Now at PulpRev: Enemy at Blood River (Part III)

Over at the PulpRev blog, I’ve put up another chapter of Enemy at Blood River, part of my “Age of Petty States” serial. Go read it.

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The Importance of Delta-V

Delta-v. (Picture by Fred the Oyster)

I first read about delta-v as it relates to space travel on Winchell Chung’s Atomic Rockets website. At first, I dismissed it as just another boring limitation on fun space opera adventure, a bit like his descriptions of why gigantic starships can’t work or why space fighters are useless.

But as I thought about how I’d write my own space opera, I considered supply needs in deep space, even in a Star Trek or Star Wars-style story: food and water would need to be carefully rationed, energy usage would have to be monitored closely, and one would have to pay close attention to how fuel is used.

That’s when it hit me. That’s when I realized what “delta-v” really signified.

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My Opinion on Modern SF/F

Recently, literary critic Jeffro Johnson, author of Appendix N: The Literary History of Dungeons and Dragons, did an interview with Jon Del Arroz about how RPGs ruined speculative fiction. In this interview, Jeffro explains how modern authors rarely bring their stories to a close, rely too much on origin stories, as well as over-explaining everything. Listening to it actually made me think on a few things.

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Misha on Modern Romance

What modernism seeks to extinguish. (Photo by Louise Docker)

Over at Google Plus, Misha Burnett makes a rather telling observation about romances in fiction:

When did emotionally abusive relationships become the new normal in Science Fiction?  I keep running into storylines where the male lead “proves” his love for the female lead by continuing to pursue her after she has lied to him repeatedly and deliberately done things to drive him away. 

Is that what constitutes a Prince Charming these days, a high tolerance for psychological torment?  Maybe I’m just jaded, but the first time a potential partner plays some kind of head game to see if I am really devoted, I’m out the door.

I keep running into stories where I know that I am supposed to be wondering “will the good guy get the girl?” but instead I’m thinking, “why on Earth is he attracted to this psycho?”

After thinking on it some more, Misha comes to a conclusion:

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Now at PulpRev: Enemy at Blood River (Part II)

I’ve posted the next part of my story on Read it and enjoy.

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Justifying Space Fighters

Not a space fighter. (Photo by FaceMePLS)

Winchell Chung, owner of the stupendously awesome Atomic Rockets website (check out his Boom Table) hates space fighters with the fury of a billion burning suns. He cites numerous writers on the infeasibility of such weapons, pointing out that drones and missiles can do the jobs of space fighters far more efficiently, among other things. Ever since the first Star Wars movie popularized the concept, space fighters have become a mainstay of science fiction.

I agree with Chung’s assessment that space fighters make zero sense as a real-life weapon, but I adore the trope nonetheless thanks to incessantly playing Wing Commander II and Starfox 64 as a kid (it’s an aileron roll, by the way.) Thus, I have come up with how I would justify space fighters in my own setting.

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A Former Trek Fan’s Comment on the Marketing of Star Trek Discovery

Reader and former Star Trek fan Gamera977 has more to say on Star Trek Discovery in a response to my post on start-a-fight marketing:

Thanks Rawle, I was thinking they were going down the same route as the ‘Ghostbusters’ remake too but I think you’ve hit the nail the head by pointing out the deeper issues here.

And it might had some success if they hadn’t already honked off many if not most Trek fans already. As a former big Trek fan and I guess I’m still a little bit one even now my two cents for what it’s worth:

1). It’s been what, the early ’90s since we’ve had a ‘new’ ST series? ‘Enterprise’ was a prequel and soft reboot of the original. Then the Abrams movies were a hard reboot. And now ‘Discovery’ is both a prequel and a hard reboot. There’s a lot of complaining from fans about ‘why the BLEEP can’t they just set a new show in the future like they did ‘The Next Generation’ instead of remaking the original over and over!?! The ‘Star Trek: Online’ game picks up a bunch of plot threads left over from ‘DS9’ and ‘Voyager’ and makes a far better story than anything I’ve seen from Paramount in years.

I’ve noticed there seems to have been an ongoing effort to clean-up or erase the original show by displacing it with the reboots. You have ‘A Private Little War’ which supported US involvement in Vietnam War. The SJW types either ignore this episode or try to explain it away. Or ‘The Way to Eden’ where a bunch of free-loading space hippies following a cult leader almost start a war with the Romulans so they can find a paradise planet where they don’t have to work for a living but spend all their time frolicking and playing terrible music. Funny the space hippies seem a lot like SJWs……

2). Trek fans can get pretty obsessive about consistency. As you’ve pointed out we’ve got aliens called ‘Klingons’ that have nothing in common with the ‘real’ Klingons. Why use name Star Trek if you’re going to change everything- fans tend to get upset over stuff like that.

3). Complete ignorance of the original. I loved the lead actress braying about being the first black person to play the lead in a Trek production. Only that Avery Brooks did that as Captain Benjamin Sisco on ‘DS9’ TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO. Fans don’t like the ignorance on simple facts about the series or the ranting about doing something ‘new’ that was first done a quarter of a century ago.

4). Even many of the fans tend to hate the preachy political sanctimonious attitude the series often adapted. The most PC episodes tend to be some of the most disliked of the various series.

5). Trek was always based on optimism and hope. The ’60s pretty much sucked on a lot of levels. But Trek said we wouldn’t only survive but thrive. Making a grim-dark angry show in the Trek universe- I can’t see how it can work. It’s simply not Trek. Even the darkest show ‘DS9’ was about how we’d overcome the odds and win in the end.

Sorry to run on and on but I really think Paramount has royally screwed themselves here to the point we’re looking at another ‘Ghostbusters’ remake. The only defenders of the show I’ve seen are some of the troll types on Jon del Arroz’s site who I wonder if they’ve even watched it or are just screaming how it’s the greatest thing ever just to argue and get attention.

As I said, it remains to be seen if this new series will drive more interest in Star Trek. However, I find it interesting that according to some Trek fans, Seth MacFarlane’s The Orville captures the spirit of Star Trek better than the official show.

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Moe Problems

This is not the solution. (Artwork by Kasuga)

On a Google Plus thread, JD Cowan discusses what led to the decline of the anime industry in the US:

It was the perfect storm of bad management and the overseas industry going insular. There’s a reason there’s such a hard drop off of anime fans from that era more than any other. Ask any old fan when they stopped keeping up and the answer is always between 2006-08.

It hasn’t worked out well for anyone.

For example, these were Bandai’s top sellers before they shuttered their doors.

Cowboy Bebop (absolutely #1)
Outlaw Star
The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing

When they stopped making series like 4/5 above, the audience left. Even Haruhi isn’t a straight moe series.

While the Lucky Star manga did well for them, the anime did not. It’s volumes were the fastest ever to hit the clearance bin. And neither did K-On make a splash, which they overpaid for. Even when Sentai got it, it still made no impact. In Japan, moe barely ever cracks the top 30 monthly manga sales and it is never on the sales charts here.

These were the top 30 selling manga of the first half of 201 in Japan. No moe.

Moe is not strong enough to hold the industry up. I have no idea why saying this is controversial. It wasn’t what built it, the audience will never be replaced, and there is no wide appeal to attract new audiences. The slump post-2006 is because the licenses were not what the core audience wanted, so they walked away.

The industry messed up. Moe is not good enough to hook audiences. It should have remained a niche focus. Part of the mismanagement is due to this stupid decision.

Yet more evidence that large, mainstream industries cannot rely on niche marketing techniques.

By the way, you can visit JD Cowan’s site here.

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Musings on Anthologies

A model for future anthologies.

Anthologies seem to be a dime a dozen. You have Asimov’s, Analog, Clarkesworld, and Strange Horizons. You have Beneath Ceaseless Skies and you have Uncanny. And then there are magazines like Cirsova who cater to a completely different clientele than those others.

However, I started thinking about how short fiction doesn’t pay and how it is said that no one can make any appreciable amount of money on it, but this isn’t about the economics of short fiction — Dean Wesley Smith is more knowledgable than I on that topic. Instead, I thought about how the average anthology is structured, and how that can be improved. The conclusion I came to? Anthologies would be better if all were set in the same world, then used as a jumping-off point for novels set in that world.

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Now at PulpRev: Enemy at Blood River ~血の川にいる敵~

Over at the PulpRev website, I have uploaded yet another entry in my serial. In “Enemy at Blood River,” Kikuta Mai and Yonekura Sana — rendered outlaws for killing samurai — flee in search of protection from bounty hunters who hope to get a reward from killing them, but their journey takes them somewhere rather dangerous.

Unlike the others, this one will be a five-parter; I’m trying to tell longer stories in this universe now that I’ve got a feel for how it would shake out. I hope you enjoy walking this journey with me.

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