Mar 31 2015

WIP Update – 30 Mar 15

I’m back in the saddle again, wrapping up Xorgoth’s epilogue and making some progress on his Chapters 2, 3 and 4. I think I’ll be stepping away from TTWC2 for a bit, though. It’s time for a change of pace. Maybe I’ll work on EM or JJ this week.

In other news, I’ve been playing around in the peripheral materials the past few days and of course writing more reviews. I’ve got quite a glut on the DVR, so I really need to work it down. I’d like to get back around 50% free before I head to Japan, but that may be asking a little much. Stay tuned.

Mar 30 2015

A Brief Overview of the History and Society of the Empyrean

I deliberately kept the Empyrean cloaked in mystery in Tico2, but now I can reveal a little more of the background. We start with Project New Moon, a program to build massive artificial moons as habitats for the Orbitals. Potentially, these units could be used as forward colonies when the Ringe-Wahl act expired and the Union could legally expand beyond the bounds of the solar system. Five were planned initially, but only three of them were completed. (Lydia Han was born on one of these, Selene 04.) By some means, the AI calling itself the Shekinah was embedded in Selene 03’s central computer and seized control of all systems. Whether the Shekinah was seriously deluded into a genuine God complex or if it was all part of some experimental routine in its programming is uncertain. Nehema seemed to believe her sister was genuinely insane, but she isn’t the most honest broker of information. From the time the Shekinah took over Selene 03, the Age of Vilon began. The history of the Empyrean is divided into ages named after the levels of Heaven, which is also used as the name for Selene 03 itself.

The Age of Vilon lasted from 089 to 101. It was a period of violence and disorder as the Shekinah sought to impose Empyrean society on a largely unwilling populace. Obviously, the Shekinah won out in the end and the hold-outs against its authority were purged. This led into the Age of Rakia, which lasted from 101 to 109. During this time, there was a massive baby boom in a big to raise the population to the desired standard of 144,000 people and the initial buildup of the Empyrean fleet. You might be asking how all this was accomplished. Artificial gestation accounted for a large number of births (and in the larger game, this was intended to replace old-fashioned methods of procreation), while a number of blacksites were appropriated to fuel the Empyrean war engine. As the Empyrean society began to settle, the Age of Rakia gave way to the Age of Shehakim. During this period, the Empyrean fleets started ranging and had their first encounters with the Union, which the Shekinah dubbed Amalek. Were it not for Nehema’s intervention in the Battle of Selene 03, the Union forces would have likely been defeated and the Empyrean would have entered the Age of Zebul, in which the the outer colonies would have been targeted for conquest and integrated into the Empyrean. The culmination of the Shekinah’s plan would be the Age of Arabot, in which all Union space would be under the Shekinah’s control. I’m actually considering an If Arc story with that very scenario.

Now, as for Empyrean society itself, it is based around a corrupted version Judaism with elements of the Kabbalah and any pragmatic adaptations to suit the Shekinah’s purposes. The people are divided into Twelve Tribes of 12,000 each and ranked according to the angelic hierarchy found in the Zohar. The common citizens are the Ishim and then there are the military ranks: the Bene Elohim, the Elohim, the Elim, the Hashmalim, and the Ophanim. The Hayyoth are priest-magistrates, 30 per tribe. There are seven Seraphim heading up each of the seven fleets and then the three supreme commanders of the military, the Erelim, and finally the twelve princes heading each of the Twelve Tribes, the Malachim. Among the Ishim, certain men of their numbers are named rulers of tens, fifties, hundreds and thousands. Similarly, in the military, among the Bene Elohim are rulers of tens, but it’s Elohim that act as rulers of fifties, Elim as rulers of hundred, and Hashmalim as rulers of thousands. (The military being the military, ranks are more explicit.) This means that life is strictly regimented for civilians as it is for the military, with all duties and responsibilities given religious significance. By the Age of Shehakim, Empyrean society was pretty well settled and anyone who dissented with official doctrine and policy either kept it to themselves or were quickly dispatched as heretics.

I think we’ll leave things here and save any more in-depth treatment for future posts. Hopefully this has shed a little light on the mysterious Empyrean. We’ll see what inspiration strikes me for the next commentary post. Stay tuned.

Mar 29 2015

WIP Update – 28 Mar 15

I’ve almost got Xorgoth’s epilogue done and wrote a couple sentences on Medusa’s epilogue as well. (Writing when you’re starting to nod off isn’t recommended.) I didn’t post a progress update yesterday because I didn’t make any story progress, but I have continued to write reviews, which may or may not warrant a post. In fact, I have less than 20 items left to go in my queue of 174 movies. In the near future, I plan to start expanding the other sections as well. Stay tuned.

Mar 27 2015

WIP Update – 26 Mar 15

I pretty well finished Xorgoth’s Chapter 5 and just about finished his epilogue as well. You might be wondering why I’m doing latter chapters before the earlier ones. There’s really nothing particularly clever about it. You see, OpenOffice Writer’s word counter doesn’t always work like it should, so I have to select the entire document to get an accurate count. This leaves me at the very end, so when I’m scrolling back up to the chapters I need to write, the later ones come up first, so I tend to just start there. You see? Not clever at all. Actually a bit of a dumb reason. However, sometimes the beginning and the end are clearer than the middle, so that can have some influence as well. I guess this means Xorgoth’s section is the one I aim to finish this week. May be a bit of a tall order. I have three more chapters to go once the epilogue is finished. I’ll make a stab at it anyway. Stay tuned.

Mar 26 2015

WIP Update – 25 Mar 15

I made more progress on Xorgoth’s Chapter 5 in TTWC2. A little more of a push and I’ll be done with it. I’ve also written a number of reviews. I may actually have my backlog all knocked out in a few days at this rate. Now I’m trying to think of themed events to bundle them. Things to do, things to do. Stay tuned.

Mar 25 2015

WIP Update – 24 Mar 15

I wrote a little on Xorgoth’s Chapter 5 and epilogue of TTWC2 and penned a few more reviews. On the latter note, I was queuing up movies and I noticed that this new thing with the reviews was affecting my choice. Before, I was just looking for movies I hadn’t seen and thought might be interesting. Now I’m thinking more in terms of “This’ll make an interesting review.” I have to sometimes suppress my inner masochism and not choose movies I know will be terrible just so I might get a more acerbic review. That’s to say nothing about movies I’ve seen and hated but fall outside my six-month window. There’d have to be some sort of premium for that kind of service. Anyway, that’ll do it for now. Stay tuned.

Mar 24 2015

WIP Update – 23 Mar 15

With things settling down, I was finally able to get back on task and do some story-based writing. I made some progress on Ophis Python’s Chapter 3 and Xorgoth’s epilogue of TTWC2. My goal is to finish at least one of the three sections of TTWC2 I have left this week. I think I’ll push to finish TTWC2 before going back to work on TTWC3. I have 11 more chapters to go, most of them already partially written. I believe with some concerted effort, I can push through fairly quickly.

In other news, I was also writing quite a few reviews. I’m building up a rather comfortable buffer, but I need to pay some thought to rewatching some series and such to add some variety to my content. I am, after all, not just about movie reviews. We’ll see what happens. Stay tuned.

Mar 23 2015

A Brief History of the Emperors of Earth

In Tico3, there was a brief mention of Maximilian Nicodemus, the first World Council Chairman. In the (probably) mythological history of the New Earth Empire, the Lost Years (known as the Blackout in the Union era) were a time of global war, a devastating pandemic, famine, economic collapse, etc. During this time, the fractious nations of the world were united under the rule of Emperor Maximilian I. However, once his reign was secure, the Emperor chose to test humanity. Renouncing his crown, the Emperor restyled himself Maximilian Nicodemus, Chairman of the World Council of the newly established Earth Union. If humanity could remain united, there would be no further need of an Emperor. If not, a new Emperor would rise to bring humanity together again.

The post-Union era was brought to an end with the foundation of the New Earth Empire under Emperor Maximilian II Nicodemus, who claimed to be the direct descendant of Maximilian Nicodemus. Critical historians give no credence to the story of the First Emperor and consider it to be nothing more than a convenient fiction to give the Empire a claim to a longer lineage than what it truly possessed. Questioning the official history eventually became a prosecutable offense, so any critics who wanted to avoid a lengthy stay in prison published their work outside Imperial territory.

The Nicodeman Dynasty reigned only briefly. The order of succession wasn’t firmly established and it mostly fell to which of the eligible princes had the strongest faction of supporting nobles. For instance, after the death of Emperor Alexander I, it was the Emperor’s brother Philip rather than his son Alexander. This resulted in the first major line of pretenders, the Xue Line (named after the family of Prince Alexander’s mother). The powerful Sun Faction formed around these pretenders, but they could not stand directly against the ruling coalition. The Nicodeman Dynasty ended with the childless Emperor Alexander II and a new split was formed between the lines of the two daughters Emperor Maximilian II. From the elder daughter Princess Olympia came the new Augustan Dynasty, while the younger daughter Princess Athena’s grandson styled himself Alexander III of the so-called “True Nicodeman” Dynasty, though they had so little support that the Augustans never even bothered to actively hunt them down.

Now, it’s no great spoiler to say that the Empire suffers a bit of a bad turn at the end of the Aether War. The warrior-stateman Emperor John Charles was lost and his foppish playboy of a son John Frederick took the throne instead and was forced to negotiation a rather ignominious end to the war. The Emperor was then driven to abdicate, after which point he fell into the hands of the ever-patient Sun Faction. At this point, there were four branches vying for the throne. Besides the previous Xue and “True Nicodeman” Lines, there was the Santana Line descended from Princess Olympia’s daughter Andrea and Lord Juan Felipe Santana and the Andropov Line of the deposed Emperor’s father-in-law Lord Ivan Andropov. Surprisingly, none of these claimants won the throne in the end. Rather, the Augustan Dynasty was restored with the great-nephew of Emperor John Charles being crowned Charles III. This was all thanks to the shrewd machinations of Lord Neander Cruz, who soon married the Emperor’s sister and claimed the throne for himself. (Whether he was in fact responsible for the death of the young Emperor is an open question.) So began the Neandrian Dynasty.

Before he even rose to the throne, Emperor Alexis III (the regnal name of Lord Neander) had engineered the extinction of both the “True Nicodeman” and the Santana Lines, though the Xue and Andropov Lines were not so easily terminated. After Emperor Alexis’ death, the Neandrian Dynasty was dominated by the Empress Dowager Victoria Augusta, whose influence did not wane until well into the reign of her grandson, Emperor Carolus IV. The dynasty did not outlive Emperor Carolus, though, and after his assassination, it was the Andropov Line that claimed the throne. The Andropov Dynasty managed to defeat the Sun Faction, fulfilling a long-held blood feud, and the Xue Line went extinct, bringing an end to the last of the pretenders. The Andropovs were unstable, though. At its worst, there were three emperors in a span of four years. With the assassination of Emperor Ivan V, yet another dynasty rose, the Neologos Dynasty, descended from the Emperor Victor Alexis I Neander. It was by this point that life extension technology was much improved and Emperor Michael I Neologos reigned for over 70 years. And this is as far as the history needs to go at present.

This was a very broad gloss of Imperial history, but it gives you some idea of all the twists and turns I’ve been plotting out recently. Maybe I’ll explore more details of the culture next time. Stay tuned.

Mar 23 2015

WIP Update – 20-21 Mar 15

Still no story progress. There’s been a lot going on lately. I have managed to make a little more progress in the peripheral materials at least. Things are starting to settle down, so maybe I can move forward again. Stay tuned.

Mar 19 2015

WIP Update – 18 Mar 15

I didn’t make any story progress, but I did get the Imperial family tree filled out to my satisfaction. I could always expand it later, but I’ve got the main thing I’m after. Five dynasties and four lines of pretenders all mixed into one gnarled tree. Perhaps I’ll do a commentary post on the Imperial family this week, seeing as how it’s dominated so much of my time. In the meantime, I should consider filling out more of the encyclopedia entries for the more notable members. Stay tuned.