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TV Tropes Monday: Standard Evil Empire Hierarchy


Tweet of the Day: Call for Submissions: Issue 5 of Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly


To quote the tropes page:

Running The Empire is hard work. No Dark Lord, no matter how powerful and feared, can manage everything on his own and a military-style hierarchy is usually the best of delegating tasks to the various henchmen and minions. As a result, if the heroes wind up having to topple The Empire, they’ll end up going against a Standard Evil Empire Hierarchy.

That is all well and good. But…the real reason why this trope exists is to give a human face to a faceless organization. Each member of the hierarchy represents an aspects of the evil empire, from it titular head down.

  • The Emperor is the face of the Empire. He/She/It is the ultimate ruler, the raison d’tre of the whole enterprise, be it a galaxy spanning empire or a vast criminal conspiracy that rules the streets.
  • The Right Hand Man/Person/Enforcer is the troubleshooter. The reason why Empire exists it is because of its directness (real or implied). The Right Hand Man is therefore the ability of the Empire to reach and touch anyone no matter how distant or insignificant. If you crossed the Empire, sooner or later this guy will show up to ruin your day.
  • The General personifies the military side of the hierarchy. An master strategist will lead a well oiled military while a bumbling political appointee will be a stand-in for your brute force military that blunders into every trap set by their opposition and only survives by its sheer size.
  • The Guard is your basic rear area crony. The paper pusher, the reservist, the empty uniform compared to the more competent or at least dangerous General. He is the face of the bureaucracy mired in paperwork, minutia, and procedure.  The Guard may aspire to greatness but rarely achieves it. Often the Guard is the “Go-Along-to-Get-Along” kind of person, who doesn’t care who is in charge as long as nobody messes with his petite domain.
  • If anyone represents the evil in Evil Empire it is the Security Officer. Regardless of rank, they tend to be loyal to the cause (but not necessarily suicidal in their devotion), and it is willing to get their hands dirty to do their masters bidding. Taking hostages, torture, murder, mass murder, personage, double crosses and other dirty tricks form part of his repertoire. This character is also a bit of a sadist, just for the extra measure of evilness.
  • The Evil Counterpart appears when the heroes make their mark against the Empire. You fight fire with fire and this fellow is it. This is more of a mirror self, what would happen if the heroes have decided to go along with the Empire rather than to fight it. Often the Evil Counterpart if either an old ally (or a agent inserted into the heroes organization by the Security Officer) or a future hero to be, sometimes both if the creator decides to switch characters back and forth between the two sides. Either way, this character is the perfect set up for a Not So Different situation.
  • The Odd Ball exists to throw a monkey wrench on the audience expectation, as well as provide a glimpse into other forces outside the Empire vs. Heroes dynamic. The Odd Ball is an outsider and that gives him a particular advantage against the heroes because he doesn’t play by the Empires rules, doesn’t follow the General’s doctrine, and is more than just a mirror image of the heroes.

All of these characters conceptualize and give a face/voice to the machinery of the Evil Empire because readers prefer characters they can relate to/hate rather than abstract concepts. A faceless bureaucracy may be imposing, but put someone behind a desk that revels in power, or has an absolute faith in the evil they are committing and your have a source of true terror. Want a bit of pathos? Nothing brings it to the fore like a former ally turned traitor or a old soldier trying to do his duty in spite of the circumstances. And it is far more satisfying to defeat the man sitting on the throne than a discussion about death of a political movement.


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Weekend Roundup: October 19-25

Tweet of the Day:  Megastructures


The bad news first: I spent the last weekend with a family member in the emergency room. A combination of ill health, bad emergency room care, and worse timing meant endless hours running around. Said family member is on the mend, but the whole situation has left me physically and emotionally drained, even a week after the fact.  The good news? I finished Season 3 of Wizards’ World War. It should have wrapped it on months ago, but one thing led to another and only managed to do it now. I feel the Low-Hi that comes from finishing a project, or at least this part of it. There are, at least, two more seasons to go before it all comes to a close but for now I’m satisfied with what I got.

Now onto this week’s posts:

That is all for this week. See you around.


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Random Quotes from Unwritten Books


Mercy? You can’t ask for something you’re unwilling to give.

There is always a price to pay. Question is, who will pay it.

The things we do to protect the body scar the soul.

There is no love in lust without trust.

Death is Life’s exclamation point.


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Wizards’ World War (s.3)-Dispatch 30- Tartarus upon Erebus



Tweet of the Day: Wrinkles in Spacetime: The Warped Astrophysics of INTERSTELLAR


Season 1 & 2 - Season 3 PremiereDispatch 29


Mount Etna, Catania, Pruvincia di Catania, Regione Siciliana, Rebupplica Italiana, 23  October, 08:26 hrs +1 GMT

Owen and I made our way deeper into the mountain. The air shimmered with heat haze. We walked past dozens of armories, foundries, vaults, and workshops. A legion of cyclops, clad in thick leather jerkins, walk to and fro. Some stacked gold bars in a vault along with iron buckets full of uncut diamonds. Others hammered away at white hot rolls of steel that poured from the foundries. None payed attention to us. The volcanic forces of the ever erupting Etna belched forth the Gaia’s endless bounty of iron, precious metal, stones. This was the force that powered the armies that ravaged across Europe.

The plan was to weaken whatever lay at the heart of the volcano enough so that Martin and the other necromancers could bind it. How exactly we were going to do that I had no idea. Owen tapped my shoulder to a bright light at the end of a long tunnel. The tunnel ended in an alcove overlooking an immense cavern. Broken chains hung from the ceiling and walls of the cavern. Each link of the chain was the size of a coupé. At the center stood a giant, fifteen meters tall and waste deep in a lake of lava. It was clad in radiant bronze armor.

I jumped down to the cavern floor. Dark glowing embers looked down at me through the eye lids of the titan’s Corithian helmet. It reached for a two handed labrys that rested against the wall and swung at me with a deafening roar. The axe blade glowed white hot as it passed inches from my head. A summoned my Will and erected a wall of rock to block the next swing but it shattered on impact with the axe. I ducked under every swing and dodged waves of lava that splashed erupted from the crater. In the ledge above me Owen fought off a wave of enraged cyclops that came to their masters aid. The titan swung the axe with terrific speed. I jumped on top of the axe head and hacked at the weapon’s neck but Excalibur’s enchanted edge rebounded. The sparks along the sword’s edge jolted my memory. Zeus cast down to Tartarus many a monster with the power of his thunderbolts. I reached deep into my Will, where Fire commingled with Air. I forced the two into a violent collision.  Lighting arched from Excalibur blade up the axe’s shaft to the titan’s body. It recoiled from the blast. The chains shot out of the walls. The titan cut through them. Again, I summoned the heated air around me and spun it around Excalibur. Lighting danced around the edge. I hurled another lighting bolt at the beast. It recoiled on impact. The chains sought him out. They coiled around his neck and arms. Whether it was the magic of the prison or the necromancer’s ritual, each blast of electricity summoned more and more chains.

Lava overflowed the crater’s banks. With a mighty push of Air I jumped back to the entrance. Owen wrapped an armed around my waist. Everything around us slowed down to a crawl. The tunnel behind us collapsed. The cyclops ran for cover. The vaults imploded. All in slow motion. With each stepped we took, everything slowed down even more. Somehow Owen extended his dagger’s time dilation effect around me. Then, with a bone shattering jolt, time caught up with us outside. We picked ourselves up from the rubble strewn floor. On the valley floor thousands of enemy soldiers broke their positions and ran away. Above us the volcano continued to belch ashen clouds crowned with flashes of lightning.

Somehow we made it back to allied lines, exhausted, but alive.

Catania, Pruvincia di Catania, Regione Siciliana, Rebupplica Italiana, 28 October, 07:49 hrs +1 GMT

Owen’s kiss on the cheek woke me up.

“Get up, you have to see this,” he said.

I wrapped the bedsheets around my naked chest. He stood by the window, steaming cup of tea in hand. What I saw took my breath away.

A clear blue sky from horizon to horizon.

The war was far from over, but we turned the tide.


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TV Tropes Monday: Artificial Limbs

Tweet of the Day: Sci-Fi Romance Heroines and the Chivalric Code


Nothing says, “Welcome to the Future!” like a background character sporting a shiny new cybernetic arm, or an advert on TV about the new YT-900 series of artificial legs that allow you to run three times as fast as best human athlete. Real life Artificial Limbs rarely confer super strength or speed as they do in fiction but are growing in sophistication. Nor are these limbs limited to science fiction. Multiple fantasy and steampunk stories feature magical or alchemical contraptions that allow otherwise disable characters to move about freely with significant advantages over the flesh and blood counterparts.

When it comes to using this trope as a story element it usually falls somewhere between Nature vs. Technology. On the Nature side, the new limb is a inferior replacement, a reminder of something lost. Not just the loss of flesh, but also a lost of innocence and purity. On the Technology side, the new limb is an upgrade, a sign of the times where man transcends the limits of the mortal coil. Even when an author presents both sides of the divide, they tend to chose one over the other.


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Weekend Wrapup: October 12-18


Tweet of the Day: 8 Elements to NAILING Your Plot & Owning NaNo


Oh this week….

The week of something awful. That vague feeling that nothing is right with the world. Mind you, if you’re keeping up with the news there is a lot of people screaming about a lot of scary things, or at least things they want you to be scared about. But you always find a place a place for shelter from the withering storm. Until you find something rotten there as well. Famous writers promoting pedophilia, hobbyist exposed as massive misogynist, death threats for the mos innocuous stuff, it never seems to end. Add a dollop of family (and familiar) drama and well it ends up being…well…one of those weeks. But you’re not here for the moaning (at least not that kind of moaning). You’re here to catch up on the week in posts:

By the way, I suggest you follow Dodger (the wonderful human being behind Welcome to the Fandom). If you ever need a pick me up, she is it.  To quote her, I hope you had an amazing week.



Space for Rent: An Open Letter to “Both Sides”


Nobody likes to be the bad guy.

Rarely does a bad guy sees himself as a bad guy.

Yet, sometimes you are wrong.

Sometimes, I am wrong.

How so?

If you defend pedophilia? You are wrong.

If you side with serial abusers, stalkers, and misogynist? Guess what, you are wrong.

It may not seem fair that you got tainted by their stench. It is not fair at all. But sometimes doing the right thing means walking away from the wrong.

Fairness abused is unfair.

Yes, there are both sides to each story.

And sometimes one side is just wrong.

You don’t need to side with the worst of humanity just to make a point you already made so many times before.

Just walk away.

Just let it go.


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