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1353061_142275_largeBlack Panther is a strange concept. A high-tech, ethnostate. Isolationist, racially pure, founded on the idea that that is a path to greatness (albeit not a new idea, high-tech lost cities being a trope in old pulp fiction). Somehow we accept this uncritically, despite it being essentially what white supremacists are arguing for. Yes, there are contextual differences, but it is still a highly racialised and even dangerous concept. One need only look at the racism, triumphalism and exclusionary practice around the release of the film, not to mention Black Supremacists acting as though Wakanda is – or was – real, to see the dangers in indulging this kind of racial ideology, for anyone.

Would we tolerate it the other way around? It’s a stereotypical question to ask, but still, one worth exploring. As well as asking why we would not.

Thule is a nation appearing in American comic books, published by Wonder Comics. It is the most prominent of several fictional European nations in the Wonder Universe and home to the superhero White Wolf. Thule first appeared in Fabulous Five #52 (July 1966) and was created by Enitan Adebowale and Onyekachukwu Kirabo.

Location

Thule is located north of the Faroe Islands, between Iceland and Norway. It is an actively volcanic island, which artificially warms its climate and prevents most air travel to and from the island.

History

Thule’s royal line began with Fenrir Badger-Beard, an ancient Viking who discovered this oasis of warmth in the frozen north and founded a settlement, gathering the proudest and most renown warriors to colonise his new kingdom.

In the distant past, a massive meteorite made up of the Asgardian metal uru crashed into Thule, creating the volcano and disturbing the seabed, throwing up the further extent of the island and bringing a great deal of mineral wealth to the surface. Fenrir and his descendants jealously guarded this wealth and the kingdom’s mystics and soothsayers soon uncovered the magical mysteries of the uru deposits, working the metal in the heat of volcanic forges.

As the world began to change around them with the rise of the Christian god and the power of the other European nations increasing, another king of Thule, Hrafen Long-Beard, made a change. He began to turn his nation into a trading nation, releasing small amounts of their wealth to educate their best, to develop their island and to form good relations with these other powers – while staying neutral. Staves of enchanted uru were planted to hide the island from navigators and to prevent the proselytisers of the Christian god from bringing their beliefs to their shores.

As the age of science dawned the educated class of Thule began to work to combine the wonders of the new technology with the powers of their ancient magic, to great success. Cannons and guns of uru were stockpiled and jealously guarded, further to defend Thule from an increasingly alien and dangerous outside world, knowing they must keep their true wealth and power secret.

Myths and legends of Thule had long spread around the world, especially given Thule’s punishment of exile (if not execution) for most criminals. Most did not take these legends of caverns of gold or ‘magic metal’ seriously but during WWII an exiled traitor returned with a U-Boat full of Nazi commandos, first attempting to cut a deal and then attempting to steal uru to feed the Nazi war machine. The fight was savage and showed that the outside world’s technology had almost caught up with the uru-enhanced innovations of Thule’s people. The king and many warriors were killed, the traitor and a small cadre of officers got away, forcing the people of Thule to enter the wall in a small way, though the uru jump-started the Nazi wonder-weapon and rocketry programs and caused a ‘Spear of Destiny’ to be forged.

With the advent of nuclear weapons by the end of the war, Thule doubled down on its paranoia and protectionism. So far as the outside world was concerned it was a small oil and mineral producing nation in an inaccessible and frozen sea. Hardly anyone knew about it and that was the way they liked it. Post-War investment in technology and weaponry, training in an already prevalent martial tradition went through the roof with commensurate advances and innovations as characterised by other insular, marginalised nations from Israel and South Africa to Professor Calamity’s Verlatia.

Thule has an unusually high rate of mutation due to the magical properties of uru. The more severely mutated work with Erik Drepnor, a Thulian subversive who wishes to return the land to pure magic and ancient ways of human sacrifice and total isolationism.

In more recent times Thule has been forced to emerge a little more from the shadows. The rise of their new king and his alter-ego the White Wolf to the ranks of heroes has forced this to be the case. The revelation of the existence of Earth-bound uru has also piqued interest, though White Wolf is thought to be a single hero, not representative of a whole land of magi-tech hidden in the north.

To this day Thule remains an isolated nation, hostile to foreign visitors, however diplomatic, secretive and traditionalistic with a strong native, pagan religion, strict gender roles and a total ban on immigration. While friendly to outsiders, when abroad, they have a ‘nobility’ and arrogance that comes from believing themselves better than those they are fooling.

Technology base

Due to its intentional isolationism, Thulian technology has, until recently, developed entirely independently of that of the rest of the world. As such the design philosophies and methodologies are different and often incompatible with conventional equipment. Thule is one of the world’s most technologically advanced countries. For example, Thulian computer technology is more powerful than that of the rest of the world, forming a magical bond with its user and having a limited sense of self-awareness. This renders it completely immune to outside hacking, while simultaneously being able to hack outside systems easily.

Uru has been used extensively in Thulian weapons technologies, armour and vehicles. The physics-defying nature of the metal and its magical sympathies have allowed for the development of all manner of technologies that would normally be impossible, as well as allowing the user to form a supernatural bond with their equipment. This unique magi-tech would allow Thule to punch well above its weight in any conflict.

The White Wolf

The current king of Thule, Hvitr Scar-Hand is the public face of the country, an affable, friendly, white-blond man who also dons the armoured uru suit and persona of the White Wolf. He has been trained in the warrior tradition of his people, as well as being infused with colloidal uru, something that makes him naturally magical, preternaturally self-aware, resilient and better able to magically bond with uru.

Hvitr has had the best, international, education that money can buy in addition to training in the unique aspects of Thulian science and mysticism. He carries a pocket Thulian supercomputer and wears a suit of high-tech ballistic armour, woven with uru thread. It is armed with a pair of ‘fangs’ (uru blades that spring from the forearms). The White Wolf also carries a huge uru revolver and the masked suit can deploy a pair of magi-tech ornithopter drones to give it even greater situational awareness and combat readiness.

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jodie-whittaker-doctor-who-reveal-portrait-300x450The announcement of the new Doctor being a woman has understandably ruffled a few feathers, and there have been a plethora of articles about it. Most of these seem to run along the lines of:

“LOL! CRY HARDER MANBABIES!” and various accusations of misogyny directed towards anyone who regards this decision as anything less than ‘stunning and brave’ or expresses even the slightest misapprehension as to the motivations and effect of changing the show in such a fundamental way.

It seems like nobody is going to write the article we should be seeing, so I guess I’m going to have to do it. I’ve tried, already, in comments etc, to stem the tide of “LOL! FRAGILE MASCULINITY!” but even belabouring the point to excess doesn’t seem to get the point across, so let’s try something else…

Dr Bewb

So by now, you’ve all had a few days to absorb that the next actor to play the role of The Doctor is going to be a woman. This shouldn’t really be a surprise, NuWho has been hinting at this – initially jokily – since 2011 or so. Moffat wasn’t keen and said it wasn’t going to happen on his watch, but he’s leaving and the new guy – Chibnall – is coming in with a new broom to sweep through. Maybe this is a good thing, maybe it’s bad. RTD was getting pretty tiresome towards the end of his run, Moffat had some good stories in him but seems to have run out of steam, a new guy might reinvigorate things, or not.

Similarly, a female Doctor could be a kill or cure moment for the series.

I don’t think you’re misogynists for being antsy, in fact, many of you are women. Many of you who are women have had nerd crushes on the various Doctors. That has certainly been a part of NuWho that people into the original series never really expected to happen, even with the relatively young and pretty ‘New Romantic’ run of Peter Davison (weren’t those costumes great?).

NuWho has already made a bunch of changes, some to the good, some to the bad. Resurrecting the series seemed to require a bunch of changes, changing to a breakneck-speed episodic format rather than a serial format for a start – something I very much bemoan. The scientific and educational aspect has also taken a hit, in exchange for more ‘pure’ entertainment, but it seems to have paid off. Dr Who finally ‘broke’ America. bringing romantic plotlines, especially ones including The Doctor was controversial, and something I – didn’t like, but we coped with that.

If there’s anything this change is similar to it’s when Matt Smith took over. He was too young, way too young. His publicity shots looked like an otter that listened to Green Day. Every time there’s a regeneration people are in an uproar and this is no different. People’s concerns about Smith were justified and he overcame them. People’s concerns about Whittaker are similarly justified. She doesn’t have a penis though, so your concerns and worries aren’t just dismissed as ‘nerdy’ or unreasonable any more. They’re being called ‘misogynistic’.

That’s not fair, is it?

I mean, you love Doctor Who. You want it to succeed and you want it to continue. This is a big change and a risky one that tinkers with the whole story dynamic of the series. So you’re worried. That makes sense, it doesn’t mean you hate women, does it?

This is also happening against a background of other things going on. The BBC has quotas for staffing and on comedy panels. It is discriminating in its hiring and has fired ‘cishetwhitemen’ from positions and shows. Doctor Who has been painfully PC for some time now, to the point of revising history to make it more palatable in recent episodes. In that context, the change to a female Doctor can’t help but look political and seem to be part of a trend. It needn’ be, but it’s understandable that it can look like that. I might just be that Chibnall wants to bring a familiar face with him. It might.

It might.

Being worried about that doesn’t make you reactionary or conservative. You probably just want people to succeed on their own merits and don’t want things to be mucked about with for no reason. You probably think these kinds of policies are sexist/racist or whatever else. You’re not wrong, but we don’t know if that’s what’s going on here.

Maybe you’re worried about the stories. That’s understandable too. Such a shift to the whole story dynamic could change everything. Could be for the worse, could be for the better. There’s no real way of knowing how that’s going to work out until we see it. It’s a risk, but so was a shift to a younger Doctor, and it did change the dynamic and feel, but it worked. This might, it might not.

Your concerns are legitimate. There’s a lot to be worried about. Merchandise sales are down, viewership is down. This is a big risk to take in that relatively fragile situation. People are playing around with something you love and their motivations might be political, the people giving you a hard time and crowing about ‘male tears’ certainly are being political.

Fuck those people. You’re not bigots. You know it, I know it, anyone worth talking to knows it.

But we won’t know if the fears are justified until a few episodes into the new series, and because it’s a woman people are reacting differently to you saying exactly the same things you said about Matt Smith. So have your concerns, but how about we all just wait and see if it’s as bad as it can seem. The whole NuWho project has been one long set of risks, fucking with something beloved and cared about – and its great that people care. Let’s just give it a shot.

And if people could lay off screaming misogynist at you guys too, that’d be great.

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792ff0efca4a02382678eb238ac650adJust over a year ago I was standing on the far platform of a railway station, with crusted blood on my arm from self-inflicted wounds and trying to muster the courage to throw myself in front of a train. I nearly did it too. Standing so close to the edge of the platform that the side of one of the trains brushed and almost clipped the tip of my nose.

I couldn’t quite do it though. Not quite. Ended up going back home with my tail between my legs and trying to salvage the pieces of my broken brain.

I was in a very severe depressive slump anyway and then was kicked while I was down by life. One friend died and another, dear, friend turned out to be in a rather harsh home situation. I couldn’t help either of them in any meaningful way and was left feeling thoroughly impotent, even more useless than usual and selfish for feeling terrible. I was unable to ask for support and help when I felt other people needed it more.

Eventually, of course, people found out and were amazingly and wonderfully supportive, as they always are (depression lies to you about that) and while a dead friend can’t be brought back, at least the other friend now has an escape plan that I can – hopefully – help with.

My beautiful and lovely friend, and one-time unofficial, virtual housemate, Katie sent me a care package not long after my bout of suicidal ideation, and while some of the contents were an arcane mystery (a face pack? wtf?) amongst the goodies was The Book of You, a little diary/workbook of sorts with daily micro-actions for a whole year (there’s also an app). I just finished working through it (it was actually useful and not the hippy crap it might look like at first glance) and one of the things it tells you to do is to ‘report back’.

So, what’s there to report back?

I’ve made it 12 months without a relapse. No self harm in that time. No new suicide attempts. Only – relatively – mild bouts of depression and panic. I’m out of therapy but back on the drugs, on what seems to be a semi-permanent basis, constantly trying to anticipate and balance the dose. Summer is the worst time of year for my mental health, the heat I think – and the lack of sleep. I also tend to feel out of place at this time of year, it’s not really my ‘cup of tea’ and there are extra, physical chores that need doing.

I’ve been working hard to try and get back to the self-sufficiency I was at before the last few years’ heavy bouts of depression, but it’s tough. I’ve even been looking for supplementary part-time work but with the depression as it is I just don’t think I’m reliable enough for anyone to hire. This presents its own problems in terms of both self-esteem and finances, wanting to regain that full independence and being – seemingly – unable to. There’s not a lot of options to remedy that either. Seeking assistance or benefits is massively impactful to self esteem if you don’t feel you really need them and austerity has cut funding for such things to the bone anyway. An ‘invisible illness’ would be a tough sell to any assessor or board, especially the kinds that judge terminal cancer cases ‘fit for work’.

There’s no real prospect of ever ‘getting better’ at this point. Just varying degrees of coping. That puts a lot of stress on friendships and relationships, as does the aforementioned lack of independence. There’s things I’m good at, even very good at, but imposter syndrome is a bitch and even having talent isn’t enough in a very tough gig economy with a trashed reputation, caused by sticking up for what you know is right – no matter what. No matter the lies and aspersions. Even when some of the people you were sticking up for end up turning on you.

I’ve accomplished a lot, in spite of being sick. In spite of there being no prospect of ever getting better. These are things I should be proud of, but anhedonia – one of the symptoms of depression, look it up – makes it all but impossible to truly acknowledge and take it to heart even when you do something amazing and against the odds.

I’m still here, but the Reverse SAD is pretty bad, panic attacks are pretty frequent. The abuse and suspicion I’m used to by this point, and when you have severe depression nobody can hate you as much as you hate yourself anyway, so it barely registers.

All of that sounds really bad, but here’s the thing. It isn’t.

It’s just an acknowledgement of status. I’m coping. I’m plodding on. I’m working away on things – bit by bit. I’ve re-organised my work schedule and am much more productive. I have a large body of work on Youtube now. I’m at least looking for ways out of my problem situations and there’s slow but steady progress on every front.

That’s all much better than it sounds.

Thank you everyone who looks after me when I need it, stays friends through tough differences of opinion, doesn’t treat me like some fragile thing all the time and forgives me my failings while valuing my strengths.

Here’s where I was last year, for comparison…

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grimbletideI don’t care about Christmas, but I do care about you.

My friends, my family, my readers, the players of my games.

The people who’ve stuck around, who’ve disagreed with open minds, discussed, defended and worked with one another to muck on through and get shit done. The skeptics, the shitlords, the ‘true liberals’, the artists, the people with the courage of their convictions and a real understanding of friendship.

Thanks dudes.

This last year hasn’t just taken a toll on celebrities that meant something to us, it has taken a massive toll on a lot of people in a lot of ways. Everywhere I look I see people losing parents, friends, pets, marriages, lovers, jobs, money, homes even children – and even their own lives and health.

It has been shit, no question. Politically, economically, socially, professionally, personally, for a whole swathe of people.

The good news is… we survived it (at least I assume nobody is reading this from beyond the grave). It hasn’t all been terrible either. We’re at the crest of a backlash against the authoritarian/regressive/SJW left, the censorious arseholes who have been causing trouble for everyone for years.

The trick will be preventing that backlash turning into an equally oppressive authoritarian right. Perhaps though – finally – we can re-find some balance at the end of this process – in another four years. Perhaps this is also an opportunity (though not one especially being taken up with gusto yet) for the left to modernise and correct its mistakes, rather than doubling down.

We can hope.

Dominant over-cultures create powerful and interesting subcultures. As the dominant force shifts from the authoritarian ‘left’ to the authoritarian right there’s an opportunity for a lot of creative energy to find outlets and it’ll necessarily have to also be anti-PC, there’s bigger fish to fry. I hope and expect we’ll also see the skeptic community turning its ire, fire and focus upon the excesses on the authoritarian right as it did with the left.

I guess, what I’m saying is that there’s hope – and interesting times ahead. We survived the 80s and its constant threat of nuclear Armageddon with a senile, talentless hack actor in charge of the White House. We can survive a corrupt and incompetent ‘reality star’ in the same way. Brexit is shit, but there’s years of negotiations and decisions to go. We can soften it and heck, with the banks abandoning the UK maybe there’s finally impetus to diversify what we do beyond banking services so we can avoid becoming the Venezuela of Europe.

Similarly in Murka, Trump’s incompetence and his blithe obviousness in his corruption (rather than having the good sense to be sneaky about it) may well provide the impetus – finally – to make changes to the American political system to lessen and prevent such things in the future. It may also lead, eventually, to some much needed reform to the electoral college. One can hope the UK also, finally, gathers the gumption in the next swing of the pendulum to reform the hopelessly unrepresentative first past the post system.

Lots of people are despairing, but in some ways things are a bit better. In other ways I see hope. Sometimes you have to burn something down to clear the path for something new.

Anyway, hold onto that hope, try to see the positive changes that have happened along with the negative. Fights never end, they change, but you can acknowledge progress – and the instances in which we were right.

Let’s see what we can do in the new year.

Love,

G

x

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So last night I’m making a Youtube video and talking on Facebook while it renders or I’m downloading effects. Between the video and a conversation I was having I remember an episode of Aeon Flux I particularly loved which was of some relevance. Then I think ‘I loved the music on Aeon Flux, I wonder if you can get in anywhere’. A little Google-Fu later (avoiding the movie, *shudder*) and what should I find but the sales website of the composer himself, Drew Neumann.

I think ‘what the hell, I’ll help a brother out’ and buy the remastered triple-album version of the music for just over $10, figuring I can listen to it in the car and I can use snippets in my videos – because it’s cool.

All good, download it, no problem.

Then I get an email from Drew himself just to let me know if I had any problems with the download I could ask.

So I reply, nerding out – as one does – about Aeon and how much I love the music (almost equally to the animation) and then Drew mails me back…

‘Wait, are you THAT James Desborough, the RPG guy?’

Turns out Drew is a massive D&D nerd and ‘knows my work’.

That, ladles and gentlespoons, is frigging, cool.

You can buy and download the Aeon Flux music HERE (and it’s instrumental, so good for having on while you’re working or gaming). I highly recommend that you do.

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GOD FUCKING DAMN I HATE THESE ‘ARTICLES’.

Ariel!

ArielRapunzel!

Rapunzel

Sleeping Beauty!

SleepingBeauty

Jasmine!

Jasmine

Belle!

Belle

 

Tiana!

Tiana

Snow White!

SnowWhite

Cinders!

cindarella

Merida!

Merida

Mulan!

Mulan

Pochahontas!

Pochahontas

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Richard Mayhew walked down the underground platform. It was a District Line station: the sign said BLACKFRIARS. The platform was empty. Somewhere in the distance an Underground train roared and rattled, driving a ghost-wind along the platform, which scattered a copy of the tabloid Sun into its component pages, four-color breasts and black-and-white invective scurrying and tumbling off the platform and down onto the rails.

Richard walked the length of the platform. Then he sat down on a bench and waited for something to happen.

Nothing happened.

He rubbed his head and felt slightly sick. There were footsteps on the platform, near him, and he looked up to see a prim little girl walking past him, hand in hand with a woman who looked like a larger, older version of the girl. They glanced at him and then, rather obviously, looked away. “Don’t get too near to him, Melanie,” advised the woman, in a very audible whisper.

Melanie looked at Richard, staring in the way children stare, without embarrassment or self consciousness. Then she looked back at her mother. “Why do people like that stay alive?” she asked, curiously.

“Not enough guts to end it all,” explained her mother.

Melanie risked another glance at Richard. “Pathetic,” she said. Their feet pattered away down the platform, and soon they were gone. He wondered if he had imagined it. He tried to remember why he was standing on this platform. Was he waiting for a Tube train? Where was he going? He knew the answer was somewhere in his head, somewhere close at hand, but he could not touch it, could not bring it back from the lost places. He sat there, alone and wondering. Was he dreaming? With his hands he felt the hard red plastic seat beneath him, stamped the platform with mud-encrusted shoes (where had the mud come from?), touched his face . . . No. This was no dream. Wherever he was, was real. He felt odd: detached, and depressed, and horribly, strangely saddened. Someone sat down next to him. Richard did not look up, did not turn his head.

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