Tweet of the Day: Writers of the Future Recap, Part 1: The Story
Need a Big Bad ™ in a story set in a small town? One that incorporates all the evils of the modern world? Bring out the Predatory Business! A soulless corporate entity that cares nothing about tradition, human interactions or community is the best villain to have in such setup. Throw in either a well meaning city-slicker who has to learn a lot about love, the value of human life and you’re good to go. Or maybe the representative of said business is a smarmy, cowardly former member of the community. Who better to help the masses betray their way of life than someone who was born to such life. If he is a local big shot, like a politician or business man, even better (or worse).
Of course, this also creates some visceral emotions. We all love cheap prices, but nothing of real value is cheap. So, do your characters want to buy soda by the lot or do they want that cool lemonade the kids make every summer? That is for you, o gentle writer to decide.
I find it painfully hilarious, as in I don’t want to laugh at due to seriousness of the subject, that those that decry “safe spaces” are the very people that don’t need them, or at least believe they don’t crave them. But are not our homes, schools, and job places supposed to be “safe spaces” of one kind of another? Have you ever heard of black student unions, gay bars, and other places where the marginalized gather away from the constant barrage of insults, slurs and outright physical abuse?
It is so easy to mock safe places when you always feel safe in your person, in your words, in your attitude. When you can afford a a front lawn a mile long and five mile wide to keep the paparazzi at bay, travel in private jets and dine at the most exclusive locations around the world without catching a whiff of the those who work tirelessly to make sure there nary a blemish on the landscape. That you can walk the streets with a rifle strapped to your back or a pistol on your hip because that makes you feel safe. Or how you ensconce yourself in a media bubble that reinforces your world view while excluding any and all ideas that might contradict it let alone any facts that may pop said bubble.
Because it all boils down to one thing: power. And safe places (no quotes necessary here) either rob the privilege of their power or force them to share that power. That is the real issue here. So before you chuckle at “safe spaces” from the comfort of your living room, well, look around, Bob, who sets the rules in your house in your “safe place”?
Tweet of the Day: The Difference Between Steampunk, Dieselpunk, Cyberpunk, Post-Apocalyptic and More
There are few tropes that I hate more than, “I don’t give a damn, I’ll do what I want,” Character Derailment, where in a character changes drastically for reasons that have nothing to do with character growth and have zero basis on previous characterizations. There are three major reasons why this happens:
- Characterization to Fit the Plot: In soap opera style situations, where the focus in on shocking the audience at every turn you always have a character whose characterization changes to fit a given plot point. They often start as villains, but can easily turn into heroes and back again, simply because somebody has to play that role at any given moment. This turns the character into a silhouette to be filled by the writer(s) as they see fit.
- New Writer on Board: In long lived IP, like soap operas, long-standing movie franchises, and comic books, suffer constant staff turnover as people. These new writers may not understand the existing character(s) or have tastes that vary from their predecessors. They might like or dislike a character and change their characterization accordingly.
- The Fans Lens: Common in fan fiction, fan writers, like their professional counterparts above (and many of those were fans first) tend to zero in on one particular phrase, thought or action by a character at the expense of the rest of its characterization or like the first point above, they create works where in characters act wildly out of place to fit their own plot ideas.
Mind you, a good explanation coupled with changes based on the internal logic of the fiction can (and often do) help avoid this odious trope.
Tweet of the Day: Falling out with Flying
According to the progressive view of history, today is better than yesterday, and tomorrow will be better than today. So surely the role of women will expand as we move into the future specially in the military. But not too far, not like women will be fighting in the frontlines or anything any time soon, but they will inch ever closer.
Enter the Bridge Bunnies, a group of young women (no older than 30, although men are also allowed) who serve as background characters in a command position in a military sci-fi show (mostly anime). The reality is that these jobs were and are often filled by men, but if you want to appear to be both progressive without taking away the eye candy, this might be the trope for you.
There is another reason for using the trope that has little to do with sex. Warships operate in a series of watches, that is crews alternate their positions from rest periods to work periods. It is one the many reasons why you have different “alert” conditions. Keeping a crew on action or battle stations means that their watches will be 12 hours long, to ensure that all stations are manned at any moment. This will wear down a crew rather quickly. Instead crews have shorter watches and more duties per person than just their station watch. Junior ratings might be given some time to study for an upcoming technical exam (although they will have to study around their schedule), rest periods a bit more common, or they would be running some kind of drills, such as weapons, repair or firefighting drills (in modern warships all crew are trained in damage control/firefighting). That would mean that every time the captain goes to the bridge their might be different people on station doing different things.
And for consistency sake we just can’t have that. It is hard enough for the audience to keep track of a half a dozen characters or so, adding more one-shot characters thrown in just for the sake or verisimilitude is just a waste of time. Therefore a steady crew of background characters exists to fill in the roles of the bridge crew (or any area of the ship often visited by the main characters). Similar situation happens on TV. You could cast a dozen extras to shout that the shields are 40% or you could have a cute character in a mini-skirt say it on a weekly basis. This trope doesn’t preclude the existence of such extras but it cuts down on their use.
Tweet of the Day: Short Fiction News
This trope posits a situation were two or more powerful institutions or groups keep in other in check but that the acts of a third party could unbalance the systems and lead to open conflict (see page link for a common example). However, the parties might go into open conflict with a third party just to maintain said balance. When employing the trope the author must ask:
- Who gains from maintaining the status quo?
- Who loses from the status quo?
- What are the mechanism that keep the balance of power?
The protagonist tends to play one of two roles, keeper or disruptor. As keeper, the protagonist benefits in some way from the situation or fears what would happen if the balance ceased to exist, such as a open war between the major parties. As disruptor, the protagonist is the third party that gets more from the disruption than from the status quo.
Tweet of the Day: The Great Mystery of Spacetime — “Beyond the Planck Scale”
ANN News Now
September 2, 2197
Bhumi-Laran Cold War Heats Up
by By Iris Dunnigan
CITADEL, THE PRESIDIUM- Tensions between two colony worlds in the Kartikeya star cluster, a depleted star nursery in the Terminus systems, rose after news of the destruction of two ships in a nearby star system of Shivan, the Canterbury and the Donnager. The colonies worlds of Bhumi and Lartan staked claims on rich resources of the asteroid belts in the nearby Shivan system. Bhumi , a garden world in Varaha System, Kartikeya Cluster and Lartan a post-garden world in Turan System, Kartikeya Cluster were founded by second wave human colonist that sought to escape the jurisdiction of the Systems Alliance some twenty five years ago. Both colonies created substantive space forces to protect themselves from pirates and other criminal groups that inhabit the Terminus systems. Within a decade of colonization, both worlds faced significant atmospheric problems. Bhumi suffered from a 22% rise in sea levels due to rapid climate change while efforts to terraform Lartan were stalled due to a weak magnetosphere.
Then exploration of the nearby Shivan system revealed multiple resource rich asteroid belts. Both colonies laid claims on the systems, with Bhumi’s efforts concentrated on the rich eezo and heavy metal planetoids in the inner belt with a base on the dwarf planet Demeter while Lartan’s ice collectors work out of the dwarf planet 1560F on the outer belt. However, as more wildcatters entered the system followed by larger companies, the claims of both colonies crisscrossed. Soon after, both worlds established armed patrols and stationed significant militia forces in their respective zones.
The Canterbury was an inter-system transport registered to Komar-Trudeau Heavy Industries out of Demeter, while the Donnager was a light cruiser on patrol in the system. The destruction of both vessels happened within a period of 72 hours. Both governments have confirmed the destruction of their respective vessels but have not released any other details about the incidents except for pointed accusations against each other.
Tweet of the Day: Why Are We Still Whitewashing Characters?
The multiple incarnations of Dungeons and Dragons serve and continue to serve as inspirations for many writers in and beyond the Speculative Fiction sphere.
There are many reasons why I think Dave Anderson and Gary Gygax creation has such a powerful influence over those writers that played it. For many it was one of many firsts: the first time they held a magic sword, the first time the encountered a dragon, and the first time the haggled with a merchant. Second, it coalesced and organized a myriad of influences from Alighieri, Milton, Lovecraft, Howard, Tolkien and Moorcock, to name a few. It provided neat classifications for monsters and races into accessible archetypes/stereotypes with numbers to match. It also created a definable structure to the Hero’s Journey, this time through the flowchart like dungeons and wilderness areas. The rules became a laboratory of creation. Players created not only characters for themselves, but entire universes composed of pastoral villages, busy metropolis, dark deities, and endless dimensions. And finally, they also provided a ready made group of people that would critique and share in the action of creation.
For all these reasons. the Gygaxian Lens shaped the fantastic worlds of today.