The Road to Hell

It is oft times said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. This statement is one I have heard most often used when someone is attempting to convince themselves that they shouldn’t pursue a goal or desire they have, even though it is good. What sort of discouragement is meant by this statement? It evokes in the mind at first glance the premise that all good intentions lead only to hell. This does not make sense to a logical mind.

As hell exists as the dichotomous opposite to heaven, one could conclude that the opposite of what takes one to hell would therefore take one to heaven. This does not work in the lens of good intentions leading one to hell. For how could bad intentions lead one to heaven? How can evil desires make one happy? It can be said that some people in human history have derived pleasure from the misery of others, but this is not the norm, and closer examination of said individuals would reveal their suffering. So why then do we associate good intentions with suffering, if we too associate bad intentions with the same penalty?

Let us examine the happiest person to ever live. Is there such a person? According to the science of happiness, there is: his name is Matthieu Ricard, a Buddhist monk. Tests on this man’s brain reveal that he experiences an almost constant flow of positive, happy energy in the left brain, generally where the feeling of happiness is linked. According to Ricard, and a number of other monks also part of the test, this control of their happiness comes from the amount of meditation they do daily. They control their thoughts, and cause themselves to be happy.

An intention is a plan. It is something which you decide in your mind that you want to do. In essence, you could say that an intention is a thought. Of course, it is more than just a thought, as an intention is something on which you plan to act. A thought alone can be something which never leaves your head unless you choose to act on it. In that moment of wanting to act the thought becomes an intention, and once the action is completed or begun, it is no longer an intention; it has become tangible, measurable. It has become a result.

So, what does it matter if the intention is good or bad, if both conceivably lead to hell or unhappiness? The answer lies in the action. A bad intention acted upon, or a good intention left undone will ultimately have the same effect. Let us say then that the nature of the intention is not important in the pavement process. Whoever was laying the road when the moral concrete was being mixed probably used both good and bad intentions without regard. Let us say then the road is simply paved with intentions.

So if the road to hell is paved with intentions, what does this mean? Consider again that roads often connect between two destinations. Especially since it can be inferred that the road to hell would be one which you could travel, then it makes since there isn’t a dead end on either side. So for the sake of this argument, let us say that heaven is at the other end of this road. We could say for this instance then that the road to heaven is also paved with good intentions, and bad ones. The important thing about intentions is what to act on, and what not to.

So, therefore, you should act on your good intentions. Even according to the laws of physics like matters attract. Iron atoms hold to other iron atoms. If you act on a good intention, and remain within your moral code in its execution, then you will arrive at a good result. If you act on a good intention, and do anything to achieve it, even hurt others, then the action is bad, and so taints the whole intention. Do not let yourself think it is humble to deny yourself success simply because a good intention is the road to hell. This is not so: the road to anywhere is based on your intentions. Take hold of your thoughts, control them, and direct yourself toward whatever you desire to achieve.


Musings on Leadership and Direction

Without effective decisions, a leader is no good to those whom he serves. In fact, he or she will become the opposite of help. This principle can be difficult. It is hard to determine what is the best decision for every situation as often it will affect multiple people of different viewpoints. Keeping in mind the best interests of everyone will help, but it will not remove the stress. Important to Remember:

  • Decisions determine destination
  • Counsel together
  • Counsel with Purpose

The choices we make every day determine where we will be tomorrow. Whether we choose to get enough sleep tonight will determine our level of rested energy the following day. Whether we eat a good meal, whether we become perturbed at offenses or not, whether we act or allow ourselves to be acted upon. All of these things happen every day. What do we do when the choice is placed before us?
Acting on behalf of others is more difficult still, but the responsibility will fall on each of us eventually.  When these opportunities arrive, we must pause, ponder, and prove.

  1. Pause: take the time to think what is best. Depending on the scenario, it could require only seconds. Usually you will have hours, and perhaps even days, but you must take the time to study out the best solution.
  2. Ponder: Thinking time is best spent with a pad of paper and a pen. Write down pros and cons. Think out loud, or however you think best. Counsel with others if the possibility to do so exists. Remember you can always counsel with your Higher Power if you have one.
  3. Prove: put into practice the best choice you have. Continue to check on progress, and if changes need to be made, do so.

More often than not leadership comes with company. Rarely in the local capacity of leadership (family, social interactions, school, etc.) will you be working alone. It can be bothersome at times to work together, but when done correctly it is far superior than one head on the task. Some things to remember when working together:

  1. Take time to get everyone’s ideas written down. Don’t say yea or nay until everyone has spoken; this is best done with a time limit and with one person speaking at a time.
  2. Be the exemplar.  Arguments may arise, especially during an open forum style conversation. Do your best to remain non-partisan and ensure that everyone is heard.
  3. The final say. If you are the ‘head honcho’ then you will have to make that hard decision of what will be done. Compromise is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of compassionate leadership. Bring together the best ideas and make them work. If you are only part of the counsel, then be humble enough to accept it if ideas other than your own go on to fruition

Always remember why you lead. Whether you are in a counsel of people or not, you always have a responsibility for your choices as a leader. Having a purpose in your decisions is vital. Remember to serve the best interests of others. Don’t let fear drive you to do things which are objectively wrong. The foundations of truth are those which are true whether people believe them or not, such as doing harm or serving only self interest at the expense of the greater good. We all have some form of moral compass. Let that be your guide.

The Read Moore Write Moore Challenge

Hey, Read Moore readers. It’s me, A.C. How are we today? Something that is important to me is being active in what I am passionate about. And not just me; I like to make ways for others to engage in their passions, too. Accountability is a big help in making it possible for myself, and others, to find the drive and energy to create, especially on a time table. That’s why I’m starting the Read Moore Write Moore challenge.

Every November begins NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month. For the last four years I’ve been participating, and have completed two years of the contest. It has been a wild ride, and a chance for me to stretch myself toward better and better goals. Not to mention it has vastly aided me in improving my skill as a writer. I believe that by participating in this yearly project, I have become more of who I want to be. And I think it can help you, too.

You may be thinking, what does writing a novel have to do with me? Everything. That’s what. The Read Moore Write Moore challenge is all about growing your own sense of self, discovering who you are, and building new skills along the way. Even if you don’t desire to be an author, this project is a great way for you to improve your typing speed, your creativity, or just give yourself an outlet for your emotions. Writing doesn’t have to be a work of fiction; it can be biographical, poetry, a journal, or anything else you can dream up. Read Moore Write Moore is your chance to prove to yourself you can do something big. Something you may not ever have done before. It’s your chance to say to the world, I can accomplish anything.

Here’s how it works. First, you have to decide what sort of writing project you’d like to undertake. If you want something simple, I suggest a journal. Set up your plan starting today of what sort of content you’d like to cover in your project. The start date for Read Moore Write Moore is November 1st. The goal of Read Moore Write Moore is to write 1,667 words a day for 30 days, ending with a complete manuscript of 50,000 words. As you complete your goal for each day, share to social media using #readmoorewritemoore, so that everyone else who is participating can see your progress and cheer you on. It’s that simple!

To take your Read Moore Write Moore experience to the next level, I suggest you go to and create an account. There, you can track your writing progress all through the month of November. They also have incredible aids and tips for new writers and seasoned ones alike.

This year I’ll be doing a sequel to a book I wrote in 2018: Outworld. While the first book is yet to be published, I am confident that by year’s end I’ll have the first installment of the Outworld Cycle ready for readers around the world, complete with eBook, and audio book options. I’ll keep you all up to date with how my Read Moore Write Moore is going here, and on my social media accounts. Be sure to follow me there if you haven’t already!

This is your chance to shine. There is no limit to what you can do. All human beings are created equal, with unique abilities and talents that can be fostered into rewarding careers and hobbies. No matter what holds you back, I promise you if you participate in this challenge, you will discover strength inside yourself you never knew you had. You will learn more about yourself than ever before. And you will have a 50,000 word manuscript that is all your own, to publish, put away, or show off as you see fit.

Let me know if you’re planning to participate in the Read Moore Write Moore challenge. Send me a message, or just post to social media using #readmoorewritemoore! I’ll be looking for you there, and I’ll be there to cheer you on every step of the way.

The Man and Himself

It was New Year’s Eve in Germany, 1944. Celebrations were few and far, but the radio broadcast of the midnight advent was clear in Fritz’s basement home. He listened to the count down, poured himself a small glass of bourbon, and pulled a small sepia tone photo from his pocket. It was a portrait of Adalheida. He’d promised to marry her, but fate led him here instead.

            “Drei… Zwei…” The radio announcer said.

Fritz threw his glass across the room in a fit of rage; it shattered on the wall, leaving a stain of bourbon on the crackled paint. He couldn’t take it anymore. He had spent the last year and a half in this basement laboratory, expending all his energy on a project he didn’t really think would work.

Whisked away, Fritz thought to himself, to develop a means to help the ‘Father Land’… In that time he’d barely even seen another living human being, just the agents who would stop in periodically and ask for updates on his findings and leave him meager meals.

“This is worthless!” Fritz said loudly, rubbing his calloused hands through his hair. “All this time, and for what?!” He began to pace back and forth through the lab, deliberately knocking over various instruments around him as he went. Some sparked, others flared with spilled phosphorus.

Fritz’s purpose here was to find a form of duplicating soldiers. Something about folding time and snapping it back. Supposedly it would create two from one instantaneously. To him the idea was preposterous. The smell of burning copper components aroused his faculties to what was going on around him; the lab was ablaze from his carelessness. The odor of smoke replaced the stagnant basement air quickly. Fritz went quickly to the door of his prison basement, stumbling over overturned implements on the way. To no surprise its lock held tight against his attempts to open it. He looked back in panic at the room, the paint on the walls blistering from the blazing equipment. The room began to fill with strange light and penetrating vibrations as blue electricity arched from corner to corner, the lab riggings fusing together. The energy struck Fritz, hurtling him into the ceiling. Violent electricity burst from his hands and feet, every extremity sparking and pulsing with sensation; not pain, but discomfort. That was the last thing Fritz recalled before he went unconscious.

Fritz’s eyes opened. He lay flat on his back. Yellow morning sunlight spilled through the small barred window in the corner of the room. He sat up, feeling nauseated. Strangely, he saw his own reflection directly across from him. He stood, his reflection following suit. The two moved in near perfect unison, both dusting themselves off in a similar manner. They looked at each other, slowly realizing that there were in fact two people in the room, each in the image of the other. 

They starred at each other for a while, each speechless; each lost in the realization that in their fit of rage they’d accidentally accomplished what their malefactors had wanted.

“I don’t believe it…” Both Fritz’s said in tandem. Fritz noticed his copy had a wound on his head, caked with coagulated blood. He felt the side of his own head, finding it whole and undamaged. He reached for his handkerchief from his pocket to hand it to the other Fritz, but found it missing. The other retrieved a handkerchief from his own pocket and dabbed the wound with it.

“I should be happy I’ve succeeded in creating you,” Wounded Fritz said. “But now that I know I can…”

            Fritz cut him off. “You didn’t create me,” he said, “I created you!” Wounded Fritz laughed faintly, wincing as he tended to his head.

            “What’s the last thing you remember?” Wounded Fritz said, his hand extended in a questioning gesture.

            “The room filling with smoke.” Fritz replied.

            “And what’s the first thing you remember?” Wounded Fritz queried.

            “My father giving me a wooden horse,” Fritz replied. “The one he played with when he was a boy.” Wounded Fritz nodded.

            “I suppose a copy would remember the same as me,” he said.

            “I’m no copy!” Fritz shouted. “And I’d appreciate it if you stop calling me that!” 

            “Stop yelling!” Wounded Fritz shouted back. “Leave it to me to fly off the handle at the first offense.” The both of them stood quiet for a few seconds, and then smirked at each other, leaning against the walls behind them respectively.

            “Well,” Fritz said, “I can’t let anyone know I succeeded in these outlandish experiments.”

            “My sentiments exactly,” Wounded Fritz replied. “What to do with you…?”

            “What to do with me?” Fritz replied. “What to do with you? Since I’m the original I think I should come up with the plan.” Wounded Fritz leered at Fritz, but then his face seemed to fill with confidence.

            “Well,” Wounded Fritz said, “What is your idea, then?” Wounded Fritz’s expression seemed almost false to Fritz, but he knew the look well; one of desire to avoid conflict. He had that look many times himself, with his parents and even with Adalheida. She begged him not to go off to the science academy, but his future was calling him.

            “Well… Uh..” Fritz wasn’t sure what to do. He was no killer, and even if he was he couldn’t get rid of a body. Fritz felt sick at the thought. He cleared his throat. He closed his eyes, his mind racing over the scenario at hand. After some consideration he deduced that the only way was to get the door open and send one of himself far away from here.

            “Very well,” Wounded Fritz said. “Let’s crack this lock and I’ll be on my way.” The two nodded at each other in perfect unison and began to scuttle about looking for any surviving implement worthy to crack the doors lock. As they searched, they both thought over why they had never tried to break the lock and escape before. He’d had plenty of time to do so, but something kept him here; perhaps it was his lust for scientific development. Even though he never truly thought his mission here was possible, part of him wanted to try. He wanted to keep going, searching for the way to do it if it could be done.  

Evening light showed through the western window before they discovered a small length of copper wire in the remains of an electrical coil strong enough to undue the latchet.

            Wounded Fritz looked back for a brief moment as he started up the stairs. He smiled warmly at Fritz. Fritz waved him on impatiently for fear that at any moment the agents would come for an inspection.

            Nerves are shot from the fire, Fritz thought to himself as he closed the door, no ones been here in nearly six months. I’m just being paranoid.  

 After a while of trying to straighten up the mess he’d made as best he could Fritz reached to in his pocket for the photo of Adalheida. To his surprise it wasn’t there. He searched the room franticly for it, hoping that it had survived the fire. He remembered having put it into his pocket before he threw the bourbon, and found it strange that it was gone. Often in the coming months of trial he’d look back on this time and wonder why he didn’t just leave like the other Fritz had; it was like he had been in that room his whole life, like it was his whole world.

            Fritz awoke to a harsh kick. He squinted in the darkness to see two agents standing over him.

            “You’ve made a big mistake,” The taller agent said, “destroying this precious equipment.”

            “It was an accident,” Fritz tried to explain, but as he spoke again he was kicked.

            “We’ve a place for you, you scum,” The shorter agent said. “You’ll beg for this hole when you’ve been there for a day. Ha!”

            Fritz tried to stand and flee from the agents, but they were already upon him. They beat him mercilessly with their clubs, their faces stale and cold in the dark. Fritz tried to crawl away, but there was no where he could go. Once again, he was unconcious.

His awareness returned to him off and on for a while after that. Later, he would remember being in a small cold room, huddled with many other people as a monstrous roaring was heard beneath them, myriad pinpoints of light shining through the slat walls of the room; a box car.

            Fritz awoke in another strange room, filled with cots and emaciated people. He stood, trying to orient himself in this new cage. It was Sachsenhausen, a concentration camp just outside of Berlin. As he moved about, he felt sick; it was different somehow, as though he could feel the energy of others around him, their life force.

            Days felt like months in Sachsenhausen. Fritz was already malnourished from his stay in the lab, and being here was no help to his body. Food was in short supply for the prisoners. After a week, Fritz started to fume against his counterpart, his copy.  

            Smug missgeburt, he thought. He knew this would happen. He knew and he took my photo with him.

Months past, at least four. Fritz lost track of time after that point. The thought of one day reuniting with Adalheida kept him going.  She stood out in his mind; at every meager meal he thought he felt her presence near him, just out of view. When he would turn to look there was nothing. One night, he and a few other prisoners sat around talking of life before the camp. A few directed their questions to Fritz after a while, to his surprise. He hadn’t been much of a talker so far, and most had ignored him all together because of it.

“What did you do before all this?” One man asked Fritz. He didn’t respond immediately, feeling hesitant.

“I am a scientist.” Fritz said.

“Is there anyone you miss out there,” Another man asked Fritz, “beyond these fences?” Fritz sat silent for a while, his eyes oddly glazed. He could feel the feeling again, that tingling of energy from some external source.

“Yes,” He said faintly. “There is someone.”

“Well,” The man said, “Who is she?”

            “Who said it was a she?” Fritz asked, more for effect than for actual caring.

            “Your words did, friend,” The man replied. “Who is she?” Fritz smiled, the first time he’d done so since he’d arrived here. He looked down at the small coffee can filled with embers to give them light, and retrieved a piece of coal. He went to the wall near by.

            “I’ll show you,” Fritz said, quickly and deftly drawing a large portrait of Adalheida. The man laughed faintly as he watched, the others seeming to be in awe.

            “I thought you said you were a scientist,” The man said, amused.

            “Am,” Fritz said firmly. “And art is a science.” As Fritz finished his work, a guard came into the quarters. He shouted angrily at the small group gathered around Fritz’s drawing, battering a few with the butt of his rifle. He approached Fritz.

            “Take this down,” The guard demanded, gesturing to the drawing. Fritz stood defiant, unmoved. The feeling of energy was strong in his body at that moment. He recognized it now: it was the same feeling he had when he was in the lab, when he and himself were separated.

            The guard reached out and grabbed Fritz by the collar. Fritz reached up and took hold of the guard by the wrist out of instinct. Blue electricity bellowed out of Fritz as he touched the guard. Both began to scream in fear. Light filled the little shack, blinding all who were present. When the energy faded and sight returned, before the crowd laid the guard. He was in four pieces, each his left half; each clutching his rifle. Each lifeless.

No one dared touch Fritz after that day, or even speak to him. He grew lonely. Off and on he could feel that feeling, like every inch of him was tingling; longing for some kind of connection to a part of himself he’d lost.

At long last the war ended. The German super power was in shambles, and the Russians let everyone leave Sachsenhausen behind them; a scar on their pasts. Fritz longed for home. He traveled as fast as he could to see his family. So much had taken place from the war, Fritz soon realized though. Travel was slow, and arduous. It took nearly a year for him to make the relatively short journey, for his health of mind and body was in shambles too.

Fritz straightened his now thinning hair as he prepared to knock on the door of his mother and father’s home. He hadn’t seen them in nearly eight years now. He devoted himself to science back then, leaving little time for anything or anyone. The rap on the door resounded hollowly through the small familiar halls of his childhood home. The soft pattering of bare feet followed soon after as someone approached the door from within. The door swung open quickly, and there stood his mother. She smiled at him.

“Hello, my boy,” His mother Hilda said. She narrowed her eyes. “Are you ill? You look like you’ve lost fifteen pounds since yesterday.”

Fritz stood still and speechless for what felt like to him an eternity. His mind raced.

“Yesterday?” Fritz finally forced out.

“Yes,” Hilda said with concern apparent. “You were here, yesterday, with your wife.” Fritz’s eyes went blank. Hilda’s concern deepened.

“You remember Adalheida don’t you?” She said.

“Yes,” Fritz said, his expression suddenly changing to that of a composed man. He smiled warmly at his mother.

“Where do I live now?” Fritz said. His mother still looked at him with loving concern. After a moment of silent worry she told him where to find his home. He hugged her, and kissed her on the cheek as he had always done.

“Everything is going to be okay, mother,” Fritz said. He left quickly.

Soon Fritz found himself at the address. He lay in wait in an alley nearby. He wanted to confront his doppelganger. The sun began to set over the sleepy little town. Sleep would have soon overtaken him had not the other self come towards the door when he did. The other self looked pale, but that didn’t matter; Fritz rose from his hiding place and dashed at his other half.

“You dämonisch klönen!” Fritz reeled, taking hold of his other half’s collar and shaking him. Fritz broke free, and threw his assailant to the ground. Fritz, looking up from the dusty street where he now lay, felt very weak; he wept. 

“Who the hell are you?” Fritz demanded. Fritz looked up from his disparagement into the eyes of himself. Fritz then realized who had attacked him. He stood speechless, and lifted his hand to rub the scar on his head; where he had been wounded in the lab.

“How did you find me?” Scarred Fritz asked, kneeling down to his destitute self.

“You stole my life,” Fritz said harshly.

“I’ve stolen nothing,” Scarred Fritz replied. “I’ve claimed what is mine.”

“And what of me?” Fritz said, “What about my life? You have no right—”

“And neither do you!” Scarred Fritz said. He pulled his other self to his feet and looked sharply into his eyes.

“I’m dying,” He said. “Some kind of incurable disease brought on by what ever I—we—were exposed to in that dungeon. Leave me to die in peace. Leave me with my wife and never come back.”

Fritz looked at his other self. He could see the reality of his words in his pain filled eyes: this man spoke the truth. Scarred Fritz left himself standing on the cold street. He went into his home and closed the door loudly. It began to snow softly as Fritz stood there, thinking over all that had happened to him. He clinched his fists, and went to the street facing window of Scarred Fritz’s home. He parted the bushes, and saw within Fritz with Adalheida. She cradled him, tears in her eyes. Fritz thought of what she must be going through, her husband not long for this world.

As Fritz stood there watching himself and his wife in obscurity, he felt the surge of energy that had become so common to him since the accident in the lab. He looked at his hands, and fancied he saw thin arches of blue electricity shooting between his fingers. His mind grew clearer. He suddenly knew his purpose, what he had to do to fix everything.

            A week passed. Scarred Fritz walked home late one snowy night, along his usual path. His health had continued to deteriorate, now having to walk with a cane. Only Adalheida kept him going; her love gave him power to keep living. As he turned a corner, taking a familiar short cut beneath a bridge, he saw a faint shadow move before him.

            “Whose there?” Scarred Fritz said loudly. Out of the shadows stepped Fritz, his face filled with an unnatural determination.

            “I figured you would come like this,” Scarred Fritz said, wiping sweat from his pale forehead. His fingers traced the scar on the side of his head. “That’s why I’ve been carrying this.” Scarred Fritz pulled back his coat, revealing a small pistol on his hip.

            “You don’t need to be afraid of me, Fritz.” Fritz said calmly, approaching slowly toward his armed counterpart.

            “Don’t come any closer,” Scarred Fritz said, unsnapping the holstered weapon.

            “I can help us,” Fritz said, still approaching. Scarred Fritz began to sweat more freely, his pale face growing paler. He raised his hand to wipe the sweat from his eyes. Fritz leapt forward suddenly, laying hold of his self adjacent. The tunnel began to fill with strange light and penetrating vibrations as blue electricity arched from corner to corner, the two men fusing together. That was the last thing Fritz recalled before he went unconscious.

            Adalheida sat by the door. It was nearly midnight, and she feared something terrible had befallen her dear husband. She heard footsteps approaching the door, and thought it was constables come to tell her the worst. She hurled the door open, and in walked her husband.

            “Fritz,” She said, embracing him. “I thought…” They held each other tightly. She looked into his eyes; they seemed whole, fulfilled. He wasn’t pale. He walked without the cane. She kissed his forehead, when to her surprise she found his scar missing.

4 Reasons You Are Wrong About Skywalker

There are lots of people out there who think Luke Skywalker’s rise to power wasn’t realistic. First off, it’s a movie, so do yourself a favor and suspend your disbelief for two hours. But second off, there is plenty of evidence that suggests Luke had tons of training in the Force before his final face off with Lord Vader and friends. When you bring in a little context and allow for some science to fill in a few blanks, you too will see just how well prepared Luke really was for his encounters with the Dark Side. Here are 4 factors you overlooked in the Star Wars Universe when it comes to Luke’s preparedness as a Jedi.

  • 1: Luke has been training on his own since returning from the Battle of Yavin

Remember that scene where Luke gets stuck upside-down in the Wompa cave? He summoned his lightsaber to free himself from the ice. We know what the Force is capable of from seeing other Jedi in action throughout the prequels and animated series, but look at this scene through the eyes of context. Luke had never seen the force do anything except trick some incompetent Stormtroopers and let his recently deceased mentor whisper words of encouragement at him. We don’t see Obi-Wan do any telekinesis in A New Hope. So, where’d he pick up this little gem? The only explanation is that he’s been practicing the force on his own.  Testing the boundaries of what he was capable of. And if you think it wouldn’t be possible for him to figure out how to ‘Jedi’ on his own, have you ever gone to YouTube to find a tutorial? It’s not too much of a stretch to say Luke could have booted up his Empire Explorer and googled himself some answers.

  • 2: Space is really big. Like, REALLY big

Maybe this doesn’t seem like an important detail, but when we’re talking about how much time Luke spent on Dagobah with his lumpy green mentor, this component is of paramount importance. Many would lead you to believe that mere hours pass as the Millennium Falcon travels between Hoth and Bespin; but for that to happen those two planets would have to be so close to each other that they would practically have to be moons of one another. Also, it’s the Hoth and Bespin systems, meaning they orbit different stars. The journey could have easily taken months without a hyperdrive to speed things up, giving Luke ample time to brush up on his Jedi training.

  • 4: Time is Relative

Ever heard Einstein’s theory of relativity? Time passes differently depending on several factors. We don’t get a complete look at the planet where Luke gets his deeper training, but we can draw some conclusions based on context clues from the films. During Luke’s training with Yoda, we are also getting scenes of Han and Leia at Cloud city. For them, it seems only hours are passing. Yet, in one scene of training from Yoda, he said, “no more will I teach you today.” Then, just moments later, we see Luke stacking rocks with the Force as Yoda instructs him. Only hours passing for Han and Leia, but days passing for Luke and Yoda? We can conclude that a lot more time passes for Luke while he’s in the Dagobah system than passes on Cloud City, again stacking the preparation time in Luke’s favor.

  • 4: Saber skills come from the Force

There’s a reason you don’t see everyone and their Wookie swinging around lightsabers in the Star Wars Universe: because a little more skill than knowing how to sword fight is required to compete with one. Lightsabers are the weapon of a Jedi, as we hear time and time again. Even in situations throughout the Star Wars Expanded Universe (Now called Star Wars Legends) we have stories of people who lose their Force sensitivity and along with it goes their lightsaber skills. Why would that happen, unless their saber skills were the result of their connection to the Force? The stronger the connection to the force, the better prepared one is for a fight with a lightsaber. So yes, Luke didn’t have much physical experience in saber fighting, but considering the months of Force training he has had, that really doesn’t matter.

Maybe you’ll think about this next time you hear haters trying to throw shade on our favorite Skywalker.

3 Reasons You are Wrong About Sci-Fi Tropes

Science fiction is often measured by its tropes. Either the critics of the genre are hyper focused on the presence of them, or the absence of them. Hey, they have their reasons, I get it. You wanna see something new, so you bash on something when you see an old trope show up. But just because something is showing up frequently doesn’t mean it’s inaccurate. And no one is immune to the power of tropes either. Even if you think you’re above it all, first of all, slow down there hipster, and second of all, chances are you like something that is riddled with tropes, most likely because of the tropes. Ever watched a Marvel movie and liked it? You like tropes, then. Deal. But back to the topic at hand.

  • 1: The Single Biome Planet

I’ve heard tons of people bemoan the biomes of planets in science fiction. The complaint goes something like this: “It’s stupid that this film/book contains so many planets that are just one thing. The swamp planet. The ice planet. The desert planet. Earth has so much variety, so should the planets in this!” Well, bucko, you may be right that Earth is covered with variety, but have you ever taken a look at what most planets are actually like? Grab a telescope, look at some NASA photos for crying out loud. Even with the Kepler telescope discovering thousands of planets outside our solar system, surprisingly few of those planets come anywhere near the Goldilocks Zone required for a planet to have liquid water and become Earth-like. Just check our own solar system if you need more proof. Mercury is a sun blasted waste land. Venus is a toxic wasteland. Mars is a cold, desert wasteland. And Earth’s a teenage wasteland. Planets that look like earth are surprisingly rare. Out of the tens of millions of planets in our own galaxy, only tens of thousands fit the bill of being potentially earth like. That may still sound like a lot, but consider the the numbers like this

10,000 (ten-thousand)

10,000,000 (ten million)

If we truncated the numbers to something we could understand more easily, say taking the 10,000,000 to something like 1,000, then the amount of earth like planets would be 0.01.

  • 2: Ancient Aliens

I’ve heard a lot of complaints on this one. Especially in the Alien franchise. With the reboot of the series through Prometheus and later Alien: Covenant, people were up in arms with the idea of ancient aliens in their beloved franchise. But here’s the main problem with that. Ancient aliens were always a part of alien. Ever seen the first film?

The crew of the Nostromo in Alien touch down on an alien planet in pursuit of a phantom alien signal, where the stumble upon an ancient alien derelict spacecraft. Keyword ancient. Keyword alien. If a species is sufficiently advanced to have space travel, and has been around for thousands of years, it’s not that much of a stretch that they’ve had some interaction with our own species at some point. After all, we’ve already established the rarity of Earth-like planets. So it’s likely to draw attention. Also, the ancient alien trope is as old as the genre of science fiction. Authors were weaving it into their narratives as long ago as 1887, in J.H. Rosny’s The Shapes. However, maybe I’m not giving the critic enough credit. There’s also the argument, “Ancient aliens as a trope is stupid because it doesn’t surprise me anymore.” Well, to that I still call foul. For this reason: ancient aliens aren’t meant to surprise you. It’s just an element of sci fi story telling that comes up a lot. Would you be mad at a super hero for getting his powers from mutation, or a super insect, or a fancy tech suit? No! That’s what you expect. It’s part of being a super hero. Just like ancient aliens. For crying out loud, ancient aliens are a major part of the Halo game series, and they’re not hiding it! It’s in the title of the game: Halo. Those Halo’s are ring worlds built by the Forerunner, an ancient alien race. Who also had ancient dealings with Earth. It’s normal. Deal with it.

  • 3: Alien Hordes

This one comes up often in the discussion of video games. When there’s a sci fi game, there’s most likely going to be a bunch of bugs. The Zerg from Starcraft. The Flood from Halo. The Xenomorph from such gems as Aliens Vs. Predator II 2001, Alien: Isolation, and from such flops as Aliens: Colonial Marines. They always show up it seems, and they always eat a bunch of people and either cocoon them, transform them, or both. This is one I can understand. In Halo, I didn’t expect the Flood at all. They showed up out of nowhere and hijacked the game into a new, terrifying direction. And I loved it. It surprised me, even though it was a trope of the genre. Why? Because it doesn’t show up everywhere. It’s been a sci fi trope for longer than many may realize, even going back to such sci fi’s that don’t fit the mold as Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Hordes of creepy crawlies have been around for ages, and they are, in most instances, genuinely scary. So why get rid of it? It works super well. With the addition of Alien to the gallery in 1979, it reinvigorated the trope and reinforced it into the minds of hundreds of young creatives. Which is why, I believe, the trope has endured so well. There are direct references to the film throughout Halo, and many other works of fiction. It’s a love letter to something those creators found pleasure in when they were young. I may understand the desire to shy away from the alien hordes, but I find no fault in using it. It’s a wonderful, goopy, drippy tribute to the macabre.

Science Fiction is a genre like any other. It has a rich history, going back over one hundred years, and with that comes tropes. You can’t escape them. They’ll slither up to you in the dark and terrify you to your core. And that’s the point. Tropes matter because they are the trail markers of your past. They show where you came from, who you learned from, and what you value. Disliking something because it doesn’t make sense to you doesn’t make you better than the disliked thing. Take some time to get to know your tropes, and I bet you you’ll find far more pleasure in your viewing, reading, and gaming experiences. Thanks for reading.

Musings on Storytelling

It is my opinion that all great stories have their roots in the knowing of other stories. Star Wars draws on King Arthur mythology. Lord of the Rings pulls also from King Arthur, and from other Christian legends and Nordic and English folk stories. In essence, loving stories and being a person who samples many is what qualifies a person to be a story teller.

Stephen King, one of the most prolific authors of our time, has thrown his hat into this arena also: said he, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” Consider the old English and European bards, not those who were most famous only, but them all: they were those who knew the stories, and created more. Would they have written or told at all if they had not gained an appreciation for stories in the first place? Perhaps. But unlikely.

Not all stories are of ancient date, either. A story need only be something which one has experienced. J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote in a letter to a friend that he would use people or ideas from his own past to generate characters within his stories. One such was Gaffer Gamgee, Sam’s father in LotR. This busy bodied hobbit was based on an old man in town who spread weather gossip and the like; the name ‘Gaffer Gamgee’ was dredge from his childhood, a term referring to ‘cotton-wool.’  Any interesting or unusual fact which one picks up can and should be recorded for the use of posterity.

But why tell stories at all? What does it matter if any tale is told? Historically, stories were used as means of transmitting ideas. An abstract concept is easily forgotten. Put that concept into a story format, with character acting on, or not acting on, the ideal of the concept, and it becomes instantly memorable. Not only is this a useful means of teaching children, but it applies for all human learning.

We are beings naturally designed to interpret symbols. Take for instance pareidolia—the programing in our brains to recognize faces, shapes, creatures, and objects. This ability allows us to obtain personal identity from our own reflections, as well as interpret dangers in the form of large animals, sudden passing shadows, and so on. However, this ability also causes to occasionally see things which aren’t there. Have you ever started at a bush in the dark, thinking it was an animal? This was not you being paranoid, but simply your brain attempting to interpret the shapes around you into recognizable information. This can happen in abstract as well. Consider Isaac Newton. What was it, really that sparked the idea of gravity, if not interpreting information which had just become available to him?


Since we do this naturally, it is my belief that story telling is a fundamental part of humanity. To not participate in it, at least in the reading or viewing of stories, is to miss out on a tradition older than written language. Essentially, at our most basic human nucleus, we are all creators. It is our purpose to understand the universe, or at least to interpret it into something which we can grasp. In the past fables were our best modus for garnering understanding. Science has moved in to assist a great deal in this endeavor.

Let us not allow ourselves to become so sure of our understandings that we ignore the glorious possibilities which exist in our creative minds. Every concept brought about by science was first imagined by a human. They then labored to find some source of it in reality. We now can assist in this effort by taking those ideas and adding to them, building either out of pure fantasy or more natural understanding. Even if the story crafted is one which was meant as a joke, it can still serve to spark some reasoning human mind and again increase our global reservoir of understanding and reason.

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