As a consumer of a lot of geeky media, I love it when a book or TV show has excellent worldbuilding that involves different cultures with different magics of their own. However, a lot of times I find that those magics and cultures are pretty rigid. One does this. The other does that. It makes for an easy understanding of how magical battles in that world might work, but it’s an unrealistic and rather simplistic view of how cultures and cultural immigration works.
Lightsabers are awesome. Who wouldn’t want one? They’re magical light swords powered by crystals, and they can slash your enemies to fiery bits. Lightsabers are all around some of the sweetest weapons in any fictional story. Unfortunately, despite the large role lightsabers play in all seven of the Star Wars movies, and even in the cartoons, we don’t really know all that much about them, their creation, or how Jedi and Sith relate to their weapons. This seems like a bit of an oversight, considering Rey’s reaction to touching Anakin’s lightsaber in The Force Awakens. We are told the lightsaber actually called out to her, and that it’s probably the lightsaber that showed her all those things. What this means is that lightsabers have to be more than just awesome weapons. They also have to have their own connection to the Force, and maybe even some semblance of sentience as well. One of the defining features of lightsabers is their color, and the color can tell us a lot about that saber and its owner.
We here at Lady Geek Girl and Friends love to celebrate love on Valentine’s Day – and that means all kinds of love. While our post earlier today showcased our favorite canon and fanon romantic ships for the year, in this post we’re going to look at some of our favorite relationships between family members, as voted on by the whole LGG&F crew.
Hit the jump to find out who made the cut!
Welcome back from break, everyone! I hope you had a good turkey weekend if you’re in the U.S., and a good week in general if you’re not in the U.S. I spent the break marathoning Jessica Jones with Saika and bopping around on the internet. I have a truly obscene amount of likes on my Tumblr, and as a present for a friend, I was trying to go through them and find a specific couple of posts. Hours later, I hadn’t succeeded at all, but I had stumbled upon several sites that I’d meant to recommend here. One of them is from my rewatch of Avatar: The Last Airbender earlier this year.
By the time this posts, I’ll have spent two full days at a workshop learning how to more effectively navigate people through the rather detailed stages of Christian Initiation in the Catholic Church. There are so many moving parts: say these things here, do these actions here, meet the bishop here, pour water and oil there… it’s enough to make a theologian’s head spin. Today’s Catholic Initiation can be pretty simple or pretty complicated. But it got me thinking about how much simpler initiation experiences seem in some of my favorite geeky stories. Often we’re treated to a single coming of age ceremony or experience that makes a character an adult or a full member of their community. But these ceremonies still serve an important role in our characters’ lives, and we can see parallels between them and the kinds of things religious people do to mark the stages of initiation into their community.
Of course, initiation ceremonies aren’t just limited to Christianity or even to religion. From Masonry to fraternities and sororities to clubs to professional organizations, rituals and oaths are how we mark that someone is “one of us”. Christianity is the religion with which I’m most familiar, so I’ll use it as a lens to view some examples of coming of age and initiatory experiences in geek culture. I’d certainly be interested to see a similar treatment from a different (particularly non-Western) religion’s perspective. So let’s dive in.
Some spoilers for Dune, Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Giver, and Doctor Who below.
I love female superheroes, I love female heroes with tragic backstories and redemption arcs. Basically, I love female heroes. They’re great because they don’t conform to traditional female character roles of being quiet damsels in distress, and they show women as complex characters with stories and goals. However, while they break the mold of traditional female character narratives, these characters still overwhelmingly conform to heteronormative societal standards of beauty, gender presentation and sexuality.
So, while we should celebrate all awesome female characters, we should also be mindful of the heteronormative ideas that these characters reinforce and what type of character could challenge them even further. To put it bluntly, I want to see butch queer (super)heroines, but they‘re near impossible to find.
When I was watching Avatar the first time, I was probably in middle school or high school, and I remember getting into it just for the bending. Each form of bending is based on a different form of Chinese martial art, and because my family is from Taiwan and I grew up in a household where we watched Jet Li movies just as often as any Western action movies, the idea of martial arts giving the martial artist control of the four elements was extremely compelling to me. Upon rewatch, though, I realized that as a kid, I somehow missed a lot of the diversity of the Avatar universe. Though bending is such a physical act, the Avatar universe also went out of its way to showcase many characters with physical disabilities and mental trauma.
Spoilers for all of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra after the jump.
Welcome back, everyone! I hope you all spent your break productively. Personally, I spent the break re-watching all of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, so, I certainly had a great time. (I also managed to read the comics for the first time! Fantastic break.) Watching both Avatar cycles in quick succession got me thinking about the past Avatars and the adventures they must have had. We only really learn about Roku and Kyoshi—surely the rest of them did things worth mentioning? So, after finishing Korra, I turned to fanfic and found a great fic about one of our old Avatars—Yangchen.
A lot of media in speculative fiction has characters with magical powers, and those characters are often introduced in opposition to characters with no magical powers whatsoever. Think of the X-Men, whose powers are an allegory for discrimination and prejudice in the real world. When a universe has both powered and non-powered people, the story should, at some point, discuss the implications of a world where one side has an inherent ability to do something that the other side will never be able to do. Unfortunately, many stories never venture into the conflict between powered and non-powered people, and the ones that do don’t manage it very well.
Recently, a friend and I were talking about writing a story together, and since we’re both very into fantasy, we decided to write something with magical characters. However, we quickly ran into a problem: there are… way too many stories with magical elements out there. (As you might know from this column.) So what was the best way to build a world that had magic, but wasn’t cliché or boring? And if you’re building a magical system from scratch, what was the best way to set limits for your magical characters? I looked at some of my own favorite genre stories to get an idea of what I was getting into. Some appeared to have pretty concrete magical worldbuilding, and some appeared to have more nebulous worldbuilding. Both worked, but which was better?