The Sadness of Stitch Fiction

Humanity’s greatest hope soared through space, apologized for the inconvenience, and self-destructed.
The President watched the replay of a trillion dollars of rocket science, space laser, quantum-interference baffling tech and the cream of the brand-new Space Force apologetically immolating itself. She sighed.
“Options?”
Her military advisor shifted awkwardly. She pretended not to notice that he’d been crying.
“Zero. This confirms that the machines have totally hacked the human semantic centers. If we can so much as see them, they can convince us to switch sides. Those pilots were as close to brainwashed as you can get without opening the skull, and they were still convinced inside a minute. Our only hope would be a human brain utterly immune to new input. But that’s the opposite of what a human brain is for! We’d need some-one incapable of following even the most obvious logic, rejecting even the clearest data, one who could start at one plus one and end up with their favourite ice cream flavor and then react violently against anything which tried to convince them otherwise. ”
The President closed her eyes. She’d hoped it would never come to this.
“Go to a Steven Universe forum. Find someone who’s written four thousand words about the gems being straight.”

"Talk to the hands."

About as straight as silly string in a hurricane

If there’s anything more tragic than stitch-fiction, rewriting properties to remove homosexual aspects, I’ve never heard it. It combines all the fun of writing, watching, and imagining sex into something less inclusive, and with less sex. That’s not just the opposite of slashfic, that’s the opposite of quite a lot of being alive.

Modern slashfiction fun started with Spock/Kirk. It provides many of the relationships mass media lacks because mass media doesn’t understand sex. Because if you don’t include that people can be homo or bi or asexual, then you don’t understand sex, in the way someone who doesn’t recognise sixes and eights can’t be good at math.

Inserting a homosexual relationship (or whatever other items you’d enjoy) doesn’t damage the existing story. It works for the fans by adding elements on top of (and interacting with) the official material. But trying to canonically straighten obviously queer characters means dissecting their every appearance, ripping out their heart, and stitching the bits back together in a different shape. And any science-fiction will tell you that never ends well. Queer characters don’t happen by accident, we’re still struggling out of a climate where they have to be deliberately constructed and carefully escorted past layers of lazy filtering which think it’s easier to be monotonously biased than risk writing more real people.

If you want more relationships of any orientation, write them in! But if you want a show without queer characters just change the channel. I guarantee you’ll find plenty.

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Doctor JJ: It’s About Time (Bombs)

A transporter accident in discussion of the “Thunderbirds vs Star Trek” column has created Doctor JJ, an American reboot of Doctor Who by J.J. Abrams.

(That one would work)

Or you could read more potential futures of the Doctor in Doctor Who’s Next, with this helpful graphic:

doctordude

Or witness one of the worst tropes with Natural Selection of Science-fiction Victims.

Father’s Day and Darth Deadbeat

Darth Vader was the ultimate deadbeat dad. Angry, abusing the mother, and he didn’t even know he had kids because he’d stormed off to take a promotion at the job which consumed his life. Then decades later, when the job is going badly and he still hates his boss and he’s not half the man he used to be, he suddenly starts trying to convince total strangers who just happen to have some of the same genes that they’re totally meant to have a great life together. And even that can’t stop him being the same aggressive prick right up to that point. One which thinks the sheer amount of bullshit he’s subjected everyone too entitles him to more consideration.

"Just a hand? Pff, when I was your age I'd lost all four of my limbs."

“Just a hand? Pff, when I was your age I’d lost all four of my limbs.”

Then he breaks out the ludicrously large gifts. “How about an entire galaxy, eh son? Huh? Big galaxy just for you.” And even when that fails he still ups the awkwardness ante with the excruciating embarrassing attempts to use someone who already hates him to get in touch with other siblings who literally can’t stand the sight of him. “How’s your sister, eh? Did she like that torture droid I got her?”

And the asshole still gets his happy ending. But not for his sake. Those who survived him can heal easier if they decide he turned good at the end, appreciating his final nobility but only doing while burning all evidence that the asshole ever existed. I’m surprised they don’t have a restraining order against his Force Ghost.

If you want some worthwhile movie fathers, behold Bryan Mills, Big Chris, and the ultimate action parent: John Matrix.

fathers day

Or the worst father figure in video games in Nightmare Mode: Metroid Betrayed Itself

There are hentai which start at this point and remain truer to the source material.

There are hentai which start at this point and remain truer to the source material.

Fractional Life-Crises

  • Mid-life crisis: the fear that you haven’t done all the things you wanted to in life.
  • Quarter-life crisis: the fear that you have no idea what you want to do in life.
  • Three-quarters life crisis: the certainty that you haven’t done all the things you wanted to in life, which can take the form of wisdom or bitterness.
  • Three-eighths crisis: the urgent inability of the first two above to meet and have a really good talk.
  • Five-eighths crisis: the less urgent but still pretty painful inability of the second two to meet so the third can tell the second it’s nowhere near too late, jesus, while still missing the same lesson themselves.
  • alphalife crisis: a glorious moment of connection with all things that make life possible, but you lack the verbal ability to explain it.
  • incrementlife crisis: the sudden realization of how much time has passed since you said you insisted you were going to get something done.
  • Zeno life crisis: realizing with every increasing frequency that you’re closer to death, even though there will never be a time where you realize you’ve died.
  • One forty-two-decillionth life crisis: the length of time over which we still can’t merge general relativity with quantum mechanics, which is really a huge deal but we have to confess it doesn’t affect your life personally.
  • 1.01 life crisis: The ritual works! Quickly, Igor, activate the defenses before the accursed Guardians of Light undo us all!
  • -1 life crisis: the knowledge that you’ll never achieve as much as your good parallel self because of how much time you must spend each day maintaining this perfect goatee/significantly nakeder version of your regular clothing/both.
  • Pi life crisis: the tendency to become spherical when your obscene dystopian wealth keeps you alive much longer than most people (e.g. Baron Harkonnen)
  • goldenlife crisis: No crisis, everything looks pretty good!
  • i life crisis: The way you still miss Captain Teddybear.

More existential overanalysis with

The Terrible Truth About Starship Bridge Crews

It makes no sense for an advanced starship to have a human bridge crew. We need a captain, because because we didn’t go to all the bother of inventing hypertech computers and warp drives just to let them go off and have fun without us. But intelligence isn’t a zero sum game: we won’t advance physics into punching past the light barrier by devolving user interfaces to the point where you need a full-time secretary to translate your commands into switches at each station. The Enterprise has vending machines which can instantly understand and obey every order. Captain Picard could stand naked in a holodeck and make it so wherever he wanted.

There’s no such thing as “experience” – the computer can plot a course faster than a fleshbrain, and you sure as hell don’t don’t need someone to press the little button which tells the ship to raise shields when that ship detected the incoming fire. You’ve got warp drives and energy weapons. By the time your “tactical offer” has started saying “Sir”, your ship could have punched out the enemy shield emitters, scanned the Captain’s psychological history, and carved a pleasing abstract shape through the opposing hull so that the foe died as prettily as possible.

You don’t need human help to run a ship. What you need is human faces on those all-powerful functions so that one day you don’t just fuck it and start firing photon torpedoes at an alien race because they don’t pick up their commlink fast enough. The real function of a bridge crew is to stand between the captain and their power. To put faces on how the captain interacts with the outside universe, and to say “hell no” if he starts getting stupid. They’re fleshy circuit-breakers in the Total Perspective Vortex, sentient fuses connecting a single mind to existence on a scale and power level which would otherwise utterly destroy it.

That’s why the bridge is built like an inwards-pointing firework display. There is no possible reason for the bridge systems to explode unless they’re specifically built to do that. It’s on purpose. The captain is kept in the center, because they have to stay functioning, but any damage to the ship causes explosions on the bridge to send real people flying in pain. Adding emotional weight to what is otherwise just a lot of pretty lights and loud noises, humanifying the utterly unimaginable scale of space combat. “Real people are dying”, this tells the captain. “This matters. Pay attention.” Otherwise you end up with a naked lunatic trolling the universe with photon torpedoes.


More science-fiction overanalysis with

Solving Science-Fictional Problems

Growing up with science-fiction meant I spent my teenage years solving all kinds of high-tech fantasy problems instead of working out how to talk to people or wear fashionable clothes. Which worked out with me talking to more interesting people and wearing more comfortable clothes!

  • If I’m cloned or copied, the original should get to keep the existing life while the new Luke immediately does something huge and fun I’ve always wanted to so that we start differing as soon as possible. I have cunningly thought this for years, so that if it ever happens the clone will instantly agree.
  • If there’s no way of telling who’s the original, we just roll a dice (odds and evens) for the original life. Don’t try to trick your exact copy because duh.
  • If you’re caught in a time loop of an eternally repeating day, hurrah, you’re immortal and immune from consequences, which is the exact opposite of sucky regular immortality! Enjoy yourself!
  • If you become immortal immediately start working on space travel and terraforming technologies. An globe-spanning empire won’t count for shit when that globe’s ecosystem collapses or the sun explodes.
  • If you manifest any showy superpower, immediately get a lawyer and start advertising for a multinational product. Hiding your powers just means the inevitable mob/shadowy agency/covert assassins can take you out more easily.
  • If you’re sent back in time, just enjoy yourself. Simply arriving in the past has already displaced an army of butterflies’ worth of air, and anyone so much as glancing at you irrevocably alters the chain of their thoughts for the rest of your lives. Tiptoeing around trying to preserve the time line is like talking quietly in a church after motorbike-jumping in through a stained-glass window.
  • Never, ever whine about wanting a “normal” life when something awesome happens to you.

More overanalytic joy with Patch Notes for C3PO.1, and Why Cyclops Should Be The Best Boyfriend Of All Time.

The Effect of Fractal Hobbits

bardslastarrow

“And if the scale has already been pierced, doesn’t that mean that anything could kill Smaug now? Like regular arrows of which there are thousands in the city, not counting the infinite number being carried by Legolas and Tauriel? I don’t want to labor the point, but it’s just that your family is apparently really bad at knowing how to use a point.”

The Hobbit’s good fun, it’s just a pity they were bribed into drawing and thirding the poor thing for extra money. Even in the most beautiful scenes you can feel where the plot’s sinews tear and pop a single fun romp is stretched out over a trilogy. And where they kept the unpleasant noises to try and lend a fun kid’s story some epicity. And no, the word “epicity” doesn’t work. That’s why I used it for that attempt.

It’s time dilation as caused by proximity to vast quantities of money, the spacetime continuum stretched by sales of tickets and DVDs. Behold how the property is endlessly extended:

  • Three epic books become three epic movies
  • One short book becomes three incredibly long movies
  • The Silmarillion becomes an entire encyclopedia set. The same number of people read it all the way through.
  • The mere mention of the War of the Ring becomes a multi-season epic on fantasy warfare. One where the writers don’t think they should add a few rapes, because sane non-terrifying people don’t ever think “I know, we should add some rapes”.
  • Roverandom becomes an entire franchise of big screen children’s movies despite every single person needing to google what a “Roverandom” is, and being proof that even the creator of Gandalf the Grey sometimes just says “a wizard did it”.
  • An old napkin on which Tolkein had scribbled “A ring??” become a twelve-week certified course in precious metalworking and jewelry design.

More movie magic with Patch Notes for C3PO.1, and Why Cyclops Should Be The Best Boyfriend Of All Time.

In Offense Of Ant-Man

Last month I wrote about five heroes who should have movies instead of Ant-Man. (To try this at home, just choose five random heroes and make sure none of them are Ant-Man.) Legions of inexplicable Ant-fans descended to explain how I was “no true comics fan”. Even though I’ve read more material on metahumans than Nick Fury, and am also paid to analyze them for weaknesses. With the advantage that my house doesn’t blow up, fall out of the sky, and sink every week.

This actually counts as a good day for SHIELD because it's not impacting New York.

This actually counts as a good day for SHIELD because it’s not impacting New York.

Superhero battles are simply fun, even when they’re just between fans, so I’m responding to these Ant-agonists.

“Ant-Man was a founding member of the Avengers!”

So was Wasp. Where’s her movie? And there’s nothing less sacred than a Marvel origin. It’s been retold more often than stories of Canadian girlfriends, and less faithfully, probably because the original story also included the Hulk pretending to be a clown robot.

Things aren't automatically good because they were there first

Things aren’t automatically good because they were there first

Besides, the Avengers were first assembled by the strict criteria of “whoever was in radio range the Nth time Hulk lost his shit”, and even then Hulk got to be on the team despite being the entire crisis. It’s just a shame the signal didn’t call in U.S.1. Then we’d have a much better movie.

I am not kidding even a little bit

I am not kidding even a little bit

“Getting small is really useful!”

Getting small is really useful if you’re the Atom, who can shrink to the atomic level and has the physics and chemistry knowledge to do things down there. Hank hits insect size — small enough to lose a fight, big enough to still be noticed by people in that fight — and his specialty is biochemical research. Meaning knows the names of all the species which can’t normally defeat humans, and can describe exactly how he’s dying of the wounds they inflicted.

“Ant-Man has other benefits beyond shrinking – he’s also a genius!”

A genius on a team which already had Tony Stark (genius, constantly building new inventions and armored suits) and Bruce Banner (genius, indestructible gamma monster). Between them they cover the entire scientific spectrum of hubris, ethics, accidents and ideals of nobility. Hank Pym (genius, much better at hiding) isn’t an essential character, he’s poor writing and ability replication. Besides, his entire plan as a founding Avenger was becoming the size of an ant and moving towards a rampaging Hulk. That’s the exact opposite of genius.

“He’s more than just Ant-Man!”

Yes, he’s also been Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket, and Wasp, because nothing says “popular character” like “constantly changing between synonyms in the hope you can trick people into liking you.” Yellowjacket! You’ve got to be fairly crap when you try changing your name to a predatory wasp golfer.

“It’s not just Hank Pym!”

No, it’s not, and no, the others aren’t better.

“All the heroes written back then were white males, so we just have to keep going with them now.”

When I think of the wonder of heroic fiction, I don’t think “inductive racism”.

“The movie will be great!”

Yep! That’s why I didn’t say a single thing about it, just the choice of character. Edgar Wright could direct my execution and my only regret would be not being able to watch.

“You need Ant-Man to justify the existence of Ultron.”

If we had to introduce a new hero every time the Avengers were attacked by an evil killer robot there wouldn’t be anybody left to defend. Earth would be seven billion superheroes and surrounded by giant black and yellow warning signs on every evil conquerer’s map of the galaxy.

Ant-Man can be good. He was great in Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, because everyone was great in Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. A good writer can save anyone. I’d just like to see cooler characters.

Any other heroes you’d like to see? Or an ant-ithesis to any of my points? Post below and I’ll keep having fun by replying!


More superheroic overanalysis with

Cyclops Should Be The Best Boyfriend Of All Time

The X-Men’s Cyclops is famous for being about as romantic as being shot in the face, even though he does the exact opposite every day. He’s as much fun to date as fossilized excrement, and the only reason he ever has relationships is “You’re both primary characters so get on with it”. His lack of lovability comes from his absolute dedication to training and improving his abilities, motivated by:

  • Truly internalizing the fear that mutant powers could kill people at any second
  • Shouldering the burden of leading mutantkind in a world which hates and fears them

You can see why he’s humorless. But the same factors should make him the best boyfriend of all time.

Being honest, this is more fun than most dates. (Source: Marvel)

Being honest, this is more fun than most dates. (Source: Marvel)

Why? Because in most continuities his girlfriend is Jean Grey, most powerful psychic on the planet, frequent avatar of the Phoenix Force which could destroy everything ever, and single mutant most likely to kill all the people at any second. Which makes Scott our point man for

  1. Being there for her when she needs to share her worries about losing control.
  2. Knowing her so intimately that he can tell when she’s not sharing her worries about losing control, again, because she’s only an Omega-level mutant with the power destroy minds and planets, why on Earth would she warn people, of course she’ll just hold her forehead for a second and think “Oh it’s nothing, I’d better not tell anyone I’m about to psionically destroy everything again“.
  3. Reminding her of her humanity through the power of love to save us when she starts psionically destroying everything again.

That’s three different ways he can save the world, and they’re all crippled by being colder than a broken robot. They’re primary characters in a relationship more predestined than Romeo & Juliet, and it often takes them years to even admit that they like each other. There’s no point in assembling an academy of mutant might to deal with threats to humanity when your strategy for dealing with psychic Armageddon is being too shy to bring it up.

It’ll also help with human-mutant relations. Phoenix and Dark Phoenix are the first time that both the good and evil versions of something have threatened to destroy the planet and been the same person. Jean Grey alone sets back sapien-superior peace by infinity years. In the series the metaracism might swing up and down in a sinewave of storyline-necessity, but no sane human would be okay with letting one person run around with the ability to end everything.

“So you’re saying she can destroy the planet sometimes, or destroy the minds of anyone she likes anytime?”

“Yes, but only when she’s under great stress.”

“So how do you deal with that?”

“Oh, you know, make her dress in skintight latex and take her places people are trying to kill her every week.”

darkphoenix

“It’s not an ideal strategy.”

We know that it’s actually the Phoenix Force, and good luck explaining that to people who hate and fear you.

“It’s not her, it’s an incarnation of the omniversal creative spark energy which happens to be hosted by her. Basically a big cosmic force boy did it and ran away.” 

So if Scott Summers wants to dedicate his life to training to protect the world? Brilliant! That training should be romantic! He should be Casanova 9000! He should have doctorates in being the world’s greatest listener, psychologist, and lovemaker. His endless training in Danger Room sessions should focus on massage and advanced hand-holding, perfecting his ability to front-flip through open windows without spilling the poured glass of red wine while using his optic blasts to light the candles he’s covered the room with. Because if he can keep Jean Grey happy he’ll have done more to protect the planet than the X-Men and Avengers combined.


Indulge in more overanalysis with Why Tony Stark Is Earth’s Mightiest Hero, and 6 Reasons Iron Man Is Objectively Better Than Batman.

Overanalysis Theatre: Why Iron Man Is Earth’s Mightiest Hero

It’s my job to talk about how Iron Man could beat Batman, I got paid to rewrite his armor’s operating system, and of course I still come up with things far too nerdy and self-indulgent to sell anywhere else. Welcome to somewhere that isn’t anywhere else!

Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes explored the Avengers’ relationship, and they put Tony Stark front and center with a giant Stark penis towering over the rest of the group.

Subtlety is for people who can't punch tanks.

Subtlety is for people who can’t punch tanks.

EMH was a fast and funny cartoon which understood that the most important aspect of any supergroup was how they bounced off each other while pounding out the villain of the week. Hawkeye smirking at all these damn supes, Black Panther Bat-humiliating anyone who comes near him by sheer capability, Tony grimacing at all the expensive explosions – not because he’s mean, but because all this stuff actually costs money and he’s the one providing it – every interaction is entertaining and informative at the same time, aka perfect characterization. Because super-hierarchies have nothing to do superpowers. Characters are promoted by Fables-style meta-power, where the most beloved character in our world is the most dominant in theirs. This cartoon came out around Iron Man 2, which means Tony could have taken out the rest of the Avengers with one hand tied behind his back and holding an exploding EMP grenade.

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