Tuesday, October 2, 2012

This book is gonna kill me...

I get really nervous when I want to review a book and feel like the review itself will turn out really negative.  Everyone writes differently.  Everyone enjoys reading slightly different things.  Which is all as it should be.  But 'This Case Is Gonna Kill Me', by Phillipa Bornikova, just fell flat for me, for a number of reasons.

First off, the profanity was just a bit much.  I can already hear people responding with "it's more realistic" or other comments along those lines.  Here's the thing: if profanity doesn't bother you, that's fine.  It bothers me.  Some of my favorite authors have managed to write amazing best-sellers with a minimum of profanity, or even none at all.  Lack of profanity probably almost never loses readers for an author.  But I'm probably not going to check out any future books from this author, for this reason alone.

The two fairly explicit sex scenes, which I honestly wasn't expecting but probably should have, didn't help matters.

The underlying premise itself was interesting enough that I pushed through the book regardless.  I was so hopeful for an amazing twist at the end.  The blurb description of the book practically sets you up for one. Let me explain.

First, the basic setup.  In the world this book inhabits, Vampires, Werewolves, and Alfar (elves/fae essentially), collectively known as The Powers, went public thirty years ago.  It's now a mostly accepted part of daily life that normal humans are not alone in this world.  Our protagonist, Linnet Ellery, is starting her new job at a high-powered 'White-Fang' (i.e. vampire-owned and run) law firm.

Then, we get this little nugget on the book description (emphasis added):

But strange things keep happening to her. In a workplace where some humans will eventually achieve immense power and centuries of extra lifespan, office politics can be vicious beyond belief. After some initial missteps, she finds herself sidelined and assigned to unpromising cases. Then, for no reason she can see, she becomes the target of repeated, apparently random violent attacks, escaping injury each time through increasingly improbable circumstances. However, there’s apparently more to Linnet Ellery than a little old-money human privilege. More than even she knows. And as she comes to understand this, she’s going to shake up the system like you wouldn’t believe…

First off, if your protagonist escapes life-and-death scenarios through 'increasingly improbably' circumstances, I expect there to be a reason for it.  I know I'm not that lucky, and most likely neither is anyone that I know or have ever met.  From a literary standpoint it starts to feel very much like a Deus ex machina: she survives because the plot demands it, not because she has done or learned anything to make it believable.

Then, to say that there is 'more to her than even she knows', I expected some big reveal that she was a previously unknown supernatural being.  But no.  She's just really determined and spunky and smart.  Which are all good characteristics to have, but not what I really expected given the buildup.  It actually made everything in the book feel cheap and disappointing.

And the fact that nothing about 'the system' got anything near 'shaken up' by the end of the book made it worse.  She won her cases, because she's a determined, smart, feisty lawyer.  That is not shaking up the system.

My final annoyance with the book stemmed from the supernatural sexism.  Never thought I'd write that phrase.  The Vampires and Werewolves are a strictly boys-club only.  To the point that even biting, let alone attempt to actually create, a female Vampire/Werewolf, results in a death penalty for the creator as well as the created.  Several conversations bring this up over the course of the book, all of which lead to the characters shrugging and saying something along the lines of 'oh, they must be really old-fashioned'.

With the amount of time spent in the book in those conversations, about an actually potentially interesting twist, that it amounts to absolutely nothing in the book is massively disappointing.  Which pretty much sums up how I felt about the entire book.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It's almost candy time!

Somehow it has completely escaped my mind that Halloween will soon be upon us. I used to love Halloween as a kid. And as a young adult. It wasn't the candy that I loved the most, at least not once I got past the kid phase. It was a cool bonus, but the thing I love most about it was dressing up in a fun costume. For years I was determined that I was going to be an actor when I grew up, so that kind of makes sense.

Sadly I don't get much enjoyment out of Halloween anymore.

Honestly if I had the means to pull off any of the costume ideas bouncing around in my head right now, I would still love it. Even though I can't imagine anything ever trumping the reactions I got years ago when I wore my Star Trek: The Next Generation uniform/costume to my college classes. Priceless.
Still, I BIG part of me wishes I could put together a good Luke Skywalker-training-on-Dagobah costume, and then get this for my baby boy:

Personally, I think that would be both adorable and awesome.

On a completely separate note, but still hearkening back to my college days, an old college friend went to Chicago a couple of weeks ago to attend Chicon 7 and the Hugo Awards Ceremony.  Imagine my surprise when she posted a picture on Facebook of someone I actually knew: Nancy Fulda.  What are the odds?

OK, three people that share a religion, going to the same college at the same time, that share a mutual interest in writing...I guess the odds aren't that bad.

But the point is that I wasn't aware they knew each other, until very recently.  So just pretend to be surprised along with me.

It turns out that Nancy was one of the Hugo Nominees for the Short Story category.  Wow!

This discovery led to two very profound revelations for me.

First off, I may have to turn in my geek-card for a while, as I have paid almost no attention to the Hugo Awards until now.  All I can say for myself is that I now have a long list of Hugo-nominated books and stories to read.

Second, I decided to poke around and see what Nancy had written.  The story for which she was nominated, Movement, is quite good.  And then I saw a collection of five Halloween-themed short stories she had written available on Amazon, titled Hexes and Haunts.

Since I'm pretty much always looking for something fun to read, I picked it up.  So far I quite enjoy it.  The first story, "Hexes and Tooth Decay" puts an interesting and amusing (if somewhat macabre) spin on a very common concept.  I love it when authors do that.

You should really check out what she's written.  It's well worth your time.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Legion, by Brandon Sanderson

Stephen Leeds (AKA "Legion"), has an unusual array of friends and house guests.  For starters, there is J.C. and Tobias.  J.C. is a former marine that has no qualms with using his bedroom for target practice.  Tobias is an elderly gentleman with an affinity for history and who hears the voice of 'Stan', supposedly an astronaut in orbit that feeds him weather updates from satellites he has access to.  There's also Ivy (Stephen's psycologist), Audrey (who can analyze and compare handwriting samples), and Armando (a photography expert that also believes he is the rightful Emperor of Mexico).  Along with a host of others.

The problem is that all of them are essentially figments of Stephen Leeds' mind.  Stephen would like to be normal but, thanks to the skills and abilities of his various hallucinatory friends which he can make use of, has settled for being rich enough to live in a largely empty mansion.  At least that way each of his hallucinations can have their own space.

But there's always someone who hopes to make a name for himself at Stephen's expense.  That's pretty much where this novella starts.  It's a really interesting concept that is executed quite well.  It is an incredibly quick read, at only 18,000 words.  I found myself really wishing it was longer once it is over.

The primary mystery introduced at the beginning of the story (someone hires Stephen to help track down a former employee that has stolen some sensitive equipment) is resolved quite well.  We also learn small details about how his 'abilities' work, and pick up hints along the way that Stephen's mind was not always as coherent and sane as it is now.  Which is saying something.

Due to how the events of the story unfold, combined with Stephen's own past, it's clear that should Brandon Sanderson care to continue Legion's story there is plenty of story left to be told.

I really hope Brandon circles back around to poor Mr. Leeds sooner rather than later.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Partials, by Dan Wells

The Setup
Scientists have managed to create an artificial race of beings, called Partials.  They look human, but are substantially stronger, faster and tougher.  So we sent them to win a war for us, which they did quite handily.  And then we proceeded to treat them like crap, because not only were they essentially war veterans, but also because "they're not really people".  So of course they rebel and nearly wipe out all of humanity.  During the process of that rebellion upwards of 95% of the entire human race drops dead as a result of a deadly virus, called RM.  The Partials practically disappeared, leaving the last remnants of humanity to linger on.  Eleven years later nearly all that is left of the human race has gathered on Long Island, mostly trying just to survive.  And the worst part is that over the last eleven years, every baby that has been born dies within 72 hours from the RM virus.

Humanity's days are numbered.

The Review
The very first paragraph of this book had me hooked for purely emotional reasons.  My wife gave birth to a healthy and beautiful baby boy just a few months ago, and on the very first page I'm imagining a world where he would have died just dies after coming into this world.  It's an incredibly unpleasant thought, which is exactly what makes it great fodder for a story like this.

I've only read one of Dan Wells' other books (I Am Not A Serial Killer), but thus far I have found Dan's writing style to result in an incredibly smooth reading experience.

I honestly only have one problem with the book.  The protagonist, a young medic in training by the name of Kira, has decided that she is going to find a cure for the RM virus.  That's her entire goal through the course of the book.  The way this goal is resolved at the end of the book just feels disappointing.  It's incredibly open-ended, which is understandable given that this is to be the first in a trilogy or series, but in the last fourth of the book Dan drops so many new mysteries into the story (and rather intriguing ones at that), such that leaving the initial storyline thread open felt something between unnecessary and aggravating.

Because at that point in the story, I found the various other mysteries to be a lot more interesting.  I would love to be able to go into the next book (Fragments, due out early next year) feeling like Kira was ready to start tackling these other issues, but instead she's still going to be tied to the exact same motivation that she started the first book with.

All that ranting aside, I really enjoyed this book.  And once the next one comes out, my complaints about Partials will most likely be entirely forgiven.  I just wish it was out already.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Win a cool book!

There's a nice book giveaway 'contest' going on here: http://www.blogginboutbooks.com/2012/07/the-one-where-my-impatience-pays-offfor.html

I have to say, I really like what I have read of Dan Wells' books so far.  "I Am Not A Serial Killer" and "Partials", both very different kinds of books, were also both incredibly fun to read.  Dan's latest book, Hollow City, looks like it will carry on his tradition of writing creepy but incredibly readable books.

Friday, July 6, 2012

I am terrified

I have never considered myself to be very good at coming up with my own ideas.  I wrote Star Wars fan-fiction for years, as well as imagining ridiculous ways to insert a new character into my favorite TV shows that I happened to be PERFECT to play.  (I wanted to be an actor when I was younger.)  But coming up with my own stories to tell, with original characters, conflicts and settings?  That a lot harder.

Eventually I grew out of the 'acting' bug (well...mostly anyways) and for years I have been fantasizing about being a writer.  At first, I was scared that I would only ever really come up with one good idea.  At the time I had an idea for a story that I thought was really good. I was daydreaming about the characters and the conflict quite a bit, imagining how things would play out.  But I never wrote the story.  If I had written it down, I thought, then that was it.  I'd be done.  I would never have another good story idea.

As time has passed, it's become obvious that particular fear is absolutely baseless.  I've had a pretty good number of story ideas during that time.  I would even hazard to say that the more recent ideas are better, or even significantly better, than the early ones.  Funny how that works.

But I still haven't written any of them down as anything more then brief notes or a rough outline.

Because I'm still terrified.

Terrified that I won't be any good.  That no one will like the story, or how I write it.  Or even worse, that no one will even bother reading it.

But these stories keep gnawing at me, wanting to be told.  And honestly I want to tell them.

I have a golden opportunity in the next two weeks.  My wife and kids are going to visit my in-laws for a two weeks, starting tomorrow.  I will miss them terribly, but it means I will also have almost no interruptions during non-working hours in which to write.  A couple of weeks ago I had an idea for a short story that I want to write and submit to Writers of the Future.  Now is the time to write it.

So, for the next two weeks, I'm going to write at least 1,000 words a day (hopefully more on the weekends).  I'm going to get this story written down, and go from there.

It's time to stop being afraid and actually write.

Has anyone else wrestled with this problem?  What keeps you from writing, and how do you overcome it?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Why I probably won't be seeing Brave

Update: I think I should probably lead with this: I have a friend from my college/ballroom dance days that works at Pixar and did a lot of work on Brave.  He is one of the team leads, that focuses on the cloth/clothing that the characters wear.  I actually do want to see the movie to support him and see the kind of stuff he worked on for this movie.  I just have some issues with the story, which obviously has nothing to do with the work he did.  From everything I've seen so far, his work looks phenomenal.

I think I've seen all of Pixar's movies.  Well...except for Cars 2, but that hardly counts.

So, as I was saying, I've seen almost all of Pixar's movies.  By and large I've enjoyed them quite a bit.  The animation quality at Pixar pretty much defines the standard by which all other animation studios are judged.  The story and characters are usually well defined, enjoyable to watch and easy to identify with.

Sadly, I've read the same basic complaint about Brave from several places, most notably here.  At a  high level, the problem is that there isn't a single remotely intelligent male character in the entire movie.  The father/king is more like a bumbling buffoon.  Every success he experiences is either by pure accidental luck or due to the guidance of his wife.  The triplet brothers are obviously there just to add complications to the plot.  And if you've seen the trailers with the scenes from the archery contest it's clear that none of the lords or their sons are meant to be seen as particularly intelligent either.

None of the male characters are actually characters.  At best they're caricatures.  You could almost substitute Homer Simpson of the king and a trio of Bart Simpsons for the triplets and the movie would progress without much of a change.

That's where my complaint gets a bit more specific.  Aside from every male character in the film being an idiot, I'm just tired of seeing fathers constantly portrayed as Homer Simpson clones.  Even when I was a kid Homer was only amusing for a year or two.  I'm not saying fictional fathers should suddenly be portrayed as perfect.  But treating that level of idiocy as the societal norm isn't good.

Then again, that's probably one of the big reasons I hate the various Disney channel kid shows.  Since the target audience is young children, the adults in the show (what few there are) are all idiots.  That still just makes me feel like the people behind the show are taking the easy way out.  There have to be better ways to build the show they want without resorting to that.

Anyways, yes, I acknowledge the fact that the primary characters in this movie are two female characters: the queen and her daughter.  And that is very important.

But I'm tired of movies and TV shows that seem to imply I must be the idiot of the family, just because my kids call me "Dad".

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Legend of Korra

I admit that I joined the Avatar: The Last Airbender fandom a bit late.  In fact I think the final season of the show had already concluded by the time I discovered it.  Personally I think this was a blessing to me since I was able to watch the entire series at my own pace instead of being forced to watch only one episodes a week for the current season, and then sitting through the entire season break agonizing over what happens next.

The show was that amazing.  I probably would have been really aggravated waiting to see how things turned out, especially late in the show when the big conflicts really came to a head.

Unfortunately I do not have that luxury with the sequel series The Legend of Korra.  The same creative team behind Avatar also created Korra, and it shows in the consistency of the world and (more importantly) in the quality of the writing.

Now that the first season is over, I find myself in that unfortunate position of wondering what is going to happen in the second season.  There are two things that I hope get a significant amount of screen time:

1. The realization that Mako is kind of a jerk.  The way he handled things with Asami (or in his case, actively didn't handle them) was just a jerk move.  Not cool.  I was actually starting to hope that Korra would come around to Bolin for a while, just because I didn't want her to end up with Mako.

2. While the main villain of the season, Amon, has been defeated there are still a lot of issues that need to be dealt with.  There's obviously a fairly large portion of the population that feels neglected (at best) or actively oppressed (at worst) due to being non-Benders.  Since part of the opening sequence for the show contains the line "Only the Avatar can bring balance to the world," I hope that Korra tackles this problem in season 2.  If that many people feel that much discontent, then any sense of balance has certainly been lost.  Honestly I'm hoping that Korra opens up a way for more people to become Benders if they want.

The season was full of great moments by itself, though. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Tenzin watching Korra in her very first pro-bending match.  He's been trying to hard to teach her Air Bending, and it's just not clicking for either of them.  But finally, in the midst of what essentially amounts to a fight, the lessons he has been teaching her finally click and it just works.   I know I've felt those moments in my life, so that resonated with me.

2. Asami in general.  She deserves so much more than the way Mako treater her at the end of the season.  How many times have we seen a character oppose the plans of his/her parent, only to show them mercy again and again...just so that the villain can attack them over and over.  It's a very old and very bad trope.  So glad to see that throughout the season, Asami never seemed to waver very much in her conviction that her father was indeed in the wrong.  Especially at the end where it would have been so easy to just let him get away.  But she didn't.  Because Asami is awesome.

3. Tenzin's kids.  The little air benders had great personality and were pretty amusing.  They weren't perfect by any stretch.  Meelo's "Fartbending" was a bit overplayed in the last few episodes.  And the way the kids saved the day during the attack on Air Temple Island was just sad.  I mean...anyone could have saved the day since all the bad guys just stopped moving as soon as kids were involved.  The animation really fell down in that scene.  With that said, the characters were great.  I especially loved Meelo's reaction to Lin's actions to help them get away from the pursuing Equalist zeppelins towards the end of the series.

4. Speaking of Lin Beifong, she's amazing.  I seems rare to have a character with that much fiery determination, but I love it.  And the creative ways in which she makes use of her abilities and equipment to protect her friends and the people of her city are so much fun to watch.  I hope we see plenty more of her in season 2.

Finally, I know the writers teased us with this in the very first episode, but...I WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO ZUKO'S MOTHER!!!

Sorry about that.  I'm better now.  But you have to admit that was kind of cruel.

So, what did you think of The Legend of Korra?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Shades of Milk and Honey

In an attempt to step away from continuing to rant (futilely) about a certain video game's conclusion, I decided it would be useful to talk about writing that I do like.  Yesterday I mentioned one of my favorite podcasts, Writing Excuses, and thought it would be fun to talk about the most recent book I have read by one of those podcasters.

I picked up Shades of Milk and Honey, by Mary Robinette Kowal, two or three weeks ago.  The underlying premise is "what if Jane Austen wrote a book that also involved magic?"

I will freely admit that I am not quite as well read when it comes to Jane Austen literature, but from what little I have been exposed to it feels like Mary has done an excellent job in evoking the feel for that era.

Jane Austen used certain character archetypes in such a way that, once I recognized a character filling that role in this book I worried that things would get stale.  Once you figure out who the dishonest rogue is, you know roughly how the various characters connected to him will react.  Thankfully that fear was baseless.  While Mary has done quite a bit to call up the tone and ambiance of that era, she doesn't rely on it as a crutch to excuse poor plotting or bad characterization.

The characters all have their own motivations, which are rarely what they initially appear to be.  And the magic system she has devised is fascinating to think about, especially given the established rules regarding what it can and can not do.

By the time I finished reading this book, I was anxious to see how events progressed for these wonderful characters that Mary has crafted.  Thankfully Glamour in Glass is already out.  I just need to buy it now.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What I've learned from Writing Excuses

I first started writing in something resembling a serious fashion during my sophomore year in college.  That was back in 1999.  I feel so old saying that.  Anyways, I joined an online Star Wars club (because I am that much of a nerd) and one of the core activities of that club was writing essentially what amounts to Star Wars fan fiction.  There have been a variety of ups-and-downs in my relationship with the club, as well as my dedication to just writing for me.  Which ultimately means that while I can be pretty opinionated about the writing aspect of various forms of entertainment (just ask my wife after we have seen a movie together for the first time), I'm not as far along with my own literary skills as I would like.

Recently I've started listening to the Writing Excuses podcast pretty regularly.  I downloaded every podcast from their website onto my iPhone, and listen to a little more than one whole podcast on my way to work in the morning, and one more on the way home.  Brandon Sanderson, Howard Taylor, Dan Wells, and the (relatively) recent addition of Mary Robinette Kowal are all pretty amazing authors.  Listening to them analyze the craft of writing is both educational and informative.  In fact I imagine I'll be talking about them individual and the podcast itself quite a bit in the future.

One little gem that has been mentioned several times, primarily by both Howard and Brandon I believe, is the idea of 'fulfilling promises made to your readers'.  In addition to the beginning of your story setting up the theme, tone, setting, characters and plot, whether you know it or not, you are also making certain promises to your readers.  Based on their initial impressions they are going to make certain assumptions about what will or will not happen by the end of the story.

(Yes, it is possible to subvert those expectations, but I'm not talking about that today.)

One of my biggest qualms with Mass Effect 3 and how it ended is that there were several such implicit promises that were made earlier in the series that I never felt were fulfilled.  Things like this:

"The Decisions you make matter"

In Mass Effect 1 you discover that an alien race, called Rachni and long believed extinct, is still around.  And you have the choice to free them from imprisonment or to kill them all.  Bioware touted from the beginning that such decisions would impact events later on, in addition to the more immediate consequences in the original game.  As a result, I expect that choosing to kill or save the Rachni will have huge ramifications by the end of the trilogy.

If you chose to free the Rachni, then in Mass Effect 2 you meet someone that was helped by the Rachni and is now returning the favor…but that's it.  And then in Mass Effect 3, you just discover that they've been enslaved again, you can choose (again) to free them or let them die.  

And even if you choose to free them, nothing else in the game really gives any indication of that being a big decision.  They never really show up again, even in the big space battle at the end. The consequences of this decision should have been huge, instead of feeling like an afterthought.  Because not only did it feel like the initial decision was worthless, I'm faced with pretty much the exact same decision two games later, and it still has almost no impact on how the rest of the game plays.

The hero should eventually get to fight the villain

In Mass Effect 2 the villain orchestrating events throughout the game is named Harbinger.  Harbinger can possess his minions and act directly through them.  So you literally spend the entire game fighting against him without being able to actually fight or kill him.  Your character never even sees Harbinger aside from in holograms, and you (the player) only get to see him briefly in the cutscene at the end of the game.  

As an ending by itself, that's fine, but now I expect that I'll get to face off with Harbinger and beat him down by the end of Mass Effect 3.  

Instead we are treated to a poorly executed 'surprise' main villain, Harbinger isn't even mentioned until around 75% through the game, and he only shows up once to blow things up at a key moment.  And then he flies away, never to be seen or mentioned again.  Very disappointing.

Mysteries should be explained

Also in Mass Effect 2, there's a big mystery surround a particular star that seems to be aging must faster than it should.  But there's no resolution to the mystery, since your character's primary focus at the time was to simply recruit a member of the research team assigned to that project.  One would expect that such an unusual phenomena would be revisited in the final installment of the trilogy.  But no one even mentions it.  

The moral of the story is that, as writers, we have to be aware of what we're promising to our readers, even if we are not aware of having made those promises.

Starting tomorrow I'm going to start talking about things I actually like, where I felt the writing worked, and leave Mass Effect 3 alone.  I've spent more than enough time agonizing about how tragically (and not in a classical/good way) the series ended.  

I think I'll have to put it in the same drawer that has the Star Wars prequel trilogy DVDs in it.  In some ways it feels like they belong together.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

In Which I Participate in Internet Nerd Rage

I have loved the Mass Effect games, created by Bioware, since release day of the very first game.  I've completed each game multiple times, using different character classes and making different decisions.  Like many other fans of the franchise (and of the company that made it), I was really looking forward to the conclusion of the trilogy.  And roughly 95% of the game played beautifully.  But the last 5% were just awful.  There is an abundance of Internet Nerd Rage© out there detailing the various grievances with the ending we, they players and fans, received, so I won't go into that here.

Bioware did seem to notice and decide they had to do something, though, and today they released the Extended Cut ending for the game, in order to address at least some of the issue with the ending.  The project director for the games was very upfront about the fact that they were not changing the endings they had created, just adding more detail to the existing endings to clear confusion on certain points.  And that's exactly what they did.

Does the Extended Cut make the ending any more palatable?  In the words of a recent bit on the Colbert Report: "Sure…the same way jumping helps you get closer to the sun."

Some of the cosmetic changes that were made did indeed help to differentiate the different endings from each other, which is nice.  Previously the only real difference was the color of the expanding energy field that 'solved' the problem.  Now there's actually a cutscene that shows events playing out a little differently based on the decision you've made.  It doesn't involve any of the characters you've become attached to over the course of three games, but I guess you can't have everything.

We also get a nice epilogue for each ending, that was sorely needed, to help establish that everyone didn't die as a result of the decisions you made.  One of the most important, but possibly subtle, changes made is the the Mass Relays (enormous space subway stations basically) aren't destroyed as a result of your actions, just heavily damaged.  Prior to the Extended Cut, regardless of the decision you make your character is informed that the relays will be destroyed.  'The Arrival' DLC for Mass Effect 2 established that destroying a Mass Relay results in an explosion that bears a very strong similarity to a Supernova.  So, really everyone should have died.  So Bioware basically just retconned this part of the ending to make it clear you didn't just wipe out all life in the galaxy.  I call that a good step that Bioware was willing to make that adjustment, but also find it sadly lacking giving the other big change.

Previously you had (at best) three options to choose from to end the game.  None of the three options are particularly good choices.  Instead of making a choice based on saving galactic civilization, you have to make a choice based on inflicting your decisions on the survivors.  These options literally boil down to:
1) Destroy all synthetic life, including one of your friends/companions and an entire race of synthetic beings that (if you made the appropriate decisions earlier in the series) have allied with you against your enemies.  Because you're ok with causing extinction level collateral damage.
2) Control your enemies, where you basically become Skynet and rewrite the bad robots to be nice and help the ordinary people.
3) Rewrite all organic beings in the galaxy to become part organic/part synthetic.  Outside the fact that this makes no sense (I know, I know, what am I doing expecting my science fiction video game to make sense?), this again boils down to you mandating a change for every living being in the galaxy, regardless of their wishes.

Which brings us to the new fourth ending provided in the Extended Cut.  Bioware listened to all the various arguments about how your character, given all he/she has been through, would react to those choices and indeed gave us the option to say that all three of those options are just terrible choices.

The only problem is that making that choice actually results in everyone dying, and the bad guys winning.  In other words Bioware said, "Sure, you can point out that these crappy decisions are indeed crappy, but we don't really care what you think." 

I'm grateful that the existing ending got a bit more meat to them so explain what happens, but I don't imagine I'll be playing the game again anytime soon.  Choosing to put myself in a position where I have to make crappy decisions sounds like a crappy decision to make in the first place.