Saturday, 31 October 2009
Nothing is original.
What makes GW so fabby is the *way* elements are combined. I mean, from a starting point of 'Dune meets LotR IN SPAAAAAACE' they put together the wonderful and beautiful original 40k meta-backstory of the warp, birth of the gods, creation of the Emperor, fall of the Eldar, and it all fits in with the most crucial thing that makes the 40K universe unique in sci-fi - decline. Almost every other bit of sci-fi is about hope, growth, and potential. The intro to every 40K book outlines the fact that *this* universe is the opposite. 'Forget the power of technology and science, for so much has been forgotten, never to be re-learned. Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim dark future there is only war. There is no peace amongst the stars, only an eternity of carnage and slaughter, and the laughter of thirsting gods."
As a result, a lot of the 'sci' in 40k's 'fi' is secondary. Thus, the wonderful IG, pragmatic utilitarians to a fault, who destroy their foes with things that work and can be mass-produced, and billions of lives. You want shiny hi-tech humans, play Elysians - or Battletech.
I like the point Ghost made about the lovability of cliches as well - if it weren't for the easily-summarised '-punk' combinations of archetypes, nobody would get into the game in the first place. It's what they do after that counts.
And Anonymous, my life is a void since Battlestar ended, a void I fill with Dan Abnett's books. To quote Dorrel, and give a link to the above GW quote, "Galactica is a reminder of a time when we literally looked backward for protection." That's something both creations share, and what makes them more believable. To loosely quote an essay on BSG, it's the lack of scientific realism that makes it more approachable. (A space-faring human civilisation that has evolved separately from us for at least 5000 years somehow ends up with a nigh-identical political and military culture? Not likely, but leads to applaud for the show's 'hyper-realism')
If the 40K universe wasn't built on existing historical and cultural archetypes, hardly anyone would give a damn about it, and nobody would be able to relate to it. Hard sci-fi is an obscure niche in the world of fiction, sad to say, and the majority of people still tar all sci-fi as being somewhere between hard sci-fi and space opera. It's BSG and 40K that cheat, say 'sod the sci' and as a result are made of awesome. Totally original things are usually totally obscure.
I think I'm rambling now, so that's me done - apart from to say, everyone should read Ravenor Returns. Hellblazer meets The Bourne Identity in a broken future, where a Brass Thief murders 300 troopers in 15 seconds with his rhyming swords (what's a rhyming sword? Not going to tell you. But it's awesome) only to be detonated by a man called Revoke using Un-words. MADE OF AWESOME.
Friday, 9 October 2009
Naturally, this delusion then extended to the entirety of the events of the series Ultimate Force, and then onward to all of reality as we know it.
(On the slim off chance that Ross or his lawyers find this, I'd like to say it's just a joke, and I have muchos respect for anyone who'd throw himself balls-first into warzones for the entertainment of the goggle-eyed viewers of Sky One, so no offence intended!)
and here is the piece in all its ineffable glory!
Thursday, 8 October 2009
Have there been any scientific studies into the emotional content and significance of music?
I can only (wildly) theorise that there is a form of resonance at play.
Wave-particle duality states that all matter can be modelled as waves, and vice versa. Air pressure can affect our bodies in various powerful ways, if not as obviously as the brown note. This is not to say there is a definite solid link anywhere; but my theory is that music intersects with the brain on a fundamental level.
Your sense of hearing, even more than sight, is hardwired into your subconscious, to the 'animal' centre of your brain to provide early warning, fight-or-flight responses to external stimuli without the time-lag required for complex reasoning. When we listen to music that suits our mood in tempo, chords and individual notes, this becomes imprinted upon our brain as the sound of that moment - especially if the moment is associated with a strong emotion, love, happiness, or stupidity - it becomes the 'warning' of that moment - a more enjoyable parallel to the sound of a big frikkin bear approaching through the woods. The same can be said for negative emotions, which is why I will become violent if anyone plays 'lick it' or similar tunes to me.
This also gives proviso for music not suiting your mood - the waveform of the music is a discord with your internal patterns, distorting and undermining your thoughts, causing you to wish to switch it off.
Finally, it explains why 'The Rip' feels like heroin might to me just now.
Saturday, 23 May 2009
Before the suns contemplated rising, before even the Army though it was time to be up & at 'em, and certainly before any rational human being's criteria for what constitutes morning had been fulfilled, I found myself stumbling away from the safety of our camp after Sergeant Feil, half of me dressed and the other half asleep.
The broken ground and unbroken chilly wind of the meandering hanging vale he forged down did little to aid my composure. Rehearsed explanations rebounded off my fuddled brain, the occasional phrase piercing a little into my awareness, and I grunted acknowledgement as the issue of bland wherewithals and by-your-leaves tapered off; "...Which is why I though it best to raise you as soon as I was able, Sahir."
I finally tugged my tunic, scarf and sword-belt into some form vaguely worthy of an officer, and as I looked about our path to gain my bearings my brain finally caught up with my ears. I nearly cried aloud as the cold dagger of despair stabbed into my belly.
If I had read his meaning, near impossible as it was not to, I had slept through events most terrible this night.
That dreadful dagger thrust deeper as Feil's pace slowed, and I found myself near-feverish as the moonlight illuminated dark shapes in the gloom amongst the rock and thorn some hundred yards ahead of us. Feil stood to one side respectfully, his bearded visage inscrutable in the half-light, and the weight of my worries dragged me downward. Closer, I was able to discern the high cockaded caps of a handful of Grist's Dragoons, on foot, gathered 'round a cluster of low shadows, and flanking them, a cluster of horses and a scatter of mounted troopers. The wind and valley walls brought mutterings and chucklings to my ears, which died away swiftly as my booted foot lost its battle with the odds and slipped on an outcrop, announcing my presence. Their identity was not lost on me, and the fact they had doubtless already informed His Lordship was in no way comforting, but it was that pitiful huddle of dark shapes they guarded with loaded fusils that dispelled the blissful disbelief of the early morning - and any hope I had left that there was some misunderstanding. For there, on the unwelcoming rocky floor of that forsaken valley, with hands and feet bound, lay half a dozen men; my men; deserters.
Full understanding ground my pace to a halt and, finding myself utterly incapable of trying to meet the pleading eyes I knew the captives must have fixed upon me, I turned my focus instead to their captives. Speaking slowly and enunciating clearly, I addressed the still-mounted dragoons and asked whom was in charge.
"That'd be me, begging your pardon, Sahir." One of the mounted troopers spurred gently towards me, stopping close enough for me to smell the saddle-sores, and, lifting his right leg out of the stirrup and over the pommel, smoothly twisted side-on in the saddle to show the stripes on his shoulder - The change of angle doing nothing to improve his countenance, I can tell you.
I hardly noticed at the time, such was my anxiety for the fates of my men and my future, but that Dragoon Sergeant must have been a true veteran, a born soldier, if you will; nobody of lesser skills could have spoke with such copious quantities of professionalism and insolence in equal measure.
"A good morning to you, Sahir,' he spoke, with a drawl verging on sarcasm and a grin audibly brimming with relish, 'I do hope you slept well. Alas, myself and my boys, now, we haven't slept a wink - have we lads?"
He swivelled that damnable smirk of his beatifically downhill, and was rewarded with a supportive chuckle from out of the gloom.
"Lucky for you, Sahir, that we were awake enough to spot these little piglets and round 'em up before they got too far; and lucky for us, too.' He shifted in his saddle, getting more comfortable, then leaned down toward me to deliver the punchline, 'The lads haven't seen a good pull in weeks!"
That sergeant had the measure of me, and no mistake, for even as he threw his head back to bellow a great laugh, counterpointed by a wail sent up from one of my poor damned lads, he still kept one horrid little eye on my face - to his satisfaction as an appalled expression gripped my features. The wail drew my glance onto the captives in time to see the butt of a dragoon's fusil fall like an axe-blow and cut the sound short.
more opinions welcome...
Monday, 23 February 2009
I am as flighty and terrified as a hummingbird on acid. My metabolism is slower, so it takes longer to leave my system. I am, however, free from a lot of baggage I once carried upon my head. I am enjoying this while at the same time I am scared. I am teetering on the brink of feeling OK. I appear to be writing in a self-absorbed stream of consciousness. I should go back on livejournal. Last night I met girls I used to fancy, and they bored me, it was petty but I had to exorcise teenage inadequacies. I'm probably going to make it worse today. I need to wash. I need to run. I might just retreat. I might not. Maybe you'll see me there.
Much more importantly, I had a fun concept, a Jamie-Hewletty vision from Slumdog, which I will fold into a future rhetorical enterprise. The world needs more fat men on scooters with sticks.
I need to write more. I need to get out more. I need a new job. All good things come to those who make the fucking effort.
Saturday, 21 February 2009
On display, we had four toddlers, four juniors, two preteens, no teenagers (that's probably for the best) about a dozen of my peers (all but me, malc and amy with kids) and a whole load of beloved ancients. We were regailed with an abbreviated transcript of Grandad's life, and I was able to look through some fascinating old photos, articles, and even see a genuine 100-year-old birth certificate.
Most fascinating, at least in this yet-more-abbreviated context, is the fact that in the past 24 years never once did I find out his name is not Alestair, but in fact George. Due to his father also being called George, he naturally was always referred to by his middle name; and the strange spelling comes from the registrar for Tighnabruaich in the 1909 era. Originally born George Alison Bennett, his parents returned to the registrar's office a few weeks later to request that he may also have the middle name of Alastair. To this irregularity the registrar agreed, but only on the condition that it was spelled in his preferred way - Alestair, instead of Alastair, so as to not have the Gaelic origin. Thus 100 years of confusion and patient explanation was born!
That's enough for now, more in the near-future.
Monday, 26 January 2009
So that's it folks. Don't change into a door that's likely to be exploded.
Top tip for the day...
Friday, 23 January 2009
Please anyone who reads this make comments on how to improve on this initial stab.
What a terrible day.
Flashes and screams in the gloom. Clouds of smoke, uplit with pretty little orange-grey flashes and thuds and screams. Shadows and tangled blurs and the desperate moans of the doomed and the dying all wrapped up in pretty little orange-grey flashes. I am crumpled, pinned, shellshocked and horrified, bleeding my life into the dirt as I look down through the half-light into hell.
And all I can think about is what a terrible birthday it’s turned out to be.
Up until a brief moment ago I might have been less certain. The year I’d had a wrathful contagion that had called for a vigorous course of bloodworms and solitary confinement had always been a strong contender for that title, and the time I’d broken a finger with Master Tunng then my favourite dormon shuffled gently on, I had made my displeasure emphatically known.
My cousin Merynka, arrogant, insular Merynka, once told me that a man re-lives his last day when he dies, every taste and itch, every action and choice, and in doing so his spirit learns from its mistakes.
What can be learned from such a rotten stinking horrible day I challenge anyone to know.
A feudal system with Napoleonic technology, but more importantly, the necessary politics. Pressure on nearby neighbours from an expanding force nearby. Similar to Peninsular campaign, but the Mark - realm of the Marquis, the homeland of the subject characters - is not a separate island, tempting as it may be, but a peninsular itself. There is a growing political pressure that leads to a dispatch of a campaign force. Need to differentiate from sharpe somehow; well for starters there's flying machines, airships and perfect plywood constructs.
needs more, then a start. The story will eventually lead off-world, and the forces of chaos will be personal and internalised in their evil, subtle in fact; and the Marquis has a small caché of lasguns and other holy relics. The relationship of Imperial creed to the world, and the relationship of the Imperium as a whole, is distant and mysterious. The Imperial monks resident at his capital will be decendants of the original missionaries, derided as crazy.
Thursday, 22 January 2009
One, reading Commando comics all day is actually quite depressing compared to jobhunting.
Two, Múm's album, Go Go Smear The Poison Ivy, is really really pretty.
Three, Another 40k story possibility - A series of adventures growing on a feudal world, with Napoleonic tech-level, where the Imperium is but a distant rumour, only having the most minimal diplomatic presence. So something similar to the 95th's Peninsular campaign, but with the occasional lasgun, and the gradual rise of something horrible in a rival empire. Perhaps an eventual Imperium arrival, maybe even a drafting of veterans? This has close links to the past ideas for the 'Spicers', which doubtless I will try and write an initial story about then post here.
Four, I have such a silly amount of music, it's actually silly.
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
I have delved, and I have investigated, and I have realised the following Science, based upon my own library:
As you can see, small books can be awesome, in fact the smallest are often considerably more awesome than a normal-sized peer.
Toward the middle of the graph, we can see a bottoming out in the awesomeness of books relative to size. This is not to say there aren't any awesome normal sized books, but rather, if a book is not awesome, it is probably normal-sized.
I have labelled the region where the dullards lie 'the Vale of Paperbacks' as you can see.
Finally, you can see a gradual increase in the awesomeness of books, through the mid-sized, to an appreciable peak.
My findings lead me to theorise that with a book large enough, we could prove that Gravity = Awesome. The only downside would be the resulting cults.
Tuesday, 20 January 2009
Obviously I'm no Guru, but from what I've seen, there is in the majority of relationships an issue of balance; the one who is more emotionally invested, the one with a stronger attachment or attraction to the other, is at a disadvantage; and that all people, male or female, when they realise they have the advantage, tend to use it. I've been on both ends, and I still regret my actions when I've had the advantage in the past.
And it sounds clinical and unemotional, but it seems to explain a lot of failed relationships; and although it's always worth giving it a try, good relationships can only really occur in equality. The equality might be in not giving a shit, or in being madly in love; but as long as each has as much power over the other it can work. Otherwise we end up with broken people. Like Dualla in BSG...
But then, surely relationships are the one realm where selfish actions are encouraged? The preserve of the individual over the many? The animal?
Saturday, 17 January 2009
Because the Internet. is Official.
In the course of the first Biggles collection of books, entitled 'The Camels are Coming', Biggles encounters a German agent flying a British aircraft, another Camel, in order to shoot down unsuspecting British pilots:
"The Camel closed up until it was flying beside him; the pilot smiling. Biggles showed his teeth in what he imagined to be an answering smile. 'You swine,' he breathed: 'you dirty, unutterable, murdering swine! I'm going to kill you if it's the last thing I do on earth.'"
Later, when his one of his best friends is shot in the back trying to beat a trap laid by an obsolescent German aircraft, and lands his Camel intact, dying in Biggles' arms, Biggles gets into his dead friend's machine, and flies it, bullet holes and blood, near-constantly for weeks in the hunt for that one aircraft in order to exact revenge.
Later, he is threatened with being taken off active duty after a deranged rant in the Mess in front of his superior officer; when questioned, two of his fellow flight-commanders and friends remark that to take him off duty would probably break him. They remark that he could drink a bottle of Scotch for breakfast and still fly sober.
On the day that the Amnesty is signed, but before news has reached the front, Biggles is shot down on an escort mission behind enemy lines, and beaten severely by German ground troops before an officer gives him the news. He doesn't cheer and say 'Jolly well done chaps, by jove'.
Would you like to know more?
My most recent concept is to take the overall premise of Went The Day Well?, that of a safe, inviting, instantly lovable place shattered by horror and that accompanying outrage, and transpose that into a 40K setting - it's not just the large, hi-tech planets that suffer from invasion, and there's not always a reasonable line of defence beyond basic Imperial civilians and their priest.
In general, I feel there are certain aspects of the Imperium that need greater exposure, as they are vital to the survival of the heroes that are so well-known and loved, and with good enough characters and story could be given a smidge of the same respect. These aspects are the Munitorum and ordinary civilians.
Important themes to be explored:-
- The contrast between the tranquility and Archers-esque timelessness of the rural settlement, and the sheer alien-ness of the (as-yet unselected) foe. Every aspect of the invaders must be jarring and unfamiliar, their acts, reasoning, movement, motives, and every sensory perception of them. There will be no sections from their perspective. Hints of 'Signs', without the wank.
- Also the physical weakness of the inhabitants against their fierce, small-world pride and indomitable will, a very British WW2 feel. Little old ladies!
Knowing my style, and my recent cinema visits, if this ever becomes a story it'll decend rapidly into Lovecraftian horror.