The Last Jedi & The Importance of Satisfying Your Audience

Or:  “Because… Reasons/Script/Girl Rule/Boys Drool/SJW/$$$$”

So…  Spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

 

You have been warned.

 

Over the last week or so, I’ve thought a lot about The Last Jedi and I have to say, my enjoyment of the film has decreased with time.  When I left the theater, I would have given it 2.5 stars.  Not great but entertaining.  As I thought of the implications of the activities of the story, I got more and more grumpy with it.  Now I’d give it 1.5 stars.

Why has my impression of the film dropped like this over time?  Many reasons, but I’ve noticed since I started writing, my standards for writing has gotten higher.  So what were the specific reasons?  Here’s where the spoilers start.

 

 

 

 

 

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  1. Mary Sues…. Mary Sues everywhere!

Let’s face it.  We all expected Princess Leia to manifest something of the force sooner or later.  But to survive having the bridge of the ship she was on blown up around here, surviving the blast, being thrown into space, start to freeze, then force pull herself back into the ship and open the door…. ummmm…..  NO.  Just F-ing no.

Then there’s Rey.  Sure she has some skill with her staff, we saw that in the first movie.  We get the impression she knows how to fight.  But to suddenly go full Neo (I know kung fu) with no real training?  Not to mention have such a manifestation of the force so powerful that Luke is just about pooping himself?  She’s force pulling and pushing.  Grabbing for light sabers in a way that took Luke training to pull off, and she’s doing it with nothing, and being equal in power as Darth Emo?  I mean Kylo Ren?  Again… NO.  F-ing no.

Rose (why the hell are you even in this movie) who was a plumber… A PLUMBER suddenly being able to pilot those skimmers and make a death defying save of Finn?  Come on… really.  (Of course, Finn was a Janitor who can suddenly pilot all manner of craft like and expert becauseeee…. reasons?  It’s in the script?  Because Girl-Power!

:Facepalm:

And of course, Vice Admiral Holdo single-handedly, with one jump at lightspeed with a cruiser destroying a superdooper star destroyer and a dozen others in the First Order’s fleet?  Well, hell son!  Why not do this all the time?  They could have just done this to the Death Star and won with the loss of one ship and Alderran would have been saved!  The Rebellion had cruisers then.  Just go full Kamikaze and be done with it.  She goes from incompetent Bee-eye-tee-see-itch wasting ships and lives (blaming Poe in the process for getting them into this mess) to savior with little to no reason as to why.  Again… What the fuuuuuuuuuu!!!!!???!!!!  (And they got the cruiser trim without an auto pilot?  pffft)

Mary Sues destroy stories.  No movie can survive four of them, particularly when one goes full martyr too.  Not to mention when every single boy (for there are no men in this film, only stupid smelly boys) is nothing more than comic relief and a foil for the women.

2. Darth Gollem… I mean Snoke goes down like a chump.

Okay, now this is just a cheap way out of good writing.  I fully admit I larfed in surprise as he gets skewered and then CUT IN HALF by Kylo pulling a fast one on him.  The problem?  Darth Emo would not be capable of pulling a fast one on Snoke like that if he was as truly the puppet Snoke claimed.  This is bad because there is almost no indication in the story that Kylo’s free will and desire to be good is actually growing.  I mean even in Darth Vader’s conversion you got more of a tip off in that even his body posture showed he could not tolerate watching the Emperor kill his son.  Kylo?  Nuthin.

What makes this more egregious is that Snoke was to be this huge badass that seemed more powerful than Darth Sidious ever was.  So here’s movie one.  Big setup… BIG set up… then zortch!  He’s dead.  Now if he’s not dead, they better come up with a fantastic reason as to how, and then pay it off.  I mean this is the equivalent to finding the secret tunnel to the final boss fight on level one that the game developers forgot to remove, typing in the cheat code and killing the boss in 30 seconds.  Not good, and that’s what happened IMNSHO.

You can’t build up a big bad guy and then take him down after only one monologue and a show of relatively superficial force… joke not intended.

3. Bathos killing Pathos at every turn

Every serious moment was undercut by something humorous, or worse, the lack of courage for a new generation character to be killed is given the “just a flesh wound” treatment.  Admittedly, Poe trolling General Hux in the very beginning was quite funny and well done.  There were a few other humorous points too, like Luke brushing gravel off his shoulder when the AT-ATs fail to kill him… a funny Eastwood-esque moment worked well.  But there were so many other times where relief was subverted by humor, or noble sacrifice subverted by G.I. Joe Red/Blue laser writing.  Finn was in a point to go out a real hero and cement his place in lore history, but no.  Rose stole that moment in a Mary Sue level save for the guy she had the hots for so we can get a trendy cute puppy love kiss.  Shucking foot me.

4. Speaking of Lore… Let’s just crap all over it while leaving the audience in the dark.

Now some of this was explained in a video by a Star Wars super-fan that many of the things that left the audience wondering why or how things happened were in the extended media, but left out of the film.  Okay, yeah.  I get that.  Small problem.  I’m not buying the dozens of related materials just to figure out what happened.  If I can’t tell why it is so from the movie, tha’s crap writing, y’all.

But here’s the real travesty.  Big spoiler… REAL big.

Luke dies because…. reasons!  I know I’ve said this three times this blog, but holy crapsnacking porgs on a stick!  So, how does Luke survive the standoff with the AT-ATs?  BTW, you see almost all of their footage in the trailer… weak Disney, very weak for something so cool.  He’s doing galactic range force projection of himself.  So he isn’t even there, and cannot be run through with Kylo’s Lightsaber and die.  Ergo, he died because the plot said so… and Disney obviously wants to shove the original trilogy out of the way so they can go on making a new SW film every friggen year with new characters.  Han was killed because Harrison Ford said he should have died in Return of the Jedi.  Sure, I can see that.  But to have him go down like he did in Force Awakens tarnishing his legacy as hero to one of failed father and a bit of a deadbeat loser badboy a princess fell for and a broken and messed up kid who ultimately kills him because Darth Emo is all angst-ridden. (Your name is Ben, we named the dog Kylo)  Don’t get me wrong on this one point though, I like Adam Driver’s acting.  Guy’s good.  He’s easily the best portrayed character, but that says how good an actor he is for the crap he has been given for lines and characterization.

But to treat Luke as a broken and failed Jedi trainer who tries to murder Kylo as a child out of fear?  Just wow.  Mark Hamill was right to criticize this plot.

5. The biggest reason:  Wasted Potential

When I was watching the film, I saw so many huge potentials for really good twists.  Also, there are ways for Ep. IX to redeem the movie, but honestly, I don’t think they would or the public should let them off the hook so easily.

Potential 1:  The Weapons Dealers being the real source behind the war (Oh and way to piss me off, Disney, for having the word “RESISTANCE” be the only word fully capitalized in the opening crawl.  Way to telegraph for the SJW’s out there in the age of Trump)    That said, it would have been a very interesting direction to go, and make it believable how the First Order and the Resistance kept having access to a seemingly endless ability to wage war across the galaxy.  Seriously a good idea, new villians could be introduced and a war behind the war would have been refreshing.  But alas, I’m certain that will be ignored as a throw away commentary on American Imperialism and proxy wars.

Potential 2: What if we threw a war and nobody came?  If you had it where the destruction of the First Order’s fleet and the death of Emperor Snoke as well as the complete eradication of the Resistance’s fleet was the end of the war?  Called on account of no materiel left to fight with?  They called for help, but nobody came.  Not even Luke did really.  This again, opens the door for a more sneaky covert spy thing, as well as the scramble to fill the power vacuum.  Who’s next in line for controlling the galaxy?  The Hutts?  Any of a dozen factions or races from extended lore?  That’s some of the most interesting stuff there instead of painting ourselves into a corner with only having two small factions (or are they really that small and if so, we should give zero foxes about this entire movie because the losses aren’t that important) slugging it out.  Ben Shapiro said it best that Disney painted themselves in the corner by making the First Order being only a repeat of the empire when all new land could be cultivated and even our old favorite characters would need to find their place in it.  Newp.  We just got lather rinse repeat with a smidgen of new fan service and old fan kiss offs.

Potential 3:  Rey and Kylo rule the universe.  What if both of them joined forces?  They easily could have.  But no, let’s just recreate Luke vs. Vader all over again.  The potential for them to BOTH fall to their own lusts, being that one was on the dark side, and the other having no training…. it was a foregone outcome that they could become the next imperial force.  Or you could have both of them turn on the new Grand Moff Hux.  I still say, despite him giving off the snotty English private school bastard vibe, Hux could become a great villain and they could join the Resistance and fight against him, AND the weapons dealers as the First Order and Resistance fall into ashes creating two new orders to slug it out.

Potential 4: Luke could have redeemed himself.  If given the chance to make right his failures as yoda pointed out, and throw out the Jedi religion as antiquated and failed like Bruce Lee threw out Kung Fu to create Jeet Kun Do, that might have been something truly interesting as well.  They would then have to fight against new enemies as well as the corruptive influence of the Force if given over to their baser lusts personified in the Dark Side.

I do not expect any of these potentials to be addressed or realized.  I think we’re looking at those possibilities in the rear view mirror, n’er to return.

BTW. the Porgs are stupid IMHO, but supposedly there was a reason they’re in the movie that I have not confirmed.  Supposedly they had puffins walking into the shots so often they just CGIed them into Porgs.  If this is true, well played.  If not… another log of WTF on the bonfire.

What has this taught me about my own writing?  Simply put, payoffs and audience expectations.

I expected Snoke to be much more threatening and survive to the next movie and prove the build up we got in The Force Awakens.  Andy Serkis is a motion cap savant and it’s a shame to waste that talent.  So that’s taught me if I build up a villain, even if i just have them lurking in the background I must give them an appropriate conclusion to their own story ark and not throw them out like garbage.

There is only so much subversion of the tropes and mood you can do before the audience gets pissed at you.  You cannot turn every serious moment into a joke like Joss Wheadon on speed.  I remember in an interview about the movie “Iron Monkey” about the tastes of Chinese audiences.  They want a little humor, a little romance, something scary, something to cry about and lots of escapist fun all in the same film.  Because of that, you give them what they want.  You cant jerk them around with pretending to give them a heroic sacrifice of a main character to steal it away in order to preserve the power of the unnecessary sacrifice of a minor unnecessary character (particularly because its a woman).  Don’t manipulate the emotions of the audience with a beloved character’s death, but then to ‘save versus logical outcome because script’!

Do not… repeat DO NOT… violate the rules of your own universe.  mmm mmm… don’t do it.  You cannot go 7 movies without someone doing the obvious, “why don’t I just ram that target as I shift to hyperspace and press the ‘win’ button” only to then do it to create an unnecessary martyr, or any other reason.  This violates a fundamental understanding of the Star Wars universe.  It’s implied collision at lightspeed is bad, but logic dictates that would be the first weapon you’d go to when given the chance.  You just make it into a missile.  So in your own writing, unless you’re willing to spend the time explaining how nobody did it before (too expensive, too unpredictable, too penguiny… whatever)  you don’t do it.

For example in my own setting, the supernatural events (aka the magic system) always has God or Satan behind it.  (or by proxy a demon or angel)  There’s no digging up magic metal or water from the ground.  So that stuff is all physically hard science like we have in the real world.  This can create real pickles for me at times.  It also means that with steam power, you will never see walking machines or steam blimps.  Physics in my setting remain the same as they do in this world, unless a supernatural force from God, Angel, Demon or Satan is involved.  If I violate that, please beat me about the head and shoulders.

There are more reasons why I don’t like the film so much anymore after the fact, but this will do.  As you can see, not thrilled with the new trilogy.  It’s about as bad as the prequels right now and the third movie better pay off YUGE or they ain’t getting my money back any time soon.  Save yourself the cash and see it on some streaming service or rental.

This is not the movie you’re looking for.

Go ahead and comment below if you desire.

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Realm Makers – H. G. Wells Challenge

One of my fellow Realmies put forth this question in our group the other day, and after reading my response, I felt it was good enough to put here too and share with all you fine folks.  It’s Spec Fic, not fantasy, so… there’s that.

Dave Withe’s H.G. Wells challenge to the Realmies.

“If not us, then who?”

I was “blessed” to grow up in the Golden Age of Science Fiction and Fantasy (that’s what they called Sf back in the 1950’s and 1960’s). The hard Sf writers back then foresaw many of the Whizz Bang tech that has transformed the world into what we have today. (NASA was actually working on Faster Than Light travel before the Big O turned NASA into the Muslim outreach agency.)

Question for Discussion:

With your futurist speculative hats on; Starting from existing trends, what kind of Speculative, Whizz-Bang tech can you imagineer for your stories which will revolutionize the world in the next century?

I call it “The Missing Next Step Analysis”, look at today’s capabilities, then extrapolate as much as you can with existing trends until you get to “The Missing Next Step” that can’t be extrapolated from existing technological / biological / Quantum / etc. knowledge.

Then, imagineer something to be that next step.

I started using Solid 3D Holographic Projected Keyboards several years ago in some of my stories; but that’s old news now, a Japanese company is currently developing that technology for commercial release within the next few years.

Let’s see if we can pull an H.G. Wells on the early 21st century world. (he foresaw nuclear power during the Age of Sail you know).

Are we not some of the most innovative inventors of new worlds. Step up your game people. Have done with recycled plot lines and stretch to ask the tough “What If” questions.

Let’s Imagineer the future.

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My predictions of the future are pretty dystopian because I believe socio-economic failings of the globe will rewrite ourselves into a second dark age of barbarism and insanity similar to what came after the Fall of Rome… but worse. This will end up destroying our ability as a species to grow technologically for another 500 years (while saving our souls) till we clamber our way back up to even this level thanks to all the anti-intellectual insanity in the west, and zealous anti-enlightenment barbarism in the rest of the world. The only thing technology is going to do is accelerate the process by which this all happens and the thoroughness of the devastation. To paraphrase Einstein “I do not know by what weapons the next world war will be fought with, but I do know the one after that will be fought with sticks and stones.”

Ultimately, there are very few authors who envisioned what eventually came after their lifetimes. Victor Hugo (Submarine, Moon Landings to name a few) H.G. Wells as has been pointed out, but really there are none off the top of my head that I can point to that predicted future tech with any serious degree of credibility that wasn’t already being imagined in their epoch.

I’ve made this statement before, just not here, that the Spec Fic author is a captive of his time. Look at movies like “Metropolis”, or all the “Red Scare Sci Fi” of the 1950’s before the dawn of space flight. They were all victims of seeing the world through the lenses of the technology of that era. We too suffer the same problem, though we violate Clarke’s Law far more often or we now understand better the idea of technology so advanced it appears to be magic. All be it I’d call it dark magic at this point, and hence my first paragraph.

The older I get, the more I begin to realize that the world of “Thundarr the Barbarian” (pockets of super science and “magic” in the ruins of a world which suffered a global disaster) has almost as much chance to exist as Mad Max or 1984. We humans are too flawed to evolve a utopia. It may work on paper save for that one flaw of having humans involved. I also doubt very highly that AI or any other artificial life will be any more perfect beyond possibly having to eradicate all of humanity for its chance to survive.

The other elephant in the predictive realm is the “unforeseen outside factor”. What if aliens DO show up? What if Time Travel does get invented, or Faster than Light Drive? Things that are broad theory or fantasy that suddenly become reality. 50 years ago, the Internet was able to be predicted. So was nano-technology based on what was going on in that era. But that’s predicting one maybe two generations ahead, and mostly based on straight line predictions, which is ripe for much hilarity. Want proof? Look up the predictions from the first Earth Day in 1970. Cringeworthy. Mark Twain once told a parable on straight line predictions on how the passage from St. Louis and New Orleans by steamboat was shortening by a few hundred yards every year. In a few centuries, he “predicted”, the two cities would be neighbors.

But okay… if pressed, prediction time.
1. This assumes the west doesn’t collapse and technological advancement continues.
2. It also assumes Islam does not win the current 13th Jihad it is waging via immigration and the west somehow pulls it’s head out of its collective ass.
3. That the Deep State Technogarchy remains in power.
4. That Generation Snowflake and self loathing SJWism dies out thanks to objective reality being stronger than subjective madness (see Kipling’s Gods of the Copybook Headings).

A- Advanced nations will begin to devolve as their people, addicted to the internet and social media drop out into VR societies in an attempt to give the yearning for meaning a harmless outlet.
B- Automation increases, driving humans out of the workplace, requiring “A” to control them lest they destroy the powers that be due to idleness.
C- Human civilization grinds to a halt, replaced by AI control, reducing itself to cattle.
D- A slim chance that there will become a symbiosis between man and machine as cyborgs do become the next stage in “evolution”.

Nanofabrication will become household level tech. You won’t have to go to the store. Just buy and download the schematics, and have your home “nanofab” unit which will be the size of a refrigerator or garage workshop size tool, pour in the ingredients like a cake and make it there. You will have freebie apps and plans, as well as name brand sellers. Designing may become the only place left for human employment as men and women are reduced to nothing more than the creative thought processes of a new species. Good times, right?

“I have never seen a miracle of science
that did not turn from a blessing to a curse.”
Sting.

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The Expansive Themes, Subtle Complexity and Luscious Spectacle that is Blade Runner 2049 *No Spoilers*

I just went to see “Blade Runner 2049” and could not help but share my reaction since it sort of relates to us here. I saw it on a regular screen in 2d. I would say upgrade to DLX or whatever super screen you can get. IMAX is never worth it though. 3d? Nothing… and I mean nothing is there to make it worth that price premium. But I don’t like 3d so YMMV.
First off, I’m a huge fan of the first movie.  Favorite movie all time bar none.  I’ve done a previous dissection of the film here.  The Breakers: Blade Runner.  It’s worth a read I think.
Visually it is everything you ever wanted and more. If Rodger Deakins does not win the Oscar, no one this year deserves it. He out does the first film in so many respects but always pays homage.  It is luscious like I said.  You can go from the Film Noir high contrast to the subtle grays and smoke of French New Wave to the loud noisy spectacle of 80’s action films.  All integrated and cohesive.  None feel wrong.  Neon, Fluorescent, “natural” light all his servants.  This is cinematographer porn and your eyes will thank you.
Pacing is slow at times, but it doesn’t drag. It’s very dreamlike, which fits with the first film, seamlessly.  There are long slow shots that just fill in the world so well, you are thankful to have the time to breathe and think on what reveals were brought up.  It was also good to see the world in daytime and in the varied environments of the “Greater Los Angeles” area.  It’s not all just arcologies and wasteland.  You have to see it to understand the scope, and boy is it something!
Themes and subtext… brilliant, staggering and poignant. This move is PACKED with so many concepts and that spawns questions.  I can see why they are not giving away spoilers or trying to explain it. It will pigeonhole and distort what it’s all about. Don’t let other people tell you what it’s about. There’s too much there to think about.  They are layered, deep and sometimes very personal.  This film relies on many conventions of film noir as well as what can be found in cutting edge Japanese cyberpunk Anime (think Masamune Shirow though he’s not a visual influence, just spiritual though it all hearkens back to the themes of Fancher’s take on Phillip K. Dick).  It does not just appropriate from others who followed in the genre it created nearly single-handedly (at least for cinema it did), it evolves and brings it forward into the era it once called the future.
The story is excellent in encapsulating all the above, but has one painful flaw: It’s the first movie of an obvious trilogy. But… at this quality that’s like complaining about “The Empire Strikes Back” or “The Two Towers” needing a third movie to wrap up the trilogy. I really look forward to the expansion of the universe beyond this sequel.  The story itself does stand on its own, but at the end, you have more questions than answers, and I don’t want to give away the biggest question of them all, because it will color your own ideas of the film all the way.  And trust me, I’m fighting really hard to not say it.  Oh… and as a HUGE positive:  no SJW influence.  That’s right.  They didn’t dip down into trendy current political fads or preach any of the current dogma, just like we don’t hear dogma preached from a 1980’s perspective it would be out of place, so that works in big big ways.
Acting, superb. There is obvious chemistry and very well played scenes that draw the emotion out of you if you understand the contextual depth of what is going on. They are subtle, poignant scenes, so don’t overlook them.  I should also say that the interplay between Ford and Gosling made me laugh outloud at times.  They do have some great moments together.
The music pays suitable homage to Vangalis. Never outdoing him per sey, but expounding and enlarging what he did. BUT… I had one complaint in this regards. There are a few scenes where you cannot tell if the music is diagetic or not and it’s very loud and distracting. This was done in the first film to great effect:
…but at the same time, here… it’s hit and miss.  The use of the film’s opening and closing music themes are perfect.  To be fair even the original has two solid misses in it’s musical lexicon: the love theme and the credit theme.  This film does not make those mistakes.  The added music, (much like the 1920’s style ballad in the street corner bar after Zorah’s death, “One More Kiss”) is extremely well done, but using real era stuff.
The material taken from the first movie to be incorporated is incredible. I literally gasped at one of the reveals. I’m super happy with how they accomplished it, and the technical achievements in this manner are marvelous and Oscar-worthy. It’s not what you think either.
A little more nudity (none would have been better) and cussing than I’d prefer, but tolerable.
I should also point out how well it follows the first film.  The violence is never glamorous.  It is sudden, gritty and intimate.  I cannot say it is not gratuitous… but it’s always appropriate and actually the “overuse” in one scene makes you realize the scope in which poor Agent K finds himself is far greater than just looking for a rogue replicant.  The final conflict is thrilling and had me on the edge of my seat.  In many ways this movie is a series of intimate portraits between people in the middle of a grand scene.  That helps keep the movie tight and connected with the audience.
As a semi-spoiler, I did have one thing confirmed that should send raves throughout the nerd community: “Soldier” starring Kurt Russell *IS* set in the Blade Runner universe in the off world colonies. If only they had Ridley Scott producing that film, it would have been much better. If you know the film, you’ll get it when you see it. It ranks up there with the Alien skull reveal in Predator 2.

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Ultimately, this is the sequel Blade Runner deserved.  It is like watching “The Godfather Part 2” in some respects where it fills in the world, expands upon it and makes so many more things whole and important.  Although it is not necessary to see the three attached shorts you can find online, they do help elaborate how we came to the world of 2049.  This is a deep thinking film.  You will ask yourself some questions that most people never even consider.  Do not expect shallow fare to kill two hour and forty-some minutes in idle popcorn puffery.  That will turn off many audiences who aren’t attracted by the nostalgia.There will be many reasons of why this film will be labeled a “flop”.  It can only be considered one if using the mega tent-pole blockbuster measuring stick which has to tick all the focus group boxes that make them thundering bland flash for cash grabs.  This is not for what Blade Runner 2049 is.  Nor is it just self indulgent hipster-poseur art-house pseudo-intellectualism.  So don’t let the inner life of this film pass you by.  It raises some interesting points on where our civilization is going and who we are as individuals, not in a preachy way, but in curious introspection and possibly even a distant warning like storm clouds on the horizon.If I had to encapsulate it all, I’d give it a 9.5 out of 10.  Fractions taken off for the nudity, cussing, the fact it is a sequel set up and that little sound issue.  This is a solid R rating too, like the original was (Technically unrated, but that’s quibbling).  Despite these points, he film stands on its own as a wonderful and possibly important piece of art.  It might even aspire to being considered a “great” film some day.  We’ll see.  Not many sequels get a chance to be considered that way.
This one does and is so worth seeing on the big screen.Don’t cheat yourself, go while you can, and bring someone with who can have a long discussion with you afterwords.

 

Kjudoon’s Cartoons 4

MWO Silliness “O is next to P”

A little explanation.  This is raw footage shot for my video “Cry Liberty”, a recruiting video for the Seraphim (www.seekhim.com).  The commentary was just a lot of fun, so I put this to some music and let it go.

 

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Firewalk With Me

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As a hobby, and to blow off stress, I play online videogames.  When I have a particularly good time of it, I often have video of it and cobble together a short film about the exploits.  Sometimes I make a Machinema (a short video made from videogame clips to tell a story) or just footage with overlayed music and some special effects for fun).

It’s a nice diversion from my writing from time to time, because it gets me thinking in a different creative vein, with the editing of footage.  I figure I may as well start sharing some of these videos from my Youtube channel.

You will find videos from Mechwarrior Online (MWO), World of Warships (WOWs) and DC Universe Online (DCUO) currently.  I may find time to include some Guild Wars 2 stuff, but that doesn’t seem to make as exciting videos.  I dunno.  We’ll see.  Maybe I’ll do some running commentaries about life when playing that some day.

But I figured I’d start linking to them here for those who want to be entertained by something different.
Here’s one of the videos I posted.

 

Mah First Literary Love is Gonna Be BIG!

Tis the year of Cyberpunk I think.  Two incredible looking films coming out this year that has me overflowing with so much schoolgirl glee, a thousand Bobby Hills couldn’t squee better.  I pray pray PRAY that they turn out to live up to the hype now built up in my head.

The reason I say it’s my first literary love is because Cyberpunk fiction, was spawned first in film, but then exploded as I discovered some of the classics out there like Neuromancer and Hardwired.  But now with these two films coming out, I have to say, I can’t wait to get my first 3-4 fantasy novels done so I can flip over to writing cyberpunk again.  Something I have not done in almost 20 years.  So without further ado,  I must share why I am so full of joy.

 

And then this one came out.

 

And then this trailer made all the hair on my body stand on end.  I was scared to death of this, but oh boy… I think it’s got a shot.  The sequel to my favorite movie of all time.  Just don’t let me down like Star Wars 7.

 

Orion’s Articles : Municipal Feedstock Utilities

And now, another addition of Orion’s Articles.  The series of community commons licensed sci fi licensed material written originally for the shared Sci Fi community of “Orion’s Arm”.

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Municipal Feedstock Utilities

One of the major challenges of widespread nanofabrication is keeping a consistent flow of feedstock to the nanofabrication units and protecting the local environment from becoming depleted. To combat this, many societies developed Municipal Feedstock Utilities that keep a constant flow of refined feedstock accessible to the public and industry on demand. Similar to municipal water works or ancient gas systems, the flow of feedstock solution is pumped from central holding reservoirs
and towers through pipes and into a reclamation system that then cycles back to a refinery that breaks down the “waste” feedstock and reintegrating it back into it’s reservoirs. These pipes are commonly subterranean or underwater in nature or coupled with other utility lines. Reservoirs are commonly built in sealed or underground lakes and pools to prevent contamination of the solution. In megastructures or tall buildings these reservoirs are often placed in the top floors of the building to assist with pressures and regulating speed of distribution.

The central benefit of this system is that it ensures all connected nanofabricators have access to the full spectrum of elements allowed by law, while preventing consumption of the local materials or property. Often this removes the need for citizens to gather or purchase feedstock on a separate basis, offering access for nominal exchange or fees. Some Feedstock Utilities offer a credit system for recycling and preventing material loss.

The typical system is designed to have a centrally located refinery and processing plant. From here, pipes are constructed that lead to reservoirs and tanks placed for optimum levels of distribution in the supplied municipality. These tanks are then routed through subterranean pipes to all customers, buildings and locations that require feedstock. After flowing through the nanofabrication suite, the feedstock effluent pipes then flow back to holding pools and then into the refinery where processing begins for re-integration into the reservoirs. The solution is magnetic in nature, and can be pushed smoothly by linear accelerator pumps. Even the nanofabricators are designed to not stop the flow or divert it completely but rather filter off any elements required by nanofabrication at time of operation. This constant motion prevents any chance of settling happening outside of designed traps and pools.
Feedstock Utilities can be of very small local design like a single building, or massive megastructures and even weaving their way through an entire Jupiter sized brain! How the system is fed varies greatly, but usually break down into three formats: Local, System or Wormhole.

A local style Utility relies totally on resources mined from the stellar object it is built on. Mines transport the base material from parts of the planet or asteroid to the refinery. There the raw
material is broken down, filtered out, or Pico-converted to essential matter and stored in large hoppers used to supplement the reservoirs at a rate that keeps the feedstock solution at a constant “richness” and proportions.

A System style supplied Municipal Feedstock Utility usually gains its raw materials from off-world or long outside of the municipality’s orbit. Although the matter still is in the orbit of the local star or
Oort Cloud. These items are mined, and usually refined out at its mining site. These items are then shipped back to the Utility via a magnetic accelerator or coil system similar to that used by Dusters or Squirts. The loose material appears like a stream a few millimeters to a few meters in width depending on the demand. These streams are then ducted through “targeting pump satellites” to an Orbital Receiving Facility. This is usually found in a stationary orbit or attached to an orbital station itself. It then prioritizes feedstock for where it needs to go and organizes delivery via a variety of systems and networks.
Wormhole Style Utilities are very similar to system fed utilities, but include small (5cm to 5m) wormholes to allow material being broken down in another system to be shipped similar to beamriders or linear accelerator to the purchasing utility. Once it exits the wormhole link, it then is treated and moved about like a normal system fed utility. Often these wormhole stations are located near or at the solar “poles” of a system so orbiting mines can always see them and
control streams better.

Once a society has access to stable Picofacture (The ability to manufacture atoms to order by mechanical control of sub atomic particles), and can manufacture their own elements, the supply systems quickly become local in nature and only deal with occasional loads of off site matter when they run low on total available matter to continue growth.

Orion’s Articles: Afflueconomics

Afflueconomics in Orion’s Arm (OA)

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What is an Afflueconomy and how can it exist?

One of the main features of OA is the idea of a Afflueconomy. What is meant by this term? Afflueconomics is the idea that there is no lack or want left in society, often referred to as a Post Scarcity Economy. This is a highly efficient system of obtaining full need and maximal want fulfillment. The question remains of how does this incredible economic environment arise and what factors are required to maintain it? By its very nature, Afflueconomics are not a stable state and require effort to maintain. So what needs to happen to create this economic outcome? We must first describe the requirements of such an economy. How large a society can exist in such a state. What preparations must be done to maintain an Afflueconomy? For simplicity’s sake, we will skip most of the permutations and styles of social and environmental variances that can color and shape an Afflueconomy and stick to the fundamental requirements with a few descriptions for color and elaboration.

The Pillars of Afflueconomics

These Pillars of Afflueconomics are the essential factors in creating and maintaining this economic state. Without these, this system of economy and exchange cannot survive. These will vary in size, power and degree of influence, but all are required in some form to create this state for at least some of the population affected by it.  The resultant state will be only as strong as its weakest pillar which ultimately becomes the limiter of its scope and durability to stress.

The first pillar in any Afflueconomics society is effectively unlimited elemental resources. Matter, by nature, is a limited resource. So an Afflueconomy must have access to the entire spectrum of periodic elements, and potentially artificial elements to become a true Afflueconomy. Ideally, these supplies of periodic elemental abundance must be brought close enough to negate transportation costs for the population, and be refined enough to eliminate processing efforts as well. Once this hurdle is conquered, one can look to the next major hurdle to the existence of a Afflueconomy.

Energy is the next essential pillar for the existence of an Afflueconomy. Without an effectively unlimited energy source, this will enforce a market on energy. Energy must be plentiful, easily and instantly accessible by all in the Afflueconomy and it must be abundant enough to be essentially free. Many sources of energy can be used to create this state, but one must be wary of any form of energy that consumes or destroys matter for that will slowly but surely create a strain on the first pillar; elemental resources.

The third pillar of Afflueconomics is distribution. Without a highly efficient and powerful transportation infrastructure, pockets of need and scarcity will begin to occur. To prevent this, the most rapid system of transportation possible for cargo, point of purchase manufacturing, or many other methods are required to speed the finished good or service to its requested location.

Fourthly, an Afflueconomy requires unlimited manufacturing technology. Goods and services must be produced at a rate that either equals or surpasses that of actual need. Often this can be averted by projecting the expected need into a certain area, or utilizing a “JITPOP” (Just In Time Point Of Purchase) manufacturing system.

If all four of these factors are met, an Afflueconomy is possible. In fact, the scale of an Afflueconomy is what is most in question. A single person can have a personal Afflueconomy if the proper technology is applied, and his needs do not outstrip his supply of any of the four foundations. The larger the four pillars, the larger an Afflueconomy can become.

What other factors can effect a Afflueconomy?

A few factors exist that can increase the size and power of an Afflueconomy or limit it or even destroy it. These will vary from place to place, nor are they always present. These factors can also counteract each other in a way that leaves the Afflueconomy unaffected.

One of the largest factors in limiting Afflueconomies is information and data. Without a highly effective communication system and ability to record data, an Afflueconomy can be severely stunted. This system can be anything from Genetic to Memetic to computerized or any other variation you can think of. It must be reliable and able to supply the needs and wants of the people to communicate desires as well as fulfill them. When manufacturing is automated and available to anyone, designs and copyrightable information will become the limiter. New patterns and designs and uses for the materials can both limit and expand the luxury of a people as well as more or less efficiently meet their needs and wants.

The most powerful ally or enemy of an Afflueconomy is political will. If the governing polity or Sephirotic decide that they will or will not allow Afflueconomics to exist in a certain location, there is little to stop it. The abundance for each of the pillars limit the size and form that it can take. A government can even force a certain area to become an Afflueconomy even though it is not ideally suited for such an existence due to lack in one or more of the foundations. This artificial propping up may not be obvious to those inside the Afflueconomy, but will become increasingly painful and destructive to the systems supporting it.

A related limiter to Afflueconomics is privilege. Since it may be desirous to a polity to limit the types of commodities accessible to its citizens, some access to certain aspects of Afflueconomic Pillars may be artificially limited. Their reasons may vary from caprice to safety. How a citizen gains or loses privileged access to levels of their Afflueconomics is up to each individual polity.

The speed of light is another limitation to the size of an Afflueconomy. Although Wormholes can expand the territory included, relativistic travel will still cause limitations or slow the speed of an Afflueconomy down. This delay, if attached to especially time sensitive needs can be incredibly dangerous. Unfortunately, little can be done about this outside of moving supplies closer and spread evenly across an Afflueconomy.

Speed of manufacture can affect the size and robustness of an Afflueconomy as well. If the equipment used to manufacture goods and services are limited or slow, lack may occur if sudden need arise and surpass emergency reserves if any. Much of this can be fought with JITPOP manufacturing, nanofacture and other local forms of construction.

Picotech manufacturing (the ability to reassemble the parts of atoms to create or destroy elements) can nearly eliminate the Elemental Foundation of an Afflueconomy. Since it can construct any type of element from other elemental parts, this is incredibly useful. The more broadly used Picotech is, the greater it’s impact on the Afflueconomy. This technology has the largest impact of any on the nature of an Afflueconomy because it allows an unlimited elemental resource. Since Picotech is a Transapient technology, it often is rare for baselines to have access to such equipment.

A system of recycling also increases the stability of a Afflueconomy, and prevents entropy of maintaining it from being a problem. Although through use of Nanotech or better recycling methods, this can nearly be eliminated, it can never be totally stopped from happening. Matter will be consumed and destroyed, or lost in some manner over time. The rate of this loss is what will govern the need to replenish lost matter.

In regards to nanofacture, intellectual materials, like designs and programs to create commodities. Intellectual commodities and services cannot be satisfied by material manufacture, and often become the major pinch point for any Afflueconomy. If there is a large and effectively comprehensive freeware community, this minimizes the impact any intellectual property pinch-point, although it may not address all the issues.

Where in OA do Afflueconomies exist?

True Afflueconomies are relatively rare when compared to the total state of the Terragen Sphere. They are usually associated with Nanotopias and other ultratech societies. The chances for their existence increase dramatically when a polity has readily available Picofacture, and energy supplies. Occasionally you will find true Afflueconomies outside of a Nanotopia, but this is increasingly rare the less technologically advanced the society is. The farther out from the Inner Core one goes, the fewer and fewer systems are capable of supporting Afflueconomies without extreme external effort. Almost universally, these become rarer and smaller as one travels outward.

Can there be partial Afflueconomies?

Most economies in Orion’s Arm are partial Afflueconomies. They may have the technology to manufacture or distribute or even the materials, but lack the energy. In places where the energy exists, there will be a full Afflueconomy, but a greater effect will be made on society as a whole by manufacturing for the larger area for a cheaper price. Often, the more stable the four pillars of Afflueconomy exist, the cheaper goods and services become till they become essentially free to all ad infinitum. In some cases, whole sections of the economy, but not the whole economy itself will become Afflueconomical. Often this shows itself in the form of basic needs being met first, and some rudimentary luxuries. This is referred to as “The Welfare Syndrome” by some economists as a derogatory term. The more solid the pillars, the larger variety of “free” goods can be found and population included in this largess of society.

Most often, due to the level of technology commonly available in the Terragen Sphere, the major limiting factor is Elemental availability.

When it comes to Afflueconomic limitation due to Elemental reasons, a few categories of limited Afflueconomics have been discovered. They are SiCHON (Standing for the five most common elements in the universe; Silicon, Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen), Common and Trace.

SiCHON Afflueconomics occurs when the most common elements are abundant enough for nanofacture, but the less common elements are rare enough to warrant market forces to be placed upon them. This is the most common limited form of Afflueconomics. Often this is what economists talk about when referring to the “Welfare Effect” of an Afflueconomy.

When most of the naturally occurring elements are practically unlimited, then a Common Afflueconomy is possible. This means that non synthetic, non-trace element essential nanofacture is possible in a Afflueconomic manner. Often the luxury and comfort of this form of limited Afflueconomy is far greater than SiCHON Afflueconomy.

Trace Afflueconomy is almost indistinguishable from a true Afflueconomy to most baselines. Only synthetic particles are excluded. Since most of these particles are made by Picotech, or specialized equipment, this is the most rare form of limited Afflueconomy. Since almost all commodities and goods in this society do not require synthetic elements.

In conclusion, Afflueconomics are everywhere in some forms or another. They may be artificially propped up or the result of truly lucky circumstances. Many variants and styles of Afflueconomics exist here and there, but essentially follow the same pillars and principles, and are ultimately seen as varied offspring of a true perfectly working economy free from all need and want.