arachnekallisti: (river song)
The Official Version
From the records of Watch Station Erioch:
"...The source of the psychic plague affecting the Deathwatch Librarium was eventually traced back to the Laeran artefacts discovered in the ruins on the world of Iphigenia. It appears that the work of Inquisitor Albertine Hoffmann and Brother-Codicier Ardashir in studying the sonic weaponry that had been recovered exposed them to the corruption carried within the very language of the Laer.

Kill-Team Claritas Pennata pursued the daemonic infestation tirelessly: first destroying the corrupted Brother-Codicer Ardashir and purging Watch Station Andronicus of the taint he had introduced; then purging the daemonic taint from the library of the Sisters Dialogus at Babel XVII, whilst cleansing corruption within their own Kill-team; later hunting the daemonhost that was all that remained of Inquisitor Hoffmann to the battlefleet near Iphigenia, where they succeeded in not only destroying it but recovering the Emperor-class battlecruiser that she had commandeered and rooting out an infiltrator within the ranks of the Deathwatch itself.

Finally, under the command of Brother-Chaplain Siegmund Salenar, they pursued the taint back to the Laeran sites on Iphigenia, ran the Tau blockade, succeeded in destroying Watch Station Skapula in order to keep it out of the foul xenos' hands, and succeeded in destroying all three Laeran sites. Brother-Librarian Agravaine reports that it appears that the Laeran ruins appear to have been sucked into the Immaterium, and that the Warp appears to be uncommonly still and calm in the vicinity of Iphigenia.

Kill-Team Claritas Pennata and the Kill-Marine Tacitus, last seen hunting a Tau Ethereal in the vicinity of Iphigenia, are presumed missing in action. They are remembered as heroes of the Deathwatch. May the Emperor's light shine upon their souls."

The Secret History )
arachnekallisti: (Default)
Oh, Moffat.

You magnificent bastard.

I never should have doubted you for a second.
arachnekallisti: (Default)
So my copy of the Deathwatch main rulebook arrived today, just before I left for work. About bloody time!

Expect a proper review later, when I've had a chance to look at it properly. It's a pleasant reminder that there is Life After Thesis. Observations so far:
1. Not that impressed by the cover art, which shows a Space Marine with really weird posture, but the interior art is as lovely as I'd expect from a 40K RPG.
2. The armoury chapter: dear Emperor, that's a lot of ammo types.
3. There are indeed rules for spitting acid and eating your enemies' brains to get their knowledge. The Adeptus Astartes: giving a whole new meaning to the phrase "crack troops".

So I just need to finish my thesis and then I can start writing up a campaign next.
arachnekallisti: (act her age)
I've just been reading some of the articles on The Secret History of Star Wars, which is a collection of articles (and a 100-word preview of a book) about the development of the trilogy we know and love (and that other trilogy we know). What really interested me is all the glimpses of the Star Wars we missed - the one where Darth Vader really did betray and murder Luke's father, or where Leia was Luke's love interest not his sister, or where there was a whole episode about Wookiees set on Kashyyyk.

And, of course, there's the alternative world where David Lynch directed Return of the Jedi. I can't help but speculate about how that might have gone. How viscerally nasty would Jabba's court have become? How cryptic would Yoda's dialogue have got?

And this leads me to a fun game to play in your lunch hour.

Pick a continuity, any one you like. Speculate wildly about how it might have gone differently if written by another author.

Let's consider the counterfactual worlds in which Warren Ellis wrote WH40K fiction*, and Joss Whedon was in charge of The X-Files.

Listen, there's a hell of a good universe next door.

*I suspect in this universe Nottingham mysteriously burned down**, among other things.
** Note to self: Warren Ellis probably cannot actually set things on fire with his mind. Probably.
arachnekallisti: (comic book villain)
Psychological realism in the superhero genre; is it possible? Is it worth bothering with?

For example, here's an argument* that Tim Burton's Batman films actually work a lot better than Christopher Nolan's, since Michael Keaton's Batman lives in a world so flamboyant and over-the-top that dressing up as a giant bat and beating up muggers really doesn't make him noticeably weirder than anyone else, but Christian Bale's seems to live in a realistic city in which normal people do normal things, but there is inexplicably not as much of a "WTF?!" response to the costumed vigilante as there should be. Definitely got a point here, and there were moments during "The Dark Knight" in which I, for one, was jarred by Gotham City looking so damn normal.

So, are superheroes the kind of genre, like fairy tales or grand opera, which are essentially so trippy and strange that attempting to introduce common sense is missing the whole point, and running with the trippy strangeness is a far better idea? Let's consider a few examples.

- Watchmen is entirely based around introducing psychological realism to the superhero genre, and then following the ensuing geopolitical trainwreck. It works so damn well because we have a historical context for the existence of masked vigilantes, which explains why on earth someone might conceivably end up doing that.
- Heroes has not been doing too badly at it**; I'm wondering if it's managed to do that because it's dumped quite a lot of the genre tropes, most notably costumes, codenames and secret identities.
- Strontium Dog has taken the same basic concept as X-Men, but by playing the anti-mutant bigotry and the mutants' responses to it as something much more like real-world bigotry, has transformed the concept into sci-fi - pulpy, space operatic sci-fi that is not afraid of the crack, to be sure, but not really a superhero story any more.
- Nextwave, on the other hand, has kicked psychological realism in the face and thrown a car at its head, and is pure liquid awesome as a result.

I'd be inclined to say that either approach can work, but has its risks: psychologically realistic superheroes can work, but they either need an awful lot of context establishing for them, in order to make dressing up with a costume and mask and fighting crime look less WTF-worthy, or they just need those tropes quietly discarding. Taking the crackiness and running with it is by no means an easier alternative; it can give you Nextwave, or it can give you the Goddamn Batman.

Personally, I'm inclined to stop worrying and love the crack; it's kind of hit and miss, but it's so damn awesome when it hits.

*Originally discovered following a link from Slacktivist, from what was originally a rather fine take-down of the seething stew of bad writing, bad research and bad theology that is the Left Behind series. The superhero conversation starts on page 2 of the comments.

**Heroes at its height, I mean; leaving aside the regrettable plot lapses in which entire seasons have degenerated into the passing around of the Stupid Ball and the Evil Stick in some sort of game of Stupid-Evil Lacrosse.


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October 2012

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