Do You Trust a Smiling Hacker?

Not that the word is ever used in Hellburner, 1992 (the year this book came out) was a little early for hacking to be common phraseology, if it was even used in the same context we know today.  The word that keeps coming up through both Heavy Time and Hellburner is “rab”, short for “rabble”.  The Earth Company, the corporates, would say “the rab is”, implying that the rabble was going to be what it was and do what it would do, regardless of what the Company wanted.  The Company could steer the rab, oppose the rab (absolutely necessary), but they could never be the rab.

Which is why it’s the rab; the Belters, the spacers, and the Attitudes who are so vitally necessary to protect Earth from Union.  The blue-skyers (as those from the homeworld are commonly referred to) really don’t understand not only how far away Union is, but how different it is.  In order to fight an enemy, you have to have some kind of understanding of it, and Earth has been fighting not to know for several decades at this point.  So now they have to rely on the rab to protect them.  And Mazian, of course, but he’ll become a more important figure later.  Funny, in this book, it’s Edmund Porey that’s the key command figure in the Fleet, at least in the reader’s perspective, and Conrad Mazian who is the shadow, off doing things planetside.  In Downbelow Station we see a lot more of Mazian, and it’s Porey who’s his faithful shadow, doing his work in the background.

Observations like that are why I like to reread books.  Obviously I would never catch such a neat turnaround on my first read-through.  Some people might, but I’m not one of them.  Yeah, I’ll remember the argument about whether or not fish is meat.  But seeing something more subtle like that?  Not usually my forte on the first read.  Plus some of these things you just don’t see until you’ve read all the applicable books, and if you only read them once, you can only build off of what you’ve already read.  I’m not even talking foreshadowing, I’m talking about the interplay of multiple books set in the same universe at different points along the timeline.  Books that, outside their specific timeframe, don’t affect each other.  Series like this…it’s like taking a walk with a camera.  Photo, not video.  During the walk, you can choose to take a picture at any point.  And you’ll have a photo of that place at that exact moment.  But you can’t – won’t – get the entire walk.  Just snapshots of what you, with your camera, have decided will be the key points.  Yes, the beginning of the walk will inform the end, but only in the sense that you have traveled between two points.  If someone comes across your photos later, all jumbled up, they can still appreciate them all, even if they’ve fallen out of order.

However, C.J. Cherryh’s Alliance-Union universe isn’t the only thing I’ve been reading today.  Thanks to summer hours, I got off work early and was able to take a trip to the comic book shop and pick up some new releases.  So I’ve also read (and mostly reread) Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #0-5, and Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: Pink #1-2.

However cheesy and low budget the old show might’ve been, it did tell some good stories.  And anyone can tell you that the best story of the original run was the Evil Green Ranger.  Which is undoubtedly why the MMPR comic books pick up just after that and focus on Tommy’s integration into the team.  Of course, this is also updated to present day and while I may miss the nineties, I can understand that they want to attract not only older readers who were kids when the show came out, but also younger readers who might be watching the most recent seasons on tv.

And if your favorite characters were Bulk and Skull, well, never fear, they are here too! Even better, they have a mini comic, in a goofier art style, at the back of every MMPR issue.  It is hilarious.

Pink, on the other hand, is a mini-series focusing on Kim (well, obviously).  It takes place later in the timeline, after she, Jason, Trini, and Zack have all moved on from being Power Rangers.  Tommy is the White Ranger now (thank you issue 2 for giving us a sense of timing) and this is post Thunderzords as well.  I’m not finding Pink quite as engaging as MMPR, possibly because Kim is not my favorite character.  The older I got, the more I saw her as being kind of empty, there as a love interest for Tommy, and a gymnast.  When I was a kid and thought gymnastics was AWESOME she was my favorite.  Also because she had the pterodactyl zord, and I love those crazy flying dinosaurs.  I even have a not-Barbie doll of her somewhere.

Pink isn’t bad, but I’m finding it much more predictable than MMPR, and so less engaging.  There should be at least one more major twist, probably two, in the remaining four issues, so I hope it can redeem itself.

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