Thursday, November 17, 2011

Three Books

My weekend is Wednesday and Thursday. The very poor, which I am, rarely have the luxury of Saturday and Sunday off. But I guess I get by. It’s been a productive weekend for me.

I finished up Synthetic Heroes II, and am right now, taking a break from working on Fursona III, which will ‘hack’ the Fursona character builder to create a variety of mutants and animalistic post humans that don’t have a ‘furry’ look or feel. Instead, these guys will be more like Marvel Comics mutants….. It’s going to basically tweak the Mutant race from Psi-Watch, removing its connection to the now outdated D20 Future Mutation rules, and plugging it into the more flexible Fursona system.

The Christian Bible

Also, yesterday, I took my mom out for Chinese. Good family fun there. We ended up talking about this fat, perverse recovering drug addict (and evangelical Christian whakjob) who lives in my complex and has decided I must be capital-S Saved. Dude leaves a Bible on my front steps while I’m at work. I come home, see a book on my steps, and think a friend left me something cool; I get there, pick it up and see it’s a Good News Bible. So I pick the thing up, set it on the chair near my front door, and leave it there. It can stay there until it rots for all I care, or until somebody who wants it takes the damn thing.

It infuriates me that this guy is trying so hard to convert me. First off, I’m not going to take religious advice from a fat, washed up old junkie under ANY circumstances. Second, it galls me this guy thinks I’m just a non-Christian because I’m unaware of the Bible’s contents. I’ve read the fuckin’ thing from cover to cover before, because it is referenced in so many other literary works, and is a cornerstone book of Western culture. I wanted to better understand Western history, so I read the thing, probably deeper than Fatso ever has. It’s that kind of magical ‘all I have to do to convert the heathen is quite randomly from scripture’ false and easy evangelism Fred Clark writes about so eloquently on his Slactivist blog.

Second, if I wanted a Bible, I know where to go to get one. I could check one out of the library, go to any bookstore and have my pick of any of 20 different translations and editions, or go to any church in town and ask for a free copy. The reason I don’t have a B Bible in my house is quite simple: I don’t want that crap in my home.

Each day I roll out of bed, put my pants on and step out into the world, especially in Kerrville, TX, I have to step into a Christian world. I’m fricking alone out there, and I have to tolerate all the petty little prejudices and misapprehensions and the sense of entitled cultural superiority the Christians show me. I hate to put up with REALLY far right bumperstickers on at least 20% of the cars in town, with a 90 ft tall wrought iron cross on a hill just outside town, marking Christian territory like garish gang graffiti, with Christians believing I practice black magic, or kill animals (or even in extreme cases, babies) for sacrifice, or use Ouija boards or whatever other sterotypes they believe about me.

I put up with that nonsense all day, and you know what, it’s fucking exhausting and infuriating. I want my home to be a sanctuary, a purely pagan place, a place I can take off my mental armor and relax and just…. Be. Blessed motherfuckin’ Be.

A place where I can do my work- my pagan work, to my mind, my Craft if you will- of writing to the best of my ability and occasionally creating a meme that might, just might make a Christian reader reconsider some of their cultural assumptions. Having Bibles dropped off on my front stoop is not exactly conducive to this. To me, it feels like a scouting mission by the onward marching Christian soldiers, a prelude to full invasion.

JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit

I also hit up a couple of local thrift stores, picking up several novels for like 50 cents each, and a copy of the live action GI Joe movie for 3 bucks. I know, as a movie that thing was pretty crappy, but for 3 bucks, it’s fairly entertaining.

Among the books I got were copies of the Hobbit and the Similarion…. I don’t really want to trudge through the entire Rings trilogy, but as I expected, Hobbit was a fast read, and the Similarion is really just an anthology of loosely related short stories. I finished the Hobbit last night, and I’m amazed at how many of the tropes Tolkien established are being used un-modified today. Seventy years since Lord of the Rings first hit, and it’s kinda sad how little fantasy as a genre has grown.

My thoughts…. It was a good, fun, light read. The Hobbit is a straight up kids story, and had quite a few of the problems inherent to the genre. There were tons of dues ex machine last-second rescues. I know that the real point of the book’s climax was the Battle of Five Armies, but Smaug died like a bitch. All of a sudden, this character, who we’ve seen speak like one line before the climax picks up a bow and kills the thing? I’m reading it, and thinking, who the fuck is this Bard asshole?

Seriously, the lackluster death of the dragon really hurt the book for me. Still, like I said a fun read. And its interesting to look at the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game’s Halfling racial traits right after reading the Hobbit. Really, really off. I know, intellectually, that Halflings and Hobbits are evolutionary different creatures- D&D Halflings had to evolve along different lines to fend off the super-predators known as the Tolkien Estate, but jeez…. These two races are NOTHING alike. There’s a part of me that wants to do up a quick race book for more Tolkien styled Halflings. I might do that in the next week or two…..

The Robotech Novel Series

Another book I started reading is a collected edition of the first three Robotech licensed novels. I figured I deserved some trashy, juvenile literature, and this fit the bill. Holy crap, are these things ludicrous. It seems like the poor author was basically shown the anime, and told to write something to make all this shit make some form of sense.

Now, this is really my first exposure to Robotech. During its original run, the Robotech saga played at like 6 AM in my market, so I missed it as a kid. As a teenager, when I was first getting into anime (then referred to as Japanimation, to give a linguistic clue to how long ago my teenage years were), I passed over Robotech. It seemed juvenile and outdated compared to edgier, more modern (for the time) like Bubblegum Crisis and Wicked City. So I missed Robotech both times.

The books are so bad they’re good. There’s these incredibly lurid descriptions of space-folds, the Zentradi (who I’m picturing as 60 ft tall Klingons, basically) and ‘proto-culture’… okay, I gotta ask? In the anime, were Veritechs really powered by some kind of funky alien flowers? Really? I just figured they had a mini-reactor aboard or something. This ‘flower of life’ bullshit is sorta…. it reminds me a lot of Cobra-La, which I definitely do not consider a compliment. Or maybe the Fire Flower from Super Mario Brothers, neither concept which really fits into a story that is basically “Top Gun in space!”.

Of course, I pretty hate all the characters and wish they would all fucking die. Roy Fokker is sorta cool, if a completely generic stock character: he’s dashing fighter pilot #4723, nothing more. He gets the job done and doesn’t detract from the point of the books- cool mecha blowing up aliens. This Rick Hunter idiot, who I think ended up being the POV character for the anime, is a juvenile, whining asshole.

And his sorta-girlfriend Minmei…. She may be the single stupidest character in all sci-fi. Seriously, is this vapid, immature bitch retarded or something? Seriously, she’s gotta be somewhere along the autistic spectrum: she constantly misreads fairly basic, fairly obvious social cues to a level that makes her seem either terminally self-absorbed or else neurologically atypical. Of course, considering she basically suggests to her adoptive parents that they basically become war profiteers after Macross City gets warped out to Pluto-orbit (which makes even less sense in context) and goes on a shopping spree while rescue crews are still digging out the rubble of her rebuilt (twice over now) city…. I think self absorbed is a more likely diagnosis.

I actually stopped reading (by throwing the book at the wall, hard as I can) during the shopping spree scene. You’ve got this novilization of a shitty anime-slapstick scene where Rick Hunter, the whining little douchebag, goes on an accidental rampage through a lingerie shop. It was physically painful to read, but you gotta give the poor author credit for doing the best he could with the crappy, cliché material he was given. But the waste of talent involved was pretty obvious.

Anyway, I don’t think I need to read any more Robotech. I feel like I’ve gotten the full treatment, about 20 pages into the second book in the trilogy. On onehand, you’ve got bad ass space mecha and military sci-fi… on the other, you’ve got Three’s Company. And guess which side of the story the books choose to emphasize. If you said military sci-fi, you’re wrong…..

I’ll start up the Similarion later, and let you know how that goes.

Blessed Be,

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