Houseboats in Space

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At the beginning of the July 2016 Camp NaNoWriMo, I was in the mood for some old-school anime.  During Camp NaNo in July 2013, I’d inter-spaced bouts of writing with episodes of an anime called Black Jack.  Every so many hours, words, or pages, I would reward myself with an episode or two.  It got me through the month and it was an enjoyable show.  This time, I decided to start watching an anime I’d been eyeing for a while.  It’s called Space Pirate Captain Harlock, and I cannot express how hooked I currently am.  It’s got that gorgeous old-school look that only anime from the late 70s and early 80s have.  The drama is totally over-the-top, the science is out of whack or non-existent, and the plot lurches around like a drunken sailor.  But the characters are so endearing and the adventures are so fun that I don’t even mind it.  That’s just part of the experience.  In fact, I’ve actually had to stop watching it for now because it makes me want to write about pirate ships and space operas, not steampunk or romances.  (Oops.  Wrong choice for this project’s inspirational material.)

Captain Harlock

Still, as I was watching the first several episodes of Captain Harlock on Crunchyroll, I started thinking about all of the other science fiction anime and TV shows that heavily feature nautical themes and emphasize the tight-knit family unit that the crews of these ships become.  In Captain Harlock, this takes place on board the Arcadia.  In Last Exile, the first anime I ever watched, it’s the Silvana.  In the original Mobile Suit Gundam, we have the White Base.  (The power of the Bright-slap compels you! …*ahem* Yes, well, moving on.)  In Space Battleship Yamato it’s… er, well, the Yamato.  (Yes, I know that was redundant.)

Then you have all of the English TV shows and films, like the Enterprise from Star Trek, the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars, Serenity from Firefly, Battlestar Galactica from… um, well, Battlestar Galactica. (Yes, yes, I know, more redundancy.)  And to top that off there are good old-fashioned ocean-going vessels: the Defiant, the Albatrossthe HMS Surprise, and Captain Nemo’s submarine the Nautilus, to name a few.
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Dealing with Discouragement

Recently, a friend and fellow writer told me they felt discouraged about writing. They were upset about so many people being unable to spot the differences between a good story and a bad story.  Real gems languish in dusty corners while insults to the English language fly off the shelves.  And not just books, but movies too.  Their question was: “If people can’t tell the difference between good and bad stories, why put forth the effort of crafting a really good story?”  Thinking out the rules of the world, creating three-dimensional characters, filling plot holes to make a seamless narrative…all of that takes work.  And if people don’t notice and don’t care, then why bother?

(NOTE: The movie links contain spoilers!)

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Give the Men Some Love

I was going to write a more serious entry this week, but decided against it.  I have been at the epicenter of some of my favorite shows in the past few days, so that’s where my mind has been.  Since I believe in following my literary impulses, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite male characters.  (I will avoid spoilers as much as I can.)

Image via PeterWoodward.com

Image via PeterWoodward.com

GALEN 
Actor:  Peter Woodward
Series:  Babylon 5: Crusade


Wizard, British, wry sense of humor, and black leather coats…what more could a girl ask for?  Galen is a techno-mage, part of an eclectic order that uses an ancient advanced technology to simulate the effects of magic…and is pretty odd and mysterious even by the standards of that order.  He’s highly independent and powerful as well as irritating to other characters in Crusade because he “shows up when he’s least wanted and most needed,” not to mention having a habit of withholding information.  I love Galen’s wry, often cynical sense of humor, his crisp, precise way of speaking, and his eyes are some of the most expressive I’ve ever seen.  He’s also one of my favorite character-types, what I call “the Tortured Soul.”  Characters of this type have hidden histories, often tragic, that slowly comes to light over the course of the series.  Galen is one of those who tries to be completely self-sufficient, but his efforts only highlight his isolation and loneliness.  Which only makes me want to give him a hug.  ^_^

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Cult and Tone-Twists

I’ve been reading a book called The Cult TV Book:  From Star Trek to Dexter, New Approaches to TV Outside the Box.  It’s a collection of scholarly essays on the phenomenon known as cult television, shows like Star TrekFireflyBuffy the Vampire SlayerBabylon 5, or Battlestar Galactica that gain a dedicated, and sometimes even massive, following of viewers who are deeply engaged in an ever-expanding and enriched reading of the universes, stories, characters, and themes contained within those shows.  I’m fascinated by books and articles like this, particularly when it pertains to media I like or hobbies I participate in.  Several of the articles so far have pointed out that the dedication of fans to these kinds of shows and their willingness to consume alternate media relating to those shows, such as websites, conventions, podcasts, fanfiction, and purchasing DVDs and other merchandise have impacted networks.  Television networks have begun shifting their focus from creating shows that are (usually) insipid enough to appeal to the greatest number of people to focusing on niche markets of smaller, but more dedicated, viewers on networks such as HBO.  The trend that once marginalized cult TV fans is now what helps TV networks make a profit as they design more and more shows to be more like original cult TV and tap into the love fans have for shows that reward attentive viewing.

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