that she has always seen and admired his specialness. He calls her "milady" and roguishly offers her his arm as everyone looks on enviously and applauds the smoothness of his style."

That is, seriously, one of the funniest things I've read, because it describes perfectly the storyline of most Hollywood "comedies," especially those placed in high-school settings -- written as they are by scribes who no doubt consider themselves Chosen, as Gammas invariably do.

Of your listing, the two character types that seem by far the most interesting are the Omega and the Sigma. Indeed, by contrast, the rest seem rather dull and cliche (not the descriptions, because they're accurate, but the stories about them).

I probably relate more to Omega-centred narratives, but I also find Sigma-centred narratives diverting.

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 9:10 AM  

'Tom Kratman's Carrera series has all of these different characters and their stories extremely well done, at least in my opinion."

Military leaders at a certain level are often very good at describing male social behavior, interaction, and personality types... because their success, and often lives, depend on understanding them.

Blogger Student in Blue March 06, 2015 9:12 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Anonymous kfg March 06, 2015 9:15 AM  

Nate: It's all about balancing the forces by controlling the slip angles. The reason a RWD is faster than FWD in the dry is because the slip angles of front and rear can be directly controlled independently; the front with the steering wheel, the rear with the throttle.

Rather than piss me off, I find it the beauty of the whole thing.

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 9:16 AM  

"It seems like true Voxian-style Betas are rather rare, particularly because they don't seem to stand out."

I would argue Monster Hunter Internation is about a Voxian Beta. Owen doesn't even lead his own fire time... much less the whole organization.

Anonymous karsten March 06, 2015 9:21 AM  

The Dark Knight, when written at his best, strikes me as one of the definitive Omega -> Sigma scenarios of the past few decades.

Anonymous karsten March 06, 2015 9:22 AM  

Rorschach (in the original comic) -- splendid Omega.

Blogger Bard March 06, 2015 9:30 AM  

Can a gamma become an omega? Like a serial killer?

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 9:31 AM  

Easily. Gamma is about having an amount of social success, despite lack of sexual success. If he just says "screw it" to all efforts of maintaining social success, then that's pretty much automatic omega.

Anonymous karsten March 06, 2015 9:32 AM  

"oh God here comes the stormfront brigade..."

Textbook case of shrilly screaming, "Disqualify! Disqualify!"

Not that p-dawg is correct. Kirk is a standard Alpha. But politically correct disqualifies always rankle as a cheap tactic.

In other news, of course Judas is a gamma. He may be history's definitive gamma.

Anonymous karsten March 06, 2015 9:36 AM  

Can a gamma become an omega? Like a serial killer?

In fact, haven't we just recently seen a few cases of that? That Jared something-or-other guy, then that half-Asian fellow, and finally and most recently that guy who killed some Muslims over a parking ticket and turned out to be an SPLC supporter?

I still see them as gammas to the end, though. Omegas strike me as the natural enemies of gammas.

Blogger Krul March 06, 2015 9:36 AM  

Vox - Also, Omegas are not disruptive. Unless they blow up. Then they are very, very disruptive.

"Uh... Excuse me, uh... I believe you have my stapler..."

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 9:38 AM  

Is that "blow up" as in having a tantrum, or "blow up" as in Worst Going Postal Ever?

Blogger Positive Dennis March 06, 2015 9:39 AM  

Harry dresden is what exactly? An alpha written by a gamma?

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 9:40 AM  

"Textbook case of shrilly screaming, "Disqualify! Disqualify!""

that joke went over your head mate. I wasn't disqualifying anyone. I was joking that since someone mentioned Kirk banging Uhura someone like thordaddy was going to jump into the thread and start ranting about kirk being a race traitor.

Blogger Krul March 06, 2015 9:40 AM  

karsten - Rorschach (in the original comic) -- splendid Omega.

John Rambo in Rambo: First Blood would be an Omega, I think. Really captures the inner turmoil of the type.

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 9:43 AM  

"John Rambo in Rambo: First Blood would be an Omega"

Yep. Perfect.

Blogger JartStar March 06, 2015 9:45 AM  

Anyone with a girl in the house under 16 has no doubt seen Frozen so...

No Alphas

Kristoff - Delta: He doesn't suck up to Anna like a Gamma would and just does his job, but she's not really enthralled with him. He's not particularly brave or heroic, doesn't know how to win her heart, and his most attractive attributes are he's handsome and in good shape. He rises to the occasion late, but arguably fails and it wasn't his first inclination. He has to ask permission to kiss the princess at the end and so in the final scene she prefers to skate with her sister than him.

Hans - Evil Beta: Anna is enthralled with him and never figures him out until he has to carefully explain his evil plan to her. He knows what power is and how to yield it. When confronted by the snow beast he is surprised, yet draws his sword, fights and beats it. Yet when he could close the deal he stays his assasin's hand for no reason, and he is too easily manipulated by the Gamma Duke of Weselton. There's no hint he will return with an army and sack Elsa's realm which is what an Evil Alpha would do after being defeated and punched by a princess. (I have a feeling that if you polled the girls watching this video Hans still polls higher than Kristoff).

Duke of Weselton - Gamma: He's petty, dances in a really creepy manner which horrifies Anna, thinks he's special, and is contemptible. He only does anything due to his title.

Olaf - Snow Lambda: No he's not really presented as gay in the story, but he's the androgynous best friend of Anna who really cares for he, offers good advice, but has no romantic interest.



Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 9:45 AM  

also... for comic fans... Wolverine's a Sigma. Everyone follows him and wants him to lead but he really has no desire to. He's only part of the group because he kind of has to be. All the chicks want him.. including the Alpha's chick.

Anonymous karsten March 06, 2015 9:47 AM  

John Rambo in Rambo: First Blood would be an Omega, I think. Really captures the inner turmoil of the type.

Nice. Agreed.

And further on the idea that Omegas are the natural enemies of Gammas, I cite Watchmen again, which is a story of what horrors happen when there's no Alpha around to smack down the Gamma (because Ozymandias is a Gamma to the nth power, and Dr. Manhattan, for all his godlike power, never quite stops being the beta has was before the transformation). The Omega, Rorschach, is the only one who won't compromise with him and sees the Chosen "smartest man in the world" for the toxin he is.

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 9:50 AM  

'Omegas strike me as the natural enemies of gammas."

no. Alphas are the natural enemies of the gammas. Sigmas hate them too though.

Omega's are the homeless guys living in a van down by the river. They hate themselves... in many cases they hate everyone.

Blogger Jim Bro March 06, 2015 9:52 AM  

I'm not really a poster here, but this thread is intriguing. I'm also not sure how much I believe the "socio-sexual hierarchy" is true, but I'll give it a try (and try to stay within scifi/fantasy).

Alpha-pretty much any character from the pulp era, whether well done or not, seems to fit. Howard's Conan has already been mentioned, but has anyone here read Abraham Merrit? The protagonist from the "Ship of Ishtar" immediately comes to mind.

Outside of the pulp era, Aeneas would be a good example of an Alpha.

Beta-This one is really hard, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say Odysseus. He's more-or-less a failed leader in the Odyssey and one of the lesser heroes in the Iliad, often acting as Agamemnon's Beta. He also has Delta and even Sigma traits, but his ultimate fate is that he has a few flings with some hot goddesses and ends up with a quality chick in his old age.

Delta-Croaker in The Black Company books. Though I didn't care for them and think they failed in their goals, they're one of the few examples of military fantasy novels that make an attempt to portray the day-to-day life of actually fighting an epic war of light and dark.

Another good example is Johnny from Starship Troopers.

Also, Vox, wouldn't any realistic military novel ultimately be a kind of Band of Brothers type tale? Coming together as a unit is simply how modern wars are fought, so to be faithful to reality you'd have to tell a "Delta story."

Omega-Dostoevsky was particularly good at depicting omegas (I know I'm outside of sci-fi/fantasy now). Hippolyte from The Idiot comes to mind and the narrator from Notes from the Underground.

Gamma-Bernard Marx from Brave New World. Huxley actually wrote that he identified most with Bernard of all of the characters in the novel, since he himself felt that he would be too weak to truly criticize society if everything were reversed and starting coming out in his favor.

Lambda-lol. No idea.

Sigma-James Bond has already been pointed out. I really can't think of too many protagonists that don't choose to marry the princess at the end, so I'll leave this up to others.

Anonymous karsten March 06, 2015 9:53 AM  

"no. Alphas are the natural enemies of the gammas."

no. Alphas underestimate the gammas, and often enjoy the "sport" of beating them down so much, that they let them live, until, as they so often do, the gammas finally find a scheme that works and bring down the alpha.

Omegas think gammas should be wiped out.

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 9:54 AM  

Omegas think everybody should be wiped out, though they might leave other omegas for last.

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 9:55 AM  

Sigma isn't that hard to find guys. Vox pointed out a while back... Eastwood plays a sigma in pretty much all of his Westerns.

Actually westerns are full of sigmas in general. Rooster Cogburn is a sigma.

Blogger Josh March 06, 2015 9:56 AM  

Omegas think gammas should be wiped out.

That isn't saying much, since omegas think everyone, including themselves, should be wiped out.

Anonymous karsten March 06, 2015 9:56 AM  

"I was joking that since someone mentioned Kirk banging Uhura someone like thordaddy was going to jump into the thread and start ranting about kirk being a race traitor."

Ergo, nothing went over my head. That's you trying to disqualify this "thordaddy" person in advance. He wouldn't be wrong if he claimed that pushing miscegenation was the agenda of that interracial kiss (because it obviously was and the Star Trek writers celebrate this fact). But that also doesn't alter the fact that Kirk was written to be an alpha.

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 9:57 AM  

"no. Alphas underestimate the gammas, and often enjoy the "sport" of beating them down so much, that they let them live, until, as they so often do, the gammas finally find a scheme that works and bring down the alpha."

You're very much mistaken. How much joy do you see Vox getting out of the gamma's here? Look at the behavior that is most likely to get you banned.

he doesn't keep them around to toy with them.

He bans them.

I can assure you... no one hates gamma like alpha and sigma.

Blogger D.J. March 06, 2015 9:58 AM  

I wonder if the story you like reveals more about what you are, or what you aspire to be.

The Beta story is the one that deeply appeals to me.

But what about the Beta where the Alpha is God, not man? Is that blurring the line towards Gamma? Probably depends on the internal motivations. I think that someone in it for the "Well done, thou good and faithful servant" would be Beta, but someone who lets the Special/Chosen nature go to his head is a) Gamma, and b) setting himself up for failure (hubris/nemesis style, or direct punishment from God, hopefully leading to repentance and restoration).

Anonymous NateM March 06, 2015 9:58 AM  

Gotta say the Beta story appeals most to me, but I know that's purely aspirational. I don't think there's anything wrong with the Delta narrative either, but a fair portion of people are going to aspire to around one step hire on the sociosexual hierarchy.

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 10:00 AM  

'Ergo, nothing went over my head. That's you trying to disqualify this "thordaddy" person in advance. "

its not about a pre-emptive strike son. Its about derailing a fun thread. right or wrong has nothing to do with it. Its a joke based on a fairly recent tendency of VP to get derailed onto a tired set of topics by a few broken records.

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 10:01 AM  

"But what about the Beta where the Alpha is God, not man? "

why would attempt to apply human socio-sexuality theory... to GOD?

Anonymous karsten March 06, 2015 10:01 AM  

Omegas think everybody should be wiped out, though they might leave other omegas for last.

That isn't saying much, since omegas think everyone, including themselves, should be wiped out.


These are all rather glib statements, but the fictional examples don't bear this out.

Rorschach was pretty targeted in his "wiping out" policy. So was John Rambo -- pointedly so (watch First Blood again and you'll see).

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 10:02 AM  

Everyone laughs at thordaddy. He doesn't need disqualification.

Anonymous Salt March 06, 2015 10:03 AM  

Wolverine's a Sigma

Darryl, in Walking Dead, is also a Sigma.

Anonymous karsten March 06, 2015 10:04 AM  

its not about a pre-emptive strike son. Its about derailing a fun thread. right or wrong has nothing to do with it. Its a joke based on a fairly recent tendency of VP to get derailed onto a tired set of topics by a few broken records.

That may be the case (I don't usually follow the threads here, so I don't know how much they do or don't get derailed). But anytime anyone sniffs about "stormfront," it sounds too much like pink-style disqualifying. Nevertheless, the principle of trying to keep threads on track -- I can support that.

Blogger Krul March 06, 2015 10:06 AM  

Nate - Eastwood plays a sigma in pretty much all of his Westerns.

I wonder if High Plains Drifter is a warning about giving over power to a Sigma whose motives you don't understand.

You know what's fun? Watch High Noon first, then High Plains Drifter right after. It's... cathartic.

Come to think of it, what would Sheriff Kane from High Noon be? I wanna say Delta.

Anonymous Aeoli Pera March 06, 2015 10:07 AM  

>Omegas? Depends on the subtype. The No Good At/For Anything subtype is useless. The Loner Out For Revenge can be great for independent assignments, especially the hard ones. Just remember to hold a triumph if they return victorious.

No, please don't. I have received accolades before and it is worse than "hanging out". Just leave some hot food by the van :-).

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 10:08 AM  

"Come to think of it, what would Sheriff Kane from High Noon be?" I dunno... unlikely that a delta would rise to be a sheriff. Certainly has delta tendancies though.

Blogger Cogitans Iuvenis March 06, 2015 10:08 AM  

So how would you classify each character in Throne of Bones.

Anonymous karsten March 06, 2015 10:09 AM  

"You're very much mistaken. How much joy do you see Vox getting out of the gamma's here? he doesn't keep them around to toy with them. He bans them."

Vox has said that he's a Sigma, not an Alpha, and the banning is Sigma behaviour, not Alpha behaviour.

I stand by my original point.

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 10:09 AM  

Stormfront Brigade is the people who think that it's always a good idea to make race-realist or anti-Jewish statements, whenever it has even a passing connection with the topic at hand. They apparently think that by doing so, they have done their good deed of the day for White Race.

Whereas in reality, everybody thinks they are terribly odious to all discussion, and associate that feeling with anyone who brings up such sentiments even when they are relevant.

Anonymous Aeoli Pera March 06, 2015 10:09 AM  

Best Omega blow-up movie is Ong Bak.

Tony Jaa: You take my statue head? KNEES!

Cronies: Gah! WTF how you do that?

Blogger Dystopic March 06, 2015 10:11 AM  

It occurs to me that General Belisarius might be the greatest Beta in history. Offered the throne of the defunct West Roman Empire by the defeated Ostrogoths, only to turn it down and remain loyal to Justinian.

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 10:11 AM  

I think people get to hung up on the idea that Omegas are secret shy badasses. They aren't.

Think Pyle from Full Metal Jacket.

That's an omega.

Blogger D.J. March 06, 2015 10:14 AM  

"Why would attempt to apply human socio-sexuality theory... to GOD?"

I'm not. Instead, in the Beta story description it says "The good lieutenant is given great responsibility by his Alpha..." So in this case, the Alpha, or leader, is God. The Beta is the protagonist of the story.

Actually this could be an interesting Gamma-to-Beta story: The Gamma has been chosen by God. Believes himself Special. Fails of his purpose and repents. Submits. Serenity in finding correct place in heirarchy. Willing to not-submit to human authority. (Whether it is right to follow God's demands or man's, you must decide. I will follow God.)

No longer a King in his own eyes, but, say, a Viceroy or Margrave under the King.

Beta? Gamma rationalization into Beta?

Blogger S1AL March 06, 2015 10:14 AM  

All of these estimations make me wonder how much of the hierarchy is contextual, especially high-delta and beta.

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 10:14 AM  

"Vox has said that he's a Sigma, not an Alpha, and the banning is Sigma behaviour, not Alpha behaviour."

Sure it is. Alphas never kick anyone out of their group for being disruptive or challenging them. /facepalm

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 10:16 AM  

"I'm not. Instead, in the Beta story description it says "The good lieutenant is given great responsibility by his Alpha..." "

No.

God is not the alpha in that Story. The protagonist is an Alpha. He's leading a group on a mission.

Blogger Krul March 06, 2015 10:16 AM  

Nate - I dunno... unlikely that a delta would rise to be a sheriff.

Sheriff Kane's a hard one. He's a sheriff, he has a gorgeous wife, and he previously had a steamy affair with a hot Latina. Yet, he just swallows all kinds of challenges to his authority, and his wife won't stick with him when things get tough.

I say "Delta" because he's so utterly, selflessly dedicated to doing his job no matter whether the people for whom he's doing it want him to, and no matter what it costs him personally.

Anonymous NateM March 06, 2015 10:19 AM  

"Eastwood plays a sigma in pretty much all of his Westerns."


Outlaw Josey Wales is the classic sigma. Literally everything he does. Josey is hard even by Clint Eastwood character standards

Jamie: I wish we had time to bury them fellas.
Josey Wales: To hell with them fellas. Buzzards gotta eat, same as worms.

Anonymous karsten March 06, 2015 10:20 AM  

"Whereas in reality, everybody thinks they are terribly odious to all discussion, and associate that feeling with anyone who brings up such sentiments even when they are relevant."

Argumentum ad populum. "Everybody," eh? Like "everybody" knows that climate change is happening and vaccines are safe and race is just a "social construct."

In saying this, I am not trying to derail this thread into any of those issues. But claiming that "everybody" feels a certain way is standard Leftist rhetoric and, even you might agree, is an unworthy tactic on any brand of alt-right site.

Blogger Krul March 06, 2015 10:21 AM  

Captain Nemo, Alpha or Sigma?

Anonymous Mike M. March 06, 2015 10:22 AM  

">Omegas? Depends on the subtype. The No Good At/For Anything subtype is useless. The Loner Out For Revenge can be great for independent assignments, especially the hard ones. Just remember to hold a triumph if they return victorious.

No, please don't. I have received accolades before and it is worse than "hanging out". Just leave some hot food by the van :-)."

Speak for yourself. :-) What good is Revenge if you don't get to celebrate the victory? Celebrate the triumph, then return to the farm/high desert/Mount Olympus until the next time.

Blogger D.J. March 06, 2015 10:24 AM  

Nate: Are you saying that no-one except Alphas can be story protagonists?

I was reading the descriptions as 'This is the sort of story this type of person is a protagonist in.' So the Beta story is a story with Beta as protagonist.

Anonymous karsten March 06, 2015 10:27 AM  

Sure it is. Alphas never kick anyone out of their group for being disruptive or challenging them. /facepalm

Face-palming doesn't lend your statement any more support. People are not robots who always respond one way according to socio-sexual hierarchy.

But I maintain my original point: the alpha tendency (that's "tendency," mind not "something that happens 100% of the time") is to smack down gammas, whom they underestimate; then the gammas come back and try again, then they're smacked down, on and on it goes, until, eventually, the gammas come up with a ploy that topples the alpha.

Omegas, lacking the alpha's confidence (sometimes overconfidence) in their own abilities, and more savvy of the gamma threat (because they see it closer, from the bottom, not the top), are more given to taking more finite measures -- if they can. But they often lack the means.

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 10:27 AM  

is an unworthy tactic

It's not a tactic, it's a statement of fact. You might think it mistaken, and I wouldn't care, but that would still not make it a tactic.

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 10:29 AM  

Alpha

Blogger Bodichi March 06, 2015 10:30 AM  

@Karsten,

I think your point could be illustrated by 300, Leonidas being the Alpha and Ephialtes being the Gamma.

OpenID malcolmthecynic March 06, 2015 10:31 AM  

Darn, I was about to mention that Westerns typically feature Sigmas, but a lot of the other posters beat me to it. I'm currently watching "The Searchers", and Ethan is the classic Sigma. He shows up at his brother's house after a long time apart due to an implied obligation to what many believe to be his daughter, Debra, though he is clearly uncomfortable. It is also implied that he had sex with his brother's wife, and it is to be noted that he leaves her behind with his clearly delta brother instead of sticking with her, preferring to be alone.

Then the Comanches attack. Ethan strikes out with the Rangers because he figures at first, reluctantly, that together is their best chance at taking the Comanches.

Soon, however, the head of the Rangers makes what seems to Ethan an obvious boneheaded mistake, so Ethan tries to strike out alone.

Two men (I'm not sure what they would be...somewhere between delta and beta? Marty seems loyal but when push came to shove he was able to go up against Ethan and hold his own), however, refuse to leave the group, and Ethan reluctantly lets them join, but makes sure they understand that he is to unquestionably be the leader.

The search commences. Brad is killed and Marty stays, but Ethan is unquestionably the most badass of the group, killing the most Comanches and making all of the important decisions.

Debra is found, and Ethan makes the decision, against Marty's wishes (though, as he surely knows, pretty much everybody's), to kill Debra; he does not care what anybody else thinks about it. Marty stops him, and saves Debra's life.

Ethan returns to his brother's home, but he is still clearly uncomfortable and it is heavily implied the stay will be temporary. Soon the Comanches attack again, and it is known Debra is with them. Marty wants to sneak into the camp and attempt to rescue Debra, but Ethan would rather go for a straight on assault; the head of the rangers overrules Ethan's wishes and approves the escape attempt, another case of the Sigma being convinced he is right and being overruled by people he believes are again making boneheaded decisions.

Ultimately Ethan is the hero, rescuing Debra from the Comanches despite all of his previous protestations. In an iconic final scene he stares at the doorway to his brother's home, his daughter reunited with his family and Marty engaged to be married to a beautiful girl, destined to live a happy, content life. He turns away, forever the loner, rejecting a family he knows he doesn't belong with. He ends up as he started: Alone. He rejects his family as much as they reject him.

A superbly well done story, painting a portrait of a Sigma who ultimately ends up being the hero but is most definitely not a good idea, and his striking out alone is decidedly tragic. One of the greatest movies ever made.

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 10:32 AM  

'Nate: Are you saying that no-one except Alphas can be story protagonists?"

No.

I'm saying if the main character is leading a group.. then the main character isn't a beta.

a story about a beta.. would be a story about a man who had a good friend who was doing stuff and he is loyal to that friend and he and that friend so he goes with that friend to do stuff.

Imagine LOTR told from Sam's perspective.

Anonymous Mike M. March 06, 2015 10:32 AM  

Back to the subject of writing....

I think much can be done with the inner struggle. Hornblower is the great example - Alpha to the bone, but beset by inner doubts and fears. His struggle to overcome them makes the character great - and also very hard to bring to the screen.

Military fiction series in general provide a rich ground for drama. Characters operate in a hierarchy...which means that your hero may be Alpha to his subordinates, Beta, Delta, or Sigma to superiors.

Another fascinating character is Matt Helm. Classic Sigma....but there's a part of him that would like to settle down into a nice, comfortable Delta life. He tried, but was dragged back into his old job - and abandoned by his wife for it.

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 10:33 AM  

"Captain Nemo, Alpha or Sigma?"

Alpha.

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 10:35 AM  

"But I maintain my original point: the alpha tendency (that's "tendency," mind not "something that happens 100% of the time") is to smack down gammas, whom they underestimate; then the gammas come back and try again, then they're smacked down, on and on it goes, until, eventually, the gammas come up with a ploy that topples the alpha."

of course they do... tell us more about the badass gammas... and how you aren't wrong.

ever?

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 10:35 AM  

". One of the greatest movies ever made."

it really is.

Anonymous Aus Koeln March 06, 2015 10:36 AM  

I believe looking back later, we will all see this post as one of the best ones Vox has ever written concerning writing in general & writing for Protagonist especially.

After absorbing much here on VP, over at Alpha Game, the Chateau & elsewhere over several years I must conclude that though Sigma and Alpha appeal to my "hopeful ego" I am rather SOLIDLY in the camp of Beta.

I've tried to deny it but I don't have a Gamma's skills at self-delusion. Though occasionally attaining situational alpha, I now know in my core that I am Beta. I suppose I should thank Vox and the Ilk for help in realisation - thanks, Gang.

Think Stannis' Davos Seaworth in GoT....ugh....that's me all right. Heh.

Anonymous DissidentRight March 06, 2015 10:39 AM  

This was illuminating.

Beta appeals the most deeply to me. Second would be omega. Delta is boring. Sigma is intellectually appealing, but not emotionally. Gamma and Alpha are both equally unappealing. The gamma is embarrassing, the alpha exhausting.

Blogger CM March 06, 2015 10:43 AM  

of course they do... tell us more about the badass gammas

Isn't Loki in Thor a gamma? And wouldn't his father and Thor be alphas? Seems to me a character flaw of the truly Alpha is over-estimating/over-confidence... or under estimating the gamma... That creates a weakness for the gamma to exploit.

In the case of Judas and Jesus, that case can't really be made because Judas acted in accordance to a plan Jesus was already aware of.

Also another question... if gammas think like women, if they kill with their own hand, are they more likely to use poison as the means?

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 10:45 AM  

'
Isn't Loki in Thor a gamma? And wouldn't his father and Thor be alphas? Seems to me a character flaw of the truly Alpha is over-estimating/over-confidence... or under estimating the gamma... That creates a weakness for the gamma to exploit."

I think in literature that is certainly the case. in life... its other alphas that exploit that weakness. Not gammas.

Look at Dubya. His whole strategy as an alpha depends on people underestimating him. Remember what Bill Clinton said after meeting him face to face? "Don't ever underestimate that man."

That's one alpha talking about another.

If gammas got anywhere... they wouldn't be gammas.

Blogger Bodichi March 06, 2015 10:45 AM  

@CM

Poison or in the case of Ephialtes another force, but yes.

Anonymous karsten March 06, 2015 10:46 AM  

@Karsten,

I think your point could be illustrated by 300, Leonidas being the Alpha and Ephialtes being the Gamma.


There's one example indeed. And didn't someone mention Starscream earlier? Megatron, the alpha of the Decepticons, kept him around, to his perpetual consternation, and had more than one plan ruined because of Starscream's perpetual scheming to topple him.

of course they do... tell us more about the badass gammas... and how you aren't wrong.

ever?


What does "ever" have to do with anything? You keep making these bizarre appeals to "ever" and "never." There are outliers for everything.

And "badass"? That's your word, weirdly chosen and inappropriate. I'd say that scheming to topple the leader is the opposite of badass; it's parasitic and disease-like.

Blogger Josh March 06, 2015 10:46 AM  

But I maintain my original point: the alpha tendency (that's "tendency," mind not "something that happens 100% of the time") is to smack down gammas, whom they underestimate; then the gammas come back and try again, then they're smacked down, on and on it goes, until, eventually, the gammas come up with a ploy that topples the alpha.

In fiction? Maybe.

In real life? No.

There's a reason gamma wish fulfillment fiction exists.

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 10:47 AM  

also I should note that Loki ends up being bound and tortured for all eternity.

Blogger Krul March 06, 2015 10:49 AM  

One of my favorite movies is Cleopatra.

Julius Caesar: THE Alpha. Rex Harrison simply exudes what is called "amused mastery" in all his scenes.

Cleopatra: THE Alpha female. An HB10 who uses the men around her for her own purposes. Only Caesar is able to master her.

Mark Antony: THE Beta. He serves Caesar, but when Caesar dies, Antony finds himself pathetically, tragically ill-equipped to fill Caesar's shoes.

Octavian: Sigma*. A skinny, sickly fellow who nevertheless oozes contempt for all those around him who he sees, justifiably, as his inferiors.

*Octavian's power seeking is inconsistent with Sigma, but I"m talking about how the character is performed. Octavian in the film seems to seek power merely for the challenge of it, almost as a hobby.

OpenID malcolmthecynic March 06, 2015 10:54 AM  

"The Searchers" does break with the Sigma protagonist story in some ways. For one thing, the ending is implied to be tragic for Ethan; his inability to be with people who love him is seen as a character flaw.

For another the people do not all want Ethan to be the king; his family tries to like him and he's good to the kids, but the rangers and Marty think he's an asshole (they're pretty much right). In fact, he nearly provokes the head of the rangers into arresting him, and is only kept around, reluctantly, because they recognize that they need him for the fight against the Comanches. They certainly aren't interested in making him the leader permanently. and don't even really notice his leaving. This is probably a realistic reaction to sigmas much of the time (though there's no doubt that certain sigmas portray a measure of likeability).

It's a generally realistic portrayal of the interfamilial framework between those diverse personalities.

Marty is the wild card. He portrays some Alpha tendencies and some Beta tendencies. I think he'd tend towards Alpha if he wasn't around Ethan so much, who has a personality that's incredibly dominating even by alpha/sigma standards.When he sees somebody else wants to marry his girl he has no trouble fighting him, and when times come that he's forced to stand up to Ethan he's up to the task.

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 10:56 AM  

"What does "ever" have to do with anything? You keep making these bizarre appeals to "ever" and "never." There are outliers for everything."

You don't get subtle do you? By asking if you are "ever" wrong I was insulting you by insinuating you were demonstrating gamma behavior. And now I've insulted you again by having to explain what you weren't smart enough to catch. I think you're kind of slow. Is that clear yet?

"And "badass"? That's your word, weirdly chosen and inappropriate. I'd say that scheming to topple the leader is the opposite of badass; it's parasitic and disease-like."

Badass is a word we use for people who win. Winners are badass. Losers are not. Winners are alphas. Losers are gammas. Your scenario exists in the minds of writers alone. Gammas don't take down alphas. Other alphas take down alphas.

Blogger Josh March 06, 2015 10:57 AM  

Argumentum ad populum. "Everybody," eh? Like "everybody" knows that climate change is happening and vaccines are safe and race is just a "social construct."

In saying this, I am not trying to derail this thread into any of those issues. But claiming that "everybody" feels a certain way is standard Leftist rhetoric and, even you might agree, is an unworthy tactic on any brand of alt-right site.


And this is why we laugh at the storm front brigade.

Because y'all bring up your ideological hobby horse whether it's relevant to the thread or not, and when confronted about it, start whining about how the people confronting you are evil leftists using unworthy tactics.

Have you figured out that showing up to a party and shitting on the rug is a really bad way to persuade anyone?

Anonymous karsten March 06, 2015 10:58 AM  

I think in literature that is certainly the case. in life... its other alphas that exploit that weakness. Not gammas.

If gammas got anywhere... they wouldn't be gammas.


By that measure, whoever got Vox kicked out of that sci-fi organization was an alpha. Which is nonsense. It was a classic case of gamma success due to their underhanded scheming. It's not "badass," unless someone thinks underhanded scheming is "badass" -- and only a gamma does.

Plenty of gammas get "somewhere" -- just look at the Scalzis and their movie deals; indeed, look at the majority of Hollywood "creators," gammas to a man (or former man, in some of their depraved cases).

This is why Nietzsche saw Darwin as full of bunk, because Darwin, applied, would mean that the fittest (the alphas) always win. In human terms, nothing could be further from the truth. As Nietzsche points out, the weak (the gammas) band together to take down the strong (the alphas) -- or, in more contemporary terms, fabricate slave-morality ideologies like Marxism to bring them down. And the alphas, from their lofty status (which they achieved on merit), smack them down somewhat but fail to perceive the full scope of the threat and thus fail to eradicate them altogether, until the gamma disease has metastasized to the point that it overwhelms.

Blogger Josh March 06, 2015 11:00 AM  

indeed, look at the majority of Hollywood "creators," gammas to a man (or former man, in some of their depraved cases).

Yeah, George Clooney and Ari Gold are socio sexual losers...

Anonymous karsten March 06, 2015 11:01 AM  

In fiction? Maybe.

In real life? No.

There's a reason gamma wish fulfillment fiction exists.


As I pointed out in the comment above, if anything, gammas-toppling-alphas is the norm, not the exception, in real life. And that's why the world today is such a hell-hole. Because the gammas are in charge, in politics, in the media, etc.

Blogger Josh March 06, 2015 11:03 AM  

Because the gammas are in charge, in politics, in the media, etc.

Give us some examples of gammas in charge.

If they're rich, powerful, and banging hot chicks...they're not gammas...

Blogger Bodichi March 06, 2015 11:04 AM  

@Josh

"Creators" would generally refer to people like Joss Whedon, Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen, etc. Clooney would generally be referred to as an actor or a star.

Blogger Krul March 06, 2015 11:06 AM  

malcolmthecynic - For one thing, the ending is implied to be tragic for Ethan; his inability to be with people who love him is seen as a character flaw..

Yes, well they weren't going for a happy escapist story, were they? They were going for a realistic, melancholy story.

Correct me if I'm wrong here, it's been a while, but I believe it's implied at the beginning that Ethan had been killing Yankees before the movie began, unable to let go of the war and settle down, hence the tension between him and the rest of the family.

It's also emphasized that he had a lot more in common with Scar and the warlike Comanches than he did with his peaceful fellow whites, hence his permanent alienation.

Anonymous Donn March 06, 2015 11:08 AM  

Nate - Sailer has a theory that once Bush jr lost an election he came face to face with the fact that his target audience was not impressed by intellectualism or credentials. So he de-emphasized his education and book larnin' and spoke as he believed a common man would speak complete with 'misunderestimate' and other made up terms. Worked like a charm.

Blogger Log March 06, 2015 11:09 AM  

By that measure, whoever got Vox kicked out of that sci-fi organization was an alpha.

And that is the great secret. Where you are in a hierarchy depends strictly on the structure in question. Vox was not alpha, nor sigma, in SFWA, but gamma / omega. His failure in the SFWA, of course, need not affect his standing in other hierarchies.

Anonymous karsten March 06, 2015 11:09 AM  

You don't get subtle do you? By asking if you are "ever" wrong I was insulting you by insinuating you were demonstrating gamma behavior. And now I've insulted you again by having to explain what you weren't smart enough to catch. I think you're kind of slow. Is that clear yet?

I got you the first time, and then pointed out that your insult was worthless because it didn't apply.

On the other hand, whether you got it or not, I have suggested, and do maintain, that your comment suggests an admiration for gamma success (calling it "badass") that associates you with the gamma. Because only a gamma thinks cheap scheming and treachery are a "badass" route to success, or that success achieved by such tactics is "badass."

"Badass is a word we use for people who win. Winners are badass. Losers are not. Winners are alphas. Losers are gammas. Your scenario exists in the minds of writers alone. Gammas don't take down alphas. Other alphas take down alphas.

Wrong. A human rat who, through scheming and treachery, takes down a noble leader is not "badass," except perhaps to other gammas. (By that measure, to use the example that someone else provided, the hunchback who sold out the 300 is "badass.) To anyone who appreciates honour, he's scum.

OpenID malcolmthecynic March 06, 2015 11:10 AM  

There's something to this. Scalzi makes, by Larry's own admission (I remember him saying this at least once), as much money as he does. And say what you will about his wife's attractiveness (I have no clue how she looks, and would leave her out of any feud besides), but he has a wife and a child (children?), and is having one of his books made into a TV series. This is unquestionably success, and yet Scalzi is definitely a gamma.

Neil Gaiman was identified recently as gamma as well, and yet he's one of the most popular and successful authors of our generation. And his reputation is at least partially deserved; the man has talent.

Vox was kicked out of the SFWA by a group of what at least appeared to be gammas, though I don't know their individual personalities. Still, the reasoning behind their kicking him out seems gamma in and of itself.

Now, alphas and sigmas tend to be successful, but gammas can definitely topple alphas in the proper context, and if they work together.

Blogger Josh March 06, 2015 11:10 AM  

Creators" would generally refer to people like Joss Whedon, Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen, etc. Clooney would generally be referred to as an actor or a star.

Spielberg has a massive collection of custom made shotguns and married the hot chick from temple of doom...

If you wanted to say Hollywood was run by lambdas, that would be more accurate.

Anonymous karsten March 06, 2015 11:11 AM  

And that is the great secret. Where you are in a hierarchy depends strictly on the structure in question. Vox was not alpha, nor sigma, in SFWA, but gamma / omega. His failure in the SFWA, of course, need not affect his standing in other hierarchies.

And this is where our definitions differ. You're saying that these socio-sexual hierarchies are purely relative (which, I would argue, is a very modern and quintesssentially gamma way of seeing them), and I'm saying that they're objective and exist outside of context.

Blogger MATT March 06, 2015 11:11 AM  

@Josh it is unlikely, but possible. For one thing, take a look at Obama. Millions of women in this country would accept a call to be with him for a night.

Just as a gamma mindset can turn one into an Omega when couple with the right circumstances, it can lead to a paper alpha taking power, while the people wait for the one true king to return. Though Obama is more of a tracing paper alpha. Is an Omega an Alpha because he keads his group of lepers? Hardly.

Blogger Vox March 06, 2015 11:11 AM  

Vox, wouldn't any realistic military novel ultimately be a kind of Band of Brothers type tale? Coming together as a unit is simply how modern wars are fought, so to be faithful to reality you'd have to tell a "Delta story."

Yes. Delta is normal. Most men are Deltas.

In saying this, I am not trying to derail this thread into any of those issues. But claiming that "everybody" feels a certain way is standard Leftist rhetoric and, even you might agree, is an unworthy tactic on any brand of alt-right site.

Karston, shut up already. Yes, white nationalists are often unfairly criticized elsewhere. That's not the point. The point is I don't permit people to talk about the same damn thing on every post whether it is white nationalism, wine snobbery, or My Little Pony.

I can assure you... no one hates gamma like alpha and sigma.

Sigmas hate them a lot more, even more than women. The Alpha is fine with them when they learn to shut up and take orders. Which they will, given a strong enough Alpha. The Sigma just wants them to shut up and die, or at the very least, go away.

So in the caricatural "plan" exchange, does the Gamma get blown-off because of his attempted interjection or his pre-established status?

The Gamma gets blown off because the Alpha correctly recognizes a challenge to his authority in the guise of advice.

OpenID malcolmthecynic March 06, 2015 11:13 AM  

Yes, well they weren't going for a happy escapist story, were they? They were going for a realistic, melancholy story.

Correct me if I'm wrong here, it's been a while, but I believe it's implied at the beginning that Ethan had been killing Yankees before the movie began, unable to let go of the war and settle down, hence the tension between him and the rest of the family.

It's also emphasized that he had a lot more in common with Scar and the warlike Comanches than he did with his peaceful fellow whites, hence his permanent alienation.


Yes to all; I was complimenting the movie, not criticizing it.

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 11:20 AM  

The Gamma gets blown off because the Alpha correctly recognizes a challenge to his authority in the guise of advice.

And it is offered as advice because the gamma views the alpha as an obnoxious idiot who would not consider his obviously correct point of view if it was offered as a direct disagreement. So, the gamma saves the alpha from himself by condescendingly offering it as seemingly less than it actually is. The gamma is shrewd and subtle, that way.

Anonymous karsten March 06, 2015 11:21 AM  

And this is why we laugh at the storm front brigade.

No. But I'd say that your laughter is a tactic to try to disqualify the so-called "storm front brigade" (which is a sly formulation, by the way -- anything something comes up that you don't like, you can associate it with a "storm front brigade").

"Because y'all bring up your ideological hobby horse whether it's relevant to the thread or not,

Well, there you have it. To use an analogy: to Leftists (and I'm not saying you're one, but this is a pertinent parallel), bringing up black racial tendencies when discussing crime stats is not "relevant." And yet it is supremely relevant indeed.

and when confronted about it, start whining about how the people confronting you are evil leftists using unworthy tactics.

"Whining." Priceless. You whine like a mule about people bringing up topics that you dislike, then accuse others of "whining" when they call you on it.

"Have you figured out that showing up to a party and shitting on the rug is a really bad way to persuade anyone?"

"Shitting on the rug"? No doubt that's exactly how, to use another analogy, the pink SF see the ideas that blue SF writers bring up. To the pink, blue SF content is "shit." But of course, in fact it is not.

Blogger Krul March 06, 2015 11:23 AM  

Another example that sticks out in my mind - The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. There are basically three Alphas in the film - Ransom, Tom Doniphon, and LIberty Valance - representing three possible ways of life that may rule the future of that part of the world. It takes one Alpha, John Wayne's Tom Doniphon, to sacrifice himself so that Ransom's way can rule.

Even so, the cactus flowers at the end show, ever so subtly, that despite his success, Ransom's wife was still in love with Tom Doniphon.

Blogger Vox March 06, 2015 11:23 AM  

Karsten, SHUT UP already. I don't want to have to tell you a third time. Do you not understand what OFF TOPIC means?

Anonymous karsten March 06, 2015 11:23 AM  

Karston, shut up already. Yes, white nationalists are often unfairly criticized elsewhere. That's not the point. The point is I don't permit people to talk about the same damn thing on every post whether it is white nationalism, wine snobbery, or My Little Pony.

Very well. (I made my last comment before I read this.)

Anonymous NateM March 06, 2015 11:29 AM  

Seems like the description of each group by leadership quality is apt

Alpha: seeks out leadership, people seek out his leadership, has leadership quality
Beta: Tolerates leadership, people sometimes seek out their leadership, has some leadership quality
Delta: Avoids leadership, if they have any leadership quality they don't normally exercise it.
Gamma: believes they have leadership qualities, has poor or nonexistent leadership quality, nobody seeks out their leadership
Lambda: Leads men into the back room of the "gym" they attend

The point about Deltas almost never becoming Alpha is apt, since that ship has normally sailed at a younger age. Deltas (and I can recall situations like this in my youth) if they are ever in a group setting they will be uncomfortable and pass responsibility in favor of being a follower. Eventually they learn to just stay in that position to the point that their demeanor never invites anyone to seek their guidance.

Betas are those like Deltas who may not truly desire to lead but are sought out and can lead for the a time, but prefer to hand over the reins most of the time to the alpha they develop close friendships with, rather than keep the pressure on them all the time.

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 11:29 AM  

or My Little Pony

Hmm. Yes. It could be worse.

Brr....

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 11:31 AM  

Beta: Tolerates leadership

I would rather say, loves direct, executive leadership of underlings, due to liking people and interacting with them. Tolerates strategic leadership, and has meager gifting for it at most. Would rather have an alpha deal with it.

Anonymous Aeoli Pera March 06, 2015 11:32 AM  

Someone needs to point out that Ephialtes is Omega in the extreme. I mean, we're talking about a horribly disfigured guy who lives in the wilderness. He doesn't believe he's Leonidas' successor by right, he just wants back into society. What was Leonidas' reaction to Ephialtes' plea? Not anger, or even contempt. Pity.

I'm seeing a dishearteningly strong tendency to conflate "Gamma" with "bad".

Blogger Josh March 06, 2015 11:32 AM  

Betas are those like Deltas who may not truly desire to lead but are sought out and can lead for the a time, but prefer to hand over the reins most of the time to the alpha they develop close friendships with, rather than keep the pressure on them all the time.

Think of it this way:
CEO: Alpha
Division VPs: Beta
Worker bees: delta, gamma, omega

Or in sports, the qb is the alpha and the center, middle linebacker, etc are betas.

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 11:33 AM  

Vox what do you make of the western fascination with sigmas? Something to do with fronteirism and individualism? Just the result of the kind of person who would head out west to uncharted lands in the first place?

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 11:34 AM  

"I'm seeing a dishearteningly strong tendency to conflate "Gamma" with "bad"."

its not unlike the tendency to conflate alpha with good.

Blogger Krul March 06, 2015 11:35 AM  

From Vox's Hierarchy - Beta: Betas are the good-looking guys who aren't as uniformly attractive or socially dominant as the Alpha, but are nevertheless confident, attractive to women, and do well with them. At the party, they are the loud guy's friends who showed up with the alcohol and who are flirting with the tier one women and cheerfully pairing up with the tier two women. Betas tend to genuinely like women and view them in a somewhat optimistic manner, but they don't have a lot of illusions about them either. Betas tend to be happy, secure in themselves, and are up for anything their alpha wants to do.

Quintessential beta = William Riker.

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 11:35 AM  

Yep. Al Swearengen: Ridiculously alpha, but an evil human being.

Blogger Jason Cordova March 06, 2015 11:36 AM  

Have to admit, Sigma would be a hilarious read if done right.

Anonymous NateM March 06, 2015 11:36 AM  

I would rather say, loves direct, executive leadership of underlings, due to liking people and interacting with them. Tolerates strategic leadership, and has meager gifting for it at most. Would rather have an alpha deal with it.


Good point Markku, was trying to be succinct but apparently that doesn't capture it. I would agree they Tolerate both leading and following, though they shy from the Full mantle of responsibility that is set on that Alpha, which is why they're glad to have the alpha above them in the hierarchy

Anonymous Aeoli Pera March 06, 2015 11:36 AM  

>Or in sports, the qb is the alpha and the center, middle linebacker, etc are betas.

Punter is Gamma. Hey Kluwe, how's the Raiders treatin' ya? :-D

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 11:38 AM  

Yeah, I just thought that putting a quantitative difference on it, rather than qualitative, is misleading. The beta loves executive leadership just as much as an alpha loves strategic leadership.

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 11:38 AM  

"Punter is Gamma."

punter is delta like everyone else. if anyone is gamma its the dramaqueen WR...

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 11:39 AM  

"The beta loves executive leadership just as much as an alpha loves strategic leadership."

remember a key point.. Alphas and Betas love their group.

Blogger CM March 06, 2015 11:41 AM  

Alpha: seeks out leadership, people seek out his leadership, has leadership quality
Beta: Tolerates leadership, people sometimes seek out their leadership, has some leadership quality
Delta: Avoids leadership, if they have any leadership quality they don't normally exercise it.
Gamma: believes they have leadership qualities, has poor or nonexistent leadership quality, nobody seeks out their leadership
Lambda: Leads men into the back room of the "gym" they attend


Vox's description makes me think my husband is a delta. Your description makes him sound like a beta.

Most of the novels I enjoy involve reluctant leaders... I like those best. The internal tension is interesting to me. So... betas?

My ideal male character is Gilbert Blythe in AoGG. Beta?

Blogger Josh March 06, 2015 11:45 AM  

punter is delta like everyone else. if anyone is gamma its the dramaqueen WR...

No, the gamma is the kid who didn't try out for the team, even though if he had tried out he would totally have made the team and would have been a big star and won state, but he didn't try out because he's too much of a rugged individualist for team sports, plus all the team captains were douches.

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 11:46 AM  

'Most of the novels I enjoy involve reluctant leaders... I like those best. The internal tension is interesting to me. So... betas?"

I don't think NateM's description is correct. Betas are leaders and they like being leaders. They just aren't THE leader.

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 11:47 AM  

Think of it in terms of Ocean's 11.

Clooney = Alpha

Pitt = Beta

Everyone else on the team = Delta

The guy watching the movie alone.. = Omega

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 11:48 AM  

Also, the classes only have a correlational relationship with one's ACTUAL position in a hierarchy. They are not identical with it.

Everyone will go up the ladder of hierarchy, until they find the place where they like to be, and for which they have the natural proclivity for. If someone - say delta - finds himself in the position typically occupied by an alpha, he's not going to feel at home. The moment he finds an alpha to whom he can trust his hierarchy, he's going to willingly give up his position. Unless the alpha takes it by force before that happens.

Anonymous Daniel March 06, 2015 11:49 AM  

Now, alphas and sigmas tend to be successful, but gammas can definitely topple alphas in the proper context, and if they work together.

AND if the alphas abdicate. The fact is, alphas do this all the time: it can be exhausting staying at the top of an area, especially when you can see so many other mountains to climb from that perspective. There are a few alphas who conquer a mountain, set their flag, and set up shop (thank goodness for these dutiful rarities) for the benefit of the people. There are a lot more who conquer, plant flag, and then eventually see a more interesting mountain in the distance.

If enough Gammas pile on, they can sweeten the vision of the alpha unknowingly, and "kick him off" (if that's how they feel like playing it, which they will.)

The SFWA is actually a good example: Pournelle's Iron Law in action. In 1964, leaders formed it for the benefit of the organization. It wasn't very long, however, before the alphas who clawed their way to the top of that industry could sense the greater opportunities coming in the field of computing (which includes Hollywood and games), so that, by the 1990s, the only Alphas left in the SFWA were hobbyists or steady alpha legacies who were perfectly happy for younger folks to run the show - and nuke or not nuke as they saw fit.

Note: if it isn't obvious - this example is ALL 100% speculation based on my observations of the decline and current fostering of the SF industry, not through any first hand knowledge of the SFWA. Any insiders who care to correct my guess for inaccuracies would be welcome.

But the bit about Gammas "able" to topple Alpha is right. Not that alphas can't overreach and get themselves stabbed in the Senate - just that what I see more often is that the Gammas get uppity as soon as the see an entry point created by the decline (for whatever reason) of interest in the duty to serve and lead by the alpha in that capacity.

In other words: Eich is not an alpha, but a delta. Donald Trump in the same situation would have burned the complainers at the stake and possibly bankrupted Firefox as an object lesson, but he wouldn't, under any circumstances, be toppled by the Gammas. Not saying it doesn't happen...just that I haven't seen it, and can't really conceive it.

Blogger Josh March 06, 2015 11:49 AM  

I don't think NateM's description is correct. Betas are leaders and they like being leaders. They just aren't THE leader.

Exactly.

Think of the oceans eleven movies: George Clooney's the alpha, Brad Pitt's the beta, Matt Damon's the gamma (especially in oceans twelve)

Blogger Josh March 06, 2015 11:50 AM  

That's what I get for writing without refreshing comments...

Blogger Nate March 06, 2015 11:52 AM  

" The moment he finds an alpha to whom he can trust his hierarchy, he's going to willingly give up his position. Unless the alpha takes it by force before that happens."

I think that only applies to the in-group levels. Alpha, Delta, and Beta.

Blogger Student in Blue March 06, 2015 11:52 AM  

I think it's been touched on a couple times already, but I wish to reiterate that fiction is how someone thinks a world works, in essence.

You will have characters with mismatching characteristics, such as Sheriff Kane.

It is those mismatching characteristics that identify a wish fulfillment character OR someone who the author has no idea who they work. What I mean by the latter is someone like the quasi-CEO, or the alpha written by a gamma who doesn't know what and why alpha is.

Not personally knowing about the Sheriff Kane character, I would label him as a wish fulfillment character written by a gamma, simply because of how he handles relationships with women.

Anonymous NateM March 06, 2015 11:54 AM  

"I don't think NateM's description is correct. Betas are leaders and they like being leaders. They just aren't THE leader."

I'd agree with that. I think as Markku said, they like their position but wouldn't like to be in the Alpha's position, which is why they are happy to have the Alpha there. I guess I meant to say they 'tolerate' total control to a limited degree, not that they tolerate ANY leadership. They would be quite happy with their symbiotic/mutualist relationship to the alpha

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 11:54 AM  

Alpha leader: Let's see, which competitor can I crush today? Damn, it's good to be alpha. I feel reinvigorated.
Delta leader: I wish we could all just live in peace with each other. Oh well. I have to deal with this conflict, I suppose. AGAIN. I feel exhausted.

When this dynamic goes on for a while, the alpha is going to find himself on top, sooner or later. Probably sooner.

Blogger MATT March 06, 2015 11:54 AM  

@Markku Deadwood is one of the greatest tv shows ever. The Third season wasnt so good but it gave us the great villain George Hearst. David Milch originally wanted Ed O'Neal (Al Bundy) for Al Swearengen. Would have created a totaly different dynamic. I think Ian McShane did a better job than Ed ever would have.

Bullock is a great example of a Sigma.

Blogger Markku March 06, 2015 11:57 AM  

You say Hearst, I say San Francisco Cocksucker.

Potatos, potatoes.

Blogger Krul March 06, 2015 11:57 AM  

Not personally knowing about the Sheriff Kane character, I would label him as a wish fulfillment character written by a gamma, simply because of how he handles relationships with women.

Have you seen High Noon? If not, I highly recommend it. Damn good cinema.

In any case, I don't think Kane is written by a gamma because when his beautiful wife threatens to leave him, he is completely unmoved. A gamma perspective would have had him give in to her at the first sign of displeasure. A gamma would have had Kane sacrifice himself to his woman, not to his duty.

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