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Mass Effect/AEC- ANN Entertaiment News: CoT Sets Rating Record


Tweet of the Day: Observations on the Dutch SFF Market


From: Alliance News Entertainment Desk

November 12, 2196

Champions of the Terminus Breaks Ratings Record

By Joan Calder

MILGROM, BEKENSTIEN- The Champions of the Terminus mid-season finale broke the 5 billion viewers record for a human produced show with over 5.9 billion individual views across all channels and extranet video providers of the show. The mid-season finale revealed the existence of Trident as the organization behind the champions’ antagonist via a defector codenamed Solheim who helped the heroes through an action packed escape sequence of an exploding space station orbiting a volcanic moon of Danaus. It ended in a cliffhanger as the heroes frigate, the Victory, was ambushed by enemy fighters.

The resulting message frenzy crashed a dozen show related forums during the broadcast. SolComm threatened to meter the bandwidth of secondary distributors before a message from the Alliance Parliament Telecommunications Commission explained in no uncertain terms that the committee was willing and able to launch an immediate (and very public) investigation into SolComm’s business practices. A media representative from SolComm apologized for the message and assured all subscribers that SolComm put their costumers first. Extranet pirate traffic also peaked across the Terminus with over a million downloads a second during and after the show. Since few worlds in the Terminus Systems are part of the Citadel’s trade agreements, the legality of such activity is in doubt.

The producers promised a two hour long behind the scenes charity special to celebrate the human holiday of Christmas. The season will continue on January 9, 2197.


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TV Tropes Monday: Knight Templar



Tweet of the Day: Episode 18- The Long and Rambling Conversation about Dune


A good story needs a good antagonist, not just a villain. Sometimes the best opposition (or Anti-Hero protagonist) comes from the ranks of the (self?) righteous.

Enter the Knight Templar.

It is easy to portray this character as a zealot (religious, political, and/or ideological) hell bent to fulfill his mission to bring order to the world. An fanatic whose concerns, world view and moral standing can easily be dismissed by their extreme actions. A lunatic who is only a threat because of the power they posses or command. But why do they command such power? Why do people follow or cower before the Knight Templar? What makes the Knight Templar tick?

Remember that what this character fights for is often a good ideal even as the character takes it to the extreme. A good Knight Templar (character wise) presents a good alternative to a broken world, a world gone mad. The protagonist would probably follow the Knight Templar, even shares a few of his views, but is not as committed to the cause as the Templar. They might share the same goals but stand in opposition due to the Templar’s methods. At the same time, the Templar’s extremism allows for little or no deviation in their goals and anyone who stands in his way must be dealt with. Otherwise natural allies become bitter enemies.

Finally, this character is often introduced so as to personify the evils of extremism which then tends to steer the story into the Golden Mean fallacy, specially when the protagonist actions, when analyzed without comparing them to the Knight Templar can also be seen as either extreme or ineffectual.


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Weekend Roundup: November 16-22



Tweet of the Day:  70 Years of Dogs


Another week of sparse posting, but not due to any lack of effort on my part. You see I have been quite busy this week, with my new YouTube series and with something else?

What would that be?


That’s right I entered and won NaNoWriMo 2014. Don’t ask me how I did it, I just did and it feels good. A very nice pick me up if you ask me (and you didn’t but still the fact remains :D ). But you came here to see what happened this week and I shall oblige:

Yes, two lowly, lonely posts, but post none the less. Well I hope it is sunny and cheery where ever you are. I will see you next week.



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Lessons from the Aether:Skyrim and the Power of Setting

Tweet of the Day: Pacing Tips


Video Games have always pushed the graphics envelope by looking to create better and more realistic images. They haven’t gotten human faces just right or human movement even with motion capture techniques, but some games, like Bethesda Softworks’ Elder Scrolls: Skyrim have mastered the art of presenting mind blowing settings that dare the player to explore them to the hilt. Skyrim is the latest in the Elder Scrolls series of sandbox (not open world I dislike the term as useless) fantasy games set in northern province of the Empire that rules the continent of Tamriel. The developers created a province mired in rebellion by a people modeled on the Vikings against said (Roman-like) Empire while dragons set fire to the land below. But it just another bucolic psuedo-medieval setting. Yes, it has the sword & sorcery, the strange races (elves but no dwarves although dwarven ruins are plentiful), and long history. But it is a game set in a land of rushing rivers, ice caped mountains and iceberg choked shores. One place in particular called (appropriately enough) Sky Temple, allows the player to gaze at frosted mountain range that gave the region its name: Skyrim.

It is the power of these vistas as well as the carefully crafted towns and cities of the setting that pulls the player in. The developers harnessed the power of setting to engage the players at a visceral level. It not simply a matter of killing a monster or defeating a dragon but of seeing what lies across the meadow, or on the other side of the ridge. Exploring old barrows full of restless dead never gets old. The ending (spoilers ahead) occurs in the world’s version of Heaven, under a dome of ringed luminous clouds ripped right out of  Dante Alighieri’s Paradiso.

The game’s designers understood the power of setting to grab the player’s attention. Of course, the setting is populated with many interesting characters, various monsters, and lots of activities to keep a player entertained for well over a hundred hours of gameplay. But it is the space where it all takes place that really makes the difference. The amount of detail put in makes the game feel unique among its many rivals.

Setting is also important to writers. A carefully crafted setting with details both big and small will stand out to the reader as well. It is not simply another dragon lair on the side of a mountain, it is the ancient domain of sharp toothed wyrmn, carved out of the stone of crumbling dwarven domain. A secret elven village is not complete if it doesn’t lie deep in a forest where trees whisper to each other and fairies dance in the moonlight. It is not simply a city skyline aglow with the light of hundreds of neon signs but what those neons signs sell that matters.

Remember, details bring your setting to life and make it a place your readers want to live in.


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TV Tropes Monday: Apocalypse How

Tweet of the Day: The Hilltop Spacemen

The Apocalypse, the End of All Things, or is it? It all depends on the flavor of said End. After all,not all acts of mass destruction are equal. As the tropes page shows, they can go from erasing a few blocks of your neighborhood to wiping all existence.  The scale depends on two factors: the nature of the stakes involved and the timing of the apocalypse.

A story about an individual or small group surviving the apocalypse may not need anything more than a mushroom cloud in the distance or a giant wave sweeping a coastal city of the map. But if the stakes involve the survival of an entire species, nothing short of a exploding planet or star will do.

The timing is also important. If the story begins with an apocalypse then it must have been survivable in some way. So the scale of destruction will be (at least) one less than the total sum of the scale of the setting. If the action is confined to a planet, like Earth, then blowing up the planet destroys the story. On the other side of the plot this trope signifies the literal end of the story and can be in any scale the author chooses, often with bigger, most destructive forms the better, specially if the author intends to nuk– end a series or books with a grand (and depressing) finale as to make it impossible for someone to continue the work afterwards.

So ready your weapons of mass destruction, prepare to unleash unstoppable forces of nature, summon primeval entities from before the Beginning of Time, and smash the universe to pieces.



Weekend Roundup: November 9-15



Tweet of the Day: How Accessible is Sci-Fi Romance?


Hi, didn’t see you there! Well, if I sound a bit more upbeat is because I am. Things have now reached a plateau of sorts, and it took me awhile to get used to the new normal in my life. Change is never easy, even when you know it is inevitable and already here. You power through, you carry on. But a little reality check goes a long way. And so here we are, celebrating another day. Talking of which, take a gander at this week’s posts:

Well I hope you’re having a great weekend where ever you are.


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Space for Rent: Ode to the “Simple” Plot

Tweet of the Day: My Life in Books: Restoration


I like “simple” plots. A simple plot can be strong, supple, elegant. In the right hands, the simplest of plots can be a thing of beauty. It is not a new thing under the sun, but it shines in the sunlight. A simple plot is the backbone of an amazing story, a bridge for characters to cross, and the power that makes a setting come alive.

A simple plot is simple.

It is not boring…unless ignored.

It is not dull…unless it is not polished.

It is not limited…unless you ignore its possibilities.

A simple plot is the cloth from which you weave deep stories of romance, adventure, and exploration. It carries the weight of subplots with aplomb and grace. A simple plot is the ever present undiscovered country, full of possibilities. It never feels like it was created by comity. It never relies on empty twists or unfounded conclusions. A simple plot never overstays its welcome. It is the kind of plot that goes under, over, or to the side of the giant blocks of granite that block a writer’s path. A simple plot doesn’t need to be carried, it shows the way.

A simple plot is as solid as a foundation stone and as lofty as the tor of the highest mountain. It is never pretentious but it allows for great ambition.

So shoo away all those cooks from the kitchen, all those generals from the command center, all the cobwebs from your mind.

Start simple,

Stay the course,

Build upon success,

Explore the possibilities brought to you by the “simple” plot.

Write a simple plot, and when in doubt…write some more.




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