Callsign – A Korps Fiction (Part 3)

(Part 1 here)
(Part 2 here)


Signals pinged from surface to surface. Data, visible in strings, lights bouncing from one building to another. Imperceptible to most, but alight in a cascade of movement to her. She slunk her svelte, smooth form through alleyways and over fences, nimbly coursing over every obstacle designed to keep civilians out. Not exactly defences. But a hindrance to the unequipped. And this otter was far from inexperienced.

Radiatrix scanned the area. Something had scrambled a radio signal she happened to be monitoring, in a way she had not recognised. Like shooting a pin through a cloud of dust. If she hadn’t caught it, anyone else would have dismissed it as interference or a packet error. Tracking it was ephemeral. Her pursuit began randomly. It had no fixed location nor source, manifesting from random locations like the centre of buildings, or from directly upwards from open sky. But it wasn’t just random noise. It was tangible, directed. A transmission.

It had latched onto something now. The data points seemed to change focus, honing in on a specific area out towards the bay. She could feel them passing by, like raindrops shooting towards a singular focal point. She vaulted a sheet metal fence and rolled across the concrete, ending in a poised crouch to survey the waterfront.

Whatever the signals were amassing to lay beneath. She felt the waves and signals converging, spiralling, swirling, into something… almost physical. A bulk of writhing, pulsing signals all entwined around something hidden by the noise. Her RCGs flicked and buzzed trying to read scans of the messages, but these were enigmatic even for her. It was like trying to read through something’s skin. Not nonsense, but complex and veiled.

“That’s worrying,” she muttered.

She flicked a webbed claw over the holster at her left thigh and spun her hunting knife into her palm. There weren’t many things that could elicit that kind of non-physical control, and in her experience, fewer were friendly. For what she knew of radio waves and her own ability to direct and contain them, this was something more organic and about their behaviour, an unpredictability to their aim.

She circled the bay for a minute, trying to ascertain the best point of entry. As she was about to take a step forwards, she hesitated.

“Radiatrix checking in,” she said furtively to her dispatch team, keeping her eyes on the bay. Her RCGs had painted it with a faint reticule that shimmered in time with its frequency undulation. “Something in the bay. Strange. Psychic, maybe. Or interference. May require assistance.”

“Confirmed. We have your position and pinged nearby assets for potential backup. Be careful, okay?”

“Sure.”

Just as she neared the edge of the quay to dive in, a purple light erupted from under the surface, pushing the water up and outwards like an explosion that disappeared into the night like dust. The radio signals she’d scanned splintered and dispersed, and she watched the water froth and flow back to relative stillness. 

She played her claws over her knife, calculating her approach.

A rippling dart of blue thundered through the water, splitting the waves and careening into the distance. Gritting her teeth, she leapt into the inky depths.

Navigating the bay was easy for her. She cut through the water like a blade, her RCGs scanning for any shapes in the water that could lead to the disruption’s source.

Ahead, a limp form, reaching upwards. They were muscular, but no taller than her, with a long and half-scaled tail drifting in the currents. She could see their RCGs flashing danger icons and immediately braced herself under their arms, beginning a powerful ascent to the bay. She breached the water, landing the unconscious newcomer’s form on top of her, and, wresting an arm over their chest to keep them from slipping back under, she jabbed a claw to her goggles once again.

“Need medevac, immediate. Co-ordinates on encrypted burst. Please acknowledge.”

“Acknowledged, medevac scrambled and en route.” 

She kicked back and dragged their body to the bay’s edge, then hauled them onto the concrete boat launch. She laid her ear to their mouth to check for breathing, then, flicking an electronic needle from her utility pouch, sammed it into their chest. Their body convulsed, they vomited murky water a second later, ejecting it from their lungs. Removing the needle quickly, she rolled them onto their side, where they laid, unconscious, as the whining jets of a light VTOL aircraft roared into proximity.

*

A hard surface. Distal warmth. The cold that pressed into them had faded, but their body felt infinitely heavy and their consciousness slow. They felt like being in a shall both tight to their entire body but massively vast, reaching to the furthest horizon they could feel. Their proprioceptors were probably broken. If, by some miracle, they were alive, they may have sunk to the bottom of the bay.

They tried to move their right hand. They knew it was still there, but it refused their command.

I know. Too dangerous. My bad.

“Aweh, they speak,” came a resonant, slightly cold voice, with a strong South African accent. “You hear us admonishing you for getting moer-toe like this?”

They paused. Errrm, no?

“You broke them again, Sophie,” spoke a second, lighter voice. 

“I only break people intentionally, Viddy” the first voice scorned, somewhat playfully. “They’re fine.”

Didn’t realise I was in company, I’m sorry. Guess I’m… not underwater?

“You’re out,” came Viddy’s voice.

I, um… still can’t see, though.

“Just a precaution,” the first voice, Sophie, said again, amongst some clicks and clanks of metal and the light whirring of a CPU fan, or something similar. “We paralyzed you for analysis anyway, but also to safeguard us in case you weren’t Korps.”

I’m… prospective. I feel like I’ve done a lot wrong so far.

“Well, to start, your RCGs are terrible. Almost worse than fake.”

They’re a homebrew from unlocked civilian ones. I’m not a hacker, or coder so I piecemealed together code from whatever I could manage.

They heard Viddy audibly grimace. “Civvies aren’t powerful enough. Like a pushbike to a motorcycle.”

“Look, it’s not that I don’t appreciate good boererate, but you’d have had better luck walking to our door and asking directly,” Sophie admonished. “We could have shot you and done less damage to you than these.”

They sighed. I figured. Sorry. I don’t know how any of this works. But I think I need to be here. For me, as much as for anyone else.

Something touched their arm, possibly Viddy? They felt like webbed paws. “You know, you’re speaking through your collar, right?”

Y… yes. Just a habit. I can actually talk though.

They switched from logged speech to vocal, and let their breath humm from their throat for a second, before finally speaking. 

“Could I see?” They croaked. Their voice was soft, with a slight deepness to it, and the unmistakable accent of a Brit, or at least one who spent the majority of their life there. 

“One second,” Sophie cautioned. “Your new RCGs are formatting. Your oxygen injector failed because your OS was a fokken mess and registered all available commands as one execution, so it infused and purged simultaneously.”

They gave a short, defeated sigh. “Right.”

“You also broke it.”

“That… may not have been me, but I’ll take responsibility for it.”

There was the sound of something moving, and the soft tapping of a keyboard. “These RCGs are faster, more secure, more functional, and I’ve already transferred what little secure data there was from your old ones onto them. You’re lucky you weren’t in sy moer-in with a vulnerability like that plugged into your face.”

They didn’t respond, their mind still in the black depths in which they’d been almost crushed. This was not how they intended their introduction to go.

Something touched their right shoulder. “It’s okay,” Viddy whispered. “Some come in a lot worse.”

They were tempted to respond with the sentiment that they doubted many had damaged themselves this much on ignorant abandon, but held themself back for not wanting to inflict their embarrassment as unwarranted insult, against them or their current carers.

Something pressed into the side of their head. Slowly, filtering into focus by layers of brightness and colour, they came to view themselves in a very clean room, with muted white lights and a fairly high ceiling. It would have looked like a hospital, were it not for the numerous cameras and very conspicuous turret mounted into the ceiling.

They blinked, and looked around.

“This place has a very, uh… ‘We’ll help you but won’t take any shit’ vibe.”

“Welcome to my triage.”

Were Archantael not paralyzed, they would have jumped at the figure towering over them, an already formidable-looking maned wolf in a powerful exoskeleton of sleek gunmetal, neon claws gleaming in the operating theatre’s sterile lights. Her neckline and chest were adorned with the Korps insignia, and atop her head was a blaze of red hair, as fierce as the eyes she regarded the newcomer with behind curved, svelte RCGs.

“To you I’m Professor Carmine, or Nosferatu, whichever you like. Just never in vain, or you get poesklapped.”

“Noted,” Arch replied, before glancing to the figure on the other side, a much less imposing but still sleek, elegant and powerful frame of an otter. She gave a polite wave.

“Viddy. Callsign Radiatrix. Yeh.”

Sophie flicked something on the gurney and Arch felt sensation returning to their body. They let out a deep sigh, feeling their chest rise and fall under their own volition again, and blearily slid round, gently manoeuvering their tail, to hang their legs off the gurney. The metal guards over their hindpaws glinted in the light, still bearing the residue from the bay. They’d need to wash their combat gear too, as with the returning sensation in their legs came the realisation of still being very damp, and increasingly cold.

They looked to them both and bowed their head. “Thank you, and sorry for being an inconvenience.”

Sophie frowned. “The only inconvenience is not talking to us first. We’re not blaming you for… wherever happened down there.” She looked to Viddy. “It sounded very odd.”

Arch glanced to Viddy, who was skimming through something on her tablet. “I logged frequencies, it’s not usual.”

“You pulled me out, didn’t you?” they said quietly. Viddy nodded.

“Thank you. I’ll owe you… anything, literally.”

The otter gave a warm, kind smile, then turned the tablet round to them. “This is what got you, right?”

The image was a strange, disjointed array of data points, but seemed to coalesce to a hydra-like spiral of tentacles.

“I… I didn’t see it. I know who it was, just not… what.” 

Sophie gave a snort of contempt at the scattered shape on screen. “That’s some vrot energy there. Friend of yours?”

“Once. We have… somewhat of a history.”

Viddy nodded understandingly, and pulled the tablet back round, before handing it to Sophie, a little shyly, the fur on her cheeks bristling as the large, pink-clawed exo skeleton arms brushed against her paws at the hand-off. “I logged these. Hopefully it’s an early warning next time.”

Arch dug their claws into their paws. “Next time, I hope it’ll be the last.”

Sophie clicked her tongue. “I get you. But build yourself up here as you need first. No point making out soos Siebies se gat and ending up worse than tonight for poor planning.”

She walked round to face them, standing next to Viddy, leaning towards them with a stern countenance. “And don’t do it alone, did you cav that?”

Arch nodded, sheepishly. “I won’t. Thank you.”

Satisfied, Sophie glanced down at the tablet and flicked her claw a few times. “Now, what do we call you?”

The pangolinfox rose to their feet, briefly flipping open WHISPERSHOT’s canister to ensure it was safe, and attached their quiver back onto their belt.

“My name’s Archantael Clow. Callsign: Aegis.”

Viddy smiled at them again, and extended her paw to shake. They took it firmly, gratefully, and returned her smile with one of their own.

Sophie laid the tablet back on the gurney. A split second later, a message appeared on Arch’s RCGs:

WELCOME TO THE KORPS, AEGIS.

Sophie shot them a smile too. “Take some time to learn the base layout. If you need lodging here there are people to help you, but you can get most of your combat supplies here. And Ask. For. Help.” She cast a threatening claw to them. 

They raised their paws up with a nervous grin. “Yes. Very much. First thing I need is a good tattoo artist.” They gestured to their insignia. “I need one of those on my chest.”

Viddy grinned. “Good choice. I know one-”

The sliding door opened suddenly, and a figure even taller than Sophie loomed through, curled horns and long tan hair drifting close to the hanging lights, their grey and brown frame completely obscuring the door. The feathered cloak that hung from their high shoulders billowed out behind them, displaying their four powerful arms adorned with thick leather straps. Aside from the cloak they wore nothing on their top half except for a pentacle harness; around their waist was a long split robe draping down to their feet, and several surgical-looking knives on belts hung at angles. Their four eyes, black with golden pupils, took in all details of the room at once. 

“We have some targets to shred,” xey announced, xyr voice resonant with multiple tones, a mix of the powerful and soothing, overall deep but with a rich, otherworldly dimensionality to it. “Will anyone accompany a demon on xyr midnight run?”

Immediately they honed in on Archantael, bewildered, by the gurney. “You’re new,” xey said, slight with intrigue.

“They are,” Viddy chirruped, beaming widely.

The demon lent out a large, clawed hand to the hybrid. “We are Sentari.”

“I’m Archantael,” they replied, taking the Sen’s claw as firmly as they could. Their body was all at once hot and cold, like a wind on a dark summer night. “I’m an archer, and shield-summoner, if they’re of use to you.”

A grin split Sentari’s face. “We always have use for ones such as yourself. Are you in?”

Arch looked down at their gear. “I’m a little wet.”

“We have that effect on people,” xey replied with a wry smile, a long tongue flicking between xyr teeth. Arch felt a rush of blood to their cheeks and swallowed. Viddy was looking coyly away, but also smiling. “But we can get to that later. Are you with us?”

A flick of their synth claw, and WHISPERSHOT sprung into life.

“I’m ready.”

Arch Korps archer

Art by Necrotext


The Korps is a fictional furry queer cyberpunk universe created by KorpsPropaganda
Viddy/Radiatrix is a character owned by Viddy / Dipika
Professor Carmine is a character owned by Jay
Sentari is a character owned by Sentvri
All characters were used with permission and owners were sent this before posting for approval ❤
Thank you all.

Callsign – A Korps Fiction (Part 1)

A muddy night sky. It would be clear, if the lights from the city weren’t so pollutive. Stars were barely visible beyond the glare, the tiniest pinpricks to remind you this wasn’t a dome or skybox with finite borders you could slam into if you tried hard enough. Although somehow, somewhere, a corporation would try to sell that as the next greatest luxury. Custom skylines, tailored to your neighbourhood.

As if the current corporate mindset didn’t already do that. Lie to you about the stars and tell you it’s your fault you can’t see them.

All the more reason to enjoy the sky now, what little was left of it.

The figure perched on the high building’s parapet, overlooking the bay, pressed a claw to their temple, and the small disc that lay embedded in their red-brown fur. A small, deft flick brought up a menu on their HUD, and a sleek pink visor beamed into place around their eyes. They craned their head back and the display brought the whole sky into view, mapping every known star, and even a few that had no designations yet, assumed likely calculations based on observed interstellar activity. At least some people were still paying attention to what was over their heads.

Their long tail curled on the ledge beneath them, the roughness of the scales running along it and up their back highlighted by the ambient glow from the building’s outward-facing sign, while the long fur beneath it blended into the darkness. The pangolin-fox hybrid bore a muscular frame, something of which they seemed proud, to the extent of foregoing anything covering their upper half most of the time aside from the usual equipment of their quiver. Of course, with scales over their shoulders, head, and back, wearing anything that wouldn’t immediately be shredded was a challenge. For now they were comfortable in flowing pants that sinched at the knee, shin guards, and a large open-fronted collar which beamed soft blue light to the underside of their vulpine muzzle.

A small bell icon appeared in their lower right view, and jiggled silently. The name next to it brought a gentle smile to their face.

It’s been a while. Their voice was soft, and unspoken, transmitted directly into the screen. How are you?

“All the better for seeing you, matey!” the older, silver and black fox said warmly. He was wearing one of his ancient, well-worn polar fleeces, branded with a logo from a long-since-defunct company. “I hope it’s not a bad time.”

They smiled. It’s never a bad time for you, Pôl. I’m about to start an assignment, though.

“Oh, well, I won’t keep you! Did you decide on your callsign yet?”

They paused. Maybe. I don’t know if that’s how it works. I haven’t done anything significant yet, or researched anyone else’s…

“Oh, so what you MEAN is you have something you want but are embarrassed about how corny it sounds.”

They ran their hand over their ears and gave an embarrassed grin. Look, just because you’re allowed under my firewall doesn’t mean you can attack me like that.

Pôl flicked his ears and sat back, forgetting his holographic camera had a fixed focus range, turning into just a muzzle and teeth for a few moments. It almost made his guidance more effective. “I’ll attack you however I want, you know it’s good for you. Besides, you went through all this to be there. If you know what your purpose is and where you’re supposed to be, then be there, without apology.”

The hybrid cocked their head, a little consternative. It’s not that I don’t have purpose. Probably. It’s about… definition. How do you sum up everything you want to be in a single word and make it formidable, without it being reductive or overblown?

The fox gave them an admonishing look. “To me, your own name would suffice. You’ve always been impressive. But you, Archantael” a shaky, demonstrative claw came into view, “you don’t acknowledge yourself as much as you should. Modesty is creditable, but not to the point of self-burden. Do you really think you have to earn your right to live, or help others? I know exactly what you’re there for, Arch, and in a world like ours don’t ever pretend any act of kindness isn’t significant enough to be given credence. I’ve told you before and I’ll tell you again, you’re worth your own time. Especially if you’re already giving it away to so many.”

Archantael closed their eyes and sighed, a release of tension more than a sense of frustration. There were few people who reached them so deeply, but friend and mentor Pôl was one of them.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. They glanced at their left forearm, and played the glinting metal against the reflections of the blue-green city bloom. I don’t know if I’m ready. But I know where I’m supposed to be. For now, at least.

Pôl gave an approving nod, then his face shifted out of focus and his ears loomed into view as he scrabbled amongst some papers out of view. They watched with a bemused comfort at the amenability of his disorganisation, despite being one of the most resourceful creatures they knew. Eventually, and after some whispered threats to nondescript entities, the black and grey muzzle drifted back to the centre screen

“So, about your request.” he sighed, raking a claw under his chin in a reticent scratch. “You, I think, deserve better than to be held ransom to his hate. But I did find him. I’m just… worried about you, matey.”

They nodded. I know. It’s the first step. He won’t change if he won’t know what he threw away. And if I can’t make him see… then I’ll stop him outright. I’ll take whatever you have, if you could send it to my ghost server. Thank you.

“No probs, matey. We need to get you back here for a spell, we’ve missed you.”

Arch smiled again, a little wistfully. I’ve missed you too. I’ll get back when I can. Give my love to Dorin and Brew.

“I know how it goes. Just… be safe, all right? I won’t be round forever.”

That’s a lie and you know it; you’re as immortal as they come.

The fox laughed, a lyrical rhythm that soon turned to a withering rasp. “You know that’s not how it works.”

Yeah. Yeah, I know. Be safe, Pôl.

“YOU be safe, matey. Talk soon.”

The cityscape took over the sound of the terminated stream, and once more they were alone. They stood to their full height, and from their metal plated left forearm section withdrew a slender, angular device that unfurled into a longbow, with code WHISPERSHOT embossed on its inner surfaces. Their custom-designed modular bow engine. It thrummed into life, while the cover plate on their arm flared open to form a small, sharp shield.

I could just name myself after you, they thought. But the idea of being defined by use of a weapon and nothing more, even one they designed themselves, was… uncomfortable. The choices and dramatic portmanteaus flowed through their mind again. Nothing felt succinct enough.

Giving a momentary frown, they pulled out a few of the metal shards that made up the structure of the bow, angling them for weight distribution and aerodynamics, then glanced at the ammo count on the right of their HUD.

If I can’t be creative right now, I’ll at least be productive.

A brief second of focus and the inventory blipped out with a detailed menu:

-Six palisade arrows, for long-distance shield deployment
-Eight electro-restraints, lasting at least six minutes apiece
-Eleven quick-release concrete foam shots, with an impact spread of eight feet
-Five interference beacons, ranging 150 metres

-Seven spacial disorientators, when work meets play

It wasn’t a full complement. Something about this city interfered with the effectiveness of their hacking beacons and immobilisers, so they were completely out of service for now. They still did physical damage, but relying on blind luck while still facing the brunt of a drone controller barrelling towards you was not a good time. Well, not under the circumstances, anyway. They would need to see a hacking expert for some upgrades, or advice on frequency hopping.

At least their battery still worked. Its status in their lower wrist glowed at a satisfying 98%. Plenty of shots to be taken even if they ran out of strategic ammunition.

They hooked two clawed fingers around the cable that ran from wing to wing, just behind the centre of the bow where the arrow crook lay. Two generators above and below it whirred into action, and as they drew back, a bright fizzling cyan bolt formed along the length of their arm. They glared down its length, crosshair appearing in their vision, with twisting indicators changing by the distance and height of the surfaces and objects before them. Satisfied all was well, they drew forward their arm and the cyan energy bolt faded back into the generators.

Time to move.

Archantael took a step forwards, and in the air under their footpaw appeared a glowing purple sigil, in the shape of a curled up pangolin. It took their weight; another step and a second appeared under their other footpad. The sigils shimmered; underneath them appeared smaller ones that rotated and drew away, then slammed upwards into the first set, sending the archer rocketing into the sky. They began a long, leaping bound, each step anchored and boosted by the shield sigils summoned beneath their feet, as they began a wide circle around the bay, beginning their patrol.


Continues in Part 2

Preview Art by Necrotext

The Korps is a fictional furry queer cyberpunk universe created by KorpsPropaganda

Lost Archive: Legacy – Review by Fred Patten

When I first joined the Furry Writers’ Guild, one of the first people I took note of was Fred Patten. Many younger furries won;t know him, but he was instrumental in bringing both anime AND furry to the US, and as a result, even further afield. There would be so much less of everything we enjoy around us, if not for him. He is absolute undeniable proof that you can contribute to the fandom without a fursuit, or even a fursona. What he gave us is immeasurable.

Fred sadly passed away last year, but when he was alive, one of the things he enjoyed most was to review furry literature. I was honoured to have sent him my first two books, in exchange for a review of each.

The reviews had been lost previously, but in the spirit of Furry Book Month, to archive for my own purposes, and in honour of the approaching anniversary of his passing, I’m reposting the reviews in their entirety here.


Legacy, by Hugo Jackson. Map.719oQQeUPIL
Derby, England, UK, Inspired Quill Publishing, September 2013, trade PB $12.99 (v + 371 pages), Kindle $3.90.

The map of Eeres on pages iv and v shows only a few land masses amidst many oceans and seas; the result of a prehistoric cataclysm 2,500 years earlier. Millions were killed, the whole world was reshaped, and the few survivors were too desperately trying to survive to keep any civilization or record of the past. All that remained, when a new civilization began to come together centuries later, were legends of a glorious, hardly believable past, and of the unknown disaster that had destroyed it. And a name – Nazreal – of the only city from that forgotten past known (or believed) to have existed for sure.

As Legacy begins, all Eeres (or Cadon, its largest continent and the location of the more important independent city-states) is abuzz with the news that the latest discovery from pre-cataclysmic times may lead to the lost city of Nazreal itself. This sets off a hurricane of hopes and fears; hopes that some of the legendary benefits may be reintroduced to civilization, and fears that what destroyed the past world will also be found again. More troubling is that Dhraka, a city far to the southwest of Cadon, is where the ancient artifact has been found. Dhraka is also dominated by aggressive dragons led by the militant Fulkore Crawn. (The other city-states are inhabited by various furry mammals.) There are worries that Dhraka may follow up its discovery to find something that will allow it to take over all Eeres. Even if the discovery is useless, Dhraka could use its search for Nazreal as a cover for militaristic expansion.

Sinédrion, the most sophisticated city of Cadon and the social leader, is the venue of Eeres’ Senate where representatives of the different city-kingdoms debate. The usual boring debates are turned into a turmoil when Fulkore comes to ask (a thinly veiled demand) that the other cities help Dhraka in its search. He especially wants access to the archives of Xayall, the fox-led city that has been researching the legends of the past for centuries. But Fulkore refuses to describe just what Dhraka has found; also, Xayall is the closest city to Dhraka, and it has suspected Dhraka of wanting to annex it for a long time. Aidan Phiraco, the Emperor of Xayall, refuses to let any of the dragons inside Xayall.

Chapter 1 is misleading, because the protagonist of Legacy is Faria Phiraco, the seventeen-year-old daughter of Emperor Aidan. She is the child of a red fox father and a fennec mother, and a blend of both. She is the representative in Xayall of Aidan in his absence, and a student of science/magic, both of what has been rediscovered and of new developments; specializing in the use of crystals for resonance manipulation. Both Faria and her father suspect that, with Xayall’s formal refusal to help Dhraka, the dragons will begin unofficial warfare against them. Aidan is reluctant to let her leave the walled city any more for fear of assassination.

When Dhraka strikes sooner and more ruthlessly than expected, Faria must escape from the city, find allies, warn the other cities, and discover the secret of Nazreal.

In addition to Faria, major characters in Legacy include Tierenan Cloud, a cyborg raccoon whom Faria frees from Dhrakan mind control; Aeryn and Kyru, two wolf mercenaries; and their adversary, Vionaika, Dhraka’s sadistic commander; a hyena/feline/dragon hybrid. Tierenan, Kyru, and Aeryn are shown with Faria on the wraparound cover by Minna Sundberg (Finnish author/artist of the completed online anthro comic strip A Redtail’s Dream). The adventures of these four, and their pursuer, take them by land and sea across Eeres, from humble carts and boats to fantastic airships, meeting anthros from mundane mammals and reptiles (“An iguana and a sailfin lizard deftly scaled the sterncastle to attend to the three-pronged mast on top.” – p. 185) to Osiris, a gryphon.

Legacy ends with a lengthy, exhausting conclusion, but there is a happy ending. However, don’t relax yet, because this is only Book One of the Resonance Tetralogy. Books Two through Four will be Fracture, Ruin’s Dawn, and Resonance End.

Legacy is very satisfying. Jackson brings a complex and colorful anthro world to life. His descriptions are full of lush detail:

“They rounded a corner and descended a set of large, sweeping stairs; this was one of the main entrances to the building. Aidan could hear the bustling of the citizens in the streets outside.

When they reached the large iron door at the base, two bulky guards hauled it open, revealing the eminent city of Sinédrion laid out before them, colours ablaze in the late evening’s low vermillion sun. A large river curved majestically around the Senate chamber, wearing luxurious bridges like a uniform of office.

Their carriage awaited them: an elegant design in dark wood with green and gold trim. Tall, horse-like dinosaur creatures with long tails, Theriasaurs, stood proudly at its head awaiting their command to move. The Xayall emblem, a white fox on a shield of blue flame, had been carved into the vehicle’s doors. A troop of mounted soldiers were stood to attention behind it; a silent, respectful welcome to their Emperor.” (p. 13)

Jackson’s worst fault is an overuse of emotionally-charged adjectives and adverbs such as “proud bridges” (p. 15). They become pejorative when describing the antagonists, such as “[…] Fulkore, who, although keeping his body absolutely still behind the plinth, had a vicious fire in his eyes” (p. 9) and “the vile hyena” (p. 326). These make it overly clear that the antagonists are not merely antagonists, they are black-hearted villains. Some of the descriptions go on too long, such as the first overview of Xayall which covers a page and a half. A few words are misused; the losing side in a fight is constantly being “decimated”. A full-page About the Author identifies Jackson as living in Raleigh, North Carolina, yet Legacy is full of British spellings and from an English publisher. There are occasional very old-fashioned constructions, like “were stood to attention” that most authors haven’t used in a century.

These are minor nitpicks, however. Basically, this is a fast-moving, richly-detailed adventure set in a colorful anthropomorphic world. Legacy is worth reading.

– Fred Patten

Legacy is available worldwide here

RWBY: The Stirring Un-feminism of Season 4

So this is a contentious issue. I’ll state first of all that Rooster Teeth is one of my all-time favourite production companies for the huge amount of engagement they have with their community and the sheer amount of hard work they dedicate to building up their name and talent. RWBY particularly has a place forever in my heart and mind for the inspiring story behind its creation and the authentic, infinitely generous passion of its creator, Monty Oum. Trying to critique it at this stage feels like kicking a service dog, especially when it has such a dedicated, creative, and prolific fanbase, and considering the heartfelt efforts Kerry and Miles have put in to carry on what can only be a hugely daunting legacy.

But…

RWBY Oh dear

YOU WERE SAYING?

This is another feminist rant again, right?

Essentially… yeah. I mean particularly with Season 4, it’s easy to see where the dynamic has shifted. And that’s not necessarily as a result of it passing out of Monty’s hands, although two different directors being given the same content will inevitably make things that are very different. You only need to look at how the Harry Potter movies changed from director to director to see the atmosphere shift, even ignoring the darkening plot.

(WARNING: RWBY SPOILERS WILL FOLLOW)

But RWBY does so much right! It’s awesome!

It IS an awesome concept, yes. And it DOES do a lot right, or at least it did. It is the show that started making men want to crossplay in my local cosplay group, and had them talking about gender representation in media generally. The highlight of one particular exchange:

“You know, I really wanna cosplay someone from RWBY, but the main guy is Jaune, and he’s kinda weak. But… well, I guess that’s how girls feel when they watch literally any other show.”

That a show can be performing quality subliminal education on its audience to any degree is great. AND, in the first few seasons at least, there’s little-to-no sexualisation of any of the characters (even Yang’s, erm, endowments aren’t given any particular focus). For volumes 1-3 Ruby herself has no skin showing except her face and her hands, and that is SO AWESOME, especially in a combat/magical girl genre for a teenage audience where panty shots are pretty much an inevitable punchline in any given twenty-minute span.

mad_mavis_vermilion_by_skyfinity-d5v3xsp

Mavis is VERY upset by the positions her Guild members are frequently put into.

So the foundation is rock-solid. If you’re going into specifics like the Bechdel test, or even just a qualitative analysis of how the girls interact and who drives the plot, the first seasons are fricking gold standard. The very first scene is Ruby kicking arse, directing the flow of combat with incredible prowess. She drives the story and, being so excellent in front of Glynda, is the reason she’s accepted into Beacon Academy. Throughout this series, she and her team are the driving focus and very few scenes are stolen by any of the guys.

Granted, there are only two male deuteragonists at this stage; Jaune and Ren, but even then, Jaune and Pyrrha have equal footing on their interactions, as do Ren and Nora. There’s never a point where the impetus is handed completely to a guy to keep the scenes or story going, and none of the characters are held hostage in their progression by anything a guy does.  This is a frequent problem with many stories, especially ones that proclaim to have strong women, because often they’re left helplessly strung along by the guy’s actions or intentions. Please check out how many issues I had with Wonder Women for these same reasons if you haven’t had enough of my voice yet.

Nora oh no

“Rant about MY FAVES, will you?”

Alright Buster, what did RWBY actually do, then?

Aside from distorting the characters’ body proportions (see Blake’s section), the main criticism I have with the series at this point is the degredation and inconsistencies with its characters, specifically the reduction of the girls’ strength and increasing emotional dependence on the men.

Season 4 opens with Cinder sitting at a table with some of Salem’s henchmen that we’ve never met before; Hazel, Arthur, and Tyrian. Cinder is reduced to a whisper and sports a severely damaged (or missing) eye after her encounter with Ruby on the tower. The guys in the room spend their time belittling her for being weak, until Salem comes in and shuts them up.

Cinder up to this point has been a near unstoppable force in the show. Having her reduced to a struggling mute is definitely indicative of a shift in power, if for no other reason than nothing like this has ever happened before in the world of Vale, but this has some troubling undertones. We get that the guys are arrogant and conceited, but there is never an acknowledgement that Cinder was ever strong, except by Salem. Given that she had already nearly slain one of the maidens (seen in Season 3) and they have all obviously known of each other for some time, it’s a little contrarian for opportunistic malefactors like them to comment on what they see as an inherent weakness than her inflicted weakness caused by the battle at Beacon.

Salem srs

Really? Seriously? We were supposed to be past this.

The irony is that this is arguably the strongest and most independent we see any woman for the first five-six episodes in the show, because Salem shoots down her henchmen’s crappy (and rather confusingly-constructed) arguments and takes control of the room where Cinder can’t. We don’t even know who Salem is, but if she has Cinder quaking in her boots, she must mean business.

But herein lies the foundation for the tones seeping into RWBY, and it’s a sadly common occurrence for women in media, especially sci-fi action, and a largely-criticised trope of Joss Whedon fiction in particular: a woman cannot be powerful without also suffering directly as a result of that power. This begins to become apparent in Season 3, where Yang, Blake, Ruby, Penny, Pyrrha and Cinder all suffer something horrible as a result of their increasing abilities and positions.

While an escalation of danger is often necessary for furthering the plot, in Season 4 it happens in a more insidious and subconscious way than actual bodily harm. It’s about removing agency, lack of control, and having situations consistently dominated by the male characters. Kind of exactly like the Wonder Woman movie, even after it was saved from Joss Whedon’s terrible faux-feminist fingers.

ren worried

You and me both, matey.

Not a single one of the main four characters has agency in their given scenes or episodes, with the exception of Weiss, the only one of the four who stays any degree above it.

Red Like Roses Fills my Dreams (but just in the background)

Ruby fighting in team RNJR gives us unique snapshots at her increasing capabilities, but sadly she’s relegated to mostly taking directions from Jaune. Ruby was a masterful strategist in her own right by the second season, understanding her team’s abilities innately to take down pretty much anything they faced. In the Season 4 skirmishes, she doesn’t contribute anything except raw power, martial arts prowess, and in the case of Qrow’s fight with Tyrian, actually causes Qrow to be injured by way of her intervention. This takes on the Whedon-esque visions of punishing a girl for becoming stronger by making her choose between two scenarios, both of which weaken her- she chooses to fight when warned not to, and almost loses her uncle as a result. While raw power is definitely something to aspire to, it also reduces Ruby to a tool to be exploited; Nora suffers from this even moreso, whether as a bruiser for dramatic effects shots or a relatively-blank vessel to see Ren’s character development.

NoraHammer2

If you want to be the one to tell her that, be my guest. I’ll inform your loved ones.

The irony is as soon as we enter the series, Nora and Ren have a dialogue that’s more prophetic than it should have been, debating whether the team should be called JNRR or RNJR because they’re not sure if the original team majority dictates the focus of the mission. That’s how the story progresses, with unsteady footing due to the organic chemistry of the principal characters being left in the previous season when they were all in the same place.

It’s not only in battle where Ruby is forced back for the sake of others. Jaune leads them with the map; Ruby watches or follows. When they enter a village, Ren takes charge. It’s almost as if each scene has to be either serious, sad or comedic- if it’s serious, the lead is given to Ren. Sad, it’s Jaune. If it’s comedic, it’s split between Jaune and Ruby, or Ren and Nora. There’s no nuance. The plot dictates the character’s emotions, and not the reverse. This season was intended as Ruby’s journey, and she is very much in the back seat.

So Jaune and Ruby are sort of at odds, because she has both the power and the knowledge, but seems to be functionally redundant to give Jaune and Ren some interaction. And yes, Jaune needs development. But he gets that. He has the most touching moment of the entire season, following directions from Pyrrha recorded on his scroll. I think him being less active in the initial fight would have made both him and Ruby stronger in the long run by showcasing their dedication to the journey as a whole, and the contrast in their individual paths. Your characters aren’t deep or varied if they can essentially all do exactly the same stuff in different colours.

Ruby shatter

Presented without comment.

Crushing Rose

Before we get to the brilliant poignancy of that night-time training scene, we suffer the most egregious betrayal of Ruby’s character, and perhaps the show as a whole. After the battle with the Geist, we discover The Scene Had To Be Written This Way To Give Jaune Something To Do because Jaune’s equipment is currently being reforged from Pyrrha’s old weapons.

This potentially touching moment, however, is ruined by Ruby’s uncharacteristically mean-spirited mocking of Jaune’s bunny hoodie. It’s out of character at best, especially as (aside from Pyrrha) she’s always been the most emotionally receptive of anyone, particularly to Jaune when they were both found to be the leaders of their teams, AND she herself has shown affinity for animal-themed clothing. Ruby and Jaune were (from our perspective) both hit hardest by the loss of Pyrrha, so to have her break into such a raucous fit at a pivotal moment for Jaune’s reconciliation is unfair to him as a guy, and her as a sympathetic leader. This comes at a point where we ourselves are still reeling from Pyrrha’s loss, so even if this HAD to happen, it would have been better suited to something entirely separate from Pyrrha’s memories.

Pyrrha scary face

DO NOT

To add to the inconsideration for Jaune’s mourning, Ruby is also preying on a character we know to be emotionally vulnerable from the very beginning. Placing this scene in which the lead girl openly and brutally mocks her male friend for showing ‘immasculating’ interests is blindingly punishing, and an insult to any guy who enjoys a show about girls with frilly skirts and awesome weapons. It furthers the damaging stereotypes of hegemonic masculinity that guys can’t like soft things or be emotionally open in the first place, by making fun of a character that was mercilessly bullied by larger guys for being weak in Season 1. Jaune knows his weaknesses already, and, like many male fans, he’s introverted, nerdy, and clumsy. Ruby’s cajoling is in bad taste, and destroys many of the sincere moments that have come before.

To feed my ego and read how I’d have taken the scene differently while retaining most of the original dialogue, check out a revised version of the Episode 1 script here.

fuckthistree

Wanted for destruction of positive anti-stereotypes

 

Mirror, Mirror, who are these people?

Weiss is a tricky one because she’s always struggled to free herself from her father’s omnipresence, financially or personally. The instant we see her in Season 4, she’s summoned to her father’s study, and every move she makes from this point is dictated by an interaction with another guy, except the single moment she accidentally summons a Boarbatusk to deal with a terrible privileged women who says disasters are the victim’s own fault (and seriously, Screw Her). Her brother creeps her out, her butler makes her smile again, her father coerces her into singing, another guy creeps her out at the ball, and Ironwood saves her from a very expensive lawsuit. Every turn she takes is completely dictated by the flow of other people, all men, and it’s aggressively diminishing to her character. Maybe that’s the point, the series making a subconscious but salient observation that she’s a prisoner now that she’s back in Atlas. But it doesn’t quite ring that way.

Her dialogue, with the actual words in the scripts, at least, is solid. She’s skeptical and steadfast. Despite her reputation as the Ice Queen, and despite the stringent limits to her surroundings, she actually shows incredible depth of character in the conversations she does have, a considerable amount more than her teammates. She shows genuine warmth to her butler and contempt for those who’d mock Vale, but at no point in the story does she make her own choice that drives her story until the very end, and the cinematography is focused much mroe on the characters around her than on her, which diminishes her power in the show itself, even though what she actually says gives her presence. When she had such independence in the first seasons and motivated other characters (like Ruby) to new places and have difficult conversations and learn more herself, it’s sad to see her become nothing but a passenger.

When she works on summoning the knight towards the season’s third act, we see her finally taking some volition and displaying a power completely independent of the world around her and makes the decision to escape. But not without another uncharacteristic, stereotypically-girly breakdown and cry on the bed. Weiss is the girl with the tantrums and dramatic stormy exits. If she’d just kicked around the furniture and gone straight to her summoning, it would have been an excellent turnaround. The crying, sadly, dilutes it.

And even her escape isn’t under her own steam. She asks Klein for help, and he pretty much does all of the work for her. Weiss, for all her verbal fortitude, barely escapes this dependency on others for the entire season.

weiss head roll

Sass, not sobs.

 

Black The Beast Disdains from Shadow

I’m going to start with an image comparison here.

On the left is Season 2 Blake, and on the right is Season 3. If you didn’t immediately notice the siphoning of her waist into her breasts, there’s kind of a problem. The stylisation, if that’s all it is, adds an unnecessary emphasis to her chest, which in my view upsets the boundary-pushing standard that women, especially teenage girls, don’t need to be busty or revealing to be powerful or popular. This is another damaging trope exuded by many Whedon productions: that women are entirely dependent on men for their strength, either sexually, or emotionally, and therefore have to cater to them in such a manner.

Before you cry out that I’m only picking on Blake because boobs, she isn’t the only one. Look at her stalker partner Sun:

On the left is Season 2, the right, the most recent season. Sun either worked out a bunch in the months preceding Season 4, or he makes a cushy side living smuggling shoulder pads to Menagerie. I’m not a fan of the open-shirt look, but I can at least appreciate that he had realistic proportions before The Buffening.

Sun, I Am Disappoint

I never particularly liked Sun. He looked better before he was trying to cosplay Spring Break Prince Adam. But his renewed portrayal is another example of how the show discredits young guys’ physical and mental images. Let’s also look at his shared journey with Blake.

Blake left Vale. Alone. Sun admits that he stalked her because, in his words, he knew she didn’t want to be alone. If you’ve ever spoken to a rape/harassment/stalking victim, or even a child of an aggressively protective parent, you should know why gestures like that are severely problematic. While we know on the surface this is coming from a place of protection, it’s still legitimately creepy as heck for a girl to be followed without her knowledge and against her wishes. Not only does it demonstrate a complete disregard for her and show he has no faith in her combat abilities (extra insulting given that she was An Actual Member of the White Fang and Adam Bitchpant-Taurus’s Girlfriend), it removes her from being in charge of her own story, much like every other girl this season. Sun’s grand protector role comes off as arrogant (which, granted, he always has been), unwelcome, and forces Blake into playing pithy reluctance and, despite having held her own in combat many, MANY times before, Sun’s encroachment into her battles actually forced her to need rescuing.

Perhaps the worst part of this is that it paints Blake as a perpetual stalking victim, because her violent and abusive ex-boyfriend literally stalked her for three seasons. Sun’s behaviour is unacceptable mimicry even if his motivations are different. The ‘counteract’ to this, the point which is allegedly supposed to justify his idiocy in the audience’s eyes, is Blake physically slapping him multiple times for his crass and invasive behaviour. It’s a poor justification not only because it highlights terrible communication between the two, but it also reduces Blake to being unable to verbalise or control her emotions. Just FYI, slapping a guy does not make you a strong character when you are also entirely dependent on that same guy for your emotional journey (the final admission that she did, in fact, feel guilty for leaving).

rwby-volume-2-screenshot-03

What do you mean, we hang out with GUYS? Aren’t those things contagious?

While we’re talking about guys being creepy around Blake, we can’t ignore the overbearing and way-too-familiar nameless captain that was all but working his way up to a full-blown proposition for her. Even if that was never the intention (and I doubt it was, given knowledge of the writers’ own good sense of mind), the pervasiveness of that language makes the loss of the girls’ agency and the shadow of subconscious rape culture harder to escape. If you’ve been following the ‘MeToo’ hashtag on social media lately, you’ll likely have seen a lot of instances of creepy behaviours to avoid, and this is one of them. For a show that made such a huge impact by showcasing girls with dazzling choreography and having outfits specifically designed to be practical for girls to cosplay in, it’s disappointing to not keep broadcasting that progressive attitude.

And it’s such an easy trap to fall into with writing, especially by men. I may well have done it in my own books, although I’m trying to change that. If you start incorporating traditional gender observations/tropes into your fiction without subverting them or demonstrating their fallacies, you will encounter sexism within your own creations.

And inherently problematic is the idea of the Watcher, a predominantly male presence that is the male gaze made manifest – a source of constant looking that is an explicit form of control. – Natasha Simons, The Mary Sue

Both Sun and Qrow do this. We understand the world of Remnant is more dangerous now, so there is a justifiable need for characters to band together, but the new season is rife with elements where the girls aren’t even being given the chance to fight. Qrow is literally killing ALL of the Grimm while also stalking Ruby, even though single or teams of Grimm have never been an issue for the group. He also forbids her from fighting. There’s no justification for either his or Sun’s lack of faith or reason to keep stoic distance other than persistence of overbearing and arrogant masculinity.

Fumblebee

While we’re here, let’s briefly touch on Blake’s reunion with her father, a cavalcade of awkwardness that didn’t even get to explain the reason she returned home. She insisted to Sun that she wanted to ‘get home and relax’. Relax? After a battle that almost killed you and lost your best friend her arm? After your abusive ex showed up in the middle of a battle that destroyed your sanctuary? What about “I can’t face my team. I hurt them too much. So much of this is my fault. I wasn’t strong enough. I need to make things right and I don’t know how, so I’m starting at the beginning.” Not a single iota of that or even how she was affected by Yang’s injury is conveyed even when she confesses to Sun that she feels guilty, so all we get is irritated evasion and exasperated protests against company. It backtracks her character by several seasons, not even organically.

Blake pissed

Even she will tell you it’s not a good look.

Yellow Beauty Burns Cold

Of all of them, Yang is the one with the greatest reason to actually be disparate and in need of help, given she:
-lost an arm
-failed to protect her best friend, whom she lost the arm for
-had that same friend ABANDON HER before she even regained consciousness
-is unable to follow or protect her little sister while she’s on a great and perilous journey

Aside from the traumatic flashbacks and noncommittal responses to her father’s kind gestures, the focus isn’t so much on what happened to her, but who did it. Granted, Adam is a big part of her battle, but it’s his visage that looms in every of her nightmares. Yang has never been afraid of a guy before. Losing her strength or something valuable, like when she loses a few hairs, those are big trigger points for her rage. One of her dreams almost gets it when she’s shown to have her Ember Celicas vanish in the midst of a fight, but it’s still Adam at the centre of it, and not the traumatic loss of her arm and the friend she sacrificed it for. Yang is a fighter; bold, proud, and flamboyant, and has been from the very first moment we saw her in the Yellow trailer. And she isn’t anymore.

Losing her arm isn’t an unrealistic transition for her depressive state. But the mentality of trauma and its recovery is such a balance to strike, and it didn’t ring true, if for no other reason than it’s portrayed as the fear of Adam that’s holding her back and that never gets resolved. The apparent cure isn’t even to remind her of her friends. In some weird, nondescript way, Taiyang inviting his professor buddies over and making a really incisive insult to Yang about her arm… changes her mind? Yang might have always been one for puns, but taking a jab at her recent and severely-affecting trauma is not how PTSD therapy works. It’s almost reminiscent of the terrifyingly-dense Andrew Tate’s refusal to acknowledge that depression exists (he also claimed that anyone above 15 who watched cartoons was a loser and no woman would want you). This is something that is almost universally portrayed incorrectly in mediayou cannot brute-force depression or trauma into remission.

It wasn’t even a reminder of the friends Yang could be protecting that urged her into action. What would have made more sense is Taiyang asking her how she felt about Blake, and Yang getting upset about that and recovering to either smack Blake into shape for running off, AGAIN (see season 2), or ask her if she ran because of guilt and to smack her into shape regardless, because Yang’d gladly lose the other one if it meant Blake would survive to tear Adam to pieces. That’s the kind of solidarity and resolve the series needs, and would have been nicely mirrored if Blake had any of the same feelings, but the show has none of that. Instead it implied Yang was guilted into recovery for overhearing how bad things were in Vale, and then undergoes Magical Fighting Therapy Session and Vague Emotional Placation with her father and everything is okay again. It glosses over the severity of her emotions and implies she’s ‘just kinda bummed’ and not ‘suffering from severe PTSD that nobody’s adequately addressed’.

Yang smug cat

“I don’t do trauma, but when I do, it’d better be serious. No time for half measures.”

Oh, and by the way, Taiyang also suffered from a case of The Buffening:

LOOK AT HIS SHOULDERS. Arms really don’t work like that. Season 3’s Tai looked so much more natural, especially in his face. I hope Season 5 will be a step back in the right direction.

So, what now?

I’ve no idea. I’ve seen the Weiss and Blake character shorts for Season 5, and it’s not filling me with confidence so far, but they’re not really meant to give anything away. Yang’s looked pretty good, though.

There’s a lot more I can say. I will, but this is epic enough already. I’m actually starting up a project of revising scripts from Season 4 to make them more balanced towards the women, erase some of the elements I raised above, and bring them more cohesion. You can read the first episode here.

The thing is, despite what I’ve said, I still love RWBY. The concept of it, the characters, the absolute dedication by the creators and fans, are all beyond anything I’ve ever seen. And I’ll still watch it. So I want it to be good. It deserves to be good. I wouldn’t be as passionately worried about it if I didn’t care about the characters and direction I feel they’re being taken. The new opening already looks like this season has a better sense of focus *crosses fingers* But it’s always important to remember that we can still love something dearly while being critical of where it may fall down, or change, and enough discussion can safeguard an audience from ever being disappointed.

New Review! Cosplay! Acting!

Following on from my last, rather vocal post, here’s something much more satisfying to talk about: another review! This one is by David Popovich of Bookworm Reviews, and it’s a video!

I’ve never had a video review before so this was very exciting. And he was certainly fair, too. I’ve never considered Legacy to follow groundbreaking or vastly original ideas, but I’m really glad that he enjoyed it and considered the tropes used well (even if they are well-used). Best comment: “It’s like reading an anime.” That was the highlight for me, especially as I’ve been influenced a lot by anime for a good seventeen years or so now, that he thought it came across in my writing is a great compliment for me. That’s the style that I see playing through my head when I write.

Not gonna lie, I was kind of like this thinking about it over the last few days

Not gonna lie, I was kind of like this thinking about it over the last few days

So that was all at once an awesome surprise, a great relief, and a big motivation. Fracture is going through some more ‘final first draft’ edits (that I’m actually a little overdue on, erk) and I managed to get a lot done after watching the review last night. I hope to finish it this morning, not least because I have a butt-ton of other stuff to accomplish this weekend. Most principally of which is…

COSPLAYING ALL THE THINGS

I haven’t mentioned my cosplay at all yet because I was waiting for some photos to be taken that weren’t of me looking confused or standing in THAT ONE POSITION I ALWAYS STAND IN FOR EVERY PHOTO so finally I have something to share.

Ain't no thing like me, 'cept me... and a few others.

Ain’t no thing like me, ‘cept me… and a few others.

Boom. Or, more like, whirrrrr....

Boom. Or, more like, whirrrrr….

The above two photos are by Tomisina Lynn Portrait Photography, by the way.  This is my Rocket Raccoon, although I don’t expect anyone currently on the internet to not know what Guardians of the Galaxy is. I also have a comic book version that won me a first prize at Oak City Comic Con in Raleigh this year:

Scooby Doo took a turn for the awesome, finally

Scooby Doo took a turn for the awesome, finally

And there’s my Beowulf from Rooster Teeth’s RWBY series.

No, it's not a bear, and I'm not doing that thing they supposedly do.

No, it’s not a bear, and I’m not doing that thing they supposedly do.

New acapella album coming soon: Jazz and Howling

New acapella album coming soon: Jazz and Howling

Photos are also by Tomisina Lynn

You can follow all of my cosplay ramblings and progress photos at BritFang Cosplay on Facebook. DragonCon is my next big upcoming event, sort of our yearly pilgrimage, and it’s going to be a big one with lots of amazing dehydration. Just as well it’s only minor repairs left, because I’ve had even MORE projects that I’ve been involved with, although very few are currently ready to advertise because they’re not finished yet. I do have these two, though:

Redwall Audio Drama (Fan-Made)
Escape Pod Episode 484: That Tear Problem

I do voice acting projects now. Once I have time after DragonCon I will audition for more, but to be honest it’s been a very intense few months, so time management will be essential… especially when you have a habit of wanting to do everything at once.

Me vs. my head. I don't know which is which.

Me vs. my head. I don’t know which is which.

So that’s an update from me! Stay tuned in another two months for more insecurities and self-assurances!

I’ll Hold You To That

The title was something someone said to me when I confirmed I’d hopefully be able to update them on a project towards the end of the week. I don’t know if it can be considered innocuous or if I’m just stressed, but it really pissed me off. Probably unnecessarily so. I’m working pretty hard at the moment (although I’m not sure I’m able to say specifically in what capacity), doing a lot of things for other people, and for one that I’ve already been helping both automatically and at their request to say that felt… like a kick up the arse, but not in an encouraging way that I normally appreciate. There’s a group of around a dozen people I’m working with/for, a lot of whom I haven’t been able to touch specifically because I’m working on projects for both this person and someone else. It just jades me when I felt I had started to get on top of things.

I guess you can always do more. But it’s not like I don’t have my own stuff that I really want to finish. I’m a little over a third of the way through Fracture’s edits, and there’s some amazing cover artwork for it that’s coming on really well that I’m desperate to show everyone. And even aside all that, I have an enormous laundry list of projects that I want to finish in my lifetime one way or another.

I actually have a pillow on my desk for this very purpose

I actually have a pillow on my desk for this very purpose

My Wish List

This one’s a little flipped round, because this is a wish list of things that come from me, not to me from others. This is what I have in my head at any give time, for all the projects I want to do. This might explain why it annoyed me so much.

Writing

In the Resonance Tetralogy
Fracture (in edits)
Ruin’s Dawn (started)
Resonance End (plotting)
Spiritus Ex (plotting)

In The Song Chronicle of Thera (Steampunk series)
Firesong: Ballad of Phoenix the Blade (started)
Moonsong: Fugitive of the Snow
Therasong: Heart of the World

In Clandestine
Book One: Protectors
Book Two: Shieldbreaker
Book Three: Tears

Other writing projects
Fantasy Stereotype High School (plotted)
Aeterno (plotted)
Foundation (plotted)
If You Think That’s Hell, You Should Try Working Here (plotted)
The Story of Phoenix the Mechanical Werewolf and Tohru the Electric Corgi: A Steampunk Children’s Tale (drafted, published on Tumblr; would like to get illustrated some day)

Being even half this productive would be great right now

Being even half this productive would be great right now

Costume Projects
Rocket Raccoon (2-3 outfits)
Steampunk Werewolf Mk III (because two isn’t enough punishment for me, apparently. It’s just the head, though. Probably)
Pangolin Fursuit
Mega Lucario
Yugo (from Wakfu)
Mystogan (I swear if it doesn’t work this time I’m going to kill you, you bastard)

Miscellaneous
Voice acting projects, auditions are always ongoing). I’ve been really lucky to be involved with some great productions so far, not least of which includes guest narration of episode 484 of the fantastic Escape Pod podcast. My episode is called That Tear Problem, by Natalia Theadoridou, and you can listen to it here
I have ideas for various comedy podcasts that I haven’t even been able to plan yet, but they’re a distant second to every other item on this list at the moment.

And this doesn’t even mention the stuff I do for work. How hard I work will determine what I get paid. I order for this to be sustaining, I need to dedicate time to my work, or I lose the opportunity to take time to work on what I want to.

In terms of deadlines, only one of these has a specific time limit aside from my work work, and that’s the Rocket Raccoon costume, which I want to get done for Animazement at the end of May. Fracture, unfortunately, while I will get the edits done as soon as I can, may sit impatiently for its release window, as my publishers are fully booked for this year’s novel releases. Small presses have immense respect for artistic integrity, and there’s nobody I would trust more than Inspired Quill with handling my books, but unfortunately it’s partly the nature of the beast that you can only manage a certain number of releases per year until you can widen your foundations. I have always wanted to keep my books affordable and if I self-published it, I’d be forced to charge a fairly unreasonable minimum price to get a markup that would earn me a living.

Pictured: current events

Pictured: current events

So while I know I’m not always great at keeping with things, it’s not like I’m being lazy. Please don’t accuse me of that. If I’m TRULY not doing anything, I’ll have to convince myself that I might actually deserve it, even just for a little while.

Because if there’s one person who has always told me ‘I’ll hold you to that,’ and unforgivably so, it’s me.