Sunday, July 5, 2015

The MAGNUM OPUS!!! or Dancing In Dystopia part 2.

So, in my last post, I mentioned THE MAGNUM OPUS!!! which was my plan to produce a regular photo story featuring my 1/6 scale doll/figure collection. Although I already knew several people who'd done this sort of thing, I was probably most influenced by Mark Hogencamp's Marwencol saga. Keep in mind that much of this was laid out in 2005-2006 and that I had not (and still haven't) read any of the Young Adult post apocalypse/ crapsack utopia/ 20 minutes in the future stuff that's been popular in recent years. Anyway, the story features examples of….

Wait, is that an expy?
One major background character ended up looking like a thinly veiled swipe at a present day US politician but that guy was just starting to get traction when I created my character. So, the person in question really made no impact on my fictional character and only later did I start to go "Wow, that's kind of prescient! I hope the real guy doesn't turn out like my character."

Have I read this book?
One thing that I really kick myself over now is not presenting my concept of a lavish "capital district" surrounded by less desirable "outlier districts". Yep, at least two years before Suzanne Collins published Hunger Games. Of course, mine was different in that there were also neighboring regions who are strong enough socially, economically and militarily to resist and even defeat the supposed "big bad". Only a faltering "global peace keeping force" keeps things in check and prevents a full scale war from breaking out. However, there's also a degree of what I call the Korean Paradox where winning a war against such a foe means you suddenly have millions of people who have been subjects of a very structured command society as refugees on your doorstep. East Germany would another good, although far milder example

The broken cutie with a grudge.
 You've probably seen Meg, my red headed Obitsu girl, if you've been a reader here for a while. Well, she was going to be that character. A small military mission spirals out of control and brings Meg face to face with a prominent "Justice Commissioner". Said commissioner had killed Meg's grandfather years earlier in a botched "citizen's arrest" that Meg witnessed. Years later, Meg faces down her foe in a gun fight and guess who has more ammo and is a better trained shooter? I'll let you guess what happens.

Pyrrhic victory/downer ending.
 The military mission that is the focus of the story is compromised, the "big bad"government has their brave martyr to avenge (and also, they got rid of a loose cannon who might've upset the balance of power) and the Global Peacekeepers just said "screw you guys, we're going home!" There's probably going to be a war, it's probably going to be brutal in a Germany invades the Soviet Union kind of way. Nobody holds out much hope that things will get better. And if push comes to shove, the "small good" side has nukes. Get in to a Stalingrad situation? Pull back and call in the stealth drone bombers.

Gray or grey morality.
While I use the term "big bad" here, I was playing to an audience that was pretty socially/politically diverse. Some of these folks would find the actions of the main antagonist country to be justifiable, if harsh. I wanted to really work to give them a positive spin, even if I didn't agree with them. In contrast, the side our "heroes" are on can be pretty brutal. Old grudges over political oppression in the earlier regime and a civil war that morphs in to a long period of low-intesity guerrilla warfare have hardened them. The Geneva Convention is treated with a certain "wink and a nudge" indifference as long as the wrong people aren't victimized in the process.

Ultimately, the whole thing was just too damn dark for me to move forward with. As I said before, life got in the way and halted the momentum, which was probably just as well. The story later morphed quite a bit in to one of two fictional nations in a more or less current world. Some of that version can be found in early entries on this blog and it was initially the main focus of the blog I had just before this one. Will I ever try a MAGNUM OPUS!!! story line again? Honestly, probably not, although I can never say that I definitely won't.


  1. Well GT I never knock a guy for trying, maybe next time eh?

    1. Maybe one day! Next time, I think I'll add some humor since the nature of the story just wasn't enjoyable for me to work on.