Yeah, I know. I'm two months late on this, and I've been off the forums entirely for, what? Like a full month?
It's been an annoying summer in a lot of ways and I took a few weeks where I wasn't going to pay attention to the million and one things I do online and try and get my shit together. Clear my head, you know? Get it together.
Or at least, that was the plan. The reality was that I watched all the Marvel movies again, ended up going to bed at ten in the morning, and read a lot of comic books.
Either that, or Treadstone activated me in order to deal with the whole Malaysian Airlines situation. Both situations involve Jeremy Renner watching me while I sleep, so they're hard to tell apart.
So... okay. I'm two months late to the party on AINA. This I know. I also gots to get in on As Long As I Live. A few others. But still! Here we go.
>Mizuzoku Koura, Zipangi national, born April 14, 2372;
>five foot seven, 142 pounds - he could believe that; she was a sturdy-
>looking gal, not one of those offputting muscles-on-muscles types, but
>very nicely cut
That actually seems incredibly light for someone of Korra's size, build, and athleticism. I'm 5'10 and weigh about the same, and I'm a pile of skin and bones and ridiculously out of shape. Korra seems like she ought to be up around 175 or so; there's not an ounce of fat on her and while she isn't heavily muscled, she is, as the man noted, cut.
Then again, the whole passport isn't what you'd call legitimate to begin with, because...
>No criminal record, no wants or warrants, immigration
>status clear, psion status null, no known danger to public safety,
>health, or order.
Wow. I'm amazed that whoever passed that data to Zipang in order to get that thing issued to Korra did not have their pants catch fire and sink into the swamp. :)
>The first thing that struck Korra about the New Avalon Knights
>was that their tickets were very reasonably priced. The second was that
>they had a charming (if rather small) ballpark, full of appealing old-
>fashioned touches and cleverly designed to fit in its peculiarly-shaped
I have to be honest, this seemed a little bit off to me. Korra's familiarity with the sport is, as the text itself notes, based entirely on cultural contact with Zipang, and given Zipang's own cultural context probably all their stadiums are going to be even more old-fashioned than Puckett's Field is.
>Part of that might simply have been that it was such a nice day, Korra
>decided, and the ballpark's incredible hot dogs probably had something
>to do with it too.
Also, I don't know what things are like in other peoples necks of the woods, but around here, when you go to see the local baseball team get absolutely destroyed, there's some serious, serious drinking going on. :)
(Really, it's the only thing that makes watching baseball tolerable if you aren't a giant stats nerd; either good company, or good booze.)
>As Korra stood by one of the pretzel stands on the concourse
>behind the main grandstand and watched, a couple of them interacted with
>members of the public, providing directions and the like, always with a
>sort of casual goodwill that went well with the overall vibe of the city
>as she had so far experienced it.
Given New Avalon's staggeringly high incidence of high-powered criminals and it being the target of repeated and destructive terrorist attacks (although I suppose the latter isn't really a thing yet) one can only imagine just how hard Jim Gordon has to work to keep the police from going full-militarization.
>instead of charging in and wrecking the joint, she faded back before
>they could spot her, considered her options, and then - with a smile -
>pulled the police callbox on the corner.
I'm amazed that the thing is unvandalized.
I'll have more to say about this at the tail end, but I do have to note that it seems like Korra really ought to be in possession of a smartphone or at the very least a camera.
>Korra rose early by her standards, meditated for half an hour,
>had a nice breakfast in the hotel's miniature café, then spent much of
>the morning with her guidebooks and maps, working some more on her plan
>(such as it was) for the week.
This also seems odd to me. I guess she hasn't bought a tablet yet? We know she's web-conversant, that's established later.
>"If you are, let me just save you some time and tell you straight up:
>The Internet lied about your chances."
Style quibble: by the late 2300s "internet" should probably be a generic term and no longer a proper noun. It's no longer capitalized by many publications right now in the early 2000s, and the movement in that direction is only accelerating.
>On Saturday, she got a slightly later start than usual, then
>made up for it by spending pretty much the whole day in the press
>archive room at the Avalon County Public Library. There, with an
>unlimited all-day pass to the deep stacks,
This also seems weird. That information should all be online, and even if it weren't, it seems off that the library itself wouldn't look at Korra strangely and gently point her towards a local terminal in which all that information was available. There'd be no need for her to go into a special archive room to access it or get a special pass to do so; these days, that sort of thing only really happens if you have a pressing need to literally place your hands on source materiel that isn't available elsewhere, and New Avalon has four hundred years on us.
>"I'll see you there," Korra assured him. "'Til then." After he
>rang off, she hung up the phone, thought for a second, then said aloud,
>"OK! New objective added: let's try not to break that kid's heart."
I like to imagine that right now Mike is considering whether the fact that he was dumb enough to have left his personal number lying around on his social media pages is outweighed by the fact that it meant super-hot ladies from space will call him using it. :)
>Instead of a snug singlet and a spacer's
>coverall with the top tied around her waist, she wore a sleek miniskirt-
>and-jacket combo, mostly royal blue leather. The skirt had a panel of
>lighter blue in front, cut to mimic the drape of a jaunty sash, and an
>angled white stripe just below the waist.
I liked the entire description of Korra's ensemble a lot. It's informative and descriptive without being long and dry.
In fact, I don't think I've said this before, and I feel like I should; you're much better at conveying descriptions of people through their clothing and bearing than you are with their physical attributes beyond the most basic ones. That's not a dig; that's just an observation. You should lean on your talent in this area more heavily when introducing new people or showing changes to existing cast.
>Not much of a drinker at her most abandoned,
>she paced herself carefully, avoiding the appearance of priggishness
>without getting more than pleasantly high.
This isn't wrong, per se (and I always lose the usage arguments anyway) but "high" is an extraordinarily archaic way to refer to getting buzzed off alcohol; I don't think it's been in widespread use that way since the 60s and 70s. I was listening to the Nixon tapes recently and he uses the term that way, in fact; but these days "high" is almost exclusively reserved for drugs rather than booze.
>A bitter pill to swallow, but one she had come to
>realize in the studies leading to her master's thesis, that the Beifongs
>hadn't been as ideal for that job as they had hoped. She had to give
>them credit for trying at least, but it had taken several housecleanings
>(some would say "purges") to get Metalbender Central's house in order.
To be fair to the Beifongs, when the Republic first got going Diqiu was probably at a state of development where the concept of a modern civil peackeeping organization was just starting to take hold. Prior to that the place probably mirrored the real world, where rather than what we'd recognize as cops you just had naked enforcers of the will of the state.
Toph and Lin were probably really, really good at being naked enforcers of the will of the state. They were probably less good at all that sissified "building institutional legitimacy" and "respecting the rights of your suspects" thing. I imagine that when the Republic told Toph that from now on, she'd need warrants to kick down peoples doors, she just stared at them like they were giant idiots.
>She tried talking to the two DJs; but since they hadn't seemed
>to register her presence when she came up, waved to them, and asked how
>they were doing, she had put the attempts on hold after the third try.
>There was something unsettling about the chrome and gold helmets the two
>men wore, though the digital LEDs blinking through their visors were
Shouldn't she just be able to tell if this guys are all chromed up inside, though? Or if they were robots?
I have to admit, I was sort of figuring that somewhere in here, there'd be a scene where Korra is mildly discomfited by the fact that a non-trivial number of the people she meets on the street have several pounds of metal lodged inside their bodies and have what seem to her to be dangerously large amounts of electricity flowing through them. Intellectually, her briefing would have prepared her for that, but I have to imagine it would still be weird.
(Sidebar: I also imagine that Azula loves it, just loves it, when whoever her target of the immediate moment is throws heavily chromed-up cybernetic badasses at her and her crew, and she can do awesome shit like literally pull everything right out of their power cores and then hurl it right back in their faces.)
>With his mix of high-power electronic house music and his collection of
>antique computing equipment (not only from Earth, but from Salusia and
>Vulcan as well),
It is now part of my headcanon that Zuse owns a fully-functional DECstation that would be entirely capable of compiling CLULESS... and that none of the people who would be interested in that fact have any idea at all or are in fact even aware of his hobby.
>She was so into the airbending groove at this point, giving
>priority to reaction and evasion, that the next thing she did was
>practically automatic. A sudden compression of the air behind her, felt
>along her back, heralded what could have been a body rushing toward
What interests me most about this scene is that it was written well before Original Airbenders, in which basically the exact same thing happens, aired.
I mean, it is a logical extrapolation of what airbending allows you to do, but I do find the serendipity interesting.
>Explosive cannons and artillery catapults had been some of the
>preferred methods of siege warfare and even ship-to-ship combat for
Production trivia: in both LoK and AtlA, the production team was barred from depicting guns or cannons, because Nickelodeon. Bombs are okay; so are missiles. Other things, verboten.
This has lead to a number of interesting animation choices. It's why the Fire Navy ironclads have those deck-mounted ballistae and why their tanks didn't deliver shells, but rather had ports in them for firebenders to shoot out of. The United Forces ships we see at the end of Book 1 of LoK have what look like cannon on them, but it turns out they're actually bender-assist devices; if you look closely you'll see that their purpose is to let a firebender use them to increase precision and range. Hiroshi Sato's attack planes had torpedoes, missiles, and bombs, but not machine guns for the same reason.
They did, however, manage to sneak one past. At the very beginning of Southern Raiders, when Azula rolls up on the Western Air Temple, we can see that the airships are in fact armed with traditionally-designed Chinese-style cannons, right down to the barking-dog (in this case, barking lion-dog) motif. It's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment.
I would ordinarily return to the fight in-progress, but, and I've said this before, I usually have very little to say about the fights. The production team has been writing people having dust-ups for a long time and they've gotten really good at it; usually there's no input needed on my part except to note particularly choice bits.
This fight actually reminded me a lot of various fights Juniper has been in over the past fifteen or so years, except Korra actually knows how to use all of her magic and Juniper isn't really there yet.
If I had to ding it on something, it was a bit tell-y rather than show-y in places. Like this:
>The cascade of water that followed immediately changed the
>entire tone and tempo of the fight.
We really ought to be able to discern that the tone and tempo of the fight have changed from the fight. We don't really need to be told that; it's the job of the fight itself to convey that kind of tempo change.
The only other thing I have to say about the fight at Zuse is that the NAPD is falling down on the job if Korra wasn't ID'd as being involved. I have a hard time believing nobody got the start of the fight on either their smartphone or hardwired recording device of choice, and likewise that nobody slammed their "emergency in progress, autodial the cops" one-button apps as soon as they hit the sidewalk, if not before.
Or, given what we'll later discover, that Zuse had time to wipe his security cams before the fuzz descended.
I know there's an attempt by Ragnar to explain the polices take on it later, but it comes across really, really forced.
>It was, for instance, where he had intended the bouncers to bring
>that awkward young woman from Zipang, so as to have less of an audience
>for her lesson in discretion.
... really, Zuse?
This makes me think less of his intelligence. For that matter, him mouthing off to Korra to begin with did that. You have cyberware yourself, Zuse. For all you knew Korra was recording everything you said and did and beaming it out of the club.
I originally thought Zuse was going to just have his bouncers toss her onto the street, which would have been entirely legal and within his rights as landlord of a private establishment. Now I just think he's an idiot.
For that matter, I'm amazed Zuse doesn't have his own internal panic button. He so far this night has not done anything illegal, I don't think, unless those firearms his boys were sporting were unlicensed and unregistered. (And if they were, he's a double idiot. Cops love busting people for "unregistered firearm." It is one of their favorite things, it's an easy collar and you can justify all kinds of additional searches on top of it.) He can probably justify the level of force used as "I was up against an out-of-control esper who refused to leave my club and started the fight when my bouncers tried to make her."
If he really thinks Korra is gonna kill him, his best bet is to have whatever chrome is wired into him call the cops on his behalf. Sure, that brings some heat down, but it gets him out of the immediate jam and it doesn't involve selling out his contacts, who are way more likely than the cops to actually murder him.
>"Maybe. But very sophisticated thugs for hire, and very
>selective about who they let hire them. Their leader's an ex-3WA TroCon
May I express the hope that this is Teen Titans-the-tv-show Slade, who is actually a competently used and moderately scary villain, and not comic-book Deathstroke, who DC has been trying, and failing, to make into an a-lister for going on fifteen years now?
>"You know that stuff your display cases downstairs are made of?"
>Zuse nodded. "I like it. I like it a -lot.- If you were to round up a
>few tons of it for me and arrange for it to be delivered to the Garuda
>Trading Company on Zipang... I'd consider that a pretty convincing
>display of good faith."
However, to be fair to Zuse, I actually think he got the better of Korra here when she tried to shake him down. Transparisteel is nothing special, if Known Space-UF is anything like Star Wars in terms of production and usage. Zuse can probably buy it in long tons from any one of a dozen suppliers dirt cheap. It's a bit like a native shaking someone down for shiny beads or iron hatchets.
>She decided the jumpsuit she'd been wearing when she got to town
>was too industrial, her T-shirt and jeans too casual, and the clothes
>she'd worn clubbing too sporty.
I love how Korra thinks the t-shirt and jeans are gonna be too casual for Gryphon. I mean, yes, she doesn't know better yet; if I were gonna go meet Gryphon for the first time I'd put on nice clothes as well. But depending on the quality of the t-shirt and jeans, especially if they're label, throwing them on gives you a decent chance of being better-dressed than the Man Himself.
Sidebar: I have, at times, toyed with the idea that the notoriously casual clothing sense of Gryphon and a lot of his contemporaries is something of a front. I can't see most of them being ten-thousand-credit-suit guys (well, maybe Larry) but let me tell you; professionally tailored clothes, of any sort, are an absolute joy to wear. I once had a couple pairs of tailored jeans I got as a gift, and until some weight fluctuation happened they were far and away the most comfortable clothes I owned despite looking like off-the-rack Levis. Given the wealth of Gryphon et al., I figure there's a nonzero chance that a lot of the clothing they have that looks like something you'd toss on to tear apart an old car engine is actually far more expensive and fancy than it looks.
Yes. I think about this kind of thing. Because I care!
>They hurried back to Headquarters; as they entered the still-
>deserted lobby, he suddenly asked, apparently apropos of nothing, "Can
>you fly a jetpack?"
>Um, no, not really," Korra replied
Korra and Asami both vowed to take the Sato X-1 incident to their respective graves.
>"How we doin'?" Gryphon asked Skuld as he took Bell's place at
>"Oh, y'know, the usual," Skuld replied lightly. "Except every
>eight or ten minutes I have a tendency to sort of try and stop time.
>It's not deliberate, but I can't seem to not do it."
I know I said this already when we hit the flipside of this awhile back, but I love it when weird freaky stuff happens around the gods. I know that The Management is big on the various universal movers-and-shakers being jes' folks, but the cosmic stuff just does it for me and I'll take what I can get.
>There was a round red
>gem set into its metal casing, like the face on a wristwatch; as he
>turned this toward her and she looked into its softly shifting scarlet
>glow, it gently touched her consciousness to impart a simple, wordless
>message: the knowledge - if she hadn't had it already - that this was
>Benjamin Hutchins, Gryphon of the IPO.
"Shouldn't that be your rank, instead of your other name?"
"It should be. Skuld refuses to change it. She thinks it's funny. She's weird like that."
>"Something to be said for that," Korra agreed, recalling the
>birth of another lifelong (so far) friend.
>Korra looked skeptical. "Me? C'mon." With a self-deprecating
>chuckle, she went on, "After today, I'm fully prepared to believe that
>you and I are fated to be insta-BFFs for some reason,
I feel like maybe this is being stepped on too hard and made too explicit. I commented on something similar during the fight scene; the writing ought to be bringing out the fact that this weird group of ancient heroes and problem-solvers have an instant rapport and connection without doing something so mundane as just telling us directly straight-out. It seems unsubtle.
>Zoner says, 'It depends - how much of a hurry are you IN to get to
I know Zoner isn't used much these days, out of respect for his retired creator (I assume that's the reason, anyway) but man, I kind of feel like he and Jinora would get along incredibly well while at the same time weirding everyone else the hell out. Like they'd have these conversations that are punctuated with all kinds of obscure spirit-world jargon and occasional moments of them casually violating the normal rules regarding the positions of their bodies in space and time, and it would be very disquieting to everyone who wasn't them.
Okay, so. Here we are at the end. I have three big things to say about the piece before we close out, one positive, one neutral, one critical.
The positive: the thing I absolutely loved best about this piece is something that may not even have been intended in it (I have a tendency to read in) but that I thought was quite delicious in how understated it was: namely, the thread that Korra is running without a team, and that's weird and uncomfortable for her in ways she doesn't even realize.
I don't mean to say that Korra is incompetent or doing things wrong without a team. Far from it! I'm just saying that throughout this whole thing, she was behaving like someone who would have been much more comfortable being surrounded by cheerful co-conspirators, people to bounce ideas off of and plan things out with and generally organically work out angles of approach to this big exciting new project she has embarked on. She doesn't have that; she's on her own, a long way from home, and I think she's a bit melancholic about that fact. She doesn't even have the current Naga or Pabu equivalents with her, and I bet that's really strange for her. Her behavior and comfort levels change visibly the instant she starts making connection with people she can actually talk to.
I liked that. A lot. Best single theme of this piece by far, even if it wasn't intentional.
The neutral: structurally speaking, I feel like this should be two separate pieces, one terminating after Monday (Zuse) and the second terminating... well, when it terminated. The back third of this is so tonally different from the front two-thirds that it seems like it should have been hived off.
The critical: hmm. How to put this.
I hit on this a number of times in my play-by-play, and I'm trying to be diplomatic rather than blunt, because I don't like to sound blame-y. But New Avalon seems like... a very un-futuristic version of the future. It has that kind of "this is a very dated version of what people thought the future would be like" feel that you often get when, say, watching old episodes of Star Trek or if you've ever walked through Tommorrowland at a Disney park. And that's okay, you give it a pass because that stuff was written a long time ago, but this was, you know, written three months ago, not three decades.
This is something that I feel is only ever really a problem with the "civilian" settings in UF. The military sci-fi bits of it never suffer from it at all; even the older parts of the canon, stuff written back in the early nineties, often holds up well now, twenty years later. But when you have people just tooling around on Earth or New Avalon or even Babylon 5... I dunno. It often seems like they're operating in a late-eighties technological and social mileau, just with starships and lasers and things bolted onto it.
And New Avalon, in particular, just seems like it shouldn't be like that. New Snowdonia, yes. Commander Shepard tooling around behind enemy lines in the back of beyond, absolutely. Diqiu, because they're lagging behind the rest of Known Space by one or two hundred years depending on what specific tech we're talking about. But New Avalon is supposed to be this glittering jewel of modernity, and a lot of the time it doesn't seem like it.
It's good to be back in action! I'll have things to say about the other pieces I've missed and in Source Materiel... presently.
Depending on what your specific view of me is, that's either a promise or a threat. :)