Particular Ramblings

From time to time I like to have a post about a single topic, but I also like my schizophrenic style of topic changing that is the norm for me. So, I've decided to double up and do a particular topic first, then (maybe) do a normal post.
First, a topic I've been looking up quite a bit of recently. Speculative Fiction, aka Sci Fi/Fantasy.
Now, these two genres are often at odds due to their obviously different philosophies regarding realism. However, the two sides tend to categorize things in similar fashions.
Firstly, on the Sci Fi end of the spectrum, things are organized according to their coordination with known scientific theory, referred to as "hardness" with the soft end representing Comic Book Science, and the hard end has everything being technically possible. This side is considered the "Serious Science Fiction".
On the other hand, you have Fantasy. (Note: the previous link goes to the blog of Brandon Sanderson, author of the Mistborn Trilogy, which is amazing. The specified entry has information on the topic I'm currently addressing, but in the form of his own thoughts on the matter. I do tend to agree with him, though I like to expand a bit on the material I'm handed.) Which is sort of the other way, with more scientifically organized types of magic falling on the Hard end, and more ethereal, vague, and mystical type of magic in the Soft, which is considered the more traditional type of Fantasy literature.
These two systems are often thought of as distinct, but actually have more in common than one might originally suppose. My belief is that these two can be placed end to end, SF Soft meeting Fantasy Hard, to form a rather interesting gradient. One might think that the hard ends might be the ones to have more in common, which would be one line of reasoning, but Hard Fantasy (i.e., Mistborn) has more in common with Comic Book Science than the stuff on the Hard SF side of things.
Both CBS and HF rely heavily on the concept of "it just does" when asked to explain why things work the way they do in their stories, but have a pretty specific answer on the side how it works. Ask why a radioactive spider altered a man's DNA, and your source will be left at a loss, but ask what effects it has on him and you can get a whole list of the special abilities derived from such an incident. Compared to it's fantasy counterpart, which, rather than stammering for a why, can simply reply that it works by magic. Or that, perhaps, A Wizard Did It? The same list of effects can be procured as well. The majority of differences between a Jedi and, say, a Mistborn, is in the setting and style.
Now, this on its own forms a rather neat connection between the two genres, but I'm not done yet.
There is one thing that most fantasy fans tend to misunderstand when it comes to their genre. They believe that the Harder it is, the closer it is to reality, but, in reality (or fictional reality, as the case may be) it's the other way. At least, stylistically.
My point is this, IRL, there there is no magic, which is what makes fantasy fantasy, however, most fantasy fans consider HF's tendency toward scientific organization to be making it more realistic, which its not. Because of its organization, it becomes that much more prevalent in its culture, whereas magic becomes more scarce the softer the fantasy is. That's what we think, anyway.
In ancient myths from all across the world, anything that they didn't understand was called magical, simply because it was beyond their current grasp. Weather patterns, biology, chemical reactions, all were attributed to mystic forces before they were defined by scientific methods. This is the original fantasy, which has been warped as time goes on to become what we see today.
Look again at the scale which we've constructed by merging the two we had before. As you approach the far scientific end, you get more and more realistic, but on the other end, the fantasy end, the softer you get, the more real it becomes. When you reach either extreme, the setting becomes reality as we know it. Now we have a conundrum:
Why are these two considered mutually exclusive when they have so much in common?
The answer is in the way an author comes at it. A hard SF author is going to get down into the nitty gritty scientific details when they construct their world, where a soft fantasy author takes the opposite approach, the ancient way of saying that anything that can't be explained in easy terms is magic.
And in a way, both are right. Scientific explanations for everything take the magic out of life, but aren't the very effects of the explained phenomena still wondrous in their own right? A bird stays in the air, the rain falls anyway, your heart still beats. Yet these can be explained in their most basic forms through the efforts of human intellect, diligence, and ingenuity.
But what to do with the scale? If you flip it around so that the SF and HS match up, you lose the congruence we had before. But what if we bend the scales? Stretch the ends til they mesh, become a single circle of fiction.

It has a rather nice symmetry to it, doesn't it?


Bittersweet Holidays

I figured I should put up a Christmas post for anyone out there who watches this without leaving any sort of trace.
So it's Christmas Eve, and it's turned out to be a white one, despite my earnest hopes to the contrary. Oh, well, that's what I get for living...well, you don't need to know where.
The whole thing seems just a tad surreal after waiting for it for so long. Like when I saw Star Wars Episode 3 in the theater for the first time, but not quite as intense. The feeling has been following me around lately, maybe it's that this'll be my last Christmas as a minor. I just can't shake the dread of my childhood slipping through my fingers like the fine sand of an hourglass. I'm still not used to being a senior in High School, and I'll be turning eighteen in June. It's just such a weird concept, growing up.
We're doing ten minute, one act plays in my theatre class. My group is doing one called Labor Day, which is about such a concept, about how time seems to get away from us. About the denial of time's slow descent towards an encroaching doom to all that is innocent. I try my best to preserve my optimism, my joy at the very idea of life, but I sometimes feel like I'm fighting a battle I can't win.
I wonder what I'm getting.
Merry Christmas, everyone.
Here's a Batman picture:


Everything is so NEW!

Listening To: The Point of No Return, The Phantom of The Opera Movie Soundtrack
Holiday Engine: Revved
Mood: Content

We're almost through our December performances in choir! *hallelujah!*
Our last performance is on Saturday, but before that we have our major winter concert tomorrow, and a major day full of shows on Friday.
The finish line is in sight.
On the recommendation of a friend, I've started reading Mistborn, and I gotta say, it's fantastic. I'm only about a third of the way through the first book, and I'm really enjoying it. It's just the kind of book I like, with interesting characters, clever magic system and elaborate world setup. It has great action scenes, and I've been told that I haven't seen anything yet.
Very exciting.
I played Racquetball for the first time tonight with my youth group. An interesting experience, and definitely something I'd be willing to repeat. Though it's all about the people you're playing with. Being the physically inept guy that I am, having a bunch of guys who are very forgiving of your shortcomings is very helpful.
Chick-Fil-A. First time today, and I found it very satisfying. Great chicken... And that's all I have to say about it. Really.
I've been to read more fan fics lately, and, being cautious and going through TV Tropes for my recommendations, I think I've found some real gems. Very good stuff. I found Morphic, a rather dark pokemon fic about half-breeds between pokemon and humans, to be excellent, and, while there is quite a bit of foul language, most of it is fairly deserved. But, as a warning, it touches on a few very sensitive topics, including religion, abortion, and death, but handles them quite realistically and maturely in my opinion.
I finished my 10K word story challenge, and was fairly pleased with the result. I got a 195 out of 200, which I'm very excited about. Now, I didn't finish the story, but I think I left it hanging on a rather nice cliffhanger. I started the story off with the mindset of a superhero story about a citizen of a city whose entire population has superpowers. But where my plot took me follows more of the style of an action thriller, but with the same superpower twist. I think it turned out rather well.


An Obituary

Today had a moment that will probably stand out in my memory for the rest of my life.
I haven't mentioned it here, but I grew up on legos, specifically, the Bionicle line. These things have been an obsession of mine since I was eight years old. In the last year or so, though, my interest has began to slacken when it comes to the current events of the series. When I logged into a community site dedicated to the series, BZPower, for the first time in a while, it came as a blow to the chest when the news page displayed articles referencing the end of the line.
My pulse quickening and my head fuzzy, I looked over the back articles to find a letter from the Lego Group to BZPower, detailing that they would be discontinuing the toy line after a release in January...
I gave ten years to these toys. No one who has not gone through a similar experience can't imagine the specific sense of loss that I've felt.
Goodbye, Bioncle, we had a good run.