Who Did it Better: Elysium vs Johnny Mnemonic

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I just saw Elysium, and in discussing it with a coworker we determined that it was indeed a cyberpunk film.  Our fellow coworkers weren’t familiar with the genre, and in introducing them to it we remembered the 1995 film Johnny Mnemonic.  We then realized that Elysium shares many aspects of the classic William Gibson story.  From this point on there will be spoilers, and unlike previous posts I won’t be whiting them out, so if you don’t want either film’s secrets to be revealed, you should stop reading.

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Prologue + Chapter 1: Memories

Well, it’s not complete done yet, but I felt it better to post it than to tweak it forever; here is the first chapter of a slowly building novel! I really want to call this a first draft, and many changes may be made yet, as there is one character I want to rework (too tropey), two scene I want to re-conclude (awkward ending), and one scene I need to re-write (just all around too staccato and not flowing well enough). But overall, I hope it’s enjoyable :)

But with that glowing endorsement, here is Chapter 1 of Book 1 of The Steam Wars, “Memories” (and the Prologue as a bonus!)

I’ll be updating formatting over time, and will keep the final version of each chapter here, with the most recent update date at the top.

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Monsterhearts: taking a peek under the ribcage

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Monsterhearts sells itself as “the messy lives of teenage monsters.”  But the truth is that the monstrous nature of the PCs in any game of Monsterhearts really just serves as a reminder of the alienation, discomfort, and feeling of mislabeled or misunderstood powerlessness that gnawed at so many of us when we were teenagers.  And maybe as adults as well.  Furthermore, themes which have filled classic literature for ages rear their heads again and again in this game; you don’t have to have ever experienced any of them yourself in order to be fascinated by and indulge yourself in them.

A quick background: this is an RPG which has grown out of the Apocalypse World system created by Vincent Baker.  It takes the sparse elegance of Baker’s ruleset and applies it to a very different type of life.  Read on to find out what makes Monsterhearts different from Apocalypse World, and learn some of what makes it so dynamic and so much fun to play.

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The Books We Love to Hate

If you cast a wide net across my book list, you’re bound to come back with some controversial books: Wheel of Time, Way of Kings, or Game of Thrones (less controversial in the post-HBO era, I suppose). And I’m not going to lie, when people ask me why they should read these books, I sometimes struggle.

It’s not that these books aren’t good, but they have certain qualities which can make them…unpalatable. And these qualities come out immediately if you talk to anybody about these series. It starts off simple; you ask them about the books and they say ‘oh, it’s like Lord of the Rings, but‘ (oh, not everything is actually like Lord of the Rings, but if you’re explaining a fantasy novel to somebody who doesn’t know fantasy, that’s a pretty good starting place, but then the list of ‘but’s starts to grow longer and longer until you’re not even sure the book is fantasy anymore).

And they start getting excited, they say:

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Cabin in the Woods

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Abraham is told that he should really just watch the movie already

Cabin in the Woods is an excellent film, particularly if you’re looking for a bloody romp through the menacing trees with a plot twist that will leave you trying to screw your head back on straight.  You get plenty of warning, and the ending is staring you down from a mile away, looming like a blood-hungry Macy’s parade balloon as it swoops down on you and consumes all in its path.  But for all that you can see it coming once you put the pieces together, it’s so totally not what I’ve come to expect from a “kill-the-youngsters” horror movie that I was still gobsmacked when I actually realized what was happening.  And if you can handle the buckets of gore and unrepentantly dark story, the humor which rears its head time and again will keep you chuckling the whole way through.

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Publishing Schedule

Consistent readers may notice that I’ve gone completely off of my usual Tuesday/Thursday schedule, so here’s an update as to what’s up:

  1. It’s my birthday! Or…it was. There was cake and stuff.
  2. I’m moving. Moving is stressful! Gotta find a new house, and apply, and pay lots of money and stuff.
  3. I’m starting a new blog. It’s mostly unrelated, but I feel bad for not having new stuff to post, so if you liked this post or this post or this post, you may like my new blog, Black by Popular Demand. But it’s not about games or science fiction, and it’s generally heavier.
  4. I’m moving more towards creative content (short stories or chapters) here. That takes a little longer, but I’d like to think it has more payoff! The first one should be around next week!

Beautiful Creatures is more than skin deep

Just to make things clear, this is about the 2013 movie, not the book by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.  I honestly haven’t even looked sideways at the book, though I probably should.  I originally watched the movie because I was bored on a long flight and I hoped it would inspire me in running a Monsterhearts game.  I was totally right.

On the face of it, Beautiful Creatures is a fairly average movie that nestles comfortably in the niche most recently made by Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series.  I haven’t read those books either, but yes, this is all about teenage monsters and teenagers who have magical powers.  See how I just implied that most teens are monsters?

I have no love for the Twilight books, and the only times I’ve watched the movies were during “watch to regret, drink to forget” parties, mourning the particularly shitty moments in my friends’ lives.  Beautiful Creatures, on the other hand, is genuinely fun and rewarding to watch.

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League of Legends

I figured I should get around to reviewing this game at some point, because, well, it’s sort of where I made my writing debut. What is League of Legends and why do I think it’s so great as to spend a ton of time on it? It’s an entirely different type of game than everything I’m used to commenting on, so this post will have a much different tone. League of Legends (or LoL) is what we call a MOBA, or Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. Essentially, it pits teams of 5 players, represented by their champions (heroes in the League of Legends universe) in a battle against each other. I think League of Legends (or LoL) is one of the best run and designed games I’ve ever played because the company that produces it (Riot) pays so much attention to its upkeep, and today, I want to talk about a few areas where League of Legends is revolutionizing gaming and eSports.

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Ironskin, by Tina Connolly

Ironskin, by Tina Connolly, is almost exactly what is promised on the cover.  No silly, not the illustration; the cover blurb on the edition that I picked up says, “A steampunk Beauty and the Beast tale, beautifully and cleverly reversed.”  And while I would say that “steampunk” is not the appropriate description for the setting, the book certainly delivers on all of the rest of that, and then some.

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