Tag Archives: Halo

Evan and Gordon Talk: Fan Fiction

GORDON: A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, it was suggested that Evan and I discuss fan fiction and its merits (or lack thereof).

Now I’m going to jump right into things by saying that not only do I not believe fan fiction is good, I do not feel it has the capacity to ever be so.

EVAN: Okay. Why? Continue reading

A Space Marine By Any Other Name

Space marines. I can’t speak for most people, but when I hear those two words two very distinct images come to mind, which have thankfully been drawn together thanks to this image I found on dorkshelf.com:

On the left, a Terran Marine from the popular Blizzard RTS franchise [real time strategy game] StarCraft. On the right, an Imperium of Man Space Marine from the universe of Warhammer 40,000, by Games Workshop. Yes, the are both traditionally depicted as wearing blue armour. It’s fairly common knowledge that Blizzard owes a great visually creative debt to Games Workshop while still branching out on their own, but that’s not the point.

The point is that author M.C.A. Hogarth wrote a novel called Spots the Space Marine. On January 3rd of this year he received an email from Amazon telling him that they had stopped selling his book due to Games Workshop accusing him of infringement on their trademark of the word “space marine.”

To quickly explain the legal nitty-gritty of all this, in the US Games Workshop owns a trademark on the term that covers “board games, parlor games, war games, hobby games, toy models and miniatures of buildings, scenery, figures, automobiles, vehicles, planes, trains and card games and paint, sold therewith.”

It turns out that in Europe they have a Class 16 trademark, which includes, among a whole slew of other things, “printed matter.”  With that in hand Games Workshop brought their complaint to Amazon Kindle Publishing UK, which then caused Amazon Kindle Publishing US to block the e-book in all countries everywhere. A later update states that since the company has since delved into e-books themselves, they own the trademark in that respect as well.

Now let’s put all this legal business to the side for a while and concentrate on what Hogarth has to say about the term “space marine” means to him personally:

I used to own a registered trademark. I understand the legal obligations of trademark holders to protect their IP. A Games Workshop trademark of the term “Adeptus Astartes” is completely understandable. But they’ve chosen instead to co-opt the legacy of science fiction writers who laid the groundwork for their success. Even more than I want to save Spots the Space Marine, I want someone to save all space marines for the genre I grew up reading. I want there to be a world where Heinlein and E.E. Smith’s space marines can live alongside mine and everyone else’s, and no one has the hubris to think that they can own a fundamental genre trope and deny it to everyone else.

Space marines have been part of the sci-fi cultural landscape for decades at this point, going as far back to Robert A. Heinlein’s 1959 novel Starship Troopers [later adapted into a film in 1997]. While Bungie’s Halo franchise concentrates on their Spartan supersoldiers, fighting alongside these technological titans are members of the UNSC [United Nations Space Command] Marine Corps. In Gears of War the protagonists are infantry soldiers known as Gears, clad in bulky armour and waging war against the same sorts of extraterrestrial terrors the aforementioned servicemen do.

Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene 2, lines 43-44:

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet.

Science fiction has long been about exploring what lies beyond the Earth’s gravitational pull, and where there is the unknown there often lies danger. To put together a military force similar to what exists here and now while using the same naming convention simply makes sense.

What Hogarth wants is for science fiction authors, video game creators, etc. to be able to continue use a term that was long made available to everyone. It’s like saying that Blizzard and WarCraft placing a trademark on a term like “paladin” or “shaman,” or Star Wars placing one on “bounty hunter.” Space marines should be free to defend humanity on Tarsonis, Sera, Reach, or Macragge, and go by that title if they wish.

I Want My M16

Today, we’re going to be talking about guns.

Well, I am going to be talking about guns. I can’t speak to Evan’s convictions on the subject, other than that he favors the needler in Halo. I further understand that the word “Reporters” in our blog’s title may make my post seem like it is using journalism as a facade for promoting personal social and political views à la Fox News.

Your source for interchangeable blonde news anchors since 1996.

Despite this, the simple truth of the matter is that here at CWR, we do hold fairly strong views and don’t shy away from laying them out, be it calling out lousy comic book “artists” to demanding greater coverage of violence by the media. Granted, we have Fame/Shame Day here at CWR to more directly bash what we believe to be wrong with society and laud what we think is being done right, but the purpose of this post really isn’t either of those things. This is simply my own take on a current debate, submitted for your consideration.

Let’s get right to it.

I like guns.

And no, not in the obsessive way where I can tell you how many rounds a Beretta Px4 can hold, or why it’s important that the bullets from one hunting rifle travel marginally faster than those of another. I’ve never hunted anything bigger than a cockroach (which isn’t to say those weren’t some big roaches). I’ve never posted a photo of me and my gun on Facebook.

I don’t even own a gun.

So why do I like them? Why, in the face of all the recent atrocities committed with guns, would I voice any support for the alleged right to own a killing device?

I could spout all the old rhetoric and slogans of the gun-nuts.

If we take away guns, only bad guys will have them!”
Guns won this country’s independence!
“My right to  own a gun protects your right to complain about them!”

In addition to just being used-to-death, the simple truth of the matter is that all of those supposedly “tried-and-true” arguments have some holes in them.  There are countries out there with gun control laws more stringent than the US whose gun-related crimes are nevertheless low. Guns did help win this nation’s freedom, but so did the cannon and the battleship, neither of which could be found hanging above the average colonist’s mantle. And if we’re looking to face the facts, the same guns that supposedly protect my freedom could likewise take it away. Let the facts be faced, the gun owners of this nation are not some courageous bastion standing between me and an intrusive, all-powerful government.

So why support guns?

Because I like having a fighting chance.

Too often these debates get painted as black and white. Both sides point at each other and howl that a victory for their opponents would be on par with the rise of Cthulu.

I, for one, welcome our elder-god overlord…

Take it from any Black/Hispanic/Native American/Jewish/Etc. person living in the 1950s- access to firearms is not a guarantee of freedom, justice, and equality. And take it from someone who actually lived in a brutal dictatorship- a society without guns in no ways guarantees safety and security for you or those you care for. A gun is just a gun. It is not a magical freedom stick forged in angel tears and presented to you by the almighty. It is not an infernal, malicious, conscious beast that turns otherwise good people into psychopaths.

You’re thinking of board games

It is just a machine.

Cars kill people. Cars save people. Speaking for myself, I’d prefer to live in a world with cars. Dogs kill people. Dogs save people. I’d rather in a world with dogs. Hammers make good chairs. Hammers make lousy chairs, and I don’t care that it’s been years since I last used a hammer. For good or ill, I’d like to know that if I wanted to, I could walk into the garage and use one.

Same goes for guns.

They aren’t always safe. They aren’t always good. They don’t always protect me, but I nevertheless like to know that I can try to use them to do that.

It’s just something to consider.

This isn’t meant to offer all or even some of the answers- it’s just an alternate take on the situation I think wouldn’t kill us to discuss.

Think about it.