Saturday, July 21, 2012

Untitled Story

This is an idea for a story I've been batting around in my head, which I may or may not do once I finish the Infini Calendar series. Basically all I have so far is the setting, but I think it's a cool setting.

            The year: 2532. The city: Oasis, the only city on the dark side of the moon.

            The city was a neon metropolis, a beacon of light in a sea of darkness. The only other city on the big rock was Oasis’ sister, New Philadelphia, located on the happy, sunny side of the moon. The people of New Philadelphia got to enjoy the gorgeous view of the Earth every day.

            The city was built in the shape of a hexagram, and each side was a separate district. The buildings rose hundreds of feet into the dark lunar sky. A glass dome covered the city, separating it from the chilling vacuum of space. Building the dome had not been an easy process; accidental breaches had sent a number of workers flying off to their cold deaths early on during the city’s construction.


            Internal systems supplied an artificial atmosphere with oxygen and mild temperatures. Some buildings had special windows that projected fake sunlight, but it was always night outside on the streets.

            Speaking of the streets—freeways ran through the city and accommodated all manner of traffic. Air cars were also used frequently by those who could afford them. Due to strict population control, the populace of Oasis remained relatively constant. This discouraged continued manufacturing of air cars, so most of them were imported from either Earth or an automated factory that built them on-demand at a location a few miles outside the city.

            Many of the inhabitants of Oasis had lived in the city their entire life. Many of them had never even seen the planet of mankind’s dawn. This glittering burg was the only home they had ever known.

            Laws were much more relaxed in Oasis. The city had been built to cater to those people who were fed up with the stern rules of New Philadelphia. For instance, anyone in Oasis could own a gun—though the caliber had to be low enough so as to be incapable of putting holes in the dome—and almost all of them did. A few massive corporations also set up shop in Oasis to avoid the stricter regulations and oversights of New Philadelphia. Being out the Earth’s sight definitely had its advantages.

            However, there were also disadvantages. For one, the mortality rate in Oasis was far higher than New Philadelphia. This was largely attributed to the lack of gun control. Of course, there were also stabbings, stranglings, bludgeonings, poisonings and other homicides that had nothing to do with firearms.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Blu-ray Spotlight -- Metropolis

Today I would like to highlight Fritz Lang's 1927 sci-fi opus, Metropolis. While this movie is very hold--hell, it's positively ancient--it is also one no self-respecting science fiction fan should miss. I recently picked it up at Barnes & Noble, and I heartily recomend every sci-fi fan see it at least once in their life.

The story deals with the titular city Metropolis, a glittering massive paradise--at least, for those priviledged few who live in the upper part. The lower class citizens who live below the surface must toil day and light to keep the city running. Freder, the son of Joh Fredersen, the, uh....I guess he's the mayor of Metropolis...Freder one day discovers the horrible reality of the conditions in which the workers must work. Freder quickly sides with the workers, much to the chargrin of his father, and meets Maria, the beautiful prophetess who gives hope to the workers by preaching the arrival of a mediator who will bring peace to Metropolis. Rotwang, a local inventor, has created a humanoid automaton, and Joh Fredersen tells him to make his Machine-Man look like Maria so the doppelganger can destroy the hopes of the workers once and for all. Rotwang agrees to the order, but secretly has his own agenda to crush Joh Fredersen; apparently they were once rivals for the affections of Hel, Fredersen's wife and Freder's mother. Freder discovers the android double and races to prevent the destruction of Metropolis.

Since it was made in 1927, it is a silent movie and therefore uses dialogue cards to convey what the characters are saying. The problem is that there is so much talking in the movie and most of the characters' speech does not have accompanying text, so you have to infer what is being said based on the context. Also, much of the plot is merely hinted at, so we can only guess what happened in the past between Joh Fredersen and Rotwang the inventor. This may have to do with the fact that parts of the original reel were lost long ago.

The visual aspect of the movie is hit-or-miss due to the degraded parts of the original film. Parts of the movie look really good, and other parts are really grainy. Fortunately, the movie is very up-front about this, so you know what you're getting into beforehand. On the plus side, the artwork within the movie has easily stood the test of time. The pictures of Metropolis shown within the movie are highly detailed and fantastic. I'd love to hang them on my wall.

The one thing that is excellent all the way through is the music. The original orchestral score has been faithfully recreated and is top-notch. In fact, this is the kind of movie you'd want to buy the soundtrack to.

All in all, Metropolis is a little confusing, very weird and pretty awesome.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Kindle Spotlight -- The 19 Dragons

This is the first in an ongoing series in which I highlight Kindle books that catch my eye. I recently picked up SM Reine's The 19 Dragons for 99 cents. The synopsis was very interesting and I figured, for 99 cents, what the hell. I'm glad I did, because this ended up being a very good read. The whole thing is only about 100 pages (including intentionally blank pages) but that doesn't diminish the experience at all.

The plot revolves around the titular 19 Dragons who inhabit Reine's gothic steampunk world. One day they decide to become human in order to live among the mortals who hate them. They live happily until they are betrayed by one of their own who steals the source of their immortality and starts hunting them for unknown reasons. After surviving an attempt on her suddenly mortal life, the 2nd Dragon takes it upon herself to track down the traitor. She is easily my favorite of the Dragons as she has both the most interesting personality and the most unique appearance, though that isn't to say the others aren't also interesting.

The story is told from the point of view of each of the Dragons as they try to deal with a murderous traitor and a world that is literally falling apart. Reine fills the story with rich imagery and fantastic prose. The story clips along at a good pace and Reine's characters come alive. The only downside to the book is that it wasn't edited quite as well as it should have been; Reine sometimes confuses one Dragon for another. Also, 100 pages isn't enough to fully flesh out 19 protagonists (and one antagonist). However, I still thoroughly enjoyed the story and look forward to reading more from SM Reine.