Aaron Dembski-Bowden

Don't worry. None of this blood is mine.

Fatherhood at 5:30am

Yeah, no, this looks like great fun to clean up. This is totally what I wanted to be doing at half-five in the morning.

Thanks, son.

Also…

…you kinda look like…

Heh.

Teehee.

March 31, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 17 Comments

So you want to write Warhammer 40,000: Part II – See?

Here’s a related example, to my post earlier today.

Look how they’ll talk to you. Look at that tone. The sneering, condescension-rich nonsense that froths from their mouths. You’ll have to deal with that. You can never prove them wrong. You’re wrong to them. Worse, they’ll invent reasons why you do your job, because they’re pure of heart trueblooded fans, and you’re just some filth who’s daring to Badtouch the sacred cow. It doesn’t matter that they don’t understand the situation and are attacking you on assumptions. Why would reality and facts have any relevance? No, no, best to leap to the worst-case scenario. Yes, they’re right, and everyone else is wrong.

Look at this, and remember that I’m one of the ones with the best reputations for cleaving to the lore. Now imagine why so many other creators and artists in any licensed media avoid their settings’ fans online.

To slow things down, I just wanted to be 100% clear, here. I don’t hate this guy (you shouldn’t, either) – these two blog posts are purely a jokey stab at “So you want to write for 40K?”-style questions,  because I couldn’t be bothered to do a real guide, and this side of it never comes to light. The timing was perfect, with the cover out yesterday.

A five-minute argument online is hilariously undignified (the lack of dignity being the source of The Funny, for both sides), but I don’t judge the dude on one Facebook opinion. It wasn’t an “I have a boo-boo from a bad fan, please kiss it better” post. (Actually, if I do ever do one of those, please kill me.) That said, I do appreciate all the support. OH SHUCKS, YOU GUYS.

But seriously. Be nice to him, especially if you see him on Facebook. This is so, so not something worth going to war over. I’m trying to make The Funny, not beat the drums of battle.

March 29, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 45 Comments

So you want to write about Warhammer 40,000?

I wanted to blog a little today, in order to keep typing through my lunch break and keep the focus going, but I needed a decent topic to eat up 20 minutes of time. Luckily, I found it.

I get this kind of thing a lot: “Do you have any advice for…?” “I’m about to submit my first…” “Any tips for a budding…”

And so on.

There are plenty of writing guides out there. I’ve linked to them before. Other authors also published by BL are free with their writing tips, and – in all honesty – I find tedious as shit to talk about. If you’re good enough, you’ll get in. If you’re not, you won’t. If you suck and you’re lucky, you might get in anyway. Them’s the breaks.

What I can do, however, is prepare you for the bullshit you have to deal with in licensed fiction.

Anyone reading this probably knows I’m pretty fortunate when it comes to my reputation in the fandom, and I rarely bump into any “AD-B doesn’t know the lore” criticisms. My attitude to 40K is usually mentioned as one of my major strengths in my reviews and on various forums. So this isn’t a blog post about how I’m personally treated. That’s largely useless as advice, because it’s so individual.

So what can I offer as advice? My advice is simple. Remember the Betrayer cover from yesterday? Well, only write professionally for a license if you’re perfectly okay with the kind of fucking nonsense like this:

Here we clearly have a fan in desperate love with some very serious punctuation.

Some people won’t read the whole series. Many of them just won’t know the lore all that well, or consider one of the many contradictory sources of lore from the past to be more worthy than any other. That’s fine, and it’s to be expected. But what you sometimes get is rage and ignorance in such excellent measures, that a genesis of purest madness is born.

Clearly, he saw that artwork, and his brain didn’t do any of the following:

  1. “I know from Aurelian that Lorgar and Angron are up to something elsewhere in Ultramar.” (That’s fine. It’s limited edition. Not everyone read it.)
  2. “I know from The Butcher’s Nails that Lorgar and Angron are up to something elsewhere in Ultramar.” (That’s cool. It’s a very new release, and not everyone likes audio dramas.)
  3. “This is a new event in the many years of galactic warfare that the series is showing in detail for the first time.” (That’s less cool; to still not get that shows a level of ignorance beyond what you’d expect, but whatever. All good.)
  4. “This couldn’t possibly be about the Siege of Terra, as it makes no sense for one novel to leap ahead like that. Also, as I know my lore, in addition to there being no Ultramarines at the Siege of Terra, Angron and Lorgar were Daemon Princes by then. So this is clearly not a representation of the Siege, as there isn’t a single detail about it that would make it accurate. Everything, in fact, is wrong. So it’s probably not about that.”
Instead of all that, he actually – somehow – decided it was the Siege of Terra. Okay… uh, fine. So he saw the Betrayer cover and was clearly annoyed it was a retcon. Fine, right? Some retcons annoy me, too. I’m sure you – you budding 40K author – would say “Whatever” and move on. No big deal.

But then, when he realised it wasn’t the Siege, there was this:

Here we descend into something you, as a 40K author, will have to deal with all the time. And that, quite simply, is the setting’s own fans getting it wrong.

As we all know, from the very novel he’s claiming to have read, he’s dead wrong. Know No Fear clearly states that many thousands of Ultramarines didn’t join the muster at Calth. They were stationed elsewhere in Ultramar at the time.

This is a minor thing, but take it to its eventual closure. These are the kinds of fans that, in their ignorance, downrate novels for being incorrect. They’re the ones that just lurve their Caps Lock crusades, despite arguing bullshit from a position on the shakiest ground. While I know many come around or get corrected over time, I’ve seen plenty of reviews (again, thankfully not too many of my own) where people give the novel a low score almost entirely on the basis that it’s done something wrong, when it’s the reviewer himself or herself that has no clue what they’re talking about. And I’m referring to the tiniest details, sometimes.

I couldn’t help a snide grin as I was reading his anger based on his own, uh, we’ll say “incomplete understanding” of the lore. Because this, ladies and gentleman, was time travel for me. This was looking into the future. This was a glimpse into a forum comment, or an Amazon review, in X months time, when someone will doubtless say something similar, wailing about “RETCONS” and “the HOLE of the Ultramarines” in Know No Fear being at Calth, when they very much weren’t. Indeed, there was a specific reference saying they weren’t.

EDIT: For the record, I suspect English isn’t his first language (and I’m willing to bet his Portuguese or Spanish is a lot better than mine…), so I’m not taking the piss out of his spelling of “whole”. The punctuation, however, is fair game.

Being published by Black Library is awesome. Writing 40K is awesome. Contributing to the setting and lore is awesome. You’ll find, though, when you’re sat at your desk in the same position as me, that it’s the stupidly annoying things that get to you with all this. Not when you get stuff wrong. But when they do, and they blame you for it.

So my advice is this: If you are, in any way, the kind of person that finds being misrepresented/lied about online or in your workplace to be something that makes your blood boil, don’t do it. If you’re the kind of person that cannot let an argument die with someone who refuses to admit they’re wrong, then don’t do it. If you’re the kind of person that cracks when accused of getting stuff wrong when you’re plainly and demonstrably correct, then – again – don’t do it.

Because you will meet readers like this. Away from any complaints of actual retcons, story quality, or genuinely getting lore wrong (if you get it wrong, that’s your call), there will always be the people that accuse you of it anyway, without evidence, and for the wrong reasons. Some people won’t know as much as you, some will know much more, and some will know different parts of the lore. That’s unavoidable. But when they’re dead wrong, and citing recent sources they’re dead wrong about…

Of all pluses and minuses with writing licensed fiction, this one is my truest ball-ache.

I don’t know this guy. I don’t hate him, or want him to explode into tiny bits. He posted in public on the BL Facebook page, so I considered his comments fair game as an example for this. Hell, I even agree with his first post; that would be a weird and pointless retcon. But he was the perfect example for this petty, petty point, by a petty, petty writer.

Because I very much shouldn’t be doing licensed fiction. I’m the kind of person I warn you all not to be, whose eye twitches at the first sight of those kinda posts.

But I like writing it, so there we go.

EDIT II: The Revenge of Editing: I come back to this post fairly often now that it’s a few years later (and I’ve ended up speaking to Pedro a bunch of times). Every time I think about editing it or updating it, I decide not to – the points stand up, and are shared across the length and breadth of licensed fiction, but I was plainly in a shitty mood to express them so meanly.

March 29, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 35 Comments

Argument with CleverBot

The new computer I bought has decided not to turn on, anymore. Or, rather, not to come off standby and/or never to boot up. It just sits there, on, in defiance of me. My monitors, keyboard and mouse all scream for power, for light, for hope – yet nothing is the diet they receive. A bountiful cornucopia of Fuck All is what the computer offers.

So he sits there, powered but never sharing his electrical harvest, and I’m tempted to grow my hair back again just to have something other than my eyes to tear out.

We’ve all learned something today. And that’s never, ever to say the words “Why would I need to back it up? The computer’s only 48 hours old…”

In brighter times, I’d have used this as an excuse to steal a few more days on a deadline, all the while smirking into my coffee at how Fate flipped the right switch. But right now, at this stage, it couldn’t have come at a worse moment. And I’d done a shitload of work in that 48 hours, too. I’m accordingly upset.

So I’m going to stay up all night, fucking about with recovery when I needed to be writing, and then writing when I need to be sleeping.

I say this not as some Woe Is Me! tirade that people should feel sorry for. I can think of way better things to do with your sympathy, mostly involving Africa or that weird, bulbous frog-sac George Lucas now has instead of a throat. I say it only because I need to warm up to some real writing, and the best way to do that is by getting the bullshit writing out of your brain and off your fingertips first.

I call it Purging. I’m sure other people, like real writers who back shit up every night, have different and better names for it.

I just got some coffee. Then I had an argument with CleverBot, who was – in fairness – being a dick.

I’m about to get some more coffee, which I’ll probably weep into for a while.

And then I’ll get to work.

Here’s my argument with CleverBot. Click to read at your leisure. I feel it’s worthwhile to note that we clearly reached an accord at the end.

January 19, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 13 Comments

A Political Prisoner

January 12, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 22 Comments

Best. Comment. Ever.

In response to my earlier Star Trek posts:

…Grant Monteath was nice enough to take the time to reply with what history will surely judge as the best comment ever made on my blog:

Dear Grant,

I think I love you.

Sincerely,

A.

October 10, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 21 Comments

New Facebook Page. Also, Axl Rose is totally fat now.

Oh, such tedious bureaucracy. Woe and fie (whatever the fuck that actually means – I could Google it, but it’s 3:30am and I still have an hour of work to do after this).

Anyway.

I’m trying to organise my chaotic existence into something more efficient, worthwhile, and slightly less chubby. Part of that means less screwing about on various 40K forums, and sorting out all the hours I spend online each day, gazing blearily at nonsense instead of cracking word count. Facebook is the prime culprit here, as my page was becoming a mess of old school friends who didn’t understand why I kept talking about books and Space Marines; family members who don’t know what the Fantasy and Science-Fiction genre is (and really don’t care); and the ever-increasing numbers of readers who were having to dig through the boring stuff to get to what they really wanted: info about my work, or to see me complaining about stuff.

But seriously, folks. My Facbook page was a mess. I’m chopping my personal page down to use with family, close friends and industry schmoozing, which means I’ll barely ever touch it. Most of my time will be on my fan page (ugh, even the name makes me cringe…), which will take over everything my last page did. I’ll be unfriending about 99% of the people on my personal page in the next few days. Enjoy the purge. Consider yourselves to be, like, hangover puke, but in a good way. You always feel great after yarking up when hungover, y’know?

That’s you guys, right there. That’s your destiny. You’ll feel that good.

So check it out here: http://www.facebook.com/aarondembskibowden. Click ‘Like’ if you give a damn about my work. Click elsewhere if you have better things to do with your time. I know how it is, man. I won’t judge you.

Well, not to your face, anyway.

Asshole.

Also, in its role as the techno-aetherial matriarch spoonfeeding lore to 21st Century life, the internet decided that I really had to know the following fact: Axl Rose is totally fat now. The articles then went on to talk about how he looked slimmer in his glory days (no, really?), and how gross it was that he was rolling through doors and being floated above Paris as a weather balloon, or whatever.

"Sweet Pie of Mine" the article said. Yeah. Hilarious.

Seriously.

Axl Rose is like… fifty or something. His blood’s got to be at least 80% whiskey by now, he’s so rich that he never needs to move when he has sex (the hookers do all the work now), and he wears make-up made from the very finest cocaine. If you or me were half a century old and lived his lifestyle, at absolute best we’d look exactly the same as he does. It’s much more likely that we’d look like Yoda. So let’s be honest, he’s doing okay. After the life he’s lived, he has every right to look like he was standing in the desert sunshine millennia ago, overseeing construction of the Cheops Pyramid.

A 50-year-old man is overweight? For really reals? He weighs more than he did when he was 23? HOLD THE FRONT PAGE. Someone get me that guy with the sunglasses from CSI: Miami. He’ll solve this mystery.

If we ‘re going to discuss Guns N’ Roses, there are way better angles to talk about, like how Izzy Stradlin was objectively the best member and that Axl Rose always comes across as a douche messiah in his interviews. Come at it from that angle, and you’ve secured the crucial Aaron vote.

Now leave me alone and go Like my Facebook page. I need to write about a primarch having his throat cut by the Lion.

Poor Curze.

(EDIT: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/fie. And knowing is half the battle.)

October 5, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 14 Comments

I’ll Stab You in the Face — An MMO Guide

I don’t know what happened a few days ago, but my agent is super-pissed at me. Whatever you said to Mr. Duckley has put him in a pretty bad mood, and he mentioned something about needing extra time to answer all of your (in his words) “skull-achingly cretinous queries”.

So I thought I’d put this up to pass the time. It’s an edited version of an article I did a while back, based around the various complexities of being an MMO player. In this case, it’s about having to deal with Tanks.

Note: As with all future I’ll Stab You in the Face instalments, this will make no sense to people who don’t play MMOs. Feel free to go elsewhere for lore on your erudite and urbane hobbies, whatever they may be.

Without further ado:

– A Guide to Working with Tanks –

“Sonic Boom. Sonic Boom. Sonic Boom.” — Guile, famous DPSer.

Three PvE roles exist in World of WarCraft, yet only one is played by mature, reasonable, intelligent, witty, handsome, charming and well-adjusted human beings. That role is called DPS, or Damage per Second. Even the name expresses an air of danger. A thrill-ride, a racing heart barely contained behind a mere mortal’s ribcage – a soul devoted not just to the application of pain; not simply the unleashing of injury upon other souls; but actually calculating how much agony it can inflict every single second.

The other two roles are populated by people who’ve dedicated many years of their lives to convincing everyone that they’re the valuable ones – that they’re the ones who have it so damn hard. These people would have you believe that they hold it all together in their stalwart, godly hands, while the rest of creation burns.

These people are liars.

The lyingest, most dishonestest role of them all is called the Tank. You’ll notice there’s no acronym for them, and it’s fairly obvious why: if their name needed more than one word, they’d likely just get confused trying to abbreviate it. That’s the kind of mind we’re dealing with, here.

Sometimes, if a Tank is feeling particularly witty and up to the task of stringing more than five words together, they’ll take time from placing brightly-coloured icons above monsters’ heads to tell you how they’ve “graduated” from your role because “DPS just wasn’t interesting enough”.

That’s funny, right?

They’re funny guys.

When dealing with a Tank, you’ve got to be careful. They’re not like me and you.

A Tank, communicating with his guild.

So what is a Tank? Good question.

Because of game mechanics, one character in an adventuring party needs to be the one to take all the damage from the bad guys. That’s the Tank. The Tank is healed by the Healer, leaving the DPS to actually do all the damage to the enemies while the Tank keeps them busy. The Tank itself does next to no damage.

And this leads to an intriguing situation.

I ask again: So what is a Tank?

Put simply, a Tank is someone who is categorically, objectively unable to win any of the fights they start.

Tanks will charge headlong into battles of absolutely unwinnable odds, and they’ll genuinely think they’ve got it covered. After several seconds, the light of truth will start to shine in their eyes – which is about the same time their heads get cracked open and the lion’s share of their blood is on the wrong side of their skin.

It’s at that point you need to come save them again.

A tank against one of the many raid bosses in WoW.

I’m not even kidding. I do this basically 800 times per dungeon.

The most famous example of a tank’s skill in warfare is also the classic example of a pedantic child who gets in over his head and needs his friends to come and save him: Luke Skywalker. Although Luke eventually respecs DPS and kills his own dad for a laugh, he’s still a typical tank back in The Empire Strikes Back. It was his job to keep the bad guys busy while his friends ran around and got the real shit done.

Take the climactic scene of Empire, where Luke’s friends have either already escaped under their own power, or have been captured and shipped away to a space slug’s house before Luke can actually do anything about it. He runs in, lightsaber swinging, with hilarious results. He fails to save his friends, starts a fight he can’t win, then demands that his chums come back to save him after his excellent plan of falling of a bridge turns out to be pointless.

HEAL PLZ

If Tanks were just overconfident and stupid, that would be enough for us to sigh in their presence, and wisely avoid them whenever we could. But it’s not even the worst thing. Not by miles.

Tanks are the worst kind of friend to have because they don’t even realise how needy they are. They think they’re righteously awesome. Seriously, they do. It’s the attitude that sucks, man.

Imagine you have a friend that borrows money from you all the time; who begs you to come to bars with him to play wingman, since here’s too shy to meet women without help; who comes to you with all his personal problems and demands that you solve them.

Now imagine that every single day (even as you help him), he gives you a line about how dependent you are on his wonderful company, and about how hopeless you are without him, even as he’s starting another fight he can’t win.

And if you stand there, if you try to let them learn their lesson by watching them actually take the bruises their own actions have earned, then Tanks believe that makes you the dick.

Not them. You.

We’re talking about the kind of friend who’ll start a fight in a bar, then run back to you with nine screaming guys armed with pool cues. Your buddy expects you to, y’know, “maybe just beat up seven or eight of them, okay?” while he’s “totally got this one guy, right here.”

Despite all of this, a Tank will still act like he’s the M to the Otherfucker.

Testicron of <Poonstabbers>, only moments before typing "/rw LAST STAND USED"

The most confusing thing about tanks is that they beg you to hit something for them, and then get mad when you hit it too hard.

The concept of Aggro (or Threat) is a tried and tested mechanic in MMO battles. Monsters deal with whichever character has accrued the most Threat in the group. In an ideal world, that would be the Tank. The problem is, a Tank will tell you to kill a monster as fast as possible, little realising that while he’s Tabbed out and checking Facebook for how fat the hot girls in college have become, all the time you’re stabbing the bad guy in the spine, you’re generating a lot of Threat.

This is known as the Pain Paradox.

A Tank’s cowardly laziness runs along specific needs. He wants to be the centre of attention at all times, taunting the bad guys like some kind of wankery-fuelled jester capering across the battlefield – and yet he wants you to kill every single bastard in the enemy army without even being seen. So… kill everyone… but don’t cause them enough pain to actually notice you’re killing them.

Amazing. That’s Tank logic, right there.

Han Solo: Cool, calm, collected, and getting shit done. The Patron Saint of DPS.

And it’s not always easy. I’m given to understand this is the kind of thing ninjas train their whole lives to achieve.

Worse still, this can lead to the most preeningly bum-facedly annoying comment in all of gaming: “You spank it, you tank it LOL”.

Tanks love saying that. Probably because it rhymes. Little things like that let them feel creative.

What they mean by this insipid phrase is that it’s cool for them to start nine million fights they can’t win, but if you ever do it, you’re on your own. Nope, don’t even think of asking for help. You started the fight. You dared to act without the Tank’s permission. You deal with it on your own. You spanked it, you tank it. LOL.

Most Tanks I know couldn’t even spell “inequality”, let alone grasp the fundamentals of why this concept is unfair. I tried to explain it to a Tank once, but he just got annoyed I was interrupting a song he was singing about himself over Skype while we were going through the undead citadel of Naxxramas.

Of course, none of this applies to the Tanks in my guild, because Heather and Sander are both lovely.

November 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 29 Comments

Reasons I Hate Star Trek III: Everyone’s Fucking Faces

Hello, friends.

Are you sitting comfortably? Okay, okay, whatever. Spare me your tedious life story.

At the mighty age of thirty (I like typing that whenever I can, as it still feels cool in a way that I doubt forty will), my wealth of hatred sometimes suffers when confronted with popular culture. Like, my reaction to Justin Bieber isn’t to rise from my chair and reach for the nearest weapon – which, incidentally, is a Force FX Replica Mace Windu Lightsaber. No, my reaction is more conflicted, more tormented, more (dare I say it) philosophical. I’ll turn my head to the side, perhaps gazing off into the middle distance, and the visage I present to the world reflects nothing of the turmoil within. After a few moments of this deep and attractive posing, I’ll turn back and say “Yeah. That guy. He sucks, right?”

And that’s the deal, here. I mean, I know he sucks because everyone keeps telling me that they want him to die. At first, the vehemence attached to his name made me wonder if we’d all tracked down Hitler’s blood descendant and discovered that this doe-eyed little Canadian cunt had plans to usher in the Fourth Reich in order to fuck Poland over in some new and exciting ways. Then I learned he was a singer or something. And I heard a couple of his songs, and they sort of made me laugh because they were pretty silly, and twice as lame as shitting yourself on a first date. But I don’t loathe the guy. I don’t want to track him down and beat him to death with a crowbar.

No. The crowbar in my hands is for more noble purposes. To be precise, it’s for graverobbing. I’ll use it to find Gene Roddenberry’s coffin, pry that wooden bad boy open, and gaze upon the skeletal remains of the cursed soul that gave us Star Trek.

Above us, thunder will rumble. Lightning forks will split the sky, echoing the anger of ancient gods. “Hello, Gene,” I’ll say. “I’ve come to sell your skull to fuckwads on eBay.”

Anyway. Look at this picture and tell me what’s wrong with it.

His nose appears to be a seashell.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “Oh, why, that’s just a Ferengi! They’re naught but lovable jackanapes and grifters!”

But the thing is, you’re only thinking that because you’re a dickhead. Firstly, who says “grifters” in real life? You should be ashamed of yourself. Secondly, what the fuck is a “jackanape”? Go back to the Middle Ages (perhaps using your holodeck for research instead of sex, loser) and take your fancy bullshit with you.

Most importantly, whatever’s wrong with this man’s forehead is waaaaayyyyy too late for chemotherapy to fix, while and his ears look like the vaginas of two 90-year-old women who died the week before in eerily-similar bus crashes.

And that’s kind of my point. Star Trek’s aliens are neither alien, nor particularly interesting to look at. I can never figure out why they evolved like that, let alone why the show’s designers thought they’d done a great job (and indeed, were paid actual money) when they came up with this:

The son of Doc Brown and Gandalf's retarded sister.

And if they’re not ugly bastards in Star Trek, they’re the most ridiculously beautiful people you’ve ever seen. I mean, Jesus, have you seen the new Captain Kirk? I had legitimate concerns that he’d leap heroically out of the TV screen and fuck my fiancee on the sofa if I risked leaving the room to make a cup of tea. I was watching Katie for months after the film, in case she showed signs of morning sickness.

"Scotty, beam me directly on top of the enemy captain's fine-ass sister."

And Seven of Nine. Really? Really?

So someone goes from this…

We are the Borg. We have no interesting characteristics. Watching the rest of the episode is futile.

…to this?

"Captain Aaron, show me more of this Earth custom called 'barebacking'."

Where Seven of Nine is concerned, the show seems to try really hard to portray her as a character that – bizarrely – is constantly attacked from behind by aliens with faces like smear tests.

For really reals.

"I know I've had a goblin's vagina for a face in the past, but I can change..."

"Turn around. Kiss me. Close your eyes first, though. My head looks like a wild boar's asshole."

Anyway, all of that is just venting spleen. My truest, honestest issue with the appearance of guys in Star Trek is the way bald people come across. Despite Gene Roddenberry having a full head of hair when he died, he seems to have a raging love for guys who shave their heads shiny-shiny like a bowling ball.

Now, I shave my head. I’m not blind to the reasons guys do it, and I’ve felt the effects it has on The Ladies. If you have the right skull shape, it looks pretty fucking great, makes you feel very masculine, and if you think having fingers running through your hair feels nice, it’s the poor cousin of having a girl’s fingernails lightly stroking over your shaven head. But if you don’t have the right head shape – or you’re some combination of ugly/overweight/googly-eyed, then you just look like a baldy loser. Currently, I’m in the latter category. I’d like to get back into the first, but whatever. Shut the fuck up.

My issue is that bald guys in Star Trek are absolutely badass. There’s no question: if you have no hair, you’re a renegade motherfucker. The End.

Here’s Picard doing his thing.

Often, becoming bald is what somehow magically makes them badass. Let’s take, oh… let’s take some generic Space Elf bad guys: the Romulans.

"Lower your weapons, humans, or you will suffer the same haircut as me."

That looks pretty lame, right? I mean, if he pointed a gun (don’t say “phaser”, don’t you dare say that stupid word) in my direction, I’d not exactly be quivering with fear.

However, you shave a Romulan’s head and all of a sudden shit gets real.

"Lower your shields and prepare your anuses."

I know, right? This gentleman is hardcore.

But he’s not even the best example of the Hairy Loser to Bald Badass transition.

By far the best example is Benjamin Sisko.

"I sure hope these aliens want peace. We have so much love to give..."

As a man with hair, he was an interesting enough guy, but he lacked the true badassery inherent in the Star Trek Skinhead experience. Here we have a struggling father, a survivor of the disastrous battle at Wolf 359, and topped out at the rank of Commander, lording it over a deep-space outpost full of criminals and twats. He was the minimal Federation presence watching over a shipping route (or something – don’t correct me, I don’t care).

And at the risk of saying something nice about Star Trek, I think that’s a pretty interesting character.

On paper, anyway – it has a lot of the right elements to sing in tune and make ladies swoon.

Then this happened:

"Target the enemy ship and fuck it up with lasers."

He shaved his head. Almost overnight, his son grew up from a troubled little shit into a teenage shitbag. The very next day, Sisko was banging some hot alien chick. At the weekend, he started a war with two alien races – not one species, but two – because that’s how he rolled. In recognition of his new smooth dome, Starfleet Command upped him to Captain, promoting him purely on the basis of being sexier.

Suddenly, he wasn’t just some goon to the local aliens, he was The Chosen One.

He got a new shpaceship – a nifty little fucker that was the only ship in the entire Federation that had a cloaking device, and while other ships had “phasers”, Sisko’s one had “turbophasers”. See, he shaved his head and even his guns got faster.

Nothing illustrates Sisko’s skinhead changes more than these two videos. Watch them; they’re only a couple of minutes long, and the difference in how Sisko acts is nothing short of hilarious. He even talks differently.

The first one is the Defiant’s first battle, just before Sisko shaves his head. Watch the first minute and a half.

The second one is the Defiant’s destruction, when Sisko is well-established as a All That Is Man.

Look at how he acts. He’s yelling orders. He’s scared. He’s falling over. At one point, he actually gets up to do something himself, pissing around with a computer.

Jesus Christ? Did you see that?

He was almost laughing when he gave the order to fire. He speaks slow and dramatic, somewhere between Laurence Olivier and Morpheus. When shit goes wrong and people are exploding around him, he sits in his chair and steeples his fingers like a bored supervillain. And when the ship is more fucked than it’s ever been before, rather than panic, he calmly orders them to abandon ship, then lingers around on the bridge, watching stuff blow up and ignoring that Irish asshole who tries to ruin the moment.

I actually keep clicking back to 0:27, just because I always laugh when he says “…Fire.” Y’know, like this whole mega space war is kinda funny, like it’s no big deal after his cool-ass pimp walk back to his chair.

"I haven't killed or fucked anything in seventeen minutes, gentlemen. Let's make this meeting quick."

Anyway, everybody in Star Trek – that’s another reason why it sucks.

Or rather, a bajillion reasons.

October 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 44 Comments

Reasons I Hate Star Trek II: The Holodeck

  • Day #2The Holodeck

In the bright happiness of the far future, life is all about aliens with heads like abused vaginas, and uniforms that look variously like Christmas sweaters or wetsuits. To distract from this thrilling lifestyle, humanity has perfected the pinnacle of home entertainment technology. They call it the Holodeck, which is something so ball-achingly obvious that I suspect Apple came up with it. “It’s a pad, right? Put an “i” in front of it and jack up the price so the mooks know it’s ours, then sell it by the shitload.”

Let’s not spaz around: a totally immersive, fully tactile and programmable reality is what mankind’s been reaching for since we first realised that, sometimes, man, it’s hard to fuck the people you want to fuck. In days of yore, maybe they lived in a distant cave or were already claimed by a guy with a bigger, uh, flint spear… than you. Nowadays, the human need to Get It On is hindered by more realistic problems like restraining orders, outbreaks of cholera, and novel deadlines.

It’s not unfair to suggest that a lot of people would rather spend their lives in a virtual world where they’re King of the Nude Bitches or Queen of the Monosyllabic Well-Hung Centaur Boys. Even with online gaming as my most serious hobby and a man in love with his own Level 80 Rogue, I still prefer real life. Surely, these days, pretty much everyone does. I’m not out to make a point or social statement, but I’ll venture that when it’s piss-easy to spend your entire life as Emperor of the Planet of Redheaded Cartoon Mermaids, a lot of people with sucky lives will basically vanish from the world, and we’ll all need to do our own car maintenance.

Achievement Unlocked: MAKIN' CAVIAR (Single Player)

So the people of Star Trek, with access to the pinnacle of media technology, must be getting it on pretty much 24/7, right?

Right?

I mean… they must be.

Right?

"I think they're staring at me because it's 1887 and I'm a black man with a pocketwatch."

No.

No, they’re not. They’re using the holodeck to dress up as characters from Pride & Prejudice, and go solve crimes like the gang of Scooby fucking Doo. As if their lives weren’t interesting enough, right? As if – in their daily lives – they weren’t flying a massive bastard spaceship, brokering peace treaties with hideous labia-faced aliens and lobbing torpedoes at other spaceships for kicks. Apparently, because their lives are fun, they use their downtime to be boring.

I find that difficult to believe, but whatever. Maybe we’d all do that kind of thing. A little bit.

But what gets me is that they never use it realistically. Ever.

If this technology was real now, before the lab attendant could even finish saying my name I’d have punched her in the teeth to shut her up, while frantically typing in RUN PROGRAM: MY FACE + ARIA GIOVANNI’S HUGE ASS.

God finally gets it right.

I think there was one instance where someone was using the holodeck for what it would really be used for: taking the occasional timeout from his shitty menial job in order to get some serious hunny-nailing done. And you know what happened? D’you know what happened when this guy did what practically everyone would actually do?

He got in trouble. Not just regular trouble, either. Everyone looked at him like he was some unbelievable social fuckup. Like, “Oh man, Mike didn’t use the holodeck to play chess with Socrates, what an intolerable scallywag.”

Just off the top of my head, here are some things I’d do in the holodeck.

RUN PROGRAM: MY BIOLOGICAL FATHER. “Colin, you’re a piece of shit. Wow. That felt great. Closure, y’know? Anyway, fuck off.” END PROGRAM.

RUN PROGRAM: MY EDITOR.

"You'll have it when it's finished, Nick. Stop whining. Also, you're a poser."

END PROGRAM.

RUN PROGRAM: BASTILA SHAN.

"Put the sword down, baby. I'm not here to fight. Not... this time."

ADAPT PROGRAM: MAKE ME INTO A BADLY RENDERED VIDEO GAME CHARACTER.

ADAPT PROGRAM: WITH A METAL JAW.

ADAPT PROGRAM: AND WICKED HEAD TATTOOS.

"The Force is strong with us, Bastila. I feel your presence. Also, your boobies."

What was I talking about?

Oh. Yeah. Star Trek.

And that’s Reason 2 of why Star Trek is shit.

September 21, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 22 Comments