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The Wages of Cheating Death

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"The Wages of Cheating Death" is a bonus episode of Stationery Voyagers, intended to be a minisode that would appear on a DVD or Blu-Ray alongside "Scalding Inquiries" and "What Must Happen". Writing was finished at 3:18 AM EDT on Friday, April 24th, 2009.

PlotEdit

Two weeks before the events in "Scalding Inquiries," high school graduate Katrina Bovinez awakes to find herself in a holding cellar underground. A Xylien agent named Garret Nobee confronts her with all the details concerning why she was taken for her own safety to the Xylien Underground. We learn that the Yehtzig Pirate League's Statian divisions arranged to have Katrina drugged and raped in an effort to embarrass the president of Sprucethirst, as punishment for not getting involved in Astrabolo's drug cartels.

The sex video results in Katrina's disgraced father committing suicide and of Katrina herself going into hiding. Garret reveals to Katrina that he knows everything, and that the sex video has been leaked to the public. Horrified that her life has been so derailed, she wonders what future she has. Garret then reveals to her that she tested positive for pregnancy, but would not be forced to marry the father because he is suspected of various criminal activities.

Instead, Katrina is offered a new life on condition that she work for the Xylien Society. Frustrated with her failures, she accepts the offer. She is told that it is a smart choice, since Pinkella Goldsen of Bubblespeck was forced to choose a similar path. The two girls attended the same high school; but hardly knew each other, let alone that their companies' heads were archenemies.

Katrina's last name is changed to Mantalone, and she is treated to change her ink color from brown to sky blue. Amused because she thought changing someone's ink color was impossible, she then learns from Garret what her real purpose with the Xyliens will be: as an agent whose job it is to monitor the activities of Mechies in Port Metaball's city limits.

She is shown a video intended to be released as part of a public school campaign to educate the populace about artificial reincarnation, the process by which Mechies are created. Also, she is offered a cover job working as a cashier in a restaurant. They are about to watch the video, but are interrupted by Ted and Yonber who are seeking to mechanize a profusely bleeding child named Stella-Marie. Katrina soon realizes that in spite her moral objections to the process, she is needed to help regulate the consequences the Xyliens will reap from rescuing the dying from death and turning them into sentient machines.

PurposeEdit

The reason for this minisode being written is to fill in some plot holes on Katrina's identity. She appears briefly in "Outcasts" and betrays Pextel after first gaining his confidence. Later, she teams up with one of the Mechies she was supposed to turn in so they can rescue a cousin of Pinkella's, Darius Goldsen, from Corphel Frank. Little is known about her otherwise, except that she is essential in the final destruction of Bubblespeck and eventually also its rival corporation, Sprucethirst. The minisode helps in the understanding of how she and Pextel know each other.

Critical reviewEdit

OverallEdit

This minisode debuted in a literature class at Ferris State University on April 24th, 2009. It was graded a solid A, and was overall valued for its entertainment value. The instructor, Robert von der Osten, had the following to say:

"The narrative is certainly imaginative.... [Although] most readers and viewers would have trouble following the plot given the wide range of introduction of new groups and new names. The [greatest] challenge [presented here] is [in] establishing effective credibility."[1]

Genre inconsistencyEdit

While the story was praised for being a "compelling melodrama," Arguments against it included it having significant amounts of mood whiplash. Also, the Xylien Society's insistence on using lies and false aliases to protect those it's hiding borders on farce.[2] Other times, its deliberate use of parody names threatened to turn the entire piece into a comedy. (E.g., the rivalry of Bubblespeck and Sprucethirst parodies the rivalry of Primatech and Pinehearst in Heroes, replacing paper sales and genetic engineering with candy manufacturing and drug trafficking.)

As Von der Osten puts it:

"[This story] needs to be sure whether it wants to be at the level of parody, farce, or melodrama. Phrases such as: 'You shall now be Surface Agent Katrina Mantalone, a cyan Gel Pen,' makes it all farce. [Yet], the overall structure of [the story] is melodrama. The problem is, that [for the parody and farce elements to work, they] need to remain funny and sharp."[3]

Analysis of Port Metaball sex cultureEdit

The way in which Port Metaball's youth culture is so vulnerable to the YPL's influence for the worse reflects, according to Von der Osten, that their culture possesses a very immature attitude about sex. The adults don't fare much better, as evidenced by the fact that Boris Bovinez would be willing to kill himself over a sex video:

"The attitudes towards sex in [ Port Metaball ] culture are [ at best ] adolescent, if not simply unreasonable." [4]

In an important side note, Stationery beings on Neothode have known about sexually deviant practices for a long time, but did not practice them greatly until the Yehtzig Pirate League took over most of their planet. The destruction of their civilizations was the result of true demoralization. It wasn't that they were overwhelmed by new forbidden knowledge; they simply stopped caring about their lives and culture when they came to believe Astrabolo was too powerful. Since the YPL demanded an environment of immorality to keep its businesses alive, compliance slowly became the norm in Neothodian cultures.

Protection of knowledge alongside morals was not viewed as being a high priority by the leaders of Statios' nations' cultures. They assumed that ignorance would sustain the low-crime, idyllic life of most Stationery beings in their nations; along with the fact that Stationery beings already have significantly less libido than Mantithians. For a long time, this premise went unchallenged, egregiously so in the nation of Stato.

However, the YPL quickly disproves this thesis by introducing a drug called "Eros gas" to youth culture. Crime skyrockets, unplanned pregnancies increase rapidly, adultery (previously almost unheard of) became more common, and families started to become dysfunctional. The culture, as a whole, simply didn't know what to do with what the YPL had imposed on it. In effect, the YPL figuratively raped the entire culture of Port Metaball faster than its moral guardians could come up with counter-measures. All the curses of the sexual revolution on Mantith overtook Port Metaball in what Garret Nobee declares to be "less than half a generation."

Logically, this backfire of a flawed strategy also lead to religious decay and breakdown in Port Metaball society. The combination of this breakdown with the Statians' already naive views of sexuality lead to the "adolescent" societal reactions that created the backdrop for Katrina's tragic story. The culture went from sex being something that "only married couples talked about with each other and with their newlywed children in private as a secret, sacred ritual" to becoming a recreational activity and a national obsession. The rapid shift in direction Statonians experience leads to them to feel a sense of moral whiplash, lending further to the sense of mood whiplash in the minisode.

Miscellaneous concernsEdit

Other concerns that Von der Osten had with the story included its rushing past the potentially significant ability of Xylien scientists to change someone's ink color and not mentioning the potential ramifications this could have for the greater society of Port Metaball's surface. [5]

Also, for all the mention of the YPL's malicious meddling in Port Metaball's cultural affairs, the organization itself does not get a full-fledged, well-rounded background story.[6] This is because the minisode's sections mentioning the YPL are meant as teasers for the latter half of Vocations and early half of Repercussions, which do give Astrabolo and the YPL's backstories. Finally, the story was also criticized for having a "lack of an emotional center of gravity."[7]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Von der Osten, Robert. Grade Sheet for "The Wages of Cheating Death". Lines 1-4. LITR 233 Grade Sheets. Ferris State University. April 29th, 2009.
  2. Lines 9-11.
  3. Lines 9-12.
  4. Lines 5-6.
  5. Lines 8-9.
  6. Lines 9-11.
  7. Line 7.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

Template:Stationery Voyagers Season 1

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