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Brian Niemeier
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2016 Campbell Award finalist. Author of Souldancer, winner of the first Dragon Award for Best Horror Novel.
2016 Campbell Award finalist. Author of Souldancer, winner of the first Dragon Award for Best Horror Novel.

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My Life in Fandom: Yoko Kanno - Goddess of Music
Japan has a handful of living masters coming out of their entertainment business. Westerners get told all about Hayao Miyazaki (the current God of Animation), but in terms of music we Westerners hear a lot of great stuff coming from that country without kno...

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PulpFail
Appendix N  author Jeffro Johnson recently took to Google+ to point out five ways that Rogue One  fails to meet the pulp standards of the original Star Wars saga. #PulpFail number one: So the empire is here to kidnap dude's family and force him to create a ...

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#PulpFail number five: The all new extra-diverse rebel council refuses to reach consensus on stealing the death star plans. Subtext: diversity = division. With the exception of the squid people, the non-whites mostly sit this battle out. Then for the Battle of Yavin...? Man, they are totally gone, leaving all the fighting adventure to the all-white cast of the real Star Wars movie.

The pulps are filled with nuanced treatments of colonialism and forging bonds of friendship and love across racial lines. Rogue One? It's so racist, I am literally shaking.
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#PulpFail number four: Okay, so the rebellion comes in two flavors: scuzzy and extra scuzzy. Mummified Peter Cushing is freaking weird. Stormtroopers are here to play Keystone Kops. And there are more shout outs to classic movies than there is plot. Finally something happens.

FIsh lips, who is established as having extreme daddy issues because her father didn't have the sense to, you know, defend his family. But she was also ABANDONED by the guy that is being set up as the meanest, nastiest, cruelest most Machievellian scumbag in the galaxy.

Oh, but this guy that is so evil and nasty...? He's also really sentimental about this random girl.

???

Lemme tell you how the galaxy works at its most basic level: blood is thicker than water. And the scummiest scum bag in the galaxy would hand fish lips over to his boys for a brief bit of entertainment before indulging in this kind of bizarre sentimentality.

What the hell are they doing setting up two father figures for fishlips anyway...? Like they have time for this sort of distraction in what's supposed to be pulp style adventure. The people that made this are brain damaged.
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#PulpFail number two: Introducing a protagonist by having him betray someone that trusts him in order to save his own skin. He shoots a disabled person in the back after telling him everything will be okay. This is the sort of story beat you'd typically reserve in order to fully establish that a bad guy completely deserves the ass whoopin' that's coming to him. Absolutely moronic. These people are incapable of conveying the sort of pulp ethos that was fundamental to Star Wars.
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#PulpFail number three: It's crazy. They have scenes. They look like Star Wars. The music tells me that something important is happening. But it feels like this movie has no idea how to get started. "Aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper" isn't edgy enough. No, we have to show fish lips mortally wound a few rebels that are rescuing her. Meanwhile... the rebels have to be shown as being mean and nasty. And OH MY GOSH! Who can complain when they have recreated the control room set from the battle of Yavin? And dropped in a throwaway character from Return of the Jedi?!

But this underweight, rat faced fellow that talks like what... Cheech and Chong or something? What the hell?! It's like they had focus groups help them find the most un-Star Warsy thing conceivable. Is there supposed to be romantic tension between him and fish lips? I can't tell. The opening scene with them packing to go to Dangerville is set to maximum cringe. He asks he to pretty please let him have the blaster she's not supposed to have. That's right, spymaster extraordinaire let that get right past him.

Dude is going on a critical mission and he has to depend on someone that is established as wanting to fight the rebellion tooth and nail every step of the way. Seems like that would be a good time to lay down the law. For dude to have any credibility, he would be shown setting the tone, schooling her on what his expectations are. If she's too awesome for that, then he's (a) not the monster he's been established as being and (b) unable to hold his own in any sort of repartee with his romantic foil. It's like the conflicting requirements cancel each other out, leaving an inherently schizophrenic mess of a film that has no idea what it actually wants to be.
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#PulpFail number one: So the empire is here to kidnap dude's family and force him to create a doomsday weapon. This whole scene is set up merely to show that (a) little girl is strong female stoic even at a young age, (b) her parents LOVE her and give her mementos to show how they feel, and (c) that daddy is a passive little bitch that is unwilling and unable sell his life dearly. Oh, that last one stings. This sort of scene has been done in countless Westerns. Except... lemme tell you how it goes. Dad knows he's overmatched. He looks his foe in the eye. He knows he's going to die. But he reaches for his gun anyway and is blown away. The whole family dies... but somehow the kid survives. He then dedicates his entire life to learning how to kick ass and achieve vengeance. Shitty post-modern loser dad here is just pleading for mercy while is wife draws the gun and attempts to do something against all odds. She risks her life and (the image is not on google)... he runs to her side when she gets shot and looks all the world like some Scarlet O'Hara momentarily overcome with the sheer drama of it all. Except Scarlet O'Hara could actually shoot a Yankee deserter in cold blood. This opening scene is bullshit. I would rather convert to old school Viking religion with its concept of a warriors death and Ragnarok and everthing else than subscribe to anything remotely like the value system of the non-culture that produced this piece of garbage. Seriously, this opening scene is just one gigantic kick in the balls. Screw these people. 
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Appendix N vs The Great Books
Just for fun, I've decided to post excerpts from the plot synopses of three books from the BBC's list of the 100 Greatest British Novels and three books from Appendix N . I made my selections at random by rolling d%. Now, if you'll indulge my decidedly un-s...

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