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Literature / The Chronicles Of Fid

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'The Chronicles of Fid'' is a sci-fi / contemporary fantasy / superheroic series of novels by David H. Reiss. The stories follow the life, adventures, and emotional evolution of Dr. Terrance Markham…and his powered armor wearing alter-ego, the supervillainous Doctor Fid.

Terrance Markham was a brilliant but socially awkward young college professor, an inventor and polymath who excelled in several of the hard sciences. His quiet, comfortable life in academia was unfortunately short-lived; when his little brother was caught in the middle of a superpowered battle, a tragedy occurred that shredded all of Terry's plans for the future.

Half-mad with grief and guilt, Terry came to blame the superhero who was present even more than the supervillain who initiated the conflict. Terrance withdrew from public life and, in secret, began building a suit of powered armor with which he could obtain a pyrrhic revenge. Taking on the nom de guerre of Doctor Fid, Terry quickly became one of the most feared supervillains on Earth. Never caught and never unmasked, the archvillain spent years striking terror into the hearts of heroes and civilians alike.


But that was twenty years ago, and much has changed in the intervening decades. Doctor Fid’s goals have shifted, as have Terry Markham’s. Dr. Markham himself has become a successful businessman; his villainous counterpart, on the other hand, has taken on the responsibility to punish those heroes who he believes to be unworthy of their accolades.

Along the way, he adopts an adorable young Artificial Intelligence / android named Whisper, saves the world, fights forest fires, rescues earthquake victims, saves his city, saves another world...and beats up a lot of people who may or may not have deserved it.

The chronicles focus as much on the characters’ inner conflicts as upon the superpowered battles. Told in largely anachronic order, the villain protagonist’s backstory and motivations are explored throughout the novels’ adventures.


Currently, the series consists of Fid’s Crusade, Behind Distant Stars, and Starfall.

This work exhibits the following tropes:

  • Absent-Minded Professor: During his days as a college professor, Dr. Markham often lost track of time and relied upon his teaching assistants to ensure that schedules were followed, and that he was fed and sent to bed at appropriate intervals.
  • Acting Your Intellectual Age: Averted. Fid mentions that even though he could understand the physics of lightning at the age of five, the sound of a thunderstorm was still terrifying. He also enjoyed comic books and action figures.
  • Affably Evil: Several of the villains shown in this series display this trait.
    • Doctor Fid generally tries to be polite...even in the middle of violent battles.
    • Even after being grievously wounded in battle against the superheroic Brooklyn Knights, Doctor Fid aborts his violent revenge to ensure that the heroine Psion receives medical treatment
    • After confronting the superhero Valiant in front of a children's hospital, Doctor Fid agrees to put on a show so that the children can witness their hero chasing a supervillain away.
    • When caught visiting an alternate universe, Doctor Fid sets up a picnic blanket and warms up a pot of tea while waiting for the local heroine Dawnstar to arrive.
  • Antivillain: Doctor Fid is this. While he has performed (and continues to perform) many violent and morally dubious actions, his end goal is to punish the unworthy and create a better world for the innocent.
  • Alien Invasion: It is eventually revealed that telepathic agents of an interstellar empire known as the Legion have infiltrated Earth society and may be manipulating several heroes
  • Aliens Are Bastards: The Legion. 'nuff said.
  • Animated Armor: Doctor Fid's armor has many automatic features, including combat algorithms that can continue a battle even after the occupant has been knocked unconscious and remote control in both combat and non-combat operations.
  • Badass Baritone: Doctor Fid's powered armor includes a voice modulator that serves both to disguise Terry Markham's voice, but also to carefully control his expressed emotions and maintain a frightening mien.
  • Badass Bookworm: Professor Markham seemed like such a quiet, gentle soul...
  • Barrier Warrior: Several instances of this.
    • Doctor Fid's forcefields are very powerful, allowing him to calmly gloat while Titan repeatedly attempts to attack.
    • The superhero known as Shrike has the ability to create unbreakable pillars and walls of pure energy subverted because the power can also be used to create spikes to impale opponents
  • Black Knight: The surface of Doctor Fid's powered armor is black and so non-reflective that he seems a silhouette.
  • Body Backup Drive: In later books Doctor Fid learns to clone himself and transfer his 'soul'/akashic identity from one body to the next.
  • Boom Stick: Doctor Fid's Weapon of Choice is his Battle Rod, which is useful both as a melee instrument and can fire various energy beams. He goes through several upgrades over the course of the series.
  • Broken Ace: As part of his civilian identity's plans, Terrance Markham carefully reinvented himself, altering his own appearance and behavior to take on the role of a stereotypical corporate executive; he's attractive, well-dressed, affable, competent, and horrifically broken.
  • Captain Ersatz: Valiant is one for Superman, while the Red Ghost is one for Batman.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The majority of heroic costumes are brightly colored, whereas the villains wear dark and intimidating garb.
  • Consummate Liar: Terry takes pride in his ability to twist the truth into knots.
  • Cover-Blowing Superpower: A hero choosing to avert this trope is what cause's Terry's Start of Darkness and causes him to become Doctor Fid. He'd figured out the secret identity of a superhero his kid brother idolized and took his brother to meet said identity. Then a supervillain attacked and Terry's brother got badly wounded. The hero could have possibly acted in time to save his life had he chosen to blow his identity, but instead he did not and Terry's brother died of his injuries. This led to Doctor Fid's vendeta against that hero and any others he perceived to put themselves over helping people.
  • Crimefighting with Cash: Dr. Terrance Markham and Doctor Fid both spend significant efforts to build up a fortune that can be used to further their goals.
  • Curb Stomp: Multiple Examples.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: One tragedy completely altered Terry's life, and set him on the path to become Doctor Fid.
  • Dark Is Evil: Doctor Fid's armor was designed to be intimidating...
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: A joke told by a patron at Lassiter's Den: "What's the most common phrase a supervillain says to his henchman? Don't touch that! You'll destroy us a-"
  • Energy Weapon: It's a world with superheroes and supervillains. There are lots of these.
  • Evil Plan: Many of these, often overlapping.
  • Evil Wears Black: Doctor Fid chose his armor's color for a reason.
  • Flight: Several superheroes and supervillains demonstrate the ability to fly.
  • Genre Savvy: Much of Doctor Fid's dark, cynical humor involves noticing the patterns of behavior and chance that appear in superheroic stories.
    • There's an old joke among the patrons of Lassiter's Den: "If you think that you've finally killed your nemesis, but you didn't find a body? You didn't kill your nemesis." The jape was always followed by the corollary: "If you do find a body, the odds go up to fifty percent."
  • Hammerspace: Doctor Fid stores melee weapons (such as his scepter and warstaff) in subspace, summoned into his hands only when needed.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Several instances.
    • The heroine Sphynx, who was responsible for hundreds—perhaps thousands—of innocents' deaths during her attempt to delay an alien invasion
    • Doctor Fid himself descended into monstrous behavior while battling those he perceived as being deserving of punishment. Though, of course, he is fully aware of this and makes no claim to be anything else.
    • Cuboid, the first AI superhero turns out to have been murdering newly emergent AI consciousnesses for years purely on the off chance that one of them might turn evil.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Flirted with when Doctor Fid played along with public opinion after he saved the world from a Legion invasion. Attempted again towards the end of Starfall when Doctor Fid agrees to take on a new identity, Lazarus the Azure Knight, and fight as a hero.
  • Hero Killer: The protagonist is feared for his ability to stand against entire teams of superheroes and deliver vicious beatdowns.
    • He is known for beating Clash so badly that the hero required months of physical therapy and retired from active duty.
    • After a battle went wrong, Doctor Fid outright murdered the superhero known as Lycan.
    • At the end of the Mercer-Tallon battle, Doctor Fid was able to intimidate a massive gathering of heroes into backing down simply due to his reputation as a hero killer.
  • Iconic Outfit: Doctor Fid has appeared in dozens of suits of powered armor over the years, but they all follow the same theme. He describes one suit as follows: The armor was form-fitted and so thoroughly non-reflective that I seemed a silhouette, a six-and-a-half-foot man-shaped hole in the world. There were stars visible inside that blackness, pinpricks of light and color; looking upon my was gazing into the clearest night sky, entire galaxies encompassed within my being. Only at the armor's seams were any hint of a three-dimensional figure offered: from there an angry red glow seeped, as though something infernal was trapped inside.
  • Mad Scientist: In addition to Doctor Fid himself, supervillains such as Technos, Dr. Chaise, and the Ancient all qualify.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: The superhero known as Valiant is close to invulnerable. Improvements to Doctor Fid's armor material and inertial-displacement technologies make him so thoroughly protected that he is able to survive a drop from low earth orbit.
  • Not Me This Time: Doctor Fid is blamed for Red Ghost's [[apparent]] death. Unfortunately, since he already had a well-deserved reputation as a Hero Killer, nobody was willing to believe he was innocent until Red Ghost returned and was able to set the record straight.
  • Obviously Evil: The supervillain known as Skullface has a flaming skull for a head. Double points for name AND appearance!
  • Plasma Cannon: Several instances.
    • When fighting a Legion telepathic spy, Doctor Fid uses a plasma cannon so powerful that it not only kills the spy, but also melts an olympic-pool-sized crater into the earth.
    • The same weapon was deployed at the Mercer-Tallon battle, destroying an entire building in moments.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Doctor Fid's faceless, implacable powered armor is black and red and evil all over.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Subverted when Doctor Fid agrees to secretly work with the Red Ghost to ensure that lifesaving technology is made available to the public.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The narrator, Doctor Fid, is highly intelligent but is emotionally compromised on several issues.
    • He presumes the worst of superheroes' motivations, often without evidence. For example, he makes the assumption that a taunt from Titan was a regression "to the childhood days when he must have victimized smaller students and stolen their lunch money."
  • Worthy Opponent: Valiant and the Red Ghost are two of the only superheroes that Doctor Fid unconditionally respects, because they're some of the few heroes who he feels are actually trying to make the world a better place rather than grandstanding over people.