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Masss Effect/AEC: ANN News-Celebrations Come to a Close


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Tweet of the Day: Marauder Shields: Episode 60 (B)

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From: Alliance News Entertainment Desk

November 1, 2196

Celebrations Comes to a Close

By Joan Calder

MILGROM, BEKENSTIEN – The month long celebration to celebrate the victory over the Reapers ended with a concert from the Megara Stadium on Rannoch. The concert had over 90 billion concurrent extranet viewers across Citadel space, a new post-Invasion record. Among the many artist present was the ever popular quarian singer/songwriter Arana vas Harra, the asari pop-synth group The Three Sisters and the drell/salarian trans-space ambient DJ duo Star Clash. The highlight of the show was a duet by quarian folk singer Sycha vas Ylan and Mercedes Locklear of Andayala’s Lament a pre-exile song about a young quarian who dies in a newly discovered world dreaming of his home town of Andayala.

Concert producers announced that they raised over a billion credits for the Hera Foundation, a human/asari charity dedicated to support asari refugees fleeing the civil war in that sector space.

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TV Tropes Monday: The Good Chancellor


Tweet of the Day: The Greatest Fake Religion of All Time

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A good ruler needs at least one good adviser, someone they can trust to deal with the minutia of state, someone to hold the fort while the king rides with the troops to battle, someone to guide the well meaning leader through the intricacies of the court.

Enter The Good Chancellor.

The good chancellor is first and foremost loyal not to one ideology or ruler but to the nation. He does not hunger for power, which is why his superior tends to trust him. Even when he finds himself with absolute control of the country, he will not only not abuse it but gladly give it up for the rightful ruler. He is also an effective administrator in his own right. He knows which leavers to pull, which buttons to push. His advice is measured and timely. Of course, he may be too good. An evil ruler will distrust him or want to get rid of him because he often subverts his orders as those who want power or want the state destroyed. But often those who think they can push aside the good chancellor find out that Good is not Soft or Stupid, after all the good chancellor tends to be a superb politician, someone who can read people like a book. In fact, the chancellor is the person that shields the ruler from the bad guys by either a combination of deft political maneuvers and a preemptive use of force.

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Weekend Roundup: August 24-30


Tweet of the Day: Why I write: a major revelation

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And like that summer comes to a close, or does it? The rains have come back, but the ground still swelters. I did manage to post some original fiction, inspired by Tumblr of all places. I don’t want to spoil the ending but it has dragons in it. ;) Talking of which (social media that is), outrage has swept the video game side of the internets with accusations of corruption in the game journalist community (nothing new) and attacks on female critics and developers (still ugly). I don’t want to repeat myself so here are my takes on game journalism and harassment of women in the industry. I may tackle the issues again, but not today. Today we take a look at this week’s post:

So much for the last week of August. Next stop, September and more writing. Until then….

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You may have noticed a change in the music at the end of the page. Well that is because I discovered Space Ambient and it is good. Here have a listen:

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Space for Rent: Stop Killing the Author


Tweet of the Day: Saluting the Women Behind the Screen

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I’ve have written extensively about arguments in writing, authorial intent, and ownership of works. But it seems that more and more everybody but the creator of a work, say a book, film, or video game is entitled to the content of the work in question. And I am not talking about revenues or copyrights but the meaning of the content itself. When it comes to fiction in any form, the content creator is not even a part of the equation.

In other words (and quoting TV Tropes for conciseness/cohesiveness):

Death of the Author is a concept from literary criticism which holds that an author’s intentions and biographical facts (the author’s politics, religion, etc) should hold no weight when coming to an interpretation of his or her writing; that is, that a writer’s interpretation of his own work is no more valid than the interpretations of any of the readers.

It is one among many schools of literary analysis, emphasis on the word one. It is, by no means, the only way to approach a given work. Yet I see many a critic treating Roland Barthes ideas not as a useful tool to understand a work, but as undeniable fact. They treat the author’s intent as if it were some kind of putrid slime that covers the page and must be rinsed off before the purity of thought imbedded in the words can shine through.

Bullshit.

You can separate the work from its author like you can not separate the work from its audience. While trying to divine the intent of an author whose dusty old bones lie bury in a patch of ground or whose ashes sank to the bottom of the sea can lead to a quest without end, you can not divorce a work from its creator, their intent, their word choices, or the time that gave birth to both. Yet many persist on doing just that, specially when the author is very much alive.

The inevitable question is….Why?

The answer usually comes in threes.

  1. The critic has an agenda. They intend to use the work in a manner not intended by the author thus they must slay him (metaphorically) in order to clear the way for their own interpretation. Once the beast of authorial intent is dead, the way is clear to write pretty much whatever they want about the work without the meddlesome author tapping on their shoulder.
  2. The fan craves ownership: And not simply of the physical copy of the work. They want it all, they want it now, and they want to be catered to what are times foolish degrees. The author did not pair up their favorite characters? Doesn’t matter, the author is dead and therefore it is up to the fans to do with it as they please. A character has an inconvenient sexuality, attitude, race or other characteristic the fan doesn’t like? No worries, you can ignore them at your leisure regardless of what the author said or even wrote about it.
  3. The author wants cover: Yes, authors use this as well. Are so and so gay and in a relationship? Oh, I don’t know, we will leave that up to the reader, viewer, or player to interpret. After all authors, we can’t be lambasted by the audience in a million online forums if we leave it to audience interpretation. The author that doesn’t own what they create is free from the mistakes they make. Even the very idea of a mistake is lost in a deep dark sea of interpretation never to surface again.

I believe in the theory that no work comes alive until it comes into contact with the audience. However, that does not mean that one should make the work an orphan at the moment of birth. A book is an intimate conversation between reader and writer. To slay the creator damages the creation by breaking the continuum from author to audience. It turns the conversation into a soliloquy. Soliloquy can be elegant, but they are also lonely, one side affairs. The theory has some merit but like I wrote in another post:

Each lens (theory) narrows the focus: Like a microscope a certain school of thought will narrow the focus on a particular set of ideas, but at the expense of the larger whole.

Remember that before you rush to murder a works creator.

Metaphorically, I hope.

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Mass Effect: Standoff


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Tweet of the Day: SF OBSCURE…SF comedy for the lazy days of August

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Commander Turtman barked orders to one of his squads, “Sergeant Kratos your squad will guard the shuttles. I want them prepped in case we need to leave in a hurry.”

“Yes clan chi… sir,” said the squad leader.

Turtman shined his flashlight near Mr. Aten, “Your show.”

The drell operative turned to his batarian companion, “Mr. Si’nn?”

The batarian shook his head, “Yes, right, we have to go to engineering, get power back to the eezo core.”

“Yeah, that’s why we brought the power cells. Okay you dirty payaks, you heard him, lets move.”

They walked down a series of dark corridors. Turtman left eye twitched, a clear sign that something was wrong. They navigated a maze of decks, stairways, and empty rooms. In over four hundred years, Turtman worked on many ships but not one the size of this one. It took them half an hour to reach the engine room.

Si’nn came to an abrupt stop, “Not good.”

“What’s wrong?” asked Turtman. Si’nn pointed at the door to the engine room. The holo lock was green, which meant it was active. “Damn, somebody beat us to it. Suggestions?”

“Gentlemen, please wait here while I reconnoiter,” said Mr. Aten.

Turtman motioned his men to take cover, “Right.”

Mr. Aten cloaked on his way to the engine room. The door slid open. The stale air carried the sounds of kicks, punches, and a short weapon burst followed by a long silence.

Mr. Aten’s voice came over the radio,”The area is secured.”

The krogans entered the room with Si’nn in tow.  They found a salarian, a turian and what looked like three humans scattered about the place.

“Are they dead?” asked Turtman nonchalantly.

“The living have a more ample vocabulary than the dead,” said Mr. Aten.

“That wasn’t creepy at all, nope,” said Si’nn.

“By the look of the armor and weapons I would say that they are mercenaries of some sort,” said Mr. Aten.

Turtman ordered his men to secure the area. He noticed an incoming call on one of the mercs omni-tools. He patched his to the  merc. Turtman recognized the white tribal paint on the grey scales of the turian that popped on holo.

“Verminus,” said Turtman with utter contempt.

The turian smiled, “Turt is that you? It is you! How are you doing you old varren? What brings you to my little corner of the galaxy?”

“I could ask you the same thing, Verminus,” said Turtman.

“Oh, just the same old, same old. Got myself a crew, a few contracts. Talking of which, got a real juicy one about two weeks ago . Go to these coordinates and salvage a ship. They forgot to mention it was dreadnaught,” Verminus looked around, “The batarians tech is a bit off-spec, Citadel space wise. But it’s still a dreadnaught. I mean this baby came fully loaded, so I told myself, Verminus, you could do a lot with a ship like this, out here on the Verge, so I brought in some more of people and we been scoping it out. You like?” Turtman shrugged. “But I take it you’re not here for a tour, are you?”

“I’m not,” said Turtman.

“Well, you know how it goes, rules of salvage and all of that,” said Verminus with a toothy grin.

“Not this time Verminus,” said Turtman with a hard squint. He knew Verminus well enough from his days with the Blood Pack. He ran a pure krogan squad out of Omega while Verminus played contract broker for the local Blue Suns branch. The turian would contact him to work an angle on the latest contract, especially when he wanted to take a larger cut of the profits without his bosses knowledge. He also knew that old turian put profit above all else.

“Really? Come on, Turt. I mean I heard you went legit…umm got your clan and everything, but this, this is the big time, old buddy. My employers are paying a lot of creds for this job. If you walk away I can guarantee you a slice, say…ten percent…no wait that’s too low, too insulting, lets double it, twenty, yeah that sound right. What do you say?” asked Verminus.

“This is not negotiable. I got orders from straight from Urdnot Wrex himself,” said Turtman.

“Clan and planet is it. Umm…okay,” Verminus glanced to the side, “Well, I got eyes on the docking bay you came in. That’s two shuttles, krogan are a bit beefy so less than full capacity, and I have been bringing people over the past week, plus mechs, that means you’re…you’re outnumbered. But again, I’m willing to settle things amicably for old time sake. Let’s say twenty-five, yeah, twenty-five percent. That’s my final offer.”

“Not going happen,” said Turtman.

A sudden headache exploded in Turman head, as if someone had hit him with a sledgehammer right between the eyes. Every nerve on his body ached. Took him a few seconds to recover his composure.

“Sergeant Kratos to Commander Turtman, do you read me?” asked Kratos over the radio.

“I’m…here,” said Turtman.

“We got hit by something. A blue flash and then nothing. But we are back on our feet and ready to fight,” said the sergeant.

“Good, we got hostiles on board. Hold your position,” said Turtman.

“Understood, sir. Kratos out.”

The others came to. Mr. Aten double checked the prisoners.

Turtman contacted Verminus, “Whatever that was, Verminus, we are still here.”

Verminus eyes glowed with a bright white light, “We are the masters of your destiny. You will join us or die.”

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TV Tropes: The Man Behind the Man


 

Tweet of the Day: Game Changer: What Society Can Learn From the Economics Of Video Games

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The heroes just cornered the bad guy, assaulted his lair, or fought him over the exploding volcano. With his dying breath he says, “There is another!”

Wait…what?

Indeed, the guy the heroes spent so much time fighting just happens to be a lackey for the real villain, The Man Behind the Man.

This trope is a good way to keep the story going. If the heroes defeated the main bad guy, they can pack up and go home. But if a bigger, more sinister presence lingers on the horizon that means that the work is not done. The thing that pops to mind regarding this trope is the relationship between the henchman (also known as The Dragon). If the henchman is so capable, why is he not the leader? Does he follow out of ideological/religious conviction? Personal loyalty? Fear? Is the henchman happy with opportunities of his position? Or is he a member of a larger organization, like a crime family or gang, and is simply moving up the ranks? Answering these questions right will lead to some credibility to the relationship. After all, if the henchman is competent enough to stand up to the heroes, then he might as well be the leader, if he is not, then why does the leader keep him around.

The trope often set up as a minor plot twist. But making it a major plot twist tends to come off as an obvious sequel hook or cheating by the author if not properly foreshadowed. A uncommon take on the plot twist is to have the real villain be The Man in Front of the Man. The actual leader  has a stand in to deflect attention from himself the same way the henchman is the public face of the villains plans. A more cunning tactic is to play a Keyser Söze, a completely fictional character that serves as a distraction for the heroes. If the villain can pull this off convincingly he can then hide in plain sight.

Either way this trope keeps the heroes and the readers on their toes.

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And so is she.


 

Tweet of the Day: The Woman in the Yellow Ruff

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The knight held the torch as hand as high as he could.  Deeper he went through the twisting passages. Sweat soaked the camisole beneath the shiny breastplate.

Each step took him closer to the lair of the beast.

Each step brought him closer to fulfilling his vow to bring the damsel back to the village.

Each step brought him closer to fame or ruin.

A light appeared at the end of the passage way. The knight walked into a large cavern. Sunlight streamed down from a hole on the roof. Across the cavern was another passage. It was as dark as the one that brought him here. A young woman walked along the fern covered floor to a clear pool of water at the center. She wore a diaphanous garment that seemed to enhance rather than cover her charms. The knight took full measure of her figure from her dark locks than ran to the small of her back. His gaze lingered on her full breasts for a moment. He uttered a short prayer to compose himself.

“M’lady, I am glad to have found you. Your father wishes that you return post haste,” he extended a hand, “I can find you some clothes if you like, m’lady but we must hurry.”

She cocked her head to one side,”Why?”

“Because-“

A deep voice came from the dark passage, “Because he means to slay me.”

A pair of golden orbs floated in the darkness. The smell of brimstone filled the air.

The knight drew his sword and interposed himself between the woman and the beast beyond, “Stand back wyrm! I sworn an oath to rescue this maiden by any means necessary.”

“You mean to take by force what came here by will, sir knight?” asked the voice from the darkness.

“I know not what you mean, I have not the patience to parlay with beasts,” said the knight.

“Indeed, your kind never has the patience for much of anything. Bold of action yet closed of mind are you. You who are so steadfast in your devotion to lord and duty, but did you ever stop to think while you fasted and prayed why she is here? Why, if I am such a loathsome beast, is she still alive and unharmed?” asked the voice.

“The tricks of the Serpent are well known to me, wyrm. You beguiled her as you beguiled the Mother of Men,” said the knight.

“Ah yes, an old tale I know all too well. Yet, I always found it curious that sin came by way of knowledge and not life. One would think it a higher hubris to dare to consume from the wellspring of Creation than to gain an understanding of it,” said the voice.

He clutched the blade with both hands, “Enough foul creature. Your sorcerous ways may work on those of feeble spirit but I am a pious knight of the realm.”

“Indeed, the time has come to end this charade. But before the day is done, it would behoove me to reveal a simple truth. That which you seek is like me. I am the offspring of Man and Thought. I am the guardian of the Old. I come by way of the dreams of Men. I am Air, Fire, and Earth…and so is she,” said the voice.

The knight heard a noise like the tearing of vellum followed by a roar to rival a hundred lionesses. He turned in terror to face the maiden. In her place stood a winged serpent with a gaping maw full of fire. The gout of flame cut his screams short.  Nothing was left of the brave if foolish knight but pile of molten metal and white ashes.

“Finish your bath my dear. We shall hunt tonight.”

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