Author Archives: Act

The Book of Phoenix

Book of Phoenix is a prequel to Who Fears Death, and I found it very disappointing. The technical quality of the writing was the same, but it smacked of the publisher demanding a money-grab followup and was just not well-constructed. It was well-written enough to be quite compelling, but the actual story was just a mess.


Who Fears Death

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This was an absolutely incredible book. I finished it and thought, “That may have been one of the best books I’ve ever read.” That’s likely hyperbole, but not by much.

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor is a genre mismash, part patriarchal dystopia and part fantasy, although the tone is much more magical realism that straight fantasy. The feeling of it was more similar to Salman Rushdie than anything else I’ve ever read. It has that floating, detached, purposely-rushing-along feeling you don’t really find in anything but magical realism, so for me, that is how I’d describe it, even though it was also technically a post-apocalyptic dystopia and the magic elements were more overt than you often see in that genre.

Before you go off and read it, though: this is a book with a lot of violence against women, particularly rape and female genital mutilation, and it can be tough to get through (the author’s note at the end implied it was also at times tough for her to write). If this kind of violence and the attitudes associated with it can set you off, you should definitely have someone who knows your situation well screen it for you.


Moon Hunters

This was an ambitious game with some wonderful aspects that I came away feeling was very empty. It does have some things, though — a diverse cast, lots of choice, pretty art — so if you can get it for a big discount it could be worth checking out for the novelty. I definitely wouldn’t drop $15 on it, though, that’s highway robbery. There’s just not enough content, the story didn’t make much sense, and ultimately it was a disappointment.


On the Indie Explosion and the Purpose of Games

It was the Humble spring sale this month (as of posting, it’s actually still going on) and, as I do during all the big Steam/GOG/Humble sales, I’ve sorted through all the discounts to nab things that catch my interest for very little money. There’s not really rhyme or reason to what I end up picking up — a weird mix of art, genre, and title will make me click on the game, and then some combination of trailer, reviews, recs, and what I’m in the mood for governs purchases (reviews are incoming, but here are the ones I got).

Anyway, as I was watching trailers, I hit on an odd number of games — almost exclusively puzzle platformers, with a smattering of point-and-clicks — that were very nice-looking but didn’t actually look like something I wanted to purchase, but at the same time there wasn’t anything expressly wrong with them, and it got me thinking about what I look for in games, why I keep finding pretty, boring things, and how the indie boom has influenced the type of game I’m seeing and thus affected my purchasing.


Tamora Pierce and Cover Design

I’ve been reading through the Tamroa Pierce catalogue, as they’re good lighthearted fantasy fare for the broken, stressed-out brain. I’ve enjoyed them. I’ve preferred Tortall to Emelen so far, largely because school settings are so boring to me; I didn’t even like them as a kid. A girl running around in the woods beating people up is much more appealing. I also think Daine being older made the books a bit easier on me as a poorly-adjusted adult. I think Pierce’s greatest strength, aside from how readable her writing is, is in creating unique, likable characters — I’ve found them all easy to root for.

One thing I noticed as soon as I started Immortals, though, is that depending on which editions of the book you get, your cover experience varies wildly, and that’s what I wanted to talk about today.


Baptism of Fire [Witcher 3]

I read this book months ago now so I can’t really do a full writeup, but for the sake of having the complete series here I figured I’d jot down the points I did remember.

Anyway, overall, I thought this book was back to form for the series. I really liked it and thought it did all the same things right the previous books were good at.


Planscape: Torment and Baldur’s Gate

Hello my loves <3 I have become something resembling a normal human again (let me tell you, you have not lived until you’ve stayed up to 2 AM in an attempt to avoid eating a pear), and to celebrate, though I’d finally churn out this for the second time!

Also, this is neither here nor there, but my health insurance coverage has an option called “AD&D” and wow was I confused for a second.


Programming Note

Hey all.

I’m going to be out for some indeterminate amount of time. ED is acting up and it’s reached the point where I’ll likely end up inpatient, because what is my life is not a giant pile of bullshit. I was hoping to start Umineko in March, but that’s not going to happen. I think that’s always the worst thing for me, how it just saps your ability to do what you love.

There are some small things in the pipeline right now that likely are not going to get full reviews simply because it’s already been a while since I played them and I don’t have it in me to either replay or write them up now. They are:

The Farming One (rpgmaker) – Okay sendup but light on gameplay and not much to it aside from “harvest moon sendup”
no-one has to die (rpgmaker) – Nicely clever browser game, def a good timekiller, v short
In the Company of Myself (browser) – fuck this manpainy shit
The Last Word Redux (rpgmaker) – I’m finding this boring and can’t tell if it’s the crippling depression or the fact that it lacks replay value, though I’m thinking the latter
Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel (jRPG) – Mind-numbingly boring with over-the-top JRPG-cliche characters I hate; shoulda stuck to the travelogue — Trails in the Sky is one I like much more in retrospect
Hierofania 2 (VN) – Good, but too short to do much with its nice music, writing, and characters; ended up feeling like a first chapter instead of a whole story, which is disappointing because I did enjoy it

There are also things I’ve finished and def want to discuss that will likely get full reviews at some point in the future:

Planescape: Torment (wRPG) – Beautifully written. Play it.
Baldur’s Gate (wRPG) – Important for gaming history; play if, like me, you’re into that; otherwise play Dragon Age.
Baptism of Fire [Witcher Series] (book) – Excellent; travelogue format really worked to Sapkowski’s strengths, nice return to form for the series
The Shadowed Sun [Sequel to Killing Moon] (book) – Very different kind of story than KM with a slow start and some problematic elements, but ultimately I really enjoyed it; Jemisin is a great writer

Catch me on Facebook or Steam if for some reason you feel the need to get my opinion about something (???) in the interim. If you friend me make sure to let me know you’re from DQ; I don’t add randos.

Also now the pressure is on Farla and Mini-Farla to post like their lives depended on it NO RAEGRETS


edit: also go watch Yuri!!! on Ice, still worth it even with crappy ending

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

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The author of this 2010 book, N K Jemisin, won the 2016 Hugo Award for her latest series. Jemisin is a black woman, and this went over with the scifi/fantasy community about as well as “black” and “woman” usually do. Because their rage gives me joy, I bought her award-winning book, The Fifth Season, as well as this, her first novel (thereby appeasing my need to Do Everything in Order).

This very much reads like someone’s first novel. The biggest issue is that the protagonist is one of the most over-the-top Sues I’ve ever encountered in a published book.

On the other hand, Jemisin’s writing is technically quite good, the mythos unique, and the narrative voice really great. It’s an immature story, but it’s the immature story of a good writer with good ideas. Unless you’re specifically into romantic fantasy and/or looking for a nonwhite fantasy protagonist, it’s probably not worth reading, and I ended up frustrated that it had all the elements of a great story without being able to bring them together into something truly compelling. That said, it left me really interested in The Fifth Season, because if Jemisin has improved even a little since writing this it’s going to be a great book.


Flirting with Overjustification

Hey all.

I know we have a good deal of lurkers here — either that, or illhousen has his Russian hacker network IP spamming us every day — and I’d appreciate even those who are usually quiet weighing in on this.

Today I got a marketing email linking to a free download of mass-released game in exchange for a review. The game is not freeware — it retails for $10, so it’s effectively $10 in compensation — this wasn’t an individual asking for a personal favor, and while there was no “you can only play it if you review it OR ELSE” caveat, it was pretty clear that was the gist.

(I don’t know why someone would go after a publicity review from a person who hates everything, but here we are.)


Higurashi: Festival-Accompanying Arc [Conclusion]

I realized I never mentioned it, so: my Third Annual Small Feminist New Year’s Resolution is to stop assuming the gender of people online. It’s crazy just these past few week I’ve noticed myself defaulting to male for no reason. 2015’s “stop using sex-based slurs” and 2016’s “stop calling adult women girls” were really great ways to break both habits, so I have faith I’ll get better at this as well.


So: I cheated. After like 37 years of Higurashi I just wanted to know what happened and got tired of taking notes so from the point I left off at last time I went through to the end on my own. Inside are some final thoughts about the finale and the VN as a whole.

Which leaves me with a question: Would you rather I go through Umineko first and then do the LP, or risk a live play?


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