Area of Effect, Issue #11

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December 2017 • Issue 11

EFFECT Blowing up geek culture



"Setting aside the familiar and letting go can be frightening, strange, and uncomfortable." p. 28



"This year, many people have spoken up about abuse." p. 24


Pinstripe • The Good Place • Star Wars • Stardew Valley • Avatar: The Last Airbender • Wonder Woman • Game of Thrones • Stranger Things 2 • Attack on Titan • Spider-Gwen

Read the top articles from each month of 2017. p. 8


DECEMBER 2017, ISSUE 11 Publisher | GEEKDOM HOUSE Founder | KYLE RUDGE Executive Editor | ALLISON BARRON Designer | WAYSTONE CREATIVE Contributing Writers | Michael Boyce, Matt Civico, Casey Covel, Kevin Cummings, Erica Dass, Caitlin Eha, Julia Hamm, Victoria Grace Howell, Kyla Neufeld, Kyle Rudge, Alex Mellen, Charles Sadnick, Dustin Schellenberg, Jennifer Schlameuss-Perry, Steven Sukkau Contributing Artists | Paper Beats Rock (, Arkenstellar (, Blue-Ten (blue-ten., Matthew DeMino (mattdemino., Linda Ansone (lindamarieanson., Andrey Pankov (p1xer.deviantart. com), Ryan Valle ( Cover art | “Spider Love" by Paper Beats Rock Back Cover art | “Rey" by Paper Beats Rock Area of Effect magazine is published four times a year in September, December, March, and June, by Geekdom House, Winnipeg, Manitoba. To read more articles online, visit www. WEBSITE Read our articles online at FACEBOOK Like our page at TWITTER Follow or tweet at us @GeekdomHouse INSTAGRAM Follow our posts @GeekdomHouse ABOUT GEEKDOM HOUSE: Geekdom House is a non-profit organization based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The mission of Geekdom House is to be a faith-filled community with fanatics of sci-fi, fantasy, comics, games, and more. Geekdom House is an organization under Crestview Park Free Methodist (BN: 106993082RR0001).


Spider-Gwen and the Cost of Justice "Peter Parker died because he tried to follow my example. I have to take responsibility for that. To make his death mean something. But I can't do it in a jail cell. This mask is my badge now." 2 • AOE MAGAZINE





contents Survival of the Weakest in Attack on Titan by Casey Covel


Compassion and Strength Collide in Wonder Woman by Kyla Neufeld


We Need More Karen Pages by Erica Dass


Spider-Gwen and the Cost of Justice by Dustin Schellenberg


The Lies We Tell by Michael Boyce


The Dark Art of Bloodbending FANTASY

by Alex Mellen



True Villainy in Once Upon a Time by Caitlin Eha


The Selfish Games of Littlefinger


by Charles Sadnick


Living in the Fire Nation

by Jennifer Schlameuss-Perry


Can We Forgive Rogue One's Heroes? by Steven Sukkau

A Response to Time Loops SCI-FI

by Julia Hamm

by Victoria Grace Howell

by Dustin Schellenberg

Your Time Travel Pre-Flight Briefing VIDEO GAMES

by Kevin Cummings

Go to Pinstripe's Hell by Kyle Rudge

by Matt Civico






Comic Con, Cosplay, and Consent



Stardew Valley and Avoiding Community

by Kyla Neufeld



When Warped Community Feels Right The Danger of Denying Rey's Past



Our Top 10 Redeemed Villains by Area of Effect Staff

If Beauty is Skin Deep by Allison Barron





Screenshots from Atmos Games' Pinstripe.



by Kyle Rudge

o to hell!” was a popular phrase during my parof Hell are addicted to Sack Juice—a substance that ents’ generation. The concept is pretty straightputs users into a euphoric state, but once they’ve run forward—Hell, a place of eternal torture and torout of it, life seems even more hopeless than before. ment, is somewhere you’d want to send your enemies. It’s a drug that insists the only cure to its side-effects is I never grew up with any form of spirituality, but more of the drug itself. Hell or the idea of an underworld always caught my I suspect that this portrayal of the underworld attention. It’s not that I was afraid of it, but fascinated reflects Ted’s personal Hell, because as the game proby the mythologies that surrounded it. As a teenager, I gresses, you learn he was an alcoholic in his old life became interested in Christianity and and was driving drunk when he and was confronted by terms like “lake of his daughter died in a car accident. To MANY OF US ARE fire” and “weeping and gnashing of me, it highlights what Hell could be for teeth.” However, as I continued to ma- TRAPPED IN OUR OWN each of us. Many of us are trapped in ture, that concept of Hell didn’t match PERSONAL HELLS, our own personal Hells, even in life. up with what I was learning about a The addicts in Pinstripe bury loving God. The definition of Hell was EVEN IN LIFE. themselves deep under levels of isotoo simplistic. Why would a God who lation, depression, compliance, and cared let anyone go to such a horrifying place? It’s a ultimately hopelessness, not because they want to, but question that I’ve wrestled with over the years. because they feel they have to in order to survive. It’s So when I stumbled upon an indie video game the only way they know how to keep moving forward. called Pinstripe, which featured an ex-minister who Ted meets characters who are oblivious to his desperjourneyed to the depths of Hell to retrieve his kidate search for his daughter, only focused on waiting for napped daughter, I couldn’t click “Back this project” on their next delivery of Sack Juice. Kickstarter fast enough. As a father myself, it was like These characters remind me of a homeless man this game was made specifically for me, engaging with named Richard. When I was 19, I sat on a Montreal this idea of Hell and punishment. sidewalk next to him. He Before Pinstripe was released, Thomas Brush was drinking rubbing al(the game’s creator) asked followers to complete the cohol from an old plastic following sentence in a tweet: “Hell is a place where…” water bottle, and we talkMost, if not all, of the responses referenced some form ed for hours about life, of external punishment imposed upon people who dethe homemade tattoos on served it. Hell is where “every step is torture and pain,” his arm, and his dreams “your deepest fears live,” “you are eternally falling,” or of becoming a musician. “the game Pinstripe never got funded”… You get the During the hours of idea. However, the game’s interpretation of Hell turned walking and talking, we out to be quite different. stopped by one of the As you play ex-minister Ted, who follows Mr. many Catholic churches Pinstripe, the villain, into his dark domain, you’re with their doors open for welcomed into a world of depression and addiction. tourists to visit. Richard Pinstripe’s ice-capped Hell, with its gorgeous art style suggested we go inside and haunting soundtrack, is beautiful, but the beauty is and pray, so we did—he missed by its denizens because they’re full of despair. fought against his frail Rather than being eternally tortured, the inhabitants body to kneel at the front. 4 • AOE MAGAZINE

Richard’s prayer was half spoken towards a higher power and half a conversation to me kneeling beside him. He was hungry. He begged for money to rain down from the heavens so he could eat. He pleaded for the strength to hold onto that money and buy food before his addiction betrayed him yet again. When he had finished, he look at me in tears and said, “I’m so hungry.” “Do you want McDonald’s?” I asked, as it was the first place I could think of. Richard nodded and we headed out of the church. We didn’t get very far. Waiting for us in the open doorway to the church was Richard’s Mr. Pinstripe—his dealer. Beside him was a large man who silently watched over the proceedings. In that instant, Richard changed from a hungry friend to someone who would do anything his dealer told him to. The dealer did not have to say anything to Richard. Richard just fell in line, slunk behind the dealer and looked at the ground. The dealer eyed me, boasting, “He’s mine.” I exchanged a few words with the dealer, trying to verbally pry Richard away, but to no avail. I was politely informed that Richard was in debt, and the moment he paid it off, the dealer would give him more and Richard would just owe him later. This Pinstripe knew how to manipulate addiction. It was like he had pushed a button that swapped Richard for someone else; Richard swore at me, told me to leave and not bother him any more. Seeing the large man clench his fist, I left, angry and frustrated. As I walked around the corner, I loudly demanded that God do something. I even kicked a construction sign out of the way in frustration. Clearly this man needed help, and what was God doing about it? When I finished pleading, I heard a still, small voice: “Didn’t you say you were going to feed him?” Reluctantly, I picked up the largest McDonald’s meal I could afford, and set out in search of Richard. It took me about an hour to find him again. The scene had reset. There he was, sitting on the sidewalk sipping from the same plastic bottle. His eyes were far more glassy than before and when I sat down next to him, he had no recollection of who I was. We shared a meal and parted ways. I was wrecked at seeing this cycle of addiction, a circle that seemed unbreakable. Like Pinstripe suggests, perhaps Hell is not a

place we are sent to, but rather something, out of desperation and hopelessness, we choose for ourselves. An easy response would be, “Don’t choose Hell!” and everything will come up rainbows. But I think the message of Pinstripe reflects the Hells we experience in this life, situations that require great strength, determination, discipline, and the help of others to choose the alternative. w


Promotional image from NBC's The Good Place.



n the first season of NBC’s The Good Place, decepgood place,” an idyllic, heaven-like neighbourhood tion is not only part of the storytelling and catalyst where only the best and altruistic souls go. Eleanor for humour, but an important thematic element. soon realizes that she’s not supposed to be there. Anyone who’s watched even a few sitcoms knows She’s been somehow confused with another, much how often they use lying and deception as a plot better woman who’s also named Eleanor Shellstrop. device to get the most laughs. WhethWhen Eleanor discovers that her er it’s George Costanza tricking his presence is having disastrous conLYING CAN MAKE employers into thinking he’s at work sequences for the good place and its US FEEL POWERFUL inhabitants, she decides that she has to by leaving his car in the parking lot or Chandler and Monica keeping their whatever it takes to stay—including AND HELP US AVOID do relationship secret from their friends, lying and shifting blame to others. In lies provide significant ground to flashbacks to her life on earth, we see PUNISHMENT, BUT explore comedic possibilities in these self-centered and self-involved CAN ALSO CREATE A how shows. But at a time when politicians Eleanor was—every decision she made and media pundits continue to normal- SUBTLE HELL. was about her own personal comfort ize “alternate facts,” The Good Place and interest. explores the moral consequences of lying and the As part of her plan, Eleanor also embarks on power of telling the truth. a course of study on ethics taught by Chidi, a tightIn the pilot episode, Eleanor Shellstrop discovly-wound professor of moral philosophy who is still ers that she has died and has been admitted to “the haunted by the memory of a telling a white lie about



As recommended by AoE staff

HORIZON ZERO DAWN Open world—check! Crafting system—check! Gorgeous art style—check! Giant robot animals stomping around, prepared to attack you if you don’t hunt them down—wait, what? A rich story about caring for your community even if it hates you and technological advance.

liking the audaciously red cowboy boots of a colleague. In helping Eleanor, Chidi chooses to ally with Eleanor in her deception at great personal discomfort; he does so for the greater purpose of helping her become a better person. And, although Eleanor’s reason for studying moral philosophy is initially self-serving—she thinks that an understanding of ethics will make her presence less problematic—she comes to understand the consequences of her deceptions, which leads to her unexpected confession in front of the entire neighbourhood and ultimately, at the season’s end, her choice to abandon the good place because staying means harming others. What I like most about The Good Place’s treatment of deception is the noticeable shift in narrative when Eleanor publicly confesses that she’s not supposed to be there. The very idea of what the show is about unravels to the

end-of-season twist (one of the individuals, lying can make us feel best plot twists in years): these powerful and help us avoid puncharacters have actually been in ishment, but lying can also create the bad place all along! The dea subtle hell, which we see in The ceptions, the lies, and the intrigue Good Place in the glimpses we have been part of a malevolent get of Eleanor’s life. Her self-abplan to torture four sorption resulted in people. In becoma lonely, isolated life; TELLING THE ing educated about no friends, no family. morals and ethics, TRUTH IS COSTLY. Although she doesn’t Eleanor realizes that know she’s in “the IT MAKES US she can’t keep lying. bad place” until the Her confession, the end of the first seaVULNERABLE AND architect of this subson, her redemptive PUTS US AT RISK tle hell tells us, was honesty and genuine an unforeseen event, care for her friends OF HARM. which ruined what turns the bad place should have been a into a good place. thousand years’ worth of torment. And the good place doesn’t We can find any number of necessarily mean an easy place. justifications for lying: self-protecTelling the truth is costly. It makes tion, self-aggrandizing, protecting us vulnerable and puts us at risk someone else’s feelings, and more. of harm. But it is only through In our current age, repeating honesty that we can ever really well-worn lies has become busiconnect with and care for others… ness-as-usual for many, including at least that’s what I read in Ethics politicians and businesses. For for Dummies. w


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Pinstripe is a beautiful combination of art, music, story, and gameplay. Hell is often understood as a place where external forces lay siege to your dying soul, but in Pinstripe, Hell becomes the thing we choose out of desperation and hopelessness.

Beginning as a quiet, peaceful exploration of a gorgeous, sunlit island, then turning darker—RiME, with its intriguing puzzles and gorgeous soundtrack, reminds us that sometimes we have to let ourselves experience the darkness before we find hope again.


Best of 2017

by Steven Sukkau


n a film about good intentions, heavy consciences, and tainted legacies (also, lasers), the cry for redemption is what stood out to me the most. The line between scoundrel and hero is blurred in Rogue One. Galen Erso, the lead scientist behind the construction of the Death Star, wonders if history will remember him as one of the Galaxy’s greatest villains. Unwilling to die like his wife (who makes a stand rather than be a slave to the machinations of the Empire), he makes a deal to help complete the Death Star, believing his actions will be justified by adding a kill switch in secret. Captain Cassian has compromised so much of his conscience as a saboteur, and he wonders if there will ever be a momentous enough victory to justify those actions. If he kills for the ideal of freedom that never appears, is he no different than an empire filled with men following violent orders in the name of a peace that is never established? Saw Gerrera, a fanatic, leads a militant terrorist-like group in the face of the Empire. Gerrera has fought too long, making too many compromises to feel like a hero. When in possession of a turncoat Imperial pilot who brings news of the Death Star’s flaw, Gerrera tortures him. While he saved Jyn Erso as a child, he abandons her when she comes of age in a perhaps misguided effort to keep her identity hidden. It’s another difficult choice to weigh heavy on his conscience, but made with good intentions. Desperate circumstances have led these men to embrace disgraceful methods, and they are all of them ashamed. Galen Erso, Cassian Andor, Saw Gerrera, and many of the Rebels feel a deep need for redemption.

 But they don’t know how to get it until they meet Jyn Erso. The hope Jyn brings is demonstrated by her faith in her father. She can believe her father’s pure intentions despite his actions because she trusts his word. Or perhaps its a naive, unwavering belief simply because he’s her father. But it’s that kind of belief that gives everyone around her the hope that if someone can forgive the man that created the Death Star, then they too can be redeemed. Jyn’s plan to storm the Empire’s information centre is not only a way to save the Galaxy, but for her it’s the vindication of her father. Jyn’s love for her father allows her to look past his imperfections and believe in the man he wishes to be. In that suicide mission, the chance for redemption is offered, not only for Galen Erso, but for Cassian, Gerrera, and many of the other rebels. It is a chance to do the right thing, for the right reasons. But does the Death Star’s destruction make what the Rebels did to get there “right”? Does their sacrifice make up for their wrongs? Should they be redeemed or should they live with the shame of what they did forever as penance? 8 • AOE MAGAZINE

I saw a documentary on the first nuclear weapons and bombings of Japan shortly after seeing Rogue One, and I couldn’t help but make the comparison between the Death Star’s planet-destroying power and the shocking introduction of nuclear bombs in 1945. Incidentally, George Lucas patterned many of the visual motifs in Star Wars after World War II designs, including the Nazi inspirations for the Empire’s parade sequences and uniforms; the space battles are inspired by some of the air-to-air combat scenes in World War II films. Watching the documentary, the pilot who dropped the bomb on Hiroshima speaks of how millions of lives were saved when the mushroom cloud grew behind them; they avoided months of potentially bloody and conventional warfare. But in his voice is the unmistakable tone of defensiveness, the self-justifying logical argument, and it’s root: guilt. The man indirectly killed thousands of men, women, and children in the process of saving millions. He may be a hero, but the shame remains. Guilt and the desire to do the right thing drives Galen to finally take a stand and give himself up in an attempt to save his fellow scientists. Cassian stays his hand and disobeys a kill order on another quasi-innocent target. After making peace with Jyn whom he abandoned, Saw Gerrera, the jaded and pessimistic survivor, embraces the audacity of hope with his final breath. Chirrut and Baze embrace faith over doubt in the face of death. Guilt, when faced head on, transforms its subject into a willing sacrifice for good. Do these characters deserve forgiveness? No. I don’t think one good action makes a previously wrong one all better. But because of their sacrifice, they are redeemed. The whole point of redemption and forgiveness is that we don’t deserve it. Jyn’s belief in her father’s true nature creates a vehicle for everyone else to dare to hope they can be redeemed. It seems redemption, like rebellions, is also based on hope. w



Best of 2017 Screenshot from Chucklefish's Stardew Valley.

ality: that I have neighbours, and I was ignoring them. I now have friends up the street, down the street n its surface, Stardew Valley is a game about and a few streets over, not to mention those only a farming, crafting, and collecting. These tasks short bus ride away. Yet I still find myself with my can easily take up most of the players’ time but blinders up, working my small plot of land—wake, they aren’t the point of the game, because Stardew Val- work, return, rest—even in spite of invitations to “drop ley is really a community simulator. by anytime.” I’m still untangling the reasons for this, The game begins as many pastoral fantasies but one thing that’s clear is I find it easier to be alone, do, with the romantic promise of escape offered by or at least to be in familiar comforts. Many of these a return to the dirt—our collective roots. In Stardew friendships are new and while some came as part of Valley, the promise is a deed to a small farm in the the built-in community of my new church, all of them game’s namesake town, where I was greeted by a field required work on my part, mostly in the form of initiaovergrown by weeds, rocks, and a forest that has taken tive. advantage of years of neglect to encroach upon my But this fact, the hard work of community—acone-room shack. I got straight to subduing the land cepting invitations or, God forbid, inviting someone for and started dreaming of upgrading my hovel and how dinner—is something Stardew Valley won’t let me igI would build a nice fence for the cow pasture I didn’t nore. The game is constantly asking me where I want have yet. to invest my resources; more and more Then my old-fashioned mailbox the pay-off to be in people. I FIND IT STARTLINGLY I’m finding started blowing up with messages. Recently, I was working towards First with words of welcome, but soon EASY TO TEND MY an in-game objective that involved people were dropping by in person— collecting high-quality turnips (they’re PATCH OF LAND WITH rarer than you think). I finally grew with requests. I decided it might be tactful to go LITTLE THOUGHT TO the five I needed by the sweat of my into town and actually figure out what brow, quality fertilizer, and more than THOSE AROUND ME. kind of person would pay 150 gold a little random luck, and was on my pieces for three dandelions. By the way to cash them in when I stopped by time I made it back home, I’d been taught how to fish, the community notice board. Alex, the town’s resident met a fellow urban refugee making art just outside of jock, was looking for a turnip. I checked my inventory: town, and realized that most of these digital people I only had my five gold-star turnips, no more boring had their own challenges. I wasn’t the only person common tubers. My next crop of turnips wouldn’t be living in the valley. ready for a week, and Alex needed that turnip today, so This kind of self-centredness isn’t just a feature I had a decision to make. of my gaming, it’s a feature of me. I find it startlingly Do I make the football-tossing jock who also hapeasy to put on blinders; to go my way and tend to my pened to be a bit of a jerk a priority, or do I put myself patch of land with little thought to those around me. first? I reluctantly decided to give Alex the turnip after I can hang some of this on being an introvert, but not concluding that his happiness had a time limit, whereall of it. I guard my energy jealously and hate having as mine would only be delayed. demands made of me, after all there are only so many There’s that self-centredness again. I can barely hours—in the case of Stardew Valley, only minutes—in give a turnip to a pixel-person without working out a day. how it benefits me. I gave Alex the turnip, he said The question of where to invest my real-world thanks, and I walked away. Then he told me his story. time and energy has weighed on me in the wake of He told me why he lived with grandparents. He recent life changes. Last year I got married, moved to told me his father had been a drinker; how he used an unfamiliar part of Montreal, and decided to attend to pay a heavy price when he’d get between his father a francophone church, all of which made new and and his mom. He told me about his mom getting sick; particular demands of me. Throw my job as an ESL about the cancer that took her. Only his dog—and now teacher and grad school on top of all this and suddenly myself—knew about what he’d been through, and he 24-hour days were looking short to this easily overplayed football in the wild hope of becoming someone. whelmed geek. Stardew Valley became my preferred I blinked at my screen before selecting my way to escape and unwind but, as often as it relaxed me, it managed to remind me of an uncomfortable recontinued on page 11

by Matt Civico






"Two Sides - Katara" by Blue-Ten.

Best of 2017


hat separates an extraorher own. She was bitter and angry, dinary power from a dark blaming innocent people for her art? There are enough torture. “We have to fight these dangerous powers in the Harry people whenever we can, wherever Potter series to fill a class at Hogthey are, with any means neceswarts and enough in Star Wars to sary,” she warns Katara. power the Dark Side of the Force. Even before Katara learns In those stories, darkness is charHama has been kidnapping the acterized by how a power is used. villagers, she questions the art of The Unforgiveable Curses are illebloodbending, hesitating to learn a gal and Force Lightning is frowned skill that gives her such control over upon because they lead the users another person. But her obsession down a dark path. with learning everything about waBloodbending is another dark terbending encourages her to watch power. In Avatar: The Last Airbendthe technique working in action. er, bloodbending is When Sokka and Aang explored in detail, in- I CAN'T PUT BACK confront Hama, she cluding how it’s masbloodbends them into attered. Katara encoun- WHAT'S COME tacking Katara and each ters a bloodbender in OUT OF THE BOX. other. Katara stops her the Season 3 episode at the last moment by “The Puppetmaster.” Team Avatar using bloodbending against her. is travelling through the Fire Nation Though she used the power in disguise when they meet Hama, to defend her friends, Katara’s a waterbender from the Southern actions opened Pandora’s box. And Water Tribe. Hama has been living she weeps when she realizes it. among her enemies as an innkeepDespite its appearance of evil, er. She doesn’t tell Katara the full twice in the episode bloodbending story of her escape from a Fire is used to accomplish a nonviolent Nation prison until the two of them goal—escaping from prison and subare alone under the light of the full duing an attacker. Applied objectivemoon, the time when waterbenders ly, the technique could have great are the strongest. value. But thinking along those lines Decades ago, Hama was would backfire for three reasons. kidnapped from the southern water First, applying bloodbending tribe with other waterbenders and requires mastering its essence. locked up. Similar to Magneto’s The mental attitude Hama gained prison of plastic, her prison was while mastering it is that people kept entirely water-free, and her are just objects—sacks of water—to hands were bound when she was be manipulated. Their personhood given water to drink. and dignity are lost. She finally devised an escape Second, people aren’t objecplan that relied on the full moon’s tive. Katara uses bloodbending extra strength. “I realized that where one other time in the series, a few there is life, there is water,” she says. episodes later, when she’s tracking “The rats that scurried across the down Fire Nation raiders. Her anfloor of my cage were nothing more ger at the Fire Nation has peaked than skins filled with liquid, and I after she’s bottled up bitterness passed years developing the skills toward her once-enemy Zuko, and that would lead to my escape—blood- she bloodbends the man she susbending. Controlling the water in pects killed her mother. another body. Enforcing your own Katara never bloodbends will over theirs. Once I had mastered again, but the knowledge is always the rats, I was ready for the men.” inside her. This is the third reason She used the technique on bloodbending cannot be redeemed: a guard to make him unlock her the temptation to use it, to control cell. She gained freedom—but she others, will never go away. In fact, exchanged her soul for it. After her giving Katara that temptation was escape and while living in the Fire Hama’s goal. After being captured Nation, she kidnapped villagers by the villagers, Hama looks back at during the full moon and forced Katara and says, “My work is done. them into an imprisonment like Congratulations, Katara. You’re a

bloodbender.” The mere knowledge of a dark art can corrupt. In the world of fantasy, the application of a dark art often involves physical manipulation of a person’s body—like the Cruciatus Curse or a Force choke. But dark arts in the real world might be more subtle. If I lie or deceive to get others to do what I want, I’ll gain power over them, but I’ll also begin to see them as my pawns in the way Hama did. If I try to control others in a casual, I’m-just-exploring way, in time my actions will become a more natural and constant temptation, just as Katara was left with the constant temptation to use bloodbending. I can’t put back what’s come out of the box. And there’s no way to put these “dark arts” to good use. If I tried, I might end up like Hama, with a free body but a damaged moral compass. I must be like Katara and practice only the good aspects of a skill I’ve learned. Instead of dabbling in the darkness, I can be a light to the world, a waterbender who encourages people rather than trying to control them. w "Stardew Valley" continued

response: “It’ll be a lot of hard work, but I think we can do anything we put our minds to.” I wanted to say so much more, ask more questions, but the cutscene was over. Later that week, in real life, I was inspired to get up early to have breakfast with friends before work. We prayed together and commiserated over the struggles we were facing; it was wonderful, but I haven’t done it again since. Building community is a challenge that’s followed by the equally hard work of maintaining community; hard work I often avoid. Cultivating nourishing communities, much like growing turnips, takes time and energy—all of which can be hoarded or given away. But if given the attention it needs, community can bring more value to my life than all the fruits of my lonely labours, high-quality turnips included. w AOE MAGAZINE • 11


Best of 2017

by Julia Hamm


n All You Need is Kill, a novel by Hiroshi Sakurazaka turned into a manga (and the source material for the movie Edge of Tomorrow), the earth has been overrun with aliens known as Mimics. New recruit Keiji Kiriya is stuck in a time loop that starts the morning before his first battle and ends mid battle the next day, if he hasn’t died before then. When Keiji realizes he is trapped in the loop, he tries several times to escape, but there is nowhere for him to run to. So on the fifth loop, he commits himself to fight against the loop—to train and learn until he overcomes it. And he does. He pushes himself, trains his mind, and learns how to fight effectively, because every time he fails and dies, he can start again, having learned from his mistakes. I can achieve it for a day, but I need It’s slow work. Every day he has to go to start all over again the next. through the same conversations, the I admire Keiji, but his discisame basic training, before he can pline is utterly foreign to me. I can focus on becoming a better soldier to much more easily relate to Jack escape the loop. Every time he wakes O’Neill and Teal’c in Stargate SG-1’s up, his progress is erased, except episode “Window of Opportunity.” for the little piece he learned that he When the Colonel and Teal’c are carries in his mind. trapped in a time loop, they also I admire Keiji’s dedication. must figure out what caused it and It only takes him four how to break free. Their failures, four loops, approach, while similar SOMETIMES IT before he vows to fight to Keiji’s, is undertaken the loop, and he doesn’t FEELS LIKE THE in a completely different break that vow. Some mindset. WORLD GETS days he gets through Both work to free his mundane tasks themselves, gathering RESET WHEN I only to break his back the information in GO TO BED. minutes into training. painstakingly small The loop starts again, amounts, loop by loop. and he goes through another three But unlike Keiji, O’Neill and Teal’c hours of push-ups before he can aren’t committed completely to begin his true work. their goal. They take loops off, findI can relate to the feeling of ing more and more bizarre ways to being in a time loop. Sometimes it entertain themselves, knowing they feels like the world gets reset when don’t have to deal with the conseI go to bed. Every morning I make quences. my bed, make breakfast, do the Both eventually find their way dishes, walk to work, come home, out of their respective loops, but make supper, rinse and repeat. I only Keiji is changed by the process. eat, and I have to eat again. As a When he finds out that the only way Christian, I try to make time to to end the loop is to kill the only perpray, and then I do it again the next son who understands what he’s been day. I can’t hold on to being full. I through or be killed himself, he can’t can’t hold on to peace or patience. stop fighting against the loop. 12 • AOE MAGAZINE

I’m the type of person who wants to do something once and be done with it. It’s hard to be consistent with mundane chores that need to be done every day, never mind the important things. Spending time with God, exercising, or learning a new instrument—those things that take time and dedication—are hard to consistently do. It often feels like mustering the focus and mental effort aren’t worth it when I know I’ll have to find them again the next morning. I want be like Keiji—to push through every day, to be disciplined—but when I’ve had a late night and want the extra half hour of sleep in the morning, or I’ve been out of the house for 12 hours straight, I just want to ‘take this loop off.’ It’s hard, almost impossible, to see the progress I’m making. Some days, prayer seems useless. I see my friends having a rough time and doubt my words could do anything for them. I don’t see myself growing in my faith, and I don’t see the fruit of my labour. It’s in these moments that I want to be like Keiji—not minding what the outcome is, but being fully committed to the course—pushing forward because the person I’ve become can’t do anything less. w


Best of 2017 Screenshot from ABC's Once Upon a Time.

A by Caitlin Eha


f all the fights, feuds, and fisticuffs in ABC’s hit show Once Upon a Time, the private war between Captain Hook and Rumpelstiltskin is the stuff of vengeance legend—and just as remarkable as their quest to destroy one another is the blame-game they play while doing it. Their troubles begin in the Enchanted Forest, when Rumpelstiltskin is no more than the crippled village coward. When the dashing pirate, Killian Jones— later known as Captain Hook—passes through town, he takes Rumple’s wife, Milah, away to his ship. Desperate to retrieve Milah for their son’s sake, Rumple limps his way to Killian’s ship to beg for her return. Killian agrees—if Rumple can best him in a duel. Rumple, unable to handle a sword or even walk unaided, is forced to return home without his wife. Years later, Rumple gets the chance to face his enemy again, this time with the deck stacked in his favour. During those years, Rumpelstiltskin became the Dark One, an incredibly powerful sorcerer. He originally sought the dark magic to protect his son, but over time he became obsessed with his own power. After all those years of being called a weakling, he loves feeling unstoppable. I have been blessed with plenty of my own talents, but physical strength is not one of them. The thought of being able to defend myself when I feel wronged is alluring. Rumple thought his dark power would defend him and his son, but it became a disguise for his cowardice, a mask that made him a worse monster than those he fought. Had Rumple been truly brave, he would have let Killian go when he encountered him again. Instead, he recreates the situation that shamed him, first besting Killian in a one-sided duel—thanks to his magical powers—then attempting to rip out the pirate’s heart. Killian is only saved by Milah’s sudden appearance, and Rumple learns that she was not kidnapped; she left him for Killian. Enraged, Rumple is only prevent-

ed from killing the pirate because Milah negotiates a trade: their lives in exchange for a magic bean Rumple wants. Rumple goes to their ship to conclude the trade, but the pain of Milah’s abandonment and Killian’s effrontery is not so easily forgotten. Rumple ends up crushing Milah’s heart instead of Killian’s. In order to get the magic bean Killian is holding, he cuts off the pirate’s hand, officially making him Captain Hook. Yet he refuses to kill him: “I want you alive,” Rumple sneers in the episode “The Crocodile,” “because I want you to suffer like I did.” Hook is feeling no less vindictive. He defiantly replies, “Even demons can be killed. I will find a way!” And thus begins a feud that will transcend the borders of worlds and extend beyond the limits of normal lifetimes. Hook travels to Neverland and searches for a way to destroy the immortal Dark One. Meanwhile, Rumple’s bitterness festers while he blames his pain on Hook. Both Rumple and Hook experienced plenty of darkness in their early lives, and they allowed that darkness to make them even darker. When life hands me a rough situation, I’m tempted to lash out, to stop being “good.” It’s easier to give in to the pain. When my pain hurts other people, I look for reasons why it’s their fault instead of mine. Both Hook and Rumple blame others for their pain. Eventually, they both end up in the town of Storybrooke, Maine. After carrying on their feud for a while, they join forces to rescue Henry, a boy they both care about. On top of that, they both fall in love—Rumple with Belle and Hook with Henry’s single mother, Emma Swan. And neither woman approves of their villainy. After decades of evil deeds, Rumple and Hook suddenly find their commitment to revenge waffling. continued on page 21





by Kyla Neufeld

fter watching Wonder Woman, a friend and I were talking about an image I’ve been seeing around the web: it shows a picture of Robin Wright and Carrie Fisher as Princess Buttercup and Princess Leia, next to a photo of them as General Antiope and General Leia, with the caption, “I’ve lived to see my childhood princesses become generals.” I love this because of the cultural shift it represents. Though Hollywood has been moving away from this, princesses have traditionally been depicted as weak characters, damsels in distress who are just waiting for a prince to save them. But generals are symbols of strength, leadership, and authority. Not only that, generals are active; they affect the plot of their story lines and have agency over their own decisions. For someone who has disparaged the lack of substantial roles for women in Hollywood, seeing Diana finally get her own movie—a movie that was done well and subverted a whole bunch of sexist tropes, mind you—is a big deal. Even more encouraging is the fact that young



As recommended by AoE staff

girls are growing up with big movie franchises, like Star Wars and Ghostbusters, giving them the role models boys have had for decades. Not everyone sees this as a good thing. The discussion around strong female characters always includes some who argue that strong female characters, like Black Widow or Katniss Everdeen, aren’t “real” women because they don’t display traditionally “feminine” characteristics. These writers bemoan the fact that strong female characters don’t follow their male counterparts’ leads or accept their femininity by embracing their nurturing sides (and, in doing so, completely ignore that these characters often do act out of love for their family, like Katniss sacrificing herself for her sister). They insist that it’s unrealistic for female characters to fight in these fictional battles because they are physically smaller and weaker, so what are they doing in the middle of a war anyway? And therein lies something I’ve never seen these writers address. I’ve never seen them ask why our geeky stories are always war stories in the first place. While my friend and I discussed the image I ref-

WONDER WOMAN Wonder Woman is the perfect balance betrween beauty, wisdom, strength, and pureness of heart. The movie shines a light on inequality, PTSD, greed, arrogance, and war. It's a story of hope despite humanity's failings.

Best of 2017 erenced earlier, she mentioned that, as a pacifist, she struggles with supporting war stories. So many of our geeky stories take place during war, whether it’s during a historical war, like Wonder Woman in World War I or Captain America in World War II, or a war between earth and aliens, or a war in a galaxy far, far away. I can see why; any great story needs conflict and a war in which our heroes are fighting to stop world domination or to gain their freedom is bound to capture audiences. But, in these stories, the protagonists are almost always warriors. I tend to think of “equality” in these situations as equal numbers of male and female warriors, especially if I’m thinking about superheroes or high fantasy; if a high fantasy movie ever shows more than one token female warrior (I’m looking at you, The Hobbit movies), I might start to think we’re seeing equality. But then I think about what my friend said and I pause. I don’t want all of my strong female characters to be warriors; I’d like to see female characters in all sorts of roles. But, I think the problem is that war stories are the ones making money, so they are the movies getting made. And, if our warrior default is male, then where is there room for female characters if we don’t make them into warriors too? to cross. This scene is important because it shows The thing I loved most about the Wonder Woman Diana becoming Wonder Woman, but it also solidifies movie was how it portrayed who Diana is outside of her partnership with Steve; when she gets stuck under her armour. Don’t get me wrong: a lot of that movie is heavy fire, he has her back and helps her get the rest devoted to just how hard she kicks ass. But she is also of the way across instead of trying to save her from the unfailingly compassionate and kind. The first time she situation. From there on out, they work together as a sees a baby, her reaction is to gush over it, and when team. her companion Charlie is dealing with Diana is both nurturing and a his PTSD, she makes him feel valued as DIANA IS BOTH warrior, and the movie doesn’t downpart of the group even when he feels like play one side for the other. She is NURTURING AND he’s failed. everything I hope to see in female Even more than that, she doesn’t let A WARRIOR, AND characters in that she has multiple anyone else define who she is. When she facets to her character and is an active THE MOVIE DOESN’T participant in her own story. leaves Themyscira and steps into 1914 London, she enters a world in which I’ve been a geek for a long time, women are literally second-class citizens DOWNPLAY ONE SIDE and too many of the superhero movies (women in the U.K. didn’t get the vote I’ve seen or the fantasy books I’ve read FOR THE OTHER. until 1928). And yet, Diana walks into a have featured one-dimensional female room full of officers and politicians and it doesn’t even characters who don’t add much to the story. Diana occur to her that she shouldn’t be there because of her is a “real” woman because she is allowed to show gender. all aspects of her character, not just the traditionally Though Steve Trevor’s first instincts are to keep feminine ones. Princesses are becoming generals, and her quiet, he gives up the need to conform to the I think that’s great. But I want to see princesses given traditions of his time as he gets to know Diana. When the same depth to their characters as well. Diana gives they get to No man’s land, Diana defies his orders not me hope that such a thing is possible. w



With a surprising amount of laughs and character development, the movie is a reminder we can find humour in the darkest of times, love even after having our hearts broken, and rebirth after experiencing disaster.

Many of us have big dreams, but they can get in the way of being faithful here and now. Spider-Man: Homecoming gives some comforting advice for a success-craving soul: "Just stay close to the ground."




Best of 2017


rom the Night King to Gregor Clegane, there’s no shortage of physically intimidating characters in Game of Thrones, but the ones that are most terrifying aren’t the biggest, strongest, or most brutish – they are those like Tyrion, Varys, and Cersei, who connive and maneuver themselves into positions of authority, often with ruinous effect on those they perceive as enemies. Perhaps the most dangerous of these thinkers is Petyr Baelish, better known as Littlefinger, a master puppeteer who is always several steps ahead of even the most intelligent and powerful players. When we first meet him, we realize there’s more to Littlefinger than meets the eye. He’s a slight man with only a low noble background, but has risen to an important rank as Master of Coin in the small council. As the series progresses, we see that Baelish is involved, sometimes as the mastermind, in so many of the major events, including the deaths of Jon Arryn, Ned Stark, and King Joffrey. He later takes Sansa under his wing, demonstrating to her how he manipulates people by issuing bribes, placing his people in positions where they can influence outcomes, and even making “moves that have no purpose, or even seem to work against you” for a greater purpose. I don’t particularly like Littlefinger, and I know exactly why. He reminds me too much of myself. During my adolescence and into college, I was constantly scheming to figure out how I could use people to get ahead. Like a high school version of Game of Thrones, I plotted and used friends, family, teachers, and acquaintances to gain popularity, increase finances, and achieve high grades. No one was off limits; in one case, I sold a gaming system to my best friend, then took it back two days later with a $50 surcharge when his mom told him he couldn’t keep it. I’m very selfish, and Baelish is too, but I wonder if our devious 16 • AOE MAGAZINE

ways arise from something deeper than greed, something connected to our pasts and the core of who we are. Littlefinger is the very definition of a self-made man. Slender, weak, and wholly unable to put up a good fight in combat, he is also constantly reminded of his position as a small lord. Littlefinger’s nickname, in fact, comes not only from his delicate stature physically, but also because his family’s property was insignificant and unsightly, and located on the smallest of the Fingers, peninsulas at the edge of the Vale. In the television series, Aidan Gillen plays Littlefinger with quiet intensity. He is often picked on by those stronger and more affluent than he. When given the chance, Baelish revels in his smarts as he gains the edge over his enemies (aka everyone). It’s almost as if those around him don’t deserve to be playing this game with him. They are the pieces and Baelish is the player. And so it’s easy for him to murder Lysa, who has longed after him all this time and with whom he was reared, for she is beneath him. Betraying Ned, who was never worthy of Catelyn in Baelish’s eyes, isn’t difficult either. In fact, it’s perhaps only Catelyn, and later Sansa, who are worthy in Petyr’s mind. These women are the prizes he has longed for, the prizes he deserves. And I relate to this madness, because as a child and into early adulthood, I felt I was above others in intelligence, judgment, and morals. I thought I deserved great things because I was great. I used others as if I was in a game of thrones, without thought of what the ultimate consequence might be, both to those I manipulated and to myself. Getting out of my bubble through college, work, and moving to a new city showed me both that I wasn’t as talented as I thought I was and that other people were more amazing than I gave them credit for. My faith connected these thoughts and hammered the

message home, as I realized that we’re all basically the same—we’re all broken people searching for hope. I didn’t deserve anything more than those around me, and if anything, my pride and lack of humility demonstrated to me that I was less than those I looked down upon. I began to admire people more and myself less, and in doing so, I learned to grow as a person through humility and kindness instead of getting ahead through cunning and arrogance. These all seem like basic lessons in humanity, ideas that every adult should know, but I was too self absorbed to see there was more to the world than just me. In learning humility and how to love others, I started shedding much of the pride, hypocrisy, and acrimony that filled my spirit. My belief in God showed me that I’m not as upright or smart as I thought, and it was a lesson that changed my whole life. I’m glad to have learned that early enough so I can spend my life living better, living to serve others and to love the people around me. Perhaps Petyr will learn a similar lesson, though if he does, knowing Mr. Martin, it will probably be too late. For that’s the game of thrones, after all. w


Best of 2017 "Commission - Zuko" by Blue-Ten.



by Jennifer Schlameuss-Perry

magine that you lived in a world where all nations agree that the people they had been good neighbours got along. Then, your nation suddenly attacked the with and in business with a little while ago were sudrest of the nations, attempting world domination. Ac- denly inferior to them? Were they indifferent to their cording to the opening of Avatar: The Last Airbender, suffering? Or, maybe it was far enough away that the that was what happened in their world. The Air, Water, average person didn’t actually see what was going on, Earth and Fire Nations lived in harmony, “then everyand so they didn’t have to deal with it. We know that thing changed when the Fire Nation attacked.” Now, a there were some who stood boldly against these powworld that didn’t know strife was in need of a saviour— ers—many of them are called “saints” now. But, what an Avatar, a master of all four elements. about the silent majority? It takes a special kind of person to think that In the episode of The Last Airbender called “The world domination is a good idea; and I don’t mean Headband,” Aang and his companions find themselves special in a good way. It’s an expensive in a Fire Nation village and need to blend proposition—it costs lives, money, in. We get a glimpse of the propaganda WE ARE EMPERORS comfort, safety, and identity. More that Fire Nation children are being taught OF OUR OWN importantly, it costs your soul. Bein school. Part of the oath they recite daicause, if you are so full of hubris that ly is, “My life I give to my country. With LITTLE WORLDS, you believe your way is the only right my hands I fight for Fire Lord Ozai and OPPRESSING OTHERS our forefathers before him. With my mind way, that you are so much better than everyone else, that you should rule all, NOT BY FORCE, BUT I seek ways to better my country. And that other people’s rights and dignities with my feet may our March of Civilizaare negotiable according to what suits BY INDIFFERENCE. tion continue.” you… if you have placed yourself in the The Fire Nation children are being position to judge others, then you have set yourself up trained in a dangerous kind of nationalism—one that as God and that’s always a losing proposition. states they are the keepers of civilization. Their lives When Firelord Ozai gathered up an army and are rigid; bullies abound, there’s no dancing or anysent them to take over the world, there must have thing creatively expressive; they are being groomed for been some confusion among the people. I have often a utilitarian future. But, that’s what happens when you wondered how the average citizen in such a regime disregard the humanity of others; you lose your own. would feel about what was being done in their name. Joy can’t dwell in hearts bent on oppression. What did the average Roman feel during the rise of When we meet Uncle Iroh and Zuko in The the Empire, or the Canadian and American settlers as Last Airbender, they seem complicit to the Fire Lord’s indigenous people were being relocated or wiped out? goals. We eventually learn they had both been perDid they believe the Manifest Destiny (or whatever that sonally harmed by him; Zuko was scarred physically, particular group called it) rhetoric, or did it make them nauseated? Were they embarrassed? Did they come to continued on page 23 AOE MAGAZINE • 17


Best of 2017

by Erica Dass


hat defines a strong female role model? A woman who fights for what she believes in? A woman who won’t give up? A woman who isn’t defined by a man? A woman willing to make sacrifices for others? If it’s all of the above, then Karen Page from Netflix’s Daredevil fits the bill. Karen’s character is introduced in the first Daredevil comic in 1964. She is a classic damsel in distress, secretary to the firm of Nelson and Murdock, and a love interest to various suitors. Eventually becoming an adult film star with a drug addiction, she cleans up her act but ultimately dies saving Daredevil. Karen of the Daredevil TV series, however, is different. Though she is a secretary and a love interest, those things do not define her. In comparison to other heroines from Marvel shows on Netflix, many wouldn’t describe Karen Page as a badass. She doesn’t have the physical power of Misty Knight, Jessica Jones, or even Madam Gao. Yet that’s the very reason she is strong, because she still manages to fight for what she believes in under the harshest of pressures. Karen’s brand of heroism comes from her With the rise of female-led shows and movies need to do what’s right. In Season One, she finds like Jessica Jones and Wonder Woman, I’m hungry for out that her previous employers, Union Allied, are more heroines. Yet, people keep limiting their definimoney laundering for the Kingpin. After this Karen tion of “empowered” to characters like Arya Stark, is framed for murder, almost killed, and ultimateHarley Quinn, and Colleen Wing without considering ly forced to sign papers so she can’t speak about the immense strength of Sansa Stark, Lois Lane, and her time at Union Allied. Yet this doesn’t stop her Karen Page. from seeking the truth. Even, when the men in her It took me years to redefine my life tell her that investigating Union understanding of strength. Growing Allied is dangerous, she still does PEOPLE LIMIT THEIR up in an Indian Malaysian household it. Similarly, in Season Two, it’s her meant I was exposed to the wonders of DEFINITION OF need to pursue truth that makes her Indian Cinema in all its splendour and, "EMPOWERED" TO an ally of the Punisher. She believes yes, these movies included singing and him when no one else will, sees that dancing, as well as preposterous action WOMEN WHO PUNCH there is more to his family’s death sequences. The women in these shows meets the eye, and helps him THEIR WAY THROUGH. than were there to look beautiful and be investigate. rescued by men. Karen isn’t perfect. Her unstopAfter my introduction to Hollywood cinema, I pable desire for knowledge can put others at risk, and learned that for a female character to equal her male her actions result in the death of an investigative jourcounterpart, she either had to become someone who nalist. However, her humanity and imperfectness are used her fists or her sexuality. But then along came also what make her a valuable role model. She makes Karen Page to change my preconceptions. mistakes just like the rest of us, but it’s her desire to Karen can’t always punch her way out of sitcontinue doing good that makes her heroic. uations and though she could very much use her Karen seeks truth and justice, does so without sexuality as a weapon, she doesn’t. She’s not just a the ability to fight as a superhuman, and refrains love interest. She’s not just eye candy that could be from relying on her sexuality as a form of manipureplaced with a sexy lamp. She’s not just there to be lation. She is a shining example of a badass female saved by Daredevil. character who has heart, who is feminine, who is Karen is determined to find the facts at all costs willing to go after dangerous men, yell at the Punishand that is what drives the plot for both seasons of er, and seek the truth with only her wits and amazing Daredevil. She nearly dies while digging for the truth hair. It’s her passion and heart that make her a hero, on more than one occasion and yet she isn’t willing to not a set of superpowers. We need more Karen Pages look the other way or back down. in our universe. w 18 • AOE MAGAZINE


Best of 2017 Photo from

by Kyla Neufeld



eek culture provides safe spaces for a lot of people; friends and fans alike can get together and enjoy similar interests. I have personally enjoyed many board game nights, trying out tabletop role playing games, watching superhero movies, and talking about favourite books with others. I have never felt unwelcome or unsafe. Geek culture has become mainstream enough to the point where many geeks and nerds who previously felt maligned by greater society have now found a place for themselves within it. Unfortunately, many women haven’t had the same experiences. I like to think of Comic Con as the ultimate fan experience and it is a dream of mine to visit San Diego’s one day. But sexual harassment is a huge problem at cons. A 2014 survey of con attendees reported that 13 percent of respondents said they received comments of a sexual nature at a con and eight percent said that they had been groped, assaulted, or raped. If 130,000 people attend a con (which is the average number of attendees at SDCC), 13 percent is 17,000 people. One of the main reasons for the large amount of sexual harassment at cons is our society’s general acceptance of rape culture. Rape culture blames rape victims rather than their attackers and teaches women that they are responsible for the abuse that men

visit upon them. It also teaches men that they are entitled to women’s bodies. Nowadays, when we hear of a woman being raped, the first questions often asked are, “what was she wearing?” and “was she drinking?” When a boy pushes a girl on the playground and it gets passed off as “boys will be boys,” it teaches him that his violent actions don’t have consequences. A push on the playground may seem insignificant, but a lifetime of passes builds up. It’s been difficult to make any headway in addressing this issue because many are quick to dismiss it. In 2014, a group called Geeks for CONsent began a petition calling for SDCC to create a formal, visible, anti-harassment policy, including on-site support for people who report harassment and signs throughout the convention publicizing the policy. In an interview for Comic Book Resources (, Marketing and Public Relations Director David Glanzer responded that such a policy was already included in con pamphlets. But, he also said that their policy was deliberately broad and that, if they drew attention to sexual harassment, the media might think that there is a problem: “I think the news media, might look at this as, ‘Why would you, if this wasn’t such a bad issue, why do you feel the need to single out this one issue and put signs up about it?’ I

think that’s a concern.” Others who dismiss the problem of sexual harassment at Comic Con often blame revealing costumes as the reason for comments and groping. This has led to a new movement called “Cosplay is not consent,” which endeavors to teach con attendees about appropriate contact—a woman’s revealing costume is not an invitation to grope her or take pictures of her without asking first. New York Comic Con started putting up signs displaying “Cosplay is not consent” in 2014. SDCC took a small step forward by sending out its anti-harassment policy in an email to ticket holders in 2014 (though, the policy is not available on SDCC’s website). But until more is done to curb harassment and assault still present in geek culture, women will continue to feel unsafe at Comic Con. Education about consent is vital to combating rape culture. Someone I know once said, “there is always one jerk who you just have to ignore,” when we were discussing this very topic, but the problem is that ignoring it does not help. Everyone, even children, needs to understand that no means no. We also need to dispel our societal impulses to blame assault on the victim; a low-cut top is not an invitation to assault and we need to stop spreading the idea that it does. w AOE MAGAZINE • 19

November "Stranger Things 2 - Eleven" by p1xer.





by Victoria Grace Howell

here’s wisdom in seeking counsel from those who to use anger to fuel her abilities and be unmerciful to are older and wiser than me, from friends who those who have hurt her. can view my situation from an unbiased perspecKali’s advice isn’t malicious; she genuinely tive. Any time I have to make a big decision, I consult wants to help Eleven. But Eleven comes to realize that those close to me. However, advice still needs to be Kali’s life is dark and bitter; and Kali is surrounded taken with careful consideration. A by friends who let her thrive in her solution that worked for someone ELEVEN CHOSE THE MORE depravity. Eleven soon realizes Kali’s else in a similar situation may not life is not something she wants to DIFFICULT PATH—ONE work for me—it might not even be aspire to. Kali tries to convince her to the wisest thing for me to do. WHERE SHE HAD TO FACE kill a man who abused Kali and hurt In Stranger Things 2, ElevEleven’s mama. When Kali tries to kill HER ULTIMATE FEAR AND the man herself, Eleven stops her and en meets Kali (another girl with superpowers). She finds safety and responds by saying, “If you want RECONCILE WITH PEOPLE Kali belonging with someone who can to show mercy, that is your choice, but empathize with her troubles. Kali don’t you ever take away mine. Ever.” WHO HAD HURT HER. gives her advice on how to harness Kali respects Eleven to make her power and tries to coax her into seeking revenge the decision to show mercy, proving she doesn’t want against the people who hurt her. But Kali tempts Elevto force Eleven to become like her, but Eleven clearly en to the dark side of the Force—I mean, convinces sees the difference between the two of them. Despite her to do more harm than good. She advises Eleven having a connection with Kali, Eleven realizes that she 20 • AOE MAGAZINE

Best of 2017 can’t follow Kali’s path, nor follow around and understood me. And her advice. yet I need more than just empathy It’s difficult to set aside the from my friends. I need people who advice of someone we admire when push me to be better. I need people it’s not the wisest choice for us. For who care about me for me, and not one thing, it’s scary; I’m making a for what I can do for them. I need decision on my own and I might people who will accept me when I not be supported in it. For another, make mistakes. I may hurt others’ feelings by not Kali has chosen friends who taking their suggestions. But my share her mission, but little else. hope is that friends will love me And since people tend to reflect when I take my own path, and even those they spend the most time if I’m wrong, they’ll with, vengeance let me make my own becomes Kali’s only IT’S DIFFICULT mistakes. drive. TO SET ASIDE Despite feeling Though Eleven’s the same hurt and friends, particularly THE ADVICE OF bitterness that Kali Hopper in this season, feels, Eleven chooses SOMEONE WE have let her down, to react differently. they genuinely care ADMIRE WHEN IT’S about her. Hopper She leaves Kali, one of the few people who NOT THE WISEST kept her confined to can truly understand the cabin because CHOICE FOR US. what she’s going he cares about her. If through. Eleven runs he completely empaback to her friends in Hawkins— thized with her desire for vennot because they can save her, but geance and her teenaged emotions, because she can save them. They he probably would have let her do need her, and she knows it. whatever she wanted and wouldn’t I desire community. I don’t have kept her safe. Eleven needwant to be alone in life. Sometimes ed someone like him in her life, it feels like any community is good someone who could see what she community as long as I’m no longer couldn’t. by myself in the world. I’ve chosen Eleven has the strength to to be around people who didn’t venture away from this community have a positive influence on me in Chicago who understand her because they seemed to want me personally and go back to those "True Villainy" continued

But they still can’t stop blaming the other for what happened. “He took my wife… so I took his hand,” Rumple explains to Belle in the episode “The Outsider,” omitting the part about Milah’s murder. During the course of the show, Rumple’s dark power is eventually drawn out of him and, untethered, the dark magic is poised to destroy Storybrooke. In a desperate attempt to save the town, Emma takes the darkness into herself, and suddenly the woman Hook loves becomes the Dark One he hates. Blinded by her new power, Emma does not understand why her relationship with Hook can’t remain the same. In the episode “Siege Perilous,” she tries to reassure him, claiming that the Dark One magic improved Rumpelstiltskin. “He was born a coward,” Emma says to Hook. “You told me how the man he was grovelled and cried… He changed for the better too.” Hook’s face contracts as he hears these words, the strain evident. “You’re wrong,” he spits out. “I

in Hawkins who may not relate to her as intimately. But her friends in Hawkins want to encourage Eleven positively. They want what’s best for her in all ways and they won’t hesitate to point out when she’s going down the wrong path. They love her. Eleven made the choice that Kali couldn’t: to try to heal without hurting others and avoid a warped community even though she felt a kinship with her “sister.” Eleven chose the more difficult path—one where she had to face her ultimate fear and reconcile with people who had hurt her—but it was the wiser path, leading to a community that will push her to love others, search out peace, and value forgiveness. w

was the villain in that little drama, Swan.” Rising, Hook picks up his cutlass and brandishes it angrily, remembering his actions: “[Rumpelstiltskin] was a good man trying to keep his family together. I took this cutlass, put it to his head, and taunted him.” When Hook admits his own role in the feud that destroyed his life and Rumple’s, he shows how far he’s come on the road of redemption. Unlike Rumple, Hook is willing to admit his mistakes and move past them; he’s willing to try to put his villainy behind him. Sometimes, I let pain turn me into a villain, and I hurt the people around me. The only way to come back from my dark moments is to stop blaming other people and realize that I am the villain. No matter what others may do to me, I have my own role in making the problem worse, and that won’t go away until I admit it to myself. So who is the true villain in this war? Both of them, of course. But only a true hero learns to see his own actions, dark as they may be, for what they are—and does something to change them. w AOE MAGAZINE • 21

December Screenshot from Attack on Titan Season Two's opening cinematic.



orget the proverbial answer to the universe hidden “Strength preys on weakness. It’s a very straightin the Yeager family basement; I’m more curious forward arrangement actually,” Armin introspects, about the T-rex in Season Two’s opening cinematic. likening local bullies to the cannibalistic titans that Whether as a reimagining or reflection of the keep humanity trapped within a walled city. From the real world, Attack on Titan’s Germanic culture and moment Eren watches his mother get eaten alive befirearms place it firmly in postdiluvian days, despite all cause he isn’t physically strong enough to lift a house those giants on the earth. Aside from the off of her, strength is portrayed as crucial to military’s trusty steeds, little more than an SACRIFICES survival. After all, the only thing that gets occasional forest creature dares to show through to a titan is another titan-sized fist AREN'T LIMITED to the face. Talking matters out is useless— its face betwixt all the blood and brimstone. But when a T-rex literally comes TO THE PHYSICAL. until, of course, familiar-faced Titan Shiftmarching over the horizon in Season ers make their appearance and the titans Two’s intro, I’m completely pulled out of my deadlocked start talking back. immersion, brain scrambling to make sense of this In Season Two, Attack on Titan begins to derail world-building idiosyncrasy. from its “fight fire with fire” mantra. It challenges As the “king of the tyrant lizards” tramples over that unconquerable visage of tyrannosaurus power, waves of ant-like human armies, accompanied by the asking whether strength can take many forms—not all show’s intense theme music, it becomes symbolic short- of them made of pure fortitude and raw muscle. The hand for misconstrued social Darwinism: survival of series calls attention to gender bias, as Annie topples the strongest. The Beast Titan leads the dinosaur, along Eren in a one-on-one mock battle, using her comprewith a herd of other assorted creatures (each the largest hension of anatomy to beat Eren’s brute force with species of their respective animal kingdoms), becoming ease. Like a domino-driven microcosm, this scene sets an icon of unchallenged rule—as the most ruthless, off a chain of challenges that shake the foundations of most powerful, and most intelligent of his kind. With his strength’s definition. nearly human, ape-like features, the Beast Titan poses To argue that strength is a state of existence is to as the missing link between monkey and man. And in make oneself inhuman, and in pursuing that logic many a world where what it means to be human is the ofta fictional villain has turned to immortality at the cost of posed, existential question, this makes him even more the human experience of death. In Attack on Titan, Ymir’s terrifying as Season Two’s archvillain. strength and unnatural aging come at the price of her 22 • AOE MAGAZINE

Best of 2017 being trapped in a deformed, advantage of or not returned titan body that she likens to an at all. Familiar stories tell us endless nightmare. Similarly, that sometimes giants are the seemingly impenetrable felled by little stones, beauty exterior of the Armoured Titan kills the beast, and villains shields an emotionally-damfocus on those who fit their aged Reiner Braun. Time definition of strength, paving and again, those who seem the way for an unobvious strongest in one moment are hero to save the day. It’s not revealed to be the weakest in coercion, money, or even a the next—and the characters’ rousing speech that conmisconception of social Darvinces Ymir to risk revealing winism begins to crumble like her titan form to save her the tower of Castle Utgard. comrades. It’s Krista’s empaRather than rectify its thetic smile that brings the evolutionary stance from calloused Titan Shifter to “strongest” to “fittest,” howtears of bewilderment: “She ever, Attack on Titan turns knows how awful I am, yet to the still small voice that she still smiles at me.” lies beyond the hierarchical True strength, as Attack pyramid of power. The Titans on Titan echoes through Marsymbolize more than mere co Bodt, is “knowing what it oppression and terror. They is to be weak.” It’s acknowlbecome embodiments of per- edging that while we are sonal demons— scared, undeserving, TRUE abusive fathers, incompetent, and destroyers of have STRENGTH IS foolish—we long-held ideals, relied on another’s deniers of last strength when we “KNOWING rites, betrayers, could not support and reminders of WHAT IT IS TO our own weight. It is ultimate regrets. BE WEAK.” choosing to be the It’s fitting then, shoulder another that Season Two does not leans on, to act in selflesscombat its Titans by sendness and with courage even ing helpless citizens to the when our actions will not massacre or commanding change the outcome of the soldiers to die in the line situation. In doing so, we of duty. Rather, characters preserve and make a habit of choose self-sacrifice in the our humanity. face of senseless slaughter By the finale of Season and level the playing field Two, it’s evident that the through unassuming heroics. weak uphold the strong—unCommander Erwin’s locking true potential and arm is the price of the proteaching others to recognize tagonist’s rescue. Hannes’ different types of strength. bloody end empowers Eren It’s the survival of the weakat his weakest moment, est, not the strongest or unlocking the key to his fittest, that will ensure the ultimate ability. Marcel’s sac- world evolves into a moral rifice establishes a foothold society, transforming the of humanity in Reiner’s heart efforts of humanity from a that has yet to reveal its state of mere survival into potential. one of free living. Yet Attack on Titan The Beast Titan is an Season Two doesn’t limit its imposing foe, but as long as he sacrifices to the physical, but continues to stride alongside also examines the psychothe tyrannosaurus, his days logical and emotional weight are numbered. After all, the of sacrifice—the risk of last time I saw the “king of the choosing to love even when tyrant lizards,” he was looking that love might be taken a bit underfed in a museum. w

"Living in the Fire Nation" continued

emotionally and politically, and Iroh lost his son and what should have been years of peace and prosperity. They had both been robbed by their cooperation in Ozai’s hunger for power and disregard for others. It was only through their personal loss that they are able to see the incorrectness of the evil that they had leagued themselves with. These days there aren’t too many Firelord Ozai’s to worry about; monsters of men who forcibly take over whole nations. We’re too smart for that anymore. Our enlightened society would never stand for injustice so blatant. Instead, we sit comfortably surrounded by cheaply manufactured products that were made in sweatshops, women and children victimized through human trafficking, cultures being taken advantage of because they have what we need to stay cozy, violence against innocent people being tolerated because we have to take care of our own first. There’s really no need to ponder what it must have been like for the average person in the Fire Nation; most of us are living it. But our brand of world domination is much smaller than Ozai’s—we are emperors of our own little worlds, oppressing others not by force, but by indifference. I wonder what cost will be too great so that we finally stop being complicit. Educating myself in the injustice that’s being done in my name as a citizen of the world and a consumer is a place to start. Having models to help shape and guide me like Iroh did for Zuko also helps. Being Catholic, I take great interest in what Pope Francis has to say. He talks about being joyful Christians and removing from our routine the habit of complaining. He speaks regularly about spending time with the poor and suffering; not just fundraising or having clothing or food drives (which are really great ideas, by the way), but going where the poor are and getting to know them. One of the best things Zuko did to prepare for leadership was to go and meet the people his nation was oppressing. He saw them for what they really were—mothers, fathers, children, siblings, friends. When we form bonds with those in need, when we enter relationship with them, we will fight for them. The humanizing effect of spending time with someone who is suffering is the antidote to complacence, the recipe for joy, and the key to peace. w AOE MAGAZINE • 23


Finally, she bonds with Earth-65’s version of the venom symbiote, a mixture of the lizard serum and n Earth-65, Gwen Stacy is bitten by a radioacher spider isotopes, and becomes Gwenom! She is tive spider and becomes Spider-Woman, a wise willing to sacrifice anything to honour Peter’s death cracking crime fighter with spider powers— and make his sacrifice mean something. The deal she quite like the Spider-Man of Earth-616 (a.k.a. regular makes with Murdock for the isotope has all sorts of Earth). There is a lot of pain in her past. Peter Parker, strings attached and she becomes more and more her shy and introverted friend is bullied more and under his control, but it's what she has to do to make a more in school, until he develops the lizard serum to difference, or at least she believes so. Even embracing fight back. Spider-Woman (Gwen’s early persona) ends the symbiote is done to protect her father and avenge up fighting him and, in the fight, pushes Peter too far. those who have died at the hands of S.I.L.K or Frank He dies in her arms. Because witnesses see a revertCastle, a corrupt cop bent on her defeat. ed Peter Parker dying as a result of their fight, she is Sacrificing who you are for a greater purpose branded a murderer and her father, Captain George is not new, but most of the time when I see that story Stacy, vows to bring Spider-Woman to justice. played out in a comic, I think, “I would never go that In a face-off between Captain Stacy and Spifar.” der-Woman, she reveals herself to be his daughter and But Spider-Gwen's story is different for me says: because of Peter Parker's death. I love Spider-Man. “You're a good cop, dad. You put on His death because of my actions would that badge and carry that gun because me. I could see myself donning THIS YEAR, MANY devastate you know if you don't, someone who the mask for justice and opposing people shouldn't will. When I put on this mask, PEOPLE HAVE who have powers. I would also want to do I only did it because it freed me from it took to get my abilities to affect FINALLY SPOKEN whatever responsibility. I thought I was special. real change back if they were snatched And Peter Parker died because he tried UP ABOUT ABUSE. away. Making a deal with a drug dealer to to follow my example. I have to take protect thousands of people seems like a responsibility for that. To make his death mean somesmall price to pay. thing. But I can't do it in a jail cell. This mask is my More people get hurt along Gwen's path to stop badge now. If I don't define what it means... monsters injustice. Her dad gets into trouble and ends up in like this [Aleksei Sytsevich, a.k.a. Rhino] will” (Edge of prison for helping her even though he’s a cop, and she Spider-Verse Vol 1 2). feels responsible for that. A cost has been paid. A life has been lost. A debt I’m not sure what I’d sacrifice to protect my is owed, at least in Gwen’s mind. So, she opposes the family, but it would be a lot. I would have to be incapolice and fights crime. She goes after Aleksei and pacitated before I’d let them be hurt, but would I go has several run-ins with the Kingpin. She faces the out hunting people who might hurt them? I want to say shadow organization S.I.L.K., which is behind all sorts no, but I’m not sure I can. Gwen is willing to sell herof sinister plots across the multiverse. She travels to self into the service of the Kingpin to do so, and that several other dimensions amidst the Secret Wars. She means looking the other way in certain situations. It discovers that the leader of S.I.L.K. is responsible for means doing little jobs that are probably hurting innocreating the radioactive spider that gives Gwen her cent people, in order to have the power to do big jobs powers, and ends up injected with a substance that to protect even more. I don’t have super powers, but I takes her abilities away! do what I can to care and provide for my family. There From this point on, Gwen is thrust into a dehave been times where, to keep a job or fit in with a pendency on radioactive isotopes that return her community, I’ve had to do things that weren’t honest. powers for a limited time; only the corrupt leader of I’ve had to put myself at risk because a company didn’t the HAND, Matt Murdock, can supply her with them. want to do things the right way. I’ve sat quietly when




As recommended by AoE staff

STRANGER THINGS 2 It’s often easy to dismiss the simple virtues on display in Hawkins, but the kids take them seriously: Friends don’t lie and a promise is something you can’t break. The kids' (and adults') relationships are put the test by trauma and disappointment.

the boss makes a racist or sexist comment because I don’t want to be "that guy." I didn't make a deal with a corrupt lawyer, but I looked the other way when I could have stood up for justice. This year, a lot of people have finally spoken up about abuse and injustice. They let horrible things happen to them in silence because they believed that’s what it cost to be super, to make a difference, to live the lives they always wanted. Yet I wonder if that cost is worth it, and so, it would seem, do those who have suffered. I can understand how Gwen becomes beholden to Murdock. I can relate to giving in to a symbiote. But I'm not sure any more if the end justifies the means. For Gwen, she is left this year in a state of flux, not knowing if she will be able to resist the symbiote, control it, or succumb to it. For many men and women, their voices are ringing out and the world is listening. They are no longer succumbing to the depravity forced upon them to make a difference. Rather than staying silent in fear or hoping that somehow the evil things done will be overwritten if they do something good with their lives, they are speaking up. They are talking about injustice, even if it costs them power, prestige, honour or their jobs. I’m choosing to follow their examples and no longer be silent in the face of prejudice. I’m going to be quicker to call out bad behaviour in the office or sexist jokes. When the guys are all making fun of their wives I’m going to talk about how blessed I am because of mine, even though our marriage isn't perfect. And I’ll stand behind the powerless, even if it means losing my power. At least then I can live with myself and Spider-Man's death. w



Liv, a promising medical student becomes a zombie, which ruins her relationship. She starts working in a morgue to access brains… oh, and when she eats brains, she takes on the personality of the original owners and uses that ability to solve crimes!

This show can be dark. Real dark. But that’s why it’s so remarkable. In our era of science fiction where the heroes always win, Black Mirror takes us to a different place where our gross, failure-prone humanity is on full display.


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6 7 8 9 10 AOE MAGAZINE • 27





by Dustin Schellenberg

"Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Rey" by p1xer.


he Last Jedi is a bit of a misleading title in that the ated a false hope, and has to stay in denial to keep Jedi aren’t going to end. Yet it is a movie that asks it. Facing the past would mean losing that hope. It questions about facing the past. Each of the main is impossible to make peace with a past that you characters deals with the past in a specific way. Kylo don’t admit exists. It’s impossible to move forward shoves it aside, destroying memories in the attempt to when you are constantly dodging the shadow in escape previous attachments; Luke hides from it; Poe your periphery, refusing to look at it and pretending repeats it with an initial unwillingness to admit his it isn’t there. mistakes; and Rey denies her past because she wants When we deny the past rather than deal with it, so badly to belong. it holds us captive. We keep pain and suffering alive Rey’s past was shrouded in mystery in The Force by doing so, and fresh wounds pile on until we start to Awakens. Most assumed she had sigsuffocate. We can address the sympnificant parents (I was hoping she’d toms, but that’s like bandaging an arm SETTING ASIDE be Obi-Wan’s granddaughter). And when we have a headache. yet, in The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren taunts THE FAMILIAR AND Though Luke doesn’t deny the her with the knowledge that her parpast, he hides from it much like Rey LETTING GO CAN BE ents are nobodies. She’s known all does, unwilling to face the consealong that they abandoned her and quences. His stubborn refusal to act FRIGHTENING, STRANGE, were never coming back. She has is perhaps a catalyst for Rey’s reaction no legacy of greatness like Luke, no AND UNCOMFORTABLE. when confronted by Kylo. She’s seen secret royalty like Leia, and wasn’t his hopelessness and does not want to conceived from midichlorians (thank the Maker). But mirror those emotions. she wants to be a hero. She wants to be loved. She With typical Jedi wisdom, Yoda challenges the wants to matter. So, she denies her past, convincing concept of hiding from the past in his conversation herself that her parents are out there looking for her, with Luke. He suggests that hiding from it, denying and will someday return. it, or trying to destroy it won’t work. Instead, peace is Of all the characters’ responses to their past, achieved when you recognize your mistakes, acknowlRey’s is perhaps the most dangerous. She has creedge your suffering, and learn from the past. Yoda 28 • AOE MAGAZINE

challenges Luke to accept that he messed up with Kylo but not to leave things with acceptance. Luke can go out and do better. He can train Rey to learn from his mistakes and deal with her past. Yoda even acknowledges his own struggle with denial, owning up to the failures of the Jedi council. The moment that Yoda burns down the tree of history and admits that the Jedi haven’t always done a good job was satisfying for me. The council’s methods always bothered me, and the Jedi religion that enforced denying feelings and attempted to live above society was supremely frustrating. But there were good things about it, too. Those things—the Jedi’s selflessness, peacekeeping, willingness to fight for justice, and value of life— were worth taking and improving upon. Admitting our pasts aren’t perfect is a step toward healing our brokenness. Acknowledging we’ve done things wrong, that there is hurt and pain there, and that we aren’t proud of it all moves us towards peace. We also need to consider the positive things in our pasts, so they can inspire our future. I didn’t have a stable, loving home growing up—there was a lot of physical violence, substance abuse, and fear there. But my childhood wasn’t irredeemable. I learned to cook and take care of a family. There were times of laughter and joy amidst the darker days. Though my parents weren’t perfect, they did try to show love as much as they were capable, and I can acknowledge that. When I began a family of my own, I had the option of dealing with my past by confronting the awful and the good, but denial felt easier at times. I’ve since come to realize that Yoda has the right attitude: own the past, say goodbye to the broken parts, and strive to keep what is good while making new decisions that aren’t based off fear. I can set aside the abuse and anger while acting on joy and love. I can keep the valuable things that taught me to be the person I am, and make new policies so that my children grow up with fewer challenges (or at least different ones)

than I did. I want to do the best I can to make them proud of their past, to fill it with as many joyful memories as possible. But just like this new Star Wars movie, setting aside the familiar and letting go can be frightening, strange, and uncomfortable. Rey was probably tempted by Kylo’s offer to destroy her past completely and move on, to end the shame of her past with violence. But she starts down the difficult path instead. She refuses to join Kylo and his quest to attack his origins, blaming them for everything wrong in his life. She doesn’t abandon everything the Jedi Order stood for, but preserves their history by keeping the books in what I hope will be a step towards creating something better. We can admit past mistakes, pain, and hardships. We can learn from them. We can take the positive events of our past and shape them into something new. The past does not have to be a weight that destroys us but can be the catalyst for becoming something greater in our own right, provided we choose to face it. w



Creating art, tutorials, videos


"The King's Daughter" by R-Valle.



by Allison Barron

e’re obsessed with beauty. I get it. Pretty things because of appearance. While there’s nothing wrong are nice to look at. with wearing makeup or taking time on appearance, But I don’t hide away in my room bewe shouldn’t feel pressured to do so when we’d rather cause I don’t have the grace of Gwyneth Paltrow or the be doing something else. We shouldn’t feel unloved glamour of Gal Gadot. Apparently that’s a thing you do because our bodies aren’t shaped like a model’s, we in fairy tales, though. struggle with acne, we don’t wax our arms, our hair is In the Grimm story “The Crystal Ball,” the turning grey, our skin is wrinkling, or we’re wider or youngest son of an enchantress sets off to find the scrawnier than average. Castle of the Golden Sun and save the princess, who “It is a barrier to gender equality if the newscastis “waiting for deliverance.” er, who’s a woman, has to spend an hour on hair and After stealing a magic cap from a couple of gimake-up and the man has to spend 10 minutes — who ants, he finds the castle and is shocked when he meets gets more time to prepare for their segment then?” says the princess; though he had heard tales of her great Renee Engeln, author of Beauty Sick: How the Cultural beauty, she “had an ashen-gray face full of wrinkles, Obsession with Appearance Hurts Girls and Women, blear eyes, and red hair.” (Is red hair supposedly unatin an interview with Pacific Standard. “And it’s a barrier tractive? I beg to differ, and so do the Weasleys.) when women are afraid to write things or say things He is very disappointed, but online because they know they’re going the princess assures him this is not get hit with ‘You’re ugly,’ ‘You’re fat,’ or, WOMEN HAVE BEEN to her usual form. When he looks at her even worse, a rape threat.” reflection in the mirror, he sees her true TAUGHT THE VALUE So how do we push back in this appearance, “the likeness of the most culture of beauty sickness? For one beautiful maiden on earth, and saw, too, OF BEAUTY WITHIN A thing, we stop devaluing ourselves behow the tears were rolling down her CULTURE OF RIDICULE cause of our appearance and comparcheeks with grief.” ing ourselves to each other. For another, AND BODY SHAMING. we can consider the content and photos She explains to him how she is to be “set free,” but it doesn’t seem anywe’re publishing on social media—if thing is holding her captive besides her ugliness. The we’re posting things because we need people to tell us son goes through the trials (including fighting a wild we look good in order to feel good about ourselves, we bull and stealing a phoenix’s egg) in order to break the should reconsider our thought process. curse, becomes the king of the castle, and marries the “For most women, not a day goes by without them princess. wishing that some part of them were different,” writes Most fairy tales about young women focus on editor Anna Hosain in The Huffington Post. I’m certainly their beauty. Stepmothers are jealous of their stepguilty of thinking this through much of my childhood, and daughters’ appearances, such as in “Snow White” I’m not happy that insecurity still creeps into my adult life. and “Cinderella.” Princesses are consistently labelled What helps is being confident in my relationships; I know as lovely beyond measure. They may or may not be I could just roll straight out of bed, hang out with my described as “pious,” “clean,” or “humble,” but they friends, and they wouldn’t care less (they’d definitely make are always beautiful. Princes fall in love at first sight fun of my bed hair, but they love me for me). because the princess is pretty, and for no other reason. That’s how I counter my insecurity: by knowing In “The Crystal Ball,” it’s obvious the son would turn that the people I care about most are going to enter around and leave if the princess truly was ugly. the castle and not be deterred by my outward appearI’m saddened women have grown up watching ance. And treating others, including myself, with that these fairy tales in their Disneyfied versions, have been same level of respect and acceptance is a step fortaught the value of beauty within a culture of ridicule ward. We are so much more than our skin. We are so and body shaming, and have struggled with depression much more than beauty. We are loved. w 30 • AOE MAGAZINE

"Vintage steampunk design" by KHBlack / Adobe Stock.



BRIEFING by Kevin Cummings

*Bing Bong* trying to save you. As was clearly stated on your ticket: Ladies and gentlemen, I’m Captain Preston, your safety not guaranteed. timepilot. On behalf of myself and first officer Logan, If you have a premonition of disaster, please keep I’d like to welcome you aboard Wells Timeways flight it to yourself. We don’t want you to cause a paradox. number ∞. If you’ll direct your attention to the front of During our flight, you’ll have a lovely view of the the craft, our chief flight attendant Sarah will give you timescape outside the starboard windows, while the a brief safety … um … briefing. port-side will have a lovely view of the starboard-side *Bing Bong* of the craft due to spatial distortion. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for travelling We may pass other timecraft during our flight. If with us today… and tomorrow and tomorrow and all you see a phone booth, a gilded sled, or even a silver car our yesterdays. – do not attempt to engage. If this was to have/will have/is For those of you who are new to time travel, going to have happened already we would know about it. please pay close attention. For those of you who have It hasn’t happened, therefore it won’t. travelled with us before, you already know what I’m When we arrive at our destination, don’t be alarmed going to say—but bear with me. by the sound of thunder as we land. You are free to Before we begin, ensure that explore and interact with others, but we your carry-on luggage is safely stowed IF YOU HAVE A ask that you avoid stepping on butterflies or in the overhead bin or under the interacting with your grandfather. PREMONITION OF seat in front of you. Whether you’ve Do not attempt to meet your past brought along your twelve monkeys, self under any circumstances. Unless, DISASTER, PLEASE your source code, a ticking clock or a of course, your past self has already met triangle please make certain you keep KEEP IT TO YOURSELF. the you who is travelling with us today. them safely stowed. In that case, you should make every efThis timecraft is a Hartdegen 7{x}{y} and it has fort to meet yourself. Unless your past self killed the several built-in safety features. Chief among these is you who is with us today in which case you should your 12-point restraint harness. You can fasten the get off the timecraft now. harness by pulling the upper straps over your shoulShould you accidentally get separated from the ders, wrapping the lower straps around your waist trip when we come back to the future, you can follow and putting the belt low and across your lap. Connect time’s arrow and try to live long enough to catch up to the harness by fastening tabs A, B, C, D, and F into the present. This isn’t recommended, however, unless buckles G, H, I, J, and L. Your cabin crew will be by to you are a Starfleet android or a bending unit. connect tabs E and K to ensure you won’t be able to The captain has signaled that we are prepared get up without assistance. for our departure to somewhere in time, so sit back, In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, relax, and enjoy the flight which has already happened. nothing will drop from the ceiling. You’ll all be pulled I’m your chief flight attendant, Sarah Connor, and I’d irrevocably into the timeline, so there’s no point in like to thank you for time travelling with us today. w AOE MAGAZINE • 31

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