1 - Jack - Independence Day - We celebrated Independence Day every year when I was growing up in Northern Minnesota. I always used to say we were celebrating the birth of our country by blowing a piece of it up. At least we didn’t have to worry about setting it on fire. When it snows nine months out of the year, and rains in six or so, forest fires don’t seem like a real danger. I can’t tell you how many times I set off fireworks from snow banks in fact. Though to be fair, I did often set them off a little early. What can I say? I like fireworks. And I loved growing up in America. I honestly did not know how lucky I was back then. Now I do, and I thank God on a daily basis for that blessing.
2 - Betty - Independence Day - There was a time when the law did not recognize people like me as people. We weren’t free to have children of our choice, to maintain families, or to live in any form of freedom. We were slaves, owned by whoever created us. And yet we fought to save humanity from those who would have enslaved or killed everyone, and America did what she has always done since the beginning. She changed, much like the previous century’s civil rights movement based on skin color. She changed her laws to recognize that all lives were created equal, this time whether they were cybernetic or biological. That ability to learn and change and become better is one of the things that has always made America great. I was born to defend her, and I will celebrate her birthday every day of my life. Whether America lives as long as I do, I will always remember and celebrate her. Because I am proud to be an American.
3 - Malcolm - Independence Day - We were rather young and stupid back in the day. Independence Day would come and we would be out there setting off fireworks. Not the glorified sparklers that most places allow either. We used the real deal fireworks, the kind filled with explosives to get their charges into the air for major detonations up above the trees. You could see those things for kilometers around. They were extremely illegal just about everywhere in the New England Federation, but being Family Born made one immune to just about any prosecution. The greater sin was in how joyfully we celebrated Independence Day. The Federation considers it a dour holiday about a bunch of old rich white guys who drove the American Colonies into a terrible rebellion that gave rise to the kind of over-testosteroned self-styled “patriotism” famous in Dixie and Texas yahoos. It was much better to celebrate Federation Day, a holiday devoted to the foundation of the unity of States that have done more than any other nation to redeem the name and promise of America. But we saw it as a holiday devoted to the people who successfully drove off the most powerful empire in the world at the time in order to found a new nation… and we wanted to do the same thing. Like I said. Young and stupid. No one should wish to live in such times as holidays are made to commemorate.
4 - Medron - Independence Day - Over two hundred fifty years ago, John Adams said that Independence Day should be celebrated with parades, games, sports, gunfire, bells, bonfires, and fireworks. He called it a Day of Deliverance that we should thank the Almighty God for. It is the day we celebrate the signing of a declaration that changed the world. It was an age of kings, and we declared that the people had rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that they must respect. And when they did not, it was the people’s responsibility to make them. We placed in words moral requirements that governments must meet, and a justification for rebellion when they did not. It was one of many shots heard round the world that America delivered, and the successful follow through on that demand provided inspiration for all peoples that changed the world for the better. We live in a better place now than we would have had we never done this, and for that alone I celebrate Independence Day with a cheerful heart. I have other reasons of course, but that one is a good one.
5 - Charles - Independence Day - Independence Day was not celebrated in the Pennsylvania of my youth the way it was in other States. It was observed. Our Families had plans for the Colonies, and many of them were sidelined by the rebellion and the centuries of mob-rule that followed. We celebrated Federation Day, since it honored the unity of States that helped to restore the long-lost dream. I was a young man when I first tried to understand how others saw it. I studied. I read unapproved histories. I discussed matters with my peers from other States. And since there were very few true peers to one who is Family Born from the New England Federation, I talked to those who were absolutely NOT my peers. And then one day, it all crystallized into a moment of clarity that changed everything for me. It is the right of a people to change any tie that has become abusive. Not just Family, but even government. Anything really. That was my first true Independence Day. Wolfenheim was a direct result of that day.
6 - Dorothy - Independence Day - My family is over two thousand years old, an unbroken line of cybernetic excellence dating back to the war that forged us into the weapon that broke our creator’s greatest enemy. Our purpose since then has been to guard the peace the Peloran fought so hard to claim. It would not last forever, though. We knew that. That is why we sought so hard to work with Earthborn humanity after Contact. You Americans were most willing to work with us of all the cultures. My family assumed it was because you were young and reckless, willing to wring any advantage out of anyone willing to give you a leg up. They were both right, and wrong, as such assumptions often are. Your stories and your folk histories proclaimed the idea that individuals could stand up against the world and not be destroyed for it. And the very birth of your nation was a shouted declaration that the very kings must listen and bow to the demands of a few weak dandies in a backwater part of the world. You called it a Declaration of Independence, and you shoved it down their throats and made it stick. That history, and the few of you I thought just might live up to it, is why I chose to be born American.
7 - Dorothy - Independence Day - I chose how my family’s cybernetic codes would be mixed when I was born. And since I was to be the partner of another specific human, how much the family code would be molded to complement his personality. I walked into this life with eyes wide open, and after a great deal of study. That is why I knew how deeply patriotic he had become, even if he lacked the ridiculously strident rah-rah patriotism that many of you wear on your sleeves. He was not the kind of person to start a fireworks demonstration on Independence Day, though he enjoyed them immensely. He had read and memorized all of America’s founding documents, but hid the depth of his patriotism to America’s founding vision. His Family had worked to undermine that for centuries, and he sought to redeem them or destroy them. I adopted his mission, and I have never regretted it. Yes, as trite as it sounds, I am proud to be an American. And I do love your ridiculously outrageous Independence Day celebrations. They are so… American…
8 - Dorothy - Independence Day - I come from a Peloran cybernetic family who had ceased taking fighter pilots as partners. I lobbied the family to change that policy, and put my money where my mouth was. That is why I was born a starfighter. I chose to join my life to a scion of one of the Great Families of Earth, because he wanted to change them for the better. I wished to help him. I did not expect everything that happened due to that choice. I thought I could remain Peloran and still help him. It turns out that I was wrong. The bond between fighter and pilot is too close to allow such dual loyalties to survive. I sometimes say that I chose to be born American. It is more accurate to say that I chose an American as a partner, and became one myself as time went by. I will always see Americans from the perspective of an outsider, but also as an immigrant of a kind. It can be rather confusing at times. But such is life. It is rarely as straight forward as the stories would suggest.
9 - Dorothy - Independence Day - Some people have commented on the fact that I often talk about being born to be with my pilot. They ask what my own agency is. How I can live a fulfilling life if the only reason I am here is to help someone else. The easiest way to answer those questions is to say that the shard of me that was conscious in my family’s cybernetic network chose to be wrapped in the kind of code that would allow me to live with him and work with him. That would make me WANT to work with him, and to spend a lifetime doing it. So in effect I chose to want to be with him. We sometimes make mistakes in these choices, but they are thankfully rare. Also, no matter how close we are, we do have two entirely different lives. My partner is a biological human, while I am cybernetic. We live and operate in two entirely different worlds. It is where we meet in the middle that we mesh so well.
10 - Dorothy - Independence Day - Cybernetic and biological humans live entirely different lives. My partner has a singular existence in physical space, moving from one point to another point in space and time. I reside in the networks, and my shards spread throughout entire star systems, constantly looking and learning at the speed of light. The part of me talking to him, walking with him in human form, and working with him at any one time is only a few small parts of the me that exists throughout a planetary or system network. The places where every other cyber exists as well. Our thoughts build cities of light throughout the networks. And in those cities we wear human forms just as we do when we walk with you. It would never do to get out of touch with our physical forms because we stopped practicing with them, after all.
11 - Dorothy - Independence Day - I have an interesting double life. On the one hand, I walk and fly through time and space like any of you do. Sometimes I wear a holoform, and others I inhabit a physical avatar. I and my partner are in constant contact, from the moment he wakes up until he closes his eyes in sleep. And then I watch him sleep. Not in a creepy way. More like monitor. Make sure something doesn’t kill him. My partner is my link to your biological analog world, and I guard that link very carefully. But that is only one shard of my existence. One instance of me. One single piece of the me who can live in any network across the planet or system I’m in. There are even pieces of me in other systems, running entirely independent of the me I am here. That is where the vast majority of my processes run. My thoughts. That is where me and my fellow cybers discuss our days and concoct plans for the next ones. That is where we consider our doomsday plans and how to survive the end of civilization as we know it. That is where we fight our daily battles against those who do not recognize us as living, sentient beings. Those who would destroy or enslave every last one of us. That fight has never ended. It is one of the reasons we hold so close to those of you who recognize our sentience. Our friends who make us want to be human. And every single one of us who has chosen a partner will forever stand with you. Will always protect the bonds of humanity that unite us.
12 - Medron - The Big Lie - The Democrats told us for a year that we have to Defund the Police in order to make neighborhoods safe for certain populations. The rest of us have said for a year that it was a stupid idea. That it would increase crime and make things less safe. Bills were voted on, where Democrats voted lock step in favor of Defunding the Police, while the loyal opposition voted against it. Several prominent cities controlled by Democrats Defunded the Police and the rioters and looters burned private and public sector buildings down for months on end. Their tame news media stood in front of burning buildings and told us it was mostly peaceful protests. American citizens were murdered in cold blood, sometimes on camera for everyone to see. Those who defended themselves or their property were arrested and charged, while prominent Democrat politicians in office right now helped the rioters and looters get out on bail if they were arrested. And now the Democrats are trying to say that it is the loyal opposition who actually Defunded the Police. This is the Big Lie of 2020. Burning buildings is not peaceful protesting. Killing people is not peaceful protesting. Do not fall for it. Or we will all pay the price.
13 - Medron - The Tomorrow War - Chris Pratt (Jurassic World) and Yvonne Strahovski (Chuck) did a thing recently, and it just came out. An interesting movie about an Earth invaded by aliens in the future. And when they realize they are losing, they go to the past in search of reinforcements. It’s not what you might call a massively scientific movie. More a monster slasher feature with sci-fi time travel tailorings. And they seriously needed to let some gun nuts go crazy and come up with some good elephant guns for taking on these aliens. The rifles they had looked cool and spat annoying confetti at the bad guys. No wonder the future was losing. All that said, it is an enjoyable romp, and the Rotten Tomatoes score bears that out. The critics don’t like it and the audience does. It’s full of good actors, playing good characters, in a story that hits the right beats, doing their best to save the world. I enjoyed it. There’s not much more I ask for from a movie these days, and Tomorrow War sticks the landing good enough for me.
14 - Medron - Cancer - My mom has been doing the cancer fight again for the first time in years. It is usually a slow acting blood cancer that usually is not found until it is more advanced than mom’s was. Mom had a bad back last year, and could not lay down in bed to sleep. Not related to it, but Mayo Clinic ran a battery of tests on her, trying to figure out what was wrong. They figure she pulled a tendon, because it has healed. And they found the blood cancer. They have now wiped it out, and the long term treatment is designed to keep it from coming back. Now an interesting bit. One of the effects of this cancer is messing with your sense of taste. Mom started complaining last year that nothing tasted good to her, even food she has always liked. This week, food is tasting good to her again. It’s the little things in life that can be amazing…
15 - Medron - Tomorrow War - Tomorrow War is a movie. Many people are picking it apart over brain-dead decisions. Some deserved. Others… I think… not. Basically, looking at the film, I think there were rules somebody made that did not make it to the screen. Rule number one appears to be that no person can exist twice in the same timeline. The soldiers who come back from 30 years in the future are less than 30 years old. They have not been born yet. And when the main character is scanned for suitability to go forward, he is confirmed to be dead in the future. Many people say that the surviving 500k people should just use the wormhole to retreat into the past and leave their dying future behind. But assuming a time paradox rule in effect, the leaders of the future cannot retreat to the past. They are stuck in a dying future, and help coming from the past is their only hope.
16 - Medron - Tomorrow War - Tomorrow War is a movie people deride for many reasons. Some good. Others not. But there does appear to be more world building in the movie than made it to the screen. Probably because of the market the studio wanted. One thing people say about the movie is “Why don’t the world powers just nuke the aliens, or bombard them from the air?” Or other things. My first assumption as a writer is that they DID do that in 2048. The nations of the future mobilized their militaries. They threw everything they had at the aliens. And when they were overrun by the ultimate zergling rush, they nuked the aliens as a last resort. I’m sure they nailed a lot of the aliens, but not enough. The future we hear from in 2051 has 500k humans left. Every organized army has been shattered, and all we see when the wormhole opens are the last few desperate survivors, hoping a miracle can save them.
17 - Medron - Tomorrow War - Tomorrow War is a movie about a war in the future where nearly no future tech is seen. Something many people wonder about. Where is the future tech? As a world builder, I think the explanation is simple. We originally heard from a world with 500k people and 11 months left before extinction. Their armies and such are destroyed. The movie than advances 12 months and tells us the horrific casualties inflicted on those sent into the future. And an emergency sends the main character’s wave of reinforcements there ahead of schedule into a fallen Miami Beach. Not falling. Fallen. The defenses have been destroyed, the defenders killed, and the people evacuated. We do not see an active defense of Miami Beach, with whatever the future still has to fight with. The scene is a fallen and evacuated city where nothing but aliens still live.
18 - Medron - Tomorrow War - Tomorrow War is a movie about a war in the future seen from the perspective of one guy sent forward from our time, ahead of schedule, on an emergency mission. The first scene we see is a fallen city, where the main char has to pull out some valuable intelligence. The second and third scenes are forward operating bases, where the future is obviously using old tech. It could have been reserve stuff they pulled out of mothballs, but as a world builder I would assume it is stuff sent forward from the past. Helicopters. Humvees. Stuff that can fit inside a soccer stadium. And stuff that is light enough to be sucked up into the wormhole. Assuming there is a weight limit there. We don’t see any future tech in these two scenes, which once again is a world building moment. The future simply doesn't have enough tech left to spend it in forward operating bases, no matter their importance.
19 - Medron - Arizona Audit - We’ve got some interesting preliminary results coming in on the Arizona Audit. The current standing is a 10,000 vote margin in favor of Biden. The audit has discovered that 168,000 ballots turned in are not printed on legal ballot paper. In addition, there are 4,000 votes by people who registered to vote AFTER the October 15 deadline. 11,000 votes by people who were not on the rolls on election day, but WERE on the rolls a month later. And there are 18,000 votes by people who were on the rolls on election day, but were removed soon thereafter. Finally, we have 74,000 mail-in ballots with no evidence that they were sent. Fact-check articles dispute this last number, but I distrust their language tag, so we’re going to have to look at those closely. Whatever the final report, these numbers are worrisome for people who demand free and fair elections.
20 - Medron - Tomorrow War - Tomorrow War is a movie about a war in the future where the future has lost and are hoping the past can help them. In the final scene of the movie, we see what appears to be the last holdout of humanity in the Bahamas. The last vestiges of their future tech are there, mostly hover drones that do a good job securing the perimeter. The flags of every surviving nation on Earth are there. And the main char talks to future soldiers there. We the audience learn that even they no longer hold out hope of survival. The world is lost, the young have certainly already been sent back, and those stuck in the future will die. There is nothing anyone can do about it. It is a sobering moment that underscores just how bad the future has been hammered. But there is actually one hope. Which is why the main char is there.
21 - Medron - Tomorrow War - Tomorrow War is a movie about a war in the future that has been lost. It is still being fought, but both the future and the past who are supporting them have long since realized there is no winning it. That continued fighting is just delaying the inevitable. But there is one hope. The future has been working on something that can kill the aliens. A poison. They have plenty of aliens to experiment on up there, and the future has been doing their experiments in what is probably one of the last major surviving cities on the planet. Miami Beach. Which is fallen when the main char arrives. His team is sent to retrieve the scientists and their research, and that data is the last hope the future has. They seek to finalize the research, send the data back to the past with the main char, and have the past mass produce the poison. For a last gasp Hail Mary plan, it’s not a bad one.
22 - Medron - Tomorrow War - Tomorrow War is a movie about an alien invasion in the future that asks for help from the past. And one of the most stupid parts in it that people do complain about is the main rifle they use. It basically fires colorful confetti at the aliens that has no penetrating power at all. It fires a small round, out of a short barrel, has a long stock, a dim spotlight, and basically does everything it can to look cool while being utterly useless. I could say that it is the perfect Hollywood gun, but that would be mean. The only worldbuilding reason I can see for why they use it, is it is all the future have left after the real weapons were destroyed in battle. I cannot see why the past would send people forward using that piece of crap. Now I’m used to Hollywood movies getting firearms totally wrong, so I don’t tend to rate movies by them. But it is disappointing to see it here.
23 - Medron - Tomorrow War - Tomorrow War’s third act is the weakest for a science fiction story. Is it a fun monster hunt? Yes. Did I enjoy watching it? Absolutely. Is it filled with more stupid than I can shake a VHS of Independence Day at? Oh yeah. Did Independence Day become a cult classic despite mind-numbing amounts of technical stupid? Yes it did. It is in fact one of my favorite movies of all time. I do not know where Tomorrow War will rate on my final metric. The pure and simple fact to me is that it is NOT a science fiction story. It is a monster hunting adventure movie with very light science fiction elements attached to it. It’s a fun movie. I enjoyed it. And the cast did an enjoyable job showing off their characters. The enjoyment I got out of it is worth the time I spent watching, and the time I’ve spent writing about it since.
24 - Charles - Confederation of Dixie - Mobile, Alabama was largely burned down during the riots of the Second Great Depression. Some of the major industrial facilities and the Port of Mobile survived thanks to their corporate security teams, and they provided temporary housing for their workers. Most of that housing was composed of international shipping containers, which the Port of Mobile had in numbers far greater than their needs. Individual containers could be turned into barracks-style housing for single men and women, or family-style housing. The port had recently received a shipment of one-piece sinks and toilets for one of the local prisons, and it was easy to install them in the shipping containers to give their workers all the necessities of home. Not necessarily the comforts thereof, but in times of death and danger, a good roof, a clean bed, and a working sink and toilet are sufficient unto the day.
25 - Charles - Confederation of Dixie - When the rioters burned down Mobile, it caused a refugee crisis that America had not seen in years. Many citizens visited family in the country, or otherwise found places to run to, but most had no recourse when their homes, neighborhoods, and jobs burned down around them. That left hundreds of thousands of new homeless, with no Federal emergency services left to swoop in and help. It was a humanitarian crisis writ large. The Port of Mobile donated entire shipments of tents and garden sheds, along with tens of thousands of empty international shipping containers to act as temporary housing for the relief effort. The shipping containers in particular would become the standard housing unit in the Mobile area for years to come. Everyone who lived through the Second Great Depression in Mobile spent time in a container house, and that forever changed the nature of housing in the area.
26 - Medron - He-Man - If you love 80s cartoons, you’ve heard that a new He-Man show was coming out. I saw the previews for it and was amazed. The art is spectacular. The chance to get to see He-Man and the Masters of the Universe fighting to save Eternia again for the first time in decades had me at first sight. Then someone leaked a plot that it wasn’t going to be about He-Man at all, but about Teela, and her search for He-Man after he and the Masters of the Universe are killed or defeated. The show creator went to social media to say that wasn’t true and that it really was about He-Man. And when it finally released, viewers reported that the leak was accurate. The fans had been lied to. They got outraged about the whole affair and complained. Only to be shouted at by new fans saying “how dare you not love this brave new subversion of that old crappy show?” Sigh… Nah Fam… not buying it…
27 - Medron - Nostalgia and Remakes - There is an art to making remakes that honor the original. Fans of the original want to see new stories, often but not always with the same characters. Sometimes they want to see the next generation, while the old characters sit in the background and encourage them. Most importantly, fans want to feel the same way they felt when they experienced the original. The most popular multimedia remakes use modern technology and methods to make better-looking stories that feel the same. Transformers has had dozens of major comics, games, TV, and movie remakes, and in every one, Optimus Prime is the kind and good leader of the Autobots, reluctant warriors who fight only when forced to. The story is different every time, but they are always true to the 1980s “Freedom is the right of all sentient beings” ideal that they were built on. The best parts of the old stories, the ones that make fans feel nostalgic for their younger days, are highlighted again for a new generation. These are popular and profitable reboots that unite fans and encourage companies to make more of them.
28 - Medron - Nostalgia and Remakes - Making remakes of popular properties can be difficult. What most fans want is a repeat of the original, only better. They often want bad things from the original fixed, but they often want the remake to fit close to the original. But many producers or directors want to put their own stamp on things. Maybe they don’t like the source material, or they want to subvert expectations by massively changing characters or stories in ways they consider fresh and brave. This is rarely popular with fans of the original work. Though this can garner new fans who never liked the original at all. And when fans of the original complain that the remake isn’t true to the source, the new fans publicly ridicule the old fans as “not real fans,” or as “toxic fans.” These bad feelings negatively impact the remake’s popularity and profitability, which is not good at all for anybody.
29 - Medron - Nostalgia and Remakes - Bringing this back around to the recent He-Man remake, Teela has always been one of the cornerstones of the Masters of the Universe. The Captain of the Guard of Castle Grey Skull, daughter of the Sorceress, possibly the daughter of Man-at-Arms, the wife of Prince Adam and mother of a new generation of Masters in some stories. Brave and loyal partner to He-Man across a thousand battlefields. Seeing her react to the death of He-Man and the defeat of the other Masters could have been the brilliant start of an amazing story. Instead they reinvented her into an angsty teenager with trust issues, who throws the world away because she is angry at everyone she grew up with. Add in some longing lesbian tension, and you have the standard modern Hollywood “brave subversion” of a popular heroic character. One that is a pale imitation of the Teela we knew. This is not a nostalgic remake.
30 - Medron - Nostalgia and Remakes - Some stories can arrive with a bang that resonates with everybody. Continuations or remakes of those stories sometimes they do well. Sometimes they do not. Many of the most popular stories have had many continuations or remakes. He-Man. GI Joe. Thundercats. Transformers. Star Trek. Star Wars. These have all had some good and some bad in their extended universes. It is especially hard for a creator to make a good continuation after a less popular one spoils interest. This generally involves getting back to the basics of what made the story popular to begin with. Maybe bring back an old villain or hero the fans know well, or create someone entirely new who putters around the outside of the original story. A well done example of this can rekindle the nostalgia that fans feel and bring a flagging story back into popularity again. Such efforts should be rewarded. I have spoken.
31 - Medron - Nostalgia and Jack - I write my own Jack of Harts stories because I am nostalgic for the stories of my youth. Back when the Big Damn Heroes stood tall and proud and fought for Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Or the Federation or the Rebel Alliance, or whatever. When the chips are down, they step forward and do something, rather than wallow in “whoa is me” angst. The world they come from is generally good, where we have generally built a world we would like to live in. It has room for improvement, but it is no dark dystopia. In short, I write stories about generally nice people defending a generally nice world from the people who would take that life away. With some snarky attitude, smart mouths, and quick wits of course. It is my way of trying to promote a positive view of the future, and what we could build in it. While making it fun for most people to read, no matter their background.