1 Mar 2018

Mecha Academy Episode 1 Chapter 1 Commentary

Welcome to the KL Terin Military Academy.  Shall we try to get along?

This chapter must look familiar, having been posted once before.  I've gone through, cleaned it up a bit, fixed some grammar, and polished it.  This is the soonest a work has gone from NaNo to serial; the others have sat for some time.  There is a reason; dba LTV Paranormalists is still in editing.  Mecha Academy is more linear in its narrative, at least for now.  Paranormalists began with flashbacks, so straightening it out will be interesting.

I've addressed a few things about the chapter already, so let's get into the genesis of the story.  The original idea came out of the life path system in Mekton Zeta, an RPG based on mecha anime.  Dusty was the first character concept to form; the life path included such elements as how well the character gets along with parents and does the character have an enemy.  With Dusty, the answers are not well and yes.  From there Rhiannon, then the shared moment in their pasts.

The rest of the cast built up from there.  Ric, originally Rick but he insisted on the change, was going to be the ace mecha pilot.  Lars is the big guy.  Miyami started as the cute one, not quite the mascot but the mascot.  Her role is changing, though - she surprised me with a few details about herself that she insisted on.  Each of the main cast has an area where they excel, which will be seen in coming chapters.  Like Unruly, this isn't meant to be a coming of age story.  Plot will happen, character driven, though not always by the lead cast.

Despite being almost space opera with unusual technology, I did do some research.  Not necessarily on the mecha, though I did figure out details of that as well.  No, I researched military academies and found a treasure trove with the Royal Military College in Kingston, ON.  I already had decided that the rank system would be based on that use by the Canadian Armed Forces, so it wasn't that big a step to see how RMC did things.  However, I did put my own twist on events.  What training is shown in Mecha Academy is loosely based on what I found; all mistakes are mine.  The research found something extra; which goes to show that checking things out online can lead to more ideas than just looking up something in a book.  RMC included a look at life there, including the daily routine.  This additional info meant expanding what I already knew about the characters.

One of my pet peeves is science fiction that doesn't take advantage of being science fiction.  Some of it from pragmatism, but sometimes, a few small changes make the difference.  One of my very few quibbles with the new Battlestar Galactica was the use of firearms.  I wanted something different, not necessarily lasers, but something not mundane.  So, when I have a choice, I'll add in something that says "space opera!"  The Centurion mecha won't be the only SF item.  The Thorensen's van and the Academy's bus don't have wheels; they has fans, sort of like a hovercraft but smaller and more efficient.  Other tweaks will be pointed out as they come up.  However, even with the near-magical technology, some things don't change.  Public address systems in large public areas will be unintelligible.  Passengers will have to pick up luggage.

I tried not to tie the setting to a specific game system.  Problem is, both Mekton Zeta and Traveller are fairly generic.  Both come with implied settings - Mekton has Algol and Traveller has the Third Imperium - but players aren't obligated to use them.  While working out Tamar, I couldn't help but try to figure out what sort of starport the planet has, what sort of atmosphere and hydrographics there are, and how big is the population, all because of how long I've been playing Traveller.  But, I needed that info.  The goal, then, was to not give the planet's details a number.  Instead, the world is an agricultural colony of the Empire.  Even that raises questions, such as, what is the Empire and what makes a world a colony?  I wound up doing some world building on the fly, though not to the extensive degree as The Elf's Prisoner.

The cliffhanger for Chapter 1 was obvious to me after I introduced Rhiannon.  There will be other conflicts, but the one between Rhiannon and Dusty will carry things until the others show up.  Miyami has her own storyline going on, which needs a little more attention.  The guys, well, they'll see soon enough.

Friday, Mecha Academy, "Roomates" Chapter 2, "Ghosts of History".
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, The Pragmatic Adaptation.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, on /Reboot: The Guardian Code/.

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