For Americans, the answer to the question of why we love Harry Potter, Ender Wiggins and Frodo Baggins is simple: they’re all athletes.
A fair number of pages of the million-word Harry Potter Saga (with the exception of THE GOBLET OF FIRE) are given over to quidditch – an imaginary game played by witches and wizards on broomsticks with beaters and snitches and various other VERY sporty equipment. Arguably, it’s Harry’s quidditch skills that actually help him defeat Voldemort in DEATHLY HALLOWS.
The same is true for Ender Wiggins in the (also) million-word ENDER’S GAME Saga. Ender, who along with other smart kids, is trained to be a soldier in Humanity’s desperate war against the Formics, by playing endless null gravity games against other teams – as well as playing that other World-class sport, computer games.
And Frodo? SURELY I can’t be serious! But think about it: by the end of FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, Frodo is a proficient fencer, horseman, rock-climber/rapeller and sprinter! In fact, he goes on later to become Samwise Gamgee’s trainer, whipping the other pudgy Hobbit into a virtual Schwartzenegger mini clone.
There are few imaginary characters in speculative fiction who have captured our hearts more effectively than these hard-working jocks. If you know of any, please let me know. If you disagree, also please let me know!
So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go create the next great speculative fiction Saga in which a soccer/football-playing Canadian-Kenyan kid who emigrated from the US and is the team goalie, saves Earth by defending so well that the scoreless game is upset when his arch-rival (and secret love interest), a girl from Kansas scores against the aliens and saves Earth. Of course, during the victory hogpile, she admits she couldn’t have done it without him…