Fanfic / Rolands War
A massive work of World Made by Hand Fan Fiction
is an attempt to address some aspects of World Made by Hand
by doing a Retcon
that eliminates the drastic climate change described in the book, it allows for Long Island to be inhabited. By bringing in the Arc Reactor from Iron Man
(or something that acts like an arc reactor, but goes by a different name to avoid a lawsuit), it instantly solves the problem of the only possible electricity being hydroelectric power.
In a nutshell, it's about how a group of Crazy-Prepared
people coordinate, in the face of impending disaster, a nationwide network of fortresses. Most of these are old-fashioned, strongly-built, solid-walled maximum-security prisons, abandoned due to massive prisoner die-off in the diseases epidemics that ravaged America. Safe in these fortresses, these responsible people wait for the chaos to die down, then emerge and start doing a few key things. They get to work on wind and solar power infrastructure right away, then make surrounding farmers an offer they can't refuse: Provide us with food, and we will provide you with security. It works, and soon the "United Coalition of Allied Fortresses" flourishes nationwide, especially on the east coast.
Currently, Roland's War exists as a failed novel
, a two-person written roleplay on NationStates
that was suddenly halted due to the forum vanishing, and an in-process feature-length film script that I'm very much enjoying but will never actually be filmed. On October 30, 2009, work on a sequel script began. No, the first script was never finished. Yes, my mind has a tendency to jump very far ahead...
This work provides examples of:
- Abandoned Hospital: Seeing as this is After the End, abandoned hospitals are everywhere, but the trope is subverted by them not staying that way. Instead, they are likely to be converted by just about any faction into a certain kind of fortress which they call a "residential facility". Such places are usually less secure but more comfortable for civilians to live in than the prisons-turned-fortresses. In some of these forts that were formerly asylums, lingering signs and feelings of past atrocities are said to still remain.
- Action Girl: Valentine, Leyna, Marla
- After the End: Pretty self-explanatory.
- The Alcatraz: Subverted in a way utterly vital to the story. Basically, the strongest, most imposing prisons across the U.S. are used as fortresses that can keep anyone out rather than in. Most of the super-imposing, most-feared real life state penitentiaries of the U.S. are the pride and joy of the Coalition and whatever other factions might control them. Let's face it: if Roland's War was a car, it would run on not gasoline, but prisons.
- Apocalypse How: Because of the retcons to the original book's apocalyptic events, it's now more like a Class 0.75, if such a thing is possible. Dieback is not quite as bad, and America gets back up on its feet much more quickly thanks to the Coalition.
- Applied Phlebotinum: The arc reactor.
- Ax-Crazy: Erica is certainly a bit on the subtler side, but she's crazy and likes to kill people.
- Badass Longcoat: Roland and Eli basically epitomize this one, although there are others.
- Badass Cape: Valentine is a perfect example. It usually is seen getting blown around by Dramatic Wind.
- Badass Normal:
- Many characters who don't have the incredible abilities of some of the others fit this trope: Frank Valero, the Jenkins Brothers, Commander Zachariah (sort of...), Dave Rice...but one stands head and shoulders above the rest, Vangelis. He's just an exceptionally good soldier, quick and accurate with his AK, skilled at riding a horse or motorcycle, and possesses an exceptional work ethic.
- From the sequel: Leyna's sister Julie, Patrick Marenco.
- Berserk Button: Disparage pre-apocalyptic literature, theater, or any other such elements of high culture and you'll merely make Calliope mad. Attempt to reveal anything about her pre-apocalyptic identity and you run the risk of triggering something far, far worse...
- BFG: The Missouri Sniper, who has a habit of hanging around on top of his state's Capitol building, has one of these.
- BFS: Zacharias's claymore. But let us not forget Valentine's absurdly large rapier, sized so that she can properly hold it with her gauntlet hand if necessary.
- Big Bad: Empress Juno, Erica, the Federal Authority Council.
- Blood Knight: Zachariah. He very much enjoys a good war, and seeing as he possesses a BFS and a reasonably large automatic pistol, he can't be blamed.
- Butt-Monkey: Can a place be one of these? Because Fort Riverhead (on Long Island, NY, in the town on Riverhead) and Fort Toledo (in Toledo, Ohio), frequently mentioned in the "Ugliest Fort in the Coalition" write-in poll, certainly might qualify.
- Chaotic Good: Eli and Leyna, being wandering mercenary types but with definite standards and fundamentally good natures.
- Chaotic Neutral: Billy Madison, solitary wanderer and scavenger, who doesn't like staying in one place or allying himself with any one cause for too long, and has no qualms about trading alcohol, tobacco, and firearms to anyone for food.
- Character Name Alias: Roland, Valentine, Vangelis, and Calliope. All have painstakingly kept their real identities secret, and all have good reasons for choosing the pseudonyms they use.
- The name Roland can be seen to come from various sources, depending on whether you're a bigger fan of: a) Stephen King b) Warren Zevon or c) 12th Century French poetry.
- The namesake for Vangelis is a composer, perhaps best known for the Chariots of Fire score.
- Calliope was one of the ancient Greek muses. This has nothing to do with Inquisitor Calliope's job...the alias dates back to her much less violent pre-apocalyptic life.
- Valentine is a direct Final Fantasy VII reference. And wait until you actually see a description of her, then it will make even more sense...
- Charles Atlas Superpower: Roland's Gun Kata was obtained this way: while the world was busy destroying itself, he hid out in a cabin in the middle of nowhere with a DVD of Equilibrium and trained obsessively until he could actually pull it off. Because no one else went to this trouble, he seems superpowered. This trope is also basically the explanation for Commander Valentine's physical prowess, and would seem to explain Inquisitor Calliope, though there's more to her than meets the eye...
- The Chessmaster: General Spiven, the young Montanan who formed the Northern Plains Confederacy and broke it away from the Coalition, is definitely one of these. Arguably, so are Calliope and Valentine, though in somewhat different ways, given their very different personalities.
- Cool Shades: In addition to his black Badass Longcoat, Roland wears Aviators. Subverted by the fact that no one really remembers what action movie heroes looked like, so they actually find Roland's outfit to be cool rather than cliched!
- Cosy Catastrophe: And how! The presence of the Coalition, arc reactors, and the stuff made in Coalition factories makes this world much more pleasant and livable than that of WMBH. Not much needs to be scavenged anymore
- Dark Action Girl: The two closest examples, Calliope and Erica, subvert this in interesting ways. The former is usually too sedate, unobtrusive, and by-the-book to qualify, while the latter is so evil she kind of passes the limit for the trope.
- Deadly Decadent Court: The court of Empress Juno, centered around the Imperial Palace in St. Cloud, Minnesota. No one's really plotting to overthrow the Empress, but if you get in the way of any of the aristocrats or run afoul of the Empress's personal Red Guard unit, you're in trouble...
- The Dragon: Zacharias is this for Erica, Calliope is this for Empress Juno, and Roland is arguably this for the Federal Authority Council.
- The Empire:
- The Kingdom of Delmarva, before they attempted an idiotic simultaneous conquest of South Jersey and Philadelphia and were crushed by a multi-state Coalition force.
- As the Federal Authority grows in size and evilness, some might say they all headed towards this trope.
- The Everyman:
- The Jenkins brothers were created during the NationStates roleplay for this exact reason: just two ordinary young guys from Lancaster, PA, one stationed in Philadelphia and the other in Pittsburgh. They look at and react to big events, write letters home to their parents, and generally don't do anything extraordinary...yet.
- Joe Abernathy was created for the script as one of these, though he's also the opening narrator.
- Everyone Went to School Together: Roland, Leyna, Valentine, Erica, Calliope, Dave Rice - all went to the same private school, though some people's time there overlaps with everyone else's more than others...
- The Fake Cutie: Sums up Erica: her surface personality is bubbly and perky, seemingly quite girlish and cheerful. But, she's actually a monster.
- The Federation: The Federal Authority wants to bring back an organized, centrally governed United States. Except it's obviously not going to be quite like it was in the pre-apocalyptic days.
- Fighter-Launching Sequence: Several occasions, though the best example would probably be near the end of the second script, when the Minnesotan Imperial Air Force lifts off to do their big attack on everyone else. Countered by the scenes of Northern Plains Confederacy and Wisconsonian Coalition air forces taking off to intercept the attack and bomb the crap out of Minnesota.
- For the Evulz: Why Erica does what she does, as somewhat a result of her insanity. She derives delight from pain, death, and destruction and can't be reasoned with unless her own life is really seriously threatened. Which doesn't happen as often as others might think.
- Fun with Acronyms
- The Coalition's attempt at creating a coffee shop chain in the "next generation" sequel.
"United Coffee of Allied Fortresses? Why does that sound so familiar?" In case you don't get it, UCAF is the acronym for the Coalition itself
- The People's Liberation Army of Nebraska
"Oh great. It's the Contraception Army..." As in, you know, Plan B...
- Gas Mask Mooks:
- Erica's soldiers, when they use chemical weapons.
- The Miners, all the time.
- Goggles Do Something Unusual: Valentine's super-elaborate magnifying goggles. Their various lenses are constantly moving and adjusting, and give her a great advantage in combat.
- Guns Akimbo:
- Roland has two guns and usually uses them both at once.
- Eli sometimes has two, sometimes doesn't.
- The Gunslinger: Roland is a C, Eli is a combination of A and D. These are the essences of their characters, and you won't see them fighting with anything other than their trusty guns.
- The Hero: A whole host of characters, arguably, though Roland and Vangelis were sort of the originals.
- He's Just Hiding: Roland. He doesn't actually die in his final battle with Erica aboard the An-22 at the end of the first script. Neither does Erica, though. Valentine rescues Roland, and Zachariah rescues Erica. However, while Roland goes into hiding for the next 6 years, Erica is in a coma the entire time.
- Jerk Ass: Roland. Being very powerful has made him feel that he has a right to be obnoxious with impunity.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Roland! He's actually very kind and compassionate, but he's buried so deep that almost no one knows. Just watch, it'll come out sometime...
- The Lancer: Dave Rice is this to Roland, and that sniper guy could be seen as filling this role in Leyna's crew.
- Lethal Chef:
- One of the Jenkins brothers relates the story, in a letter to his parents, of how one of his friends at Fort Pittsburgh North decides it would be a good idea to create a chicken and radish stew. Something goes wrong, and all who eat it, while not killed, are struck with serious food poisoning. The stew-maker is sentenced to extensive latrine duty and ordered never to cook again.
- Frank Valero also has a penchant for bizarre recipes of dubious edibility, which also makes him somewhat of a One-Note Cook... he just can't seem to give up on the idea of making a successful eel and scallop stew!
- Meaningful Name: Well, more like meaningful nickname in one case where this trope is played completely for laughs. Aaron Gates, an NCO at Worcester Airport, has perpetuated the nickname "Spider" for himself. He doesn't have any spider-like qualities at all. He simply chose the name in order to see peoples' reactions when they suddenly remember what the original "Spider Gates" are.
- Mildly Military: The Coalition is the very definition of this! Discipline is infrequent, drills are relaxed yet somehow effective, soldiers always wind up with assignments they enjoy, promotions are frequent, and the rank structure can get a bit wonky.
- Mysterious Past: Roland. He deliberately conceals his identity behind his pseudonym and an absolute unwillingness to tell anyone anything about his time before his training during the apocalyptic years.
- Nice Hat: Zachariah wears a somewhat fedora-like hat...by pairing it with his Badass Longcoat, he's trying to create a sort of Wild West look. Whether this is successful or not as a matter of some debate among Erica's crew.
- No Doubt The Years Have Changed Me: Remember, by a strange coincidence, Roland actually went to high school with a lot of the major characters, both heroes and villains, but he doesn't go by the name they knew, looks different, and acts much different.
- The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The four-member (2 male, 2 female) Federal Authority Council, whose faces are never seen but who frequently interact with Roland himself on a regular basis. Roland kills them at the end of the first script, and without them, the Feds lose the will to fight the Coalition. In the sequel, the reorganized Federal Authority has loosely become The Government instead, handling American civil affairs while the Coalition is responsible for the military.
- Powered Armor: Marla is legendary because of hers, a government prototype recovered from a research lab years ago. It's almost nothing like that of the elite Minnesotan "mobile infantry", which move slower, can't fly, aren't as durable, and don't have much weapons variety. But then there's Calliope's, which is something else entirely, a piece of Imported Alien Phlebotinum acquired from South Africa years ago...
- Praetorian Guard: A unit of the Red Guard is tasked with protecting the Empress qualifies as one of these.
- Rule of Cool: Awesomeness before realism, no matter what the cost!
- Samus Is a Girl: Though most people recognize them by now, Marla, Leyna, and Valentine have to deal with this when an enemy faces them for the first time. Valentine's outfit gives away her figure pretty quickly despite its overall ambiguous nature, but Leyna's doesn't and Marla is inside a large and not very feminine-looking Powered Armor. Of course, they usually say something to the enemy and give it away with their voice...
- Self-Made Orphan: Some sources say Erica is one, but it's not 100% clear.
- Shout-Out: This work is loaded with 'em.
- One of the earliest was in the novel installment, where the main enemies are a terrorist group called the Mandrill Initiative, a mashup up names and concepts from Lost and Matt Ruff's novel Bad Monkeys.
- The Minnesotan mechas pay direct tribute to the APUs of The Matrix Revolution.
- The uniforms of the Minnesotan Red Guard bear a suspicious resemblance to those of the Save-A-Soul Mission members in most productions of Guys and Dolls. Really.
- Roland's Gun Kata is an obvious tribute to Equilibrium.
- Valentine's outfit is a clear reference to the character of the same name in Final Fantasy VII, who she used to cosplay as in the pre-apocalyptic days.
- Eli's guns look just like Vash's in Trigun, and his name is an odd tribute to a Three Dog Night song. He can also curve bullets like in Wanted...sort of...
- Shrouded in Myth: Practically the case with every major character! Since modern media was essentially wiped out in the apocalyptic events, most news travels by word of mouth or usually unreliable newspaper-like "broadsheets", and ordinary people or ordinary Coalition grunts don't get much of the truth. Most of the great figures of the age are distorted to seem even more powerful than they actually are, their great deeds magnified because anything that goes above and beyond "just getting by" is grounds for greatness. Vangelis in particular is so shrouded in myth he can barely move: his monumental journeys shortly after joining the Coalition and his continued willingness to participate in major military operations across America have led to him being seen by the general population as a superhero of sorts, when really he's just a Badass Normal career soldier trying to get by and serve the Coalition as best he can. Played for laughs near the end of the first chapter of my failed novel, when he sits down at a table with a bunch of soldiers who don't recognize him, then freak out when the fort commander introduces him to them.
- Smoking Is Cool: Subverted in that while no deliberate effort is made to make it seem cool because the primary heroes don't smoke, it is still quite prevalent. Billy Madison is the embodiment of this in that he is essentially a walking cigarette machine, scavenging them where he can and trading them to people for food, while he himself also smokes almost constantly. So do Frank Valero, Shoe (and therefore also Eli, in his attempt to take on Shoe's identity after killing his double early on in the story and thinking it was the real guy), and a whole host of minor, barely-seen characters. Averted by the main characters, who mostly have a strong opposition to all drugs and alcohol.
- Spy Catsuit:
- She may not be a spy, but a black leather one of these is Erica's signature outfit. Unless she's on a pre-planned stealth sort of mission, though, she usually wears a Badass Longcoat over it.
- What Calliope is wearing under her normal uniform, only revealed when someone triggers her Berserk Button sort of qualify, but also fall under Sensual Spandex.
- Super Prototype: Marla's Powered Armor, for sure. Years ahead of anything else the U.S. Military had developed, it stands alone among the technology used after the Crash as a glimpse of what might have awaited us if the world hadn't gone crazy. Also, the Project XVI gear sort of counts, but not in the exact same way...
- Supporting Leader:
- Dave Rice is this for the Federal Authority.
- Major Finnegan fulfills this role in the Northern Plains Confederacy as a counterpoint to the younger General Spiven, who is busy directing attacks from behind the scenes most of the time.
- Technical Pacifist: Subverted by Leyna...she used to be very dedicated to peace, and with the advanced technology she possesses could almost qualify for this trope, but unfortunately Project XVI was not designed with non-lethal force in mind.
- Those Two Guys:
- The rather peculiar, never separated Pfc. Withers and Corporal Bosworth.
- The Iowan bounty hunter duo Book Kassidy and the Oxford Kid.
- Took a Level in Badass: This is how Eli got to be where he is today. Before successfully killing Shoe (Or rather, his double, but we didn't know that until the real Shoe showed up several years later alive and well), he was just another young punk with aspirations of being a great gunslinger. After that fateful duel, he took on Shoe's twin custom revolvers, Badass Longcoat, and Cool Shades and spent plenty of time training...
- Unfortunate Names:
- The Pop Culture Name example of this has struck poor Billy Madison at full force. As soon as the Adam Sandler movie of the same name came out, his life became miserable. The apocalypse has actually done wonders for him.
- Leroy Jenkins, father of the Jenkins Brothers, who had no idea his name would come to mean so much.
- Warrior Poet: Leyna and Valentine, to the absolute maximum. Valentine publishes her various works of poetry and prose in Vassar's sole remaining literary magazine quite often, and her speeches are acknowledged across the Coalition as not just empty bluster but true art.
- Wicked Cultured: Most definitely Calliope and, to a lesser degree Empress Juno herself. Averted by Erica, who is so distracted by her own evil that she has let this trait fall out of her everyday personality.