See more articles, reviews, fiction and poetry, including more of my writings, at group blog PLUTO'S REALM.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Clear Your Head: Witchblade and Cassandra Kressnov

For the last couple of weeks, I've had the strong impression that my job,at which I spend most of my waking hours is quite a brittle situation. Brittle on both ends; I think at one point they liked me a lot, and now don't know what to make of me. Brittle on my end, because a lot of the work I've done is being credited to other people. Now this or any job is not something I put a lot of ego into, except for some pride in being good at what I do, no matter how mundane or meaningless that activity is. But when I say "credited" I mean "paid", and my income has gone into the red for the first time in quite a while, so something's gotta give (to quote Johnny Mercer via Frank Sinatra).

So. Sometimes you have to wait for things to fall into place. Everything else in my life is going well now, as opposed to last month, and I have, as I intimated in the last post, a feeling that change is coming. I said "something good" but I'm not sure that's the right word. "Powerful" maybe.

But until that happens, I have to just face into the wind, do what needs to be done, and be patient. But I do have meaningful activity every night of the week; with other workout options gone I've had to get more serious about yoga (which I'll never be good at, but in this, more even than most activities, it's all relative), plus the Zen stuff finally taking off (though if if I don't get this Jukkai ceremony set up soon I'm gonna kill something), plus I've finally solved the omnivore's dilemma (more later on that).

So with forty hours of dead zone behind me and forty more to come, what do I do? Witchblade!

Actually, I just finished two really, really good SF series this weekend; the Witchblade anime, above, and Joel Shepherd's Cassandra Kressnov trilogy of novels (which I do hope turns into a longer series at some point; actually I'm thirty pages from the end but I don't see him killing off these amazing characters).

Witchblade, as you can tell from above, has great visuals. Most of you probably recognize the name, I hope. Witchblade is a long-running and very popular series from Top Cow comics. The witchblade itself is an enigmatic entity that is very, very old and attaches itself to one female wearer at a time; it grants immeasurable power, but its desires and motives are its own. The featured wearer in the comics was one Sara Pezzini, a NYC cop (also featured in the short-lived and well-done if underbudgeted TNT TV series, which ended when star Yancy Butler went to rehab and the series was cancelled). The anime series is set in Tokyo in the near future -- the next wearer, I suppose. The series is powerful not just because of the witchblade, but because its makers go into great human depth; the driving force behind the series is the relationship between the witchblade's bearer, Masane Amaha, and her young daughter. I won't give you any spoilers; you should watch this one. It has everything, including a good dose of humor.

As to SF novels, all the books I like these days are the godchildren of William Gibson. Shepherd's Cassandra Kressnov is an artificial human who is created too complicated to just follow her programming and joins the opposition; her well-written development takes place through the novels Crossover, Breakaway and Killswitch. Shepherd is a young author; he appears to be about 33 at the time he finished this series, and you can watch him evolve as you read the three books, his first published. Much like the works of Richard K. Morgan, when he starts writing in the first book, his ideas are better than his writing, but it all catches up (as also in Morgan's case) by the end of the series, and Killswitch is just excellent. The only thing that bothers me is that all of these new writers are obviously angling at movies; whereas in say, Gibson's case, the novel is the ultimate expression of the work (which is probably why Neuromancer has never become a movie, why Red Rose Hotel was such a lousy film, and I have mixed feelings about Johnny Mnemonic).

Anyway, this stuff is how I clear my head. Good Zen, good food, good anime, good books, and a weekend thankfully devoid of human voices, as much as possible. Now it's time to gird my loins, as they say (which sounds really painful).

But I have to leave you with my favorite quote from Killswitch. Kressnov, a sophisiticated artificial human who's been considerably refined by contact with humanity and real-world experience confronts Jane, a stone killer of an artificial human running on tape learning and blind loyalty. Jane is mocking Cassandra for what she considers her humanistic pretentions and says, "Happiness is accepting your true nature."

I really can't find anything wrong with that. So if your true nature is to be a killer android, be the best killer android you can be. And survive for forty more hours.

I'll let you make your own links on this one. Surely if you've gotten to this point you can Google just as well as I can. Or not. And no, I didn't make that AMV video; click on it to follow the link to YouTube and its rightful owner.

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