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TV Tropes Monday: #KillThisTrope


Tweet of the Day: Pink Sunset 

No new trope this week. Instead I shall pose a question(s) to you, oh gentle readers, what tropes you believe need to die. What tropes show absolute laziness on the part of writers? What tropes what you can do without and why?

Input your answers in the comment section below or send them to @RafaWriter with the hashtag #KillThisTrope.

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TV Tropes Monday: No Such Agency



Tweet of the Day: On Writing- Editing


You don’t know us,

You never heard of us,

We were never here,

For we don’t exist.

There is No Such Agency.

When a writer wants a super-double-secret government agency to operate behind the scenes, this is the trope the summon from the shadows. An entire agency made up cloak and dagger types so secretive that no one will even admit it exists. Of course keeping an entire government agency underwraps is nigh impossible, although that has never stopped governments (or writers) from trying. Even the agency that the trope was named for, the National Security Agency, didn’t remain secret for long. It is easier to keep a department within an agency secret (or an agency within a department, governments are complicated like that), since most people outside (and even inside) a given department/agency/ministry know how the whole operation works (everybody tends to stick to their own cubicles in most organizations). More to the point is the fact that careful messaging can be as effective as absolute secrecy. For example, hiding the budget of an agency just leads reporters to dig out any juicy details, since government graf is something many readers/viewers can understand. But hiding what is exactly done with the money is different, since most reporters can’t tell the difference between signals intelligence (listening to enemy broadcast) versus human intelligence (human spies).

So unless you want to lampoon government excesses, thread lightly. Who knows, they might be watching.

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Mass Effect/AEC: Chapter 9 (c.3)- Watcher




Tweet of the Day: Gaming Introverts 


He exhaled a long plume of cigarette smoke. He smoked because he predecessor smoked. He sat in the chair in an empty office because that was what he predecessor did. He read from data pads and watched information through a dozen holo displays because that was how he did it. He could have streamed the information through his neural network, Yet, inexplicably, he enjoyed to simulate his forebears affectations down to the attractive female assistant that brought him another data pad to read.

She handed him the data pad, “The report on Avernus station, sir.”

“Thank you Caroline,” he said. Caroline turned to leave, “Caroline, what is your assessment of the report.”

Caroline stood in attention, “Your counterpart made several crucial errors.”

“Such as?”

“One, relying on batarian support. They are unreliable even in the best of times. Two, attempting to assassinate Commander Thompson-Ramos. Even if it had succeeded he has powerful friends that would have investigated his death and that would have led directly to us. Three, poor operational security created a easy trail for Thompson and his team to follow. Four, the use of Avernus as a command center with only one exit point left him no room to maneuver when the enemy showed up at his doorstep. Due to his blunders we lost ten years of work in a matter of months.  A sloppy operation all around, sir.”

He waved her off, “Thank you, Caroline.”

“Yes sir,” she said.

She was correct in all points. His counterpart overconfidence cost them dearly and now it was up to him to pick up the pieces. He opened another holo-window. It showed a real time picture of a civilian shuttle in flight courtesy of one thousands of intel satellites in orbit around colonies across the galaxy, courtesy of  Van Buren Infotek, formerly Tai-Yong Cybersecurity out of Hong Kong. Disguised as communications satellites and linked to the extranet through the comm-buoy system they served as one of the platforms at his disposal.

“It seems that Lord Darcy’s men are equally as ineffective.  Perhaps it is time to give them a wake up call,” he said aloud. With a press of a button he sent a message to one Major Wagner of the Libertas Defense Force. “Perhaps this will motivate them.” He then put out the butt of the cigarette in ashtray on the armrest, lit another and continued with his work.



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TV Tropes Monday: Just Plane Wrong



Tweet of the Day: Emotional Wound Entry: Being Bullied

War is a common themes in media. Afterall nothing else packs the conflict, high stakes and drama to fuel a successful franchise or intellectual property like war. However, there is a tendency for artists, even those with military backgrounds to, well, get things Just Plane Wrong. It often means that the representation of military hardware is less than accurate for a variety of reasons.

Military hardware is, by definition, hard to come by. Most countries don’t hand over F-22 fighters, M1A tanks or missile armed cruisers to just about anyone which means getting a hold of reliable substitutes is rather difficult for film makers on a budget. So they make due with whatever happens to be available which can look terrible if you know what to look for. Then you have the Rule of Cool which tends to lead designers to stick as many guns, missiles and other cool doodads on an airframe or even use features of an aircraft as weapons making anyone with passing knowledge of the design wince. And even if the artist does the research, the research can be overwhelming. Multiple sources contradict each other and tend to repeat false information. Did you know there were 24 marks or version of the famous Spitfire? That doesn’t cover field modifications, experimental versions or the less famous naval version the Seafire.

Of course you can always ask the Pentagon for help (or your national equivalent) if you don’t mind a handful of military officers reviewing your script for “errors” that might make the military look bad.



TV Tropes Monday: Tarot Motifs


Tweet of the Day:  You’re Allowed to Avoid the Frost Trolls

As of late I have been fascinated by the Tarot. It summons forth ideas about Destiny/Fate and that one can both know these things and perhaps control them. Because if you can ascertain you future you can also defied it. Flip the bird to forces that should be beyond your control. The very act of divination creates a sense of order out of the Unknown and makes it knowable if not controllable.

But a Tarot also creates a tapestry of ideas through a language that appears to be simple yet it subtly complex. In the Tarot things are not what they appear to be. Major Arcana (the trump cards) suggest immediate symbolism, like the Fool, Death or the Devil. Yet the Fool can be just that, a fool, by virtue of ignorance, yet also be the hero, by virtue of ignoring the very fact that he doesn’t know. He is the every man, who knows just enough to be a wise man but never enough to be a god. Death is an end, but that end is also change, sudden, dramatic, inevitable change, but not necessarily danger. That role tends to be fulfilled by several Swords in the Minor Arcana (numbers X and under). And the Devil? Again like Death, change, but also rebellion and freedom rather than evil.

And when you put the cards together they create a story, or at least the framing of one. Will the hero follow the path of Destiny or defy it? What if there was nothing in the tapestry until such time as the cards were laid down upon it? In other words, nothing was certain until the magic of the cards, or the belief of those participating in the reading made it so.

All very intriguing if you ask me.

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Mass Effect/AEC: Chapter 8 (c.3)-Gehenna



Tweet of the Day: American Horror Story

Gehenna Desert,  Libertas, Sphinx System, Argos Rho Cluster, Attican Traverse September 10, 2197

Miranda, Nyte and myself laid on our bellies atop an outcrop that overlooked the vast chalky expanse of the Gehenna Desert. It took seventy millions years to turn the caldera of a volcano the size of the western Mediterranean into a vast salty dead zone with temperatures at around sixty degrees Celsius. Luckily our hardsuits kept the heat and the salt at bay.

“So…married,” said Nyte over the comm.

“Yes, married,” deadpanned Miranda.

“I never expected The Viper to settle down,” said Nyte

“The Viper?” I asked

“That was her nickname when we worked for Cerberus.”

“Let me guess. It was because of her sharp and venomous tongue,” I said.

“Yes and yes, commander.”

Miranda jumped in, “Excuse me?”

“Well she has mellowed out a bit. She will only snap your head off you really earned it,” I said.

“I’ll have you know that-”

The Black Widow scope cut through the heat haze that shrouded the flat desert valley. “Inbound convoy from the north east at five clicks and closing.”

Nyte voice turned cold, “That must be our targets.”

The convoy kicked up clouds of white chalky salt.

“Fifteen vehicle convoy. Total of five technicals, one in the lead, second in the middle, third in the rear, with the last two riding the flanks. No air cover or additional vehicles.”

“As expected. Team One, stand by,” said Nyte.

I swung the scope over to a cluster of prefabs two kilometers away. Figures moved into position for the ambush.

“So what is the cargo?” I asked.

“Political prisoners enslaved via implanted control chips to be sold off world,” said Nyte matter-of-factly.

“Ten two-tons trucks as people carriers that makes for about one-hundred and eighty total,” I said.

“And that is just the first load, they will keep them on location until they have enough to ship off-world,” said Nyte.

“How many?” I asked through gritted teeth.

“Two to three more shipments,” Nyte said. The convoy pulled up to the cluster of of prefabs. “Team One, engage.” Missiles streaked down on to the lead, rear and flanking technicals. The explosions tore them apart. The drivers of the other vehicles panicked and tried to flee, some of foot others by ramming the burning wreckage. A hail of gunfire cut them down. “I want a casualty report,” ordered Nyte over the comm.

“All guards eliminated, a few wounded among the prisoners, no deaths. Applying medigel now,” came the response from Team One.

A sonic boom cracked above our heads. The Kowloon class freighter came in at a steep angle, circled low over the area and landed near the buildings. The loading ramp lowered and Team One drove the surviving trucks into the freighter. The freighter took off the moment the last truck cleared the ramp.

Nyte got up, “Time to go. There is someone I want you to meet, Commander.” She led the way back to the aircar.

Miranda and I looked at each other, shrugged, and followed her lead.

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TV Tropes Monday: Cyber Punk is Techno

Tweet of the Day: Lara’s Fall 


Cyber Punk is Techno, because if you want to convey the strident sour notes of a technological dystopia, nothing says that like electronic music. But this trope shows that all art is a product of its times. Cyberpunk is techno precisely because that was how the collective ID of the 80s saw the future. Back then the future was slick chrome and neon graphics (because that what was the computers at the time could produce with limited color palettes), synthesizers (because you could pick up a Yamaha keyboard for a couple of hundred bucks at Sears) and ultraviolence (a way to codify the madness of the Cold War).

Of course what once was new became normal, then trite and finally retro. And so it goes….

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