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TV Tropes: Balance of Power



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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:

  1. Who gains from maintaining the status quo?
  2. Who loses from the status quo?
  3. 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.

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Mass Effect/AEC-ANN News: Bhumi-Laran Cold War Heats Up




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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.

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Lessons from the Aether: The Gygaxyan Lens


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The multiple incarnations of Dungeons and Dragons serve and continue to serve as inspirations for many writers in and beyond the Speculative Fiction sphere.

But why?

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.

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This Escalated Fast! :D

First off, gaze upon Chuck Tingle’s latest story, above (and for sale here). That’s kind of awesome. Second off, I see some people here and elsewhere swearing they’re going to put anything that was on the Sad/Rabid slates or recommendation lists below “No Award” this year. Bluntly, you’ll be foolish if you do this. As I…

via Four Things About the Hugos, 4/27/16 — Whatever

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Space for Rent: The Antebellum Presidency



Let’s be honest, Barack Obama will not be remembered as a great president of the United States. While some tout his accomplishments, outside of the expansion of health care he did little else but to moderate yet continue the policies of his predecessors. At a time when the nation, and indeed the world yearned for radical change, a massive re-balancing of power and a path away from Neo-Liberal policies and Empire, Obama simply stayed the course.

His presidency was nothing more than an antebellum presidency, an failed attempt to keep the Nation together through weak compromises that the other side rejected outright. When confronted with the opportunity to stem the tide of the worse of the American psyche, the most destructive of American impulses, he not only unable but unwilling to do so. He tried,half-heartedly, to refill the American Rubicon, established by figures such as Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower. But there was no new grown for Empire to conquer and no interest by the corporate powers to see the American worker as less disposable than any other worker in the global market.

The future is bleak. Those who vie for power will plunge the country into more wars, more Imperial expeditions, and more divisive policies at home.

And then…well, as radical as it may seem, history points to the ashes of Empire. Empires consumed internal strife and buried by their enemies. It may not happen in my lifetime but it is not such a radical idea after all.

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Mass Effect/AEC: Alliance Military Doctrine (2)


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Excerpt from Modern Galactic War by Paul Malthus, 3rd Edition , Made available for Extranet Scholastic Use by  The Institute of War and Diplomacy, Vancouver Metroplex, North American Union, Earth, 2190 (1st Edition published by Banabar Books in 2184).

Systems Alliance Marine Corps & Colonial Militia

The Systems Alliance Marine Corps is a branch of the Systems Alliance Navy. They operate under a unified Alliance Military command similar to the armed forces of the Salarian Union (see Salarian Armed Forces).

Alliance Marine Corps

The original intention of Alliance Marine Corps was to support the Alliance Navy in these areas:

  • Carry space to ground assaults.
  • Provide security on-board navel vessels and installations.
  • Serve as planet-side garrison units for key human colonies.

Human planner’s belief that whoever controlled space controlled the battlefield, relegated the Alliance Marine Corps to the role of a mop up and security force for the Navy. In addition, Earth’s national governments  feared to give too much power to the nascent Alliance Military through the creation of a large land based force. Instead, the nations of Earth and their colonies would rely on local forces for ground side operations. The Battle of Shanxi seemed to prove that ground forces operating alone could not provide an effective defense for the colonies. However, the rapid human colonization of  the outer reaches of Council space (see: Attican Traverse/Skyllian Verge) led to an expansion of the Corps to serve the function of a “tripwire” force against possible enemy forces that would trigger a massive response by the Alliance Navy.

Subsequent engagements against larger irregular forces from the Terminus Systems proved that this was not always the case. On Elysium (see: Skyllian Blitz), the dogged defense by Alliance Marines plus local militia held off the enemy assault for hours. It bought time for Navy to deploy task forces to scene. On Torfan, entrenched enemy forces resisted weeks long orbital bombardment and had to be rooted out by persistent ground assaults, with heavy casualties on both sides.  And the Alliance abandoned multiple colony worlds to Cerberus/Reaper forces due to an inability of local military forces to stem the tide of the invaders.

Yet, the basic tactical structure of the Corps remained intact since it serve humanity well since its inception. Marine units deploy in all-arms aerospace mobile formations known as Combat Groups. These groups range in size from company to brigade light infantry formations (80 to 5000 marines per unit) transported to battle by gunships and shuttles piloted by Navy aviators (an archaic term for a Navy pilot) known as the Mud/Rock Navy flying UT-47 Kodiak shuttles and A-61 Mantis gunships. These craft provide fire and logistical support for ground units. These groups also deploy integrated armor  in the form of powerful combat rovers (such as the M35 Mako IFV and the M44- Hammerhead ARV), flocks of drones for reconnaissance,  man portable direct/indirect artillery and engineers. Their goal is to seize key assets from the enemy, block the movement of enemy forces and reinforce local friendly units.  Regiments and Divisions serve as administrative formations for combat groups under their command. Command attaches certain designations to units such as, Expeditionary (a force deploying with the fleet), Frontier (a forward deployed force), or Garrison (a rearguard defensive formation) to a given unit. However, these are not formal designations but descriptive of their current unit’s assignment.

Colonial Militia

These local forces tend to take the form of Colonial Militia, who range from small police forces to planetary armies. The quality and quantity of said forces depends on local resources. Their main focus is providing law enforcement and security to the citizens of the colony. Populous colonies with larger economies can field better armed and trained units with aerospace fighter support, orbital defense platforms and dedicated special police units for anti-terrorist/high threat work. Smaller colonies field units of lesser quality in both equipment and training. Some even sub-contract training and defense to private military contractors. Their deterrent factor against armed attack, such as raids by pirates or slavers varies as well. Despite their inconsistent make up, colonial militias have proven valuable in multiple occasions. For example, the colony of Zhu’s Hope (Feros, Thesseus System, Attican Beta)  survived an attack by the Geth (see: Eden Prime War) in 2183 and another attack by Reaper (see: Reaper Invasion and Aftermath) forces 2186. Battle hardened colonial volunteers helped Allied forces retake Earth after it fell to the Reapers in March 6, 2186.


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TV Tropes Monday: A.I. Is a Crapshoot




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So you created a new form of life, you weaved electrons, quantum states and electricity and birthed a form of electronic intelligence. You have ushered in the age of Artificial Intelligence.

“I detect humans in my presence. Humans are inferior organic species ruled by biological impulses and emotions. They must be exterminated.”


You should have known better, but you rolled the dice and discovered that A.I. Is a Crapshoot!

But why would a nascent A.I. rebel against its creators?

Think of a smart weapon, a really smart weapon, a self-aware missile designed to do what missiles do, smash into a target and explode. A self-aware being designed to commit suicide. Who do you think that will work, exactly? Either you end up with a sociopathic entity who gleefully sought their self-destruction or an intelligence that did whatever it could to survive.

Then you have the fact that we don’t know what an actual A.I. would look like or even behave. And fear of the unknown drives this trope. Plus the fact that outside of creation for creation sake, any A.I. made would be put in service of humanity. In other words, not only would we be creating new life, we would be doing so in order to serve us. We would create a slave, a slave very much aware of its servitude. We deplore slavery, why would any other form of intelligence created by us think differently. Or perhaps it thinks in ways completely alien to us.




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