Redemption through sacrifice is an old motif that has gotten more attention in recent popular media. Redemption arcs are powerful when done correctly, but they are also difficult to execute and require specific story structures to support them. Writers who want the powerful singular moment of redemption with less of the work required to earn it often use sacrifice as a shortcut. When a character’s life ends in the service of the people they have wronged, it can seem like the ultimate return payment for the harm they have caused, but can also be emotionally cheap. Without an effort to actually make right the wrongs of one’s past, a redemptive sacrifice can seem like an effort to suffer enough that some cosmic scale is balanced, a retributive impulse turned inward rather than a restorative one aimed outward. Worse, destroying oneself in a sacrificial blaze can also seem like an effort to escape accountability and prevent an honest reckoning with one’s legacy. For these reasons, I have grown to resent the idea of characters experiencing redemption through destroying themselves.
But one piece of media managed this difficult task with impossible grace, and that is She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. The story of Shadow Weaver might be the only time in my conscious memory that I have seen a redemptive sacrifice work. And to understand why, we have to go through Shadow Weaver’s story.
Continue reading “Redemptive Sacrifice Done Right: On Shadow Weaver”
On another dare and as a gift for someone else who asked me for art in 2017, here’s a story based on a vignette I wrote on Facebook, starring the Doctor…or someone like her.
Continue reading “I Blame the Sea – A Doctor Who Story”
It is a bad idea to enter the aquakeeping hobby on a lark. Not only is this a recipe for any of various easily-avoided mistakes that beginners make, but it encourages a cavalier attitude about one’s new pets. It is easy to treat fish and other small-animal pets as easily replaced decorative accents rather than animals with their own needs, behaviors, and beautiful uniqueness, especially since relatively few fish respond well to attempts to physically interact with them.
I started on the path to fishkeeping as a precocious child, and my parents and other adult models were not themselves hobbyists. What I learned about the best practices for populating and maintaining an aquarium, I learned by reading every fish book I could find…and by trial and error.
There were a lot of errors.
Every fish that perished prematurely under my care stung my precocious heart. I felt affection for every individual fish, even if I couldn’t tell them apart or if I replaced them quickly. For every one of them, seeing them sicken and die as a result of something I did felt like a crime I was committing not just against them, but against their whole kind. This idea stuck in my mind, each failed effort seeming like an un-redressed wrong as well as an unsolved problem. I convinced myself over the years that I could assuage my conscience by revisiting each species and giving it, with that later effort, a home in which it could thrive. There is no possibility of effecting restitution for the fish I killed long ago with my overzealous and poorly-informed attempts, but I can still do right by others. Even if that reasoning is decidedly irrational, these stories may spare other aquakeepers from making the same mistakes and other fish from these often-gruesome fates.
Continue reading “Fishy Redemption”