Tag Archives: Netflix

Harry Turtledove’s Worldwar Series is Among the Best Alternate History Stories

Aliens invade Earth during World War 2.

So is the basic, and awesome, concept behind one of Harry Turtledove’s greatest novel series, the “Worldwar” series. First published in 1994, this 8-book series is one of the most famous alternate history stories written and poses one of the most delightful what-if questions ever asked. What if aliens invaded Earth during World War 2?

Now, WW2 is like a magnet when it comes to alternate histories. Soooooo many authors have written about this war posing various what-if questions but they’re usually about what if Nazi Germany won the war.   No other topic in history, not even what if the Confederate States of America won the American Civil War, comes even close to matching the popularity of this topic. As such, alternate historical WW2 stories oversaturate the genre and make it hard to find good stories from this small pool.

What Harry Turtledove does to differentiate himself from other writers is focus on the point of divergence (the point in history where something happened differently than from our own timeline). It’s not Roosevelt or Hitler that gets assassinated, it’s not Nazi Germany refraining from declaring war on the U.S.S.R., it’s not Japan refraining from bombing Pearl Harbor, it’s an alien invasion. Freaking aliens.

Now at this point, you might be saying to yourself, “but they’re aliens! Shouldn’t they be able to steamroll over us and conquer Earth no problem?” You might be right, BUT, these aliens are practical…sensible…and not farcical. These aliens have technology similar to ours right now but with an added bonus of say…50 years from now or so. They have interstellar but slower than light travel, they have large spaceships for holding armies, and they have cryonics to preserve the soldiers during the long flight. So their technology is not too-farfetched.

More importantly though, the aliens, known as “The Race,” were not expecting this degree of advancement from the humans. When the Race sent their first probes to Earth, they sent back pictures and videos of humans riding horses while wielding swords and bows. The probes painted an image of the human race as relatively backwards and not a threat to the more technology advanced the Race. As such, when the Race arrived to the war-torn world of Earth, they were expecting an easy conquering of a backward species.

This is one of the reasons why the Worldwar series is a great series of novels to read. We are presented with a believable science fiction setting that offers a conflict that is not one-sided and can be viewed from multiple protagonists. Oh yeah, the protagonists. In typical Turtledove fashion, we are presented many different protagonists to follow from various walks of life, both human and the Race. They offer us a glimpse into their world and paint us a picture on what events are affecting them and what events they are affecting in return. My favorite POV is probably Molotov though Atvar, the Fleet Overlord of the Race, is a good character as well.

The second reason why this series is so great is that it does not overly rely on parallel historical events to tell a story. Let me give you an example of what I mean. Some authors, like Harry Turtledove, like to use events in their storyline as analogous to the actual historical events. In Harry Turtledove’s other famous series, Timeline-191, where the C.S.A. won the American Civil War, we see A LOT of parallels between the C.S.A. and Nazi Germany during the 1930s and 1940s and in the 1940s’ war between the C.S.A. and the U.S.A. In all honestly, it’s kind of annoying. I like my alternate history stories to progress like they naturally would and not just on some parallel track that was already determined by our timeline. This is why I like Timeline-191’s storyline during the Great War more so than the rest of the series because those parallel events are played down to the point of nonexistence.

Now, to be fair, the Worldwar series does have analogous events but they are portrayed as events similar to what has already happened in human history. Many of the human characters compare the Race’s colonization of Earth relative to British Imperialism in the 19th century. Topics like Social Darwinism and racism are prevalent in the Race’s attitude towards humans. The humans disgust the Race with their non-seasonal mating, long-term romantic relationships, high amount of liquid waste, and ability to handle change easily. But these events do not directly portray one or two significant events that happen during the course of history. In fact, many fans of the series more often than not compare the Race War to that of the Vietnam War. Even then, this is more of just a point of observation rather than directly comparing battles or weapons that the two wars may have.

As such, we are given two strong reasons why the Worldwar series stands out from other alternate historical novels. An original concept combined with a story that is unchained from our own history provides a delightful read that can keep the readers on edge. When I read the Timeline-191 series or other similar stories, I can get a relative idea what may happen and who might be killed at the end of the story. Worldwar pushes this to the side and keeps us guessing what may happen in each exciting new book.

And finally, in the television world where more and more companies like Netflix or Hulu are providing us with original, unhindered shows that can give us exciting and new series, I say this. The Worldwar series would be phenomenal if it was adapted into a television show. We already have shows with multiple protagonists, such as Game of Thrones, and there hasn’t been any good, strong science fiction shows in recent memory. What’s more, the tagline that I gave you at the beginning of the article is enough to entice anyone to at least check out the first episode

Aliens invade Earth during World War 2.

Someone has to make it. This series is awesome.

My only request is that you make the aliens chameleon-like cause god damnet, sooooo many book covers make them just reptilian-like. Make it happen!

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Nostalgia Filter Test: Jackie Chan Adventures

Full thoughts and review of Godzilla (2014) will be posted next week. For now, enjoy this article on Jackie Chan Adventures!

Nostalgia plays a role in our grown up lives but how much of that clouds our passion for our childhood obsessions?  This is part of a series where I’ll critically analyze a series from my childhood and see how well it still holds up. Enjoy!

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For my free time these past few weeks, I’ve been watching Jackie Chan Adventures on Netflix.  I wanted to rewatch some of the good episodes while trying out seasons 4 and 5 as well.  How well as this series held up?  Pretty good I have to say!

This is probably one of the best shows out there that’s centered on a celebrity.  Though the real Jackie Chan doesn’t lend his voice to his character, he’s still involved in the show as seen in his end-of-the-episode “Hey Jackie” shorts along with his brief cameos in the intro.  Plus, Jade Chan is voiced by Stacie Chan who is actually Jackie Chan’s real life niece!

One thing you’ll probably not hear many people praise on the show is its animation which is alright but definitely better than some modern cartoons’ flash animation style.  However, it’s the story, characters, and voice acting that really pulls the show together. Most of the characters are pretty funny.  Jackie, Jade, Uncle, and Tohru lead the way with some of the best comical moments the series has to offer.  The running gags can be a little overdone but they usually give them enough spin to keep them fresh.  The fights can be frenetic, just like a Jackie Chan movie and that’s fun to watch.  The show really gets creative at times, especially with the use of props, scenery and magical devices.

A primary focus on East Asian folklore gives the show a unique flavor that doesn’t feel stereotypic or watered down.  Uncle’s chi spells seem genuine, especially with the chi spells’ ingredients such as blowfish or lotus flowers.  The standalone episodes also break the East Asian focus by expanding on global folklore such as El Chupacabra and Stonehenge which is definitely needed.

talismans

What’s nice about the show is that each season can stand by itself as they have a definite beginning and end with many conflicts in between.  Season 1 saw the 12 Talismans, Season 2 had the 8 Demons, Season 3 saw the Talismans in animal form, Season 4 had the Oni Masks, and Season 5 had the Demon Chi.  I think the show really took off starting Season 2 as now we have an established universe which is now expanded on and played with.

In fact, Season 4 was probably the JCA’s most creative season.  The season broke away from the Chinese focused plotlines and into Japanese folklore via the Oni Demons.  Now, Uncle is nearly helpless and Tohru’s importance is expanded on.  Also, I loved what they did with the Oni Masks.  They took a concept, Oni Masks give the mask wearer the power to summon a unique shadowkahn and the mask can only be removed by a unique spell, and ran with it.  They did concepts like a dog wearing a mask, or a mask is split into two, or a mask is revived via the Rat Talisman, the list goes on.  I liked it and though it wasn’t as strong as Season 2, it was still enjoyable.

Evil-Masks-jackie-chan-adventures-26036978-1024-768

I wish I could say the same thing for Season 5.  Oh God, why.  I watched a few episodes of Season 5 and I had to turn it off because it was not worth it.  The show had definitely run its course with reused plotlines.  Also, Drago was just not a good villain, especially when compared to his father, Shendu.  And I absolutely can’t stand Ice Man, he’s just sooooo anooooyinnnng.  God, shut up.  Overall, Season 5 just felt stale and I’m glad they canceled the show after that.

But back to Season 2, I think the main reason why this season worked was because of Shendu and his brothers and sisters.  Seeing Shendu in a position where he had to beg, gravel and be frustrated was a delight.  The demons were really fun and I especially liked the Moon and Sky Demon.  The Demon World episodes were also some of the best in the series as we see our heroes at their lowest but even then they still won the day.

ONE MORE THING, it’s funny to see Shendu transform as the series progressed.  We initially see him as a demon who was obsessed in conquering the world to eventually obsessed in killing Jackie Chan.  It’s very amusing.

Anyway, Jackie Chan Adventures has held up well.  Go see it if you have some free time this summer.  I suggest you start with Season 2 and go through to Season 4.  But skip Season 5, bleh.

Nostalgia Filter Test Score: A-