Raunch Review: Judge Dredd

Raunch Review: Judge Dredd

Raunch Reviews is a series about profanity. Not real profanity, but speculative swearing. Authors often try to incorporate original, innovative forms of profanity into our own fantastical works as a way to expand the worlds we build. Sometimes we’re successful. Often we’re not. In this series, I examine the faux-profanity from various works of sci-fi and fantasy, judge their effectiveness, and rate them on an unscientific and purely subjective scale. This is Raunch Reviews, welcome.


Raunch Review: Judge Dredd
Raunch Review: Judge Dredd
The Author: John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra
Work in Question: Judge Dredd
The Profanity: “Drokk”

With instances of censor-slips, we usually see creators go the easy route. Spellings or pronunciations are changed just enough to trigger a memory in the audience, so they connect the slip with the profanity it’s replacing. Generally, these sorts of faux-profanity don’t score very high around here. They’re lazy, typically unoriginal, and often hold back worldbuilding rather than enhance it. At first glance, it’s easy to see Judge Dredd’s “drokk” as a slip, but one must view the word in the context of the world it inhabits.

Raunch Review: Judge Dredd
A sample of Dredd’s linguistic drift as applied to faux-profanity

On the streets of Mega-City One, there are plenty of faux-profanities. In most cases, they’re excellent examples of linguistic and cultural drift. That is to be expected in a future setting, since language changes continuously, and Wagner took this into account when writing the series. There are plenty of fantastic examples of plausible drift within a language: “God” becomes “Grud,” “Jesus” becomes “Jovus,” “Elders” are “Eldsters,” “Gasolene” is “Guzzalene,” and “Scavengers” are called “Scavvers.” So it’d make sense to see other words develop as well. While the usage is familiar, there’s a pedigree that points to this being more than just a simple censor-slip. “Drokk” emerges as something wholly its own blending in with the semantic argot of Mega-City One. A solid bit of fictional profanity.

Score: Half Swear (4.0)

🤬 Previous Raunch Reviews


Have a suggestion for Raunch Reviews? It can be any made-up slang word from a book, television show, or movie. You can email me directly with your recommendation or leave a comment below. I’ll need to spend time with the property before I’ll feel confident reviewing it, so give me a little time. I have a lot of books to read.


The Green Knight

The Green Knight

Hey, it’s a random Thursday in February. Let’s all watch the trailer for everyone’s favorite 14th-century Arthurian legend, The Green Knight.

As I said over on Twitter, this looks weird enough I might actually drag myself to a theater to see it. (A rarity these days.) I have to admit I’m a sucker for almost everything A24 releases these days (The Lighthouse, Hereditary, Lady Bird, The Witch, Ex Machina, The Lobster, the list goes on and on), I think Dev Patel is great, and I find David Lowery​ intriguing. Plus, I’m getting Holy Mountain/Tale of Tales vibes from this teaser, which is not a bad thing.

What do you think?

Random Thoughts Regarding Super Bowl LIV

Random Thoughts Regarding Super Bowl LIV

So, the NFL’s big game happened last Sunday, which concluded the 2019 NFL season. I watched it, and I have some thoughts. I’m hard at work on the next novel, which is why things have been quiet around here lately, so I thought it’d be fun to share.


🏈 Football in General

This was the first full game of football this season that I watched in its entirety. Which is A) a bit weird for me and B) served as a reminder of what I gained by not watching. In past years, on a typical week, I’d watch—at the very least—the Seattle Seahawks play, and usually Sunday Night Football. With pregame coverage and post-game reporting that came to about eight hours of football-related stuff per week. Multiply that across the season and being conservative, that’s 17 eight-hour workdays in total not counting playoffs and such. That’s a lot of time to give up. This year, after cutting cable, I spent that time writing Gleam Upon the Waves and working on some of my map projects. Funny enough, I never felt like I missed out on anything. I still followed the Seahawks. I still saw the big plays. I had my best season in my fantasy football league at work. But I never missed watching football. Funny that.


🙆‍♂️ The Game

These weren’t my teams, and I don’t harbor any animosity toward the Niners despite them being one of the Hawks’ rivals. I like Kittle and Sherman a lot and would have loved to see Sherm get a second ring. That said, I also like Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes, and Travis Kelce, and it was great to see Reid, in particular, finally get his championship. Plus, the game was excellent. Lots of back and forth. Plenty of scoring. Close the whole time. It was the best part of the entire event, which hasn’t been the case for some years.


💃 Halftime

Meh. Kari-Lise and I both were disappointed in the halftime show. It was too long, and it felt incredibly disjointed. The song cuts came so fast one wasn’t allowed time to get into a rhythm before it was cutting to something else. Remember this song? Remember this one? How about this one? Much of the backup dancer costuming was terrible, as was that weird knock-off Pitbull whom I am too lazy to research. (I’m decidedly not a Pitbull fan, but I’m even less of a knock-off Pitbull fan, apparently.)


📺 The Commercials

Eesh. These were awful. Almost all of them. Outside of a few gems that seemed to bring something new—namely Amazon’s Alexa ad—everything came across as awkward and forced. They were brands trying to be genuine while decidedly being the opposite of that. This isn’t surprising in an era when marketing strategy runs along the lines of “Sunny-D is depressed” and “Steak-umm reflects on society.” These were focused grouped into oblivion, and it showed. Most had an incredible lack of self-awareness and a misunderstanding of whatever culture they were targeting. To paraphrase my pal, Peter, most came across as the dying gasp of an industry format that wants to move towards the organic viral-ness of TikTok but doesn’t understand how to get there. He’s not wrong. (Also, now that I have seen celebrities and brands infiltrate TikTok, TikTok is dead to me. The fun weirdness is gone. Like Instagram, it’s becoming a wasteland of ads.)


🥨 The Snacks

I made a decent spread of food that is terrible for you (Frito Pie! Pigs-in-a-blanket! Jalapeño Poppers!) but are a joy to eat. So the snacks were great. A+ snacks. Will snack on again, just not on the reg.


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

Trip Report – Hawaii

Hawaii has never called to me. Most of my impressions of America’s 50th state formed in the crucible of late ‘80s television shows, movies, and the representations therein. Those didn’t spark any interest for me as I got older and began to travel more often. It took a family holiday to draw me to the archipelago, and while I enjoyed my short time on the islands—I feel like I left Hawaii with unfinished business.

For Thanksgiving, we joined my in-laws in visiting my brother-in-law and his wife at their home on O’ahu. He serves in the U.S. Coast Guard and is stationed in Honolulu, living just off Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. We didn’t have much time on O’ahu, and the holiday kept us busy. So I don’t have a lot to say about the most populated island in the chain—we didn’t make it up to the North Shore, only saw a bit of the stunning East Shore, and we didn’t spend enough time in Honolulu for me to understand it as a city. It was the ghost on the horizon. Its grid remaining unexplored.

After the holiday, Kari-Lise and I took the short 25-minute plane ride from Honolulu to Maui, where we spent the remaining five days of our vacation. Some with family and some off on our own. It was a packed five days, and we saw the bulk of the island. As a result, my feelings for Maui are mixed. I’ve never been much of a resort-person, and a large portion of the beaches are dominated by hotel towers and mediocre restaurants, all featuring the strangely typical menus. I don’t care about outdoor malls, I have little attraction to group excursions, and you can only eat so much overcooked macadamia-crusted seafood. So there’s a lot of Maui that wasn’t for me.

But there is a wildness there if you’re willing to put in the effort. The shallows all around the island teem with life, and there’s a lot of snorkeling and diving with plenty to see. But, as a guy who has relatively serious vision-issues (legally blind without my glasses), snorkeling isn’t high on my priority list. So, if you’re like me and crave a bit more adventure away from the capitalist extravaganza of the resorts, I have a few suggestions.


Iao Valley State Park

We tackled this on our first full day on Maui. A short (and beautiful) drive away from the Kahului and the dry desert-like basin of central Maui, up into a lush and narrow valley. Here, you’ll find a tiny state park (I believe the whole thing is just over 6 acres) and some easy hiking trails (so easy I’m wary of even calling them trails) with some substantial views of a few incredible landforms. It’s not a large park, but it’s memorable, and in being tucked away, it’s not as congested as other parts of the island.


Haleakalā

The Haleakalā National Park and its volcanic namesake dominate the western side of Maui. After a long and winding drive up the side of the dormant shield volcano, you’re greeted by a stunning view of Maui and the surrounding islands as well as a view into the alienesque vista of the crater. At ten-thousand feet, I found myself fighting against altitude sickness. That’s not something I’ve encountered before, and I’m a fairly experienced hiker—so while I’d have loved to hike some of the trails, we decided to forgo the more extensive hikes and stick close to the roads. Kari-Lise and I are a big fan of our National Parks, and I’d love to return to Haleakalā and take a crack at the paths atop its crown.


The Hana Highway – The Whole Thing

You’ll hear about the Hana Highway before you ever go—it’s a dominant draw, and after a few turns along its windy rainforested course, you’ll understand why. It’s a remarkable experience. Weaving its way through the coastline of Western Maui, the Highway cuts past stunning views, beautiful waterfalls, narrow bridges, and is dotted along the way with local fruit stands. We even managed to make a side trip down an old dirt road to see the Pi’ilanihale Heiau—it’s the largest single heiau in all of Polynesia. I’ve never been to an archeological site like that before, and it was well worth the short jaunt.

The passage “ends” at Hana for most—but we’ve never been satisfied with the status quo. We continued on, and after an incredible meal at a roadside Huli Huli stand (the best meal of the trip), the Highway really became something special. Narrow roads take you into places many tourists avoid; the landscape is raw, wild, and remote. The asphalt gives way to a pot-holed country lane that bends and weaves through jungles, gulches, and cliffs before emerging into the rolling hills of Maui’s stunning Upcountry. The route past Hana, toward Ulupalakua, was easily my favorite experience on the island.


The Honoapiilani & Kahekili Highway

On the north side of the island lies a small highway that doesn’t have the draw of Hana, but is nearly equal in beauty. We chose it on a whim toward the end of our visit, allowing us to complete our Maui experiences and getting away from the tourist traps and stuffy resorts of the west coast. The road here is narrow, and with fewer turnouts and long stretches of single-lane roads, it’s not as traffic-friendly as the Hana Highway. That said, the views of the ocean and the tumultuous surf along the north shore are stunning, and the crowds along the coast were lighter. We stopped and got some banana bread, watched a man feed the mongooses, check out a natural blowhole, and generally enjoyed our day. It was a pleasant way to cap our experience on the island and left us feeling like we had absorbed much of what Maui had to offer.


Advice & Tips

  • Skip the restaurants along the beach and focus on the Huli Huli stands or the holes-in-the-wall away from hotels and condos. The food there is better and cheaper.
  • Buy fruit from the fruit stands. Seriously. This is how they’re meant to taste.
  • Rent small if you can—while all of the roads I mentioned would handle a vehicle of any size; a smaller vehicle will make navigating the narrow roads much easier, especially for nervous drivers.

I began this report talking about unfinished business. Maui was pleasant, but I felt no sirens call. It didn’t captivate me the way I had hoped. While moments along the way will resonate with me, I don’t think the island itself was for me.

It has been said that there’s a Hawaiian island for everyone, and I’m still willing to give that aphorism a chance. The Big Island temps me, Kaui looks as if it could be a near-perfect fit, and I am eager to give O’ahu more time. (It’s probably no secret for those who read my work that cities fascinate me and Honolulu is the remotest city of its size in the world. So, yeah, I want to spend more time there.)

I’m certain there will be other Hawaiian visits in my future, and I look forward to them. Not every trip has to strike the right chords. Not every journey will become the magical experience we dream of—and that’s fine. It’s a part of travel, and understanding that is key to experiencing this wondrous world. But for now, I’m still looking for my island.


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

Because Conscience Tells Him

Because Conscience Tells Him

“On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” And Vanity comes along and asks the question, “Is it popular?” But Conscience asks the question “Is it right?” And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.”

Martin Luther King Jr.
Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution
(31 March 1968)

Free Wonderdraft Symbol Sets Now Available

Free Wonderdraft Symbol Set Now Available

Occasionally I get emails from people asking about my brush sets and the map-making software Wonderdraft. It’s a great piece of software with a vibrant community of creators, one I’ve always wanted to support. But converting ABR files into individual objects has always been daunting, so I haven’t been able to support it like I wanted.

Until today. Thanks to the efforts of Richard Moyer, ten of my sets (nearly 4000 objects) are now available for Wonderdraft users! Like my Photoshop and GIMP sets, these are free to use for personal or commercial projects. No attribution required. You can download them and start using them immediately. The button below links to the set on Cartography Assets, a fantastic online resource for Wonderdraft addons. It includes details and advice on how to use these sets, so be sure to read the Overview.


K. M. ALEXANDER WONDERDRAFT MEGAPACK


Huge thank you to Richard for putting in this work. It’s a monumental endeavor and one that should be recognized. He even when the extra mile by including versions of the objects with opaque backgrounds to allow for easy layering. It cannot be said enough; this is a generous undertaking. So if you like these sets, don’t just thank me, thank Richard as well.

Happy map making!


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →