There Were Giants in the Earth

Title's (of course) a reference to Genesis 6:4, although translating "nephilim" as giants is questionable at best (it means either "the toppled-down" or "the topplers-down", depending on whether it's originally passive "nafilim" or causative "nifilim").

Spec fic thoughts, involving megastructures, megafauna, giants, or giant robots. The one about Macross has both those last two (because Veritechs would be armor in anyone else's war, but against the Zentraedi they're just what I'm gonna call prosthetic infantry).
  • Saw Jack the Giant Slayer; spoilers follow, skip to the next bullet point if you want. It wasn't bad—and giving the giant leader a Belfast accent was an interesting choice (I think they're the only people who say "about" as "aboit")—but I had some issues. First is "This thing is pretty much a specifically Cornish legend, you know, you can't just sorta absentmindedly hand it off to Britain as a whole." And I'd've liked to see one of the Jack stories that doesn't involve the beanstalk, like Cormoran and the pit-trap (just giving the giant leader Thunderdell's two heads doesn't count). Come to think of it Jack could've stood to be remotely like the hero of the folktales, i.e. solve his problems by cunning and not a little ruthlessness, rather than the usual mix of blind stupid luck and plucky determination. Also? The king is supposed to be Arthur. Those knights? Round Table. It'd be wiser to set the thing in a fantasy kingdom with perhaps some unexamined similarities, and that's what I thought was going on (not only does everyone have plate armor, one of 'em also has a Pickelhaube, monocle, and Prussian handlebar mustache). Then the ending shows freaking modern London.

    Also, considering the movie without direct reference to the legends, the biggest complaint is "not enough of Ewan McGregor's character". Then (actually more keenly felt), selling the horse to buy thatch? Leaving to one side the odds of a serf owning a horse, why are they sitting in the middle of a well-mown field and buying thatch? Thatch is hay. You get hay when you mow fields. Figure it out. And also, all that drama of everyone dismissing Jack when they're back down the stock, how everyone sorta shunts Jack aside? Well, they wouldn't do that—bureaucratic indifference, impersonally dismissing a guy who's, say, saved one's daughter, is a state bureaucracy vice, something no feudal chief would ever do—but there's a more urgent difficulty. Namely, when Ewan McGregor says "now you're one of us" and gives Jack the royal knights' badge, he just freaking knighted him. Words mean things in a feudal society, that's why they killed each other over them. Especially when those words are accompanied by the gift of insignia.
  • Speaking of giants, I'm trying to get into Macross 7, then hopefully watch Frontier. Only...know what Macross would benefit hugely from? Having some damn Zentraedi, that's what. The first one had a bunch, notably Britai and Exsedor (yes, I'd prefer to spell then Zjentohlauedy and Vrlitwhai, too, but what's the original spelling of Exsedor? Ekxsedworl?). The later series, though? One token girl per show, plus the occasional general and a handful of hybrids.

    Speaking of the token girl, yeah, the drummer in Macross 7, Veffidas, is one. There's apparently a minor meme out there that she's a transsexual. She isn't, she's just a big girl (build-wise, I mean, compared to when she was 8 meters tall she's downright tiny)—at one point she refers to herself as a Meltran, and that means female Zentraedi. Transsexuality for a Zentraedi is like Marines randomly wearing Army uniforms, their 'sexes' are two branches of their military, and have been for at least a quarter million years (until they met us, anyway).
  • I think that mecha would need separate power supplies for their weapons, if the weapon isn't just a percussion-fired slugthrower. Fortunately, we already power our railguns and similar with things called compensated pulsed alternators, or "compulsators" to their friends. And we're working on reducing their mass; I don't think it's excessively optimistic to say that by the time we can make a light-tank sized mecha we can build a light enough compulsator to power its railgun.

    Of course, the compulsator would eventually need to be recharged—but it's hardly too much to ask that it be able to fire c. 40 rounds, like most modern tanks. And, because it's a mecha, with hands, it's perfectly modular: when its railgun runs out of ammo, it can pick up something else, e.g. from a disabled ally or enemy. (And no, a mecha wouldn't shoot its weapons by actually pulling triggers with its fingers, it'd have control surfaces to interface with the weapons in its hands ).
  • I think my thesis RE: dark fantasy—that it is fundamentally juvenile, tenth-graders trying to seem mature by being pointlessly sordid—is demonstrated by the giants in the Song of Ice and Fire books. Because sometimes giants abduct people. Sometimes the men come back, but the women never do.

    Oh yes, tell us again how mature you are, with your "Ur huh huh huh, like, the giants sometimes take human women off to, huh huh, rape them to death". Seriously, are we sure that George R. R. Martin and Byron Hall are not just pen-names of the same person?
  • You know Morino in Ôkami-san? They never go into it in the official translation but some of his talent comes from his grandfather being a matagi, a traditional Japanese hunting-complex that is, I think, probably also the source for the guys in Mononoke Hime with the boar-skins.

    And I was thinking, the matagi apparently had their heyday because of the need to hunt bears in groups, and have gone into decline since the rise of firearms. But why don't fantasy writers examine things like that, and the Navajo hunting complex, or any of a whole bunch of other cultures, for, oh, dragon slayers, for example? Or any other major magical nasty, in fantasy. Humans only are where we are because we gang up, half the monsters in the Monster Manual are markedly less terrifying than elephants (and they have fewer hit dice, too).

    Which reminds me, people need to stop saying dragons would realistically reduce humans to livestock. Dragons don't get along with each other, they're basically bears, or cats. The matagi model works on bears, remember? And at least one work (the manhwa Dragon Hunters, not to be confused with the cartoon) based their dragon-hunters on traditional Korean tiger-hunts (which used to be a thing).
  • Talk of time-keeping on space colonies in that last post prompted me to look up stuff about circadian rhythms and space travel, since I expect living on a planet with a 20- or 30-hour day would be a bit weird (Mars is nice that way, its days are 24 hours, 39 minutes, 35.24 seconds long, which is, oddly, only 27 minutes longer than your brain's clock, rather than 39 minutes longer like you might expect). Unfortunately most of the research on sleep in space necessarily involves stations and shuttles in low Earth orbit; we've only ever sent seven manned missions out into serious space (which here, sadly, means "circumlunar orbit"). Conditions down here are different from conditions e.g. in the Lagrange points. 'Course, L-point colonies can do whatever the hell they want for their days, assuming they don't link their spin-gravity to their day-length like a bunch of goofballs.

    I say you'd be a goofball to link your day-length to your spin-grav, by the way, because an 8-km-diameter O'Neill Island Three cylinder, one of the biggest things we can even figure out how to build, still makes one rotation every two minutes to get 1 g of gravity, and that's practically a strobe-light as far as your circadian rhythms are concerned. You'd be much more likely to use the mirrors to redirect sunlight into the hab-cylinder for 12 hours; if you were in a creative mood you might even give your colony seasons. You could also use the electricity generated with some mix of reactors and solar to light the sky directly, it's entirely possible that having windows on a space-station is more trouble than it's worth, as is the case for spaceships.

    A Bernal sphere (16 km diameter), by the bye, needs one rotation every three minutes, an Island One sphere needs 1.9 per minute, and an Island Two sphere takes one every 2 minutes 36 seconds. Even a 1000-km-diameter Bishop Ring would need one rotation every 33 minutes, which is still really freaking fast as a length for your day.
  • Bishop rings, by the bye, are really dumb, in one specific way: they're open. Sure, you might be able to retain the thing's atmosphere by the spin gravity, but the air wouldn't be remotely thick enough to block the radiation (you'd probably block most of it with the outside of the ring, but there'd still be massive reflected radiation from, e.g., the mirror-collectors). Enclosing your space-stations has purposes other than holding the air in, remember.

    Huh, I don't think Halo rings (which as the Wikipedia article on Bishop Rings mentions, are just giant versions of the same thing) would have thick enough atmospheres to block all that radiation. I suppose the Forerunners probably shield those, though, and they are a hell of a lot bigger, and made of totally not skrith at all some Forerunner metal.

1 comment:

penny farthing said...

I thought that Jack having been knighted was going to be how he ended up with the princess when Ewan McGregor's character gave him the badge. It seemed unnecessary to change the law about who the princess can marry. I do wish it was set in a random fantasy world....

Also, compulsator is a cool word.