Posts Tagged ‘sci-fi’

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Geeky addictions: harrysaxon’s reply

November 28, 2008

I originally started this as reply thread to bloginhood’s Geeky Addictions post; it grew so long it became an article itself with a little more fleshing out.

I strongly disagree with the use of the word “addiction”. This is a bit of a personal bugbear; I think this word is overwhelmingly over-used these days. An addiction, even beyond its more proper use in referring to substances which cause physical dependency, should be something significantly debilitating. Something you pursue to the exclusion of virtually all other things in your life, with a lack of concern of how the pursuit of this thing harms the rest of your life.

I’m an avid video game player, it’s certainly a major hobby, but “addiction” is too strong a word, though I don’t deny that addiction to video games is possible. I’ve dealt with and seen actual video game addiction, myself with Everquest and friends with World of Warcraft, and it’s a much different thing. Gaming 30 hours straight, ceasing to do anything but game, including bathe or eat properly; one guy playing 50 WoW machines hooked up simultaneously, generating $3k+ in monthly subscription fees; leaving your children to starve to death; that’s addiction.

Playing, as I do, around 20 hours a week of a combination of solo, online and co-operative video games just means that gaming is my principal, but by no means only, form of leisure and entertainment, and even a major avenue of socialization, from friends I’ve met online to Rock Band parties. Video games never take away from my time with my family, my love for other hobbies (though, as with NAPA lately, sometimes a leisure time balancing act must occur); I go out for dinner, read books, cook, etc… video gaming dominates my leisure time, but it definitely doesn’t dominate my whole life.

By the same token, I would not consider your love for buying books an addiction, not unless you’re having problems paying the bills and feeding yourself because of it. I actually knew someone once who was addicted to buying books; he didn’t read 10% of them, I’d wager, and he’d just spend hundreds of dollars a month on, literally, random books bundled up by booksellers and sent to him on spec. He rarely had enough money for food or anything else for the month.

No, I think that the word “addiction” gets thrown around so casually and constantly in sub-cultures like SF and video gaming for one simple and rather depressing reason; self-loathing and shame about our chosen hobbies. Someone who works 20 hours a week would never be called an addict; someone who spends 20 hours a week reading Shakespeare would be lauded for their intellectualism; someone who spends 20 hours a week knitting blankets for the homeless would be called a saint. The truth is, video gamers, SF fans, even television lovers, all can’t get over this stupid, prejudiced opinion that mainstream society has bludgeoned into their heads: Your hobby is a waste of time. Why don’t you do something useful. How can you like that stuff, isn’t it for kids?

Even amongst many of my video game playing friends, there’s a strong element of self-loathing; the idea that it’s okay to like video games to a point, but you must keep an element of cool detachment; almost an attitude that you should never get too good at them, because that brands you as lacking a social life or other, “healthier” hobbies.

I think hobbies are hobbies, and that’s that. Yeah, they suck the funds, but all hobbies do. I sometimes would like to travel more, but frankly, traveling’s a bit of a bother these days. And most people I know have a favourite destination, like Mexico, they go to repeatedly; to me, sitting on a beach and getting drunk in a foreign country seems like a colossal waste of money to me… but I’m sure they think plastic guitar controllers are a colossal waste of money. It’s just different strokes.

But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. When we both refer to the “mainstream”, we’re really talking about people of our own generation or older – the tail end of Gen-Xers. Those under, say, 30 these days grow up in a world where not playing video games to one degree or another is as unthinkable as not watching TV or movies. They’re growing up in a world where geek is the new cool; in the UK and US, the Doctor and Chuck are prime examples of modern geek chic. Fantasy books like Harry Potter and Twilight dominate their reading habits. The mainstream is changing, my friend, the only problem is, we were born 20 years too early to really be within that group.

I grew up in a time where video games were a pernicious waste of time, which your never admitted to playing very much. And truthfully, they were pretty simplistic things; only recently have video games become a valid and emerging modern form of expression and art, and its appreciators have been able to come up out of the basement and into the sun for a few years now. We just have to hold our heads high and not allow even ourselves to convince ourselves that our hobby is not a worthwhile one.

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What form of media makes the most effective SF gateway?

October 21, 2008

Further to the last post to slam into Not A Planet Anymore, I got to wondering about the larger question: what form of media (books, TV, movies. video games) makes the most effective SF gateway? What’t the most effective way to introduce a non-fan to SF, or for a mainstream to stumble into SF on their own? What’s the media that’s most likely to hook their interest and encourage them to pursue SF further?

I think, first of all, we need to be clear that when we’re talking about the most effective gateway, I mean for adults. WIth kids there’s a different way of thinking at work that I suspect makes it easier for them to get drawn into something a lot faster.

But getting back to the question of the most effective of the four major incarnations of SF culture… I think there are a couple that we can knock out of contention right off the bat.

The first: movies. SF movies, be they monster summer blockbusters or quiet, late-in-the-year thought pieces, certainly attract the biggest audience of mainstreamers – and of mainstreamers who deliberately seek this SF out – but I think in large part these are one-off circumstances. A mainstream movie-goer is quite likely to see many SF flicks over the course of their lifetime, but probably not because they’re specifically seeking out SF; they’re probably more attracted to the size of the film, or the action or comedy elements, etc. I doubt mainstream movie-goers demonstrate any loyalty to the specific genre of SF films. And I don’t believe they actually make the connection that whatever good qualities they’re picking up from the SF film they enjoyed can be found in SF books or TV or games. In fact, I’m fairly confident in saying that you could probably pick 10-20 people randomly from a lineup in front of a theatre for an SF film and ask them “Are you a sci-fi/fantasy fan?” or “Do you think after watching this movie you’ll be an SF fan?” or “Do you think after watching this movie you’ll want to explore other forms of SF entertainment like sci-fi books or TV shows or massive multi-player online fantasy role-playing video games?” the answer would probably, in most cases, be a flat “No.” (likely accompanied by derisive laughter and choice epithets) Sure, in some cases you might get a mainstream movie-goer who likes an SF movie so much that when he or she is passing through a book store they might pick-up a movie tie-in novel, and from there might get into other SF, or who might stay on a channel one night that was running an unrelated SF TV show, but I think those people are in the minority. And I certainly don’t think a movie would inspire hordes of them to start playing video games. No, I think that while movies may bring SF notoriety, they don’t ultimately increase the adult fanbase significantly and thus are not the most effective gateway.

In a similar light, (and I realize I’m stepping out on thin ice here ’cause I’m not a gamer) I don’t think video games are the most effective gateway media either. I’m kind of curious how many adult, non-SF fans suddenly pick up gaming, follow it loyally, then branch out into other areas of SF culture. I doubt it’s many. I suspect your average mainstream adult who gets into gaming is likely picking up a system and game as a one-off or limited interest sort of thing – they want to play a cool-looking game based on their favourite sport when the real games aren’t on the tube; or, and this is probably more likely, they’re picking up a platform for their kids, and while buying games for the kids to go with the system, they pick up a copy of Madden Football or Gretzky Hockey or something for themselves and play it once in a while. I would expect that the amount of time required for a lot of games these days is probably a disincentive for an adult with no previous grounding in SF to follow it religiously, much less to branch out into other areas of SF culture. As for those who do stick with it, the question remains of how much of a gateway does it really become for them? Do they just stick with one type of game, and thus have more of a door to a short, empty corridor, or do they really get interested enough to follow other SF avenues – the true gateway to the SF universe? Would it really get them to start watching BSG if they hadn’t before, or inspire them to read the classics by Clarke and Bradbury (or even media tie-in novels that might lead them to weightier fare)? I’m not so sure. Again, as with movies, there probably are a few mainstreamers who get the light switched on by video games and explore other avenues of SF, but I suspect they’re very much in the minority. For that reason, I don’t think gaming is necessarily the most effective SF gateway.

That leaves us with books and TV – two very strong contenders. But as they said in “Highlander” (the first movie, that is – not the idiot sequels or the sappy TV show): There can be only one.

Books should be the most effective gateway to SF. In my opinion, they are certainly the best gateway. The massive selection of SF books out there, the shallow and the deep, the new and the old, with the multitude of specialty genres, guarantees there is a story for everyone if they can only find it. Discovering a great story that hits home for a person is pretty much guaranteed to get them to seek out more books by the same author, then similar books by other authors, followed by experimentation. This seeds a deeply-rooted love of SF that easily promotes the other forms of the culture because it intrinsically carries respect of the subject matter (as long as it’s treated well and to the reader’s tastes). Someone who enjoys SF novels and short stories will have no qualms about watching an SF TV show or movie, and might make the time to play a video game or even buy a system and enjoy many games. The fact that even the dumbest book requires you to use some imagination (and, in the case of intelligent books, requires you to use your analytical skills and ability to understand metaphor) indicates that books are an active medium, they insist that you make some effort which, I think, in turn encourages a person to be active in seeking out more that they will enjoy, thus increasing their chances of exploring SF movies, TV and gaming.

But books do require you to think (at least on some level), and your average mainstreamer who could potentially become an SF fan may not initially want to invest the time and effort on a book in a genre he/she has no experience with. And buying an SF book (substitute checking one out at the library, if you wish) would require a mainstreamer to go into a part of the bookstore/library where they might encounter someone who appears to be a refugee from his mother’s basement, and the thought of having to deal with this nerdy stereotype might keep them away. Or, even worse for an image concious mainstreamer, they might go into the SF section of the store/library and someone might see them and think they were a geek pursuing less-than-popularly-acceptable reading material (gasp!). The fear of being labeled as having the SF cooties by other mainstreamers might keep potential down-the-road fans away from the chance to experiment with SF. And then there’s the problem of the rate of recreational reading in our societies today. One of the panelists at the Canadian SF panel at the recent VCon I attended pointed out (and I haven’t had time to check these figures, so feel free to take them with whatever size of salt grain you feel necessary) that only 1 in 4 Canadians are recreational readers, while a mere 1 in 7 Americans are. This is deeply unsettling in countries with education systems that aspire to ensure universal literacy. And yet, not surprising given the variety of different forms of entertainment out there (like the other major types of SF culture!) and the heavy demands on personal time from work and, in some cases, family and/or education. If the public isn’t battering down the doors of our bookstores and libraries, it’s hard to make the case that books are the most effective gateway to SF for mainstreamers.

And then there’s television. This is a feast or famine form of media, where there are times with few, if any, SF shows, and other times (like now) where it’s hard to turn on the tube on any given night and not be able to find something (and that’s just taking into account the modern/current shows, never mind the reruns available on all manner of specialty channels). During the good times there’s a lot of mediocre and poor fare, but you also get your works of inspiration like the new “Battlestar Galactica”, the new “Doctor Who”, or (looking back a couple of years) “Firefly”, or “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, or “Babylon 5”. And the pattern of lean times and SF gluttony on TV is cyclical enough that there aren’t more than a few bad years before SF shows start to pop up here and there, followed by copycats and franchises and a few more originals, and pretty soon there’s a good selection again to entice new fans. And the shows that are good, are generally REALLY GOOD (so good that they might even draw the grudging appreciation of mainstream critics). But even the bad and mediocre shows can draw loyal followings. Unless a show is heavy on necessary backstory, it’s usually possible for a mainstreamer flipping through the channels to come across SF, catch a moment that interests them and then stay for the rest of the episode and perhaps follow the rest of the season. From there it’s a short hop to seeing SF movies (which they’re probably doing anyway) and allowing themselves to check out a title or two in the SF section of a bookstore or give some consideration to a video game they see advertised on TV or in a mall. Moreover, once a person becomes a fan of a certain show, they’re more likely to pay attention to other, similar shows, giving SF a good chance at gaining a foothold in their entertainment preferences. TV is also a safe gateway for mainstreamers – no-one else needs to see them geeking-out to BSG or The Doctor, or, heaven forbid: Trek. This allows them to be privately and gently, but none-the-less heavily (given the long-term investment of time following a show through a season) immersed in SF over time, eventually allowing the former mainstreamer to come out of the closet to some extent as a fan and begin experimenting with other forms of SF. In this way, television is an excellent medium for existing SF fans to expose and acclimatize friends and family to their passion and eventually get those others interested in it as well. And, ultimately, television is in pretty much every home in Western cultures, offering plenty of easy, cheap opportunities to get into SF.

TV does have its drawbacks though. The really good SF shows do tend to require consistent following to be aquainted with crucial backstory and to develop bonds with characters (BSG or B5, for example, would be difficult to pick up in the middle of their gigantic and complex story arcs). Another problem, as seen with “Firefly”, is that networks are far less patient with SF shows that they “don’t get” or that are suffering in the ratings, or (and this is most definitely not the case with “Firefly”) are poor quality, and are more likely to cancel them before they’ve had a chance to develop. In this respect, a potential fan could get interested in a show, only to have it yanked from the air before he/she was able to get into it enough to want to branch out to other SF. The other problem with network execs (or should I say, an other of many problems with network execs) is the current trend to create SF shows, and then, in mortal fear of the SF cooties and losiing suspicious mainstream audiences, backpedal for all their worth and publicly declare that the shows are NOT SF, but rather political dramas that just happen to be set in space (this line has been used with BSG), or dramatic stories with occasional uncommon or supernatural elements (“Lost” has been given this treatment). These cheesy cop-outs serve to drive away mainstreamers who may watch and enjoy these programs, but get negative stereotypes of SF reinforced and thus don’t bother to accept SF as intelligent and worthwhile entertainment and fail to expand their horizons.

But for all of that, I think, sadly (because -and I will state it again – I think books are the best gateway), that TV has the slight edge. Because of the larger audience potential and the ease of encouraging private acceptance and further exploration, TV is ultimately the most effective SF gateway.

Your thoughts?

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The best SF gateway TV show

October 18, 2008

What’s the best SF television show to encourage someone in the cultural mainstream to become a genre fan? What show has the magic combination of character development, interesting plot line(s), and, most importantly, easy accessibility (you might argue that sensawunda is another key element, but I’d count that as a sub-branch of plot – and an optional one) in sufficiently compelling quantities that make it the perfect gateway show to entice a person into becoming an SF fan?

Certainly, as geeks, we all have our favourites that we would like mainstreamers to adopt because of character and plot. But accessibility is the crucial factor here for a gateway experience – if your show has too many SF tropes that are unfamiliar to mainstreamers or ones that are too frequently stereotyped, or if your show even looks too weird, then mainstreamers will be driven off, fearing, as an old editorial in On Spec so brialliantly put it: “the SF cooties”. Also in terms of accessibility, a mainstreamer must be able to tune into pretty much any episode and be able to get into it despite their lack of backstory/previous episode experience.

With those ground rules in mind, what SF series (ongoing series, new series, and old series in active reruns all count – old series that are not currently being aired do not count) would make good gateway experiences and which ones wouldn’t?

Here’s my take:

Anything Star Trek is immediately disqualified. To the mainstream mind, Trek = nerd. No matter how good some of the episodes may have been in some of the series, the amount of scorn the franchise suffers in the minds of mainstreamers is about as high as a pile of Tribbles in a quatrotriticalene silo. The fact that some out there on the net may be chomping at the bit to correct my spelling (admittedly probably inaccurrate) of quatrotriticalene only adds weight to the argument. The dialogue in any given Trek is also heavily freighted with self-referential jargon, guaranteed to lose the interest of a mainstreamer in about a half-second. Let’s not even get into the shadow of The Shat.

“Reaper” is also off the list of potentials. It’s funny as hell and one of my favourites right now, but despite the presence of various supernatural baddies, I don’t think the mainstream audience would really be stimulated by it to take up other SF shows or start reading fantasy novels. They’d be more likely to enjoy it as a one-off.

Similarly, “Chuck” and “My Own Worst Enemy” are probably out too. I think mainstreamers would probably view them as shows with a spy bent, and perhaps tacitly acknowledge any sci-fi flourishes, but wouldn’t be driven by them to pursue SF any further.

I think “Heroes” is also unlikely to create any new fans. Putting aside the continuous downward spiral of the plot’s quality, at best “Heroes” probably resurrects some fondness for the superhero sub-genre, but I doubt it’s enough to get people out buying the latest Frank Miller or Alan Moore comic or tracking down old editions of George R. R. Martin’s “Wildcards” anthologies.

“The Sarah Connor Chronicles”? Maybe. Not a high degree of likelihood, but maybe. The big action and disfunctional family drama components might draw them in, and these might make the obvious sci-fi elements represented by the various Terminators more palatable. Would it be enough to inspire mainstreamers to crack open a Harlan Ellison collection, or hunt-down stories involving robots or time travel? I’m not totally convinced, but I’ll allow that it’s possible.

“Battlestar Galactica” is another maybe. Certainly it has the highest calibre of characterization and plot. But the accessibility is pretty iffy. The show has a gigantic story arc that could easily lose someone lacking sufficient backstory – despite the recaps at the top of each episode. The setting is aboard starships, but, aside from occasional exterior cutaways and the occasional battles, most of the story takes place within the confines of the vessels, and thus could be anywhere, making the sets reasonably accessible. The Cylons in their cybrid forms are easy to accept, and the traditional centurion models offer enough overt sci-fi menace to remind the audience that this is an SF show. BSG is one of my all-time favourite shows, so it certainly pains me to not say definitely that “this is the gateway show!”, but the weight of the backstory makes me think this would be a tough one to use as a gateway experience. You’d certainly have to pick the right episode.

The other possibility on my list is the new “Doctor Who” (somewhere, harrysaxon is cheering – it’s his personal mission to make every human being on Earth a fan of The Doctor – which, in fact, could be the plot of an episode of DW – whoa). The plots are consistently entertaining and the characters have enough depth to be worth watching. Accessibility with this show is a bit of a see-saw: David Tenannt certainly makes The Doctor a character you want to watch, and the various Companions are excellent vantage points for the perspectives of the audience – they’re just as confused as we are by all the strangeness going on from episode to episode. But it’s the over-the-top weirdness of some of the far-future or alien settings or the surreal TARDIS itself that might lose a mainstreamer. Again, “Doctor Who” is like BSG, you’d have to find the right episode for it to be effective as a gateway experience.

I have to confess, if I could break the rules and nominate a show that’s no longer on-air, I’d have to say that “The Twilight Zone” was probably the best SF gateway show ever. Different episodes featured different subject matter (from the disturbingly near-normal to the far-out) with different actors, written by different authors. It was a showcase of SF variety that had something for pretty much anyone, and if an episode was good enough, not only could a mainstreamer get hooked on the series, they might also be motivated to check out other SF shows or, hopefully, books. Ah, the good old days!

Harrysaxon’s been chomping at the bit to weigh-in on this topic, so he’ll take it from here.

Harrysaxon’s take:

“I agree with much of what bloginhood has to say about the topic – and certainly wholeheartedly endorse Doctor Who as a gateway show. The new series, of course, not the old, which is so thick with bad effects and complex backstory that even a lot of North American sci-fi lovers view it as somewhat esoteric. But the new series has added a great deal of the human element; the arc of Russell T. Davies’s tenure is less about the Doctor, and more about his first companion of the new series, Rose Tyler, a sympathetic Cockney from a working-class background who clicked instantly with fans in the UK. The personal drama – detractors may say soap opera elements – that Rose and her family brought to the series made it much more accessible to a wide-scale audience. The references and characters from the original series are there for the hardcore fans, but it’s immediately accessible for new fans as well. But most important, this is a show which can conjure powerfully emotional scenarios that make even the most macho of dedicated viewers feel a little thickness at the back of the throat. I’d personally recommend starting at the beginning, with S1E1 “Rose”; however, the one-off S3 episode “Blink”, in which the Doctor plays a peripheral role, may be a better introduction for those not sure they’re ready to commit to the full arc of the series. I’ve certainly used it to hook at least two people immediately, one of them hard enough to travel to the UK last summer to see David Tennant play Hamlet on stage.

But that’s just my addition to bloginhood’s nomination. My nomination is somewhat less obscure, as it is a pop culture phenomenon; Lost. Now, when Lost moved from the realm of a scripted Survivor-like experience in the first season firmly into the realm of science fiction with the second series, it turned a lot of viewers off (as well as ending its Emmy success, as they cannot abide science fiction for some reason). But that came as a surprise to viewers, hooked on an experience of watching a bunch of people try to find food and shelter and cope with a threatening group of outsiders on the island. Anyone coming into the series at this point, prepared with the foreknoweldge that it is a science fiction series, shouldn’t be as taken aback by the appearance of underground bunkers protecting electromagnetic anomalies as the early adopters.

Just to get it out of the way, some may call it up for debate that Lost is science-fiction at all; certainly there have always been elements of the supernatural creeping around the edges as well. But at this late date, I’m willing to accept the creators’ word that the remaining mysteries will ultimately have scientifically plausible explanations, albiet involving fictional technologies. I’m choosing to avoid spoilers, but the most recent major cliffhanger we were left with, as impossible as it seemed, was familiar ground for people acquainted with Doctor Who’s futuristic technologies which have plausible scientific backing.

But the reason I think it makes a great gateway is because the sci-fi stuff isn’t all up in your face. The major focus of the show is action and drama, with a heavy dose of romance and tragedy. It’s not a science fiction show with strong dramatic elements; it’s more a drama with strong science fiction elements. If you can get hooked on the personal stories of Jack, Kate, Locke, Charlie, Hurley et al., then you may find that the scientific mysteries surrounding characters such as Desmond begin to draw you in as much as wondering whether Kate will decide to hook up with Jack or Sawyer. It’s a good show, too; it lacks the strong dialogue and bold characters of my favourite shows, most of which have appeared on HBO, but it’s still compelling. Well, except for that 8 episode mini-arc that opened season 3. That was a bump in the road towards what looks to be one of the most compelling series finales of all time.”

But we want to hear from you: what TV shows do you think would make the best SF gateways?

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Welcome to “Not a Planet Anymore”!

October 1, 2008

This is Not A Planet Anymore – yet another pit stop on the information superhighway where we endlessly examine the world of speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, surrealism, magic realism, horror and whatever else you want to stuff in this bag) in literature, television and movies, and where we also probe the world of video games. We’ll review the new stuff, rehash the classics and mercilessly pick at the navel lint of geek culture.

Not A Planet Anymore is the bastard brainchild of harrysaxon (of Rassilon’s Arcade) and bloginhood (of, well, bloginhood). Each of us is a self-confessed, life-long, card-carrying geek, and we’ve been discussing, recommending, and debating SF with each other off and on for about 17 years now. While we’ve independently been inflicting our views upon the world from our respective blogs (and will continue to do so), we figured it was high time to join forces and build our own forum to talk about SF and video games and maybe build on each other’s ideas. From time to time we may have guest columnists who’ll throw a little fuel on the flames, and some may even take permanent seats here. We hope you’ll join in the fun too.

But why “Not A Planet Anymore”? Well, obviously it’s a reference to Pluto recently being stripped of its status as a planet. But what does Pluto have to do with SF and video games?

We could say Pluto works as an excellent metaphor for SF and video gaming. It wanders out along the edge of the solar system, a last outpost marking the boundaries between the neighbourhood we know and the deep unexplored realms beyond, much the same as SF and video gaming sit out along the border of modern literature/film/tv/culture/entertainment, allowing us to step across from the familiar to strange places of new ideas, possibilities and ways of looking at ourselves and the universe. Even before being disowned from the family of “planets”, Pluto has always been marginalized – neither part of the exclusive, highly visible clique of inner, rocky worlds, nor fitting in with the outer gas giants. It’s always been a thing unto itself. SF is in a similar position, excluded by the self-proclaimed literati who refuse to take the skill of its storytelling and breadth of its imagination seriously, but also having no place among the non-intellectual cultural camps. Video games are also ostracized by the cultural elite, labeled as childish and potentially dangerous and having their storytelling, artistic merits and (yes, even debatable as it may be) their community-building capacity generally unrecognized. The ultimate solution was to reclassify Pluto so it didn’t have to be acknowledged as a planet – even an oddball one – anymore. For several years now, we’ve seen SF getting this treatment, with pop culture writers slumming in its ghetto, dipping into the deep well of its ideas and tropes, then promptly renaming what they’ve found so that they don’t have to acknowledge the truth that they’re now a part of a genre they’ve spent years marginalizing. This has happened on TV as well, where shows that are obviously SF are relabeled as non-traditional dramas in an alternate setting (or some such nonsense) to make the idea of the shows more palatable to network execs, critics and mainstream audiences. It has been a reclassification designed to banish SF to the outer darkness where it won’t get any further recognition. And so, we could say that SF and video games are very much like Pluto, and that’s why we chose this name.

We could say that. But we’re not. Nope. The reason behind the choice of this blog’s name is nothing remotely that profound. We were just looking for a workable name for the site that we could both agree on, and, after hours of brainstorming that eventually petered-out to a trickle, our conversation took a turn for the pointless, making many wrong turns and getting sidetracked by asides, and eventually skidded into this name which we both thought was fairly ridiculous (much like the declaration that Pluto is no longer a planet) and thus fairly appropriate and kinda cool.

Welcome to Not A Planet Anymore.