viernes, 23 de diciembre de 2016

Is Passengers a failed wannabe Trigun?

Okay, so this article has nothing to do with An Ominous Book, but given my book series has a lot of elements taken from anime I thought it would be fun to write about this upcoming blockbuster.

I seldom watch TV but last weekend I did see the trailer of the upcoming Passengers movie starring Hollwyood darlings Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt. The trailer looks exciting enough albeit with a tried and used plot:

Sometime in the future Earth (that oddly enough is located in the middle of the Milky Way instead of it's real location of one of the farther arms of our galaxy) is overpopulated and passenger ships filled with humans in suspended animation are off to a mystical planet somewhere to seek their fortune. 

Okay, just out of my head I can figure out some anime that have a similar initial premise: Saber Marionette J, Last Exile, Vandread, one episode of Lost Universe, Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star, etc... Heck, even the classic 1980's cartoon Thundercats begins with a similar premise! The entire Gundam saga has a huge list of different spinoffs where humans either live in planets or build artificial colonies in floating space stations and a war eventually erupts because they seek independence from Earth.

Of popular Hollywood flicks Avatar sort of comes to mind although they merely consider Pandora to be a source of fuel rather than a planet (more like a moon) humans wish to actually emigrate. Total Recall (the awesome original version not the crappy remake with Colin Firth) has colonization of neighboring planets.

Of course, things go wrong and a ship with so much super technology has a failure of the hibernation system. Whereas in Thundercats, Lion-Oh suffers partial aging and grows up to be a full-fledged adult with muscules but remains in hibernation, Chris Pratt's character in this flick wakes up but he can't restore the hibernation system to fall asleep. Dumb, dumb, dumb. You'd think they'd place a few extra pods for these flicks or something.

So now Chris Pratt suffers from Cabin Fever without going Jack Nicholson loco thanks to apparently some sort of friendly robot and a while later another pod fails. This time the awakened human is Jennifer Lawrence and of course, a love story erupts and bad stuff happens.

I am indeed curious to see this movie, although my first priority is to watch Sully this upcoming XMAS Sunday before they take it out of the theater. I am iffy regarding watching Rogue 1 so I might have to flip a coin and opt either for Rogue 1 or Passengers on New Years weekend.

As for Passengers, until I see the movie I cannot claim how good or bad it is. However, I feel like the plot is a more dumbed down version of Trigun. Ever heard of that anime? It is a really popular 1990's scifi drama series that aired in Toonami that was very successful.

The plot begins with a similar space colonization premise albeit the ship has a permanent crew that remains awake including a woman named Rem Requiem. They locate a potentially inhabitable planet but they decide not to colonize it because it's mostly desertic without a sufficient amount of water to house all of the ships. During their voyage the ship bumps into a pod with two baby alien boys that they choose to adopt. One of them is named Vash and his twin brother Knives.

Vash grows fond of Rem and sees her as his adoptive mother whereas Knives feels angry that the human crew is pulling him away. Knives decides to trigger the crew into killing eachother which he does rather well and ignites the self destruction command of all of the ships to kill everyone.

His insane plan? To ensure he and Vash survive and inhabit the desert planet to live together in peace. However Rem sours his evil plan and sacrifices her life by sending at least some of the ships to safely land in the desertic planet.

The current plot of Trigun happens 100 years later where Vash who stopped aging once he reached adulthood goes on a crusade to save lives even if he destroys entire cities by accident following Rem's ideals.

While I am indeed curious to see this flick, I kind of feel Trigun simply has a lot more plot. Heck, while you are bored, why not give Saber Marionette J a chance as well? In that anime the colonization ship suffers a mysterious accident and kills everyone on board. The only survivors are 6 adult men from different countries and zero women. Instead of choosing to be the last generation, they choose to use complex cloning technology to recombine their DNA and found an entire planet inhabited by men. They build robots with female bodies to remind Terra 2's inhabitants what women used to look like. That series begins where a Japanese guy named Otaru finds a very special marionatte with artificial AI named Lime that expresses complex human emotions and starts an amazing voyage to return real women to his planet.

domingo, 11 de diciembre de 2016

A library in Mexico, an oxymoron?

Because of the nature of my regular job, I sometimes have to go to meetings in oddball places without previous notice. On my latest venture I had to go to a really hard to find conference room in Toluca which is a city I despise to go because the public transportation system is abominably bad. After being dumped by the taxi around 2 miles away I had to tread to the right place and discovered the conference room was located right besides this new park that was opened a few years ago called Parque Ambiental Bicentenario.

Once you enter the park from the main entrance you are greeted by a cute ceramic statue that was made by artisans in Metepec.

The artwork of the figurine is indeed really cool. However even though the park sure looks nice it has all of the traits of a PRI white elephant. The place was inaugurated by President Peña Nieto himself several years ago but some parts of the park haven't even been officially "opened" yet.

Yes, the very cute jungle gym paid by my tax pesos has a bunch of plastic wrapping and a yellow police cordon "Do not Enter" sign. I mean, this park was opened in 2011 or 2012 and after 4 years they still haven't taken the annoyance to remove the plastic.

I do not know if the map fell off or they never bothered to install it in the first place. What an informative white box!!!

Continuing the tour of the park to the library, you can see the sidewalks are being filled with concrete. I have no idea if they were replacing damaged concrete or they simply opened the park 4 years ago without even bothering to at least sort of finish the job and they are barely finishing the Captain Obvious final touches.

 The signs inside of the actual park are functional and it's a pretty straightforward path to the library.

As you approach the library there is a building arguably called "El lugar de la Tierra" or an Earth center. I have no idea what that is. I wonder if public schoolbuses ever bring busloads of kids to visit the park. Seems a bit like a white elephant to me.

We then reach the library. Most libraries I have been to in Mexico are dilapidated and unwelcoming buildings but I will give props to this place. The library looks unusually stunning from the outside and unlike some parts of the park it's 100% functional.

Once you go inside you realize it's still a very young library with a lot of open spaces on the shelves. It's indeed not a large library, I doubt it has more than 2000 books and it pales in comparison to the impressive Vasconsuelos Library in Mexico City.

However the place looks welcoming and cheerful in the inside, rare for a public library in Mexico. There were only around 5 people inside, two of them students doing homework and the rest were using the computers with free internet.

I browsed around the shelves to see what kinds of books were available. The place has a somewhat "odd" catalogue system. While it has a surprisingly decent stock of medical books that is better than the Vasconselos Library some of the medical books were scattered among the Physics and Chemistry section.

The fiction section has a really nice array of books (including some in english!). They have Twilight and the 7 Harry Potter books.

I think having welcoming libraries with a decent book selection is a good start for a country that doesn't have a book reading culture. The sad thing about the location of this library is that the public transportation system stinks. You leave the park and for starters there is no official bus stop per se. I was standing on the sidewalk getting exhausted after a 6 hour meeting for a whopping 45 minutes until the Metepec-Crisa bus showed up. Maybe people in Los Angeles don't mind buses that arrive in such a long interval but in urban areas of Mexico you seldom wait for 10 minutes for the right bus to show up. Even in the super rural village I work in has buses zipping by at steady 20 minute intervals. The buses weren't even empty; it was packed to the brim like sardines.

After 40 minutes of waiting in the cold I simply sat on the sidewalk and hollered insults to the arsehead drivers that honcked at me even though they had more than enough space. Not my fault the PRI builds fancy white elephants without decent bus stops or buses that show up at sufficient intervals. Oh but don't worry, In the 45 minutes I waited for a bus to arrive more than 90 empty taxis zipped by. Good job Toluca, I don't want to be stiffed with a taxi that doesn't even know it's own city for 90 MXN when I could ride a bus for 9 MXN. The only conforting thing about waiting here like an idiot was that the park's free WiFi was working.

If you wander around Mexico City and the metropolitan areas of the State of Mexico you will bump into dozens of posters like the one below featuring flashy mexican stars (many of whom aren't even avid readers in real life). Curiously enough Sherlyn is well-known to be a bookworm and they have never made an ad with her. Mexico logic.

I think opening decent libraries is a good start but if the bus service stinks and public schools don't take the tykes to these places people just won't go. The bad part about this park is that it's very far away from where large conglomerations of people are. They should seriously build a public library right next to the Toluca bus terminal. The place is oozing with people rushing everywhere. Chile has book rental joints in busy subway stations in Santiago. Mexico should bring the free books to the places where people will conglomerate as well.

At the end, when my ISBN number arrives of the spanish translation of An Ominous Book I'm still going to donate a copy of the book to this library. If at least one kid becomes inspired by my fantasy book I will have done a good job.

domingo, 4 de diciembre de 2016

The first fanfic of An Ominous Book is a horror

Sure didn't take long for a fan of An Ominous Book to imagine a fanfic story. What I didn't expect was it to be a horror story.

The protagonist is a medic assistant treating Spaulding's leg burn in Tindenfarel which is loosely based on the events of Chapter 7 and 8 of An Ominous Book when a malignant Nelida storms into the OR and demands the medics to amputate Spaulding's left leg for some sick motive.

Obviously the medics believe the little girl is insane to make such a ridiculous demand. And them BAM! Nelida summons her phantom beast and murders hospital staff in seconds splattering blood and body parts in every direction.

The expectedly terrified protagonist that was unharmed hurriedly detaches the entire leg and nervously gives it to her who rushes off with a menacing laughter.

I decided to draw this artwork as I scratched my head what was my fan thinking.

I can only count the days the first yaoi fic pops up somewhere. I'm not sure how I will react when it happens.

sábado, 3 de diciembre de 2016

The 6th book of An Ominous Book is now available!

I feel mightily glad that I have finally published all 6 finished novels of my ongoing Ominous Book series. I am going to change to a new job in a few months and when that happens I just won't have the time and energy to be writing. My favorite book of the series will probably always be A Calamity because it closes the circle of Leilandy and at the same time opens the story of Damantin which along with Froylan is arguably the character I like to write the most.

Whereas in A Calamity Damantin has an undecided loyalty towards the kingdom that exiled and eventually murdered his father Sharad along with a neutral relationship with the series protagonist Spaulding the 6th novel turns 180 degrees and we see how the 10 year Äimite training has transformed Damantin (perhaps with the aid of some brainwashing) into a subservient guard. Whereas in A Calamity you cannot even imagine Damantin to wear the Äimite uniform in Quandary his officially new attire seems to mimic his complete change of heart to a new normal.

However despite his undeniable loyalty and dedication Damantin is still prone to bending the rules. In the first few pages of the novel it becomes fully apparent that Damantin not only has moved into the Äimite Castle on a permanent basis but he had a son named Neimar in complete secrecy. If you have read A Calamity it won't take you very long to confirm the identity of Neimar's mother.

It's a well-known fact that guards are officially celibate and in Diaspora we discover Lord Jamarnid was sentenced to death because he had a child with a human but Neimar lives among the guard like they are just one big family. While even Froylan himself was surprised he nonetheless seems awfully pleased with the innate talent of Damantin's offspring.

A second grey elf becomes an important supporting character in Quandary: Tioja. In A Calamity we briefly get to meet him in his most mentally unstable state as he fights against Leilandy with utter heroism and while he still shows traces of his disturbing behavior he seems to be recovering his once lost sanity and revealing he knows a lot more than it seems at first. Froylan has an ulterior motive for treating Tioja which was already hinted in A Calamity: after discovering the sorcery potential of demonic beasts he is on a quest to automatically invite any grey elf that can summon one to the guard. The fact that Tioja is still reasonably young and can summon one of the most powerful beasts in the world is just too tempting for him.

Richard is starting to show his age and rapidly declining vitality as he is already in his mid-40's at the start of this novel whereas Spaulding has finally started to show signs of aging. We are now fully used to seeing Froylan as the anti-hero of sorts by now and he's worried that the two series protagonists will perish from old age. After several drastic turns and twists of fate, the true hero to this story will be revealed in the final third of the book.

Quandary is my longest finished novel with approximately 120,000 words. I felt that I needed to gradually increase the word count not to annoy the reader but because of the utter complexity of telling the background stories of so many characters. Whereas Damantin seems to steal the show in A Calamity in the 6th novel we get to see a little bit of everyone. I do feel bad that Trevilin takes to the sidelines in this tale because there is more to him that isn't yet revealed but that can be reserved for later.

I feel vastly satisfied with this story and hope the readers will enjoy it as much as I did. If I had to choose a part of the story that I particularly loved it would be the two chapters dedicated to Lord Shuran. I enjoy knowing more about the past stories of varying recurring guards and Shuran's tale will surprise you all.