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'Visions are worth fighting for. Why spend your life making someone else's dreams?'

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  • 6 days
    Printed version of 'The Monster Below: Nightfall' update 4: Revisions completed

    Hi everyone

    Well, after six months, revisions on 'The Monster Below: Sunfall' are complete. So glad it didn't take two years (!) like the first book.

    Here's a list of everything that was changed:

    *Reduced the word count by about 30,000 words by trimming unnecessary sentences and words.

    *Fixed up and cleaned grammar and punctuation.

    Read More

    2 comments · 44 views
  • 2 weeks
    Printed version of 'The Monster Below: Nightfall' update 3 - 82% complete

    Hi Everyone

    Editing is coming along faster than I expected; I Just finished revising 'Freefall,' and at the rate things are going, I should be finished with the story by the end of the week. I'll post another update when we reach that milestone.

    0 comments · 35 views
  • 2 weeks
    Printed version of 'The Monster Below: Nightfall' update 2 - 52% complete

    Hi Everyone

    I just finished revising chapter 12 of 'The Monster Below: Nightfall,' which means the revision is halfway done.

    Next update will be when we're 75% complete.

    0 comments · 29 views
  • 3 weeks

    That's how many pushups I was able to do today. Not all at once, mind you, but in four sets ranging from 25 to 35 each spread throughout the evening.

    Ten years ago, I couldn't do three pushups at once to save my life.

    For all of you out there struggling with your weight or your fitness level, slow and steady efforts will yield results.

    1 comments · 21 views
  • 5 weeks
    The last 'Monster Below: Sunfall' chapter goes up tomorrow

    I normally don't do these kind of posts, but since we're at the end of a six-year journey, why not? The final chapter for 'The Monster Below: Sunfall' will be posted tomorrow at about noon, Pacific time. Hope to see you there!

    0 comments · 44 views

"The Force Awakens" Impressions (spoilers censored) · 8:45am Dec 18th, 2015

Not really a review, since I only just got out of it, but if I had to sum up the movie in a spoiler free sentence, it's this:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a big disappointment that wasn't worth waiting 30 years to see.

A bit of background: I'm a casual Star Wars fan. I'm fine with Greedo and Han shooting at roughly the same time, I'm fine with Midi-chlorians, Jar Jar, Ewoks, and even Young Anakin showing up as a ghost instead of Sebastian Shaw. I was looking forward to seeing how my favorite childhood heroes would return to save the day, or at the least, help the next generation of heroes save the day. I avoided reading or watching anything about the film to go in as spoiler-free as possible. I was excited, but not expecting a huge, epic blockbuster that would blow my mind.

Yet, when the end credits rolled and the triumphant Star Wars fanfare played, I stared at the screen and said to my friends, "That's it?"

To go any further requires spoilers, so my comments will be censored for those of you who want to go in clean.

-Perhaps the biggest problem I have with the film is that it loves bringing up questions it has no intention of answering. I'm not a viewer who wants everything explained to me in easy to digest pieces; I like the mystery of filling in gaps with my imagination, but there's a difference between leaving gaps that aren't essential to the story and leaving things unexplained that matter. In Alien, for example, the Engineers' purpose is never explained, nor what he were doing with the egg, but it's role isn't essential to the plot, and leaves us curious without feeling like we've missed anything. Prometheus, on the other hand, loved bringing up questions about the black goo, the Engineers, and what was going on, but didn't provide any answers, leaving us frustrated why they even brought up the questions in the first place. In that sense, Awakens feels like Prometheus. It doesn't tell you anything about what's been happening in the galaxy since Jedi. It's barely even touched upon outside of the fact that an unseen Republic now rules the galaxy, Luke has vanished after one of his Jedi trainees went mad, and that Han went back to smuggling. Instead of seeing how the galaxy has changed in the wake of a galaxy-spanning Empire that ruled with an iron fist, it's just business as usual. If our old heroes hadn't visibly aged, you wouldn't know this takes place 30 years after Episode 6. It's almost insulting to learn more about what happened via this io9 article than the film itself. And to top it off, the movie isn't even self-contained; there are several threads clearly left open just so they can be answered in Episode 8... and in the flood of tie-in material that we'll inevitably have to buy if we want to learn the full story. And yes, Empire ended with a cliffhanger, but it feels like Disney was more interested in leaving us waiting for the follow-up to answer our questions instead of having a (mostly) self-contained story.

-One huge problem with Awakens just doesn't feel like a Star Wars movie. It has lightsabers, the Millennium Falcon, Han, Chewie, Leia, C-3PO, R2-D2, X-wings and Tie Fighters, but it feels like a typical science fiction film and not the space opera epic that the previous films have had. The Prequels were concerned with the downfall of a republic and the institution of an evil empire. The original saga was about the struggle to destroy evil and restore freedom to the galaxy. This movie feels like two tiny groups hurling rocks at each other while trying to take out one guy. There's just no epic feel here. Heck, several planets get wiped out and billions die, and I didn't care. Even with a weapon bigger and more powerful than the Death Star, it feels strikingly unimportant, and the film eventually feels like an unimportant skirmish that has no long-term ramifications on the saga at large.

-Most of the film feels like a greatest-hits assembly of moments from the previous films. We have a desert planet, a canteen filled with exotic aliens, a temple in a jungle/forest planet, a planet-destroying superweapon (that's also an ice planet), and even a trench run to destroy said superweapon. While there are original ideas, I couldn't shake the feeling that I had seen a lot of this before.

-Who the heck is Snoke? We don't learn anything about him other than that he leads the First Order, has Kylo Ren as a minion, and wants to kill Luke. That's it. He's also a completely CGI creation for some reason (they really couldn't have had an actor in prosthetics and makeup?).

-Captain Phasma is like Darth Maul: she's there to look cool for a few scenes, but she ultimately has no purpose in the film at all. Her impact on the galaxy at large is to turn off the shields to Starkiller base. No, really, that's all she does. She doesn't even get to fire her blaster!

-There are no epic moments for the established characters of Han, Chewie, Leia, C-3PO, etc. Han and Chewie's grand introduction is to have them walk through a door as if it's an ordinary occurance. They don't show up to save Rey and Finn by flying the Falcon across Jakku to escape the First Order, they don't save them via heroics, they just... show up. Leia does a little better, due to the emotional impact of seeing Han for the first time in a long while. Luke, who only appears in the final minute of the film, just... well, stands there and stares at Rey. The end. Granted, everyone's in their fifties, sixties, and seventies now, but I really, really wanted to see them do something cool. Thankfully, Han does get into quite a bit of fighting throughout the film, as does Chewbacca, so we get that much, at least

-It's established that the galaxy is now ruled by a republic. Why then, does it need a rag-tag resistance to counter the remains of the Empire? Aren't they supposed to have an army? A fleet? Anything? You'd think that in 30 years a government would have a means to defend itself. Instead, it seems that all the Republic has to fight with are maybe twenty X-wings. Where are all the Y-wings? The A-Wings? The B-wings? What happened to all those cruisers and giant ships we saw in Jedi? Does the Resistance have $50 a month budget?

-It's awfully convenient that R2-D2, who, for reasons unknown, has been inactive every since Luke vanished, conveniently wakes up after the end of the big battle and conveniently provide the way to Luke so that our heroes can go find him after everything's been said and done.

-How did Anakin and Luke's lightsaber, which fell out of Cloud City, end up in a box on another planet? When asked that same question, the alien in posession of the lightsaber says (and I'm paraphrasing), "That's a story for another time." Bulls***t, space-goggle CGI alien lady. That's a cop-out and you know it. And furthermore, why does that exact same lightsaber sound different when it's turned on then it had in three prior movies? In fact, how can the lightsabers here cut through trees and metal with ease, yet only leave mild burn marks on human flesh when limbs should have been flying?

-The sequence of Han and Chewie ferrying killer basketball tentacle monsters while fighting off two groups of gangs just doesn't work at all. Not only does it have nothing to do with the plot at large, but it feels out of place and would have been better off cut or rewritten.

-For all the talk of going back to practical effects, there's a lot of CGI in Awakens. In fact, it feels like there's as much as the prequels, if not more so. Although, to be fair, the effects are good, and handled very well.

Still, despite all the things I didn't like, The Force Awakens does do a few things very well:

-Perhaps the single greatest scene in the film is when Han finally confronts his son, who then kills him. It's a heartbreaking, gut-wrenching moment of the highest caliber, and I felt my heart twist at seeing Han's lifeless body plunge into the depths of the Starkiller shaft. Harrison Ford and the entire cast and crew are to be commended for pulling off what may be the most effective death scene in years, and for having the courage for actually killing off one of the most beloved characters in science fiction.

-Rey is a great female lead. She's strong, independent, tough, clever, and the perfect choice for the main character of this new trilogy.

-The one mystery of the film that does work is finding out what happened to Luke: having all the characters trying to find him is a great way to drive the plot forward, and to build anticipation for his inevitable appearance while giving just enough clues that we get a good idea why he's gone. And while he doesn't fight (or even talk), finally seeing him at the very end is a great moment, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what he does in the following films.

-Chewbacca manages to fare the best out of all the returning characters. Not only does he get plenty of action, but he arguably has the best emotional arc: he's stayed with his best friend for all these years, helps him out, and willingly goes into danger, and then has to go through the agony of seeing Han killed, an agony and fury that hits harder than any other moment in the film. And yet, even after all that, he still works to help destroy Starkiller base and even save Rey and Finn when the planet falls apart.

-The effect of Starkiller Base blowing up is mighty impressive.

I really wanted to like Awakens. I enjoy all the previous films (to the point where I saw Revenge in theaters six times), but this is the first time I've been disappointed with the franchise as a whole. I'm really, really, really hoping a second viewing of Awakens will change my opinions; I doubt I'll ever love it, but I at least want to like it. Here's hoping that'll happen.

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Comments ( 4 )

Man, I love your fics.....but f--- this joyless nitpicking blog post lol. :rainbowlaugh:

You need to rewatch with tempered expectations and the MST3k Mantra by your side. Nobody wants a 30 year recap of galactic current events, best to jump in the thick of it like Star Wars does. You're complaining about lightsaber sounds. You're saying it's an unoriginal rehash of past Star Wars films that doesn't feel like a Star Wars film. Like, really?

"....conveniently wakes up after the end of the big battle..."

Luke activated R2 remotely because he knew it was time. There's been an awakening. Have you felt it? He did. He's a Jedi Master. Star systems exterminated, Rey's raw power, and Han's death, you don't think he FELT all that through the Force?

"It's established that the galaxy is now ruled by a republic.  Why then, does it need a rag-tag resistance to counter the remains of the Empire?"

Because the new republic is a weak governing power in a galaxy teeming with literally millions of different species and cultures....just like the old Republic....which as you may recall, didn't even have a *standing army* until someone dropped a bunch of clones in their lap. Considering the crimes of The Empire and how it was born, I would expect the Galaxy to collectively be like "fuck this never again" and DEMAND the New Republic be 100% demilitarized. What's that? New Order threat? "WARMONGERING PROPAGANDA, FUCK YOU, I DON'T BELIEVE YOU." That's where the Resistance comes in as a disavowable proxy. (the general's speech confirmed this) They do the dirty work of fighting baddies that the Republic won't for domestic political reasons. Sort of like how the Peshmerga Kurds do the dirty work of fighting ISIS jihadis that Western ground troops won't for domestic political reasons. EDIT: oh and apparently that system they took out with the freaking MIRV'd long distance death star contained both the New Republic capitol and main fleet. Well shit lol. They really didn't make that clear in the film, maybe I missed it. IDK why that aspect of the destruction wasn't stressed more. I thought the scene itself was great and incredibly sad tho....I never understood why Lucas never added some kind of quick glimpse of Alderaan's surface before it dies.

Finally yes there's CGI but Lucas went nuts after episode 2 and was just abusing it and milking it dry for EVERY. LITTLE. THING.

TL;DR - A wizard did it, negro please! XD

I agree with most of this with a few exceptions...

I really liked the bit with the basketball tentacle monsters, I thought it was a good way to reintroduce Han after so long. I also did not think Ray was so great for a lot of reasons, I did not think she was bad, I just would not have put her on a list of good things about the movie.

I can see where you're coming from, and I agree with all the points you brought up regarding the Resistance, the First Order, etc. In fact, learning this information enhances the film because I now know the backstory of what happened. What frustrates me is that you have to go read the tie-in books (or online articles) to learn it. It's unreasonable to have a film convey so much backstory, especially when it covers a 30 year period like the film does, but even a line or two would work, such as Leia explaining to Finn why the Republic doesn't have a standing army. That would have summed everything up quickly and let me focus on the story instead of wondering why the Republic has such a pitifully tiny force to defend itself with, not to mention why it's called a Resistance instead of an army or a division or special forces, etc. Your theory about R2 waking up also makes a lot of sense, though it still feels like a convenient coincidence to me.

As for expectations, I actually didn't have that many (in a good way; I wasn't expecting the film to be terrible). All I really wanted was to have my childhood heroes come back and help save the day, and to some degree I got that, but I was far less hyped for the film than I was for Revenge ten years ago. Still, I'm planning to go see the movie again later today, so I'm really hoping giving the film some distance will help me like it more.


I thought the movie was pretty good, although I would have liked the ace pilot at the start to get more screen time. I can't remember the whole movie too clearly, but it would have been better if they'd made it clearer what was going on when Starkiller Base was firing its multi-target death laser at the Hosnian system. Also, Starkiller Base itself seems impractical, if it only takes two shots to drain a star completely. How are you going to fire the weapon again after that? At least the Death Star was mobile and didn't need to rely on draining a star to blow planets up.

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