7.31.2019

Godfrey's "5 Worst Speculative Futures to Live in"

Several months ago, I stumbled across the little-known Christian Bale film, Equilibrium. It inspired me to do up another list (the first was ridiculous space ships, which has proved to be one of my more popular "musings"), this time focussing on the worst futures to live in. There are a lot of dystopian futures depicted in film out there, and I haven't seen all of them, so there may well be some worse than what I list. But just for fun, I thought I'd throw down the five futures I'd least like to live in:

5. Megacity One - Dredd -After a nuclear war ravaged the earth, people have crowded into mega-cities. Mega City One stretches from Boston to Washington, D.C., an "unbroken, concrete landscape" with 800 million people crammed into it. You can imagine how crummy of a place to live it is already, but throw in the Judges who maintain law and order by summary executions, you've got a rather oppressive place to live in. Still and all, it's not ranked higher on the list because one can still live a relatively normal life here if he minds his own business. It's lot a lot worse than many tough metropolises in our world, although you can't get out of it because of the atomic destruction outside its boundary walls.


4. The Terminator Franchise - Another post-nuclear apocalypse future, although this gets ranked worse than Dredd's world because there's been a total breakdown in society and there is no civilization to speak of. Just small cells of "the Resistance" and other random groups who've banded together for survival. The machines that started the war constantly hunt the surviving humans, making this a pretty hellish future. But, the reason I don't rank it worse than #4 is at least the humans have for the most part banded together to fight the machines, and they are slowly winning that effort thanks to John Connor. It's bleak, but there's plenty to still live for here.


3.San Angeles - Demolition Man - Some might think it odd to have a "utopian" future in this list, let alone ranked #3. The 2032 amaglamation of Los Angeles, San Diego and Santa Barbara is a utopia of sorts -- there is no crime, no violence, but there's also no freedom and no humanity. It's illegal for people to even touch each other. The police have cool uniforms (jodhpurs!), but this society would be absolutely intolerable to exist in with all the sappy-happy-clappy nonsense and nannystatism to the maximum.  I'd rather live in one of the nuclear wastelands above where one can actually be human and have real human relationships.


2. Airstrip One/Oceania - Nineteen Eighty-Four -  The communist hell-hole that is the world in Nineteen Eighty-Four would definitely be one of the worst places imaginable to live. As annoying as San Angeles, above, would be, one would still live in material comfort and you get fined for swearing rather than going to Room 101. In 1984 everyone lives in poverty, is under constant surveillance by the Party (and their children, who are encouraged to denounce parents unfaithful to the Party), constantly bombarded by propaganda, and totally unfree. It doesn't get much worse than this, but it's still not #1 on the list because you are at least still human here even if it's only within your mind.


1. Libria - Equilibrium -This is the world of Nineteen Eighty-Four taken to the next level. It's got all the bad stuff listed above (perhaps slightly better creature comforts) but made even worse by the fact that ALL artwork is outlawed and gets burned Fahrenheit 451-style and everyone is forced to take regular doses of emotion-suppressing drugs. Making everyone in society little more than drones living just for the sake of survival. To me, it is an even more depressing prospect than the Nineteen Eighty-Four world and therefore takes #1 on my list.


7.26.2019

ALL THE GODS OF THE GENTILES, Part 1

By Godfrey Blackwell

Private David Nowak peered through his magnoculars at the human forms a kilometre downhill from him. “Shackleton, I have eyes-on the target. I make seven ... eight bo’s and a four curves viz.”

“Buildings?” asked his fire-team partner, Maeng, three feet to his right lying prone among the ferns.

David moved his focus from the figures wandering slowly about the colony’s perimeter to the town itself. It was a typical startup colony: all pre-fab white igloo-like hab modules with a few long half-cylinders interspersed for services and storage. Everything appeared intact, just as it had in the orbital photos. He zoomed-in on the massive, hockey-rink-sized communications dish sticking up from the centre of the cluster of buildings. No damage was apparent to that either.

“Everything looks normal.”

“Negative, this place is not normal,” Corporal Ogumbembi, invisible behind retro-reflective optical camouflage a klick to the north said, his voice dull and slightly distorted over the comm.

“Eighty-six the chatter,” the recon platoon leader, Captain Ho, ordered from his position in the U.N.N. Shackleton orbiting above. “Keep panning.”

A live feed relayed everything from the six reconnaissance specialists’ helmets up to the orbiting ship that had sent them down. David dutifully moved his field of view slowly over the entire complex to give the non-expendable officers and UNICA staff a good view.

“Everything looks peaceful and the colonists appear uninjured, but ...”

“But what? You seeing something we aren’t, Nowak? Over.”

But there isn’t supposed to be anyone here, he thought. UNICA had lost contact with the colony on Ladon, named Marianne, only a few months after the first settlers reported touch-down. After seven years, the Interplanetary Colonial Authority had finally allowed bids for a new colony. After two years in cryo-sleep at the new colonists arrived to find Marianne still inhabited. But that wasn’t what bothered David.

“Well, they’re just standing around staring into space.” He panned slowly back and forth with the magnoculars. “They’re not really doing anything. It’s not right ... ”

“Keep your opinions to yourself, Novak,” Captain Ho growled. “Hold position and keep eyes on.”

David bit his lip and kept quiet. After twenty minutes no new orders had been sent from the orbiting ship. He wondered what was taking so long. No doubt there was a debate going on between the new colony’s C.E.O. and Mr. Louwen, the UNICA delegate. Although Ladon didn’t have as much land as old earth or even Mars, there would be plenty of room for two colonies. All the same there would be legal, political, and policy concerns. He was glad Mr. Louwen was in charge of such decisions and not him. He panned with the magnoculars around the complex twice more.

“No way,” Ogumbembi said.

“What?” David hissed.

“Our position’s compromised,” Ogumbembi’s fireteam partner, Carter, called over the comm..

David could hear Ogumbembi chomping at the omnipresent wad of nic-gum in his cheek. “Negative, negative. They cannot see us.”

“I said cut the chatter,” Captain Ho barked. “Carter, there’s no indication you’re compromised. Stay frosty people.”

The retro-reflective material woven into the fabric of their uniforms and webgear was covered in tiny light-reflective beads, and microscopic cameras to all directions ‘projected’ onto them their surroundings. It was impossible they’d been spotted. David knew where the others were and couldn’t see them. Yet he put the magnoculars to his eyes again; though the Shackleton could see what Carter did, he couldn’t.

“Call it out, J.C.” David said.

“Reference, far left hab,” she said. David got it within his vision. “Ten over, two down.”

He keyed that into the ‘noculars and shifted his view as prompted by the glowing green arrows that flashed on the view. There he found the colonists Carter was talking about: two curves, standing completely still. One was facing towards Ogumbembi and Carter’s position The other, a blonde, seemed to stare directly at David. He zoomed in; her eyes seemed to bore right into his. Self-consciously, he looked away. Feeling foolish, he looked again, and she was still looking ‘at’ him as before. He stared into those eyes for several moments. They were a light blue, almost like the sky on earth. He zoomed out a little to get both of the observers in his view. Both were wearing the standard, close-fitting, functional attire common to space travel.

He let out a a long, slow breath. Ogumbembi chomped his gum noisily and snickered. David bit his tongue, reminding himself that Captain Ho and the UNICA bureaus were listening.


#


They were ordered to stay the night in observation of the town. The two curves had stood staring at them for two hours before finally turning and walking slowly back amidst the habs along with the rest of the colonists. As darkness descended, not a single light was kindled in the whole complex and all was cloaked in blackness.

The ‘bots were unpacked and set up and put on sentry mode at each of the three positions their team of six had taken up and the human soldiers bedded-down in the moss-blanketed hollows between massive tree roots. David found sleep elusive, however, and was still awake when the gas giant Typhon -- which Ladon orbited -- rose above the horizon, bathing the landscape in a subdued reddish-brown.

Not a sound came from the colony. The only thing he could hear was the soft hiss of Maeng’s rebreather and the occasional barely-perceptible whir of their ‘bot’s gun mount. Maeng suddenly rolled over and he grabbed David’s thigh. David resisted the reflex to flinch and give Maeng -- or the night watch listening to their radio traffic above -- the entertainment of a reaction.

“What you still doing up, cutie-pie?” Maeng asked.

“Did you notice how quiet it is here?” David said. “Not even any birds or animals.”

“Wasn’t this place terraformed?”

“No way, these trees are huge -- thousands of years old.”

Maeng shrugged, released David’s leg and rolled over.


#


They spent all the next morning watching the colonists mill about before an order to move came: they were ordered to go to admin status and make contact with the settlers. Sarin, the team medic, had scanned and sampled the atmosphere constantly without detecting anything possibly dangerous. The Shackleton’s powerful scanners likewise deemed the place safe and they were ordered to remove their helmets and respirators for their meeting with the colonists. David couldn’t help but wonder if they were being used as guinea pigs.

He walked down the hill with Maeng behind. With their camo gear de-activated, he could see Ogumbembi and Carter descending to his left, with Sarin and Farro off to the right. Once out of the trees they moved through waist-high grass. There were about thirty settlers visible -- briefing said that just over a hundred had been on the colony ship but who knew how many were here now? When the soldiers had closed to within a hundred metres, the colonists showed the first real life, darting about as if scared but unsure where to go. It put David in mind of feral cats.

A group of them finally broke and ran back in between the buildings, but the remainder started running around in confusion, save a clump of a half dozen who seemed frozen. David headed for these. They got more skittish as he approached. He called out, holding his arms apart with rifle pointed at the ground in what he hoped was a reassuring fashion. “UNICA marines ... we’re here to help.”

“Yeah, we come in peace, bo’s,” Ogumbembi said, grinning like an idiot and chomping away.

“Knock it off,” Captain Ho said. “Nowak, get in close and try to make personal contact with one of the braver ones.”

David wasn’t sure the group standing still were brave, the way they stared wide-eyed at the approaching soldiers. Too scared to run was more like it. The blonde curve he’d seen staring at him through the magnoculars was in the group. His heart beating a little harder and his mouth going suddenly dry, he headed towards her. She was even more beautiful close up, seen with his own eyes. She wasn’t, perhaps, the pop definition of beauty, being taller and fairer than the norm on adverts. But she was gorgeous to his eye.

“Don’t be afraid.” he said.

“We can see in your mind that you want to take us.” She said

“Hey, no one said anything about that,” he said. ‘Hostile takeovers’ weren’t unknown, but he hoped that was true.

“We can see your thoughts.” She seemed to be relaxing a bit now that she was talking. Her ‘friend’ from the day before stood nearby.

David stopped. Could they really read his mind? He was suddenly ashamed for comparing her to advert models and not thinking of her as a person.

“Look, I didn’t mean it like that,” he said.

Both the blonde and the brunette grew frightened and started to back away. I’m not a bad guy! he thought, but could see he was only making them more scared. Holy Mary, Conceived without Original Sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee. Where did that come from? Then he remembered, a long time ago, Fr. Vinogradov had taught him that to help in times to resist temptation. He repeated the prayer in his head.

They stopped cringing. “Uh, I’m Nowak. David ... ah, Private ... UNICA marines.”

She only stared blankly back at him.

“David is my first name. What’s yours?” He winced at the awkwardness of that. They’d somehow heard his deepest, darkest thoughts, and how he was trying to make small talk.

Maeng approached. They did not appear to fear him, yet as She moved away from the wall, she came towards David. Holy Mary ...

“We can’t hear you anymore, where did you go?” She said.

“Where’s the colony administrator?” Maeng asked.

She just turned and walked away.


#


The hours that followed were frustrating and puzzling. Conversation with the colonists was impossible; they did not respond to verbal communication, making only vague or embarrassing comments on some inner thought of the marine nearest them. They seemed innocent somehow, growing timid and cringing whenever those thoughts were vulgar or turned to the craft of soldiery. Finally, the marines gave up trying to interact with the colonists and just wandered the complex themselves, filming everything for the decision-makers up in the Shackleton. Sarin moved about scanning them with her bio scanner, with her fire-team partner Ferro acting as scribe and videographer. Ogumbembi and Carter were the most unnerved and volunteered to set-up camp, choosing the foot of the hill well outside the colony proper. David and Maeng searched for any non-medical sign that might explain the colonists’ behaviour. Everything seemed not only intact, but new, as if the buildings had been abandoned shortly after construction. Through windows they saw framed photos on desks, clothes in closets, and blankets on beds, but it all seemed untouched as in an advertisement.

After three hours of searching, Maeng insisted they actually go inside a hab. David felt uneasy at the suggestion, so Maeng went in and David removed his pack and sat on it near the door. While waiting he broke-down his rifle to clean it. Sarin sat down next to him and, resting her elbows on her knees, pondered the scrolling data and images on her tablet between her feet.

“Find anything?” David asked.

“Nothing useful,” she said, sighing. “Although I’m having some problems with the bio scanners; they’re giving me lots of dead spots. But what I can see looks completely normal.”

“What’s wrong with the scanners?”

“I don’t know,” Sarin shook her head. “They’re always finicky. I’d like to get one of these colonists up to the Shackleton for a full scan in the med lab.”

“Don’t they have one here?”

“Nope. Haven’t been able to find any medical equipment of any kind; but I haven’t looked everywhere yet.”

“The locals aren’t too helpful, I guess.”

Sarin sighed and got up. “I’m going to go do some more scans.”

David pulled out some headphones and plugged them into his iPhone. He selected some of his classical music to accompany his weapon-cleaning. It always helped him relax and think of higher things. With mind-readers about, he didn’t particularly want the images that his death metal collection conjured. And it was just as well, for by the time he’d extracted and oiled the bolt, She was approaching him, moving like a graceful long-legged gazelle.

“Hello,” he said, hitting pause and draping the headphones around his neck. “Uh ... how are you?”

“You have pleasant emotions.”

David felt his face heat. “Um, yes, I guess so. Just listening to some good music ... ah, some classical music?”

She just looked at him with that vacant stare all the colonists had, almost as if she were blind, or that She were only a holo-projection being controlled from elsewhere. He stood and took the phones from around his neck.

“It’s pretty old stuff, but, well, I guess it’s ‘classic’ for a reason.”

She didn’t react or move.

“Here, listen to this,” David put the headphones on Her head and thumbed the screen on his phone. “This is a beautiful one here, fitting for ... ah, well, it’s Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus ...”

She suddenly screamed and threw herself backwards, tearing the headphones from the jack. She landed on her back and the phone automatically switched to ‘ambient’ mode, filling the air with the beautiful voices of a boy choir. She shreiked and started to thrash about on the ground. Other colonists nearby started wailing and convulsing around him.

“Hey, turn that off, bo’!” Maeng shouted, emerging from the hab, then stopping short. “What the--?”

David fumbled with the controls, trying to turn it off, but accidentally switched to a Bach harpsichord concerto, then to some of his industrial rock collection. When the electronic instruments and pounding base took over, the colonists went silent. She sat up, then stood, and approached. Others did also, until a ring of colonists had formed around David, all looking intently at his phone. Then the music stopped; he’d been holding down the power button on the side and after its five-second delay, had finally deactivated the device.

The colonists dispersed, although She stayed standing right in front of David, uncomfortably close. He pocketed the phone.

CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE TO PART TWO

IF YOU'VE ENJOYED THIS STORY SO FAR, YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN:

CHIMERA, by Godfrey Blackwell -  Mackenzie Frazer, a scarred veteran of war in Iran, has returned home to a partly collapsed America and thinks he has left the horrors of battle behind. But one night when returning home he encounters something that has followed the veterans home ...

TIME LIZARD, by Albert Blackwell - Imperial Space Marine Tim is attacked by a strange creature but in the experience gains the ability to pause time which he must use to the utmost as he and his comrades face off against the diabolical Science Time.

7.24.2019

Six Months of Swords and Space

The reinvigorated Swords and Space has been running for just over six months now, after being re-launched on January 15th of this year. We've brought you a piece of artwork every Monday and a new piece of fiction every Friday and we hope you've enjoyed the content. The greatest way you can show your appreciation for our work is to spread the word and share our posts with your friends and family.

For those who have joined us more recently, I wanted to point out some of the works that we are most proud of:

GODFREY ran the two-part short story, CHIMERA (part 1; part 2) in March, a tale of a scarred war veteran who returns home and encounters a nightmare creature he thought was only to be found in the war zones he left. If "steam punk" is more up our alley, he also greatly enjoyed writing BRIGHTEST AFRICA about a group of British adventurers who must prevent a nuclear holocaust -- possibly perpetrated by Marians!

ALBERT has been running two serialized comic series at the same time, the first, a science fiction adventure featuring Tim, a space marine who suffers a terrible wound that gives him the ability to pause time, aptly entitled TIME LIZARD. The second is a high fantasy tale, PROWESS AND LOYALTY.

ANNA has given us two stories featuring the half-inch-tall "Season Folk" and the girl Rose who visits them in the short stories SMALL OF ALL and GARFIELD'S WAR.

BARBARA has delighted viewers with several pieces of beautiful artwork, and is currently running a clever and very funny series about a genetically modified dog with a human brain in D.N.A.

JAMES has proven himself to be the miniatures painter of the group and has turned out a number of very impressive works for a boy his age, including a brief "how to" post demonstrating his technique. Highlights include his recent PzKpfw III, and Katyusha Rocket Battery from the 15mm tabletop game Flames of War, and his Primaris Space Marines from Warhammer 40,000.

WHAT'S IN STORE FOR THE FUTURE?

We have no intention of letting up and there is lots of more content in the works:

  • Godfrey is currently editing a novella-length fantasy series set in the Kingdom of Brythonland, a realm wracked by civil war in the wake of the sudden unexpected death of its king.
  • Albert has several more chapters of his two comics, as well as a fantasy story entitled GREEN TOOTH'S CONQUEST set in his fantasy world Airrroth. He also has detailed session reports from our Genesys sessions to type up!
  • Anna has a couple short stories on the go and is working on a novella-length work set in the SILVER DESERT.
  • Barbara has many more (frequently hilarious) episodes of D.N.A. coming soon.
  • While James continued to be a voracious painter and modeller, so one can expect to see more works from him and the rest of the family, plus perhaps some long-hinted at but not yet delivered "battle reports" as we all work on Warhammer Fantasy armies.
We hope you will continue to visit. Please leave comments to let us know what your favourite stories have been and what you would like to see more of!

7.19.2019

7.17.2019

Boardgame Review: Genesys



Review by Godfrey Blackwell

Name: Genesys
Game Designer: Sam Stewart
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)
Summary: A wonderful "generic" role-playing game system with a unique "narrative dice" mechanic that allows for hugely entertaining, cinematic adventures in any setting a gaming group may choose.

Strictly speaking, role-playing games aren't usually boardgames, and Genesys certainly isn't since a board is definitely not necessary. Some groups may choose to use one for simulating combat scenarios, but the core rules certainly contemplate no boards, just old-fashioned "pen and paper" (and dice) to play the game. That said, I'm reviewing this as a board games since that's the closest thing that fits ... and I must say that Fantasy Flight Games has knocked another one out of the park with this offering.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I played a fair bit of role-playing games in my youth and found them a lot of fun. I decided to try out Genesys since, as a"generic" system that was not tied to any particular setting, I could use it to make a game that was enjoyable for all of my children. I certainly made the right choice as the Genesys rule system excels and being truly generic and compatable for any setting one might imagine. For our first "campaign" (series of linked adventures) I created my own space opera-ish setting heavily inspired by the Alien movies (but without the eponymous and terrifying creatures).  The rules have worked really well for everything we need to do from astrogation, to firefights, to deciphering strange ancient glyphs

The games I found, and especially the combat, really feel like fight scenes from movies -- realistic, but not too realistic, with mechanics like "narrative points" for the players to spend at key moments to ensure that their "big darn heroes" don't meet an untimely end. The game is still very intense though and have had players on the edges of their seats. There's also been a fair bit of hilarity.

This is all acheived by the unique "narrative dice" system, that seemed a bit strange at first, but once we started using them I think they're fantastic. Most role playing game systems use various numbered dice from six-sided to 20-sided. Genesys uses these same shapes of dice but instead of numbers have symbols to denote "success" or "failure" as well as bonus "advantages" and their opposits, "threats" (we tend to call them disadvantages). You can read more about the mechanics here: https://www.fantasyflightgames.com/en/products/genesys/

For the purposes of this review, suffice it to say that it really makes the game creative and dynamic. Instead of having to pore over tables or have charts for this-and-that weapon in this-and-that setting, the game master just assigns a difficulty (and a corresponding set of difficult dice) and the player roles against it with ability and proficiency dice. Plus there are boost and setback dice that can be added for extra flavour -- so for example a rifle shot at long range would be a certain difficulty, but if its raining the GM can add a setback dice to reflect this.

Just as an example, something that I had occur a number of times in sessions is where a player would actually role more failure than success results, meaning they had not succeeded in their task, BUT, they rolled three or more "advantages" so as game master (with assistance of the players) we had to interpret how they could fail to do what they intended but with a whole pile of positive benefits. Usually we had the character succeeding but in an unexpected way (for example, a character trying to climb a cliff failed and therefore stumbled but in doing so, they swung on their rope to a spot that ended up being better and made the ascent faster than they would have on their initial course).

As such, I give the system a full 5/5 stars and we had an immense amount of fun with our first adventure which lasted about five or six sessions, with the Blackwell children begging dad every Saturday if we could play another session of Genesys. Albert took notes and we hope to have some session reports up soon to demonstrate the sort of fun we had!

7.12.2019

THE FOOLISH NOBLE AND WISE BEGGAR

By Anna Blackwell (June 2019, age 11)

Once there lived a proud noble and a simple beggar who both lived in the LAND OF CHOICES. Now I bet you can easily find out why it’s called that because you had to make a lot of choices -- if you made the right choice you might get good luck.

Now the noble I was talking about was not a good chooser, she always said “ o bother “ then called on her helper Perrier who apparently would just say “dear me again!" and would pick the easiest. The weather nymphs, unicorns and the path fairies were very upset about this wanted to punish her.

On the other hand the beggar was very careful about it, she would think over it and then chose the one that she thought was right.

Now one day the King who reigned over the land was inviting everyone to his birthday party. Everyone had to bring there best dishes. This wasn’t to hard at all for the beggar, who had been saving money, and who was going to bring a turnip salad, freshly made bacon and her best homemade lemon cupcakes.The noble was going to bring Honey glazed ham, Greek salad and chocolate cake with blueberry icing .

This gave the fairies, unicorns and nymphs an idea: they were going to get the noble in trouble . It came to happen that the beggar and noble were traveling on the same path to the castle, after traveling for some time they came to a fork in the road. The beggar decided to follow the road on the right

“Fool,“ said the noble “that road is too long and It looks like it will rain on that side.‘’

But the beggar replied, “yes it will take longer but at least I’ll now I am going the right way.“

The noble sneered and went her way. But in fact it didn't rain. The weather nymphs were pleased with the beggar and made the sun appear. The fairies were glad she picked the right path so they made no trouble come her way and the unicorns came and let her ride them because they were proud of her good choice .

But the noble didn’t have any good luck at all. She ran into bad weather , lost her way once and got very tired .The beggar got to the castle at the right time while the noble arrived late . After that the noble learned her lesson and was much more careful in her choices the next time. As for the Beggar she lived happily in her cottage for the rest of her life .

THE END

7.10.2019

Movie Review: Apollo 18 (2011)


Title: Appollo 18
Director: Gonzalo López-Gallego
Producer: Dimension Films
Starring: Warren Christie, Lloyd Owen, Ryan Robbins
Excellence: 3 stars (out of 5)
Summary in a Sentence: A solid entry into the sci-fi/horror genre featuring a classified Apollo mission to the moon as told through decades-old "leaked footage".

This is yet another film that's been dealt with fairly harshly by the critics (25% at Rotten Tomatoes), but which I quite enjoyed. By no means a masterpiece, it was a more than satisfying experience. Many critics didn't like the use of the "Blair Witch Project-style found footage" format but I thought that it was very effective for this particular piece. The plot synopsis from the official webpage states:

Officially, Apollo 17, launched December 17th, 1972 was the last manned mission to the moon. But a year later, in December of 1973, two American astronauts were sent on a secret mission to the moon funded by the US Department of Defense. What you are about to see is the actual footage which the astronauts captured on that mission. While NASA denies its authenticity, others say it's the real reason we've never gone back to the moon. 

It was not an intense, edge-of-your-seat sort of thriller. Perhaps since I don't see movies very often (I watch them about as often as I review them, i.e. once per month) I have not been so inured to bursts of adrenaline and was able to appreciate the more measured and realistic pace. The last ten minutes were appropriately suspenseful, but I thought that the real treasure of this film was the feeling of desolation and being utterly alone and cut-off that was given. I thought that the scene where they come upon the abandoned Soviet moon lander was especially chilling.

The realistic portrayal of a moon mission added to the enjoyment for me. As one who was born too late to live through the space race, but who studied it avidly as a youngster, I thought this aspect was particularly well-done. It wasn't a high-tech adventure and it was very easy to suspend disbelief. I thought that the actors all gave very credible performances. The eerily beautiful moonscape was well-done; the special effects overall made it all seem real -- although I'm really not sure what point a BluRay/HD version of this film serves, given that it is all purposely in 1960s quality.

7.03.2019

Antiheroes (and why Godfrey doesn't like them)

The antihero -- defined by Wikipedia as a protagonist whose character is at least in some regards conspicuously contrary to that of the archetypal hero -- seems to be all the rage these days. In fact, it almost seems mandatory in modern fiction that the protagonists fit in with this (rather broad) definition in some way.

Of course, there are antiheroes and there are antiheroes. It is good fiction in many ways to have characters who are flawed, because all human beings are flawed. The ones who have a some obvious flaws but are otherwise decent, sane individuals who perform heroic acts (characters like Han Solo, Conan the Barbarian from the short stories, Mal Reynolds, and Winston Smith from 1984), I have no problem with -- other than that they can be tricky to write. Well, I find heroes in general a bit tricky because one must be careful not to over idealize them while still keeping them heroic.

But then there are the antiheroes who have little or no redeeming features and are near psychopaths. These I do not like one bit. I stopped reading the first of the Chronicles of Thomas CovenantLord Foul's Bane, very early in the novel because I just could NOT root for a guy who's willing to outrage a totally innocent girl who was only trying to help him, just because he felt like it. I was unable to finish reading the last two books of Game of Thrones because, as far as I could tell, there were no protagonists such was the "antihero" extremes of every character left alive by that point. Everyone in that series who outlived A Storm of Swords was concerned only for himself and thought nothing of murdering/betraying their own family. Then there's the fact that serial killer Hannibal Lector is considered the protagonist in a series of novels/films! This is the stuff that "Sophia's Favourite" calls "soul-rotting uninspiring garbage".

It's really a shame that these latter have gained so much traction -- which is likely a testament to the power that critics still have over the average reader. But there's definitely an upside: the archetypical hero is so rare these days, that one might be able to pull-off writing one in such a way that it gets praised as "original" or "out of the ordinary".
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