bloodyrosemccoy: (Why)
I am pretty sure that a recent confession on Twitter that, despite its utter stupidity and its complete failure to have anything to do with the games and that Mini-Amelia spent vast amounts of time constructing a much better universe for the characters to play in that actually REFLECTED the spirit of the franchise and thus she could not be bothered to care about the movie's idiocy, I am completely incapable of hating the Super Mario Bros. movie, somehow contributed to Bob Hoskins' death. I have this suspicion that one day not long ago, I confessed that I just love it for no good goddamn reason, and he felt a sudden shiver down his back and had some sort of post-traumatic flashback to that horrible experience, and then he gasped and aspirated a potato chip and it gave him pneumonia and he died. So sorry about that.

I have no idea how I managed to kill H.R. Giger today, though. But I'm sorry about that, too.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Planets)
So Discovery aired a kind of sequel to Mermaids: The Body Found last week, and just like when the first one came out last year, and with that dragon one some years back, it raises an important and intriguing question:

Dude, am I the only one who thought it was just a really fun sci-fi mockumentary?

The only opinions I've really seen are "OMG I'M CONVINCED MERMAIDS R TOTALLY REAL AND THE GOVERNMENT IS COVERING IT UP" and "TRICKERY! This is naught but a HOAX you fools! It is trashy TV to ensnare unwary minds!" It's like for this particular series people forget that speculative fiction is a thing. Admittedly the documentary format is more prone to being misunderstood than your standard SyFy Original or blockbuster,* but c'mon. They are not trying to tell us The Truth, or to confuse the masses with falsehood. They are being creative and playing with science and story.

Anyway, I was kind of disappointed with the follow-up. I really liked the first one--I'm a total sucker for grain-of-science mockumentaries like that. And given that my school biology notes were covered with speculative attempts to design biologically viable, evolutionarily plausible mammalian mermaids (who are going to show up in OGYAFE 2: Electric Boogaloo), or fungal Mushroom People (y'know, the Super Mario ones), or plant-based fairies (like, say, Terwu'arie from Scatterstone), I would say that shouldn't be a surprise. I love making up critters. Hell, the game Spore was just an extension of what I've been doing all along. Only I do it more thoroughly.

But I am also a sucker for speculative anthropology.** So while the ~*~mysteeeerious mystery*~* of cryptozoology was fun, and I do rather enjoy creepy "found" footage, I would have preferred more of a staight-up metafictional study of their evolution and culture. As long as this IS fiction, I do wish they'd carry the story further. Public discovery, contact, language, all that shit that people think doesn't work as entertainment--I would watch the HELL out of that. ("Since making contact with the merfolk, Dr. Dirk Squarejaw has been living on his boat in the open ocean, studying their lifestyle. He filmed the whole thing. Here are some of the highlights." I WOULD WATCH THAT. I might even skip watching 7 Or 8 Assholes And Mister Rogers, if the two shows were in the same time slot. God, TV is so much cooler in my head.)

... Actually, come to think of it, that was pretty much my wish for Avatar, too. But you knew that.


RANDOM POINTLESS COMPLAINT: It kind of annoys me that they kept referring to the entire species as "mermaids." I hereby propose we come up with a good sex-unspecific term for merpeople that isn't as cumbersome as, y'know, "merpeople."


*Their big mistake was tossing in the Government Coverup. If you're a conspiracy theorist, any debunking of that is only further proof that the debunker is PART OF THE CONSPIRACY. There is no way to argue with the claim that "they had to present it as fiction because otherwise the government/Illuminati/lizard people would have completely crushed it."

**Or anthropoidology, I guess.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Xenofairies)
Dad finally worked up the nerve to watch Prometheus. That movie gets more absurd every time I watch it.

Dad, however, was determined to Figure It Out. I told him my theory about the Engineers,* which is moot because I'm still not convinced that this was, in fact, an Alien movie. Dad decided that the other movies make a lot more sense when you realize that the xenomorphs are engineered bioweapons. We further figured that they had all SORTS of fun things going on in those goo-canisters, although for the life of us we can't figure out what the point of the glop that makes one guy disintegrate into mold while the girlfriend he had sex with C-sections out a squiddy little Just Plain Hugger would be.

The upshot, though, is that now he wants to watch the other Alien movies, so we caught Aliens last night. And possible Prometheus subtexts aside, watching Forklift Ripley vs. Alien Queen is always time well-spent.


*Namely, that not all of them see eye-to-eye. See, the guy at the beginning "seeded" our planet or whatever with human DNA in direct defiance of his buddies, who were not so keen on having another intelligent race who might challenge them. You know. LIKE PROMETHEUS DID. So he was all for creating humanity, and they ... were less interested and decided to wipe us out. I have no idea why it took them so long to get their shit together. Physics?
bloodyrosemccoy: (Weirdos)
Watchin' Prometheus again. I love how the ARCHAEOLOGISTS are all spine-chillingly spooked by the fact that everyone at their extraterrestrial ARCHAEOLOGICAL DIG SITE is totally dead. It's like walking into the Great Pyramid and being shocked to find that "THIS IS JUST ANOTHER TOMB!" Yes. Yes, it is.

If they're disappointed and creeped out by dead people and civilizations, maybe they should pick another line of work. They are shitty enough at science that they make Indiana Jones look like the height of careful proceduralism. Maybe they could get work as a demolition squad instead. They seem to be really good at that.

The movie's not bad, but I have to say I still haven't decided if it's an Alien movie. Mostly because I was disappointed with the explanation of the Space Jockey. The vague ideas I had in my head were a lot cooler.

Anyway. If you want a hilarious blow-by-blow recap, go check out [livejournal.com profile] cleolinda's Prometheus in 15 minutes. And don't worry. She thinks they're terrible scientists, too!

ETA: ... And an hour and a half into the movie somebody finally utters the line "I wouldn't touch that if I were you." Maybe somebody should've said that BEFORE the terrible space explorers decided to take off their containment suits, the terrible self-serving CEO lady installed a custom medical kit that has never heard of so-called "women," the terrible archaeologists breathed and sweated and stomped and knowing these guys probably pooped all over the site, the terrible forensic surgeon exploded her sample, and the terrible biologist decided his first response to a newly discovered alien life form is not to observe it, but to jam his finger down its throat. WHY START NOW?
bloodyrosemccoy: (A Zorg!)
And now, for some reason, we're watching Alien: Resurrection.

RIPLEY 7: K ... k ... ill ... me ...

RIPLEY 8: *FLAMES ON THE SIDE OF EVERYONE'S FACE*

RON PERLMAN: Must be a chick thing.

MY SISTER: Great line. Seriously, Ron? What, like she's on the rag?

*pause*

ME: Shit, that's a frightening thought.

MY SISTER: Oh, JESUS, you're RIGHT.

ME: THERE GOES ANOTHER PAIR OF PANTS

MY SISTER: GAME OVER, MAN

ME: THE AGONY

MY SISTER: I DISSOLVED ANOTHER TAMPON

ME: THE PLUMBING IS ON FIRE

MY SISTER: GIMME THAT FLAMETHROWER SO THAT I MAY DO MYSELF IN

ME: K ... ILL ... ME ...

MY SISTER: ... yeah, that would be a legitimate reason to call it 'the curse.'

ME: I am not even going to think about what this means for the womb-having Alien Queen Brad Dourif was blathering on about.

MY SISTER: Yeah, massive hull breach. Leave them in space for a while, and the whole alien problem pretty much solves itself.
bloodyrosemccoy: (BADASS SPOCK)
Picked up the Star Trek Countdown graphic novel at work the other day,* and pleased I was to discover that it's official canon that Nemesis Never Happened. It was an excellent handwave: two panels of "It's good to see you're not dead after all!" "Yeah, I get that a lot." And then they go on with explaining How Real Spock Got His ROFLcopter and Why Nero's Simple Mining Ship Is A God Damn Death Star.

This is the correct approach for Nemesis.**

It's also nice to see that the reboot was ushered in with a demonstration of the Worf Effect. Gotta love the fanservice in this franchise.

So, yeah, enjoyable graphic novel. Now, allow me to rant about supplemental materials in general!

Here is my thought: I like 'em a lot, but dammit they're supposed to be supplemental. I hate it when the answers to big gaping plot holes get buried in deleted scenes or the comics or whatever. Avatar would've been a better movie with that HOUR of cut stuff that explains pretty much everyone's motivation, the theatrical cut of Aliens leaves out some very useful information, and upon a rewatch I discovered that the theatrical cuts of LotR make NO GODDAMN SENSE. Aragorn has an actual character arc in the extended editions. Also, did you know there's an explanation for why the District 9 aliens have no idea how to pilot their own ship? Yeah, neither did I.*** Which, you know, would be nice to know in the movie itself.

I guess what I'm saying is, dangit, give me the infodumps. You can never have too much information, by god!


*God DAMN it's good working in a library.

**The most correct outlook is that none of the the TNG movies happened, on account of they were stupid. TNG's my favorite series, but the movies are not so much.

***Because they're the lowest caste of a eusocial society, is why. Apparently there was a big old epidemic on the ship that killed off all the smarter castes, and the ship itself limped to Earth on autopilot. Now they've got to start producing those smarter castes again.
bloodyrosemccoy: (The Hive)
Hey, check out this really nifty link [livejournal.com profile] sofish_sasha sent me: Inside The Mind of the Octopus. Not all the information will be new to everyone, but it’s all deeply fascinating. Alien intelligence, indeed.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Space Madness)
Cowboys and Aliens was pretty good. It doesn't have me riding a movie high like my favorite summer blockbusters, but it was still good times. I would, however, like to suggest that Hollywood avoid putting Daniel Craig next to Harrison Ford, or any other leading dude with a personality, as it only serves to highlight Craig's lack thereof. Craig seemed to be taking his acting inspiration from the silent protagonists of video games. Either that or his amnesia is just one aspect of his brain damage, and he's also got some processing aphasia. I mean, most people don't take upwards of five minutes to process and respond to what people say to them.

On the other hand you can't go wrong with Harrison Ford. He is the exact right guy for a movie about cowboys and Indians kicking alien ass, because he is one of the few people who can convince me he could take out a flying saucer with a shotgun.* After that, everything else is gravy anyway.


*Another is Michelle Rodriguez, who should have been in this movie.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Sweet Moves)
What I Learned Since The Spring Equinox

- Komodo dragons have a hunting strategy so creepy I now check my closet for them every night.
- Brandon Sanderson is a damn fine fantasy author.
- Tales from the Crypt was on HBO, making it a lot more TV-MA than I ever expected it to be. It’s still incredibly cheesy, though.
- One way to get that stonewashed jeans look is to unleash the cellulose-dissolving fungus Trichoderma. Jeans: pre-molded for your convenience!
- Above gateways in castles it was common to have a watchtower with a hole looking down upon people entering—where one could drop rocks or boiling oil on undesirables. This was called a MURDER HOLE.
- Snails and slugs are DEMON SPAWN FROM HELL WHO WILL EAT ALL YOUR BEANLINGS. They are one of the few members of the animal kingdom I cannot love anyway, so this is no surprise.
- The USDA divides US climates into numbered garden hardiness zones, with lower numbers equalling harsher growing conditions. It does not work quite as well in the western US as in the east, though. However, Salt Lake City is roughly Zone 6.
- DeviantART twits ship Kel/Joren. OH GOD WHY.
- Dad does not like heights.
- Raccoons can have 3-6 kits in a litter. In your attic.
- The Four Corners region’s desert status is even more recent than I realized—at the tail end of the ice age, it was a lot more temperate and its woodlands probably even reached above your waist.
- Sometimes the things you think are your job actually get you into trouble with your boss.
- Total Recall is an awesome movie. WHY DID NOBODY TELL ME?*
- For that matter, so is Invasion of the Body Snatchers—both the 1956 and 1978 versions.
- The Great Basin is a subset of the Basin and Range region of the US. I was never really clear on the difference.
- The pygmy hog’s piglets fit in your palm and are the most adorable things short of baby golden moles.
- William Gibson’s early, non-awful treatment of Alien3 is available online. It is still not as awesome as the version in my head, because nothing could be, but at least it’s got adventures and Hicks and Bishop and Newt!
- On a similar note, James Cameron’s Avatar would have greatly benefitted from the hour of deleted and only-partially-animated scenes on the Extra Super Bonus DVD. I’m not saying that would’ve made it a great movie, but it would’ve been a better movie. You get more Norm! And more Max! How is that bad?
- Most people do not find a cut and size of jeans that work for them, then just keep buying that style over and over so they don’t have to bother trying them on. Weirdos.
- Sometimes you find yourself running a bed and breakfast purely by accident. Anybody else want to touch the llama?


*I showed it to my sister, whose response was “Oh, my god, why have I not been watching this every day since high school?”
bloodyrosemccoy: (Default)
Rewatching Aliens always makes me feel happy. Weird, I know,* but I get all happy about the fistfight at the end, in which Ripley tries to kill the Queen with a forklift (¡olé!). Plus I have a Weird Crush on Bishop. He just wants to be loved. I WILL BE YOUR FRIEND, BISHOP.**

I just found out there’s a full treatment of at least one of the thirty or so much more awesome screenplays people came up with before shitting out the actual Alien3. None of them is quite as good as my own headcanon, in which the four survivors of Aliens go off to battle the aliens at their source—Ripley and Hicks because fuck aliens, Newt because she sneaks along to be with Ripley, and Bishop because the aliens present an imminent threat to life in the universe and he takes the first law of robotics very seriously. So we wind up Ripley, Hicks, and Bishop running missions and teaming up with new mercenaries (maybe the goofs from Serenity vs. Alien Resurrection***) and Newt out in ops with a wall o’ computers and they all have crazy space adventures forever. Also, there are ponies.

By the way, you may be amused by the art of my awesome buddy Lychee, who has really taken off with some crazy suggestion my subconscious made years ago of Wolverine vs. Xenomorph. We both still agree that this would be excellent, since Wolverine could potentially survive incubating one. Maybe if we all ask her nicely she’ll still draw that bit of the comic we were making where Wolverine’s chestburster makes its appearance, which was HILARIOUS, but for now you can enjoy her stuff!

PS: Lychee also did my default icon, visible up there, which is a portrait of me. You can view the full thing here, where you will shit bricks when you realize that the things flying around me are my swarm of xenofairies. I am still super pleased that she made this drawing of me.


*Not as weird by my buddy Liz, whose Happy Movie is Schindler’s List. Liz is a little odd.

**On the other hand, watching Alien makes me regard Bilbo Baggins with a certain amount of suspicion. The Lord of the Rings has become a weird experience with me, what with my fear that Bilbo will start stuffing magazines into people and my inability to avoid inserting “DAMMIT, JIM” before every line Éomer utters.

***Resurrection was not really a bad movie; it was just not a very good movie. I liked the Betty crew, though—I’ll give Joss Whedon credit for damn fine characters.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Old Spice Onna Horse)
Hey, guys, another interview meme! Meant to jump start me back into life and writing and stuff!

You can comment and I might give you questions, although given my track record with that it may be a while or never before I actually do. Uh, sorry about that. I am trying …

Anyway! [livejournal.com profile] beccastareyes asked me some questions!

1. I don't remember if I've asked this before, but why did you go to Africa?

Short answer: because I was studying Swahili.

Longer answer: lots of reasons. I have always been an anthropology nerd, and so I really wanted to take a look at any place that was not familiar to me—I wanted to get some perspective on human culture, mine and others’. Plus, it would be an adventure.*

I could really have gone anywhere, but I had picked up a book on Kiswahili a few years earlier, and in doing so I learned a bit about the history and culture of the Swahili people. It was fascinating enough that it seemed like a cool place to start.

2. Favorite conlang or conculture project. Or just rambling on whether you can separate the two, or if conlanging is an aspect of conculturing.

I AM SO GLAD YOU ASKED. HOW LONG DO YOU HAVE?

I’ve got a few right now:

Unicorn Riders! )

Big Fluffy Aliens! )

Third, I’m working on the OGYAFEland cultures. On the one side you get the humans of the kingdom Polara, whose society I hope is believable and unique from any cultures here in our world (not to mention the annals of fantasy). On the other you get the sprites, who are shamelessly utopian, because god dammit I don’t care if it’s not fashionable, I am the writer and I get to make a world where things went right.

Highlights from the human side of things are a sense of style like the bastard child of French Renaissance and Streamline Moderne, verb phrase place names (“Roses Climbing”; “Sparks Fall on the Mountain”; “Lion’s Roar Drowning”), a casual animistic belief system with cultural heroes but no gods, a lunisolar calendar, interjections like “Skulls and Shrooms!”, a complex gender spectrum based on beliefs about blood, magic as a high-education trade like medicine or law, and patchwork pants. On the sprite side, you get energy efficience, love of the arts, large cities twined with woodland and meadows, no school, and, naturally, socialism.

3. Is Tamora Pierce worth reading as a grown-up? I read three of the Alanna books as a kid, but it was near the end of my 'sneak into the kids books to grab things' phase. Now, of course, there's Amazon and used books.

YES. (As mentioned on her blog, neither of us is ashamed of the kids’ section—I never was, and she got over it. I truly believe that some of the best writing can be found in juvie and YA sections.)

4. What's the best thing about living in Utah? Given I've spent all of a couple of hours there, enlighten me.

That you can forget about your laundry and leave it in the washing machine overnight and it won’t grow mildew.

Okay, real answer: How orange it is! In Salt Lake you theoretically get all four seasons, which means a lovely bit of variety, but I especially like the aspens and scrubby oaks turning colors in the fall. They make a lovely swishy noise when the wind blows through them, and the air smells GREAT, all crisp and dry and a little bit like leaf and dirt.

Dig:
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And in the south, there’s the orange of red rock, in strange and wonderful buttes and arches and basins. It also smells great there—a soporific combination of sun, iron, and sage.

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You can almost smell it now!

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Oh, and there were dinosaurs.

5. Your LJ says to ask you about your mermaid collection, so a fellow ocean fan is asking.

I’ll be damned! Somebody found the “Things to ask me about” bit!

I’ve always loved mermaids, ever since I was three years old and saw Disney’s The Little Mermaid and loved it.*** I like the variations on merfolk in history and the aesthetic, and—you should know me by now—working out how they could actually live underwater has always appealed to me. (I have worked out several “species” of merfolk; one of my favorites is a fully mammalian species that stole quite a bit from the adaptations of dolphins. Merfolk with blubber!)

So I sort of wound up collecting various mermaid figures and pictures, just because I thought they were interesting. (It started, once again, with Disney: the first mermaid in my collection was a Happy Meal toy Ariel I got soon after seeing the movie.) I’ve built up a sizeable pile of mermaids!

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Sadly, this is the best picture I have of them right now; they’re in storage pending my getting a house with some room to display them. But once it comes out, I’ll even have a few more to add to the mix, including that one crazy clay sculpture of a skelemermaid I got for Xmas one year. So yeah, it’s still growing!


*There was also a little bit of defiance there; people all worried about the whole chronic-depression-dependent-on-pills thing, and I wanted to prove that it wouldn’t hold me back.

**I have books like these for many concultures. I call them my hitchhiker’s guides.

***Not so much love for the original Hans Christian Andersen story. Have you read it? It is LOONY. It’s some kind of codependent psychodrama and has a whole lot of weird theology about whether or not mermaids can acquire an immortal soul. Kind of like an early version of Teen Supernatural Romance.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Space Madness)
I just realized that the interior of the Nostromo is almost exactly how I picture the interior of the Pride of Chanur, only the Pride has more spots to secure loose items and also shorter doorways. And for some reason I imagine the hani would paint the walls a tasteful adobe pink.

However, the rest of it—catwalks, giant clunky control panels, blocky padded doorways, blinking lights, varmints in the ducts, and of course boxy 80’s* greenscreen dot-matrix computer technology—them are all the same.

Also you should go read the Chanur Saga. It is awesome.


*Well, almost 80’s.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Planets)
Watchin’ James Cameron’s Giant Epic Collector’s Extended Super Bonus Edition of Avatar, and the goddamn adorable Sigourney Weavertar is showin’ off her school holding a copy* of—I am not making this up—Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax. This tells me two things:

1. Public education in Space Futureland is about as awful as it is here and now, if the best books you can get were written almost two hundred years ago, and

2. JAMES CAMERON IS FUCKING SUBTLE, YO.

Also, I continue to be highly pleased by the way a certain breed of geek has gotten interested in the Na’vi language. I usually don’t study other people’s conlangs with an intent to become fluent—too busy studying my own—but it’s a lot of fun to know that some people are.

Other Observations

First, I am trying to figure out what is up with Mo’at’s fancy forked pigtail double-queue. Is that what makes her a special shaman? ("Double nerve-braids! SO INTENSE!")

Second, I wish Michelle Rodriguez and Sigourney Weaver were the human protagonists. They are the coolest humans, especially with the added stuff you get in this extended edition. Max also should get to do more.

And third, I am glad that they at least gave Selfridge (SUBTLE!!!!) a slight conscience, and didn’t make him a completely amoral company asshole. It’s possibly one of the most complex bits of characterization in the whole movie. And yes, that really isn’t saying much.

By the way, if you’ve got some hours to spare, the Rifftrax for Avatar is one of the best, containing the single funniest line I’ve ever heard. I would tell it to you, but it needs to be in context. Just know that it's right before the banshee-taming bit.


*Presumably one of those big damn copies librarians use for Story Time, since it was Na'vi-sized.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Space Madness)
Okay, okay, the ginger Klingon is less irritating now.

I could have done without the ginger-Klingon sex, though.

The idea of introducing Pilot to Gypsy, however, has given me an excellent twist for an upcoming Doctors!verse novel. When I return to a sci-fi ruining state of mind,* the medical saga of Shipmonster G. Space!Kraken,** already inspired by an aspect of Gypsy, gets an upgrade. It hasn't made me cackle before now. I love it when I cackle.

Speaking of medical drama, I can't stop writing it even in high fantasy, it would seem. You rarely hear, "There will be a slight delay in our world-saving Quest on account of our hero's recovery from open-heart surgery" in these stories. I'd like to see the Houses of Healing deal with a character whose heart has just exploded. THAT'S RIGHT, YO, MY NOT!ELVES ARE WAY COOLER THAN YOUR ELVES.

Damn, I love this hobby. You wish yours was half so much fun.


*I oscillate between sci-fi and fantasy moods pretty regularly.

**Another placeholder name. It takes me YEARS sometimes to come up with good names.

For the record, the G stands for Gamera.
bloodyrosemccoy: (The Hive)
Aha! Another episode of TNG I haven’t seen before—and goddamn, it’s one of the episodes that fills me with glee! I flippin’ love it when the Space!People make first contact with some pre-industrial society in TNG, because of instead of the “WE COME IN PEACE SHOOT TO KILL” philosophy of Captain Kirk and whoever they put in charge of The Future in Avatar and the CDF of Old Man’s War*, you get to watch a much more hopeful view of people who really do care about treating people with civility.**

Quite apart from the optimistic idea that maybe at some point we actually learn from past mistakes, it makes for a lot more interesting plotlines and character interactions. Us vs. Them gets kind of old after a while.

It’s why I’ve said that I’d love to just see Avatar be a documentary—I am the sort of person who barely needs a plot if the universe itself is interesting enough. I could spend hours on a pointless virtual tour of Pandora. There are also a million other plot possibilities I can think of that would be more in-depth and engaging, although there would be fewer opportunities for huge explosions. (Off the top of my head: lost wanderer human falls in with Na’vi, humans and Na’vi band together to save Pandora or Earth from some outside threat, humans decide to save Pandora from some outside threat while remaining unknown to the natives, aliens do that for humans,*** Na’vi and humans establish trade, etc., etc..) I’d take any of those as a totally interesting alternative.

Plus, in this one you get to see Data being helpless and stripped of affectation and showing he’s innocent and empirical, and then a mob beats the shit out of him. And there's a crazy medieval Alchemist Lady! What more could you ask for?


Yet Another Universal Translator Discussion Question: In this episode, Data gets Classic Hollywood Amnesia and forgets who he is and what the Federation is, but he remembers Science. So he staggers into some preindustrial society and spouts technobabble at them—but he does it in their language, and they don’t seem to have science words. So is he just making words up? Tossing in English (or Klingon or something) words? Using these people’s words in strange new ways analogous to some weird linguistic algorithm? Or what?


*Still an excellent book, and I’m led to expect that as I read more I’ll find that they question their tendency to shoot all the aliens.

**I know people have just remarked upon Stephen Hawking’s pessimistic predictions about aliens, but he’s been saying it would go badly since at least A Brief History of Time. (Damn, that’s a good book.) But I do hope some aliens would be nicer than that.

***Mostly just because that’s my one real beef with the Prime Directive. It pisses me right the hell off when the Federation starts waffling on about how sad it is that they’ve just found a planet that’s about to get destroyed and they can’t be assed just to knock the asteroid out of the way while not making any contact with the people. Dude, it’s a stroke of luck you came along when you did. Just save the fuckers.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Planets)
You know, I keep trying to give my orly aliens a broad but definitive cultural background, to give them opinions and attitudes and strong identities and understandable material culture and basically make them as real as possible. I want to give them, with their own alien twist, the breadth of human experience, from war to love, from art to industry, from stone wheel to spaceship. Theirs is a dignified and worthy entry into the ranks of alien concultures.

The only problem is, every time I make another entry into their hitchhiker’s guide, I wind up making them look FUCKING ADORABLE.

I wonder if Poul Anderson, or indeed the Na’vi anthropologists, ever had this problem.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Creative Expression)
Have started trying to work on the language for my orlys again.

For those of you who don’t live inside my head with me, the orlys are one of my alien species. They’re a sort of two-legged elephantosaurus, with one huge eye that perceives things like color, contours, and gestalts, and three smaller eyes spaced around their heads that give them a 360˚ range of black and white contour and motion perception and a rather awkward depth perception. They have a trunklike proboscis under the big eye, and two long tentacles on either side of it. And yes, they are so-named because the first one I drew looked like it was making the O RLY owl face.

Orlys are naturally deaf,* so they communicate with sign language—which is why it’s been difficult to make a conlang, because I am a slow artist, and despite my longstanding interest in ASL it’s harder for me to process than spoken language.

I think I’ve worked out a sort of writing system, though, with each morpheme (or possibly equivalent of a syllable; I haven’t decided) containing three radicals—one for each manipulator, with different glyphs for tentacle/trunk shape and diacritical marks to indicate various other aspects. It’s starting to look like a cross between SignWriting and Rikchik.** I’m thinking it’ll wind up resembling ASL and other human sign languages more in terms of structure, but I still need to work it out.

The important thing is, I can finally start working it out now that I have a way to notate it. It’s one of the first times I’ve started a conlang with the writing system. Let’s hope this doesn’t come back to bite me in the ass later. It's possible I'll evolve it for them so that it becomes a logographic language, like Chinese, which used to be pictographic. I'll just have to see.

And yes, there will be images once I get my dumb scanner going. *grumble* Then you can see pictures of the orlys, too!


*Mostly. They do perceive vibrations in the ground through special sensors in their feet, which counts as sound, but it’s a kind of narrow range.

**I put the Omniglot page in there because it gives a nice overview; here’s the official website. I’d recommend checking it out; Rikchik is a pretty goddamn awesome conlang.
bloodyrosemccoy: (SCIENCE)
Happy Darwin Day, dudes! I’m celebrating by focusing my worldbuilding on animals—that is, giving one of my alien species, the orlys, some good old-fashioned evolutionary borking,* and I’m designing plants and animals like mad. Perhaps when I acquire a scanner that isn’t broken beyond all repair, I will show you!

Biology is one of the coolest subjects you can study. And thanks to Darwin, it makes a lot more sense, and gets a lot more interesting to boot. So a high-five to the good naturalist, and a wing-five to the finches and pigeons who gave him the idea. It’s a doozy.


*I’m making their trunk serve as both a proboscis and as a main manipulating appendage. At least they don’t have the earthly land vertebrate design flaw where they have to breathe, eat, and talk through the same orifice. Way to cut corners, evolution.

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Jan. 10th, 2010 05:59 pm
bloodyrosemccoy: (A Zorg!)
First off, I want to thank James Cameron for complicating my life, since I am also re-watching the entire series of Avatar: The Last Airbender, which is a mouthful to specify.

The movie was … well, for the Highest-Budget Highest-Grossing Movie Ever, with elements Relevant To My Interests,* there is no getting around that the story was basically a giant, special-effects-laden, two-hour-and-forty-two-minute rehash of FernGully: The Last Rainforest. You want race relations with aliens,** check out CJ Cherryh or Poul Anderson or someone of that ilk.

I’ll give it one thing, though—the worldbuilding was magnificent. I get as big a charge out of seeing a constructed world onscreen as I get out of hearing people converse in constructed languages. The worldbuilder in me who is satisfied with deliciously extrapolated ecosystems and what-ifs was all over this movie. Even the culture gets some bonus points—I have this image of James Cameron waving a stack of cash at a team of anthropologist consultants demanding “Make me a race of noble savage blue people!” and the consultants valiantly trying to give some verisimilitude to the Na’vi anyway.

Basically, if I had my way with the movie, it’d be a documentary. No plot except maybe Sigourney Weaver doing field anthropology or something.

I know, I know, it’s as much wishful thinking as wishing the Prime Directive were something that people would actually follow, but I can dream, can’t I?


*Special effects, worldbuilding, and blue people, for a start. Also my well-aged fancrush on Sigourney Weaver, and my burgeoning one on Zoë Saldaña. But “DOES IT HAVE ALIENS IN IT?” is the trump card.

**This actually really drives me nuts, that writers and readers of sci-fi so often equate race with species, to the point where they use the words interchangeably. There are indeed parallels, but there’s also, quite literally, a world of difference between humans and alien species. You don’t get a different evolutionary psychology (the real kind, not the pseudoscientific Stephen Jay Gould’s Strawman kind) or a different-shaped brain when you’re talking about two groups of humans. With aliens, well, we come back around to the GOOD sci-fi writers.
bloodyrosemccoy: (Ellen Ripley)
In what may be a belated Halloween-fest, I’ve spent the last week getting acquainted first with the 1951 The Thing From Another World, and then the 30-years-later The Thing.* I was surprised that the ’50s version had a female character who wasn’t the Standard ’50s B-Sci-Fi Movie Girl—this one wasn’t a coldhearted man-hating scientist who pulls a 180 to a codependent screamer when the hero gives her some slimy conversation about acting like a Woman.

But for sheer slime, you can’t beat the KY-filled ’80s version. My sister loves it and has been trying hard to get me to share the love. Today I did, which meant she got to put up with a running commentary that went something like:

Wow neat spaceship model they should be wearing mufflers or something if they’re in the Antarctic which I don’t think has quite so many rocky bluffs good god dude put on a hat or something hang on how did that guy slash his wrists and then his blood froze so fast it should have slowed the bleeding hey look there’s the block of ice like the original movie although I assume they didn’t melt him out with a goddamn electric blanket I mean really criminy you bastards put on a hat especially the bald guy and somebody should tell Wilford Brimley quit chewing on that pencil eraser you JUST POKED INTO A MASS OF ALIEN FLESH he of all people should know better if this is winter at the South Pole there shouldn't be much in the way of daylight what gives I like the Agatha Christie-plus-slimy-monsters feel to this WHY THE HELL DOES THIS ANTARCTIC BASE HAVE A REFRIGERATOR.

Et cetera.

I wonder when I went from being a total chicken about gore as a kid to the kind of person who watches a scene of a dude pulling a nasty reddish blob out of a hideous mass of flesh and thinks PUT SOME BIGGER GLOVES ON YOU MORON. I used to be able to be frightened by shite B-Movies because the idea would grip me; now I get too distracted by admiring the craftsmanship.

Anyway, we also came up with some entertaining alternate endings for the movie:

1. You get to see the rescue squad show up in the spring, finding a couple of frozen bodies and taking them back to civilization, giving a rather more satisfying version of the cliffhanger ending.

2. The characters kill each other off until one insane survivor is left gibbering for the rescue team. Investigations show that they got rid of every trace of the Thing early in the film, and they were all just killing each other out of sheer paranoia. Kinda like if Monster A-Go-Go was a gripping psychological drama.

I liked the second one, but we did agree that it would lead to a disappointing lack of, y'know, Thing, so we forgive the movie for actually having a monster all the way through.

Plus, that way we got the dynamite scene, and I could stutter "Happy birthday, you thing from another world, you!" You just don't get that kind of setup every day.


*Starring, as my sister puts it, Kurt Russell’s Hair.

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