CASTALIA: Even “Rick and Morty” has a heart under its hideous, Cronenberged exterior

This is the show in a nutshell, actually

Apologies for the long title; it seemed appropriate for what, as tends to be my wont, is a long post. Also, by the way, prepare yourself for spoilers. It’s unavoidable, so I’ll just get the warning out of the way now. Nothing from here on out is going to be marked, so if you don’t want endings spoiled for you, stop reading now. You’ve been warned.

Ah, “Rick and Morty”. For those who don’t know, “Rick and Morty” is an adult sci-fi cartoon about a drunk, cynical mad scientist and his young teenage grandson (fourteen?) going on adventures throughout the multiverse. It is probably the most non-Superversive show on TV right now, and quite possibly the most non-superversive show ever made. It is grim, it is nihilistic, it is mean, it takes every chance it gets to emphasize the pointlessness of existence, and it’s also absolutely, hysterically, laugh-out-loud funny. It is one of the funniest TV shows I’ve ever seen, and one of the cleverest to boot. It confirms something I’ve noted for awhile now: Nihilism can only work in the contexts of comedy or horror. You either laugh in the face of the void or you scream at it, but one thing you aren’t is happy about it.

“Rick and Morty” is what “Futurama” turns into after the writers all survive their suicide attempts. The biggest difference is in emotional emphasis: “Rick and Morty” emphasizes the cynicism and chaos of it all, while “Futurama” tends to focus on the beating heart it wears very much on its sleeve. Continue reading

Some “God, Robot” News

Big stuff happening! First, author Jonathan Moeller AND the Injustice Gamer have reviewed “God, Robot”. From Moeller:

I rather liked this anthology.

It’s a play on Isaac Asimov’s famous Three Laws of Robotics: 1.) A robot can’t injure a human being, 2.) A robot must obey orders, so long as it doesn’t conflict with the First Law, and 3.) A robot must protect itself from harm, so long as this doesn’t conflict the first two laws.

…I definitely enjoyed it – I think my favorite stories were the ones featuring the bumbling scientists who lived in terror of their boss, and the final story, when a woman prepares to unleash a long-prepared genocide, but has doubts at the final moment. The best speculative fiction always asks the “what if” question, and this anthology does a good job of that.

From The Injustice Gamer:

To begin our list of infamous acts, the book is not just science fiction, but advocates throughout for Christianity. Theobots are created to assist in churches, the first problem encountered is the problem of logic versus evidence, and the flaws of building a philosophical Christianity without evidence in the way of testimony…

While this anthology only commits the act of treating Christianity not only as serious, but correct, it does so consistently, and with tales to terrify the heart of the Socially Just. In fact, the writing is so scandalous as to cause me to overlook it’s lack of other crimes against Social Justice, though some if it’s authors are crime enough.

Nine of ten fell deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Great stuff!

And last but certainly not least, the “God,  Robot” crew will be appearing on the Catholic Geek radio show TONIGHT at 7:00 PM EST!

This includes authors Anthony Marchetta (me), MJ Marzo, Steve Rzasa, John C. Wright, Josh Young, L. Jagi Lamplighter, and – possibly, if he can make it – Vox Day himself! Unfortunately, EJ Shumak can’t make it, but he’s there in spirit.

Check us out here!

Great stuff!

Thoughts on the Hugo Nominations EDIT: A File 770 Update

So, for those who have been living under a rock (at least, for those who read this blog who have been living under a rock), the Hugo awards have been announced. There are several notable things about it, but in terms of this blog the biggest are these:

1) Jeffro Johnson, who invited us to write for the Castalia House blog, has been nominated! Congrats to him.

2) Our own Brian Niemeier has been nominated for the John W. Campbell award! Congrats to him and L. Jagi Lamplighter, his editor.

3) Jason Rennie has been nominated for multiple categories! The Sci Phi Journal has been nominated for best semiprozine and…

4) Superversive SF has been nominated!

But wait. There’s one more notable point here:

5) These have all been nominated the same year that “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” has been nominated.

This point deserves some talking about. And get ready, because I’m probably going to disagree with my peers…but not in the way you think.

This nicely sums up what just happened

It’s no secret that the Rabid Puppies dominated in a way that is unprecedented in the history of the Hugos. It was an SJW massacre of epic proportions. But what does this mean?

We got nominated because of a slate. This is slate voting. It’s time we all admit it – Sad Puppies is not that, and wasn’t at the very least since Brad Torgerson started taking reader input into account, but the Rabid Puppies absolutely are. It is the slate of Vox Day. And honestly, I think everybody here knows that. We know “Space Raptor Butt Invasion”, a parody story by a guy who calls himself “Chuck Tingle”, was not going to be nominated unless people voted based entirely on Vox Day’s orders, and in impressively consistent concert. This is pretty much undeniable.

And truthfully, that’s why Superversive SF was nominated. We’re a pretty new blog, with a lot of relatively little known writers among us. Take me. I’ve edited one book and published a few short stories and articles. Not a lot of people have heard of me. Josh also hasn’t published anything but short stories yet (looking forward to “Do Buddhas Dream of Enlightened Sheep”!). And we’re two of the blog’s more prolific posters.

This isn’t an insult. I think Josh is a terrific writer. I asked Josh to be in “God, Robot” because I loved the stories of his I read. I think his articles are great. As I said, I’m really looking forward to his novel. But, as of now, he’s not very well known. As for me, “God, Robot” has gotten great reviews so far, and for an anthology out for a short period of time, with only eight contributors and published by an indie publishing house, we have a relatively decent number of reviews – eleven with only one below five stars, at four. So I certainly haven’t been doing too badly myself as I try to grow something of a reputation.

To put this another way – John C. Wright, who almost certainly got more votes than we did, did not get nominated, because the novel category gets way more votes than the best Fanzine category. We got nominated because this was a category without a lot of voters that was easily able to be dominated by the Rabid Puppies slate. Combined with our presence on the Sad Puppies list we were pretty much a lock.

Does this bother anybody? It shouldn’t. It doesn’t bother me. We’ve been growing a fanbase since we started, and the fact that the Sads AND the Rabids both had us on their lists does mean we’re leaving a mark. I don’t believe we were picked as a parody, for the simple reason that Castalia likes our work enough to give us a weekly column on their increasingly popular blog. An anthology unassociated with us recently opened up submissions for superversive stories. We’re doing very well, and this only gets us more exposure. This is great!

And yet, if we weren’t on the Rabid Puppies slate, we still probably wouldn’t be on the Hugo shortlist. So why doesn’t this bother me? My answer is simple: I agree with what Vox Day is doing.

Vox is not trying to “fix” the Hugos. He’s trying to nuke them, and frankly, he’s already succeeded.

Actually, that’s not really true. He’s not trying to nuke them. He’s trying to expose them, and he has. The Hugos are a joke. Anything with “Space Raptor Butt Invasion” on its list of award nominees is not to be taken seriously. It’s still an honor to be nominated if you weren’t picked as a thumb in the nose because it means you’ve attracted the attention of some fairly big players in the sci-fi world, but the fact is that Vox has proven that the Hugos are so irrelevant that the Most Hated Man in Science Fiction is able to get a relatively small group of volunteers to dominate it in a way that should be impossible if the awards mean anything at all. The Hugos have a little over 4,000 nominees this year. To put this in perspective, Dragon Con, which is starting its own awards, attracted over 65,000 people. And even that is a fraction of the millions of sci-fi fans throughout the country.

The rabid puppies didn’t do anything to the Hugo awards. They just exposed the Hugos as an insular group of back-patting leftists easily overwhelmed by a rather small force of right-wing sci-fi fans. The Hugos were already dead. The Sad Puppies valiantly tried to fix them. They failed. It’s time to show the world what they really are: A joke.

So, I’m honored to be on the Rabid Puppies slate. I’m honored to be part of a group doing its small part to expose SJW’s and turn the tide of the culture war, even if we’re only a small part. And congratulations to the Hugo nominees – you’re part of something bigger than yourself. That’s something to be proud of.

UPDATE: Mike Glyer at File 770 says this about the article:

Like Anthony M at the Hugo-nominated Superversive SF blog who is thoroughly okay with the reason that happened, so why should you have any problem?

I will note that it is a rather sleazy trick to pretend that my argument was anything close to “I don’t have a problem, so neither should you.” That’s not what I said.

I’d explain what I did say, but then I just wrote an article about the subject. And now Mike Glyer has just assured that a bunch of people will think they know the content of said article without actually reading it. So thanks, said the author sarcastically.

To Potential “God, Robot” Customers

The book was down on Amazon for a few hours today in order to correct an error in its table of contents. As of now it is back up (and a quick re-load on my Kindle app satisfies my curiosity that the typo has indeed been fixed, though it does unfortunately rob people of the rare first edition version of “God, Robot” with the table of contents error. Apologies to anybody counting on that for income ten years from now).

At any rate, if you meant to buy the book and found yourself unable, now you know why there was an issue and can take steps to correct it.

Purchase “God, Robot” here, and decide for yourself whether or not the rave reviews have been earned.

Fandom Is Dead. Long Live Fandom!

the medium is the message

If you change the medium, you change the message.

Philosopher of communication Marshall McLuhan argued persuasively that advances in media, regardless of content, can incite dramatic, culture-wide effects.

A best selling print book can reach millions of people, but turn that book into a hit movie, and you increase its sphere of influence by orders of magnitude. Consider The Wizard of Oz, The Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter.

Or, for a meta-example, In the Mouth of Madness.

Now throw in digital technologies–the power to instantly connect with anyone or everyone, everywhere. The effect is compounded exponentially.
A media paradigm shift is playing out in SF fandom.

Dragon Con

Getting back to McLuhan, saying that he was ahead of his time would be an understatement. In fact, it wouldn’t be exaggerating to call his work prophetic. Let’s put it this way: the dude predicted the internet in 1962.

McLuhan noted that print technology caused a massive societal shift away from the more tribal, logic-focused outlook of the Middle Ages to a more individualistic, rhetorical worldview. He expected the web to swing the pendulum back toward tribalism.

Let’s take a look at SF fandom through the lens of McLuhan’s “medium as message” theory.

In the early days, science fiction enthusiasts:

A. Got their fix almost exclusively through the printed word in the form of novels and short stories circulated in magazines.

B. Were a pretty nonconformist, iconoclastic bunch. As Andy Duncan recently said on the passing of the great David Hartwell:

Even in the mid-20th century, David continued, science fiction was a haven for gay and bi and trans people, for people in open marriages or triads or even more complex domestic scenarios, for people with physical and mental disabilities, for shameless exhibitionists and unapologetic recluses, for anarchists and socialists and Birchers and libertarians and Weathermen and CIA operatives, for cosplayers and gamers and creative anachronists and people who crafted wholly spurious biographies for themselves that were accepted and therefore became sort of true, for channelers and Scientologists and orthodox Jews and pre-Vatican II Catholics and Mormons and New Agers and heretics and atheists and freethinkers, for Ph.D.’s and autodidacts, for writers of COBOL and speakers of Esperanto, for Forteans and CSICOPs, for astronomers and astrologers, for psychics and physicists, for basically anyone who was smart and passionate and willing to pitch in somewhere— though talent certainly helped, and curiosity, and a zeal for argument, and a sense of humor.

C. Subsisted as a relatively small subculture within larger Western society.

It’s often been remarked how sci-fi fandom burst out of the basements, niche bookstores, and cramped con suites of its birth to win new legions of adherents with the 1977 release of Star Wars.

For some fans, the gaming world is where it’s at. They are gamers to the core, not precisely readers per se, nor perhaps even watchers of television and movies. But even among gamers, there are traditionalists (tabletop, pencil-and-paper players, writers, and developers) and there are video gamers. Their two circles can and often do overlap. But among younger players especially, the circle for video games is going to be very large, in comparison to the circle for tabletop.

–Brad R. Torgersen

Most commenters usually emphasize this event’s unprecedented effect on C, take A largely for granted, and so gloss over–or misattribute–the causal relationship between the change in the primary medium of SF consumption and B.

Brad is an outlier in his astute recognition that newer media (movies, TV, video games, etc.) contributed to the disruption of old fandom. But he focuses more on what kinds of SF contemporary fans prefer than how they prefer to experience it.

The point I want to make (with the diagram) is that, in 21st century fandom, there aren’t any touchstone movies, books, or other properties which every fan, writer, or editor can rely on being known to every other fan, writer, or editor. There is no longer a central nexus for fandom.

My explanation for the conflicts that have shaken fandom of late differs slightly from Brad’s. I agree that relative innovations like movies and TV, and recent developments like video games (which are all reasons why there is no universal canon of SF touchstones), lie at the root of the turmoil.

But I don’t think that fandom is tearing itself apart. Instead, what we’re seeing is various sub-tribes of SF fans vying against each other to establish the identity of an emerging, consolidated fandom.

Brad gives a good description of this phenomenon: “It’s at the super-cons that one can again get a vague sense of wholeness: all fans of all things merging together for a weekend of intersectionality across innumerable interests.”

That, my friends, is the shape of the future. But what will be the content of its character? What sort of men will these post-fans be? Or will the Amazon servers and mega-convention halls of tomorrow be populated entirely by omnisexual, non-binary otherkin?
Fandom will become more communal, but what sort of community will it be?

Star Trek: The Apple

Watching a movie requires less personal effort than reading print. Even eBooks engage readers’ senses and though processes differently than print books do.

Audiences watching the same movie share a much more uniform experience than readers of the same book. Everyone who’s seen Star Wars knows what Luke Skywalker looks like, but no two Neuromancer readers have exactly the same mental image of Case.

The film industry dwarfs print publishing. As more people come to SF through movies, their shared experience will restore fandom’s sense of community. What the values and customs of this community will be remains undetermined.

The outcome is being decided right now, by self-appointed makers and high priests of culture. If we would have a say in the destiny of fandom, we must wield the new technological tools at our disposal. And we must establish a presence in film.

Currently, I am at best a lowly squire in the battle royale for fandom’s soul. Who are the warring tribes, and who are the chieftains that champion their visions?

We’ll meet them next time.

Planetfall review

PlanetfallI have a terrible habit of taking io9’s book recommendations as, y’know, actual recommendations that one should follow. Thing is, one day, io9 recommended a little book called Leviathan Wakes, and Leviathan Wakes turned out to be one of my favorite currently running space operas. Since then, though, every book they’ve recommended that I’ve picked up has left me cold. (I had a similar experience with horror movies. I saw The Ring, was terrified and in love, and now I keep watching horror movies hoping for another The Ring. It happens every so often, but only every so often.)

It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, I suppose. I’m a Sad Puppy kind of guy, and by and large, io9’s not a Sad Puppy kind of place. The kind of fiction they want is not the kind of fiction that I want, typically, overlapping Venn diagram circles notwithstanding. io9 loved SJW darling Ancillary Justice; I had a reaction to it similar to my reaction to Avatar— an “It’s alright, I guess” that faded to loathing over the course of a few days.

Emma Newman’s Planetfall isn’t as empty as Ancillary Justice or Avatar. It’s not as distasteful. But when Wrongfun Podcast‘s Sean tried to convince me to skip it in favor of Marko Kloos’ Frontline books (Which are coming after I finish The Martian.) he described it as “literary scifi.” And he was right. Thing is, while those words fill me with dread, I’m not opposed to literary scifi. I think the literary forms of character driven conflict are a good thing to aspire to. And I think it can work– Dan Simmons and Gene Wolfe have both produced kicking scifi novels with strongly character driven conflict. But “Literature” is a dark god that consumes all it touches, and it ate Planetfall.

Here’s the elevator pitch: a woman, Suhn Mi, emerges from a coma with knowledge of an alien bio-organic structure on another planet and leads humanity’s first interstellar expedition to this structure to meet God. She never returns from the first visit to “God’s City,” and twenty years later, a young man claiming to be her grandson shows up at the edge of the colony.

That sounds fantastic! Sign me up!

Spoilers ho!

Ren, our narrator, is the technician in charge of the colony’s 3D printers, and she’s pretty clearly hiding a secret that she doesn’t want to be hiding, something about Suhn Mi. This secret is shared only with Mac, the former ad exec that is more or less running the colony, and we get some hints very early on that it’s about Suhn Mi. So when Suhn Mi’s grandson shows up at the colony’s edge (Her son was supposed to have perished during a landingcraft malfunction, a long with quite a few of the colonists.) it causes Ren and Mac no small amount of concern. There are some great moments here early on, not the least of which is a routine test of the young man’s blood returns an error message stating “DNA sample compromised; verify subject is homo sapiens.”

But Planetfall squanders those moments. With a few (fairly predictable) mysteries lurking at the heart of the book (Where has Suhn Mi been for twenty years? What happened to the other colonists?) and a standard, but always fascinating premise (What’s the alien artifact do?), it should’ve been an entertaining romp. But what it quickly devolves into is a story about…..

Hording, of all things. Society’s favorite mental illness du jour. Ren, for reasons easily predicted but still thoroughly explored in the back half of the book, has been abusing her position as maintainer of the colony’s 3D printers– their only manufacturing capability– to horde random things with the intent of fixing them. And of course, she never does. So the junk piles up in her house and becomes the focus of the story. The whole time, I was left wondering when the story would return to the premise I bought the novel for– the promise of an unsettling “space colonization novel that will mess with your head in the best way possible.” And it never did mess with my head. At no point did I sit back and say, “Wow, didn’t see that coming.” Even when we do finally return to God’s City, the answers behind it are the sort of cop out non-answers you get when the author can’t think of something suitably transcendent.

Maybe I’m spoiled by Gene Wolfe; when the man tells you he’s going to tell you the secrets of the universe, he does, or he at least gives you the feeling that he knows. And to be fair, I suppose Newman never promised to mess with our heads, explicitly, but she started a book about a journey to an alien planet to commune with God, and loaded it with some suitably creepy, weird stuff early on. The promise of something astounding is implicit if not explicit.

And I think that’s the problem with the great dark god of literary ambitions; the scifi takes a back seat to the feelings and character drama. That stuff’s all great and good; I don’t want cardboard cutout characters. I want John Sheridans and Roy Fokkers and Amos Burtons and Martin Silenuses. I want to remember the character’s names, their personalities, and their problems. But I want to remember what they did to change the world, for good or for ill, and not wallow in their emotional problems at the expense of the world the author’s presented us. If I wanted to read about people’s baggage, I’d read literature.

And I’m not saying it’s bad! I don’t read straight up lit all that often, but man if I don’t love me some Wes Anderson films– movies that are more often than not about family baggage. But I come to those films looking for that stuff; I don’t go to 2001 expecting Dave Bowman to be lonely for a hundred of the last one hundred and fifty pages while we ignore the monolith. And that is precisely Planetfall‘s sin.

Review: Macross Delta Preview Episode

Those who know my family well know that we practically bleed jet fuel. I’m a USAF brat with a lot of formative memories involving the F-15 and Langley Air Force Base in Virginia during the last 10 years or so of the Cold War. and then worked for almost a decade in the airline world. I cannot only tell a military aircraft from a civilian aircraft by the sound of the engines (not that hard to do), I find the sound soothing. It shouldn’t be terribly surprising to anyone that I am rather obsessed with the Macross franchise, a Japanese space opera that blends a semi-realistic approach to military aviation with the power of song. If you’re not familiar with the franchise, the gist of it is this: Macross is essentially an alternate history where the Cold War spiraled out of control, and after a decade of all out global warfare, humanity was on the brink of extinction when an alien battleship crashed into a remote South Pacific Island in 1999. A number of discoveries come alone with this crash, but the two most important ones are reverse engineered, ridiculously advanced tech, and the fact that there’s a race of giants out somewhere in the galaxy that feel the need to build giant, armed-to-the-teeth warships. A seriously frightened humanity unites, rebuilds the warship, fights the inevitable conflict with the aliens (the Zentraedi, who can be “micronized” to human size via special cloning-ish tech) and discovers along the way that music has some sort of special power to it. After the initial conflict, which results in the near extinction of both races, the new human/Zentraedi civilization begins colonizing the galaxy.

Humanity colonizes the galaxy-- and from the look of it, one of the Magellanic galaxies.

Humanity colonizes the galaxy– and from the look of it, one of the Magellanic galaxies.

It’s hard to call it a realistic depiction of fighter aircraft, because, y’know, despite the fact that Valkyries (The transforming fighters of Macross.) are treated realistically in the hangar, they turn into giant robots. And defy physics. And maneuver in space like they’re World War II dogfighters.  But Macross understands the soul of flight, and it understands how aircraft– particularly military aircraft– speak to the people that love them.  In addition to understanding aviation, it understands characters– the shows are at least as much about some fantastic character drama and love triangles as it is about explosions. In a good way, typically, not the cheesy literary-SF way.

Anyhoo, you’re no doubt wondering why I’ve called you all here. Or not. You’re wondering where the review of the special preview episode of the newest installment, Macross Delta preview review is. Well… it’s right here.

Macross Delta: AD 2067

Macross Delta logoMacross Delta continues moving the meta-story forward: the threat from Macross Frontier‘s Vajra has been met, and expansion has continued, and in the opening moments of Delta‘s first episode, we see that humanity has now left the galaxy– but all is not necessarily well. People are becoming randomly hostile and aggressive due to something called “Var Syndrome,” causing them to lash out in highly destructive ways– everything from the suicide bombing we see in the first minute or so to the rampaging Zentraedi mecha in the back half of the episode. No one knows what’s causing this, but they know, in typical Macross fashion, that music will stop it. To that end, the idol group Walkure works with the UN Spacy to combat the Var syndrome.  Walkure has either partnered with the military or been formed by it; it’s hard to say at this point, but there’s a clearly military tone to Walkure’s operation. When the series introduces us to them, they’re staking out a planet that’s had a high concentration of Var outbreaks, culminating in a rampage by some full-size Zentraedi in shiny new Zentraedi mecha.Regult (Not just the new power armor we’ve glimpsed in Macross Plus and Frontier, but three or four new variations on the Regult, their frontline mecha, and even the officer’s Glaug mech.) Unfortunately, even as Walkure is managing to contain the outbreak, a group of unknown Valkyrie fighters appears in orbit and begins attacking the UN forces. Dogfights ensue!

On the character front, we’ve got a whole slew of new characters to get to know. Hayate Immelman, a lazy dock worker who appears to have a knack for mecha piloting. Freyja Wion, a teenage girl escaping from a backwards life on a bucolic farm planet with hopes of joining Walkure. The quartet that make up Walkure itself, and Delta Squadron, the UN Spacy pilots who protect them. And a Mirage Farina Jenius, who appears to be the granddaughter of Max and Milia, two aces from opposing sides in the original Macross. (Milia was one of the first Zentraedi to defect to the UN.) It’s tough to get a read on any of the characters yet; we’re twenty minutes into what will likely be a five to ten hour saga.

What’s good? What’s bad?

magical girl valkyrieI’m gonna start with the bad. Delta‘s central conceit is an idol group supported by the  UN Spacy. This isn’t the first time music’s been weaponized in Macross; it literally happens in just about every installment of the series, for good or for ill. It’s the show’s shtick, and it’s long since established the music in the Macross universe has a semi-supernatural sort of force to it. What’s tough for me to swallow, as a guy who came in to it when it was a deadly serious war drama, is the sight of idol singers riding around on the shoulders of Valkyries. Flashy concerts in the midst of a war aren’t anything new to the series, but it’s one of those things that can turn from awesome (spoilers for Macross: Do You Remember Love?) to terrible if you’re not careful. And currently, I feel like Delta is treading on some thin ice in that regard, particularly given the decision to give the girls in Walkure a magical girl feel, of all things.

magical girl concert

It’s a battleground, I swear.

But, on the other hand, I sort of like that. One of Macross‘ unappreciated strengths is in its worldbuilding. Some of the best examples of how changing one thing in a society changes everything come from throw away sequences in later installments of Macross. When the series starts chronologically with Macross Zero, it’s essentially a Cold War setting that gives way to giant robots and an alien; in Frontier, we see people with ridiculous cellphones, interactive tables in restaurants, holograms everywhere, and civilian power armor-styled wingsuits. It’s a bunch of neat little touches that give the universe a sort of veracity; all this alien tech injected into our world affects things in little ways and big ways. By the time of Macross Frontier, both the human race and the Zentraedi are changing drastically. Interbreeding is so thorough that the show sometimes doesn’t even remark on characters with obviously alien traits anymore, and posthumanism is becoming a growing issue. Delta‘s treatment of the magical girl shtick feels almost posthuman; the “magic” is accomplished with drones and force fields, and it’s clear that they’re either implanted with tech or have a lot of wearable tech. And the Macross universe is one in which they know that some problems have to be dealt with by music. Why wouldn’t they weaponize an idol group? It’s all so logical… which is a shame that I have to keep reminding myself of that while watching the show.

Another nice touch-- the 360 degree view cockpit glimpsed from Frontier's antagonists makes a return in the SV-262.

Another nice touch– the 360 degree view cockpit glimpsed in Frontier’s antagonists makes a return in the SV-262.

And the good? Well, there are things you expect from a Macross, and Delta doesn’t disappoint there.  There are insane amounts of missiles and dodging of said missiles. The new UN Valkyries, the VF-31, are beautiful, and the Valkyries used by the unknown aggressor that shows up towards the end of the episode are unlike anything the franchise has shown us before in some ways– single engine delta wing?!– but in other ways, they hearken back to the strangely gothic proto-Valkyries used by the anti-UN forces of Macross Zero. (And in fact, share a designation. Zero‘s antagonists flew the SV-51; this new Valkyrie is apparently an SV-262.) As I said earlier, I loved seeing Zentraedi mecha again, with newer, more advanced designs. Dogfighting is nice; the VF-31s appear to be terribly outclassed by the SV-262, and I look forward to seeing the protagonists struggle to get an edge on the newcomers. There hasn’t been a ton of music, but man, what’s there has been both unique and catchy. (Ska in my Jpop? Madness!)

It’s hard to pass judgement on Delta right now. So much is up in the air, and the rest of the show won’t air until this spring. I have my concerns, but I was all wrapped up in the episode despite them. I also have my hopes– Will it tie back to certain events in the Frontier movies? “Var” certainly calls to mind the Vajra, and we momentarily glimpse an ominous figure associated with the Var Syndrome…. But I guess we’ll see come March-ish.