25 May 2017

The Soul Blade Chapter 34 - Commentary

Brenna's cousins arrive, in The Soul Blade Chapter 34.

There's a callback to the start of the story, where Brenna returned from an out-of-town convention.  She's starting to make her doll clothes.  This bit came about after seeing ball-jointed dolls at anime conventions.  After a bit of research, I discovered that the dolls come in standard scales, thus Brenna could easily start designing her own line of doll clothes for them.  That catch is that while the scales - 1:6, 1:8, and all - are standardized, the features aren't.  Two dolls the same scale could have different hip and bust measurements.  Brenna could make some generic clothes, like robes, t-shirts, and jeans, to sell and also take commissions based on the measurements of a specific doll.  Those measurements mean that she could create a new size for her standard line.  Brenna could get into the fashion industry after all!

Officer Cruz's departure was abrupt on purpose.  The reason is Tricia and her actions in Chapter 33.  While she probably should have stayed, that wasn't her call.  A decision was made higher up to get all available officers out on the street looking for Tricia.  Killing police officers tends to attract attention.

Everyone has arrived!  Now to set up the grande finale!  Dawn is Joni's sister and Brenna's aunt.  Dawn and her daughters are also sensitives, like Brenna.  Grace isn't sensitive, but she still has her own abilities.  In another setting that goes into details about psychic and psionic abilities, Grace would be classified as a psi-null, a person who tends to negate psychic abilities.  However, The Soul Blade isn't that type of setting, so the girls don't have a ready term for Grace's lack of sensitivity.

Since the names come fast and furious in this chapter, here are Brenna's cousins once again.  Summer, the middle child, should be familiar, having provided details to Brenna previously.  Raven, or Rae as she prefers, is the youngest, and is an empath still in high school.  Aurora, who goes by Rory for the most part and is called Aura by Brenna, is the oldest, close to Brenna's age.  Summer and Aurora's abilities haven't been revealed.  Rae's did get mentioned, though the girls treat it as a known factor amongst themselves.

Late night traffic through L.A. was interesting to add.  Knowing everyone would be driving, I had to factor in what they'd go through to travel the length of California.  Having been in L.A. very briefly for a Battlestar Galactica convention, I was able to get some details.  The freeway traffic at 2am reminded me of mid-afternoon traffic on the Queensway locally.  The road surface was rougher than the Queensway as well, though not as bad as Autoroute 5 in Gatineau.  There are high-occupancy lanes, and the speed limit is honoured in the breach.  Aura should have stopped at a motel, really.

Dawn and Keith's friction is coming from having to spend time with each other after having raised a family.  Where the girls took up much of their time and gave them something in common, they're now discovering that they've drifted apart a bit.  They'll need to sit down and talk and get to know each other all over again.  However, their sex life is amazing.  Dawn really never minded the idea that her sex drive would skyrocket if she ever inherited the Soul Blade.

Friday, the beginning of the end, in The Soul Blade Chapter 35.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, hiatus week.
Saturday, over at The Seventh Sanctum, adapting to games featuring Cortex/Cortex Plus.

1 comment:

  1. You know what kind of amazes me here? The depth of research you've done there for seemingly one-off mentions in the story. Kudos. Grace questioning the doll sizing feels like word padding, but in the above context, it's actually helping to wrap up Brenna's "where is my place in the world" arc. I feel like it should really be part of the main story. It would also provide motivation for all the earlier sewing and fabric buying scenes, which again seemed more like padding than plot. Dolls could be her calling. (As to the late night traffic, I know I would have just said 'we got held up' and left it at that, for better or worse.) You seem to have an eye for detail, even wanting to get street names right.

    Cruz's departure bothered me. I figured she left due to Tricia's actions (at first I wondered why Henderson wasn't pulled aside or something, but time shifting makes sense) except your reasoning above (searching) also makes sense. Maybe the bother comes from how it became such a non-event. No character speculated as to why Cruz was pulled away, no thinking it might be a ruse, no checking the news (surely someone on Tricia's street would have called the media), just, "Bye!". Tricia escalating to killing for pleasure/purpose is pretty BIG plot-wise, and it's like Brenna and family are, not just passively, but having to actively ignore that local threat. Matt didn't even call when he came on shift to check on her.

    As to the new characters, it is a bit much, giving the feeling of "crossover", like they were in their own story at some other time, and are now coming into this one to help at the climax. The phone calls helped, but perhaps there could have been more. (Comparison to Carly, maybe?) As to Rae's empathy, it was really overshadowed. I had to go back and look to find the "Grandma Novotny's girls ... negativity washing over her" reference, and even then it could have been from Dawn's ability to accidentally project, not Rae's to receive. That could have been more key, since in retrospect it connected to Rae's mood. (And it's not like they don't talk about abilities, Dawn brings up the Blade!)

    The parental friction angle was played well though, in fact that became one of the more interesting parts of the chapter for me towards the end there. It occurred that it might be nice to take it a step further, and counterpoint Brenna's dad's relationship with Amy, how they DON'T fight? Particularly if that felt like a loose end. Random thought.

    Oh, continuity patrol: At 11pm, "Brenna set down her almost completed shirt and got up." Later, she goes back to it, and keeps sewing with it until "well past four in the morning". Not so close to completion then? Or did it become a template towards a whole wardrobe thing?