Review: End of Month Reviews #72 - December 2009 [spoilers]

Scott Eiler seiler at
Sun Jan 31 15:58:22 PST 2010

On Jan 30, 6:15 pm, Saxon Brenton <saxonbren... at> wrote:

> Digital JUMP! #12
> 'LEMBAS! Turn Down Your Lights Where Applicable'
> A Legion of Net.Heroes [LNH] series
> by Andrew Perron
> On The Deadbeat Special: Beige Happy Hour!
> A Net.Trenchcoat Brigade [NTB] story
> by Arthur Spitzer

Have any of you ever had a problem diving into a comic-book universe
that's been around for twenty years or more?  I haven't successfully
made it into Legion of Net.Heroes before now.  Usually I trip over the
inside jokes.  (Seiler smash puny Dvandom Stranger!)   I'll keep
looking at the new material, but I'm not going to try to catch up with
the old.  But I do see some hope...

> Legion of Net.Heroes Volume 2 #33
> 'Gathering Dust'
> Misanthropic Tales of the Net.Trenchcoat Brigade {high concept 5 contest}
> by Saxon Brenton

This story taught me respect for LNH.  When you want to write a
straight adventure story, it's nice to have a universe full of
original characters ready (such as Doubt the Eighth Endless), plus
protocols for swiping, er, making more (such as the Load Ranger).  It
had two stories worth of action, and met the terms of the High Concept
challenge admirably.

Just one quibble:  I think it's kind of silly to change the name of
Nevada (Neva.Dir?  How about Net.Vada?), but I guess it's no sillier
than Gotham City.  And in a shared universe, a rule's a rule.

> Journey Into... #8
> 'Brave New World, With Such Awesome In It!'
> An Eightfold [8Fold] series   {high concept 5 contest}
> by Tom Russell
>      Although Tom chose to use a robot with a non-human shape, in terms
> of story telling he followed what is arguably the most straight forward
> interpretation of the terms of the challenge.

I liked that about the story.

>The robot horse known as
> the Grey Gelding is Depression-era automaton that is reactivated and goes
> out to discover what the early 21st century is like.  The Gelding talks
> with people.  A lot of people.  He tries to learn about the current world
> and in the process looks like he's doing a good job of coming to terms with
> it.

I liked that about the story too.  I don't feel comfortable voting in
the annual RACC ballot yet because I've only been around for half a
year.  But from during my short tenure, the Grey Gelding's my favorite

>      All that social interacting gives full opportunities to compare and
> contrast the attitudes of different eras.

Andrew liked how the Gelding was optimistic about the present.  I
liked how the Gelding was realistic about the past.  Pretty much the
same thing, only I usually try not to be called optimistic.

> And if that wasn't enough, the
> character of Dr Palmer Smith, who is one of the scientists who helps
> reactivate the Gelding, is also bought to bear.

I've already mentioned, the one thing I though the story was missing
was menace.  Maybe Dr. Smith has a robot cowboy ready to break Our
Heroic Robot Horse.

> Superhuman World 2009: December 2009 #1: The Mayas Were Right!
> A Superhuman World [SW09] series
> by Scott Eiler

Eeeee.  8{D>

>      I rather liked this one.  Now, it has to be said that the brevity
> of the story and the fact that it's a vignette for a larger mosaic
> setting are still making me hunger for longer stories that focus on a
> particular aspect of the Earth being thrown into a new orbit.

But writing long stories is haaard.  8{C>

However, we can expect plenty more vignettes.  Next in the pipeline:
With storms rising during the Warm December, will Our Heroes have to
swim past hardwired aliens to save the chocolate crop from the
changing climate?  Fortunately I'm not competing in any challenges
this month, so I can for once ignore the deadline.  8{D>

>      So, what did I like about this?  Well, I think I might have Shiny
> Object Syndrome on this one, because it's the concept of the Wooden Man.
>      (The weird comparison strikes me as I type this: it's probable that
> the Wooden Man isn't the type of monster that Dr Who would be able to
> confuse with babble or harangue into submission, and instead would be
> something that must be Run Away From.)

"The tourists ran screaming as the wooden statue walked to the center
of the platform, pulled a scroll from its chest cavity, and raised its
dagger.  But the Doctor watched calmly..."

>      But the circumstances beg the question: how sophisticated is the
> methodology of the Wooden Man's calculations?  Is it capable of
> recognising that the Earth now has a more elongated orbit, and factoring
> what that means for the redone calendar?

Why yes it is.  In the best tradition of comic book monsters, this
thing has the full powers of its creators.  That is to say, it's as
good at astronomy as the entire Mayan priesthood.  Now, what happens
when someone takes a flamethrower to it...?

> Or will it rise again in only
> a few years and have to recalculate all over again?

Only if someone moves the Earth again.  Which one can never rule out,
in a world like this.

> That might make it
> a tourist attraction, come to think of it.

It probably is already.  And it's probably not going to be happy when
the Doctor (or whoever) tracks it from the temple to its chamber.

> And if the Wooden Man has any
> sort of self-awareness beyond the mere fact of its duty to recalculate
> the calendar, might it not become frustrated with the need for more
> frequent activity.

Why yes it might.

> Of course, having self awareness beyond its duty
> makes it closer to a person, regardless of what it's made of, and that
> raises all sorts of other possibilities for likes and dislikes.

Hmm, I think the Wooden Man might have to make another appearance.
And I'm always revising the old stories online.  Thanks for the ideas.

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