Author of the After Terra series, avid blogger, novelist and musician. I am an explorer of science fiction, philosophy, culture, movies, video games, music, really almost anything that strikes my fancy and presents a new and interesting way of looking at the world and the human condition.

Allow me to rip the bandage off immediately: I recently watched The Matrix: Resurrections and thought it was a dumpster fire of almost the highest proportions. It wasn’t quite the colossal insult to storytelling, theme, and character as The Last Jedi or the majority of Mass Effect 3, but was bad enough to leave me intensely frustrated and even more disillusioned with the state of modern storytelling. I’ll do a more traditional review of the film later, but first I need to put my hand up to stop the socio-political bullets accompanying this movie’s release.

I’ll springboard what I have to say off of one particular article (which is one of many pieces of information available on this topic, both from the Wachowskis themselves as well as varying critics and pundits), erroneously dubbed in pure clickbaitese as “Why ‘The Matrix’ is a trans allegory”. This article alone defeats its own title, as well as the larger point it espouses to support. In example, Emily Vanderwerff states, “…the main sort of thrust of this argument is really the idea that the system that you have built your life upon is a lie and is made up. And obviously, that has larger applications beyond trans identities. I don’t want to pretend it doesn’t.” Well, Emily, NPR, and anyone else willing to make the statement in the article’s title: If a story or a piece of creative work so blatantly and obviously has a larger meaning and is more universally than specifically applicable, you cannot in the same breath state that the same body of work “is explicitly an allegory to this and this alone.”

The aforementioned are confusing allegory with metaphor, and even calling The Matrix a trans metaphor is a stretch. Some aspects of the film can fit that relatively easily, however others do not at all. Allegories are a whole other bag of cats altogether. Allegories are one to one reflections of reality. An excellent example of allegory in science fiction is Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, which sees the Federation and Klingon Empire directly standing in for the United States and the Soviet Union, as both nations try to broker a new peace whilst the latter finds itself on the verge of collapse. The Praxis explosion stood in for Chernobyl, and Chancellor Gorkon was explicitly there to represent Premier Gorbachev. That is allegory. If you extracted these Cold War elements, the entire film would essentially evaporate. By contrast, any elements of The Matrix that can apply to and resonate with trans folk do so because of its universal appeal, but if you removed specific elements that supposedly make it all about transness (for example the red pill supposedly standing in for the old red estrogen pills) the film and what it represents to so many would still stand. Neo didn’t have gender dysphoria, the antagonists did not display or practice trans bigotry (the term I prefer to use, because transphobia is a buzzword erroneously used in the same context as hate practices such as sexism and racism), and the characters were fighting to find reality, not escape from it.

Emily is also quoted as saying, “…the movie follows characters who break free of the real life via the internet, creating online identities that feel more real than their physical ones.” Oh honey, did, did you even watch the same movie as me?

“The Matrix is a computer generated dreamworld, built to keep us under control.” – Morpheus

Neo, Trinity, Morpheus, all of the unplugged are fighting for the real, to free minds from the authoritarian machines who want to control every possible aspect of human existence. Their equivalent of the Internet is a digital prison, not where they are free to be themselves, but instead are meant to live as the system dictates. “Free your mind” and “taking the red pill” goes so much deeper than transness, feminism, left or right wing politics, or any of the things the Wachowskis are trying to make it about retroactively, or what groups like “the alt-right” or even conservatives in general have supposedly coopted. These ideas touched on something far grander, and that’s a big reason among many why the original film was such a smash success and remains a pop culture fixation. Indeed, I posit that the Wachowskis and those who are their political kin are practicing the very mistake The Matrix Reloaded cautioned us to be wary of, of how easily our beliefs are conscripted into being part of the system of control we claim to oppose.

In Reloaded, we find out that the prophecy of The One, what Morpheus based his entire life and meaning upon, turned out to be yet another layer of machine control over humanity. It was a lie, a fabrication. He and his followers became pliable and controllable rebels by being made to focus their energies entirely on their belief structure, blinding them to the truth and liberation they thought they had found. They lost sight of the true battle for truth and transcendence. In our world, how different is that than being so absorbed in your own political and social ideologies, that you become all the more entrenched in the oppression you claim to oppose? Aside from being wrong in a literary sense, reducing The Matrix to being merely a trans allegory, as is asserted, turns it into just another chess piece in the shitslinging, neverending grudge match between modern conservatives and liberals, particularly in America. Making it about “taking it back” from “the Right” is playing into the very model of control that those with power exert over those without it. Divide and conquer keeps ordinary citizens plugged into their own Matrix, perpetually at each others’ throats, locked in a repeating loop of hate, blame, and resentment, passed on by meme and gene from generation to generation. As long as you keep blaming “the other side” for all of your problems, none of them get solved, just at best shuffled off for our kids to deal with.

To fall back on a cliche, I do need to give the devil his due, of course. As much as I resist bringing it up, much as I only ever want to be regarded as you all see and hear me, not by whatever label might happen to fit me, I am a trans person. I say all that I do in this article with my heart firmly hand in hand with my brain. I do not rebuke such articles as the one by NPR lightly. I understand full well from my own experiences, with my own dysphoria and beyond, what The Matrix can mean to someone who feels trapped and downtrodden by their own existence. However, with gloves off and boss bitch mode engaged, it’s time for me to quote Trinity:

“Let me tell you what I believe.”

Yes, let me tell you what I believe, Lana and Lilly Wachowski, Emily Vanderwerff, to any and all reading this. I believe The Matrix means as much to me as it does to you. It came along at a tender point in my existence, where I was chafing under the weight of religious oppression but lacked the wisdom and breadth of perspective necessary to enact my own rebellion and unplug. It opened my mind to new possibilities in my own reality, in storytelling, and what was possible to convey with visual art. It opened the door for an interest in anime and exploring more of what Eastern cultures had to offer. Perhaps The Matrix did not do anything that was completely brand new or original, perhaps like the original Star Wars before it, it was a love letter to the things that most inspired and awed its creator(s). Maybe some or even all of what it had to say had already been said by wiser folk, but there comes a point where that doesn’t necessarily matter, because it presented these ideas and imagery in a newly evocative way. It’s extremely easy to watch these movies and come away feeling like you are instantly some sort of armchair philosopher, and it’s fair to say that the Matrix trilogy (in particular the haughtiest moments in Reloaded) is often better at suggesting Big Ideas and asking Big Questions without providing any real answers. But then again, do we really want a movie to be able to answer enormous questions about the nature of existence and what is real? Much as we like the characters and root for the heroes, do we want to be led around by the nose and spoon fed simplified answers to complex problems, the way the Oracle does with Neo? Are we pawns in a game, or do we think for ourselves?

There’s a reason why for the last two decades and more, my online existence has almost always included a variation of Neo. I saw something of myself in Neo, not because he was necessarily dealing with the same struggles as me, struggles in some cases that took many years to even identify, but because he was a hero that embodied the virtues of love, self-sacrifice, humility sprinkled with irreverence and rebellion, and a desire to find truth, no matter how painful or uncomfortable that truth was. Yes, Neo’s caustic retort to Agent Smith calling him “Mr. Anderson” one time too many has some overlap with being deadnamed and the ugly feelings that brings up (though Reloaded showed us a Neo who has matured and grown beyond feeling his identity threatened by being called his dead name). Yes, there absolutely is some resonance with the idea of having to live a manufactured identity while knowing that it has nothing to do with your true self. But this applies to so much more than transness, and to say that this is all it was meant to represent feels like a slap in the face to those who have similar torments because of their sexual orientation, their religion, their ethnicity, or any other reason that would cause a conflict of identity. Instead of allowing the messages of the The Matrix to remain open and empowering to virtually all people from all walks of life, which, by the way, I thought was what progressive liberals were all about, being reductive and narrowing its purpose feels cheapening and like a childish attempt to take a toy away from a kid you would rather not touch it. Taking something inclusive and trying to make it exclusive is the opposite of progress.

I get it. I’m protective of my creations too, and if I saw someone trying to interpret After Terra as something it blatantly is not, or attempting to use it for a destructive purpose, I’d be pissed too, and I’d fight back. I can even to an extent understand how a creator could get funneled down a path where they would rather say fuck it and burn their creation to the ground, sabotaging it rather than letting someone or something else continue to control and guide it. But, as much as I endeavor to leave as little about my stories open to interpretation as possible (with some exceptions; also I do this because I have a clear goal and know what I want the reader to come away with), I understand that once it leaves my hands and enters yours, there is a degree of control I lose. I do the best I can to paint the same image in your mind as mine with my words, but inevitably there is something different you will get from the experience of reading my work. If I’m lucky, extremely fortunate, the experiences and messages I convey with my work will have a universal appeal, able to resonate with folk of all backgrounds and experiences. Achieving something as profound and beautiful as that is not something I take lightly, and I think you sabotage and retroactively attempt to change it at great peril.

Also, I do not say all of this without some sympathy for the Wachowskis. If their repressed, closeted identities were something they secretly wanted to express through The Matrix, I feel for them. Feeling censored and held back by culture or the corporate moviemaking world is the big suck. Problem is, at the end of the day, they did not create a trans allegory. even if secretly that’s what they wanted. Intentions do not get to retroactively change the reality of what has been created. However, I argue that they still accomplished something wonderful and in a roundabout way, succeeded in their goal, as even though anything blatantly to do with transgenderism is not explicitly present in the film, what we were offered was still able to appeal to folks like me as well as a huge swath of the human population, if not potentially all of it. The Matrix is about humanity as a whole, quite frankly more important than any single group identity. Its themes, questions, ponderings, and explorations are about all of us, not merely some of us.

Although The Matrix has many elements that trans folk can resonate with, it is not a trans allegory. It is much more than that, and I do not hold to reducing a profound work of art into a piece of political ammunition that only furthers the machine of hate, instead of rising above it.


I suppose the title I chose for this article may sound excluding, as I would hope you still find value in what I’m what about to say even if this is the first of my writing you’ve ever encountered. But speaking truthfully, this is something I most want to say to those of you who have stuck by me over the years, as things have changed (myself especially), as my goals for what I want to accomplish with this website have shifted, as I try to adapt to circumstances that largely are beyond my control.

What you now see as started as my personal blog, named initially not for my books, but after a music project that I had been periodically revisiting and adding to from 2006 to 2014. For a time it has also been named after one of my old Xbox Live gamertags. The common theme was that, up until I began the After Terra series proper, I never used the name given to me at birth in association with my website. Even when my series was underway, I only used part of what is on my birth certificate; that too chafed me and I was all too glad to dispose of it once I was brave enough to do so. Point of bringing all that up being, at various points this site has been rebranded and relaunched, if you will, and at more than one instance in my history of blogging, I’ve made promises or commitments that I ultimately failed to meet in most cases.

Does this matter? Am I spitting into the digital winds, as it were? When I ask myself such questions, it comes back to two things: it matters to me, and for anyone, even if it turned out to be just one loyal reader, listening to what I have to say, I feel that I owe them something… making some grandiose promise like I have in the past seems disingenuous, but I’m also not going to apologize for having a life and for taking care of some seriously important damage control. So what I have to say here is in the spirit of an apology, because I am grateful for the readers I do have and I am humbled that anyone wants to check out what I have when there are millions, billions even, other potential options for entertainment and exploration of the human condition. It’s in the spirit of a promise, because I do intend to get back into a healthy writing habit of putting words to the page every day, to being as or close to as productive as I was when I wrote a full half of After Terra: Lunacy in one month.

Somewhere between an apology and a promise, here I am, and here I am to stay. The website isn’t going anywhere, and I still want it to be a codex hub for the universe, much like the one accessible to players in the Mass Effect games. My plans for the future of my work needed adjustment based on the drastic changes in my life, but now I know the way this must go in the future. The start of the new year may be an arbitrary benchmark, but it so happens that we are almost in the year 2022 C.E., and with that comes the anticipation that After Terra and all of my other creative universes will finally find their footing, as their creator finds her true voice at last.


This is a long overdue fit of much-needed catharsis.

I don’t remember exactly at what age that Christmas lost its “magic” and no longer excited me. It was sometime in my late teens, when I was privately rebelling against my monotheistic upbringing, as well as when I entered the workforce and began the journey of realizing what horrible cogs we are in an unnatural, corporatized machine we inherited from the last few preceding generations. I genuinely believe that at least some of the uppity, persnickety, churlish snobs who exist in the world would act more humbly if they had ever worked food service and retail like myself and so many other working class sods. Being on the receiving end of the public’s bullshit, I would hope, would make one less eager and willing to be the one in turn pushing your bullshit on some other worker unlucky enough to be serving you.

I realize that the preceding paragraph, if taken on its own without further context, might sound like a sound byte rebuttal against capitalism and some sort of veiled support of a Marxist idea. Allow me to be perfectly clear: I don’t support most, if any of Marx’s ideas and indeed think he was a resentful, vengeful idiot, or at least managed to portray himself as such through his work. Also to the reverse, I don’t think capitalism is the best possible economic solution to solving humanity’s deep problems of inequality and injustice, however it’s the best we’ve managed to implement so far, and I think on a small scale and at the individual level it works well enough that to attempt replacing it invites great peril.

No, this is about the excesses of corporatism and consumer culture. I think individual and small-scale free enterprise and entrepreneurship is great. What isn’t great is when the opportunities for those ventures to succeed or even exist are squelched by giant corporations who are eager to assume as much wealth and power as possible, and by the bloated, bureaucratically choked governments which enable them. The past nearly two years dealing with the unspecified virus of unknown origin has made it clearer than crystal that those who have power and wealth will take any and every opportunity to seize more of it, and they will not let it go willingly. If there was any genuine altruism powering big corpo and big government, we would be seeing a different picture at present. Instead we see corporate giants working in collusion with their bought and paid for government cronies, to be allowed to operate above the restrictions which everyone else is expected to obey without question. Because how dare any situation, crisis, or demand impede on the profits of giants like McDonald’s or Amazon. How dare we actually put “we’re in this together” into practice and say that we are facing problems more important than the profit margins of big business during the holiday season?

Collectively speaking, we’ve learned nothing. Buy, buy, buy, consume product, give in to the pressure to buy gifts and have parties and fancy dinners, even if you can’t afford it. Especially if you can’t afford it, because even debt is a commodity now, parceled and sold to folks desperately living beyond their means just to feel valued, loved, and as worthwhile members of their communities.

Worse yet, this rampant consumerism and the continued protection of big corpo by their government stooges is horrible for the environment. Interesting to me is seeing so many, leftists in particular, who are in favor of stringent lockdowns and think the government has unlimited money with which to bail people out of financial destitution indefinitely, yet they also claim to care about the planet and climate change. The very government(s) those types worship and depend on like Big Brother are responsible for empowering and protecting some of the biggest polluters around: giant corporations. Do you even comprehend how much pollution and material waste is produced and left over from providing one of you even a single fast food meal in a drive thru? Do you understand how much animal and material waste is created from having to constantly keep hot food at the ready? Do any of you understand the human cost, the insane, unnatural demands put upon the people behind the scenes, who are the ones making it possible for you to have hot food funneled into your car on a whim, or to get almost anything delivered to your door with next-day shipping? All you do is impulsively hit “buy” on Amazon’s shopping application, without understanding the chain of events you set in motion by doing so. There is a steep human and environmental cost to allowing these giant entities to operate without checks and balances, to pursue greater and further absurd solutions to artificially created consumer demands.

This is Christmas Day in my part of the world, as I write this. I barely survived, if we’re speaking in terms of mental and emotional health. Even when only tertiarily participating in the season (as a Heathen I am endeavoring to make pagan celebrations, without their modern accoutrements, part of my life), I was almost swallowed up in the excesses. There is an enormous amount of pressure and anxiety associated with this time of the year, and of course, in the pursuit of profit, big business only seems to reward procrastination and having consumer demands met at unrealistic speeds, regardless of what that does to the workers making it possible.

What can we do? What can I do? Christmas commercialism is a gigantic beast that no one person can stop or stand up to. Nor would I advocate burning the whole institution to the ground, and thus taking away traditions that provide genuine warmth, family, and merriment to some folks, even if I don’t share them. What I am suggesting is that we fight back with the weapons we working class stiffs do have. We have money, even if not a lot, and we can choose to spend it in support of local businesses and individual artists and craftspersons. We can choose to cook and grow food more for ourselves instead of relying on fast food drive thrus and doordashes. We can stay home and off the shopping apps on Black Friday. We can write to our representatives, our newspapers, and to groups already campaigning for positive change, to make it clear that the people who are supposed to be “our leaders” need to be more interested in protecting the liberties and prosperities of individual citizens more than corporate entities. Even if our reps are sold out to the lobbyists, I believe that with enough noise and enough people voicing their dissatisfaction, change is possible. And more than that…

Take time and be thoughtful enough to understand that there is a person dealing with some shit in order to provide you with any good or service. Be thankful and show some gorram humility to those of us “little people” making everything in our modern world possible.


*Necessary preface: this is a work of fiction. I do not take the word suicide lightly in the context of my, the author’s, life. It’s a metaphorical exploration of my life’s changes.*

I tried, sis. I really did. I was often accused of being dad’s clone, and by what any given and person could see or hear, I couldn’t blame them for thinking that.

I hated you, for a while, a long damn time in fact. I tried to hide you from everyone, I silenced you anytime you crept out, I kept you all for myself, but not even that, turns out. Even I never appreciated you. Without you, I was an empty shell, a piece of armor, all survival, total and corrupt rationalization with no heart and no wisdom to guide it.

I tried, sis. I tried to be a man, but that was never meant to be. Trying to mimic dad wasn’t enough. Imitating actions and methods without understanding their origin, without being able to feel their motivations made me a self-manipulated puppet, and worse, easy prey for the worst kinds of women and pathological ideologies.

You tried, sis. You warned me and I didn’t listen. You cried, and I never attended to your tears. Your heart was broken; it gnawed at me, my ignorance of it, and every relationship and career I tried to forge imploded.

You hated me, for a long time, and I didn’t blame you because I joined you in it. Only now I’m not so sure you did. I hear whispers that I protected you and sheltered you, that without me as a shield you might not be alive at all. Rumors abound that I might have done some good somehow in these years of my chaotic, nihilistic flailing.

You tried, sis. Against all of my torture and torment, you tried to show me the way. You have our mom’s heart, and I’m thankful for that. You showed me empathy and I twisted it into darkness.

It’s time for me to go, my sweet sister. There is only room for one of us here, and there is no fairer deal I can give the world than to trade me for you. It’s time for you to go free, and show the world your light. Don’t cry for me, for you have wept enough. If there is maybe one way I can succeed as a man, it is to sacrifice my today for your tomorrow, a duty so many men face for the future’s sake. That is my first and final gift to you, something so horribly and so painfully overdue…

Falling into forever, he leaves. The letter flutters into her trembling hands, tears smearing his final fingerprints. She vows to honor him.


It is easy to dip into hyperbole when making a statement such as that of the above title. How often have we said “this is the best day ever” in our lives? Despite that, I can say with definitive clarity that yesterday (as of this writing) was the best day in my adult life, and rivals even the heady, innocent days of my prepubescent youth.

By coincidence, it marks a full year since coming out (to myself at least, to everyone else, they found out in stages) but that is but one factor. I had the best day wrapping up my shopping for birthday prezzies for a precious new friend in my life. I met up with a buddy I hadn’t seen in way too long (buddy is too weak; I see him as a little brother) and we had an amazing skateboarding session despite being blown about by what felt like high seas winds. I turned frowns upside down and made an amazing female hero in my life have a great, squee-filled day when she expected it to be dismal. I felt well and truly alive, which, this may shock you, has up until the past year been an extraordinarily rare thing for me and before came in only the most timid and short-lived of doses.

How do I describe how I felt yesterday, when all emotions were at their zenith? Shall I compare it to having lived an entire life only being able to see two colors, having only a vague, indeterminate understanding of the others that existed, to then wake up to not only see every other color permutation in existence, but to intuit their purpose and implement their nuance in your life? That is as apt as I can be in analogy. I felt every feeling I’d ever experienced in my life, having come to grasp the twisted, gnarled road that led me to that exact moment, to being alive with my friends, especially the women in my life that I adore beyond the capacity for verbal expression. I felt every feeling in my life and then ones I hadn’t before. If ever I had experienced a third eye opening in my life, it was then. The floodgates were opened.

Although I can pick it apart and attribute this visceral trip to several factors, a major component that cannot be denied in this is being on HRT (hormone replacement therapy to those not in the know). I am not going to be one of those toxic bitches who condemns men or testosterone or masculinity as a whole, but for me, the male hormones I was forced to process were a perpetual, destructive blockade on my emotional intelligence, my understanding of myself, and the ability to perceive and understand all nuances of feeling. My rationality is at last fully freed and enabled. I can feel everything and tell you why and how.

Even if, like how Data might never become fully human, I am not able to be a woman to the fullest extent physiologically possible, I am grateful at last to finally be free, to finally be me, to be connected to the universe and to the people I cherish to my dying breath on this planet, our Terra.