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Thursday, 02 July 2020 00:36

Admin Story Spolight Theatre #14 Featured

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Before we start this installment of the Admin Spotlight Theater there are a couple of announcements:

  1. Both LFan and I hit a pretty rough spot with our respective day jobs, which means that this feature is going to officially slow down a bit. Most of you probably already noticed that we are already doing it almost bi-weekly.
  2. To compensate and broaden our selection we have already asked some of our moderators and collaborators a little bit of help, as soon as their first pieces are ready we would be able to provide a new, more consistent schedule.

Ok. The administrative stuff is out of the way, let's get this show on the road and this week I'm featuring a story that left many readers puzzled at first, starting with its title, which isn't exactly something that rolls off your toungue:

Armada, All-Powerful Queen Of Portland by Castor (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3)

This was one of Castor's first pieces on this site and, I'm not going to lie, at the time it looked extremely weird. The story had most of the tropes of our genre and yet it felt completely different from everything else we have ever hosted. The story had an extremely slow pace, without any apparent big reveals or crazy stunt. This particular style of narrative is pretty much a staple of Castor's writing, but, for me, it never felt more substantial and appropriate than in Armada. It's easy to turn away saying "boring", but in a way that's exactly what the first couple of chapters aim to. This is not an end od the world scenario, it's a slice of life comedy built around a superwoman doing the least slice of thing possible: taking over a city and establish it as a separate nation because she cares about it.

Now before going any further. I understand that this particular story, especially the last chapter, might be problematic right now. Castor wrote it back in 2013, way before any of us could ever imagined events like those that transpired in these last months. So I urge you to take this story as a simple moment of fun, not an attempt to further any kind of political agenda and whatnot. Any similarity between this story and the events of the Capitol Hill Zone in Seattle is purely coincidental.

Moving on, the slice of life impression is compounded by another of Castor's trope, changes of scene. There is a crapton of small changes of scene detailing how the rest of the world reacts to the insane idea of a super-strong, flying woman declaring herself Queen of Portland. These reactions go from the funny to the extremely serious. My favorite is, probably, the moment we see a completely false and yet completely believable tabloid title about her harem. What really got me here is that this is seeing such a classic supervillainess trope being used in reverse, to characterize Armada in-universe, rather than to the reader.

Still, these scenes aren't just some funny intermissions, they set the path toward Chapter 3. This is when the shit hits the fan and the illusion of the slice of life is shattered. Chapter 3 open with a (literal) bang and goes on to provide us the biggest plot twist of the entire story. I'm not going to spoil it for you, but this is really what made this story for me. Without the final revelation, Armada would have been an interesting, but limited take on another genre. With it, many of the stories plot holes suddenly make sense and our (as in readers') perspective get flipped upside-down.

Personally, I don't think I've really enjoyed any of Castor's stories more than Armada. Out of all of his extensive production and numerous experiments, this is the one that really set the bar for me.