It occurred to me whilst driving home the other night that we live in the first age without heroes. A combination of greater openness, social media and press intrusion means that we no longer hear a one-dimensional description of people portraying them as true heroes through and through in the classic sense of the word. That soldier who risked their life to save their comrades commits domestic abuse, that Olympic sports star has been found cheating on their partner. That nurse who went to some disaster ravaged country to help give aid has a conviction for drug abuse. Instead heroes have been replaced by heroic acts.

In some ways I like this. I’m not keen on the absolute deification of people (although I do like role models). We’re all human and there’s something more honest about having no more heroes.
But at the same time, and starting to sound very old and ‘Daily Mail’, I do worry that there are no longer people to look up to, to inspire, to act as role models. I prefer the honesty and I suppose that a heroic act can be inspiring in much the same way as a hero can, it’s just I feel a change in the world away from me.
I guess we can also see it in our fiction as well. I don’t believe you can codify publishing success, but I do believe literature reflects our times. In fantasy, the traditional home of heroic literature, we’re seeing an abundance of morally-grey protagonists, characters who save the day but make mistakes along the way. Like real life, I find this more honest, but there is a traditionalist who misses the hero.