Author: Unknown, probably Eywa.
Author: Galactic Empire
The Death Star is a super-weapon which doubles as a space station because of its incredible size. At least as large as a class four moon, the Death Star destroys entire celestial bodies with a concentrated super-laser shot from a characteristic crater above the star’s equatorial trench. Only two death stars were ever commissioned, both by the Galactic Empire, and only one- that under the command of Grand Moff Tarkin- was ever completed, although the second was operational in offensive terms at the time it was destroyed by the rebel alliance; the second was also significantly larger, boasting a 900km diameter in comparison to the first model’s 160km. The Death Star is spherical and white, and can travel at superluminal velocity; its creation, and subsequent destruction, inspired a range of galactic weapons including the Sun Crusher, the Galaxy Gun and the World Devastator.
The Galactic Empire have really got it spot on with their weapons, and it all started with the Death Star. Sure, DS1 had its share of problems- wait a minute, no it didn’t. It was only the second time they’d ever made one (they made a prototype) and the whole thing- the whole thing- had only one Achilles heel. Apple make bigger mistakes before breakfast each day. DS1 didn’t have anywhere near its share of problems. Sure, the critics are going to get on their high horse, but critics will be critics. If they hate the Galactic Empire so much, why don’t they try getting their weaponry from the rebels? Oh, that’s right, the rebels never made anything, which is why they have to put up with C3PO. Let’s be realistic here.
And it’s not like it was so easy to blow it up anyhow- a lot of rebels did get killed. In fact, only one made it out of a fairly large group, so the Death Star held its own despite bad luck. It got blown up, but in principle it was pretty much a wash. And the rebels used magic. The point is, I’m tired of DS1 being slated because of one little design flaw. It’s not as bad as we’re making it out.
Looking at the weapon itself, my main complaint is the 24 hour recharge time. One planet a day seems like a lot now, but a guy with a Death Star can quickly find himself with a lot of enemies. To be honest, I never knew how fast the thing could go though- it has a network of ion engines which really can crank up the speed. So saying, I wouldn’t be confident steering it; the shape isn’t ideal. Do remember though: this is not a ship, it is a mobile galactic weapon.
Returning to the weapon, in fact, it does concern me that it may be a little too powerful. I’ve got to be honest, there’s a huge novelty factor. It’s extreme, it’s cool, it’s different (blowing up entire planets, I mean)- but at the end of the day, I usually don’t need to kill everyone on any given planet. Even if I did, I don’t know if I’d want to destroy the planet too. I know, it’s an extreme statement- and I get that, believe me. But realistically, I’m going to fire that twice before I’m bored of it- and then I’d be better off with a cheap ‘n’ cheerful lightsaber.
DS2 just exacerbates the problem. If I already have a 160km Death Star, do I really upgrade to a 900km model? The specs are practically identical. It’s not a good way to spend money; flash, yeah. Sensible, no. No, no, no.
Pretty much everything about the Death Star is cool- even that almost-impossible-to-reach weakness. And if galactic weapons had stopped there, no one would have complained. But they didn't, and the simple fact is that the market is a very different place now than it was when DS1 was completed in 0 BBY. Expect to see it get higher ratings when concept weaponry comes back in; until then, I’d take a DS1 if you feel keen. But don’t force yourself.
Review: 猫手 (Neko-Te)
Author: Anonymous Ninja
The Neko-te, or cat’s paw, is a weapon favoured by Japanese ninjas. It consists of a pair of glove-like contraptions (although they can be used individually) worn on the hands, the fingers of which terminate in offensive blades or needles. The Neko-Te is an example of the Kakushi Buki school of weaponry- literally, the hidden weapons. As such it is designed primarily as a weapon of self-defence, although a skilful ninja will be able to use a pair of Neko-Te to open the main arteries of an opponent. Use of the Neko-Te is still taught in the Bujinkan and Jinenkan Dojos under masters Masaaki Hatsumi and Manaka Unsui respectively. Freddy Krueger, the dream-murderer who achieved notoriety for a spate of murders in 1984, also favours a variant of the Neko-Te.
It’s obvious even to the most pacific mind that the Neko-Te is a pretty cool weapon. I think maybe the best thing about it is the animal reference- it just makes the whole thing a little more varied and colourful. Would they have been as popular as ‘cutting gloves’? Or ‘Sharp Hands’? I can’t see it catching on. With cat claws though, you get the allusion to a predatory animal; it’s very similar in principal to X-Men’s Wolverine, but the gay costume is optional.
There is the issue of the fatality count; when I’m picking my top ten weapons to take to a desert island, I want them to have a high killing power. That’s the point of a weapon, surely. Or is it? The Neko-Te philosophy is partially about defence- but it’s also a weapon that specialises in causing a lot of pain. Why kill your enemy when you could slice them all over with an intricate network of lacerations? Sure, with the Neko-Te you can’t make someone dead- but you can make them wish they were dead.
Don’t forget your fear factor, too- which plays into the animalistic persona. A guy with a sword is just that: a guy with a sword. The Neko-Te are somehow more integrated, and become a part of your outfit as much as your panoply, and will definitely put the fear of imminent and painful death in the hearts of your enemies- which is where it belongs.
It’s a defensive as well as offensive weapon, which at the end of the day is very practical; why carry one of each? In fact, since they’re gloves, the Neko-Te allow you to carry none at all. You could actually still hold an axe, or a gun, or a baseball bat- although these probably wouldn’t do justice to the elegant Japanese armoury. It really is a very practical weapon, when you think about it, and stealthy too- don’t forget, they’re designed to be easily concealed.
The flipside of this is the fact that it’s harder to do almost anything when your fingers end in knives. I won’t go into detail, but it’s probably safe to assume that this weapon has a pretty high accidental injury factor. Scratching, nose picking and especially rubbing your eyes are all very bad ideas; not much of a problem for ninjas, who have impeccable manners and are never tired, but for everyone else you’ve got to be very careful. Not a weapon for beginners, that’s what I’m saying.
Overall I would definitely recommend the Neko-Te to any race with appendages on which to wield them- as long as you’re experienced enough to handle it. You’ll need plenty of training, but it will be worth it in the end, especially if you’re as thoroughly vindictive and egregious as the race who conceived them (if you’re asking yourself whether I’m referring to the Japanese or the human race, then you have way too much faith in both of them). Armourers everywhere, take note of the Neko-Te.
Review: The Trojan War
The Trojan War, culminating in the siege and sacking of Troy, was a conflict which took place around the 12th or 11th century BCE. It was fought between the Trojans and the Achaeans, over the madrigal rights to Helen of Troy; initial disagreements arose after Paris was awarded the love of Helen by the Goddess Aphrodite, despite the fact that she was already married to Menelaus. Paris ten fled with Helen to Troy, and Menelaus gave pursuit- bringing with him an army the likes of which the world had never seen, under the command of Agamemnon, his brother and king of the Mycenae. The siege of Troy lasted for ten years, and when it was finally defeated via the cunning of Odysseus it was razed to the ground.
The Trojan War is a big favourite- that first war to which all other wars must be compared. What could be more compelling? Warfare by land and sea, involving great heroes and gods walking on earth in human form; courage, cunning and carnage... Ideal. It’s become the unrelenting subject of human art and endeavour for the whole life of modern civilization on Earth. It even stands the test of modern expectations though; the weaponry might seem dated, but all the necessary elements are there.
World War One was sometimes known as the ‘war to end all wars’, exhibiting the kind of hilarious optimism so epidemic in the human species. In any case, it seems likely that the Trojan War was the war to begin all wars; to set the tone and the precedent for all subsequent conflicts. I think we can all agree that a war to begin all wars makes a lot more sense than a war to end all wars- and Troy set a very high standard for conflicts in years to come.
A vital element of the Trojan War’s success is the divine intervention. The Greek pantheon are very helpful in this respect, and unlike the Abrahamic God have no qualms about getting involved on both sides of the conflict. Zeus and Hera really knew how to keep the flame of war alive, and Troy as an event certainly owed more to the incredible team of Gods working tirelessly behind the scenes than to ostensible heroes like Hektor and Achilles. There’s no doubt that they prolonged the conflict beyond comparison, and the whole thing is just so much more colourful with some supernatural pyrotechnics.
If I had one criticism, it would be that there’s not enough of a moral slant going on. The Greeks seem to be mildly evil, but not decisively, so it’s hard to know whether good triumphs over evil. Equally, there’s no underdog- the fortress of Troy had never been breached, and the Achaean army couldn’t be defeated. Sure there’s the spectacle of irresistible force meeting immovable object, but where’s the humanity? It’s a niggling doubt, but a doubt nonetheless.
Often, in war, it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact winner. Not so with Troy- the old horse trick was enough to ensure a total victory- and what a great and original way of doing it! So creative, so unexpected... masterful. There’s not very much information, but it’s safe to assume that the death toll was respectably high. When you take into account the destruction wreaked within the walls, we’re definitely on the right side of slaughter. The Trojan horse, and the sacking of Troy, are the perfect end to the perfect war: five stars.