Man the life-boats Man!New Feature: The AD&D Question of the Day

30 01 2010

So the world about Nashville is now covered in the beautiful middle finger to entropy that is snow. First big one here since 1996 if the weather monster is to be believed. Snow really puts a hurting on folks here in the south. Right now a stranded couple are trapped in the back seat of their car drawing straws for which one will sacrifice a leg to sustain them until this almighty blizzard breaks sometime Monday. Water is funny: incompressible, shrinks about ten percent when freezing then explodes into higher volume. Nothing like it, and it’s not even like it. Every water in the universe has a different deuterium signature.

So as noted above I have a new caption: the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons question of the day (or whenever I post). I do this in homage to the game that set so many genre writing careers in motion and allowed so many unathletic kids to get together and tell stories and feel like heroes. The question will be left posted until a correct answer is submitted. All answers are 2nd edition (because that was the new thing when I was starting to run my own games and I am a manchild frozen in time). The rules are thus: My cousin Chad can’t answer. He knows why.

So, Question 1.

In most cases the result of mixing potions is highly unpredictable. However, what will ALWAYS be the result when a treasure finding potion is mixed with

That'll teach you not to let me see your notes in fifth period, Kyle!


Alright. Let’s see what you know.

Now let’s talk about the ladies. Specifically the lack thereof. It is a myth that all male science fiction writers were geeks that uncomfortably bumbled there way through a gauntlet of social failures all through their pock marked adolescence.  Many of todays top shelf sci-fi and fantasy writers were actually very successful in their… HA, I can’t do it! I was such a dork! I lived for Star Trek, video games, comic books and dinosaurs. I listened to heavy metal, and played D&D after work until the sun came up! And it was the happiest time of my life! My hero was my (above mentioned) cousin because he had a tackle box full of painted miniatures! Oh, and stacks of Elfquest comics… oooooh, elf boobs. What was that little dudes name, Cutter! I didn’t even have to look that up! But guys, and I’m talking to the guys, every story you write does not have to be for, about and involving boys.  I’ve been getting some fiction from a few of you and I really don’t mind that. Frankly I’m very honored you would let me read your work, but there is a theme that I’ve noticed: fiction is all about the dudes. I’m not saying that isn’t acceptable. Heinlein’s woman were, well that’s not a good example. Let’s just say that you need to make sure your girls are not:

1: Furniture- Your women are card board cutouts that GN-DN (go nowhere, do nothing, he he) And just because your ships Captain is a female  doesn’t make her less of a couch. It’s the equivalent of the action movie PC trope of making the Police captain a black man. “We have diversity, look, the boss is black.” sounds a lot like, “I have strong female characters in my story! Look, the Star Captain is a woman!”

2: All sex kittens- Yes, writing is a product of your imagination, but if you want to sell, you had best clean out the sewer a bit. I’m sorry but some of your imaginations are sewers. At least get them into the range of public restrooms. Still dirty, but at least flushable.

3: Always talking in the way a guy hyper-imagines girls talk- Remember Princess Leia grabbing the blast rifle and blowing a hole in the floor of the detention level? Why do you think girls can only relate their feelings, anxieties, need to have a baby and or a tampons? Really, you know better than that.

and last, remember that…

4: Men are women too- You know that whole “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” thing? Do you know why that pseudo intellectual, pop psych 101 garbage probably saved millions of relationships? Because it addressed basic ingrained cultural realities to the way our patriarchy has historically relegated our individual socialization as men or women. It was uncritical, unreflective and nonjudgmental. The book didn’t say that the social roles we have forced upon us were right or wrong, it didn’t ask whether we were being trapped existentially by them, it just said “this is the way it is, this is how we can survive in it.” The book contains no great truth, frankly it’s idiotic, but much like duct tape or nyquil, it will fix the symptoms even if the disease rages on. I say all this because you need to get your heads around the fact that, despite what pop trash like that book says, men don’t just have feminine sides and vice versa, we exist in an ever shifting continuum, and you must rule your characters based on nothing so comforting or easy as what a mustachioed fuck-ass like Dr. Phil might shit out of the sphincter-like hole society thinks is his mouth.  James Joyce once said, “beware the acutely feminine mind.” That gets closer.

So to end this little rant I present-

Power House Female Characters of Sci-Fi* Film and TV

10. Hermione Granger- the plucky little witch that could. Her mind and heart often carry the day for ‘the one who lived though nobody can understand why and it really seems a forced plot device yet I still read them like I’m eating doritos which I’m doing most of the time while I read them.’

9.Lindsey Brigman- Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio’s character from the James Cameron Film The Abyss doesn’t need you messing up her rig.

8.Buffy (series)- The chosen one was a little needy in the beginning, but the realistic (i know, but you have to watch it) way that she develops into an actualized and complete person is lacking in most female main protags.

I judge you!

7.Dana Scully- Doctor, Special Agent, redhead. She has it all going for her and it is her brains you fall in love with. Her delicious brains.

6. Hyun-seo (The Host)- This character will make you want to lobby for 13 year old girls to be allowed in the military. Resourceful, tough, no powers, big critter.

I wonder how weak the girl in the upcoming American version will be?

5. Dr. Beverly Crusher (Star Trek TNG)- Doctor, Officer, Redhead… a theme. She gets tops over all other

He's not my son.

S.T. Franchise femmes (even O’hura) as a fully realized female independent of a male, and I like her better than On Golden Pond’s, Captain Janeway. It’s barely enough to make up for the Wuss Singularity that was her offspring.

4. Donna Noble (Dr. Who)– Catherine Tate’s portrayal of the older, unmarried and less than needy Donna Noble is definitely one of the more realistic characters in sci-fi. Oh, and she’s a redhead.

3. Princess Leia-

2.Starbuck… I mean Kara Thrace (Battlestar Galactica)- The hard

Isn't she dreamy?

drinking, cigar chewing, toaster smoking, skin-job torturing officer of the Galactica is only tougher when she’s piloting her viper down the throats of a squadron of enemy raiders. When she decks her superior in the poker game right out of the stable, you knew this is not a girl to be fraked with. She made Lee Adama look downright weak. Only gets second because of Jason Anders, and because number one is, well, number one.

1. Ripley- The badass number 2 from the Nostromo, Ripley is, to my knowledge the only major science fiction film/series heroine that has no male romantic interest/counterpart, or savior. She does this shit on her own without any crisis in her personality (fuck you Sarah Connor of T2). Please note: that this is mostly just Ripley in the original Alien…mostly.

The hottest thing my young eyes had ever seen.

That is the Science of Fiction. Hope you are all staying warm in the frozen parts and being cool where it’s hot. I depart with this bit of wisdom.

“If  your THAC0 is sixteen after all bonuses, then you shouldn’t try and tangle with anything under AC -4 as you will be required to roll a natural 20 to score a hit. I mean really, anything with an AC better than 6 reduces you to below fifty/fifty, so try your luck, but seriously, don’t do it.”  Mark Twain

Next Up: The Free Market.

Andrew C. Porter, Master and Commander- The Science of Fiction




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