Planet With starts unusually. It looks unusual, it feels unusual, and this elevates its quite usual premise. It plays with visual language in ways that feel smart and slick, and explores more interesting than usual themes than a lot of alien invasion stories; my first impression, from the opening episode, was that it was taking a similar angle to Fafner in its handling of an unusual, incomprehensible alien entity. I liked many aspects of Fafner, primarily its depictions of broken families and the pressures of social achievement overlaid on military service, but something that did stand out was the weird, cloying aesthetic of the Festum, its alien enemies. While the relatively early CGI was ugly and turned their unusual angelic designs into amorphous gold blobs, their whole motif, unnatural movement and particularly their catchphrase – Are you there? – was very unsettling.
EFS Taskforce Itomori:
Artemis-class Cruiser EFS Adamant
Tsukuyomi-class Cruisers EFS Repulse, Revenge and Resolute
Nephthys-class Destroyers EFS Jupiter and Juno
Chandra-class Frigates EFS Crisis, Critic and Castle
AISN Forward Group 3185:
Meridiel-class Cruisers AISN Fiora Froleya and Caldis Varden
Chiithan-class Destroyer AISN Dethan
Irivel-class Frigates AISN Mabaris, Cavaris, Theliris and Levitris
March 2146, three months into the Astoran invasion of human space. While the Itomori system is a relatively lightly populated one and would seem to be a reasonable buffer between the advancing Astorans and vital EFS infrastructure, its numerous gas giants are strategically significant mining operations. A reinforced cruiser group, led by Commodore Tachibana, had been sent by the Earth Fleet to defend Itomori – and had been waiting several days to see action.
Tachibana’s fleet encountered what was presumed to be an Astoran patrol on the 23rd March; a small flotilla of Irivel frigates was detected by long-range sensors on the cruiser Adamant, and the decision was made to advance into the magnetic clouds on the system’s edge to investigate. There, Tachibana encountered – apparently with the element of surprise – a small Astoran task force. Battle was joined…
After efforts to write stories about the gaps between action, about day-to-day life, it was refreshing to write something simple and heroic. And so, a simple action scene.
In writing a continuation of Night / Morning I decided to change the perspective and tense slightly; I wanted to keep my idea of trying to write something about the senses, about how it feels to feel alive, and indeed the discomfort of the setting, but to expand it slightly in scope. It has moved from one person in one room, in a way; it is now about someone trying to turn their current situation over in their mind.
I have been reconsidering what can be done with lost-world and ancient civilisation narratives. And I realised that an imagined setting I was working on, of a magical school in an ultimately colonial age, could stand to be shaken up a little.
Thus I wrote this, about an emissary of a lost civilisation making his existence known to the world. It is a direct sequel to Lunch at the Real…
The inspiration for this story came from the aesthetics of Dishonored 2, which took steampunk and industrial fantasy into the Mediterranean; there was a lot to like about this, and I simply ran with the inspiration it invited into a magic-school setting.
This is, effectively, a rewrite of a story I wrote on this blog a long time ago, Thanks. I thought Thanks was a decent enough piece of writing, but I wanted to try and make it more descriptive, more of an attempt to paint an immediate scene rather than anything else. To try and communicate a wide range of feelings and sensations, to paint a picture with more senses.
And to decouple “realism” in military science-fiction from pessimism and cynicism and darkness and just paint it as bathetic routine and minor irritations, with a bit of humanity.
I’d like to extend some thanks to @schneiderheim on Twitter for helping proofread this.
Everything continues to build towards the big race, yet the most interesting thing I found when writing this was how it let me throw down in words, in safe, science-fiction form, snapshots of my own introspection.
While this is, throughout, a work of colourful fantasy, I think it is from these chapters onwards where I let a little more of my own doubts and memories cloud the characters.
Or, Virtue Rewarded, How I Stopped Worrying & Learned To Love the Bomb,
At Least It Isn’t Cross Ange
It is not accurate to say Buddy Complex is a series that deserves defending, because it is plainly not particularly good, interesting or new. The parts that are good are not new, and the parts that are new are not good. On the other hand, I am finding it a series worth watching because it is so unashamedly unimaginative it ends up the sort of show that epitomises every cliché possible with earnest sincerity. Within five minutes of episode one starting, once you know the jargon being thrown about, any viewer who has seen at least one other military robot anime will be able to predict everything that will happen for at least the first two and a half episodes – and that will happen without any attempt to do anything different.
I often find myself returning to the themes of the gothic novel; I find their ideas of power abused and stifling social traditions forcing tragedy upon the innocent fascinating. I think those themes offer a far more interesting avenue for dark fantasy than miserablism and sociopathy; arguing from the position that everyone is compromised and base is less interesting than taking the stance that evil can come from within, from the inability to understand the desires and freedoms of others.
Thus I wrote this, a gradual destruction of a past friendship that itself was not what it seemed.