What If It Ended?

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

This tweet struck me hard.  It made me think about my talks of Media Gray Goo.  I realized that age plays a role in my concern that our media is becoming dull and repetitious, that there are things we do over and over and over until they loose all meaning.

Here we see an example of that in discussing Batman, the ever re-invented character who bears both the burden of the past and the burden of endless re-interpretation, all fused into a kind of incoherent and re-invented continuity.  We’re always re-making Batman while acting like he’s the same, which in time seems to whittle the character down, despite some spectacularly well-done takes.

Batman is endlessly stuck at 35, even when authors temporarily play with him until someone presses the reset button.  How many fan arguments are based on what Batman “should be,” even though he’s both out of date and remade?  How much of him has become Gray Goo?

Above, the author gives the example of Deku of My Hero Academia.  He has a story, he ages, he grows, and in theory his tale may end, though as we’ve seen from One Piece, some manga and anime do go on.  There’s no plans to reboot him, remake him – indeed, the entire My Hero Academia universe presents so many options why would you want to remake it – there’s so many other stories to tell and explore anyway.  And if it ends, then it ends – there’s plenty of other cool stuff.

In fact, if a story has a good tale and a good arc, why not enjoy a good end?  Maybe follow up with the rest of the setting, other characters, and so on.  Let things grow – and if you miss the old tale, then re-read it or re-view it.  You can discuss something in context, while also acknowledging all its flaws and places in time.

So I want you to imagine a different world, where superheroes had their stories and they ended.  Where we dig up reprints of old Batman comics, with their starts and endings, and if Batman is remade then it’s a remake of a tale with a start and a finish.  Imagine being able to enjoy Batman in context and history, not as ever-remade battles of marketing and reboots and a return to zero?

Maybe we need to let things end or pass on.  That’s what’s life about after all.

Steven Savage

A Bridge To The Quiet Planet: Popular Entertainment

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Let’s get to know more about the setting of my upcoming novel, A Bridge To The Quiet Planet.  Let’s talk about entertainments in the Twelve Great Cities and their planets.

Popular Entertainment

Everyone needs to relax, and the people of Avenoth have their own ways of doing so with popular entertainments.

Most popular entertainments contain a strong social factor, such as attending concerts, playing games together, or discussing books or comics. The need to tie society together is a constant element of the culture, and permiates everything.

Because of this, “truly getting away” entertainments are specifically noted.


The cultural evolution of the last century has produced several distinct musical styles that are popular.

Glitterpop – Glitterpop is light, bubbly music often sung by groups who tend to be themed, and have specific focuses (such as singing about romance, or nature, etc.). Glitterpop concerts are highly social events, though the music is often criticized as being shallow and repetitious – if accessible.

Sway – Sway originated from dance music, and is instrumental in nature – many Sway tunes have no lyrics. Sway has split the last few years into a form using regular instruments often meant for dance and an electronic format that is more for listening or relaxing. The latter is sometimes called Tech-sway, or “T-sway.”

Thunder – Thunder is percussion-heavy music that is loud, powerful, and often grounded in legends and history. Bands vary widely in style and depth, and “true” fans usually distinguish between “Iron Thunder” (raw, heavy, and historical) and “Blood Thunder” (more focused on current events, emotion, and experimental).

Because of it’s nature, Thunder music results in one of the few concerts attended by angsty teenagers, their grandparents, and historians.

Video entertainments

Recorded videos, often burned into crystals or recorded via magic, have a centuries old history on Avenoth. With the advent of the Network and related technologies, local broadcasts grew in popularity before the war, and global ones afterwards. Now video entertainments are broadcast across the planet via the techno-magical Network or played from distributed video units.

Television: Televisions are common and have been for a time. More and more television programs are produced in Sabillon, but most Cities have local productions. Those local productions, in turn, are often shared across the planets.

In general Sabillon-produced shows are meant for mass consumption, and locally produced ones are considered “more intellectual.” This is hopelessly simplistic, but local pride does affect people’s opinions.

Dramas, especially historical ones, are very popular – there’s many historical events that have been re-enacted so often it’s endless fodder for comedy shows.

Talk shows and educational programs are also popular, though many of the former are local.

Movies: Movies made for mass consumption tend to be fictional, whereas locally made ones vary in subject matter. As movie attendance is a big deal – people usually make an event out of it – films tend to be produced carefully. Ruining someone’s evening doesn’t help one’s career.

Locally-produced films often find more forgiving audiences, and sometimes local films take off globally or even among planets.

Films tend to be long (about two to three hours) fitting their importance and the sense of an ‘event.”

Animation: With the use of magic to create imagery as well as advanced technology and human artistry, animation tends to the experimental and artistic.

Literary entertainments

Literacy has been valued for aeons on Avenoth – in a world of magic, gods, and dangerous history being able to read is a survival skill. Books are valued and appreciated, from records to ways to relax.

Novels: Local authors are a sense of pride for the Great Cities, and many an author’s novel takes off locally before going worldwide. Large publishing interests cultivate local talent, who a century or more ago might not be known outside their City. However, due to this inclination to seek local authors, attempts to cultivate new “major” stars often fail.

Popular novels tend to be less about historical events than video entertainments; many are set in recent, current, or future times. What we consider science fiction or fantasy do not quite exist in the larger culture – speculating on other worlds is rare when you have other worlds, and most fiction is set no more than fifty ears in the future. Such literature is

Comics: Comics are popular with all ages, and are usually published in large sets (similar to graphic novels) or combined together in themed publications (similar to manga). Individual comics, on their own as we know them, are unknown – and likely were considered wasteful in the past.

Comics tend to the fantastical more than novels, leveraging the unique imagery of the artists. They are thus considered more radical, more advant-garde, or more silly depending on their themes.


E-games are what we’d call video-games. They’ve existed in several forms over the last century or show as computing power and The Network spread. They are considered to be (still) experimental, and a place for people to try various unusual and otherwise impossible forms of entertainment.

A few common genres are:

Puzzles: Puzzle games are popular and are viewed as intellectual challenges. Puzzle games are considered something one does alone to relax.

Stories: Similar to RPGs or graphic novels, story games are increasingly popular and some are played on Slates. Fans discuss them in detail, and designers love packing them with references, hidden details, and more.

Strategy: Strategy games are popular, but are controversial as they often involve history which has many dark corners.

Common Events

Surrounding movies, television, and more there are common social events.

Movies as noted are events for many people, something to do with friends and families and make an evening (or a day out of). They are often used as excused for many other social events, or just outright drinking.

Online Communities use the Network to discuss things. This is popular for discussing television, movies, and of course publishing fanfiction (a popular past time).

Reading groups and book clubs are popular for all kinds of books and comics. Many libraries, guilds, and more sponsor a variety of them. Many of them are held at theocades, coffee shops, and more – which is also an excuse to hang out, drink coffee, or ask for a few blessings.

Concerts are popular social events. Much like movies, people tend to make a day of it.

– Steve

Activities For The Civic Geek: Promote Literacy With Comics

If comics are your thing, why not specifically promote literacy with your favorite medium.

Comic books were probably one of the first forms of literature many of us picked up. From newspapers to comic books to manga, it’s one of the earliest experience many of us have of reading. It’s still a favorite of many – and a way to teach literacy because they’re so beloved and accessible.

It wouldn’t be too hard to rally your fellow comic fans, clubs, groups, and stores to organize to donate comics, time, or money to the right organizations. There’s a lot of history and a lot of community to build on – and there’s comics-oriented literacy organizations who need your help below.


  • Comics For Kids – Collects and donates comics to kids, with a focus on literacy and developing creativity.
  • Reading with Pictures – Promotes literacy with the use of comics in the classroom. Heavily oriented towards ways to get involved!