Support Robert Kroese’s Newest, Most Epic Project

Robert Kroese

Author Robert Kroese has a new Kickstarter out to fund the writing of his new trilogy, the Saga of the Iron Dragon. In this trilogy, time travelers from the future fleeing an alien aggressor land in the time of the Vikings. Now the time travelers have to build a spacecraft to get back into space and through time to help their allies and give humanity a fighting chance.

But first they must build a spaceship. In the Viking era.

Robert Kroese has written and published a good number of novels, as well as run several successful Kickstarters in the past, so I know for sure he’ll deliver on this one. I’ve already backed it, and I have full confidence that it will turn out to be an amazing. Independent authors need all the support they can get, and Robert Kroese is as deserving of support as any. Let’s help this man out.

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The Appeal of the Anime Witch

As I’ve watched many a piece of media, I found out something rather interesting: I like witch characters quite a bit (though I’m not really a Harry Potter fan.) Most of this, of course, is due to the influence of anime, and it’s the ones there and in related media that strike me as the most appealing. Something about how they look and act just draws me to them, and I’ll try to explain it as best as I can.

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[REPOST] Why I Like Damsels in Distress

Some bad guys make off with a lady. It’s up to the (male) hero to stop them.

NOTE: This is a repost of an article I did for The Ralph Retort.

The damsel in distress is one of the most criticized tropes in the modern era. It is considered the ultimate misogyny, and creators often apologize for using it by claiming that the damsel is “strong” and “not a helpless woman,” or by making the damsel match or outclass the male hero in some skill. Creators often avoid this trope to establish their modern, 21st-century street cred.

Well, I’m here to say that I’m a great fan of this supposedly evil trope, no matter how it is done. It pains me to watch creators squirm whenever they’re attacked for writing damsels; they should stand by their work.

But why would a modern, 21st-century man like me admit to liking damsels in fiction? Clearly I need to be re-educated in proper ideology! Such tastes are unacceptable; after all, it’s the current year! Well I’ll explain why, and if you can’t stand it, that’s on you.

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Spotlight: Tales of the Otori

I first encountered the Tales of the Otori series in college way back in the 2000s; I would often wander the college bookstore looking for reading material, and there it would be. As I was (and still am) an anime fan, I took a look at the books since Japanese-looking stuff usually caught my eye (though the author, Lian Hearn, is the pen name of a white Englishwoman.) Between classes, I would read the novels, always interested as to where it would go next.

I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I had purchased the third book from the campus store in the morning and finished all 300 or so pages that night!

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Fire Emblem’s Demographic Catastrophe

Hector takes Lyn away. Lyn is a gifted swordfighter, and Hector is great with an axe.

I’ve been a fan of the Fire Emblem series of video games by Nintendo ever since my high school days, when I saw Marth and Roy kick ass in Super Smash Bros. Melee. Set in medieval-style worlds beset by evil conquerors and terrible dragons, the Fire Emblem series provides immense amounts of escapist fun for all who play it. It is a strategic game where you move your swordfighters, cavaliers, mages, and other fighters around on a grid like an elaborate game of chess and try to defeat the enemy force.

Right away, I noticed two things about it — a strong tendency to use human enemies as opposed to monsters, and a large prevalence of female fighters right from the very first game in the series.

Then I thought about it for a bit — and realized that if we looked at FE’s setting (doesn’t matter which game) realistically, it would suffer a serious demographic collapse due to lack of women.

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Affirmatively Furthering Fair Dames in Games

While going through Jeffro Johnson’s Google+ feed, I found this:

Yet again, social justice types bemoan the sexy female in video games, instead wanting everyone to dress the girls up in cargo pants and sensible shoes. But instead of taking the usual “free speech” stance, I’ll go a step farther.

I’ll make an affirmative case for dressing video game females in revealing clothes.

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Culturally Appropriate All the Things

Japan appropriates the hell out of Europe.

Our world is a diverse one, full of different ways of life, different patterns of thought, and different social and physical environments. As communication and travel have grown easier, contact between different peoples and their ways of life has grown more frequent and more pronounced. When writing books, filming movies, programming video games, or doing any other creative work, sometimes the creators will look outside their own cultural milieu for inspiration in a bid to get away from their usual thinking patterns.

However, what was once hailed as open-minded cultural blending is now damned by a certain subset of progressive as “cultural appropriation” — which, in their mind, is an act of unspeakable hate.

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Fantasy Doesn’t Embrace 21st-Century Modernity

This is NOT what is meant.

My Twitter buddy Benjamin Cheah recently wrote a long Facebook post about the new Beauty and the Beast movie, criticizing it for allegedly portraying 18th-century rural France as more progressive than it actually was. In response, a commenter (who did not get personal or insulting — he argued in good faith) answered with a common objection I’ve seen to such critiques:

If a story has some fantastical concept like magic or dragons, then there is no reason that it cannot have women in traditionally male roles, non-Europeans in large numbers, or any other feature of 21st-century Western democracies. Or, to shorten it, “if magic, then modernity.”

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When Playing RPGs, Go Homebrew or Go Home

These have decided many a character’s fate.

Ever since Gary Gygax published the seminal tabletop RPG Dungeons & Dragons, many other creators penned their own gamebooks with their own systems — some in imitation of D&D, some much less complex, and the internet has caused their numbers to absolutely explode. Since D&D continues to dominate this niche market so much that it pretty much is the market, it seems as if all of these smaller games serve no purpose to gamers. However, these smaller games are not only welcome, but vital to any RPG player worth his salt.

This is because small, simple rulesets allow for easy homebrewing — mandatory for any extended campaign.

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Story Spotlight: The Witch of Elrica

The Witch of Elrica
by Jennifer R. Povey
Published in Cirsova Vol. 4 (pp. 45-55)

DISCLOSURE: I paid into Cirsova’s Kickstarter, and I regularly communicate with the editor.

Marek, bastard son of Ilvia’s king, has a longstanding rivalry with Petor, the heir apparent. To make matters worse, Petor was soon to be married to Princess Kavia of Elrica, further boosting him above Marek in status. However, Marek ends up with bigger problems: Telissa, one of Princess Kavia’s handmaidens, catches Marek’s eye…but Telissa is a witch, and witchcraft is punishable by death in the kingdom of Ilvia. If it got out that Petor’s betrothed brought in a witch, it would threaten Petor’s claim to the throne and cause untold trouble for Ilvia as a whole.

Thus begins the story of The Witch of Elrica.

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