Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Shield, by Peter Evan Jones

I want to begin this review by stating that I really did not enjoy this book so my review is going to be largely negative. However, I'm going to try and refrain from trashing this book in a bile-filled rant and instead try to focus on the specific elements that I did not care for in this novel. I hope that all of my readers will bear with me and understand my position.

The overall plot of The Shield follows an alternate history where during a state visit of the President of the United States to Saudi Arabia in 2009 a nuclear bomb is set off. This act is initially blamed on a lone terrorist, but it was only a prelude to dozens of atomic bombs being set off in key cities around the world. Eventually the major world powers engage in a full-out war using nuclear and conventional weapons. The resulting death toll for humans is devastating and a world population in the billions can now be measured in the thousands. Eventually the surviving humans manage to rebuild society and embrace a religion centered around the ideals of peace and unity. Although they maintain an Earth Defense Force and weapons research program, the EDF is little more than glorified scientists. The only real military force the humans have left is the hundred-strong group of Shields, warriors trained from birth to be the protectors of the Senate and its ideals.

The Shields really are the only thing the humans of post-War Earth have resembling actual soldiers, however many people question if the Shields are really needed at all. The plot of the book, however, focuses on the arrival of an alien probe approaching the human outpost on Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter. The prime minister and two senators are selected as a delegation to go meet the probe when it arrives at Europa. While the probe is sending out a message of peace and goodwill a Shield escort is brought along anyway, including the newly-promoted First Shield Grayson, tasked with protecting the prime minister. It was at this point in the book I already predicted the next step in the plot, and some of my more genre-savvy readers have probably already guessed it as well. Humanity has become an entire civilization centered around the ideals of peace and maintains only a very small corps of actual fighters. Suddenly, an alien ship appears in our solar system, proclaiming to be peaceful and on a goodwill mission. Oh no! The aliens are hostile and want to take over our solar system! Ahhhhhhh! 

I hope you'll excuse my flippant behavior but I honestly saw it coming a mile away. The rest of the book revolves around Grayson gathering and leading the human survivors, teaching them how to fight, and discovering that the alien attack might have been planned a long time ago. The aliens, referred to the humans as Diggers, managed to attack not only the human base at Europa but also Mars, Earth, and the human bases in space simultaneously. Clearly the aliens had been planning this attack for a very long time and once the token human resistance is crushed the Diggers begin using the surviving humans on Earth as slave labor, stripping the planet of resources. And could this be an interesting plot? Yes, certainly, but the way that Jones writes it is just kind of...dull. And part of that might be that I don't care for alien invasions in book form. I liked Independence Day, I liked Signs (so sue me), and for some reason for me alien invasions work really well in movie form. However, Jones has a tendency to be extremely verbose in The Shield and a lot of the plot trods the same ground that alien invasions have trod since War of the Worlds. The only aspect I find different in this case is humanity's embrace of peace which gives us very few weapons to fight the alien invasion, rather than humanity discovering that their weapons have no effect on the extraterrestrial invaders. 

I actually want to spend a little bit of time talking about the world that Jones has created and how I found it to be just damn creepy. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all in favor of peace. If given the choice of living in the grim darkness of the forty-first millennium where there is only war or peace, I'd definitely pick peace. If nothing else it means I won't get eaten by Tyranids. Probably. However the post-War society on earth has all these little elements that hint something is not right. For example, all of humanity's population is concentrated in thirteen cities and all but two of them have large walls which are explicitly there to keep the population inside the cities and protect the earth from urban sprawl. Also, all of their cities are described as being made of concrete and steel and maybe that's all that survived the Digger attack but those materials seem to dominate this apparently peaceful and in-tune with nature society. The large walls to keep the population inside as well as their choice of building materials makes me wonder if humanity's cities are really nothing more than glorified prisons. On top of that Jones states that humans have embraced the religion of peace so much that there's very little crime anymore and most of it is non-violent offenses. It's at that point I'm wondering what the government is putting in the water to make the people so complacent. Maybe I'm just paranoid but this behavior seems kind of creepy to me. 

Another issue Jones seems to have in his book is numbers, and I mean that in a couple of ways. The first problem I noticed is that numbers get switched around a couple of times. An M83 rifle becomes an M82, or a three hour flight suddenly becomes a two hour flight. Small nit-picks but consistent enough that I began looking at other, larger details in the book. For example, as I mentioned there is a corps of one hundred Shields to protect the Senate and Prime Minister and it was implied that there were two Shields constantly assigned to each senator. So simple math I assumed there'd be fifty members of the Senate including the Prime Minister and so the bodyguard of only six Shields would be all that could be spared to protect the Prime Minister and two senators. Later in the book, however, it's revealed that the senate consisted of about seven or eight guys. Total. So basically the people of Earth sent one third of their government off to meet an alien probe and only sent six bodyguards along with them. I don't care how peaceful your society has become, on something as high profile as this I'd expect at least twenty or thirty Shields. Granted, I'm speaking with the benefit of hindsight, but even the President doesn't travel with only two Secret Service agents.

Another major issue I had with this book was the location of their population centers. One of the cities humanity created after the war was Delhi, which is explicitly stated to be based upon the ruins of the Indian city of the same name. After doing some brief research I discovered that New Delhi, the current Indian capital, is actually a sub-section of the larger city of Delhi. This presents a bit of a problem because India, along with their long-time enemy Pakistan, are two nations known to possess nuclear weapons and I'm pretty sure Delhi would be hit by an atomic bomb at some point. Even if most of the fallout radiation had been cleaned up by the the time people had rebuilt the city I'm left asking why they'd even bother building there. The same statement goes for cities like Brittania (founded on the ruins of Paris) and Petersburg, (I assume founded on the ruins of St. Petersburg, Russia.) The book has already explicitly stated that the majority of survivors were either on ships during the war or on small, out of the way islands. Probably most of those people would have no reason to rebuild an entire city from scratch, especially if they had never lived there. Furthermore, if the goal of the new world government was to keep the human population from expanding so the earth had time to recover, wouldn't it be wiser to keep the human population concentrated on islands rather than putting them on huge continents with lots of tempting room to expand? Maybe I'm overthinking this story but these are questions I'm left asking. 

In addition none of the characters are particularly interesting or for that matter memorable. I suppose that First Shield Grayson counts as a main character, but we are explicitly told that First Shield Grayson had most of his emotions beaten out of him from his thirty years of training as a Shield which makes him nearly impossible to identify with as a character. Even when he goes through emotions it's revenge or anger. The rest of the cast I sort of dimly remember as a bunch of people who have had their entire existence destroyed by an alien invasion and are trying to cope in a world now dominated by violence. And at multiple points we're told the human situation is entirely hopeless because they simply do not have enough weapons to drive off the reduced Digger garrison on Earth. Even if the humans managed to defeat all the Diggers on Earth, the main Digger force would probably notice the lack of resources coming from Earth and just come back to quash the human rebellion. At this point I'm just expecting the humans to have to rely on the common cold to kill the Diggers for them, making this a very stereotyped alien invasion. 

Ultimately this book doesn't explore any ideas that haven't been done in science fiction before and ends with a cliff-hanger. Unfortunately I can't be bothered to care about the characters or their plight enough to want to read the next book from Jones and expect some eleventh-hour deus ex machina to save them all in the end. I feel like the book kind of hinted that the Diggers had influenced human society from the shadows to make the humans easier to overpower, but I don't even know if that was intentional on the part of the author. I recommend everyone just ignore this book and if you really want an alien invasion go read something else. 

- Kalpar 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Legacy of Wolves, by Marsheila Rockwell

Recently Katie at I Smell Sheep went to the Phoenix Comicon and met a number of authors and other industry people. I was thankful for the weekend where she was too busy to bother me with questions like, what's going on with the plot in Game of Thrones? Sadly, all vacations must come to an end and Katie told me that she had a book for me to read because it didn't have enough smut for her to be interested. After briefly considering all the terrible, terrible decisions that lead my life to this point, I sighed and started reading Legacy of Wolves by Marsheila Rockwell. 

Overall I actually liked this book and I'm going to do the best I can to explain that, but first I want to talk a little bit about Dungeons & Dragons, and more specifically the Eberron setting. As pretty much all of my readers know, Dungeons & Dragons is the tabletop RPG beloved by nerds for generations. Originally created by Gary Gygax in 1974 the franchise went through a number of different companies and a couple of rule changes until getting picked up by Wizards of the Coast, who created the 3.0 and 3.5 editions. Currently D&D is in its fourth edition, however due to fan backlash Wizards is looking towards creating a fifth edition and what will happen after that remains to be seen. 

However, the D&D rulebooks don't provide much by the way of setting. Sure there are pantheons of deities and the planes of existence, but much of the world creation is left up to each game's Dungeon Master. Eberron was created by Keith Baker and was the winning entry in a 2002 survey by Wizards for a different setting for D&D stories. I actually never learned that much about Eberron because none of my friends were ever particularly interested and Eberron is...well, it's different. As in, we have magic lightning-powered trains and halflings riding on dinosaurs different. So I was initially a little worried about reading this book because I knew next to nothing about the setting and was afraid I would quickly get lost and confused in the universe. And despite some initial disorientation, Rockwell's writing managed to get me comfortable with the universe very quickly. 

Rockwell's writing does an excellent job in explaining at least some aspects of the Eberron setting. In a universe as rich and complex as Eberron one book simply would not be enough to cover everything. However, I now have a better understanding of the powerful merchant houses whose influence and finances rival medium-sized nations, as well as the religious tension between followers of the Silver Flame and followers of the Sovereign Host. Thanks to her I came away from Legacy of Wolves with a much better understanding of the Eberron universe and an interest in learning more about it, whether through stories by other writers or through playing the Eberron setting. 

I was extremely thankful for the plot of Legacy of Wolves which did not follow a standard fantasy plot which I have become particularly tired of reading recently. (I.e. the heroes go on a quest to defeat some sort of evil. Original when Tolkien did it, kind of boring seventy years later.) Legacy of Wolves follows the investigations of Irulan Silverclaw, paladin Andri Aeyliros, dwarven inquisitive Greddark d'Kundark, and to a lesser extent the bard Zoden ir'Marktaros, into a series of grisly murders in the city of Aruldusk which are being blamed on the local shifter population. Shifters, descendants of lycanthrope and human parents, have never had an easy existence around Aruldusk, a city ruled by the church of the Silver Flame which has a long-standing vendetta against lycanthropes. Although many now know shifters are not evil like their lycanthrope kin, old prejudices remain and many shifters were killed in the church's Purge.

 Irulan, both a shifter and a follower of the Silver Flame, goes to the church's headquarters to beg an audience when her brother is imprisoned as a suspect in one of the murders. The Keeper of the Flame, the leader of the Silver Flame, is worried by Irulan's tale and sends paladin Andri Aeyliros with her to investigate the murders and prevent a repeat of the Purge. Meanwhile Zoden ir'Marktaros begs his cousin the queen for aid when his twin brother, Zodal, is murdered right in front of him. Zoden suspects that there is more to this chain of murders and that they had meant to kill him rather than Zodal. Although his cousin cannot officially provide support, she hires the dwarf inquisitive Greddar d'Kundark to investigate the murders and help keep Zoden alive. 

The only issue I had with the actual murder-mystery plot is that we get two or three leads on the murders in Aruldusk which turn out to be red herrings. Seriously I got to about the three-fourths mark in the book and I still had no idea who  the actual killer could be so I was getting a little frustrated. In mysteries I like to at least have an inkling before the big reveal. That complaint aside, I ended up really liking the story and the incredibly deep world in which it was set.

Story and setting aside I had a little trouble with the characters. Most of the main characters were either orphans or estranged from their parents which is so over-used with Dungeons & Dragons character that it's practically a cliche at this point. Did it make sense within the context of the plot? Yes, but I was internally kind of going, "Oh, come on, more orphans?" (That's more the complaint of a bitter DM who's seen too many bad character backstories, though.) The other issue I had with the characters was the romance between Irulan and Andri, and not because the romance existed at all! I know I give Katie a hard time but I'm not opposed to seeing characters enter and pursue relationships. It just felt rushed, in my opinion, because they had known each other for about a month in the book and it felt like an unrealistic time frame for that sort of relationship to develop. 

All my little itty-bitty issues aside, I actually really liked this book. For fans of D&D and the Eberron setting, or people who are curious about Eberron in general this is a really good book to pick up. And if you're interested in reading a mystery in a fantasy setting Legacy of Wolves is a great example. I definitely recommend all my readers go check it out. 

- Kalpar 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It's Got My Troops All Over it and that Makes it Mine

Our armies and agents come in handy in this LP update set as we work to get the momentum rolling once again!

Part 30:

Part 31:

Part 31.5:

Part 32:

Part 32.5:

Part 33:

God Save the Queen

- Carvan

Monday, June 18, 2012

Come at Me Bro!

More LPs of Medieval II! And remember kids, it only SEEMS like everything is falling apart!

Part 23:

Part 24:

Part 25:

Part 25.5:

Part 26:

God Save the Queen

- Carvan

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Excuse Moi, Mon Granmere e Flambe

More Let's Plays as we move against the French. I'd make a "Shooting fish in a barrel" joke about making fun of the French, but apparently shooting fish in a barrel of water is rather difficult, so let's just move on to these lovely videos, shall we?

God Save the Queen

- Carvan

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Captain America: Hail Hydra

About a month ago I was browsing my local comic book store looking for any interesting trade paperbacks. Fortunately for me I found one that look quite interesting titled Captain America: Hail Hydra!, which follows Captain America's seventy-year struggle with Hydra and his attempts to foil their Infinitas Agenda. Although the story contained less zombies than I was initially lead to believe (and no time travel for that matter) I was highly satisfied with this story and even learned a little about Captain America's history along the way.

To provide a brief overview of the plot, during the dark days of World War II Captain America and his sidekick Bucky break into a German research facility run by the Thule Society and headed by the sinister Dr. Geist. Cap and Bucky quickly discover that the Thule Society is simply one of countless fronts for Hydra and their Infinitas Agenda, Hydra's attempt to not only achieve immortality but gain total control over life and death. Cap thought he had defeated Hydra in World War II but when the Avengers revive him from the Arctic ice he discovers that Geist, Hydra, and his Resurrection Corps managed to escape the fall of Nazi Germany. With the Avengers and other new allies, Cap manages to defeat Hydra time and time again but somehow the bad guys always seem to be one step ahead. Will Cap be able to stop Hydra once and for all?

The one thing that I really liked about this story was its sense of depth. The Captain America: Hail Hydra! trade paperback collects five issues of the same story arc, all of which were made by different artists. Sergio Cariello, Tom Scioli, Phil Winslade, Kyle Hotz, and Graham Nolan all brought their artistic talents to this story and gave each issue within the trade a unique look and feel while keeping it part of an overarching story. (Also, special mention goes to Tom Scioli, I feel like he really captured the 1960's feel in the issue he illustrated.) In addition the comics really help convey a sense of time to Cap's ongoing struggle with Hydra. We see Cap fight Hydra in the closing days of World War II, only to discover them stronger than ever in the 1960's when the Avengers rescue him from the ice. Even when Steve Rogers's disagreements with the American Government force him to abandon his previous mantle and become simply, "The Captain", Dr. Geist and Hydra remain one of his chief concerns. Cap's war with Hydra continues into the modern day after the Marvel Civil War. Steve Rogers may have passed his shield onto James Barnes, but as commander of S.H.I.E.L.D. he isn't finished trying to foil Hydra's plans. Included in Cap's own story arc are glimpses of Hydra's efforts on the quest to immortality. Hydra's history spans from ancient Mesopotamia and the days of Gilgamesh to the dark torture chambers of the Spanish Inquisition. Although it's a little unbelievable for an evil organization to be thousands of years old, we're dealing with a story that includes literal gods, mutants, and zombies so I shouldn't be surprised at all.

I ended up liking how they chose to tell the overall story, as I mentioned, in five separate comics made by five different artists that span five different time periods. The end result is a sense of an on-again off-again war between Captain America and Hydra which rarely comes out into the open but is always lingering in the shadows. Even when Cap and S.H.I.E.L.D. manage to defeat Dr. Geist and the Infinitas Agenda, it's stated that this was just one aspect of Hydra and there will be many more struggles for Cap in the future. It really helped convey that this was a long-running struggle which may not have been the focus of Cap's efforts but definitely a major concern.  

I will admit that I'm still very, very new to being a Captain America fan so I wasn't exactly familiar with some of the more specific aspects of Cap's history, for example when Steve Rogers had his disagreement with the U.S. government and became just The Captain. However each issue provided interesting glimpses into Cap's publication history and gave me a better understanding of the character's development over the years.

Overall I would recommend this book for Captain America fans. Characters like Iron Man, Nick Furey, and Thor are prominent guest-stars, but they're really not the focus of the story. I felt like this really was a story about Steve Rogers and his quest to defeat Hydra more than anything else. But for any fan of Captain America this is a great look at Cap's history and an excellent story with plenty of zombie-smashing action. Definitely a must-read for Captain America fans of all ages. (Well, above fourteen at least. There's some pretty serious stuff in there.)

- Kalpar

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Marching in the Hedgerows

More LP updates. JUST FOR YOU. Yes you! You right there! Don't you feel special?

Part 14:

Part 15:

Part 16:

Part 17:

Part 18:

God Save the Queen

- Carvan

Friday, June 8, 2012

Je Ne Parle Pas Francais

Well folks, here I am with a third update set for the LP. I'm having fun are; you having fun?!

Part 11:

Part 11.5:

Part 12:

Part 13:

God Save the Queen

- Carvan

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Battlestar Galactica and Homosexuality

A while back I watched a Feminist Frequency video which was about the since-cancelled Sci-Fi show Caprica, a prequel and spin-off of the very popular reimagined Battlestar Galactica of the early 2000's. In this video Anita Sarkeesian talks about the character Sam Adama, young William Adama's uncle, who is openly gay but the show doesn't make a big deal out of it. As Ms. Sarkeesian explains, this is a fantastic step forward for media depictions of homosexuals of both genders, but it is far from perfect. Sam Adama is an enforcer for a criminal organization in Caprica and ruthlessly murders the organization's opponents with somewhat phallic knives. Thus Sam Adama is gay, but presented to us as an evil character because he participates in violent murders. I definitely encourage my readers to look at this specific video which I've linked below, and look at more of Ms. Sarkeesian's thought-provoking work.

For many years American media has had overall negative depictions of homosexuals of both genders. In part this can be traced back to the Hays Code initiated in the 1930's and which continued to hold sway over film-making until the 1960's. The code prohibited films portraying anything other than a narrowly defined system of morality which, this being the 1930's, included mixed race relationships and homosexuality. If homosexuals of either sex were included at all in films they were depicted as inherently evil and immoral as a result of their sexual orientation. Fortunately there is no such code today, but American media continues to struggle with its depiction of homosexual characters. When they're depicted at all they're either a combination of outdated stereotypes, such as camp gays or butch lesbians, or their sexuality becomes this huge deal and we go through increasingly dramatic story arcs focusing upon their gayness. Or sometimes even both. There are gradually increasing examples of normal well-adjusted people who just happen to be gay in media, but there are still struggles.

An example of this ongoing struggle with the depiction of homosexuals in media is two homosexual characters from Battlestar Galactica, the precursor to the above-mentioned Caprica. Through its four-season run BSG has two main characters who are revealed as homosexuals, Lieutenant Felix Gaeta and Admiral Helena Cain. I do want to state that as far as I remember the sexual orientation of both Gaeta and Cain were purely incidental aspects of their character rather than being a dominating characteristic. However, out of the diverse cast of BSG who occupy a number of different positions on the moral spectrum, the two main characters who happen to be homosexual also happen to be..well...evil. If it was a coincidence on the part of the writing staff it is an unfortunate coincidence and one we should actively work to avoid. However, if the fact that both main characters who are homosexual also end up as evil was an intentional act on the part of the creators, (And let me just say now that I'm not saying it was intentional, just including that possibility for the sake of completeness.) then the media's depiction of homosexuals is a larger issue than we may realize and definitely should be addressed.

Lieutenant Felix Gaeta

Lieutenant Felix Gaeta 
I initially had doubts about including Felix Gaeta in this post at all. For much of BSG's run Gaeta is firmly in the camp of the sympathetic human protagonists. In fact Gaeta's knowledge in both computer programming and scientific research dramatically helps the survival of the humans on numerous occasions; during the Cylon occupation of New Caprica Gaeta goes so far as to risk his life infiltrating the puppet human government and rely vital information to the human resistance. So for most of his time on the show Gaeta is a likable supporting character of the cast.

However it is during the fourth season of the show that a few important things happen to Gaeta. First, we discover that Gaeta is a homosexual and was in a romantic relationship with Lieutenant Louis Hoshi, when previously Gaeta's sexual orientation hadn't been really discussed. Second, Gaeta loses a leg due to an accident and becomes wracked with pain from phantom limb syndrome and becomes increasingly bitter and withdrawn. Finally, and this affects the whole fleet, Admiral William Adama and President Laura Roslin agree to a truce with Cylon rebels to help increase humanity's chances of survival. Many humans within the fleet, including Gaeta, are angry about this decision and feel betrayed by their leaders.  Gaeta then organizes and leads a mutiny aboard the Galactica against Admiral Adama and though it meets some initial success, the mutiny eventually falls apart and fails. Most of the mutineers are simply imprisoned in Galactica's brig, but Gaeta and another high-ranking conspirator are executed by firing squad and their bodies dumped into space.

Now Gaeta and many of his fellow mutineers had plenty of rational motivation for rebelling against their leaders, including the perceived betrayal of humanity by the creation of a truce with the Cylons. However, as a viewer I had two lasting memories of Gaeta after the series ended:

  1. Gaeta was a homosexual.
  2. Gaeta was executed for treason. 
Although the show does not connect those two facts, the fact that Gaeta's a homosexual is only revealed an episode before he leads his failed mutiny. So those two facts are literally the last two things we ever learn about Gaeta before he dies. I hope no one thought that Gaeta's homosexuality had anything to do with his decision to rebel, but it is an extremely unfortunate coincidence and an unflattering end to one of BSG's two homosexual characters.

I will end this with a final comment on Lt. Hoshi. While Hoshi does survive the series to the very end and was in a relationship with Gaeta, Hoshi was never developed as a character to the level Gaeta was and remained a C-lister at best.

Admiral Helena Cain

Admiral Helena Cain
While argument over whether Gaeta was actually evil or not is still an excellent matter for debate, Admiral Helena Cain was from her introduction was a clear antagonist to the more level-headed William Adama (then a Commander). Cain, much like Adama, is in command of what she believes to be the last functioning battlestar and responsible for the continued survival of humanity. Commanding the Pegasus, Cain quickly becomes consumed with a quest for revenge against the Cylons. When an early attack against the Cylons goes sour, Cain ignores the opportunity to escape and fight another day. Instead, Cain chooses to push the attack and suffer heavy casualties as well as personally executing her second-in-command for cowardice and insubordination. When the Pegasus discovers a surviving fleet of civilian craft, Cain orders all useful personnel press-ganged into service and strips the civilian ships of their Faster Than Light drives, effectively stranding them in space. When civilians resist this brutal treatment, Cain orders her marines to quash dissent with violence. These actions are brutal, but necessary for the continued survival and operation of the Pegasus and can to an extent be justified. William Adama faces some similar problems to the ones that Cain faced and seriously considered more ruthless options, however because he was surrounded by and listened to good people Adama ended up choosing more compassionate decisions than Cain. As the characters themselves state, Adama could have easily ended up acting like Cain if it were not for his advisers.

Where Cain crosses the line into outright villain territory, in my opinion, is her treatment of her Cylon prisoner. The Cylons created a number of artificial humans to infiltrate human society and help weaken it from within and provide intelligence for the Cylon armies. One Cylon infiltrator, under the alias Gina Inviere, works as a computer programmer to put Cylon malware in the Pegasus's computer systems. During her time on the Pegasus Gina becomes romantically involved with Admiral Cain and the two pursue a relationship. However when Cain discovers Gina is a Cylon agent she has Gina immediately incarcerated and orders her crew to begin a ruthless interrogation. Cain specifically instructs her crew to use tools such as fear, pain, and degradation in their interrogation and they ultimately end up using techniques such as torture and gang rape. ...yeah....

Listen, I don't want to get into a huge moral discussion right now because it's neither the time nor the place. I feel like it should be sufficient for all my readers to agree that rape is inherently wrong in all its forms, regardless of time, place, or circumstances. The simple fact that Admiral Cain not only knows her subordinates are carrying out regular gang rapes of a prisoner, but also she effectively orders her crew to do it makes her just as guilty as the rapists. If not more so. If I had to point to a single human character as irredeemably evil in a world of largely grey moralities...I would point to Cain. Again, I do not think that the writing staff intentionally made the homosexual character of Cain this complete monster and I am willing to accept that it was an unfortunate coincidence. A really, really unfortunate coincidence. Ultimately Gina escapes from her cell and kills Admiral Cain in Cain's quarters. As a viewer I saw it almost as a karmic execution of Cain, her sins finally being avenged, and felt little to no remorse over her passing.

During its run, Battlestar Galactica was a flagship show on the Sci-Fi channel and made it ask what it meant to be really human. We saw plenty of Cylons become compassionate and likable characters, and plenty of humans become ruthless and heartless bastards. Out of all the conflicting moral situations on the show, I came to see Admiral Adama and President Roslin as the moral leaders who make tough decisions, but ultimately the right ones. We also experience a wide range of relationships, from the dysfunctional Tigh marriage to the loving mixed marriage of Cylon agent Athena and Karl Agathon to the rampant womanizing of Gaius Baltar. Yet out of all these characters we have only two homosexuals, both of whom come into direct conflict with Adama and Roslin who, again, in my opinion represent the closest thing BSG has to a moral authority.  Even if this was not intentional, to a viewer it sends a message that homosexuals are somehow inherently bad and will definitely fight against proper morality at some point. In an age where homosexuals are struggling for civil rights equal to those of heterosexuals, for the American media to continue portraying them in a negative light is both unrealistic and in some cases harmful to their cause. Perhaps as viewers it is time we not only demand a realistic depiction of homosexuals (and other sexualities) in American media, but a positive and accepting depiction as well. It may not stop all the gay-bashers, but it will definitely stop spreading misconceptions and bad stereotypes we could all do without.

This post is dedicated to the memory of Alan Turing,  23 June 1912 - 7 June 1954. Without him, it is probable many more lives would have been lost in World War II and our modern computer-run society might not have been possible. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Hammer of the Scots

Hello folks! Another set of updates for the Let's Play. This time we shamelessly plug the Arsenal! You should check out the Arsenal. Oh wait. You're here already? Well then you should check out the Arsenal by clicking the link in the video description! I've also gather all the videos together into a playlist off my YouTube channel for ease of finding the videos as well. Enjoy!

Part 6:

Part 7:

Part 8:

Part 9:

Part 10:

God Save the Queen

- Carvan

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Let's Play a Let's Play!

Greetings all,

Just in time for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, I have my first set of updates for my promised Let's Play series. We begin with England in the year 1080. I've embedded the files here and also provided the links if you wish to watch them on YouTube itself. Hope you enjoy it!

Part 1:

Part 1.5:

Part 2:

Part 3:

God Save the Queen

- Carvan