Good Science Fiction: An Examination Through the Lens of ODST

A rewrite of an old, old blog post of mine when I was but a wee blogger.

To me, Halo 3: ODST doesn’t feel like Halo.

Let me rephrase: the story of ODST doesn’t feel like Halo.

The audio drama embedded within the game – Sadie’s Story – feels like Halo. The missions with the Rookie at night feel like Halo. But what our primary emotional hook to the game is supposed to be – Buck and Dare’s relationship – does not feel like Halo.

Now the word “feel” gets tossed about quite a bit in terms of changes or new installments to a franchise. Does the soundtrack to Halo 4 “feel” like Halo, now that it’s no longer Marty O’Donnell’s work? Or what of the new armor styles in Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians. Or the way the story is told? Or the mechanics of the games? Or the presence of key, underlying themes? Or…

There are a thousand different ways something could “feel” like Halo or any other franchise, and barring morally-objectionable reasons, all of those are valid, if subject to disagreement. The feel of a franchise can be as slippery a topic as genre; there’s no hard and fast rule, and lines often blur between definitions.

So what do I mean by something not “feeling” like Halo, and why, as a result, I don’t think the story of ODST is an example of good science fiction?

Sorry Buck. The Nathan Fillion Charm only goes so far.

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War for the Planet of the Apes: Bleakness without Cynicism

The quiet moments in War for Planet of the Apes surprised me.

Bleak stories like this movie can easily veer very sharply off into cynicism. Moments of joy or hope get cut horrifically short because it’s “realistic.” To quote a fantastic video essay by MrBtongue on Game of Thrones, which critiques the translation of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire to the popular tv show:

“All those moments in the river lands at the quiet isle on the wall… they’re gone, unnecessary, extraneous to the proceedings. We’re in the world… where cynicism is nothing less than wisdom, and pacifism is nothing more than naivete.”

Spoilers below.

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I’m Particular about My Bennets: A Brief Reflection on a Few Adaptations of Elizabeth from Pride & Prejudice

My litmus test for any adaptation of Pride & Prejudice essentially boils down to the scene where Mr. Darcy slights Lizzie. How the writers of the adaptation chose to make her respond pretty much establishes how well they know the character of Elizabeth Bennet.

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Framing a Lightsaber Battle: A Brief, Close Read of the Cinematography of “Twin Suns”

Three seconds. Star Wars: Rebels told us a story and gave us a twist ending in three seconds primarily through staging and cinematography.

“Twin Suns” spoilers ahead.

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Emotional Attachments: A Character Analysis of Obi-Wan and Maul

A while back there was an analysis on Maul from Tumblr user scribbleymark, about how Maul is a sympathetic villain because he genuinely cares about certain individuals. This analysis has stayed with me throughout my watch of Star Wars: Rebels and influenced my understanding of the duel between Obi-Wan and Maul in the latest episode “Twin Suns.”

Spoilers beneath the cut.

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Halo Wars 2: A Summary


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Mass Effect’s Place in Science Fiction – Revelation


“Reading Journals” are one of the main, and currently the only, sub-series for Gaming’s Place in Literature. These Journals are used to explore individual novels within a game’s expanded universe. The general format will be to write about the book’s writing style and quality of story before diving into a genre analysis. Exceptions to this format will likely occur.

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