Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011- 'Twas a Good Year Writing

Ah, the passing of time. Makes a man wax poetic on the nature of existence, doesn't it? As I contemplate the complex implications of... Never mind. I just wanted to thank all my readers this year, along with several other people who helped me write harder, better, faster and stronger over 2011. One of them is a wonderful librarian, Mrs. Fisher- she's responsible for much of what goes on at my local library. This includes the writing club, and the production of our magazine, The Aura. She's been a great help and encouragement to both myself and the members of the club, and I cannot thank her enough for giving me something to look forward too every month.
I'd also like to thank Wesley Long, the owner of it's from that website that I really got to experience life as a video game reviewer. His encouragement and feedback has made me a better writer, and it's nice to have him, and the staff of BNR on my side.
This year, I made great friends, and they too have just been so motivating- these people just make me want to keep living, keep getting better. They're inspirational. Inspirational!
My family most certainly deserves a mention as well- they constantly encourage me to keep writing and moving forward. My mother in particular is currently helping me edit and publish my first fantasy novel- keep your eyes open for it!
I could go on and on and on about all the great people who made me a better writer, who made 2011 one of the best years of my life and who made me a better person. Regrettably, the length of the article could potentially crash thousands of servers worldwide, thus resulting in chaos, so I won't do that. Instead, I'm just throwing out one big thank you.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Paxcatia: Chapter 2

by Jourdan Cameron
CC-BY-NC. Details here:

Chapter 2

In a forest of Markonis, not too far from Ace's factory, two men were having a discussion.
“I tell you, she already pulled her weight.”
“Which is precisely why she'll be fighting.”
“No, she's done enough, I think that now she needs a break.”
The larger man sighed. “Vinny, I know she's young. I know she's already seen enough. But think, man, we need her!”
“Casey” sighed Vinny “I don't want to see her get hurt. She's my daughter.”
And I'll care for her like my own. But why don't you think about what we means, why don't you?”
Vinny looked around. They were mostly alone in the forest, but about a half mile behind them lay the rebel encampment, made up of the strongest, smartest rebels. It was a relatively small; about eighty people inhabited it. It was mobile, made up of the massive, rolling battle-tents. Each “tent” was made if titanium a couple inches thick, and was like a massive centipede on treads, heavily armed, and home to ten rebels, complete with hammocks strung from the ceilings and refrigeration for perishable items. Each was gray, inside and out, and was twice as tall as the soldiers they contained, though they were also much wider than tall, thus they didn't usually tip over.
Inside, they were relatively bright, their control panels flashing and flickering, with rows of simple, black, plastic seats, ready to load groups upon groups of troops, taking them deep into the heart of battle.
Overall, it was a machine to be feared. Several of a rebel army's finest were calling it home.
These rebels were mostly survivors of Paxcatia's invasion who escaped slavery chose to fight. Many had been revolting against the crooked government in Markonis. They'd chosen to run when Paxcatian forces attacked, rather than stand and fight. Most had been rioting in the streets against a government that no longer exists. Indeed, in a twist of poetic justice, the former leader of said government now works as a slave, mistreated alongside his corrupt police force and sham election organizers.
“It's been five years, Vin. She's grown now.”
“She's still my daughter.” Vincent ran a hand through his dark, messy hair. Mr. Sere was right, of course; Katy was a woman now. Decisions were hers to make. He just didn't like the idea of sending her on such a dangerous mission.
And we're still hiding, running, and scared at night, Vincent. Do you think other daughters, other sons, deserve to grow up like that? Do you think I want to spend the rest of my life like this? Growing old, watching the young go to their graves before I do?”
Vincent stared down at his shoes. They were in shabby shape, and at one point they were brand new running shoes, white and contoured. Now, they were barely recognizable, a tattered pair of duct-tape tubes. The black tape that held theme together was beginning to show its age, faded and brittle in some spots.
In all, the two men, in their beaten attire, were quite a sight. Their conversation, however, was far more interesting.
“Tell me the plan again.”
“We go to Paxcatia, we spy on the land, find a weakness, and return with results. We'll launch a full assault in a year.”
“You can take her” said Vincent after a while. “Just bring her back breathing.”
Casey nodded, a leaf falling from his greasy brown hair, deciding to change the subject.
“So did you hear? They found a stockpile of shampoo. It's great stuff from what I heard, smells like coconut.”
“Doesn't that stuff dry out your hair?”
Really? I could probably use that right about now” he lamented, rubbing a hand against the back of his head. The two returned to their camp. It was in a clearing, one large enough for the battle-tents to be hidden safely, yet still small enough that the light coming in was somewhat dappled, the dim light gently bouncing off the metal surfaces of the tanks. Leaning against a tree was Katy. Her dirty blonde hair in a bun behind her head, and she was wearing the standard rebel army uniform. The simple dark green canvas shirts, pants, and shoes that were practical, easily obtained, and relatively comfortable now adorned Vincent's daughter. A single red band encircled her right sleeve along the bicep.
“Well?” she asked. She seemed slightly excited. Not entirely out of character, really, though her level of enthusiasm wasn't exactly common among the rebels.
Just like when she was little” thought her father. Markonis as it once was certainly had problems; a bad educational system, however, was not one of them. The educators, who'd spent most of their time carefully explaining things to other children found that such cautious teaching methods weren't needed with young Katy. She advanced at frightening speeds, excelling in lessons requiring complex strategies, doing things and saying things that seven year olds ordinarily wouldn't. Her teachers, quite simply put, loved her.
She loved them back, and it showed in her work ethic.
“You're going to have to be careful” said Vinny, watching his daughter grin for but a moment, returning immediately being serious, intense.
“Under no circumstances should you take any unnecessary risks, and if you feel like you're in danger, you get out.”
She nodded. “Understood” she replied.
“Casey, brief her please.”
“Katy, you're going to be an integral part of this mission. You need to perform like you never have before. Here's what we'll need you to do...”
A mere few miles away was a factory, the workers within manufacturing goods, primarily putting together control panels for Ferroform surfaces, large ones used in stylish restaurants, bars, and every so often by artists.
A group of these workers sat in a gray, dimly lit room, hunched over a wooden table, each with a slightly different piece of black plastic and glass. These were their creations, their ideas for control panels; one was a simple elongated box with a glass covered surface. Another was quite similar, but it had rounded corners. Yet another was arch shaped, something users would reach into.
Only one of these, however, would be used by Ace as a design. The creator of the winning design would receive the most coveted prize of all: a day off from toiling beneath the machines! Instead of laboring, soldering pieces of metal, one to the other, they'd have the opportunity to sit back and watch their friends working to assemble their creation. Quite a grand prospect!
“Do you have any questions?”
“When do I get to go to Paxcatia?” she grinned.
“In a mere few days” replied Mr. Sere.

“Yes mom, I'll be home on time tonight, you don't need to worry.”
The streets of Paxcatia were among the safest in the world. David strolled down them, heading away from his home to the nearest train station. Like many things in Paxcatia, transportation was mostly free; a network of trains, simple silent steel tubes criss-crossed the nation.
The street David traveled along was peaceful and mostly quiet. The sidewalk was simple, gray concrete; it never seemed to change, age, and almost never seemed dirty. This was due to the rather high number of those willing to clean it, maintain and upkeep it. The work was somewhat challenging due to the amount of debris that tends follow gravity, but the work was considered important and thus payed well. David smirked whenever he thought about how seriously the job of keeping concrete clean was taken. Sure, it looked nice, but there were some bigger things to be cared for.
For starters, the trails through Paxcatia's forests were barely maintained, and were typically overgrown and impassible. Sure, they were barely used, but David had a special affinity for nature, and he enjoyed retreating to the forest from time to time. Unfortunately, much of it was inaccessible. The thought of the forest was enough to make him sigh; why didn't more Paxcatian citizens take interest in nature? They all seem so preoccupied with the constant shipments of devices everybody already seemed to own. Nobody really cared that most 'new' gadgets were just repackaged, rebodied versions of old machines, they simply consumed, seemingly stuck in an endless cycle of purchasing, updating, mindlessly.
David wondered, but never quite enough to put any serious effort into finding out who owned the the companies that were always importing, never looking past the highfalutin legal terms that enshrouded the terms of use of so many tiny machines, the complex legal language that seemed in itself a heavy padlock over the general understandability of the nature of a device's existence.
David never followed his curiosity quite far enough.
Soon he was walking up a hill, flanked by bright, glassy, and supposedly 'modern' buildings. He glanced into the window of one and could see brightly coloured electronic wares contrasting heavily with the minimalistic motif established in the shop. His view was suddenly blocked by the back of an employee as he shifted his gaze back towards his goal. The train station near, and he could just make out the faint murmur of human voices on the air.
In what seemed to be no time, he was standing in the shade of the large booth that was next to the track. The train track was a simple, smooth metallic surface, just as clean as the sidewalks. It was about one hundred feet long in either direction, and at either end was a hole that lead the train back underground. The track rose up through holes at either end, where the train surfaced and picked up passengers.
David braced himself as a telltale rumble made the ground beneath his feet vibrate, and the crowd around him seemed suddenly prepared. Like a massive steel earthworm, the train came into view, tunneling upwards, headfirst. It was a simple, elongated cylinder, but broken into individual cars, little joints where the train bent and twisted through the subterranean tunnels.
The crowd eagerly spread out alongside the thirty-foot serpent and waited, impatient for the doors to swing open. Each segment on the train had a simple door, rather silvery from the outside, but as they slid open, would reveal a simple, comfortable seat made of some strange, silky black material. As David sat in one at the end of the train, the door slid shut as he stared back out at the buildings along the street; the doors were transparent from within. In a few short moments, the train began to move, and David relaxed in his seat as simple black walls of the car began glowing a gentle black, and what appeared to be a row of multicolored symbols made their way across the top.
“Ah, a classic” he remarked, as he stuffed a hand into the right pocket of his jeans, extracting a black device roughly the size of his palm.
“The Ardonap Unleash” he mused to himself, opening the clamshell-styled machine to reveal a keyboard flanked by flat black control pads on either side. David loved this little device; it had been created by an independent company on the other side of the country. Ardonap, the company responsible, wasn't quite like the other faceless Paxcatian megacorporations: its founder lived a relatively normal life among the Paxcatian people, choosing to create among the masses rather than for the masses. Needless to say, his devices weren't very popular, but David didn't really care. He was just glad to know where something came from.
He relaxed in his seat as the jewel-bright invaders began converging on the car's door, then blitzing towards him. He grinned, and with a few quick keystrokes, was ready to play. Pointing his device at one of the symbols shaped rather like the letter 'M', slid his thumb down the right control pad of his device as a beam of light sliced the 'M' in half.
“This never seems to get old” he thought aloud.

A half world away in Markonis, a small group of people trod through a forest, speaking among themselves.
“So when did we find out about the factory?”
“A couple months ago. We'd have spoken about it sooner, but there's the matter of the...”
“The slaves?”
“Yeah, that. We'd only draw attention to ourselves if we overran the factory and cut everybody loose.”
“I understand, so you kept quiet about it as a preventative measure against vigilantism. Completely logical.”
The group advanced towards the factory, their practical black clothing contrasting sharply against the greens and browns of the forest around them. Their march was rather like a funeral procession, quiet and solemn. Much like those marching in a black parade so were these people, mere shadows of the loud, joyous Markonis natives who once roamed this land, lived in it and loved it. Those people had been forced into hiding deep within themselves.
Soon, they neared the gray, concrete bulk of the factory. It was a simple, oblong block full of misery, mistreatment and mostly hard labor. The flat roof doubled as a docking station: when a transport arrived, it would rise, the cargo being pulled into the belly of the ship by powerful magnets.
After that, the ship would shut its hull and fly back to Paxcatia. The process took mere seconds, and involved no humans; it was completely automated.
“So why do we have to climb the building, exactly?” A random rebel dissented. “Wouldn't it have been easier to just use Flights?”
“Wouldn't have been easier to just show up with a marching band?”
“But Commander Sere, Flights are so quiet!”
“They also show up as generating a massive electro-magnetic pulse, just the kind of thing we don't want on a reconnaissance mission!”
“Can we just get this over with?”
One rebel stepped out of the crowd. He surveyed the wall, feeling it, smacking his palms against it and considering it for a good thirty seconds before he finally reached into one of the many compartments of his black, heavy jacket and removed what appeared to be a handful of long, thick, white nails, the type used for building things. Casey smirked- he'd been to some of the more rural areas of Markonis where things were still being built with wood. Wood.
How times have changed” he thought to himself, as his comrade loaded the nails into what looked like some sort of small, orange pistol. The rebel took a shot at the wall and a nail sunk itself halfway into the concrete with little more than a click and a scrape.
The process was repeated, and the man proceeded to stand on the two nails he'd placed. He then created a pair of handholds above himself, climbed onto these, and continued until he'd reached the top of the simple, flat roof. Katherine could hear her heart pulsing in her head- this felt different, definitely different from rushing into battle. This was slow, deliberate and dangerous, and it didn't seem to sit well with her. She glanced back into the forest, away from the building- surely Mr. Sere would understand if she wanted to go home, wouldn't he? The mission could continue.
What's the point of this miss-” Somehow, she'd managed to cut herself of in mid-thought. She knew precisely what the point of the mission was. A great injustice had occurred- it affected her, and her family and all the already oppressed citizens of Markonis. This was not the time for looking back in fear- it was the time for action.
“I'll go next” she said, making quick strides towards the makeshift ladder.

The Hunger Games Trailer- It's finally here, and I'm very, very happy.

Well, it looks like I'll be counting down days 'till March 23rd, because that's when The Hunger Games comes out!

I'm sorry I haven't updated this blog in such a long while, life has been mad busy, but do not despair! Work on the next chapter of Paxcatia is still underway, stick with me!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wanna help me raise some money for charity?

Dear Readers,

I'm going to be spending a weekend gaming (rest assured I'll spend much time working on Paxcatia's second chapter soon after) for charity. It'll be part this year's Gaming and Giving for Good, and I'll be on team Blackman'N Robin. Just for clarification, BNR is actually a website, and I primarily write reviews over there. But enough about my (awesome) personal life, would you like to help us out? It's easy. Just click on the button above this link to visit our team's page and sponsor one of us, or, if for some reason the button doesn't work, use this link:
Next, choose a gamer to sponsor, and give out of the goodness of your heart. Each dollar you give will bring BNR closer to its goal of $100. Will we pass $100 this year? Let's find out.
Thanks for reading guys, please help us out. The money will be going to the Children's Miracle Network of hospitals, and yes, the donations are tax-deductible.
Don't wait, give today!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The Capitol is now open

Looks like advertising for the upcoming Hunger Games film adaptation is now open; now assigns you to a district (here's hoping you wind up in a good one).
Check it out now!

New Milford Library Teen Blog: The Hunger Games Opens the Capital

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

What's worse?

Entry 1
Journal of Maxwell Robinsion

"S-s-so tell me what's worse, being held at gunpoint or having a bullet in the cerebellum?'
"Killing me proves difficult, doesn't it?"
"K-killing you will be the easy part."
I've discovered a few fascinating things during my relatively brief existence. Fear, I've discovered is a wonderful motivator.
"You realize that if I'm dead, we can't be friends?"
"You... Y-you haven't answered my question yet!"
"Well I suppose it depends, really. How likely am I to be shot?"
For a moment, her gaze faltered; it was all I needed. Deftly, I pulled the gun straight from her hands and discharged it into the treetops.
Something else I realized is that Jo, my best friend since childhood, has the somewhat normal tendency to stutter whenever she's afraid of something. Right now, it seems to be losing me.
"You said you wouldn't leave me" she said softly. "Why'd you go away, Max? You lef- you left me for days!"
"Jo, I went away for fifteen minutes to find firewood."
Maybe you'll want to know more about me. Well, honestly, there isn't much to tell. I was born in Markonis, spent a few years between nannies. When I was of age, I got shipped off to boarding school. I suppose you could say I've had an average childhood thus far. Average seeing as my father was the leader of our country. Pretty normal, knowing he wanted nothing to do with me. I guess I'm just like all the others, homeless now after the invasion. The boarding school was burned to the ground by the Paxcatian drones, and I barely escaped with my life. My possessions, any trace of my old life, that's gone now.
I guess Jo lost more. She lost her sanity.
For a while, we wandered. We dodged the drones and avoided becoming slaves, and eventually, we found a small camp. We found friends, allies, people who'd avoided becoming slaves.
I found a purpose.
"A-are you mad with me?"
I dropped the pistol into the dead leaves below. I hugged her, holding her quaking form close. She'd grown awfully skinny. Her dark brown skin seemed to swallow the setting sun's orange glow.
"Jo? Where did you get the gun?"
"I found it."
"Just where exactly did you find it?"
"Isn't it r-really obvious?"
"No, you're not making it so."
"It was underneath Mr. Sere's pillow.
"What were you doing there?"
"I'm not sure. myself."
I sighed.
"Can I have it back now?"
"You have to give it back to Casey, Jo."
"I know."
I picked up the gun and handed it back to her, albeit slowly. It was an old fashioned weapon, a rather elegant weapon that looked out of place with our utilitarian, makeshift lasers, our electrical weapons, so unpolished. It was nearly a pretty thing to look at, with its silvery, simple surfaces. It almost seemed ornate, the ax of a wealthy executioner.
"I'll give it back, Max. I promise."
I nodded as we made our way back to the camp.
"So why did you take me out here, anyway?" She'd recommended we take a walk; she usually only does this when there's something she needs to tell me.
"Because Mr. Sere has a message for you" she said.
"Oh? What is it?"
"That you'll be going on a very, very special mission."
Jo stopped suddenly. Her mood, upbeat, cheerful moments ago, suddenly seemed to collapse to the forest floor.
"It's a long trip, far away. You might not return."
"How far?"
"And I take it that he-"
"He didn't invite me."
"Then I'm not going."
"I think we both know why I'm not going with you."
"And that's exactly why I'm staying here with you."
"Max, I'm afraid for you but... But I've been thinking. It's selfish of me to keep you here. Markonis- the real Markonis- needs you. I'm afraid for everybody."
We trod towards the camp in silence for a while. There really wasn't much more to be added.
As I've said before, fear is one of the, if not the best motivator of all. It was enough to make Jo walk into camp, and enough to make her approach Mr. Sere.
It was enough to make her point the pistol at Mr. Sere, to make her offer him one last choice.
"Take me away from here. Far away from Max, far away from it all, take me back home" she yelled.
This was the last I heard from her. I came running to find her, only to discover her limp in Mr. Sere's arms.
"She fainted" he explained quickly. I trusted that she had. Mr. Sere slung her over his shoulder and carried her away, into the brig. I caught a glimpse of a smile on her face. Our brig, our improvised prison, is essentially a big, plastic box on the end of our convoy. We've never had to use it before.
Later that night, Mr. Sere took me aside. He explained to me everything I knew: Jo wasn't stable, and for the sake of our ultimate goal, he thought it'd be best if I went away for awhile.
I cried a little after that conversation. We both understood what Jo did. She was afraid, not for herself but for everyone around us and she knew just what I could do, what I needed to do. She understood. She just needed to get me away, and she found out how to do it.
She's the best friend I've ever had.
I'm about to go off to Paxcatia now, as you may surmise, and I've said goodbye to Jo for what may be the last time. She kept telling me not to worry, she kept begging me not to be scared for her. She promised that we'd be together again, soon. I think she was right, and I suppose she's in good hands, but I don't think I'll ever stop fearing for her. I guess it's because we're almost siblings, and I can't stand the thought of being away from her for so long...
"Hey, do you remember that game we used to play?" she asked me shortly before my leaving from within her plastic prison.
"The one with the rich grandmother, she died and left clues to her fortune."
I smiled a little; that scenario was pretty much the product of our upbringing here in Markonis.
"Yes, I remember, her name was Evelyn."
"You do remember" Jo beamed.
"Remember how we tried to organize a-"
Mr. Sere cut me off. It was time to go. Right now, I'm sitting on a fallen log with my comrades. We're about to sneak across an ocean, and quite frankly I have no idea when I'll be able to write again. If there's one thing I do know for certain, however, it's that I'm going to see Jo again, and secretly, I'm proud of her. She made a dangerous, foolish decision.
It was the right one.

Alright, I finished another short story in Markonis, sort of a prequel to the next chapter (still a WIP!).
This story was actually a very clever analogy for something. I don't like to refer to my own work so haughtily, but today I'll make an exception. Will people understand what else this story means? Here's hoping.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review - Fahrenheit 451

“It’s not books you need, it’s some the things that were once in books… The same infinite detail and awareness could be projected through the radios and the televisors but is not… Take it where you can find it… Books were only one type of receptacle where we stored a lot of things we were afraid we might forget.” Faber, in Fahrenheit 451 Recently, I had the great pleasure to read Ray Bradbury’s brilliant novella Fahrenheit 451. This is a book that deals, interestingly enough, with the subject of book burning, with implications that reach far beyond destruction of literature. In this classic dystopian tale of censorship and suppression, Bradbury follows the life and goings-on of the central protagonist, a fireman named Guy Montag. Overall, Guy enjoys his job. Burning books is quite an honor, and indeed, it’s his duty to burn the homes of those who unrepentantly hoard books, those who choose to swallow the seeds of insurrection, planting dissent and cultivating the forbidden knowledge in the deep corners of their minds. Montag unflinchingly goes about his duty, never wasting time to question, disregarding doubt and ignoring any ill-borne ideas.
All this changes when Guy meets Clarisse. She’s his new next door neighbor, she’s seventeen, and she’s crazy. Indeed, she’s quite strange, choosing to care about thing’s nobody seems to notice. Guy finds her upbeat, anomolic personality enlightening. She caused him to begin wondering. Pondering. Considering.
This marked a turning point in his life, and he begins to call into question the very nature of his existence.
Personally, I absolutely loved Bradbury’s writing style. It was ornate and heavily stylized. Powerful. Reading Bradbury’s work was like gazing into The Garden of Earthly Delights, by Bosch, but instead of feeling so insanely overwhelmed by the sheer level of detail, I felt as if I could understand everything at once, I could inhale the information and felt impelled, as if the book insisted that I keep moving.
Initially, the messages about censorship did feel a little heavy handed sometimes, but they did seem to relax as the book advanced; the book never loses its message, however.
Overall, it was quite an enjoyable read, one I can especially recommend to lovers of dystopias, lovers of books, people who love prose bordering on poetry, and essentially anybody taking in any sort of media at all. The idea of stopping ideas, stopping the free flow of information and ripping the human element out of art is a rather universally frightening idea, and it's one that Bradbury explores with bold confidence.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ender's Game Review

Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card, is a sci-fi novel set about a century into the future. The main protagonist, Ender Wiggin, is what’s known as a Third; an extra, unwanted child, illegal at the time due to population limitation laws.

Ender is young, brilliant, and needed. Humanity is at war with another species, the Formics (typically referred to as ‘Buggers’), and they’re desperate. They need strategists, and little Ender is full of promise. He’s also six years old.
The novel details his journey through Battle School as he trains to become the soldier Earth needs. He must not only overcome hurdles in his education, but also step over social barriers as well: being an extremely gifted child isn’t without its rewards, and it certainly isn’t without hazards.
Overall, I found this novel to be quite engaging; Card managed to create a likeable protagonist with whom I empathize easily. In short, whatever Ender felt, I felt too. The characters were all well developed, having depth and personality, often leaving you wondering what they’ll do next. They really progress, growing and changing as the book advances. I really like the fact that while there are clearly defined ‘good’ and ‘bad’ characters, Card isn’t afraid to have characters that seem to fall somewhere in between.
The story was quite interesting as well, and with Card there’s never a dull moment. He struck a fine balance between capturing the life and emotions of the protagonist with the actions of the other characters. Also put to fine use are the relationships between characters, such as that between Ender and his two siblings, Peter and Valentine.
I found it quite interesting the way Card used video games as a plot device, and having read the book and already being an avid gamer, I wonder how many developers were inspired by it. While I’d honestly hate to give out too much information as to just how they were used, there was one fantasy game in particular, a world where Ender was free to roam about a world that was constantly changing, decaying and growing. How Card came up with it, I may never know. At the time the book was written, I honestly can’t think of a game that fits its description regarding complexity. I know it doesn’t, and indeed can’t for the sake of spoilers have much to do with this review, but it certainly leaves me wondering about whether or not Card should actually try developing the game he described.
In all honesty, though, sometimes it felt like there were blanks to fill in, areas in the book that just didn’t seem to be described in any level of detail, simply unexplained rooms or undescribed people. In spite of this, however, the book still shines.

Well, sure you wonder I was, don’t you my dear readers? Rest assured I am safe and in relatively good health, however, my internet’s been down for quite a while, thus getting online using my cell phone as a modem has been… A challenge. I’ve been averaging about 4kb/s. Needless to say, some things have been difficult, and accessing Blogger’s publishing tools? Forget it. Accessing the mobile version of Facebook takes several minutes too long.
Anyhow, the next chapter of Paxcatia is coming, and very soon at that, so stay tuned!

Thursday, July 07, 2011


Sapphique, by Catherine Fisher, the sequel to the critically acclaimed Incarceron. Picking up where the first novel left off, readers once again find themselves in an fantastical, immersive world fraught with danger and intrigue. If there's anything to be said about this book, it's that there's so much detail that you'll often find yourself looking up just to check that you haven't been transported to the vast expanse that is the Prison. If you haven't read the first book, I advise you read my review of it for the sake of avoiding spoilers.
Starting from the end of the first, you're plunged into a dank alleyway, following closely behind Attia. As fate would have it, she's found herself an occupation. She still isn't free of the prison, though she trusts that some day now, Finn will free her. Some day...
Meanwhile, Finn wrestles with a pair of identities. Is he really the lost prince? He left me full of his own doubt, and his day to day difficulties as the new prince (the struggle reminded me of what happened when Miss Watson tried to "sivilize" Huckleberry Finn), trapped between his old nature and his new life gets stuck between the two, completely unsure of what to do. He's always contending with the nagging idea that somebody else, somewhere, is. He reasons that even if he is the lost prince, that he's no longer fit for the position, having been scarred, broken and wiped by life in the prison.
Claudia, the Warden's daughter, tries desperately to redeem Finn as Giles, prince of the Havaarnas, all the while trying to protect herself from whatever the wicked queen has in mind.
I'd hate to give too much away, so I'll stop myself here. I must say that this is one of the most satisfying sequels I've run across in quite a while. The book was quite descriptive, and I almost feel as if I've already seen the book as a film. For the record, this is a good feeling. Fisher has created interesting, multidimensional characters that twist, turn, and behave realistically. Also adding to the realist is the way that Fisher describes environments and events. You'll hear the crowds gasp, and feel... Well, I can't quite tell you everything you'll feel for the sake of spoilers, but nonetheless, this book is engaging, exciting, and fascinating. Politics seem to play a lesser role, which is somewhat regrettable, since it was really a big plus in the last book, just watching how the people were influenced by Protocol. On the other hand, we're given a greater glimpse into the role Protocol plays in the lives of not only the richer citizens, aristocrats etc., but also how it affects the poorer classes. Just for the record, Protocol plays a huge part in moving the story forward, essentially being an enforced lack of technology, forcing people to live in a false seventeenth century.
In all, I enjoyed this book even more than the original, and my only regret is that this is the final book in the series. That being said, it's a series worth looking into if you're looking for a good science fantasy novel, if you just enjoy adventures, or if you're just looking for a fun book in general.

Official Website:

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Last Days of Marconis

Last Days of Marconis
by Jourdan Cameron
I've been running for a long time now; I woke up bolting from the flaming wreck of a barn that no longer exists. My name is Katharine, and my world is ending.
My entire, fifteen year life I've lived in Marconis. Our family, the Powton family, had been among the wealthiest in all of Marconis. We have seen the poverty, we have seen the pain, and we have seen the corruption. In short, we have seen far too much.
“Katy” my father calls, panting. “Katy, we're getting close to the bunker.”
My dad and I stop running for a moment; we can see the gray concrete of the bomb shelter just on the horizon. With a crunch, he collapses flat on his back into the leaf litter below. I lean on a tree, grateful to be alive. These forests have slowed the advance of our soldiers- or, at least, the machines that were once our soldiers, fighting for us. The government has turned them loose on us “rebels”. In a grand abuse of power, they chose to attack the people who saw their flaws. They decided to demonstrate the extent of their power by destroying my family's house.
Here we go” my father said after rummaging through his backpack. He'd found a flare gun. We dashed towards the facility.
Stand back” he commanded once we'd come within about twenty feet. Reaching into his cargo pants, he pulled out the flare gun and fired it at the massive steel door.
My father and I were fortunate. We had gone out to a Dumb Lummox concert the night we lost our home. We returned just in time to watch our mansion go up in flames.
The flare hit the door with a metallic “clang” that could be heard for miles around. I plugged my ears as the dying rocket screamed and hissed, vomiting flame and smoke.
It left sooty black marks on the dull red door.
I think that should get their attention.”
It sure got mine” I muttered.
We heard a groaning noise as the door slowly opened.
Hello!” my father called out. The door stopped.
Friend or foe?” a voice called back from behind the door.
Who wants to know?”
Vinny, is that you?” The door began opening more rapidly. It was several inches thick, enough to withstand quite a bit of punishment. It hadn't even been dented by the flare.
In the doorway, we could see a dark passage that seemed to stretch on into eternity. As we came closer, we could see a light at its far end.
Come on in!” said the man, from the doorway. He was a burly man with short brown hair. He looked oddly familiar to me, but I couldn't quite put a finger on why...
Little Katie” the man began “you're all grown up now!”
Casey, she probably doesn't remember you.”
Oh right, of course! Katie, I'm Casey, Casey Seer, we were neighbors a decade ago! Boy, times sure have changed, eh Vinny?”
Aye” said my father, walking towards the bunker. Compared to Mr. Seer, my father's muscular arms seemed miniature. Don't get me wrong, my dad's pretty strong, but Mr. Seer is just huge!
My dad leaned on the door frame. “So what have you been up to all these years?”
Well, I was working with the poorer families in Marconis; I gave them sound financial advice, they gave me their love. Trouble is, no good deed goes unpunished. I was arrested for 'unauthorized education'. I was sharing a cell with a member of the Avansguar party, and he told me that other members of the party would chip in, help me make bail, and bring me to freedom!”
The Avansguar party is- was- a short lived political party. They went against the grain, and the General Party didn't exactly care for them; little by little, their members either died in bizarre accidents or simply disappeared.
So are you just going to stand out there?” Casey beckons us inside.
The hallway feels cramped; I suspect it's either the bulk of Casey or the fact that the walls are several feet thick. Either way, I'm beginning to feel claustrophobic when we at last reach the huge gray room at the end of the room. It is full of rebels. At one end of the room was a table surrounded by a small crowd of excited observers. At the other end, there was a cluster of stoves, old fashioned ones all occupied by ragtag chefs.
In the middle of the room, a miniaturized fusion reactor, a bulky, grey canister with a single control panel in front.
"Well" said Casey "back to guard duty, please, make yourselves at home."
"I'm going to go see what everybody's gawking at over there" my dad said, pointing to the table.
"Alright" I replied.
I'm feeling a bit disoriented. Wandering through the crowd, I feel like a sardine in a school of unfamiliar faces. I never felt more disconnected when, out of the blue, a familiar voice crawls over my shoulder and into my ear.
I spun around to meet the face of a familiar friend.
Danvid!” I nearly jumped for joy; Danvid had been a loyal friend for most of my life. Something about seeing him here was shocking.
I- I thought-”
You thought that I was dead?” I nod, choking back tears. There had been a “mysterious” fire at his home several weeks ago, one with “no apparent cause”. By the time the firefighters arrived, the building had been nearly burned to the ground. When I first heard the news, I ran to his home. There was just a smoldering pile of wood where the apartment building once was. I fell to my knees, overcome with grief. I wept, at both the massive loss of life, and for the loss of a friend.
In case you haven't already guessed, the fire was intentional” he told me. “I suspect you know who did it. Some rebels ran in and saved our family moments before the building collapsed.” He gazed into the crowd. “We owe them our lives.”
How has your family been?”
Mostly alright, 'cept for my father. He felt responsible for all the other people lost.”
Danvid's father had been active working with a few charitable others in managing an orphanage. The Government didn't exactly disallow it; they did, however, 'discourage' it. They held the belief that “weak citizens”, such as the orphans, would be the downfall of the nation.
Tell him...” I'm a little overcome with emotion and start fumbling for my own words. “Really, um, tell him that he did... the right thing.”
Absolutely. I'm just relieved to see you here!” His muscular tan arms encircle me in a hug.
Hey, can you tell me where the bathroom is?
He leads me to a hallway at the end of the room. It's full of doors.
Just knock on one” he tells me.
Knocking on the first, I hear no reply, and it is empty.
Thanks” I say, shutting the door behind me. I stare for a while at my face in a mirror. I'm a mess. My dirty blonde hair is, well, dirty, and there's a layer of grime on my face. Running such a distance through dense forest is not easy, and it was an especially stressful experience, to say the least, constantly being on the lookout for the flying drones that would try to pepper us with bullets. When those ran out, they'd switch to using the blades on their undersides; the drones were essentially flying boxes with rotors, guns, and occasionally other goodies.
Taking care of business, I leave the bathroom.
Katie! Check this out!” It's my dad, he has something attached to his wrists; upon closer examination, I realize that they're weapons from one of the drones, but something seems strange about them.
This place is awesome, they have so many scientists! They're making stuff out of drones after we beat them! Look at this, electric weapons!”
Whoa! How do you fire them?”
I just think about it.”
Yeah, one of them developed this system. I just have to imagine myself firing, and zap, it happens!”
The black twin cylinders were extremely simple in their external design; they looked like hollow, black plastic cylinders strapped to my father's arms. I hoped they would work.
For a moment, we don't say anything. I look up into his dark brown eyes, and we share a single, simple idea; this is the place for us.
An alarm breaks out over the usual din; followed by Casey's voice.
Attention! This is not a drill, sensors indicate that we are surrounded, we have incoming ground troops and busters, battlestations!”
Busters? We better move!”
The “busters” were massive machines, typically used for grand scale demolition. If you needed a stadium gone, these were the machines you wanted. We don't want them anywhere near our bunker.
Follow me to your post” said a short, muscular man. We ran after him to a hall that led to a set of stairs. When we reached the top, we realized that we were standing atop a massive dome; it was the top of the bunker. Gingerly stepping down its slope, I looked down over the short wall and could see the massive tanklike bulk of the busters in the dying rays of the afternoon sun.
My dad walked next to me, staring down at the busters.
They're huge.”I nodded in agreement.
They're also powerless against my secret weapon.”
Leaning perilously over the short barrier, he aimed his arms straight down towards the shadowy busters and shut his eyes. A pure white light emerged from his arms, it seemed, as he activated his electrical weapons. He illuminated the entire landscape for a few sweet seconds, sending up birds from their trees and revealing the forms of the busters; massive, legged machines, wielding a belly full of mechanically operated hammers, truly menacing, and truly dead, now.
He looked up at me and smiled. He then fell over the barrier.
With a horrified gasp, I shuffle my feet, as if in a trance, and cautiously glance over the edge. My fathers still body is lying still on the forest floor.
I let out a shriek in pure horror at the sight; mine screams of grief soon mix with a higher pitched mechanical noise.
The busters still work.
Everybody is panicking; there's a sudden rush towards the edge and, somehow, I go from facing the edge to falling off of it. I'm falling down the side of the building, sliding perilously towards my doom as I grapple the rough concrete for something to hold on to. Fortunately, there's some sort of pole directly in my path. Most regrettably, it's directly in my path, and as my foot glances off of it, my ankle twists painfully in the wrong direction. This, however, seems to slow my fall just enough for me to grab on to the pole. I'm about ten feet from the ground. I'm concerned that if those ground troops I heard about earlier don't see me, they'll hear my heart nearly rattling itself loose from its case.
Have you ever had an idea that seemed brilliant at the time? I know it's an old cliché, but it always seems to hold true. It seems that these brilliant ideas have a strange habit of coming into existence at all the wrong times.
In an unexpected moment of genius, however, I had a different kind of moment. Pulling myself up, I crouch on the dull metal pole and leap towards the buster.
From atop of the colossus, I can see my father lying in the dead leaves and slide down one of the massive metal legs towards him. I instinctively reach for his neck with two fingers outstretched. He still has a pulse. Going through his pockets, I suddenly realize that he doesn't have his flare gun. I drag him across the ground all the way to the door, staring up at the mechanical monster standing dumbly before us. My father groans before slipping out of consciousness again. In my desperation, I bang my fists on the door. I collapse to the ground. I just realized that the situation is hopeless. Everybody's on the roof, trying to figure out how to beat the buster before it manages to get back up. Besides, they can't hear me knocking on a door that's about a foot thick.
The buster's massive limbs begin to stir as the elongated row of hammers on its underside begin swaying back and forth. It rears up on four legs like a massive destructive millipede. Holding my limp father close, I shut my eyes and I hear a few titanic footsteps looming ever closer.
Squeezing my eyes and my arms tighter, I hear what sounds like the rumble of amplified thunder. The end has begun.
Then, there's a massive boom and I feel a gust of wind fly by me.
So this is how it feels to die” I thought to myself. “It feels so peaceful.”

I opened my eyes and realized that I wasn't dead. The flaming carcass of the massive machine was lying in front of me. I had been spared. But by what?
I could hear cheers from the roof, followed by a few explosions. We were winning, and we were doing it with help.
I looked up and saw rotors of a drone spinning high above me. I was lying in its shadow, and it hung the air as the men cheered. This drone was different, somehow. It looked like an old fashioned helicopter.
Greetings” it loudly proclaimed through an unseen speaker. “This is unit 5K1LL4R3 declaring you now the property of the glorious nation of-”
It's arrogant dissertation was cut off as a beam of orange ran through its center. It fell on top of the buster.
I felt an odd vibration behind me and realized that the door I was leaning against was now opening. Pulling my father up onto my back, I prepare to enter as the door swings open.
Casey's face is ashen and covered in sweat. He grabs my father as I run into the hallway. Looking back, I can see one of the ground troops in the darkness. Their form is vaguely human, except that they're much, much harder to kill.
Slamming the door, Casey begins running back inside. I try to run, but nearly fall flat on my face as my ankle gives out.
I limp back into the mostly empty room, wondering what's going to happen next. There's a bed next to the door; Casey puts my father onto it and calls out for a doctor. I can't remember much except for the weight of his hand on my shoulder as he turned around to go back to his job.
My dad's thick black hair covers his eyes, his skin is pale as the moon. I paced awhile through the halls until the doctors summoned me; he'd be fine. It seemed that his weapons suffered some sort of backfire. They weren't entirely finished, after all.
Vaguely, I remember him holding my hand, telling me that everything would be alright. He told me to keep fighting.
So I ran back to the roof to the battle. Our men were fighting the ground troops, or at least, were finishing off the ground troops using weapons they gleaned from the wrecks of destroyed war machines and various other pieces of hacked equipment.
I watched as they fired a few last shots in the direction of the last troop. By morning, we'd scavenge their mechanical corpses for parts.
Where do you think that drone came from?” asked one man to another.
I haven't a clue! The ground troops cut it off.”
I know” said Casey, coming up the stairs to the roof. “It was from another country, I recognized its flag. Friends, we have a situation on our hands. Please report downstairs for further details.”
As the rebels casually trotted towards the stairs, Casey singled me out of the crowd.
You did a brave thing.” he said, beaming with pride.
I don't really think so” I simply replied. I don't believe that I did, after all, I did fall by accident.
But you saved your father!”
One man! And we nearly lost the base!”
But we didn't. And because of your actions, we didn't lose a single soldier.”
I just give the man a hug and head downstairs. It's already getting late. Tomorrow will be another day.
Ladies and gentlemen” Casey announces over the speaker system “I have good news. The government of Marconis has been defeated.” A deafening roar goes up from the crowd as people begin weeping, laughing, and jumping for joy.
There is a second announcement” he says solemnly.
Those who have overthrown the government are not our friends. They are extremely hostile, and our new enemy is the country of-” Casey's voice is drowned out by an explosion. As many of our men assemble for battle, I run back to my father, how is still in a half conscious state.
He's lying on a strange old bed with wheels, the kind I see in hospitals. Underneath it are his electrical weapons. I grab them both and join the crowd heading outside.
Well that was fun to write! I put this piece together for my local library's writing contest; it received second place.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Poisons: A History from Hemlock to Botox

Poisons: A History from Hemlock to Botox by Peter Macinnis is a book about, as one may safely surmise, poisons, and their role in human history. I must say that this book was quite a pleasant surprise; I'm by no means a toxicologist, mass murderer or historian but in spite of this, I found Poisons quite appealing. It was well written, and Macinnis managed to keep it both educational and engaging (by no means an easy thing to do!).
I was taken aback by some of the tasks mankind has assigned to poison; one of the most common throughout the ages, it seems, was for the purpose of beautification. For example, Victorian women used nightshade (Atropa belladonna) to increase the size of their pupils in an attempt to make themselves more attractive. The nightshade (or Bella Donna) would paralyze some of the muscles in their eyes, and had a nasty habit of causing issues with ones vision. It seems using toxic paralytics has continued to our day with the use of Botox, which is derived from the same toxin that causes botulism.
I have heard others complain about this book, the primary issue they take with it is that Mr. Macinnis has a tendency to stray from the topic into a somewhat related subject. I noticed this, and frankly, I'm happy with it. When he does go off topic, what he's talking about is still quite related to how poisons played a part. He provides a good background, and it pays off handsomely. It's what makes this book special; it elevates it from what could have been a somewhat dull set of facts and accounts into a brief, fascinating window into the dark, dangerous, world of poison.

Macinnis looks at poisons past, present, and potential, and with wit, charm, and elegance, he presents an interesting subject in an interesting manner.
This is a book I could recommend to just about anybody (except for murderers, of course).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Friends don't need me

Friends Don't Need Me
by Jourdan Cameron

I see friends, friends,
Together, but to what ends?
A loyal companion, there under duress?
Somebody there in times of great distress?
Through thick and thin a helping hand lends?
They'll stab you in the back and kick you in the heart,
leave you for dead and tear you apart.
Is loyalty true,
can any of it be real?
I see neither point nor lasting appeal.
I've seen but lies,
known only betrayal,
beneath a blue moon lone wolf cries.
Is it worth attempting,
is there a point in trying?
Why haven't I quit, why do I still keep kicking,
if to everyone I turn somebody's going to leave me dying?
There's a method to the madness,
something is missing,
a gear out of the machine,
where do I invest?
I've looked in the worst places,
I really can't say I know best,
I need help finding somebody,
a steady soul to brave the test.
Where are they? Do they still exist?
They are the people I have somehow missed.
I've been here.
I've gone through this.
I know people will cause pain,
I once believed that some would be different,
yet they hurt me all the same,
why will these next few provide special treatment?
Isn't the whole concept of friendship a lie?
I've always wondered why.
Does something so wonderful have to be a falsehood?
Perhaps I've misunderstood,
there must be true friends,
I've searched long and hard,
but not hard enough,
with loneliness I will continue to contend.
It's dark, long shadow looms strong and tough,
 yet I am stronger, and will prevail,
all of my wounds time shall mend.
From where do these friends come?
Are they close, maybe right under my thumb?
I shall know soon,
I shall know true,
I will keep trying,
until I find you.


I wrote this poem listening to Death Waltz by John Stump.
On another note, I'm happy to tell you that I have (loyal!) friends.

Saturday, April 09, 2011


Imagine a country where everybody was happy. Marriages would be perfect, everybody has a good job, safe home and a nice, long life.
All according to the plan.
Matched, by Ally Condie, is a dystopia that takes place in said environment. Cassia, a young woman and the main character, has lived the overwhelming majority of her life happy as far as she could discern. Her education was going smoothly, she'd been "matched" (according to the plan, everybody who will be married must first be matched to another person in order to ensure maximum emotional, mental, etc. compatibility), and she pretty much had a bright future before her. As fate would have it, she was matched to Xander, a boy she had grown up with. They were best friends and overjoyed with the news that they'd been matched. Then Ky came into the picture, in more ways than one.
Ky Markham, an orphan and an Aberrant, had been raised by another family in Cassia's area, and they hadn't much chance to get to know each other particularly well.
While reviewing Xander's data on a Microcard* (flash based storage beats out optical in the future? I should have seen it coming), Ky's face was there instead of Xander's. This causes her to panic. She wonders if there had been a mistake, a massive one. What would happen to her? To Xander? Later, an Official (the equivalent of an FBI agent/Social Worker/Police Officer/etc.) informed her that there had been some sort of cruel practical joke, and nothing more. Ky couldn't become her match because of his status as an Aberrant, which meant that while he could live among regular people, there was something deviant, wrong, different about him that resulted in his not being able to have certain privileges. The next step would be to become an Anomaly, which would result in removal from life among regular people.
Cassia, however, was not entirely convinced that this was a mere joke. But who could she tell? Informing anybody could be, in fact would be a risk. The only person she could think of was her grandfather. In this society, everybody lived to be eighty years old, precisely. No more worry over when you die, it'll just happen.
Cassia shares this secret with the old man, and in his final hours, he leaves her something of great value. He leaves her poetry.
Doing this, ordinarily, wouldn't seem like that big a deal. Only, there's a problem. Nobody is allowed to have any poetry, music, etc., besides that provided to them in the 100 Poems, 100 Songs, and so on. Only the media from their Society is allowable for sharing. These poems are both hideously illegal and are enough to turn her life upside down, changing her social status to Aberrant (or worse!), endagering her loved loved ones, and a host of other undesirable consequences.
Going against everything she believed her grandfather would have wanted, she makes up her mind that somehow, she will destroy the poems. Ostensibly, this will eliminate the last trace of her grandfather. Guilt consumes her as she eliminates what seems to be the only remaining pieces of something far greater. Everything was supposed to be just fine after that, she was supposed to be happy, and safe. Nothing, however, went according to her plan. The poetry won't leave her head, much to her delight (Grandfather will not be gone so long as she has his words), and Ky's face won't leave her thoughts as long as she's with Xander. Limping between two worlds, she realizes she can only run through one at a time. Each moment with Ky feels much different that the time with Xander.
As she tries her hardest to make up her mind, the Officials are watching. Observing, carefully her interactions, choices, and she's aware of it as she's just trying to make the right decision. Nothing is truly by her choice. She can't choose who to love no matter how hard she tries to stick to the rules, and in spite of it all, she doesn't hate the Society in its entirety.

I must say that I, truthfully, didn't expect that I'd particularly enjoy this book. That is simply the truth. I wasn't the biggest fan of the style, for starters, it struck me as far too plain, and simplistic, the writing unadorned and almost boring, and the vibe at times seemed like a cautionary tale from a technophobe.
As I delved a bit deeper, however, I found that I was wrong, badly wrong. The writing was simple, yes, but it's fitting since the protagonist has lived a very plain, uninteresting life. Cassia's normal seemed to have the greatest effect- what was so downright regular for her, when delivered up so simply, was shocking, almost scary to somebody living in the twenty-first century.
I was also wrong about the book seeming technophobic. It was more about the nature of individuality, allowing technology to work with us as opposed to forcing its use for us.
In short, the book was an excellent dystopia that reminded me of 1984, Mirror's Edge, Soylent Green, and my own, Paxcatia.

Official website of the book

Author's website

*When matched, each party recieves a Microcard full of information about his or her spouse, since chances are, they won't know each other.

Friday, March 11, 2011

It's been awhile

NOTICE: I meant to post this to my development blog, right here.
Disregard this post, no reviews/literature.

I must admit, it's been a while since I last posted. This is mostly because I've been working hard on a number of things. I'm learning to use Blender, a program for making really awesome stuff in 3D, and I'm currently gathering tools for In A Memory. Just a word of warning: don't expect too much gameplay in the early Beats of Rage mod once it's released, its purpose is primarily a testing ground for graphics and music.
I managed to create a (pretty neat!) new logo too, along with a banner.

Anyway, I have a new villain that's definite: the dog of regret. I'm pretty sure I mentioned it before, it's a starving dog that represents regrets and failures, and follows you around with teeth bared, eventually biting. I need to get working on some sprites.
Also, I'm looking for a good, simple program to make the final RPG version of the game with.
I considered Hephaestus, but there's some strange resolution issue, which is a real pity and prevents me from putting the game on even more platforms.

If you're interested in it, you can download it here:

Here's the first song I made for IAM, called Dangerous Old World:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The PS3 Fiasco (AKA Why I'm Not Buying One)

by Jourdan Cameron

 If you have been reading the news in major tech circles, chances are you've heard of the 21 year old hacker George Hotz, better known as geohot, who publicized the metldr keys for the PS3, essentially rendering it a system as open as Sega's Dreamcast.
Sony has made the decision to sue him for this.
Interestingly enough, Microsoft seems to be supporting open development for its Kinect.

From Saturn to Dreamcast in a single generation

At the start of this console generation, Sony had a lot in common with Sega. It had been met with loads of success on its last console and was now shipping out a new console with loads of power, complex innards, and was frustrating developers.
They both promised incredible features and were hyped hard against their competitors with aggressive and sometimes bizarre advertising tactics.
Eventually, these odd advertisements seemed to improve. See the following video:

Sega had created an (awesome) character for its advertisements, Segata Sanshiro, and was massively popular in Japan. Sony, on the other hand, created Kevin Butler, a fake executive, and a relatively amusing one at that.
The Saturn wasn't particularly successful in the US, and the PS3 was initially met with lukewarm sales. Developers had a hard time with both of them, and neither system received much homebrew, or software made independently, unofficially. Essentially, anybody with enough programming knowledge can do it.
Since the video game crash of 1983, companies have been rather strict about the people who are allowed to develop for their systems, typically charging a fee for development kits, licensing, etc. In order to ensure that only approved developers can run their software, manufacturers have come up with various ways to lock people out of their systems. Fortunately, modchips circumvent these. Unfortunately, they also make piracy possible. Manufacturers will often sue on the makers of these chips on the grounds that they're being used for piracy.
This brings us to the Dreamcast, which came out shortly after the Saturn. As far as consoles went, the Dreamcast was considered quite beastly, with a lot more under the hood than its predecessor. It was easier to program for, but alas; Sega had already burned many of its bridges with developers. In spite of this, they already had lots of their own franchises to work with, and spawned new ones, such as the 2K Sports series. The Dreamcast was much more successful than the Saturn, though that wasn't quite enough to prevent Sega from quitting the hardware business altogether.
The Dreamcast, interestingly enough, accepted software made by, well, just about anybody. Calling Dreamcast security lax is really an understatement, and anybody who wanted to could make homebrew for the Dreamcast without jumping through hoops. In fact, the Dreamcast helped make the homebrew scene in general much, much larger. To this day the Dreamcast sees new releases, quite possibly making it a console with a life longer than the Playstation 2.
In the second half of its life, the PS3 got cracked wide open to homebrew thanks, in part, to Sony's removal of the OtherOS option which made it possible to install Linux on the earlier models of PS3. This feature was removed with later models, along with the ability to play PS2 games.
They also became less attractive...
Unlike Sega, however, Sony has decided to take drastic legal action.
In addition to suing Mr. Hotz, they've taken his hard drive by court order, and they are trying (at current) to shut up any and all sources of PS3 hacking. Worse, still, they demanded from Google (unsuccessfully) the IP address of everybody who saw videos on PS3 hacking.
Quite frankly, I'm disgusted. While I can understand legitimate concerns such as piracy (though that's an argument for another day) or cheating, which has happened on Modern Warfare 2, and has caused mass resetting of statistics, it would be wise of Sony to pursue those who steal or cheat. They shouldn't attack the lead mines, they should strike those firing bullets.

Why I'm not buying a PS3

Sony has given me many, many reasons to ignore their PS3 and other products.

1. bleem!
bleem! (stylized that way) was an emulator for the Playstation, (that's right, the original) that ran on the PC and Dreamcast. Sony did not approve, and sued them for all that they had. While Sony actually lost the case (and thus emulation spread) Sony weakened bleem! using its near omnipotent legal staff, and the massive cost of going to court so much finally ended them.

2. Rootkits
"A rootkit is software that enables continued privileged access to a computer while actively hiding its presence from administrators by subverting standard operating system functionality or other applications... The term "rootkit" has negative connotations through its association with malware."  - Unceremoniously ripped from Wikipedia
In 2005, Sony used a rootkit (essentially a computer virus) onto music CDs in an effort to spy on their customers and slow down their computers. More information about this scandal is available on Wikipedia, but it managed to make headlines. While I won't go into too many details for the sake of time, the "United States Department of Homeland Security, issued an advisory on XCP DRM. They said that XCP uses rootkit technology to hide certain files from the computer user, and that this technique is a security threat to computer users." - Again ripped from Wikipedia.

3. The PSP Go
The PSP Go is the latest (and most likely the last) revision of Sony's PSP. What's so amazing about the Go, you ask? It has no UMD drive! Hahaha, isn't that awesome? All the games and movies you bought in UMD format are now worthless, they won't work on a Go! The best part is, Sony doesn't care! They won't provide any means to dump your old games to your new console. Impressive use of technology!

4. Broken Promises
As mentioned earlier in this article, Sony has taken away Linux support from the PS3, first by creating newer, uglier versions that just don't do all that they once did, and then by taking it away through a firmware update. Sure it's possible to keep the Linux by keeping your PS3 offline, but in the immortal words of their mascot Kevin Butler, "Come on!".
The trouble is, by rejecting the update, PS3 Linux users can't play games online, access the Playstation Network, or play new games, which require updated firmware.
The reason this is such a big issue is that, in spite of the fact that Linux wasn't used much on the PS3 except by a dedicated few, it was an advertised feature. That's not something that should be subtracted.

5. Lies, Lies, So Many Lies!
Again, for the sake of time, I won't list everything Sony has ever lied about; the article would be finished at the heat death of the universe, which would be an extreme inconvenience.
 Instead, I'll have you look at the products section of their Wikipedia page, which at current I'm shocked hasn't been modified by their lawyers.
It lists more of their grievances, including their attempts at creating fake journalists to write buttered up reviews of their trashier films, fake teens who try to get PSPs from their parents and so many, many more.

I'm not buying a PS3, at least not new one. I'm too disgusted by Sony's actions. Sure, Microsoft has done some pretty bad things too, but they've been shaping up lately. While I'm pretty sure it's a survival tactic, it sure feels good as a customer to feel like I'm not getting ripped off.

What Happens Now?
Sony is currently trying to sue the pants of Mr. Hotz, and the team of carnivorous lawyers are ready to shred him limb from limb financially, shove his head on a stake and display it for all potential enemies of Sony and anybody who dares to make believe in innovation.
Something Sony has failed to consider, however, is that the 21st century is advancing rather quickly, and the news about Mr. Hotz has as well. There's always the chance that he will be met with mass support, in spite of Sony's attempts to turn everybody else against him.
While it is true that by hacking the PS3 he violated the EULA, Mr. Hotz did not break any laws by making the codes available.
This will be an interesting affair.
George's new website