The Legend of Korra... Where is the story going? Part 2

Now at the cusp of the season finale, I will reveal and disscuss the three possibilities for Amon's identity, in the order of least likely to most likely, in my opinion.  Before I do that there is one more thing I have to say:  it is impossible for Aang to be Amon.  Period.  Why do I say this?  I say this because there are those that still proceed with this line of thinking, even though it goes against one of the most basic known facts in the Avatar world - there can only be one Avatar at a time.  Meaning, of course, Korra could not be the Avatar (and perhaps have never been born) if Aang was still alive.  Plus, it was stated in the very first episode that Aang was dead, and said by the person who knew Aang the best and was likely there when he died - his wife, Katara.  So, Aang is gone from the Avatar World... and that is a fact.

So, who is Amon? 

1)  Bumi, Aang's and Karata's second child. 

The reason most people jump onto this possibility is the fact that he was a non-bender, and being the son of the Avatar and the world's most powerful waterbender, he would have been resentful of  others that could bend.  While that might be an intersting story to tell, and could have been the direction the Legend of Korra could have taken, I believe this is not the case.  First, we know next to nothing about Bumi, other than he is the other son of Aang and Karata, and he was only mentioned once by Karata in the first episode.  Heck, unless you went to the Nick web site, you wouldn't even know is was a non-bender, because it has never been mentioned in the course of ten episodes.  So, if this is the big reveal, it would be a lame one indeed.  The only reason I mention it here is because Mike and Brian do have a track record of ass pulls in order to resolve plot points  The case I'm refering to is energybending itself.  In the course of 61 episodes, the possibility that you could alter the internal chi of a person to the point of removing their innate ability to bend the elements is never mentioned until the very last episode of the series, and that is moments before Aang uses it to remove Ozai's bending.  No hints, no suggestions, no foreshadowing.  Energybending is merely the Deux Ex Machina that convently lets Aang out of his moral dillema over whether to kill Ozai or not with a third option.

If Amon is Bumi, then it is just another lame twist in a similar vein.

2)  Yakone had another son.

As I state in part one, I was surprised that Tarrlok was not Amon.  The set up was perfect.  However, it appears that idea was just a deliberate red herring set up masterfully my Mike and Brian.  However, an interesting twist on this idea is that Yakone could have had not one, but two sons.  A possible set up could be that both came up with a plan of revenge for their father against Republic City.  A classic pincer move in which Amon would set up a crisis situation that would allow Tarrlok to use his possition in government to inact laws that would allow him to have more and more control over the citizens.  Together, then, they could rule Republic City with an iron fist, not from the underbelly, but from the legitamate halls of power.  Also, if Tarrlok and Amon are identical twins, that would explain why Amon wears a mask, with the cover story that he was burned as a child and thus scarred.  Also, important to remember that identical twins doesn't mean identical bending.  Therefore, Tarrlok could be a waterbender, while Amon could be a non-bender... or could be the one-in-a-trilion energybender. 

If this is the case, it could explain somethings.  First, it would explain why Korra recieved flashbacks when in the presence of both Amon and Tarrlok,  Aang was not only trying to warn Korra about Tarrlok, but Amon as well.  Second, it would explain why Tarrlok had access to so much Equialist equipment.  While it is possible that this stuff could have been evidence taken by the police, there would be too great of a risk of being found out if too much was taken.  Third, it makes Amon showing up at Tarrlok's "secret base" a whole lot more sense if they are working together.  Amon  learned that Korra was missing and also learned Tarrlok was involved,  Since they are working together, Amon would put two and two together and know were Tarrlok was keeping her.  It also explains Tarrlok's reaction to Amon's presnece - more along the lines of "what are you doing here?' and not 'how did you find this place?".

Finally, it may explain how Amon was able to resist Tarrlok's bloodbending - either Amon is also a powerful waterbender, or he has had alot of practice resisting Tarrlok's bending.  But why world
Amon attack Tarrlok?  Did Tarrlok go against Amon's wishes?  Did Amon think Tarrlok was going to betray him?  Was Amon planning all along to betray Tarrlok and was just looking for the right excuse?  Or did Amon believe his own hype and came to view Tarrlok as a threat?  All of them are interesting possibilites.

3) Amon is not a person, he is a dark ideal.

The idea behind this is that is not important who Amon is, but what he is.  Much in the same vein of the Combustion Man in the first series - that he was less of a character and more of a force of nature.  Thus, Amon is no one inparticular, and his true idenity is unimportnat to the story.  What is important is the ideal he represents, and it is a dark ideal.  The Avatar in all of its incarnations is the personification of the unity of the elements working harmony with nature and the spirit world.  Amon has been presented as the oppisite of that - a world not of unity of diverse peoples working and living in peace and tolerance - but a world of uniformaty, in which a unsettling "peace" is forced via removing differences and making everyone the same.  Amon then becomes the personification of a socialistic, facist ideal.  Where the True Avatar is a hero with many faces, Amon is the dark and faceless Avatar.  The carparisons to the communist revolution in China and the Equalist Movement are most apt.

It should be pointed out if this is the truth about Amon, it could set up interesting story ideas and moral ratifications to explore.  To get what I mean by this, you have to go back to the Promise, part 2, in particular the part where Ozai explains to Zuko that the Firelord, by virture of being the Firelord, is always right.  It is a very "might makes right" view of the world, and it nearly leads that world back into war.

So, from this could Mike and Brian try to explore the moral ratifications of energybending?  After all,  Aang's reason for removing both Ozai's and Yakone's bending was to make them no longer a threat to anyone.  Amon's reasons for doing so is similar, only on a much larger scale. Amon does want what the Avatar traditionally has always tried to maintain - peace - but what we find abhorrant are his methods.  However, if we accept the reasons why removing someone's bending is a good thing in Aang's case, how can we question the reasons why Amon removes bending in his case?  Does Aang's viture of being the Avatar make him right, regardless of what he does?  Since the Avatar is the most powerful being in the world, is its might the ultimate right?  Or does it reveal that despiite the best of intentions, the Avatar, regardless of its incarnation, in a flawed being that can make horrible mistakes that have equally horrible consequences for the world?

Very intersting questions to ponder as we go into the finale....

See you on the other side.

The Legend of Korra... Where is the story going? Part 1
I don't post too often on my journal, but when I do, it is usually related to Girl Genius somehow.  This time, however, I feel compeled to write about another favorate series of mine - Avatar: The Last Airbender... or more exactly, its sequel - The Legend of Korra. After today's episode, "Out of the Past", I feel Mike and Brian have left us with more questions than answers. That is not always a bad thing as far as storytelling goes, but it makes me question the direction it is now taking.  Let me explain,,,

I will not bore you with a run-down of episode nine.  What I will say is the events didn't turn out the way I had thought going in.  I, like many others, thought Yakone and Tarrlok were father and son, and events shown in Korra's visions would reveal the truth.  All well and good there, but I like a few others also thought that Tarrlok was also Amon - that Tarrlok had pulled a Palpatine.  Everything seemed too convenient for Tarrlok's rise in power for it not to be (or at least Amon and Tarrlok were working together to control Republic City - that may still have been the case but it wasn't made clear).  However, Amon showing up at the end of the episode blew that idea out of the water, to say the least.  So, now it appears we are back to square one concerning the identity of Amon.

Or are we?

Now that Tarrlok is eliminated as a possibility, perhaps we should start looking at some of the other, wilder, predictions?  But before I do that, we should start looking at some of the very few clues we do have.  First, let us start with Amon and what he has said about himself. 

In episode 3, "The Revelation", Amon gives us a few meger "facts" about himself.  According to him, when he was young, "his parents were killed by a firebender and severely burned him, forcing him to hide under a mask. For this reason, he developed a hatred toward benders that eventually led him to begin a group called Equalists. Their goal is to create a world of equality by taking away the bending abilities of the benders, so they will have no power over non-benders" (from the Avatar Wiki). Also according to Amon, he claims the spirits bestowed upon him the ability to take bending away from others.  However, how much, if any, of this is true is unknown.  The most interesting part of his story is his ability to take away bending. Tenzen assumes that this ability is energybending, although some in the fandom have speculated that what Amon may be doing is a very advanced form of chi blocking that takes away bending for what seems to be perminent, but will actually return in time (a very long time, some assume).  While I find that an interesting theory, the don't think it has much merit, if for no other reason than it takes way the horror of losing ones bending and the true evil of what Amon has done.

So, second, we must look today's episode to find more clues.  The more I think about it, the more I realize the whole thing with Tarrlok, Yakone and their ability to bloodbend without the full moon was in reality an elaborate foreshadowing for Amon's energy bending.  If we look at the trial shown to Korra in the visions, what ultimately condemned Yakone was Sokka's insight to realize that Yakone could do what was believed to be impossible because Sokka has known other benders that could do increadible things with their powers - either to discover abilities once unknown (like Toph discovering the secret to metalbending), or to be born with unique abilities no other bender possesses (like the Combustion Man's power to super-heat air at a pin-point, causing it to explode).  So what does this mean for Amon?  What it means it that Amon may be telling the truth about is gaining his ability "from the spirits", as it where.  Amon didn't learn his abilities, but was born with them - a one in a trilion chance.  Whether he knew he had the power to take away bending before or after the death of his parents and his scarring, we may never know, but it was the flash-point that started him on his dark quest and the justification for his cause.

If this is the case, there is an irony to be discussed here.  Before I do that, I want to discuss the morality of bending, both in general and in particular to bloodbending and energybending.

As revealed in today's episode, while bloodbending is said to be a rare ability, there is still a law in place banning its use (at least in Republic City).  May question is... why?  That may be a strange question to ask, but I as you to indulge me while I make my arguement.  From what we have seen of bloodbending, it is a very effective at taking down people, even knocking them out, but can do so without any perminent damage.  While bloodbending can be used to kill (as that is what I assume Yakone was attempting to do was to snap Aang's neck via bloodbending), mostly we have seen it used to incompacidate people to hold them or to move them or to get them to do something.  While being controled like a puppet is very disconcerting, the effects are not perminent and it is without lasting physical effects (or very few mental ones, as most of the people bloodbended in this episode recovered quickly).  The more "traditional" forms of bending are far more clumsy in that regard, as it would be a lot easier to really hurt or kill someone using them (how ironic it would be if that the firebending mugger that killed Mako's and Bolin's parents did so accidentally out of fear).

Now let us consider energybending for a moment.  From what we know about it comes from two sources.  First is from the Lion Turtle from the series finalie of Avatar: The Last Airbender.  Here is what he said:  "In the era before the Avatar, we bent not the elements, but the energy within ourselves ...To bend another's energy, your own spirit must be unbendable. Or you will be corrupted, and destroyed...".  So, engerybending somehow allows the user to alter the energy of another person, but not without risk.  The second source is Aang and his use of the power.  In both cases we have seen, he has removed the power of bending  from two people - Ozai and Yakone.  However, the Lion Turtle's description suggests that the power could be used for so much more, but the only examples we have seen have done harm - serious harm - without doing any long-term good.  Aang removed Ozai's firebending so he would no longer be a threat to the world... however being kept alive and under arrest allowed him to have a negative influence his son, Zuko, and, as of part 2 of The Promise, the world at the cusp of war.  In Yakone case, he had a son five years after loosing his bending, and  that boy grew up to be the man to nearly put Republic City under a police state.  In other words, removing bending didn't solve the problems that it was assumed it would, but likely made things worse.   Therefore, the arguemnt that removing ones bending is a better option loses traction, and the idea that using energybending is justified because it removes the potiential theat is blown out of the water.  Combine that with the fact that Amon uses his bending on innocent men (see Lin's metalbenders as a referance) and not just criminals and jerks, with the justification that he is making the world a better and more equiable place, the strains the morality of energybending to its breaking point.

So what does this all have to do with Amon's true identity?  I have three possibilies... but I will save the exploration of them for part 2.

Why I was banned from girlgenius_lab forum.

The following is a response to a post by kshandra (here:
I felt it best to respond to it in my own journal than post it on girlgeniuscomics.  

Thank you for your indulgence. 

Let's be accurate here, I am not suspended from the girlgenius_lab forum.  I am banned for life.  I was in a very bad place at the time, and I did use foul launguage that was very rude and uncalled for.  While I understand and accept that, it still should be understood that I will NEVER be allowed to come back - "good behavior" non-withstanding.  I wasn't sent to "jail" with the chance of returning as a productive member; I was exiled to the wilderness to "die" for my crimes against the stasis quo and the "approved" train of thought.  I have accepted my fate, and I have moved on. 

Originally, I was suspended from adding new posts pertaining to updated pages of the comic.  This was because of a spoiler faux pas on my part - a completely fair and justifiable reason to suspend my privliges.  I was informed that if there were no other instances of "bad behavior", my posting privliges would be restored.  So, I was good - I didn't set new posts on new pages, and I kept any disagreements with other members "low-key" - in other words, I didn't point out obvious failings logic and facts in order to "make nice" and not draw attention to myself. After nearly a year of suspention, I realized that I had been fooled. My suspention would never be lifted because certain members of the forum (who had the admins' ear) had gotten what they wanted - a gagged MidnightChemist - one that could never debate their ideas, and therefore would allow their personal theories to go unchallenged.  I attempted to appeal to the admins of girlgenius_lab to no avail - they didn't want to be fair, they wanted me silenced.

Frustrated with this situation, tried to make the best of things, but on August 4, 2011 events in my personal life brought things to an ugly head.  While much of what I wrote I still feel is vaild, the tone and foul words used were not.  I am still very much ashamed that it happened, but unfortuately I cannot take it back.  Soon after, I was removed as an active member of the forum.  That ban continues to this day, and as far as I know, will continue unending.

Please understand - I am not trying to play the victim here - I merely wish to tell my side of events.  I also wish to state I do not blame the Foglios or Ms. Bentley for my "banned for life" stasis from girlgenius_lab.  They had, and still have, no control of decisions made there.  As unforturate as things were, and still are, with the whole situation, they were due to the internal politics of the girlgenius_lab forum.  I hope the Foglios and Ms. Bentley will be more open and fair, whatever they decide concerning their forum.

An Open Letter to Kaja Foglio

Dear Kaja,

 I first want to say I'm sorry for the words I wrote recently. Using the F-word against you, Phil, and the fans on the forums was uncalled for, and I regret writing them. I was (and still am) angry and frustrated by events in my personal life. However, I am also frustrated by the course of the story in Girl Genius. Pacing is really only one issue I have. My biggest beef is the development of Gil's character. 

 To be frank, I really like Gil, but I don't think either you or Phil do. When asked by fans who are your favorite characters, you often site Tarvek... and it shows. So far, Tarvek has not suffered any repercussions of his actions (and I doubt he will), and you always make him look good regardless of what he is doing to the point Agatha is completely blind to him. Gil, on the other hand, is always made to look either foolish, bad, or just downright evil in front of Agatha. Based on what I read in the first novel concerning the visions of "future Gil" and recent pages, I've come to the conclusion (and something I have feared would happen) you are gearing up for Gil to become Klaus, v. 2.0. Personally, I don't want to watch that as it will be the most painful thing to watch. This doesn't mean that I think characters should not develop, but they shouldn't go from being likeable characters to unlikable characters when it is not needed. If you want a character that was once a hero, then fell, only to find redemption, you already have Klaus. Why do you need Gil to go though the same thing (assuming he actually finds redemption, and not in a contrived way), especially when it will betray the trust you have built up in, well, at least some of your fans? Or perhaps just me, as most on the forum are overjoyed by the fact that Gil was evil after all and is finally showing his true colors. After all, Tarvek is the real hero!

 I guess I just have to face the fact that I've been fooled. At first, I thought you were going for the "will they, won't they" trope with Agatha and Gil, with the last minute hook up. However, I think it is clear now they you have no intention of pairing them together, and never had. You wanted to subvert conventions, and I think you have done it. To me, I feel like I have been punched in the gut, and all I hear is everyone's laughter around me, especially yours. 

 Is Girl Genius just a story? Of course it is, but it is also a form of escape (better than drugs or alcohol). My life has been filled frustration and disappointment, both in my career and in my personal life. I am facing continuing failing health, to the point I think I will have a much shorter life than I would have liked; and I have no husband or children, and I'll likely never will. I'm not expecting anyone to solve my problems for me, but for a long while, reading Girl Genius helped me deal with a lot of pain and depression in my life. It was the pick me up that brightened a tough day (or week... or month). I actually looked forward to page updates. Within the past year, however, I have received new pages with dread than joy. It is not a good thing when one of the few things in life that made you happy now just brings anger, frustration, and emotional pain.

 This is not to say that other writers have not disappointed me as well. You and Phil are not the first, and I doubt you will be the last. However, I had high hopes you would be different. I guess I was wrong to put so much faith in you. I will just have to add Girl Genius on the pile of my dashed hopes. It will have a lot of company there.



Further Explaination is needed....
First off, I would like to say I'm very surprised by the number of people who actually responded to my post.  I'm warmed a little by the words of sympathy for my situation, however, they seem tinged with cruel assumptions of entitlement, or even questions about by sanity.  As I have relearned most recently, you really can't rely on the good will of others.  The past 24 hours has re-enforced that.

Was my tone harsh?  Yes. Do I regret anything I said?  No.  Everything I said was the truth about my life and how I have felt about the course Girl Genius has taken.  I firmly believe that the story has been in a rut for about the last two years, and I don't think we are getting out of it anytime soon.  Personally, the excitment I once had waiting for new pages to update has waned considerably to the point now I really don't care if they update at all.  That is why I don't comment as much as I used to.  Sometimes I have to work hard to find anything interesting to comment on.  I can surely say the magic of Girl Genius is gone, for me at least.

Do I believe that the Foglios owe me, or anyone for that matter, anything?  No, absolutely not.  On that same token, I don't owe the Foglios anything either.  As it is their choice to write their story as they please. however, it is my choice to decide if it is even worth my time to read, and worth my money to buy anything from them.  As I learned at the WSX this year, only 3% of the people who read the comic online actually buy anything from Studio Foglio.  With margins that low, I don't think it is wise to disillusion the paying customers.  But that is the Foglio's choice to make.

Another concern of mine is that I'm worried that I will not live to see the end of the comic at this rate.  If we are over 10 years into the comic and only 1/3 of the way though the story, that means at least another 20 years to complete it.  I will be into my sixties by then.  While that doesn't seem too bad, it must come with the understanding that I am in poor health, and and it has become considerabily worse in the past year.  While I don't wish to go into detail about my medical history, I will state I suffer from a condition identical to what my father had and he died in his sixties as well.  So, I have to ask, why would I bother to emotionally involve myself in a comic I may never see the conclusion?  It would just be a cruel ending to a wasted life.
One last thing,.... at the WSX this year, Kaja said something interesting that relates to what I have been saying - she said that she was sorry that the story was taking so long to tell.  I didn't think much of it at the time, but the past 24 hours has got me thinking - I think the Fogios have spread themselves too thin, so to speak.  Since they started writing the novels, the current story has suffered, I think.  Doing too much at once can put a drain on one's creativity, and I think it has shown in the Foglio's work, which I think is a shame, but there isn't anything I can do about that.  We all make choices in life and accept what happens in the aftermath.  For me, I chose not to involve myself any longer with Girl Genius.  It is not worth the effort anymore.

I hate the world and everyone in it.

Since other people have posted things regarding their lives here, I wish to share some news.  But first, I wish to explain the course that my life has taken.

I have worked very hard for the past 20 years in both my education and my experience on the job to become very good at what I do.  Like my online name suggests, I am a chemist and I have done mostly quality control, bench chemistry with some research experience.  Sadly, however due to continuously failing economies and just bad business practices, I have not had a job that as lasted more than 3 years.  Most of the time, my period of employment at any one job could be measured in months, if not just weeks.  Some jobs were contract work with no promise of renewal.  Some where part-time jobs I took to pay the bills.  All the while, after everytime I was out of work and job hunting yet again, I would tell myself my big break was just around the corner.  I just had to keep working hard and be patient.

On July 11, 2011, I begain a new job that was an answer to a lot of prayers.  After two months of interviews and lots of stress, I was hired on as a Quality Control Coordinator for Tembec in Toledo, Ohio.  It was a dream job - great pay, excellent working conditions, and great people to work with... and then it all went to shit.

Today, August 4, 2011, I was called into the payroll manager's office to be informed that my employment was being terminated - not because of my work performance and not due to money reasons - but due to the fact someone at the corporate head office thought that this branch of the company had too many people working for it.  Seriously.

To say I'm royally pissed doesn't even begin to cover my feelings at this moment.... but you know what, that is not the only thing that has pissed me off lately.

All I have to say to the Foglios is this - if you are serious about getting through your epic tale of one Agatha Heterodyne, Girl Genius, then please do us all a favor and either take a shit or get off the pot!  Seriously!

I have been a fan of Girl Genius since the time it was only on dead trees - over ten years ago.  Quite frankly, and I have been thinking this for a while now, this story is going nowhere, and nowhere fast.  How long have we been in Castle Heterodyne?  More importantly, how much longer are we going to be here?  At this rate, it will be way past volume 20 before we ever see anything outside Mechanicsburg.  

And what of the love triangle between Agatha, Gil and Tarvek?  Will that ever amount to anything? And if it does, will the resolution (if there even is one) be worth the years of drama building up to it?  Somehow, I don't think so.  When it comes to romance, the Foglios think frustration is funny.  Frankly, I'm not laughing.... not any more.

If the Foglios were serious about finishing this story in a reasonable amount of time (instead of the next 20 years since we are only a third of the way though), they could do one simple thing - get more people to help you instead of doing all the heavy lifting themselves. Seriously!

Think about it.  The Foglios had a guest colorist when Chyenne was in the hospital, so why not give him a break now and again?  And as much as I love Phil's artwork, what would be wrong with giving someone else a chance?  It is not a mater of money.  How many student artists would just jump at the chance to put "Assistant something-or-other of a Successful Webcomic" on their resume, even if they never make a dime off of it?  To me, the story is the most important thing.  Getting it done as soon as possible should be the Foglios goal, not dragging it out and boring everyone in the process.  When your story moves at a glacial pace, you are going to lose readers over time. Right now, you have already lost one.

I'm tired.  Tired of working hard with nothing to show for it.  Tired of everyone in the world treating me like I'm a doormat no matter how much I stick up for myself.  Most of all, I'm tired of being dicked around by the Foglios.  Like hell they have a plan.

For anyone out there that is thinking of responding to this - Fuck you.  Fuck the Foglios... Fuck you all.


Your Questions Answered.... Finally.

You had questions, the Foglios had answers!


Sorry for the delay of all of this, but after I returned from the World Steam Expo, life became busier than normal. I have a lot to talk about - not just the questions you wanted answered. However, lets make that the first thing.

Headnoises asked about guest characters based on people they know. Other than Master Payne and the Countess (who are based on their children's god parents) and the obvious avatars for Phil and Kaja, the answer is no.

Geekhyena asked: What happened to Tarvek's mom? Did she die when Tarvek was a kid? Did Aaronev put her in the summoning engine? The answer to all these questions is.... a big secret. Try as I might, I couldn't get the Foglios to give me a clue as to what the answers might be. I even asked if Phil would draw a picture of Tarvek's Mom. He hemmed and hawed about this, and then finally said that if someone really wanted a picture of Tarvek's Mom, they would likely just get a nice pic of Agatha (not that they were suggesting that Agatha IS Tarvek's mother). Throughout the conversation we had on this subject, they were trying to suggest that the identity of Tarvek's mother is not really important to the story. However, if that is the case, why is it all a big secret?

Geekhyena also asked about other female Jaegers. At this point, that is unknown, even to the Foglios. More may turn up as the story progresses, if there is a need or want for them in the plot... or not. Theo and Sleipnir eloped, and as for her arranged marriage, the Foglios don't consider it a huge plot point. As for Higgs, his identity, his age, his relationship to the Jaegers, the Heterodynes and anything else about him - the Foglios are not saying. We will learn everything about Higgs sometime between now and the end of the story. In other words, "soon".

Murgatroy666 asked: Since the Professors started publishing the comic, have they made any significant changes to either the plot or the characters? (For example, it's widely believed that Theo originally was intended to be "doomed" ... If so, at what point did they change their minds?) Have they had any brainstorms about neat things to add that weren't in their original plans? Have they had any "Oops!" moments when they've had to revise the plot because they realized something wouldn't work? The short answer to these questions is yes. For the longer, more complete answer, you have to understand that the Foglios have been working on the premise of Girl Genius for seven to eight years prior to the first comic being published. So, a lot of ideas were bounced around for a long time and the story went though a lot of changes. For example, the original setting for the story was in the near future, however, based on Phil's drawings of airships and Kaja's love of things in the Victorian Age, they changed it to what is now considered "Steampunk" - although Kaja would consider it more of a "gas-lamp fantasy" (a term she coined) as there are no punks in Girl Genius. Also, considering Theo's stay of doom, many more of the students were supposed to die when Castle Wulfenbach was under attack by the Hive Engine - Sleipnir was one mentioned, and Klaus and Othar were at one time doing to die during this time as well. As to when they changed their minds considering the fates of the characters or the overall plot, that is really hard to say. All in all, it is just a part of the natural evolution of storytelling. The important thing to remember is that the Foglios have an overall plan for the story and certain milestones they know they need to reach along the way. The details of the story lie in how to get the plot and the characters from one milestone to another. This gives the story a framework to work with, while still allowing for creative freedom. 

Kaja did mention one "oops" moment, and it concerns Dr. Sun's granddaughter. Apparently, in the novel, she was given one name, and then later she was given another name because they forgot they had already named the character (I haven't had time to check this, but I think one of the names was Ming). Instead of fixing this in later editions of the novel, they decided to make one character two - so, Dr. Sun now has identical twin granddaughters. 

To what extent is Othar's Twitter narrative canon? Did he "really" meet Tarvek in an alternate future in which Europa had been devastated? The answer Phil gave is, "Sure, why not?". In other words, yes.

Are Skiff and Geisterspeak the same language? If so, did they bother to compile a dictionary, as fans have attempted to do? The answer to both of these questions is no. Kaja did mention that she knows what the ghost ladies are saying and what is being said in Skiff when it is spoken, but there is no direct translation. So everyone that is trying to compile a dictionary, stop. You are just wasting your time.

Is it significant that the Assistant has not been named in the narrative? No.

When are we going to learn Higgs' backstory? (Other than "Real Soon Now" ...) See the above answers concerning Higgs. He is just one of those characters that is just going to remain a mystery for the time being.

Without giving anything away, can they tell us what parts of the GG universe our characters won't visit in the course of the story? (E.g., the Americas, Britain, India, Mars ...) We will not be seeing the Americas. However, we will be seeing Paris and Britain for sure. More about that in another post...

Vanamonde is a cool name. Do the Professors know of any other Vanamondes than the ones in Girl Genius and The City and the Stars? Good catch! That novel is exactly were they got the name from.

Beth Leonard asked: How are the Agatha H. book sales going? And what ever happened to Phil's blog where he promised to tell us what was going on with the publishing world and why they made the changes to the book that they did? Book sales are doing very, very well. As for the blog, he has been too busy to work on it. However, to answer your question as to why they made the changes they did, the Foglios did say that the novels allowed for more elaboration about the characters and the world. They also offered the one example to changing Agatha's roommate aboard the Castle Wulfenbach form Sleipnir to Zulenna stating the change fit better from a narrative standpoint. As a side note, they also added that Zulenna will be back. Can't keep a good princess down, now can you?

As for more info on the novels, the soft cover for the first book will be out in August. The second novel will likely be out either November or December. More info on that in another post as well...

SFF Corgi asked: Ask about the Girl Genius RPG from Steve Jackson Games. We haven't had an update for a long time. Kaja feels very badly about this, but the Girl Genius RPG was put on the back burner a long time ago, and it doesn't look like it will get off it anytime soon. This is really a disappointment for the Foglios because they stated that now would be a good time to release it, but they don't have anything even close to being publish-worthy. Kaja did mention that she spoke to Steve Jackson lately, and he is not happy about the situation. As for the fate of the RPG? That is up in the air right now. It is something they would like to finish, but they don't know when they will find the time to do so.


That is all for the questions you asked. Stay tuned, however, because I will be back with even more info on Girl Genius I gathered from the World Steam Expo. See you next time!






This is to inform all of my friends (and anyone else who cares)...
... that I have been temporarily restricted from posting new page discussions on the girlgenius _lab community (aka Agatha's Minions' Journal).  I am not at liberty to discuss exactly why this restriction is in place, for fear that this will cause the restriction to become permanent.  However, I wanted to inform my friends of my absence in case there may be those who think I left the forum out of anger, resentment, or frustration. 

I wish to tell everyone that I have truly enjoyed my time on the forum - the discussions, the humor, and even the arguments.  I have always believed that the Girl Genius Fandom is the smartest one on the 'net, which is why I have found being part of the community so great.

While I have never, ever, taken any insult to me to heart (I'm a "roll off a duck's back" kinda girl), it would be dishonest of me not to admit that I am a bit hurt and saddened by the restriction.  I wish that is hadn't come to this extreme, but I'm glad that the restriction is not permanent, and I hope that I will have full privileges resorted soon. 

Until such a time, I will let you all know I will be lurking around, and I may even post some thoughts to my own journal, so please watch for them.  I assure all that they will be respectful as well as insightful.

If you have any questions, please feel free to PM me.  Anything you say will be held in the strictest confidence.

Until next, my friends, remember... Stay Calm and Blame Tarvek!

Happy Birthday, Cheyenne!
I hope your upcoming birthday is filled with much joy and celebration.

My Thoughts on the Girl Genius Novel

If you haven’t read my last post on the Novelization of Girl Genius, I recommend doing so, as I will be referring to the summery I wrote there.

 Overall, my impression of the novel was very positive.  It was great to revisit the story in this way.  In many ways, it was like hearing it for the first time, regardless how both the situations and the characters have become so familiar over the years.  I’m really looking forward to picking up my copy next Spring.

 The best part of this, however, has to be the prologue.  Finally some new information about The Other and the Heterodyne Boys – especially the later considering that almost all information we have about them up to this point has been either inaccurate stories or mere hearsay.  It was cool to see them work together, in particular the fact that when they Heterodyne, they do so in harmony (something I forgot to mention in my last post).

 The most interesting information, I believe, is what we learn about The Other.  It is not much information, but I believe it is important.  One thing I found interesting is the way The Other attacks - it strikes reminiscent of how the Bugs attacked Earth’s cities in Heinlein’s Starship Troopers.  Also, the text seemed to suggest that the attacks were “other-worldly” in origin, like from Mars, but I have to wonder if this is just a distraction.  After all, how hard would it be for a powerful Spark to rocket boulders and hive engines to a high altitude and, with a precisely calculated degrading orbit, have them land on target to decimate entire towns?  At least, that is one possibility.

 It is also important to point out the difference of the attack described in the prologue to the attack on Castle Heterodyne that Carson described to Agatha.  While Castle Heterodyne was nearly completely destroyed, the town of Mechnicsburg was unharmed.  While this may have become more obvious in the comic recently, I see this as more evidence that the attack on the Castle was not an attack at all, but a lab experiment that went very, very wrong.  Thus, Lucrezia had to destroy her notes and servants, and escape, being then forced to put her ultimate plan for conquest into action before everything was ready (like perfecting the Revenants).

 One last thing I would like to point out might be significant, or it might not.   Let me explain:  you’ll notice in the prologue it was stated that it had been three years since the attack on Castle Heterodyne and Lucrezia’s “kidnapping”.  However, the events in the prologue are supposed to be 18 years prior to the beginning of the first chapter.  This raises some problems.  Either Agatha is older than she thinks she is, or Bill Heterodyne is not her father (or it could be something involving the time windows, which is my default theory whenever something doesn’t make sense).  All of this may not be an issue because I received an e-mail from someone who was able to read a first draft of the story in which it was three months, not three years, since The Other’s first attack on Castle Heterodyne.  This would make more sense.  This may just be a case of waiting for the book next Spring in order to find out what makes it into the final draft.

 Finally, I would like to close this post responding in more detail to some comments made to my last post.  Some were obviously upset by the novelization of Girl Genius because this appears to put the once promised Girl Genius GURPS Sourcebook not just on the back burner, but completely off the stove.  For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, the GURPS sourcebook was a project that Kaja was working on in coordination with Steve Jackson Games.  This was before Girl Genius became a web comic, and fans only had the yahoo group.  Kaja would make a post once and a while on how the sourcebook was coming and how it would be out “soon”.  As months passed, we heard less and less about it to the point it was never mentioned again.  By that time, the fandom was up in arms about the conversion from traditional, single issue comics to the web comic, so over time the sourcebook was never spoken of again. 

 What the sourcebook might have been, from how it was billed, was something akin to a Girl Genius Encyclopedia – information on the people, places, history, and technology of this fantastic world.  That being the case, I can understand the disappointment that some feel at this point, but I think this all needs to be put in proper perspective.  Some of these points I have made before in my replies, but they bear repeating, as well as expanding on.

 First, I think the main reason that the sourcebook was not published was because, by its promised nature, would have been very spoilerish.  It is possible to believe that if it truly was going to be a type of encyclopedia, then in order to be truly comprehensive, it would have to include information that the Foglios would not want revealed just yet.  Another possibility is that, in some ways, the World of Girl Genius continues to evolve.  While the Foglios have an idea of the beginning, middle, and end of this story, the details that connect these are under their creative flow and change.  Therefore, it would be unwise to commit to print something that might need to change for the sake of plot development.  In any case, it appears it was a doomed project from the start.

 Second, it is important to also point out that the Foglios were not alone in this project.  Steve Jackson Games had their stake in this as well, since they were to be the ones to publish the sourcebook.  Thus, they could have been the ones to pull the plug on the sourcebook if they thought the Foglios were taking to long in writing it, or perhaps there was no indication that a Girl Genius Sourcebook would even sell.  Remember, the sourcebook was proposed around 8 years ago when Girl Genius was still building a fan base, and streampunk was nowhere near as popular as it is now.

 Third, while I enjoy comics and RPGs, even I have to admit they are a niche market.   Novels, on the other hand, if marketed right, can appeal to a wide array of different people – not just those with a like of steampunk or science fiction, in this case.  Plus, novels don’t have the sigma that comics have of being for geeks and nerds.  With the success of novel series like Harry Potter, and, yes, even Twilight, reading novels has become cool.  So, the move that the Foglios have made to novelize their story is a sound one, especially when you consider the rise in popularity of steampunk in the mainstream.   I think a series of Girl Genius novels could be the next “Harry Potter”, but I would like to save the discussion of the future of Girl Genius for another post.


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