i wasn’t expecting much from ‘the girl with the dungeons and dragons tattoo’. but holy fuck i kind of loved this episode more than most of the season. and i don’t even really like felicia day much in most things but shit i kinda loved charlie.
to my last point, I don’t mean authors should never kill the heroes of their stories. they can and should. i just mean that the deaths have to make some kind of sense?
for instance, ned’s death was arguably “unexpected” but it made sense in terms of his life. he had been honorable and in his way he died for honor. and he had been in prison, after all— we just all expected him to be liberated one way or another.
robb’s death as a part of the story because he was killed for a rather youthful mistake- “love”- and there was this irony because he kept winning, winning, winning, but in the end he lost. and he had been losing his bannermen up to that point. so while it was shocking, we could appreciate the thematic beauty of the moment.
and, yeah, I realize certain authors go for realism and death is random but as a writer, as a person telling a coherent story, you can’t just say “fuck it” and do whatever. i hate to break it to you, but in order to leave your readers somewhat satisfied with your ending you have to make a hero’s death tie in— some way, somehow.
for an example of a shitty death: bellatrix lestrange. that was a bad ending to that character’s story. there, i’ve said it. and i’d be pressed if another author did something similar, in any saga.
I completely disagree.
I think in order to write a story that truly captures the heart of humanity and life, sensless death and slaughter are a part of that— especially when you’re writing a war. Because death— almost all death— is completely needless and random, and whether or not the death is sudden or a long process, it still takes you by surprise. Like when my cat passed away just a month ago. I knew it was happening, and even as she took those final breaths all I could think was “So soon? But why? There was no reason for this”
Because there is no reason— no reason at all for death other then the fact that the body just stops working. And it could be from an old age after completing numerous things in life, with loved ones all around and a somewhat satisfying close for everyone involved. Or it could be a stab to the gut from a warrior in the battle field— sudden and painful and one that leaves no one satisfied, not the reader, the writer, or those involved in that characters life. Because death is never truly satisfying.
Death is random and sometimes death is stupid. Some of the greatest men (and women) in history have fallen in strange matters. Alexander the Great, the man who conquored all of the known Western world, died because he drank too much. Or Achilles— the greatest Western hero— died because he was shot in the ankle. And do you know how many knights drowned when they fell in their suit of armour in water? A lot. Completely random, completely needless, but a part of life.
No, I feel that when a character just dies, it doesn’t always have to be a ‘fitting’ death. Because life isn’t like that, and I read my stories to see a reflection of my world in the pages, no matter how fantastical in nature the story is. Because I think the best stories out there are a reflection of who we are as people and how we function in a society. Death is death and it comes in many forms.
So I’m really enjoying Korra. I really like this show, and there’s a good chance I’m going to come to love it. I like its cast of characters and I’m coming to have alarmingly strong feelings about some of them. (Jinora; probably also Asami.) It’s serious animated genre television of precisely the sort I adore. It’s great! It is so great that Korra exists.
But I’ve had some misgivings about its worldbuilding, and this most recent episode crystallized some of the problems I’ve had, and before I knew it I’d written an insufferably lengthy piece of meta about it. So here it is.
WARNING: I am about to be pretty critical of some of the worldbuilding in Korra. If you don’t want to read such criticism, you probably shouldn’t click through.
Love this, and very much agree with your points. It’s too early for me to say for sure how the team intends to end this series, but the likelihood of a “benders and nonbenders living together in harmony” ending is certainly one that has its problems, while also being the most likely for a show airing on Nickelodeon.
As a fantasy writer, I’ve always been confused when people say “magic or technology, never both, they cannot coexist”. Legend of Korra demonstrates, for better and for worse, just how I’ve always seen them coexisting. Using magically generated fire or electricity as a source of energy, using earthbending or something similar to flatten the ground and build up a house (if earthbenders and waterbenders can bend mud, which we saw with Toph and Katara, they could certainly bend cement), waterbenders can build entire canals in days and - as you said - work at a hydro plant. If you wanted to build a water dam, you could get a team of waterbenders to simply hold back the water while they work.
It’s hard to find a job that a nonbender would be better at. Now consider what the industrial revolution did for the workforce in the real world. How many jobs were replaced by tractors and the like? Consider also the existence of tameable, magical, and relatively intelligent animals - such as sky bison - and you’re left not needing nonbenders. If technology advances sufficiently, there simply won’t be a place for them at all. Not just stuck with the shittiest jobs or the jobs that bending doesn’t aid in, but simply with no jobs at all. Even merchants could eventually die out. After all, in modern times, many stores have shut down in favour of internet retail - an equivalent of which could exist another hundred years down the road.
Of course, they are still the spouses, parents, and siblings of benders. There are still jobs of the mind and heart. Literature, art, music. Scientists, engineers. But I doubt a society could sustain itself if 80% of the population or whatever the numbers are were poets and sculptors. And, fuck, benders are still more than capable of taking those jobs as society exists. An earthbender would make a fine sculptors, as evidenced by the sand castle Toph made in the original series. Painter!waterbenders? Airbending flautists? It just doesn’t end.
I don’t know if I necessarily support Amon, or even fully believe that he can take away somebody’s bending. And I’d still like to see how the Spirit World plays into Korra before I analyse the setting any further. But it’s hard to see a way for benders and nonbenders to be on an equal level without restricting benders significantly.
Just updating everyone on what I have queued up on my Kindle for the next few months, what I am reading right now, and a basic ‘why I’m reading this’ of each book.
Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman. It’s the only of Gaiman’s novels I haven’t read, so it seemed like an obvious choice.
Akata Witch, by Nnedi Okorafor. Nearly every review I have read calls this “Harry Potter in Nigeria”. From what I’ve read, it’s much better than that simple description would imply, but I won’t deny the comparison is what compelled me to pick it up in the first place.
What I Plan to Read:
The Black Prism, by Brent Weeks. I should say that I wasn’t a big fan of The Way of Shadows, the first book in his previous trilogy. I was hesitant to add this to my list, but the worldbuilding is too alluring to not give at least the first book in the planned trilogy a read.
Cold Magic, by Kate Elliot. Mostly because jhenne-bean really seems to like it and has recommended it several times.
The Kingdom of Gods, by N.K. Jemisin. I really loved the first book in this trilogy, and though the second wasn’t quite as good as I’d have liked, I fully intend to finish this trilogy. Been meaning to for a couple of months now, but I’ve been caught up with re-reading Temeraire.
Crucible of Gold, by Naomi Novik. The next book in the aforementioned Temeraire series. This came out last month, and I haven’t been to a Chapters to pick this one up, but the next chance I get, it will be in my hands at last. This is one of my favourite series, so I’ll probably halt everything else I’m reading to get through this one.
Throne of the Crescent Moon, by Saladin Ahmed. No expectations with this one. Saladin Ahmed writes fantastic articles that I enjoy enough to consider reading his book. I haven’t heard anything about it one way or the other.
The Way of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson. Here is a man who can worldbuild with the best of ‘em, but when it comes to writing… well, he’s more comparable to his fellow Mormon writers, and yes I do mean to point out a certain YA vampire romanticist when I say that. I really can’t stand Sanderson’s writing, stories, or characters. But I’ve heard Way of Kings is a change of pace for him, really something that stands out, and I’m hoping that’s the case.
Railsea, by China Miéville. It’s not his most interesting sounding title, but hell, I’ve read everything the guy’s written, and if he wants to publish some weird YA Moby Dick story, then I’ll probably end up reading it on release day.
Things I Might Read:
The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner. It sounds like it has a rather interesting setting, but nothing else about it sounds particularly grabbing. Still, I’ve read books for their world before and been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the other elements, so I’ll likely read it eventually.
Off Armageddon Reef, by David Weber. I try to read a science fiction book every couple of months to keep up the illusion that I read both SF and Fantasy frequently, when in actuality I just really like Heinlein and Asimov. This one sounds quite interesting, so I’ll give it a shot when I’m in the right mindset for science fiction.
One thing I really wanted to play with in #soundworld was a less unified idea of what is considered ‘territory’. There are some modernized nations in the world with settled cities and towns between them, but there are at least two - possibly three or four - nations of generally nomadic people. How is diplomacy handled, what are the hunting/poaching laws, and how are foreigners held to the ‘law of the land’ when the land is as much theirs as anyone else’s the moment they step onto it? It’s tricky, and the answer in Earth history has near unanimously involved war.
I’m looking for something different. I am considering a code of rights held uncontested throughout all the lands - very simple rights, like no murder, no theft, no assault - that can never be broken, whereas other laws are left more lenient. For instance, if the settled people of [Archipelago] have poaching laws, they apply only to those who fall under the nation’s control. Anyone outside of the jurisdiction of the local law, however, could do as they please, as long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights of the settled people.
There would be ups and downs to such a system. Travellers would either have to obey the local law or be exempt from it. As an example, if you were mugged during your time in the city, the police would have no particularly good reason to help you. You’d have to appeal to your own government to have them arrested, which simply isn’t practical for anything less than murder. Hell, even murder could be a pain if you come from another continent. Could you imagine the USA sending over a group of cops to England just to investigate a random businessman’s stabbing in an alleyway? By the time they got there, half the evidence would have washed away in the rain and you’d never be able to find a witness. But the benefits to living outside the system are undeniable, as well.
That’s my favourite possibilities. The rest are just lighter versions of things that have happened in our histories. Assimilation, giving nomadic people’s ‘territories’ to wander about in - though likely settle inevitably out of a lack of alternatives-, or giving them some “place” in society (hiring them as hunters, for example). None would provide as interesting a dynamic for the fantasy world, but they are certainly more… probable. Still, I’d rather flesh out the former than resort to any of the latter.
My bus to Vegas got stopped at the Border Patrol stop on the 5 freeway if you’re heading north.
no exaggeration. Two agents came on, asked for the IDs and birthplaces of every person who was brown, and did so in spanish, and even when i spoke english back to the guy, he still spoke to me in spanish.
then they skipped all the white people and the couple traveling from China
post-racial america is awesome
A friend of mine went through a similar ordeal on a trip to Mexico.
He is second generation Mexican, but he doesn’t speak a word of Spanish.
The border patrol kept speaking to him in Spanish and only after the third time he said “I don’t speak Spanish” did they finally start speaking English. Except they spoke to him like he was a foreigner, slowly paced and with simple words.