I Used to Play Xaositects

Random thoughts. No scramblespeak, though, be at ease.
  • So I was noticing how historical fiction, or works set in the off-brand equivalent of a historical era, like "medieval" fantasy, are always out of date. We've done a lot of reevaluating of historiography in the last twenty or thirty years; not only the medieval stuff I've mentioned, but also, for instance, we now know everyone Joe McCarthy accused was, in fact, a stinking Stalinist spy, and that all those atrocities the allies accused the Germans of in World War I weren't just propaganda, they really happened. And yet, in historical fiction, not only did the Dark Ages not end till the Renaissance (when they actually resumed), but McCarthy was a paranoid schizophrenic and Germans were holy, blameless creatures, goaded into a war by mean ol' France. Plus, you know, Belgium was asking to be raped, dressing like that in that neighborhood.

    Maybe our historical fiction should take account of books written after 1956? Just saying.

  • On that note, you know how there's this perennial suspicion that fantasy (and science fiction) races are allegories of specific real-world ethnic groups? TVTropes calls it SpaceJews. Yeah, well, the assumptions about medieval society that go into a lot of fantasy, especially "edgy" fantasy like Dragon Age and George R. R. Martin, are like if every one of those SpaceJews subsisted on the blood of human (i.e. Christian) children.

    See, one of the main impetuses behind keeping the canards about the Middle Ages alive, in the face of all the research debunking them, is that much of modern society, especially in the Anglosphere, is rabidly anti-Catholic. And so it serves their purposes to paint the era dominated by the Catholic Church as a Dark Age, rather than as the age of absolutely unprecedented progress and enlightenment it objectively was. It's important to pretend Catholicism was responsible for an era of darkness and misery, to justify one's own penchant to steal Catholics' land, mass-murder them, and rape their women, all of which was official English policy until Ireland got its independence. As in, in the 1920s. America's not much better; anti-clerical governments in Mexico did much the same thing, largely with the help of US funding, again, through the 20s.

    Just for the record, Catholics suffered 5 Holocausts in the 20th Century alone—no literally, 30 million Catholics were murdered in that century, purely for their religion. And yet a casual bigotry that dwarfs Weimar Germany's off-hand anti-Semitism is still perfectly socially accepted in many quarters.

  • On a lighter note, I was writing a battle scene in my fantasy book (which does take into account the new research on the Middle Ages), and the guy fends off a dragon's tail by slashing at it as it tries to wrap around him. And as I'm writing it, I realize: it's like a grapple attempt provoking an attack of opportunity! I really like 3rd Edition's combat rules.

  • You might think, as I once thought, that there are some things you can't make a moe character out of. But that was before I found this manga called "Plana-chan". Plana, you see, is a planarian-human hybrid: she's a flatworm. And she's adorable, with giant starry eyes and planarian-shaped hair, and skinny little stick-limbs.

    There's gotta be something in the water in Japan.

  • Speaking of moe, is Azumanga Daioh moe in genre, or does it just generate it as a side-effect? 'Cause it certainly doesn't feel like it was setting out for moe, it just sorta happened.

    Similarly, does Yotsuba&! count as moe? Or is it just "my black heart is momentarily thawed by this cute little girl who acts more like a real child than any other kid in fiction"?

  • Am I alone in having a love-hate relationship with harem series? I like them for the romantic-comedy aspect and the zany shenanigans (gah, "zany" is almost as ass-lancing a word as "wacky"), and I like it how each of the girls gets fleshed out, but am I alone in wishing the guy would eventually pick one? I realize you don't want to disappoint the fans who were rooting for someone else, and there's that whole wish-fulfillment/never-have-to-grow-up thing about them, but come on, guys, you're Japanese. Put some wabi-zabi into it and embrace the impermanence; nothing lasts forever, especially not an unstable condition like that (which is a part of onmyôdô, also Japanese).

    Also, I'm sorry, but the primary girl in harem series is almost never as good as the secondary. Aeka in the Tenchi Muyo OAV is a lot less compelling than Ryoko (that's why the TV version seems to come down in Ryoko's favor instead, I think), and Ayame is a lot better for Yoichi than her sister is.

  • That JTHM reference I just dropped reminds me, who read that comic and said, "We gotta get this guy to make a show on Nickelodeon!"? I'm frankly baffled as to how that could ever happen.

  • So you know how people say there shouldn't be any limits on sex or violence in media, because "people are mature enough to know reality from fantasy"? Sure they are. So then why are we constantly having to explain that guns, medicine, forensic science, and space travel don't work anything like in the movies? Are people magically incapable of telling that from reality, but somehow they just intuit the inaccuracies in media portrayals of sexuality and violence?

    Also let's completely ignore all the research that proves people are vastly easy to influence by the media. Nope, nope, just because the dogs salivate every time I ring the bell doesn't prove a damn thing.

  • Finally, am I the only one who thinks the Needler, in Halo, should be nicknamed the High-Impact Bedazzler?

    So resolved.

  • Late addendum: So remember how I said how come paladins in D&D-fiction always actually behave chaotic evil? Yeah, it also occurs to me, elves also always behave lawful neutral, at best, frequently true neutral with evil tendencies (my people prefer to denote that as AL: N(e)). I can think of exactly one elf who actually behaves chaotic good, and her name's Deedlit, so no (direct) credit to D&D for that.

    Alignment isn't what the character calls itself, idiots, it's how it actually acts.

1 comment:

penny farthing said...

I like 3rd edition now too. At first I was a curmudgeon and didn't like it, but it works well, especially if you add 2nd edition's pictures or make up your own setting.