Archive for June 29, 2011

Genre Wars

June 29, 2011

Hello, Astroarcaners!  Your friendly neighborhood guest author here, and may I say that it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance.

When I first heard about Astroarcane, my first (and really only) opinion on the project was one which stuck with me.  “Space… fantasy?”  Of course Science Fiction and Fantasy are both things that I, as a nerd, am well acquainted with… but an intersection of the two blew my literary mind.

Of course, the main problem in discussing any genre is where its boundaries are set.  What makes Science Fiction, what makes Fantasy, and where are the two disparate?  Would this intersection merely be an example of the gray areas where the two genres bump up against each other, or would it be something entirely different?  These are not simple problems and unfortunately I cannot provide simple solutions.

A Wise Man once told me that Science Fiction is a genre firmly rooted within reality.  This reality may be that of a technologically advanced future, but what truly makes Science Fiction Science Fiction is its foundation in fact.  What you find in a Science Fiction piece is something that is feasibly attained by humanity as we know it today in a logical (if often forward-thinking) fashion.

Fantasy, he said, is a genre based in what-ifs.  Unexplainable variables, items of unknowable origin, things which couldn’t possibly be parts of today’s everyday man’s ken.  Fantasy is built upon a cloud; Science Fiction upon the ground.

Genre studies is not an exact science.  We must remember that anything within the umbrella of the humanities can never be completely precise.  Of course the above outlined rules will not cover every instance of every piece ever created, but they are at least a start and, more importantly, a basis for argument.

So where does that leave us here at Astroarcane?  Clearly the intersection of any two given and known paths creates a displacement within the map and new features which must now be included.  My humble opinion on the matter is that this is rather visionary.  Space Fantasy has, of course, been done before (Star Wars is perhaps the most famous example), but it has never been quite like this.  Most other examples of Space Fantasy could sneak into either one of the great categories and have minor elements which may set them on the outskirts of my definitions.   Astroarcane, however, hovers somewhere in the amorphous gray created by these genres’ ambient lights with too much magic to truly be Science Fiction and too much science to truly be termed Fantasy.

Cryptic and wise!

Are the events within the adventures of our intrepid heroes possible?  Not really.  But that doesn’t make the unfathomable.  The late great Rod Serling is quoted as having said, “Science Fiction makes the implausible possible, while Science Fantasy makes the impossible plausible”.  Astroarcane seems to firmly belong in this third category – this “Science Fantasy”.  We will never be riding dinorockets, but that certainly doesn’t mean that Milo and Shaula don’t make sense to us.

Now that we’ve met, stay tuned here on Astroarcane for my first fiction-y contribution to the site.  Steph, Brian, and myself are working along with another guest author to bring you Imp Wars, the latest in the Astroarcane saga.  Included in Imp Wars will be the introduction of two new and sparkly PoV characters which (I am happy to say) we are all incredibly excited about.

So, as an added bonus to today’s literary tangent, here is a special sneak peek at Imp Wars.  Enjoy!



…I removed the concordance crystal from my pocket and placed it on the table.  I glanced back up to my associates and realized that the Wizard’s eyes had widened, though I wasn’t entirely certain why.  It was just a simple concordance crystal… but the way he looked at it was almost like… “Have you never seen one before?” I asked, mildly.

“Oh, I have just… never outside of the Archives.”  Milo noted mistily.  “Would you mind if I…?” he reached for the crystal.

“Not at all.”  I passed it to him, and he turned it over a few times in his palm.  “Simple thing, really, I must have at least a dozen on my desk…”  He looked from the crystal up to me, mouth gaping.

“…Do you… make these?”

“Yes, frequently.  It’s a minor thing really; a bit of the Nexus’ power is stored within the crystal, which as you know is already a potent vessel.  That bit of power is receptive to guided and stored Visions which we imbue using small rituals.  A talented novice could do it.”  I realized that he was still staring dubiously at me and the Star was very effectively trying to subdue a laugh.  “I… take it you do not deal frequently with ritual?”

“Frequently enough, but this kind of concordance… I don’t often meet Wizards talented enough to perform it.”  He placed the crystal gently on the table, as though afraid he might break it….

Beautiful Nebula

June 22, 2011

Brian sent me this amazing space-related link the other day. It blew my mind on so many levels. First: nebulas are gorgeous. Second: holy giant stars! Third: this is in what constellation? Scorpio? How lovely! (Spoiler, I named Shaula from one of the stars in Scorpio.)

ooooooooooooh ahhhhhhhhhhhh

The article makes a lot of Green Lantern references (which I love, DC comics rock my socks), but I’d like to offer an alternate fictional explanation (and sneak peek of something not yet published…)

“Shaula,” he said helplessly, his voice a mix of shock and horror. “Shaula.”

Just that, and I knew all that he meant. No “what have you done”; he knew what I’d done. No “how could you”; he knew exactly why I’d done it. Knew that if I hadn’t, the poison would have only spread, spread across the Galaxy; so subtle, so deadly, changing and corrupting and unmaking and…

It was still a monstrous thing. I will not look away from that; I will not dissemble. It was a monstrous, inhuman thing. But then, I am not human.

We looked out together over the roiling cloud of brightly glowing gases and dust painting the black; a nebula that had, just standard days before, been a star. And four planets, a handful of moons, small asteroid belt, oh, and seven hundred thousand human lives.

Milo looked out at the infant nebula, and I watched all the thoughts race across his face. What had been going on here… what I had stopped… had been unquestionably evil, and a danger to the entire Galaxy as we knew it. But what I had done… I watched a part of him balk, try to turn away from it. Watched him face it squarely. Wrestle with the thought.

“I need to think about this,” he finally said. Didn’t look at me.

I nodded, and left him there.

Laser Whips are going to Mars?

June 15, 2011

NASA is claiming that the next big object we’re sending to Mars, the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), is going to be packing some serious firepower.  You guessed it, the MSL is going to have a Laser Whip.

Robot using its laser whip. Image credit: J-L. Lacour/CEA/French Space Agency (CNES)

Well, maybe not quite a Laser Whip, but it WILL have a laser.  Turns out that lasers can be used to identify rocks! Who knew?  I mean, if I was given the option of investigating rocks with either a shovel or a laser, I would go with the obvious choice.  However, I would be wrong, because lasers can tell you all kinds things about rocks that a shovel just can’t detect.

So trusty!

So, in conclusion, if you’re going to be battling any members of the Order of Venom on Mars, go with the trusty shovel and leave the laser wielding robot alone, because someone on Earth is going to get really annoyed if they have another Mars Rover Mishap.