Monday, 11 March 2013

Because Titans are Awesome

A discussion on Fark, regarding the usual "Why have armoured vehicles, or capital ships, or armoured knights, when any such protection will quickly be superseded by advances in weapons?" Armoured knights were vulnerable to armour-piercing longbows, as well as their own logistical issues, long before the mass production of firearms made them impractical. Likewise the tank was originally designed to break the deadlock of trench warfare in Europe during the First World War, and only afterwards became the traditional gun-carriage, with the latest designs being horribly vulnerable to virtually everything including their own massive weight. Like aircraft carriers, which superseded battleships, tanks need to be supported by infantry, and essentially function well only so long as there isn't anything with equivalent punch on the other side. And even in Chechnya the context of tank design was revealed as a blitzkrieg speartip rather than an all-purpose fighting system.

Which brings me to Titans. Giant robots, of the 'real robot genre', traditionally suffer from all of the problems of the aforementioned without generous helpings of bullshit to help the other bullshit go down. On the other side of things, the 'super robot genre' takes the giant robot as a kind of plot hook and runs with it. Which is interesting, as it somewhat reflects what I take to be the science-fiction/fantasy divide, in which stories either take the tack of "what if..." and become harder or softer science fiction depending on what sort of scenario the author wishes to explore, and how much they give a shit about verisimilitude, or the tack of "why would..." and becomes figurative or episodic depending on whether the author has something to say, or simply likes swords/dragons/erotic fiction involving demons.

Seriously, go to the romance section of your local book-hole and check out how much fantasy involving fucking demons, which is to say fucking, and demons, as well as fucking demons. Needless to say, despite the apparent ordinary-ness of much romantic porn, it's very much in the fantasy genre because they are about sexual fantasies, with the fantastic elements being the characters and their motivations, rather than elements of their worlds. But hey, if you're going to write about a repressed housewife being brought out of her shell and being sexually satisfied by a one-dimensional man/woman/whatever whose entire purpose is to facilitate that, you might as well make that whatever a demon while you're at it. I think it's the attitude that, hey, it's a fantasy, and it's so unrealistic to begin with that you might as well throw in some demons for shits and giggles. It's not as if people writing fantasies about demons haven't been trying to work an important schlick-passage about demonic fornication into books ostensibly about repressed farmboys being brought out of their shells and being socially important. Those infinite monkeys and typewriters are going to produce the entire catalog of Harlequin as well as Shakespeare, and all those skeezy fantasy books that have made perverts like Piers Anthony into wealthier perverts like Piers Anthony.

I trust you found receiving that digression as much fun I had ejaculating it. Anyhoo...

Giant fucking robots. Alternately, giant robots, fucking. Which is, I think, a seriously un-considered topic when it comes to considering the relation of Games Workshop's Titans to the Daemons of Slannesh possessing them. Okay, Slannesh isn't just rape and tits. It's also excess and the secret-soul-sucking emptiness thereof. But one imagines that somehow, somewhere, some serious man with a moustache has constructed a 28mm scale diorama of a Chaos Titan of Slannesh going all Fruit Fucker on some other Titan, or perhaps a giant fleshy watermelon. And if there is not, then there should be.

My point being that, as I have said elsewhere, that Titans should not be the cutting-edge of military technology, or merely contextual to some military application, although one might imagine that they are, for some reason, slightly less effective at missions best accomplished by infantry, but capable of all-purpose combat from the kind of mass destruction otherwise delivered by nuclear weapons and their non-nuclear equivalents, to the kind of careful, scalpel work that merely requires a few square blocks of city smashed to rubble. As said on an episode of the Venture Bros, re: Kano: "Those hands of his are strong enough to crush a boulder. Yet delicate enough to crush a butterfly."

Titans, as I envision them, should be made in spite of the shortcomings of their form and function. They should exist because there are crazy people out there with more interest in becoming cyborgized with giant robots than the nickels and dimes of practical interstellar logistics. They should be crammed full of technology like anti-gravity, holtzman effects, and so on in order to push the point that while it may be more efficient to have something like the Tau Manta, that whoever made the Titan should be saying, It's the Zim Argument from Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers, that while mass destruction may be possible at the push of a button, it's the personal touch that counts. And somewhere in between mass destruction and crack teams of commandos like Space Marines, there should be Titans. They should be an aesthetic choice by a civilization choosing between human (and human-equivalent) and post-human.

Which brings me to an important point, namely logistics. Iain M. Bank's Culture books, although not an attempt at hard world-building, suggest that a post-human, post-scarcity (liberal bourgeoisie) civilization would essentially do things in a more tasteful fashion. But in war, as in peace, there are tastes, and while the delivery of overt personal violence by Space Marines may deliver the right message, sometimes the message that you want to deliver is that the wrath of Humanity will be delivered upon thee by gigantic fucking human-shaped robots, and the delivery of that wrath and its postmark are so important: "We built these fuckers for you and your extinct ilk."

Signed: "Fuck you., -Humanity XO"
Just remember, when you write "Jesus Legally Missing Christ, Nurglitch, what's wrong with you?" in the comment box below that you do not write like a wanker. One must have standards.  

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