Back to the Books

I have a confession to make, I waste a lot of time on mobile games. A few weeks ago my phone croaked and I had to get a replacement. I lost pictures, music, and the rest with the new phone. I also lost all of my progress on my non-Google backed games.

Rather than start over at the bottom, I decided to hell with them.

I am tired of the incessant base building game genre, and I have never been horribly interested in the puzzle and gem crushing games. So there is not much else out there.

So I have opted to go back to the books and start reading when I would normally be sitting idly on my phone, pecking away at some idle click or base builder war game.

Armor

by John Steakley

Still in the middle of this book. Written in the same vein as Starship Troopers, Armor follows  people as they face the Antwar. There is death, mutiny, and a ton of fighting and war.

One of the things that lead me to this book was the notion that Steakley didn’t think Starship Troopers had enough actual fighting in it. After reading that book some time back I can agree. Most of the adventures of Johnny Rico involve lectures, rhetorical discussions on the use of force, and the measure of war, rather than incessant battles, maneuvers, and combat.

Not a great book, but still engaging. Will post more later.

Back to blogging too.

 

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John Wick vs. The Punisher

The first question is why should anyone even care about this? The answer is relatively simple, John Wick is a major success and a perfect example of how a high action violence and guns fueled revenge flick should be done, and the Punisher struggles from reboot to reboot, bad B movie to bad B movie. The ironic thing is that the two have more in common than they have different.

So what’s the deal?

The protagonist is a highly competent, highly capable, and supremely dangerous man who is well versed in hand to hand fighting, using guns, looking badass in all black, and killed the Hell out of the people who wronged him. The movie largely consists of the protagonist walking through hordes of bad guys, gunning them down, a few side encounters with allies and contacts, followed by a big throw down where the protagonist basically kills everyone else in the movie.

Roll credits.

Which movie did I describe?

Technically both of them. But as I mentioned, one is amazing, the other is a series of ultimately failed ventures. It’s not star power, Keanu Reeves plays Keanu Reeves (Neo, John Wick, Constantine, etc) while the Punisher has seen the likes of John Berenthal (The Walking Dead) Dolph Lundgren (roughly 33% of all 80s action movies) and Thomas Jane.

Ultimately it is because the viewer cares about and connects with the character of John Wick, and not with the Punisher.

John Wick’s wife dies, and the casual murder of a puppy she gave him spurs an hour and a half murder spree. Frank Castle’s entire family is killed by the Mafia, sending him into a costume and donning as much firepower as a Marine platoon. We care about Wick, but not Castle, despite the latter’s loss technically being the greater of the two.

John’s wife is a transformational figure. Before meeting her, we learn that Wick was Babayega, the Boogeyman, a man who was sent on impossible jobs and came back unscathed. We see that for a time, she redeemed him, he gave up the career of mafia murder to become a normal man. She dies from natural causes, and Wick is left in a fragile state of grief, the only consolation he has is a puppy she arranged for him to get after her death. The puppy becomes a symbol of his old life, and then it’s killed. Good job, Theon Greyjoy, you killed the puppy. John returns to his old life, being a man of focus. He digs up his weapons, calls in his favors, and unleashes biblical wrath on his foes. It is ultimately a form of grief and catharsis. Wick is by no means a good man, but we see him change, we see him in pain, we see him in grief. We empathize, and we care.

Frank Castle’s family, his wife and daughter are murdered. We see them in flashbacks, but there are no lines of dialog, just hazy out of focus scenes, ghostly laughter, and a grim faced Punisher ‘angsting’ maybe? Castle’s family are non-players in his story, and he goes from a grim cop to a grim vigilante. None of them are transformational, and aside from changing outfits, we don’t see a change from Castle to the Punisher. He’s a comic book character telling a comic book story, a quasi-juvenile shoot em up, complete with skulls made of fire, black jackets, and the rest of brooding loner motif. We don’t empathize with Castle, he is a force of destruction, nothing more.

Thus, John Wick prevails where Frank Castle fails. It doesn’t matter what the protagonist of the story does if we do not care, if we do not empathize. Wick is a bad guy who goes off on an insane murder spree, slaughtering a crime family because one member of this family had the misfortune of deciding to steal his car and kill his puppy. John Wick is at best a chaotic neutral to lawful evil character. Castle is a cop who goes off on a rampage against a crime family that not only evades justice, but does so after murdering his entire family. While Castle kills a lot of people, they are all almost without exception, culpable for the murder of his family, and greater acts of violence across the city. Castle is a chaotic good vigilante.

If you make the viewers or readers care, they will root for the protagonist, no matter what horrible things they do through the course of the story (sans rape, puppy killing, and torture)

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Things About Food in the Cosmic Era

So the Cosmic Era is my personal dystopian playground, and the 7 Things format is something I picked up from a writing blog. The two go together pretty well, so this is my latest entry into that category.

New Submission Up:

7 Things About Food in the Cosmic Era
https://strolen.com/viewing/8386

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One of the things I have to admit about myself is that I am a foodie, down to growing the heirloom and GMO free plants in my backyard garden. For a variety of mostly health related reasons I started educating myself about what I was eating and why it was making me functionally sick (gall bladder and hypertension).

This lead me to learn more about our food chain, and how and what we eat and frankly our food today can be horrific. Chicken nuggets are gross, pink slime is straight out of a horror movie, and what is done to fruits and vegetables is a travesty.

You think that’s actually orange juice your drinking? It’s not. Sorry dude.

Throw this in with some things I’ve read on the future of food, and it’s looking grim. A few of the things in the article are drawn from sci-fi sources, such as the Judge Dredd referenced recycled food. The rest is straight out of the supermarket.

The Freemium Economy

I’ve been reading a good bit about the current increasing interest in basic income, or universal basic income, and it’s an interesting concept. Likewise, I’ve also been reading about how it looks like China is going to use their version of Facebook (Weibo) as a factor in determining credit scores for it’s citizens. Interesting times! This is all fine and dandy but it’s not done. The way games and marketed and sold has changed. Why sell a game one time for $50 when you can give the game away for free, but pack it full of microtransactions and a tandem currency system. That way, no one can steal the game, it’s free, but dedicated and obsessed players will spend way more than $50 on the game.

What happens when these ideologies are put in as core concepts for an economic model? It’s going to be horrible. How far will social structures degrade when human interaction, competition, and effort are no longer mandatory, and when the people who design the profit structures for smartphone slot machine games are dictating financial policy, and your opinion on Caitlin Jenner, Iran, or alternative energy can be the difference between getting or not getting a home loan?

Freemium Economics

Homo Sapiens Xenus

New submission up today at Strolen.com

Link: Homo Sapiens Xenus

There is a new generation of genetically enhanced humanity coming, but they are in the beta process right now. The inspirations behind homo xenus include the Clans from Battletech, Neo-Sapiens from Exo-Squad, and the ubermensch.

The Clans from Battletech had a culture build around pureborn warriors birthed by machines, looking down on those born from dirty swapping of fluids. They were concerned with their role in their society, and the condition of their genetic legacy. Those who were shamed, those who did not excel were doomed to see their genes shelved, or in some cases, destroyed to ensure that there would not be another like them.

The blue skinned neo-sapiens from Exo-Squad had attitude, and were in almost every way superior to humans. A handful were friendly to humans, and fought along side of them, but the majority took up arms and fought for their masters. They were completely fine with genetic manipulation, even as they created super-intelligent neos, and even animal hybrid neos for hand to hand fighting.

The ubermensch, the superman, is a common theme in transhumanity, with them being better, stronger, smarter, better looking, etc. The great realization for the geneticists was that there was not one specific race or strain of humanity that was innately superior to another, that superior expression of mankind had to be created, and created from scratch. Thus, homo xenus is an entirely new creation.

The Novel

I am a writer, and as such, I am working on my novel.

The cool thing is that I have finished the first draft of it. I actually finished it near the end of 2014, a few days after my birthday. I was given multiple bits of advice to let it sit for at least a few months before going back to edit it. I certainly let it sit for a few months, and then a few more months, and then an entire year had passed.

It was a bad year. There was a lot of passing away of family members, and concerns about job security. I didn’t work on much this last year, and that’s a problem.

So in the coming year I am going to be blogging about the macro-editing phase, possibly detailing how I’m going to deal with the micro and line editing that comes after that and hopefully my adventures getting published.

I am going to try for the old standard, through a big publisher. I’d rather not self publish, and what I’ve read about ebook and pdf publishing, well that’s kinda depressing and seems to favor quantity over quality (personal impression, not an actual gauge of the reality of the situation)

So, the typical question is what are you writing about?

It’s pretty simple really, I am writing cyberpunk dystopian adventure with inspiration from Lovecraft, 1980s Saturday morning cartoons, and mythic/epic literature. Giant stompy robots, tentacled horrors, and nostalgia make everything better.