Artist Spotlight and Giveaway: Wisesnail Art Jul14

Artist Spotlight and Giveaway: Wisesnail Art...

Claudia Gironi, a.k.a. Wisesnail Art, is one of our extremely talented Area of Effect magazine cover artists and web art contributors. A huge fan of atmospheric landscapes, portraits, and colour explosions, she mainly works in Photoshop, combining the versatility of the digital approach to the expressive brushstrokes of a more traditional method. “Art is how I express myself. It’s what I do when I’m upset, when I’m happy, if I need a distraction, or if I want to concentrate on something,” says Claudia. “As a person with face blindness (meaning I have problems recognizing people’s faces), I feel like I have a small measure of control when I paint portraits.” Born in Italy, Claudia currently lives in London. She is a Japanese Language and Culture graduate, Schiele enthusiast, and art lover. She decided to teach herself digital painting four years ago—since then she has never abandoned her stylus. Check out samples of her work: Altair I am Groot! The Man of Iron Sherlock The Dark Lord Thor Thranduil Oropherion Bucky As a geek herself, Claudia enjoys drawing subjects from science fiction, fantasy, and comics. She says that The Lord of the Rings is one of her favourite fandoms and she greatly admires J.R.R. Tolkien; The Silmarillion especially provides her with inspiration. “I like the fact that I have more room to play with the characters themselves, especially if they don’t appear in the movies. Also, the other fans are really super nice, and welcome all new takes on the characters they love.” Claudia sings out loud while she paints (embarrassing herself in front of the whole neighbourhood if it’s summer and the windows are open), likes dogs, enjoys baking, and is always happy to talk about art and fandoms with other people. You can find her art on her Society 6 page and...

Inappropriate Geeky Quotes for a Job Interview Jul13

Inappropriate Geeky Quotes for a Job Interview...

Can you tell me a little about yourself? 1) I’m Batman. 2) They call me Gato, I have metal joints. Beat me up and win 15 Silver Points. 3) Verily this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it’s my very good honour to meet you and you may call me V. 4) I am Groot. 5) I am Iningo Montoya, you killed my father. Prepare to die. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 1) Well there’s always money in the banana stand. 2) Dead. Of Dysentery. 3) Probably killed. By a Zamboni. 4) Well… here. It’s a contract that says when the war is over, all the materia will belong to me. 5) Ah spaghetti. Ah, ravioli. Ahh, mama mia. How did you hear about the position? 1) Can’t stop the signal. 2) I cannot tell! Suffice to say, is one of the words the Knights of Ni cannot hear! 3) Guy came looking for me. Real Grim Reaper-type. I don’t know. It furthered the plot. 4) I was weak. That’s why I needed you… Needed someone to punish me for my sins… But that’s all over now. I know the truth. 5) I am Groot. What would you say are your best assets? 1) I can run very fast over short distances. 2) I know kung fu. 3) When 900 years old, you reach… Look as good, you will not. 4) I see dead people. 5) I never give up. I never surrender. How do you deal with conflict with the workplace? 1) Resistance is futile. 2) Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria! 3) Rule #2: Double tap. 4) I am Groot. 5) Nuclear launch detected. What is your greatest flaw? 1)...

Keep On Keeping On Jul08

Keep On Keeping On

When Umberto Eco sought the feedback of friends and colleagues for his manuscript, The Name of the Rose, many, while praising the creativity of the narrative, commented on the difficulty of the first 100 pages, which described life and practices in a medieval monastery. Editors, fearing readers would give up reading before the mystery actually began, also suggested Eco rework the dense opening. Eco refused. As he explained in his Postscript to The Name of the Rose, “if somebody wanted to enter the abbey and live there for seven days, he had to accept the abbey’s own pace. If he could not, he would never manage to read the whole book. Therefore those first hundred pages are like a penance or initiation, and if someone does not like them, so much the worse for him. He can stay at the foot of the mountain.” In framing the sort of mindset necessary to get through this part of the novel as a journey, Eco alludes to the kind of perseverance he expects. I got thinking about these difficult 100 pages and the sort of perseverance required to get through them earlier this month when I was loaning some books to a friend for summer reading. I handed The Name of the Rose over and commented on how much the novel means to me. “But the first 100 pages are really hard—the author tried to weed out people who shouldn’t read his book.” After thinking about that for a moment, my friend handed the book back to me and said, “Maybe not.” I’ve seen the same responses for not attempting to read Tolkien, George R. R. Martin, even Stephen King. So what makes some people able to persevere through long and difficult material? Put another way:...

We Need Your Help Geeks! Jun21

We Need Your Help Geeks!...

We here at Geekdom House need your help! Some of our team is going to watch one of three notable geek movies and record the whole thing for your enjoyment. We need you to pick the movie for us!   Create your own user feedback...

The Black Knight and the Subversion of Expectation Jun06

The Black Knight and the Subversion of Expectation...

I knew most of the skits from Monty Python and the Holy Grail before I had ever seen the movie. Thanks to a partial immersion in geek culture during high school (D&D, video games in—gasp—arcades, and Star Trek), I regularly rubbed shoulders with people randomly throwing their hats in the air and yelling, “Run away!” But the phrase I remember most is “It’s only a flesh wound.” It came up in many circumstances—a stubbed toe, an injury on the football field, a tumble down the stairs. As long as the victim was still conscious, you could lean in close and hear him whisper, “It’s only a flesh wound” before rendering his mock death. Now that I’ve seen the Grail movie more times than I can count, that scene with the Black Knight is still one of the most memorable: the near-invincible foe standing poker straight as he declares, “None shall pass” in his best impression of John Cleese. The honourable Arthur trying to negotiate with the knight, not because he is afraid, but because he does not want to injure this valiant warrior. And the knight resolutely forbidding Arthur from going further. And, of course, the fight, with limb after limb hacked off, blood spurting out as though from a hose, and the knight’s increasingly implausible assertion that not only was he okay, but that he was victorious, and that Arthur’s vacating the scene was only because of the King’s cowardice. We are all encouraged, at one time or another in our lives, to see the bright side, to look up, to quest for our dreams and reach for the unreachable. We know those inspirational folks who would have us seek for and grasp the Holy Grail—for what is life without dreams and goals...

Chuck Bartowski: A Humble Hero May30

Chuck Bartowski: A Humble Hero...

“I just know what an incredible guy Charles Bartowski is, and sometimes I’m not so sure that he knows it,” says Ellie Bartowski in the third episode of Chuck. And she doesn’t even know that Chuck is taking down dangerous killers, defusing bombs, and saving innocent lives on a daily basis.  Chuck’s opinion of himself leaves me asking the question: What is so great about Chuck and why doesn’t he know it? Any time someone mentions “the greats,” they’re usually talking about the rich, the powerful, and the famous. Alexander the Great conquered large swaths of Asia. Wayne Gretzky (The Great One) still holds most of the scoring records in the NHL. The Great Gonzo has had a long and storied career on The Muppet Show, even though no one really knows what he is supposed to be. Wealth, power, and fame are probably what Chuck hoped for after graduating from Stanford. He was supposed to have a successful career in software and retire early. Along the way, that dream shattered and so did his self esteem. That’s why he can’t see the greatness he has achieved working alongside Sarah and Casey, and even before that. While many people define “greatness” as being wealthy and famous, I like Chuck’s style of greatness much better. You see, Chuck is a hero. Even before he knew what the Intersect could do, he was saving people from electronic disasters; everyone at the Buy More knows Chuck is the best at what he does, and we see him go above and beyond when he arranges an impromptu, in-store ballet performance for a little girl whose father didn’t tape the real thing. Everyone loves Chuck, except for those who are intimidated by his authenticity. Add the Intersect to the...

Call for Writers May02

Call for Writers

Do you want to write for Area of Effect magazine? We’re looking for writers who are excited about combining their faith, morality, philosophy, social justice, and more with their geeky interests. As geeks we tend to (over) analyze these shows that we love and our goal for Area of Effect is to take those same conversations we have all had, dig a little deeper, and publish it. What we are looking for in prospective writers: a willingness to put beliefs, ideas, and biases on the table for discussion (i.e. vulnerability is a must) writing experience an understanding that this is not a devotional site, nor is it news or reviews an understanding that this isn’t a magazine by Christians for Christians, but by Christians for anyone. Meaning we don’t come at topics from a “we” perspective, but write from personal experience and attempt to encourage discussion among a variety of people a commitment to a Christian faith (yes, this is a loaded statement – we do not require any specific denomination but look for an affirmation of the basics: a forgiveness of sins through the death of Christ, centrality of the word of God, and the Triune nature of God) a commitment to write at least one  700-1000 word article every other month (1001 is too many and 1005 is RIGHT OUT) specializations in geeky subjects that we haven’t covered so far creativity and thoughtfulness a mixture of funny, playful, and serious articles preference given to those who can hum any version of The Legend of Zelda theme song What staff writers get: to become a part of a community of passionate, geeky folks who love writing about their fandoms opportunities to grow with writers and professional editors $25 for first article and $50 for every subsequent article (we believe in paying...

Episode 23 – Mythbusters / Star Wars Diversity...

Three. Two. One. Podcast! This week on Infinity +1, Jason breaks the landspeed record for words per minute breaking down the new Captain America: Civil War trailer and Allison and Kyle join him in paying loving tribute to Mythbusters after 14 amazing seasons. Then in the second segment a serious discussion about diversity in the new Star Wars films and how Daisy Ridley and John Boyega could be ambassadors of change to a galaxy far, far away.   Download and subscribe to Infinity +1 on iTunes now! Feedburner link:...

Episode 20 – It’s All Geek To Me / Death Feb23

Episode 20 – It’s All Geek To Me / Death...

It’s dangerous to go alone, take this: Infinity +1! The 30th anniversary of the Legend of Zelda prompts this weeks Question of the Week (and some fond reminiscing). Jason reports on his first anime experience in the first installment of It’s All Geek To Me and the results may surprise you. In the second segment, Kyle leads us through the process of writing an article about Mario Kart, fairness, and death. If we believe in a loving God, how do we reconcile that? Download and subscribe to Infinity +1 on iTunes now! Feedburner link:...

Where’s the Love in Mad Max? Feb22

Where’s the Love in Mad Max?

When I read that writer/director George Miller was going to return to his post-apocalyptic roots and make another Mad Max film, I didn’t think much about it. The original films were fun, cult stories but not so amazing that I would get excited for a sequel. Even Miller’s eclectic but solid body of work (everything from Lorenzo’s Oil to the talking pig classic, Babe: Pig in the City) didn’t prepare me for one of the deepest films of recent years. People have remarked on its strong ecological and feminist messages, its reimagining of the action genre, its inventive practical effects. I’ve been wanting to write about Mad Max: Fury Road for a while now, but despite its obvious richness, no topic has seemed quite right. When Our Fearless Leader (OFL), Allison, proposed the topic “agape,” I quickly crossed Mad Max: Fury Road off my list again: “It’s an awesome movie, but where’s the love?” Theirs is a love of choice, not attraction, and it’s marked by sacrifice. Then I started re-reading C.S. Lewis’s The Four Loves to figure out a possible direction for an article. Lewis uses the traditional English translation of agape, “charity,” and describes it as unconditional gift-love, a selfless love that places the best interests of the other person first. And then I thought more about Mad Max: Fury Road. “Wait a minute,” I said to myself, “Isn’t that movie all about this kind of selfless charity?” Furiosa’s sacrificial love for Immortan Joe’s Five Wives embodies agape. It causes her to abandon her own position of power and influence in order to help them flee.  She risks everything to get these young women to safety. Furiosa initially seems to believe that selfless love can only exist in a specific place, her own birthplace: the utopian, matriarchal Green Place. There, she thinks, the Many Mothers will care for the Brides with selfless charity. However, when we learn that the Green Place is gone, a dissolute wasteland, and that the Many Mothers have been displaced and now scavenge for existence, we come to realize that Furiosa has already embodied this type of love. She’s created a community on wheels with outcasts and runaways. Part of the reason I think Mad Max: Fury Road has this interest in agape is the length the film goes to undermine any suggestion of romantic love between the two main protagonists. Sure, there’s the romance between the displaced War Boy, Nux, and one of the fugitive Brides; that love—eros—represents a kind of freedom from the authority of Immortan Joe, freedom to choose a partner.  But this type of love is not transformative. It’s secondary to the community-minded love embodied by Furiosa and, later, Max, which is as capable of transforming the wasteland as the water Joe denies his people. Agape isn’t something you get, it’s something you share. In “Mad” Max Rockatansky, Furiosa finds a compatriot and friend.  They have no reason to trust the other; their individual experiences have been disappointment and abuse. Their relationship is not characterized by eros, but by mutual respect and a deep trust. Theirs is a love of choice, not attraction, and it’s marked by sacrifice and putting the best interests of the other above the needs of the self. We don’t usually see this type of love in action films, which typically link a hero’s worth to his (almost always his) sexual prowess. Max’s lack of interest in physical love is treated as a joke—at one point we think that Max is staring longingly at one of Joe’s Brides; however, as the camera moves, we realizes he’s actually staring at the water she is using. After defeating Joe and upsetting the oppressive power structure of The Citadel, Max and Furiosa part. Uninterested in the attention of the crowd, Max slips away after giving Furiosa a parting nod. While the slaves of The Citadel rejoice in the life-giving water...

Lessons of the Emotionless Jan13

Lessons of the Emotionless...

In “Chuck Versus the Three Words,” when Sarah is trying to train Chuck to be a spy, she tells him, “You need to learn to ignore your emotions. Spies do not have feelings. Feelings get you killed. You need to learn to bury them in a place deep inside.” I know exactly how Sarah feels. Well, maybe not exactly since I’ve never been a spy (or if I have, I certainly wouldn’t admit it here. Shhh.). But I understand. I experienced both ends of the emotional spectrum growing up via members of my family. I had a couple extremely unemotional family members, who kept their feelings buried deep inside, and a couple extremely emotional ones, who let out their pent-up feelings in outbursts of anger and shouting matches. As a quiet introvert myself, I decided the latter didn’t look healthy or fun, and I would join the ranks of the stoic flag holders in my family. I came to believe that letting people know how I felt was a weakness; it made me feel vulnerable and I didn’t like that feeling. Crying in front of someone was an absolute no-no. If you loved someone, you didn’t tell them that; and you especially didn’t tell a guy you had feelings for him. That was just giving them the opportunity to hurt you…   Read the whole article from Christ and Pop...

The Best of Area of Effect 2015 Dec30

The Best of Area of Effect 2015

If you want to bring in the new year with some Area of Effect reading, check out our best of the best from 2015. These are the top three Editor’s Picks from every category for the year, spanning topics from Iron Man’s sarcasm to cancer and LARPS. Read the stories you’ve missed and refresh yourselves on the articles you’ve loved as we move on to a new year! ANIME 1. “Slaying Zuko”by Christopher Johnson AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER 2. “Meek, Weak, or Chic” by Casey Covel DEATH NOTE , TRIGUN 3. “Not Just Another Number” by Mark Barron SPIRITED AWAY COMICS 1. “Irony Man” by Jason Dueck IRON MAN 2. “Oh, the Superhumanity” by Jennifer Schlameuss-Perry BATMAN 3. “Swinging a Mile in Spiderman’s Tights” by Jason Dueck SPIDERMAN FANTASY 1. “Letters from Father Christmas” by Kyla Neufeld TOLKIEN 2. “Fairy Land Meets Real Life” by Christopher Johnson PHANTASTES 3. “A Mennonite Reads The Lord of the Rings” by Robert Martin SCI-FI 1. “Faith Like Obi-Wan’s” by Jason Dueck STAR WARS 2. “Retreating into Mercy” by Michael Boyce DOCTOR WHO 3. “Let’s Be Bad Guys” by Kyle Rudge FIREFLY TABLETOP 1. “Confessions of a DM” by Sheela Cox DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS 2. “Don’t Bounce Burgundy” by Michael Penner DIPLOMACY 3. “Monopolizing My Integrity” by Dustin Asham MONOPOLY VIDEO GAMES 1. “Sorry, Sora” by Casey Covel KINGDOM HEARTS 2. “Does It Matter If I’m a Jerk?” by Steven Sukkau DAYZ, DESTINY 3. “Snuffed Out” by Rob Horsley FIRE EMBLEM: AWAKENING HUMOUR 1. “A Gremlin’s Guide to Gift Giving” by Michael Boyce GREMLINS 2. “Battle of Cute and Deadly” by Allison Barron FUTURAMA, POKEMON 3. “Unlikely Friendships” by Kyle and Allison HARRY POTTER, HALO OTHER/CROSSOVERS 1. “Retcon, God, Please Retcon” by Kyle Rudge LARPS 2. “Mechon, Titan, Black and White” by Casey Covel ATTACK ON TITAN 3. “In Sickness and Unhealth” by Allison Barron BSG, FULLMETAL...

Retcon, God, please retcon Nov06

Retcon, God, please retcon...

Retcon [RET-kon] (verb): to change the past events [in a LARP], often to correct the story (derived from retroactive continuity). Arthur, a lowly and uninspired bard, hates his character. But he’s been cursed so that if he dies, his entire party perishes along with him. This is the setting for “Retcon,” an episode of Geek and Sundry’s LARPs. Arthur cares too much to see the entire party die, but he does not want to continue on as a bard. As you watch him drown himself (and his sorrows) in the hot tub at the end of the episode, you can understand his fervent wish for a retcon. Ah, the retcon. The creator’s bane. Something gets a little too out of control, too confusing, or too boring, and suddenly we just have to go along with a whole new set of information. Certainly, retcons have been done well in the past, but the purist inside every geek cringes a little when they become necessary. Yet, recently I felt like Arthur. My prayer was this: “Retcon God, please retcon.” It is because I love her that I stand over my fallen loved one and, like Kat does for Arthur, call out for a Divine Shield. My mother has been battling Stage IV colorectal cancer for the last five years. Recently, she went to the hospital with banana-yellow skin—not a good sign. An ultrasound and CT scan failed to reveal the problem, but then an MRI told the story. Best case scenario was a gallstone blockage, worst case was complete liver failure. A cancerous tumor on her liver had swelled, causing a blockage. A stint in the liver could remedy the problem, but chemotherapy for the rest of her life would probably be necessary. The afternoon she...

How to adult like a child Nov02

How to adult like a child

From a young age, Brendan knows three things about the world: (1) the world is brutal, (2) Vikings are dangerous, and (3) building a wall around the Abbey of Kells—and staying inside it—is the only way to protect himself from numbers one and two. At least, that’s what his uncle, Abbot Cellach, would have him believe. In the Academy Award nominated film The Secret of Kells, Brendan is forced to grow up faster than his age can keep up with. His uncle is a steely-eyed giant of a man whose obsession with wall-building takes his focus off other important things—like overseeing the creation of the Book of Kells, a tome that’s destined to convey hope and history to future generations. Whilst Cellach toils at the construction site or doodles blueprints all over the walls and floor of his bedchamber, survivors of Viking attacks on nearby villages gradually trickle into Kells Abbey; this only reinforces Cellach’s beliefs that the outside world is a place occupied by worshippers of the pagan god, Crom Cruac. However, Brendan starts to question his uncle’s beliefs once he begins an apprenticeship under a famed Illuminator (holy artist) in order to complete the legendary Book of Kells. During a trek into the forbidden outside world on a quest for ink ingredients, Brendan meets Aisling—a shape-shifting fairy who personifies much of Brendon’s childish innocence and fear. It’s Aisling who introduces Brendan to the wonders of nature—inspiring his work as an Illuminator—and who holds him back in terror when Brendan ventures too close to the den of Crom Cruac. “There’s no such thing as Crom Cruac,” Brendan assures her, echoing his uncle’s words. Crom is a fable—pagan, imaginary nonsense to scare children, and despite his youthful age and prepubescent voice, Brendan clearly doesn’t consider himself one of those. Growing up “costs” us something—our security, our innocence, or our ignorance. But our child-like faith doesn’t have to be part of the price. Secretly, Brendan’s terrified that Crom Cruac exists—to the point where it haunts his dreams at night—but, due to the adult-like sense of skepticism instilled in him by his uncle, he denies that fear.  He is forced to grow up too fast, and in doing so, misses something valuable in being a child. As soon as we’re old enough to become self-aware, it seems we’re set on “growing up.” And why wouldn’t we be?  Hearing the oft-repeated “wait until you’re older” implies that our age is a restriction. We eagerly await the birthdays when we’ll be thirteen, fifteen, eighteen, twenty one, old enough to be considered a legal adult. That word, “adult,” is toted around like a medal given to those who, oftentimes, merely meet the qualification of age. But maybe being “grown up” means something more—like overcoming the insecurities of being “childish.” Children are fearless. They ask questions, they absorb and reflect the world around them with spellbinding candor, they have the self-confidence and curiosity to try new things. It’s when most of these children reach adulthood that the distrust of the world gets to them. They suddenly hold their questions in for fear of appearing incompetent. They keep their thoughts to themselves for fear of saying the wrong thing. They approach new experiences with caution because the world has taught them to fear what they do not understand. These children (who, science tells us, are born with only two natural fears— falling and loud noises), suddenly encounter a host of worries upon reaching adulthood. In the real world, it seems, to be “grown up” means learning to fear. Under the influence of his uncle, Brendan is taught to bury his deep-seated fear of Crom Cruac. That doesn’t change the fact that Crom is, in fact, real—as real as Brendan’s self-doubts about his ability to complete the Book of Kells. He believes he’s not worthy or skilled enough. He’ll ruin it. It’s ironic that the boy who prides himself...

Abandoning the blind Oct21

Abandoning the blind

These days, humanitarian aid is a no-brainer. When a country with limited resources, doctors, and medicines faces mass illness, we help out as much as we can. Still, I wonder what would happen if we encountered a new disease. Would we be quick to help, or would we let fear and hysteria win out? José Saramago explores the possibilities of what would happen if everyone suddenly went blind in his 1995 speculative work, Blindness. His description is very bleak. One day, a man sitting in his car goes blind. His wife takes him to see a doctor, who can’t find anything wrong with his eyes. Later that night, the doctor goes blind. Then everyone who was in the doctor’s waiting room. The doctor alerts the director at his hospital, who tells the Ministry, and a plan is quickly concocted to quarantine everyone who is blind, along with everyone who has had contact with a blind person, in an old asylum until further notice. The first arrivals are given a list of 15 rules, which are blasted through the intercom in their ward. These include: any attempt to leave will result in instant death (there are armed soldiers guarding the asylum); in the event of an Abandoning those who need help is cruel and unjustified.outbreak of disease, no help will come; if there is a fire, no firemen will come; if someone dies, they are to bury the corpse in the yard. The first arrivals realize that, if they are to have any chance of surviving, they must stick together. There is one person who doesn’t go blind: the doctor’s wife. She feigns blindness so she can accompany her husband to the asylum. The story is told through her eyes as she helps her husband...

Dalek inaugurated as new supreme Pontiff Oct07

Dalek inaugurated as new supreme Pontiff...

In an unprecedented move this week, several German high ranking clergy have openly declared that they no longer consider themselves to be under the authority of Pope Francis, but instead have pledged their allegiance to a Dalek. This follows several months of progressively dissenting behaviour in which the aforementioned clergy were trying their level best to change Christ’s teachings on marriage and family, sexuality, and reception of the sacraments. In a statement released by the group, Cardinal Walter Kasper states that “Our new Pontiff is an incredibly sweet and thoughtful mutant who wants everybody to be happy.” The inauguration happened last Thursday in a low key ceremony in which it was reported there were “guitars.” The new pontiff, who has taken the name Daal XVI, has wasted no time in issuing his first papal document entitled “Exterminatus” in which he discusses wiping out all of humanity by utilizing their own sinful tendencies. The 38-word document also quotes never before heard scripture—the Gospel of Davros. When asked about the rather concise nature of the document, Cardinal Reinhard Marx explained: “We felt it was important to choose a Pontiff who had a very limited vocabulary. In this way it would be almost impossible for us to dissent from his teachings because we can pretty much interpret his one-word theological answers however we want.” However it is also being reported by several different sources that the new Pontiff has an extremely short temper and is liable to sudden outbursts. An eyewitness at the inauguration ceremony told us that “Everything was going smoothly with the opening procession until Pope Daal got to the sanctuary steps. No-one had remembered to put a ramp there for him to roll up and he just totally lost it. Everyone knows Daleks can’t climb stairs....

Mechon, titan, black and white Oct05

Mechon, titan, black and white...

Sometimes it’s easier to determine what isn’t a human rather than what is. What constitutes a human being? Is it our physiology? Our spiritual nature? Perhaps our unique ability to reason and use critical thinking, or our tendency to form intricate relationships? In the world of Attack on Titan, humanity survives on the cusp of extinction, barricaded behind fifty-meter-high walls—the only thing separating them from the carnivorous titans roaming outside. Within this post-apocalyptic microcosm, the lines between man and monster become blurred, with the greedy and needy turning to crime and causing as much havoc as the titans themselves. Even so, it’s an unspoken law that while a human may be “friend,” a titan will always be “foe,” and with most of the living having lost a comrade between a titan’s teeth, that notion isn’t too difficult to enforce. Things get tricky, however, with the discovery of Titan Shifters—humans with the ability to morph titan bodies around themselves at will. And if that doesn’t throw an ethical dilemma into the encroaching uneasiness, then the discovery that most—if not all—titans were once human beings certainly does. It’s simple and painless to forget that the objects of your hatred breathe the same air that you do. Captain Levi—whose human hit-list once surpassed his number of titan kills—actually lowers his face in guilt at the realization that “all the flesh I’ve risked everything to slice is actually human flesh.” For Levi and the other titan-slaying soldiers, the battle for humanity suddenly becomes a twisted tug-of-war between saving the lost souls trapped within the titans’ bodies and killing the rampaging titans in order to preserve themselves. But in killing these humans-turned-monsters, do they risk destroying the very thing they aim to save? With titans bearing the familiar faces...

Short story contest Sep28

Short story contest

Area of Effect wants YOU! …and your Christmas-themed stories. Then why is the image above not of Santa Claus, you ask? Because we don’t want stories about Santa Claus, or Frosty, or Rudolph, or even Jesus, necessarily. We’re looking for creative stories that focus on the mythos of Christmas that takes place in your fictional land, and that could include whatever you dream up. Perhaps the tradition started when space pirates had to drop a load of cargo and rained down treasure on your planet. Perhaps Christmas is a time of fear because that’s when the dark elves come out. You tell us! Length: Between 300 and 1000 words. Manga, comic, or graphic novel stories may be up to two pages long. Acceptable Genres: fantasy, sci-fi, supernatural, dystopian, horror, sci-fi/western, fairy tale, folklore/legend, superhero, space opera, science fantasy, steampunk, graphic novel/manga/comic Deadline: October 25, 2015 Prizes: The top three entries will be published in the Christmas issue of Area of Effect magazine alongside other Christmas-themed stories written by published authors. The winning entries will also be posted online at www.geekdomhouse.com. Restrictions: Stories may not include (1) harsh language or profanity, (2) explicit sexual content, or (3) any bashing of people groups or religions. Stories should not surpass a PG-13 rating. Editing: Geekdom House reserves the right to edit the winning entries as necessary, with author permission. How to Enter: Email your submissions with the subject line “Christmas short story submission” to casey@geekdomhouse.com. Written entries should be sent as a Word document; art entries can be sent as a JPG or PDF. Include your full name and a short biography. Questions? Send Casey an email or ask in the...

Blurred identity: Orphan Black Sep21

Blurred identity: Orphan Black...

One of the most engaging aspects of the first season of Orphan Black, the acclaimed Canadian and British sci-fi co-production, is the intersection of two main themes around individual identity. The first of these themes is the ongoing question of the characters’ identities, notably Sarah Manning’s (Tatiana Maslany) search for answers about her own origin, about who she is and where she fits in a deeply layered conspiracy involving illegal human cloning. The second theme, one that works on the subtextual level, is an exploration of the performative nature of identity for the actor. When an actor plays a role, she “becomes,” on some level, that character. This is most obvious when considering the amazing work of lead actor Tatiana Maslany. In each episode, Maslany shows off the kind of range that few film and television actors get to demonstrate in a lifetime. Each clone is a separate role for Maslany, a unique and nuanced character, with distinct mannerisms and personality traits. At the heart of the first season’s narrative is Sarah’s story of identity. It’s a standard sci-fi/fantasy trope, which I call Potteritis, in which the main character thinks of herself as insignificant; she’s usually orphaned and alone, believing there’s nothing special about her and that the world would not notice if she just disappeared. Through a series of events and revelations, she discovers that not only is she special, she’s the key to something much bigger than she could ever imagine. Orphan Black examines the nature of human identity, what we project about ourselves and how others perceive us. In the pilot, “Natural Selection,” Sarah Manning arrives at “the big city” train station and sees a woman who looks exactly like her step in front of a train. Sarah makes the split...

Nerds, assemble! Sep18

Nerds, assemble!

If you missed out on seeing Disney’s first animated Marvel movie Big Hero 6, you let the nerdiest superhero team ever assembled pass you by. Big Hero 6 celebrates geekery in a way no other film has by simply amplifying the traits and abilities of the characters into their “superpowers.” Superhero stories have among the most diverse characters in any genre of storytelling. A quick look at the bestselling section of your local comic book store reveals lawyers and soldiers, robots and aliens, billionaires and teenagers all leading the way to their villains’ destruction. Among the ranks of these heroes, a few notable nerds arise. While Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark are geniuses in their own right, they’re more readily defined by their raw intellect than by their love of Dungeons & Dragons. Peter Parker and Reed Richards are full-on nerds, whose superpowers came as a result of their geeky scientific pursuits, but their altered, superhuman state is what makes them heroes more than their memorization of every Weird Al and Tom Lehrer song lyric. These nerd-vengers aren’t exactly an experienced crime-fighting force. The heroes of Big Hero 6, however, are not super because of unknown cosmic forces or an accidental dose of radioactivity, but because the characters amplified their own natural abilities through fantastic mechanical and material engineering. The main character, Hiro Hamada, is a 14-year-old robotics prodigy living in the futuristic world of San Fransokyo. He idolizes his brother, Tadashi, who is enrolled at San Fransokyo Institute of Technology, the highest “nerd school” in all the land. Tadashi has been working tirelessly on a medical robot called Baymax, a robot whose only purpose is to help people. After an event where Hiro shows off an impressive set of microbots he has developed...