Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Space Opera

Adventure, exotic worlds and speculative technology: the space opera. Alien races and anomalous phenomena are common to the lore. The setting is usually the future but can just as easily be the past or present. There may be magic but such is typically tweaked and renamed. Regardless of its diverse particulars, the space opera is what it is and we recognize it immediately.

The fine line between science fiction and fantasy is the subjective notion of plausibility. The space opera is expected to be science fiction or fantasy in the guise thereof. Strange or advanced technology is a must. Should utter weirdness be the technology it must be explained “scientifically” even if such an explanation is sheer nonsense. The space opera must somehow be “futuristic” regardless of setting.

We are stirred by strangeness and thrilled by adventure. Like heroic fantasy, the space opera is all about being weird and adventurous. Realism and intensity make a story gritty and the space opera is no exception. Still, it is the unusual reality of the genre that gives it its distinct appeal.

The space opera is the epitome of all fiction. Science fiction, fantasy, adventure, horror, mystery, romance and war are all commonly associated with this one of every genre.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Dominatrix and Useless Henchwomen

The villainous dominatrix is ubiquitous in contemporary fiction. She is strong, assertive and outright dangerous. We love her for being aggressively sexy and darkly admirable. She is a sleek, comely predator and we are thrilled watching her hunt and kill.

The useless henchwoman is virtually unheard of. Even when glimpsed she is barely remembered. Do you even know who I am talking about? Probably not.

I am a writer and an artist. My useless henchwomen are girls of the common folk. They may be clones, robots or whatever but they are the proletariat of their faction: the cheap labor of villainy. Plentiful and individually insignificant they are pitifully expendable. As foot soldiers they are the sacrificial pawns of their elitist masters.

The villainous dominatrix is popular for obvious reasons. The useless henchwoman is not so obvious thus not so easily appreciated. She is the cannon-fodder of villainy as a damsel in distress. We resent her for being villainous yet pity her for being a helpless victim. Our mixed feelings conflict, making us uncomfortable. Many of us would rather not bother with her at all.

Most of the useless henchwoman's few admirers prefer that she is never slain. They are more comfortable limiting her to slapstick action. As for myself, I have no use for such nonsense. Our beloved character cannot equal her brother lest she prove herself in his stead. The useless henchwoman must be allowed her place in gritty action or she has no place in high adventure.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Chivalrous Sexism: Villains

The mainstream is uneasy when it comes to female villains, especially in adventure fiction. Originally, such a character was to be either a seductress or a hag or both. Currently, a female baddie is expected to be a dominatrix. She is not to be slain by heroes, especially if she is young and beautiful. If the fiction is gritty, she is to be a victim in her own right.

Male characters are allowed to fill any and every niche of villainy, including seduction. They are the bosses and underlings alike. Some of them are all brain and others all brawn. No act is too dastardly for them. They challenge heroes in dramatic struggles to the death.

Female characters are limited to a very narrow criteria, especially in the villainy of adventure fiction. Currently, they are not allowed to be cowardly in their evil. They must be assertive and of exceptional prowess. Heroines may slay them but heroes are to refrain from doing so. Should a female villain perish at the hands of a male protagonist, her death is to be a momentous tragedy, especially if she is young and beautiful.

Male villains run the entire gamut. Female villains are restricted. It is simply easier to neglect feminine villainy entirely. Woe unto us that such often occurs.

The unwritten rules are not always followed. The mainstream is uneasy when its lines are crossed but forgiving should the offence find favor.

I am a writer of adventure fiction. Many of my villains are female. Some of them are within the narrow perimeters of the mainstream. Others are not. Honestly, I discount the "rules" entirely. My girls are bosses and underlings alike. Some of them are all brain and others all brawn. No act is too dastardly for them. They challenge my heroes in dramatic struggles to the death.

Men and women are different, in both reality and in good fiction. That said, female characters should be allowed to strive and explore in every genre. They should have a place either high or low, good or evil. Let honesty, not policy decide their fate.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Strange Galaxy: Consolidated Diversity

Strange Galaxy is a "space opera" without spaceships, robots or flying cars. Its magic is actually called "magic" and is entirely plausible. Alien races are strange but not ridiculous. Guns and swords are equally modern but not the weapons of the same armies. Spatial shifting, not unreal velocities, is the means of interstellar travel.

Strange Galaxy is a world of many worlds uneasily shared by mutually alien races. Their sciences and philosophies are derived from mutually alien perspectives. Their architecture and instruments are the products of mutually alien natures. The reality of cause and effect is the same for them all, however. For their every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. "Survival of the fittest" determines which races thrive and prosper.

Strange Galaxy is crafted to be fantastic yet realistic. It is to be exotic yet familiar. It is to be gritty yet not cynical. Humanity is its dominant race yet humans are the weakest of its Great Races. Technology produces the deadliest weapons but magic provides the better defenses.

Strange Galaxy is a collective work of art, fiction and games. It is to be enjoyed. It is to be inspiring. It is not a particular story nor a specific cast of characters. The world of many worlds itself is the Strange Galaxy. Its races and their civilizations are the main characters. It is a consistent and clearly defined science fiction fantasy universe rich in particulars to choose from. Enjoy.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Ultimate Adventure

Evil is cold and darkness. It is heartless and insincere. Evil, of itself, cannot be interesting because it is quite literally a nothing.

Good is not a matter of right or wrong. It is not an issue of legal or illegal. Good, if it is actually good, is unassuming. It is sincerity and compassion.

Most people are neither good nor evil. Most people follow the strong and believe them right for being mighty. Even the rebellious and unruly yield to the strongest among them.

Heroes and villains are uncommon... yet they are the impetus of any high adventure. Their struggle is the action and drama. Everyone else follows their lead.

Good against evil fought by heroes against villains is the only adventure fiction that can inspire. Not only is such a story thrilling because of its action and dramatic because of its antagonistic character dynamic but it is meaningful because its theme is ultimately spiritual. So long as the hero ultimately triumphs (even if defeated) compassion and sincerity are glorified.

I love adventure fiction but only when it is a life and death struggle of good against evil fought by people. Deadly action is intense. Good against evil is relevant. Drama can only be an interaction of personalities. Intensity, relevance and drama: the makings of the perfect adventure story. Any tale lacking even one of these qualities is not a particularly good adventure story.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Human Equation: One and Only One

Multiculturalism is sheer nonsense. The very idea that cracks in a foundation make it stronger is utterly ridiculous. A society is teetering unless founded upon one culture.

Chauvinism is cowardly and malevolent. Only the fearful hide in a crowd. Only the dastardly find solace in a mob. Genuine pride in one's people is an appreciation of common virtues and a celebration of actual accomplishments. The sincere do not loathe others to love themselves.

Individuals rule the world. Whether they inspire or exploit, only those of personal gumption set the agenda. The aimless masses follow the sway of individuals mindlessly. Ironic that to reject individualism is to embrace the selfish agendas of oligarchs and tyrants.

The optimum human condition is one culture of one people in which the individual is free to thrive and prosper. All must be for one and one for all. Anything short of this loving perfection is the strife and sorrow our species has always endured.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Sentries and Throngs

I am an avid connoisseur of fiction's villainous cannon-fodder. Because my interest is obscure I shall elaborate: My favorite characters are the anonymous, plentiful, expendable, armed and uniformed foot soldiers of villainy. They are the readily available victims of heroes. They are slain and we enjoy them being slain.

There are two basic themes for the killing of anonymous and expendable antagonists: "silencing the sentry" and "hero versus throngs." There are other common means of fatal misfortune, such as "killed for failure" or "sacrificed for a test" but they do not set the standard.

"Silencing the sentry" is a slowly paced action theme that stirs anticipation. The guards are armed (or otherwise supposedly dangerous) yet easily destroyed without a fight. The helplessness of the victim and the utter dominance of the assailant are essential. The very appeal of the theme is the predator-prey relationship made ironic in that the prey supposes itself predator.

An alarm is sounded and the "hero versus throngs" begins. Droves of cannon-fodder converge on a protagonist only to be slaughtered. More victims keep coming. This theme typically follows the "silencing the sentry" as a climax. The stark irony maintains its appeal but frantically: the one or few should be helpless yet the supposedly overwhelming many prove useless.

Heroes are exceptional. The anonymous many are common. The classic "silencing the sentry" and "hero versus throngs" are all about excellence versus mediocrity. It is right that we should cheer the hero. It is amusing to witness the inglorious fate of the anonymous many. I love the villainous cannon-fodder for making my heroes look so good. The fictional deaths of the expendable many are not in vain.