Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Proliferation of Snails With Opposable Thumbs

Few people know that in the beginning of 2010 a new terror befell the world. That terror came from a new breed of snail. That snail is known for its opposable thumbs. Don’t know what an opposable thumb is? Well look down at your keyboard or mouse. Unless you lost your thumb in some freak horror accident (like getting it stuck in the garbage disposal or shot off by an enraged ex) you have an opposable thumb. We aren’t the only ones. There are other animals with opposable thumbs, like monkeys and lemurs, but this is the first time a snail has ever emerged with them. So what’s the big deal? Unlike normal snails the addition of the opposable thumb not only allows them to be faster, but allows them a wider range of movement. Ever seen a snail swing from one tree to the next? Ever seen them pick up a weapon? They can do it. Crazy little fuckers. However, its not just the fact that they have said opposable thumbs that make them terrifying, its also the fact that they are carnivorous. Like their cousins the Powelliphanta Snails in New Zealand and elsewhere the Decollate Snail, these little bastards love meat. That’s right, fucking opposable thumb having meat eating motherfuckers.
** The image above is that of the carnivorous Powelliphanta Snails in New Zealand.

The little bastards emerged from the island of Makira located in the Solomon Islands. Living in a dense environment they have managed to also grow in size exponentially, dense, therefore meaning untouched by man. Along with the rapid growth they have also managed to proliferate rapidly. See, when most snails mate they grind their feet against one another in their form of sex and the fertilized egg will hatch in a matter of a few weeks. They are hermaphrodites. These opposable thumb snails (otherwise known as Little Bastard Demon Spawn of Hell snails…LBDSH Snails for short) grab on to each other and grind like it’s the end of the world. Seriously, these little fuckers fuck like rabbits. When I mentioned they were carnivores I left out the worst part…they love the sweet taste of human flesh. Two native tribes, both the Melanesians and Polynesians, have tried to combat them. Warriors have come out of the woodwork in an attempt to defend their people and stop them. Resorting to old styles of costuming in an endeavor to frighten the fearless snails, and reverting back to primitive methods, they have yet to prove a successful offensive. However, the LBDSH Snails are resilient (in other words bored), and have moved off the island.
** The picture is of a Polynesian warrior attempting to scare the ever living shit out of a LBDSH. The warrior behind is realizing that one of them is flying at his face.

You would think they would naturally head to Australia, the closest ginormous land mass, but instead they have moved to the US. First landing in Los Angeles the snails have developed their own urban camouflage in order to blend into their surroundings. Once individual or small pack hunters they have quickly united into gangs. Some scientists are hoping that they will simply kill each other off but it doesn’t look that way. They have been spotted as far east as South Carolina (where they have left tag marks of Rebel Flags on unsuspecting prey), and as far North as the lower edge of Canada. Scientists can’t guess how long it will be before they become completely dominant but they are guessing that (because they fuck like rabbits) it will only take a matter of years. As far as the government is concerned they are going for a “pretend it isn’t there and it won’t happen” approach. When speaking to top White House officials they tend to laugh, wave a hand in front of their face, and make a “pffft” sound. We don’t know if this is a defense technique that actually works or not, should it work, I will let you know.
** The first picture is of a local gang member in a Los Angeles group of LBDSH. The second image is of a poor hermit crab tagged by a Redneck LBDSH.

One of the saddest parts of this snail domination by the LBDSH is the lack. of identity in the smaller species of snails. Some of them no longer believe life to be necessary, that their step in the evolutionary process has been dropped to zero. In response many of them are resorting to suicide. Environmentalists are trying to figure out some way to give these snails counseling, but so far all attempts have been rendered futile. They simply cannot understand what they are supposed to be anymore.
** The snail pictured is attempting to slit him/herself with a razor blade. Some people think he/she is actually attempting Seppuku, after he failed to defend his family from an attack by the LBDSH.

Two other rival factions have emerged though. In South America and Mexico the Chupacabra Snail has been trying to attempt an uprising. The only difficulty comes in their hard time trying to mate. When they attempt to rub their feet together they have a tendency to gouge their mate to death. In other words, for every one that is spawned one is killed. That hasn’t stopped them from trying though, and slowly but surely their population is beginning to increase. Scientists feel though that by the time they reach in the thousands they will still be no match for the (by then) millions of LBDSHs. Another faction is known as the In Your Face Fuck You Snails (YFFY Snails for short).
These snails are having an even harder time mating because they can’t even stand the sight of each other. Early reports seem to indicate though that even the LBDSHs can’t bare to look at them and so attempts are being made at trying to figure out a way to use them as sheep dogs, corralling them into clusters where they can be eliminated.
** The first image is that of a Chupacabra Snail, the second that of the equally ferocious YFFY Snail. Both of these were discovered by Dr. Takeshi Yamada.

No one knows what the future will bring for the LBDSHs. Studies are being made to find out if certain poisons can be developed only for them. Other research groups are delving into the possibility that they may be the next step in evolution, the race that will wipe out humans. Yet another is trying to find ways to domesticate them, possibly to be used in military applications or even home security. What is known is that they will eat you if they catch you, that they will swarm you in numbers, particularly in the shower, or while you’re sleeping.

Keep an eye open.
** Two LBDSH attack a woman's hand after she has succumbed to a group of them.

P.S. Blame this post on was her fault.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

#19 Halo: Evolutions-Essential Tales of the Halo Universe

To really understand…or I guess even have a desire to read something like Halo: Evolutions-Essential Tales of the Halo Universe, you would probably have to be a fan of Halo to begin with. I’ve played all of the games: Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST, and Halo: Reach (beta). I’ve also read several of the books, in fact, I think I may have read all of them (which I will get into later). So I guess you could call me a fan…shit, I was psyched when I heard that the guy who wrote 28 Days Later did the screenplay for the movie that is apparently stalled in developmental hell. Anyway, trying to figure out how to go about this review is a little difficult. Mainly because I can’t figure out how to really start…let me see if I can give you a general Halo-view.

The story of Halo takes place in the 2500’s. Man has colonized well outside of Earth creating a split between the Inner and Outer Colonies. The main military might is called the UNSC. While a small revolutionary battle is going on between the Inner and Outer Colonies a new enemy presents itself The Covenant. A conglomeration of alien species that are religious fanatics. They determine humans are against them, and wage a war. Now The Covenant are way more technologically advanced than we are, having technology from an ancient race they call the Forerunners. (The image is of all the species that make up the Covenant...the size of a human would be about in the middle)Scientists, in an effort to counteract the technologically and physically superior enemies create the Spartan II’s. Hence where Master Chief comes from…the main character in the games. The Spartans are raised in combat, genetically modified (think Captain America…only…bigger), and stuffed in special armor that basically makes them walking tanks. Their main equivalent in the Covenant are the Elites (or Sangheili). So…they both find these things created by the Forerunners dubbed the Halo Rings. While fighting it out they unleash an entity called The Flood. Think of them, or it, like the Borg from Star Trek only way grosser. During all this shit they figure out that the Halo rings were created to wipe out every living thing in the entire universe…it was the only feasible way the Forerunners could figure out to eliminate the Flood. Anything else? Now that you’re totally lost? Lets get to the book.

The book is a collection of short stories that take on many different characters and aspects of the Halo series.

Beyond by Jonathan Goff
Jon Goff works for the studio behind the games, 343 Industries. This is the first poem of the book.

Pariah by B.K. Evenson
Evenson has written an Aliens book as well as a Dead Space book. When the Spartan II’s were created not all of them made it through the transformation process unscathed. This is the story of one of them.

Stomping on the Heels of a Fuss by Eric Raab
Raab was the editor for Ghost of Onyx, Contact Harvest, and The Cole Protocol. In this story we follow an ONI (think…ummm military intelligence) officer who is sent to study a Covenant tribe of Brutes (Elites but bigger and dumber) to see if he can learn how the enemy ticks.

Midnight in the Heart of Midlothian by Frank O’Connor
Frank O'Connor has been working in the Halo world for years. This story, which is one of my favorite in the series, follows an ODST (You may have heard of a H.A.L.O. jump in the military, a high altitude, low orbit jump…these guys do it from outer space. Think the most badass natural human soldier) soldier as he goes through a ship overrun by Covenant forces, alone.
(The image is of an ODST soldier. Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, and Alan Tudyk all contributed as voices in the game)

Dirt by Tobias S. Buckell
Tobias S. Buckell wrote the book Halo: The Cole Protocol. Another story that follows an ODST soldier. This is about a dying soldier as he tells his history to a rookie.

Acheron-VII by Jonathan Goff
Another poem. Looking back on these you really can’t understand them if you haven’t played the games.

Headhunters by Jonathan Goff
Another one of my favorites in the series. This one tells the story of two elite Spartan III’s (the next, not as good, generation of Spartans after the Spartan II’s) on a mission. They are part of a two man team of assassins. The reason why its awesome in the world of Halo is because the Spartan III’s were mainly used for suicide missions, these guys keep surviving.

Blunt Instruments by Fred Van Lente
Fred Van Lente is a comic book writer who wrote a short series about Spartan: Black. The story follows Spartan: Black, his characters from the comic series. The Spartan: Blacks are the Spartan equivalent of Ninja’s. An elite covert team.

The Mona Lisa by Jeff VanderMeer and Tessa Kum
I couldn’t find much on Kum, but VanderMeer wrote a Predator novel. This is a story about The Flood. In particular a group of Marines (who have no idea what the Flood is) deserted and practically left for dead on a prison ship.

Icon by Jonathan Goff
Not a poem this time. This one is more of a epitaph.

Palace Hotel by Robt McLees
Robt McLees was the weapons designer for the Halo 2 and writer for Halo 3.The only story of the series that deals with Master Chief himself. The story takes place when his relationship with Cortana is just beginning (Cortana is a unique A.I. that travels along with Master Chief…in essence she is a computer with feelings that projects herself in the form of a human. the picture is of the two of them). Not only do we get to see the start of their relationship, but we get to see the Chief through the eyes of some Marines, and learn a little of his past before the Spartan II program.

Human Weakness by Karen Traviss
Karen Traviss is a Star Wars writer who also wrote two Gears of War books and is the writer for the game Gears of War 3. This story is taken from the 9th campaign in the Halo 3 game. Ok…how to explain. In the game Cortana is “captured” by the flood who tries to assimilate her and gain her knowledge. You catch bits and pieces of her dialogue while playing. You mission is to rescue her. The story is told from Cortana’s standpoint, whereas in the game you obviously play from Master Chief’s standpoint.

Connectivity by Jonathan Goff
The last poem in the book which is about the relationship between Cortana and Master Chief.

The Impossible Life and the Possible Death of Preston J. Cole by Eric Nylund
Eric Nylund has written Halo: The Fall of Reach, Halo: First Strike,and Halo: Ghosts of Onyx. Admiral Cole is probably one of the greatest “human” characters in the Halo series. Known for being one of the best leaders, creating the “Cole Protocol” which is a repeat aspect in the series, and one of the most feared enemies of the Covenant. This story basically gives us his life history.

The Return by Kevin Grace
(the image is of an Elite)
Kevin Grace was the editor on Halo 3 and Halo 3: ODST. The story follows an Elite leader as he tries to make sense of life after the war. He basically goes on a spiritual journey on a planet he personally destroyed.

Several of the stories seem to go on too long (Dirt, The Mona Lisa). While others don’t last long enough (for me it was Headhunters). What is the best part of the series though is that you can tell they were written by fans. If the writers haven’t contributed in fiction before they’ve worked on the games themselves. Another thing that caught my attention was two separate odes to Isaac Asimov. In Midnight in the Heart of Midlothian “Asimov’s First Law of Robotics” is mentioned and actually plays a significant part of the story. The other comes in The Impossible Life and the Possible Death of Preston J. Cole when a building is mentioned at the USNC academy called the “Asimov Center.” I thought that was nice of the authors to give a shout out to the godfather of science fiction.

If you’re a fan of Halo certainly pick this up. If you have no idea what Halo is, its likely not for you. I mentioned earlier the Halo books I’ve read. I’ll toss those at you now:

Eric Nylund: Halo: The Fall of Reach, Halo: First Strike, Halo: Ghosts of Onyx
Tobias S. Buckell: Halo: The Cole Protocol
William C. Dietz: Halo: The Flood
Joseph Staten: Halo: Contact Harvest