Saturday, 11 July 2020 23:13

Admin Story Spolight Theatre #17

With such a huge library of stories to choose from, I struggled to know which tale I should feature in this spotlight. Then it occurred to me, why not just pick an old story at random? The danger is, of course, I would end up commenting on something totally at odds with my own tastes, but I figured if I went for a Supergirl story (my favourite heroine, as I'm sure you all know) there would probably be enough to hold my attention.

Browsing through the older stories, one title from 2005 leapt out:

Shooting Supergirl" by Marknew742

Sounds intriguing, and I don't recall having read this story before, so time to brew a fresh cuppa and delve in to see what it has to offer.

The tale begins with Supergirl being interviewed on live television. She notes how the interviewer has a fixation with her cleavage, and how the discussion is filled with soft questions that her cousin, Kal-El, would never have to put up with. As she politely but firmly deals with each question, Kara's mind begins to muse on how she isn't taken as seriously as her cousin, just because she has breasts. This, despite being just as powerful as Superman.

With these thoughts still in her mind, Kara leaves the studio and finds herself engaging an armed gang of thugs. She notes with some frustration how these goons insist on pointlessly emptying their weapons onto her, and how they always seem to aim for her chest. She deals with them quickly and effortlessly, knowing that in the public's eye her efforts won't be as well regarded as Superman's. But then suddenly the tables are turned when the gang's leader, a woman called Leila, makes an appearance. Each attack Kara tries against Leila fails, and what is worst, Kara feels herself getting weaker and weaker with each try.

It transpires that Leila has a sister, Lacey, and together the siblings intend on stealing the Girl of Steel's superpowers for themselves, one by one, as she is tricked into using them. Will Kara be fooled into surrending all her powers? What crooked scheme do the sisters have planned for their new Kryptonian abilities? Will Kara be able to turn things around and get her powers back? You'll have to read for yourself to find out.

Choosing a story at semi-random means, of course, that what you get may not necessarily play to your own particular preferences. Despite this, however, I found a lot to like in this story. First, the author is using Kara well, tying parts of the story to her relationship with her more famous cousin. Sometimes authors just write generic superheroines and apply the name of an established character to them, but this isn't the case here. Second, there's a lot of subtle humor in this story. Even when the author writes in unnecessary detail about Kara's breasts, you kind of feel it is justified because Kara herself finds men's fixation with her chest to be amusing.

Admittedly the dialogue in the final stages of the story gets a little hackneyed, and it becomes obvious halfway through that we're heading towards a twist at the end, but these quibbles don't necessarily spoil the fun. The story does get bogged down for a while, as the author goes into intense detail over exactly how the power-stealing process works, but the tale picks up pace again once the dense techno-babble is over. So overall the experiment was a success -- maybe not everything in this randomly chosen story resonated with me, but there was enough fun to keep me going to the end.

Thursday, 02 February 2017 11:12

In the thick of the action

He's an interesting idea that some of you that dabble with 3D graphics might want to explore...

Equirectangular images are flat representations of spherical pictures that can be displayed as 360 degree images using software. The end result is an image (or video) that places the viewer in the middle of the action, allowing them to move the camera view to look around. Well, it turns out that it is quite easy to create equirectangular images from inside 3D applications by simply changing a couple of camera options before hitting RENDER.

I know that a handful of people on this site enjoy creating their own superheroine scenes using tools like Blender. I thought it might be fun to challenge the 3D gurus out there to make some dynamic stills, placing the viewer in the thick of the heroine action. I've installed a copy of the Pannellum viewer onto the SWM site, enabling 360 spherical images to be viewed by anyone with a modern web browser that supports WebGL -- as a test I've created my own low-res image using Lego zombies (plus one of two guests, if you look around) to give people an idea of the possibilities. I'm a total newbie to 3D graphics, so I'm sure the pro's on here can do a lot better.

Below is a video showing how to set up equirectangular cameras in Blender (the tool I used for my own image.) If you want software to view the images on your own computer, FSPViewer is a freeware viewer for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux.