Sunday, July 20, 2014

SUNDAY SEVEN: GEEKY COUPLES (TV EDITION)

Its Part Two of the geeky couples. This week we are tackling television. Now there have been a lot of tv couples that have made me smile, but these are seven of my favorite. Did I miss anyone you thought should be on this list? Who are your favorites?


Zoe/ Wash (Firefly)
“We’ll be in our bunk.” - Wash
Hoban "Wash" Washburne and Zoe Alleyne are my favorite Browncoat couple (sorry Mal and Inara). Seriously they are the cutest couple in all the verse. She is a tough, independent warrior woman and he is a goofy too nice for his own good pilot. Zoe may not have fallen for her future husband at first sight, but when she did they both fell hard. They were completely believable, down to earth, loving, teasing…sigh. They were so damn adorable. Sniff.


Sarah/Chuck (Chuck)
“Chuck, you’re a gift. You’re a gift I never dreamed I could want or need, and every day, I will show you that you’re a gift that I deserve. You make me the best person I could ever hope to be, and I want to spend and learn and love the rest of my life with you.” – Sarah
The geek fell for the spy and the spy fell right back. E and I haven’t quite finished the series, but I root for Sarah and Chuck every episode. They are believable. They make me smile and when they interact you can see happily ever after. Aww, need to go finish the series now.


John/Aeryn (Farscape)
“There is no home. There is no wormhole. There’s only you. Aeryn, anywhere in the universe. You pick the planet.” – John
There can be no one but each other for these two badasses. They fell in love, they blew stuff up, and even dressed alike (it’s the leather). They were an unlikely couple, but one we knew would happen from the start. They made us laugh and cry and smile and squee just a little bit. They went through a lot and when they look at each other I cannot help but melt.


The Doctor/Rose (Doctor Who)
“I've only got one life, Rose Tyler. I could spend it with you... if you want." – The Doctor
When the Doctor met Rose something changed. The attraction was there between the shopgirl and the Time Lord. As we watched their adventures and flirting, we loved their sense of adventure. They tackled all of space and time together never verbally saying what they both felt, but we knew….oh we knew. When The Doctor is separated into a Time Lord and human self, the human self wants to spend his days with Rose (who is stuck and unable to return with the Time Lord). I will hold onto the notion that the human Doctor and Rose spent a lifetime of happy memories together, but we know that it left Our Doctor with two broken hearts. Me too. How can the sort of fairytale be so sad?


Fox Mulder/Dana Scully (The X-Files)
"Scully, I was like you once — I didn't know who to trust. Then I... I chose another path... another life, another fate, where I found my sister. The end of my world was unrecognizable and upside down. There was one thing that remained the same. You... were my friend, and you told me the truth. Even when the world was falling apart, you were my constant... my touchstone." - Mulder
"And you are mine." - Scully
I spent nine seasons watching them fall for one another. They are *the* geeky tv couple. Mulder was obsessed with all things paranormal, Scully was the skeptic forced to work with him. But together they searched for the truth. Both had trust issues and as friends eventually became lovers I was happy to say “About time”.


Ned/Chuck (Pushing Daisies)
“You can't touch me.” - Ned
“So a kiss is out of the question?” - Chuck
“I just lost my train of thought. “ - Ned
Ned has the ability to reanimate the dead with a touch. Neat, huh. But there is always a cost. When Ned resurrects his mother after she dies of an aneurysm, he accidently causes the death of his childhood sweetheart Chuck’s father. Even worse his mother dies for the second time (and permanently so) when she kisses him goodnight. Years later Ned becomes a pie-maker and partner to a detective. When he sees Chuck’s body he revives her unable to allow her to stay dead with a second touch. Ned and Chuck fall in love again. Sure there is that whole touch barrier, but they find ways around it. They are another couple that was destined to be together and even death can’t keep them apart. Not permanently anyway.


Marshall/Lily (How I Met Your Mother)
“Oh, you know what we should do? We should come up with a whole new last name.” – Lily
“Oh, that's easy: Lily and Marshall Skywalker.” – Marshall
When I think of a couple that reminds me of the couple I’d most to be like, I think of Marshall and Lily. They are nerdy, snarky, loving, and have a relationship that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. They have been together since college and have been through a lot, but they work in every single way. Hilarious parents, good friends, and a couple who doesn’t really want to grow up (because what does that mean anyway), I dig them.

Honorable Mentions: Jack/Ianto (Torchwood), Worf/Jadzia Dax (Deep Space Nine), Apollo/Starbuck (Battlestar Galactica), Buffy/Angel (Buffy), Willow/Tara (Buffy), Cory and Topanga (Boy Meets World), Lois & Clark, and Xena & Gabrielle (Xena: Warrior Princess)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

THURSDAY CRUSH: Jareth the Goblin King

Name: Jareth the Goblin King
Born: Unknown
You Know Him From: Labyrinth
Geek Cred: He looks like David Bowie, does fun tricks with crystal balls, and will be your slave as long as you let him rule you.

"Just fear me, love me, do as I say, and I will be your slave."


When I think about my crushes through the years, Jareth pops up a lot. I was an unusual kid. Right next to a unicorn poster in my room there could be a Clash of the Titans one, or even a David Bowie one. My fascination for David Bowie began before Labyrinth, though it continues long after. But there is something about the film, something about Jareth that still resonates. It apparently affected me so much that I wrote fan-fiction about Sarah and Jareth.

For those who haven’t seen the film Sarah is a teenage girl with a big imagination, who also has what she sees as an evil stepmother and a new baby brother who keeps being given all of her favorite toys. Jareth, the Goblin King, has fallen in love with her and when she asks for the goblins to take away Toby who won’t stop crying (maybe it’s because you took away his toy) Jareth does. He needs an heir and will turn Toby into a goblin. Isn’t that what Sarah asked him to do after all? Sarah has “thirteen hours in which to solve the labyrinth, before your baby brother becomes one of us… forever.” So into the Labyrinth she goes. And what a Labyrinth it is. It has Froud faeries and goblins, amazing muppets by the Henson company and plenty of catchy musical numbers. It does have the fierys though and those things give me the heebie jeebies kind of the way the Wheelers did from Return to Oz.

The rest of the film is a competition between Jareth and Sarah not only for Sarah to solve the Labyrinth, but for control of little Toby. Sarah taunts Jareth. He, in return, cheats. Sarah finds herself intrigued by the Goblin King, he wants to rule her heart, but break free of the hold she has over him. As a child I might not have seen the more adult themes you could possibly see in the film. As an adult…uh yeah. It’s not just the tight pants, it’s how Jareth is a bad guy, but a likable bad guy. He has layers. He is complex. And I love it when he sings. *grin*

He is a sympathetic character (just listen to the lyrics of Within You). He cannot exist without her (perhaps literally since it could be said that the whole film is in her head and part of her imagination). He also begins to see Sarah not as a girl, but a woman who could be his queen. Sure there might be some sexual awakening subtext. If Sarah would only submit to him, let him rule her, let him love her…and he will give her anything she wants. He will be her slave. Sarah of course does not take him up on his offer much to my disappointment and massive amounts of other fangirls just like me. Would I say no to Jareth? What do you think?

"Everything that you wanted I have done. You asked that child be taken, I took him. You cowered before me and I was frightening. I have reordered time, I have turned the world upside down, and I have done it all for you! I am exhausted from living up to your expectations of me. "

Monday, July 14, 2014

Feed: A Review

Feed
Written by: Mira Grant
Paperback: 571 pages
Audiobooks: 15 hours 13 minutes Publisher: Orbit
Language: English
April 2010
Genre: Fiction/Horror/Zombies

The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beat the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.

NOW, twenty years after the Rising, Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives-the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will out, even if it kills them


+++++++++++++

I am a multitasker. I also get bored easily and sometimes need a distraction. This is why I love audiobooks. When I am not browsing the many fanmixes on 8tracks, I am usually listening to something from audible. There is something about audiobooks that I love. Maybe it is the reading performances. Maybe because it means I can be doing work while escaping into a story. Granted getting through a book takes a little bit longer (I am a very fast reader), I enjoy the overall performances. Which is why I chose Feed by Mira Grant (also known as Seanan Mcguire) as my next book escape. Okay maybe I also chose it because it was Seanan doing the zombie genre and that maybe made me a little giddy as I love her to pieces. But when I listened to the excerpt on audible I loved the reader’s cadence, and it is two readers who read either Georgia or Sean’s parts.

“Our story opens where countless stories have ended in the last twenty-six years: with an idiot—in this case, my brother Shaun—deciding it would be a good idea to go out and poke a zombie with a stick to see what happens.”

So what is Feed about? The zombie apocalypse has happened. Sure we found a cure for cancer and the common cold, but when the two cures combined it created Kellis-Amberlee. Such a pretty name right? If only the virus was as pretty. Sadly it reanimates the dead which is not as pretty and far more deadly. It decimated populations creating small heavily protected havens across the country. Heavy precautions have been put in place such as no more pet Rufus if your dog exceeds the mass index for the virus. No one wants the family pet to turn the family into the undead.

Kellis-Amberlee also did something incredibly interesting to the media. Bloggers, and ultimately zombie nerds, were the first to respond to the outbreak responding faster and more accurately to the masses than traditional media. In a time when you need to learn how to defend and protect the bloggers were there with plenty of Romero tips to keep as many people alive and safe as possible. Bloggers are the truth and make a hell of a living, if not a dangerous one. They have privileges in this new world and even have different class access points depending on your rank within the community.

Twenty years later Georgia ‘George’ Mason (your traditional ‘Newsie’) and her brother Shaun (an adventurous ‘Irwin’) are two of those reporters. They have never known a life without the undead. Adopted by the Masons (whose biological son was one of the first infected when he was bitten by a dog), George and Sean grew up in the blogging world and they have become masters at their jobs. When they win a contract, along with their partner Buffy Mesonnier, to follow Republican Presidential candidate Senator Peter Ryman on his run for the highest office in the nation they are hopeful that is the break they have needed in their careers. But nothing is ever that easy. When the Senator’s campaign comes under attack (not just politically), George and her crew will discover the truth…no matter what the cost.

Things I loved: I have been a fan of Seanan (Mira) for a while now and her October Daye series is one of my favorites. So I know she can craft a story and break my heart. She can make me laugh and make me invest in her characters. Feed is no different. From the beginning of the book I love Shaun and George. George is snarky, pessimistic, protective, loyal, curious, and everything I like in a character. Shaun is impulsive, takes risk, but would do anything for his sister. They are relatable characters, flawed, cynical, and yet I would follow them to the end. And I did. Their relationship is the strongest selling point for me (though the zombies and the world Seanan has created is a close second). Truthfully most of the characters are well thought out and I found myself liking Steve, Buffy, and Emily just as much. Plus George and her mates have great names (‘George’ Romero, ‘Shaun’ of the Dead, and ‘Buffy’ Slayer Extraordinaire).

Another thing I liked about George is that she is our window into the world and helps expand and explain this universe. As the newsie of the group she provides the info dump explaining historical, political, social context to all that has happened with the KA virus (As a side note, I loved the way that tobacco companies quickly rose to power now that cigarettes will not kill anyone). Granted the info dump aspect can get a little monotonous at times and extremely wordy. Overall I think her describing the world as a reporter would really helped the story not hinder it.

George also has a mutated form of Kellis-Amberlee (in her case it is retinal KA which renders her pupils permanently dilated). This means she occasionally has a false positive on the testing machines. It is a condition that is brought up frequently, but again helps tell the story. In this zombie filled world security and blood testing is everywhere you look. Hotels have decontamination chambers and you had better get used to pricking your finger as blood tests are required pretty much everywhere you go. It’s a world that you don’t have to suspend your disbelief for.

As much as there are zombies in the novel (your opening scene involves quite a few when Shaun’s Irwin sensibilities get him into trouble) and trust me you will get your grr arghy moments, this is not really a zombie book and that is kind of how I like my zombie fiction. Zombies are the best when they are used as a tool to discuss humanity, what society will do in the face of an apocalypse, and how it shapes you into a new person. Feed is about fear, about truth and information, politics, lies and how people use it all. It’s about relationships, about survival, hope, courage, and the stories. We all have stories to tell after all. So to say it is zombie fiction does it an injustice as it is so much more.

I also have to give props to the reading performances on the audiobook by Jesse Bernstein (who does the Percy Jackson audiobooks) and Paula Christensen (who needs to do more audiobooks). Paula is George and there is a moment at the end of the book that almost had me in tears she did such a great job. Her different accents and characterizations were great to listen to (she does a bit better than Jesse) and made me feel as if she were George instead of someone reading a novel.

Things I didn’t love so much: As I said earlier sometimes the info dumping can break the flow of the overall narrative of the book and make me a shade impatient. But I get impatient easily. Also Tate was a little too one dimensional for me though he did have some great bits of dialogue. He was just so obviously a douche.

I also was completely shocked with the final act. It’s something that few authors can pull off and the audiobook made it even more shocking. I keep hoping there is some trick and am trying desperately not to spoil myself with the other two books of the trilogy.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. It’s a great book and I look forward to finishing the trilogy.

Part of: The Newsflesh Trilogy. It continues with Deadline and finishes with Blackout.

Also Recommended: For more zombies I would recommend World War Z by Max Brooks, The Walking Dead comic series by Robert Kirkman, and the Zombie Survival Guide also by Max Brooks. Feed by Mira Grant, Patient Zero by Jonathan Mayberry, Infected by Scott Sigler, and Rot And Ruin also by Jonathan Mayberry. Yeah zombies.

4 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

SUNDAY SEVEN: GEEKY COUPLES (MOVIE EDITION)

Not sure why I am feeling all lovey dovey and such in the middle of June, but apparently I am. Maybe it is because I decided to read Looking for Alaska again (now that Sarah Polley is set to direct) or am somewhat curious about the TV version of Outlander. Doesn’t matter I suppose. Romance happens everywhere and there are some amazing couples out there in the geekverse. This week I am going to focus on the movie romances and we will go on from there.


Princess Leia/Han Solo (Star Wars)
“I love you.” – Leia 
“I know. ” - Han 
It’s iconic and so is their love. The Princess and the Rogue, what a combination. How could you not love them? How could they not be on this list? I need to say nothing more. They are the geek couple.


Westley/Buttercup (The Princess Bride)
“This is true love – you think this happens every day?”– Wesley
He did as she wished and Buttercup treated him with indifference. Somehow, though, they managed to fall in love. A love so strong that not even death could separate them (it helps that he wasn’t completely dead). Their love story is amazing and one I grew up with. Plus they do share one of the greatest kisses in all of history.


Arwen/Aragorn (The Lord of the Rings)
“I choose a mortal life.” – Arwen
“You cannot give this to me.” – Aragorn
“It is mine to give to whom I will. Like my heart.” – Arwen
Arwen gives up her Elvish immortality to live beside her one love, Aragorn who is mortal. Despite her father’s misgivings and despite what she knows will happen (she will outlive her lover), she is willing to spend her days with Aragon. It’s a classic love.


Eve/Wall-E ( WALL-E)
“EVE!” – WALL-E
“WALL-E!” - EVE
Aw robots in love. WALL-E has spent year after year with only an adorable cockroach as company, so it is no wonder when EVE’s shiny slick curves has him all aflutter. They don’t have much when it comes to dialogue, but I trust their love than most couples in romantic comedies. Its silent movie romance and plus they are adorable. Did I mention robots in love?


Korben Dallas/Leeloo (The Fifth Element)
“We're newlyweds. Just met. You know how it is. We bumped into each other, sparks happen...” - Korben
“Mul-ti-pass.” – Leeloo
“Yes, she knows it's a multipass. Anyway, we're in love.” – Korben
Their love saves the universe. That’s pretty much it. Okay, I love them because it’s the two bad asses that fall in love. She’s the Supreme Being. He is a meat popsicle. Sure she almost shot him when he stole a kiss, but in the end they kick a lot of ass and save the day.


Sarah Connor/Kyle Reese (The Terminator)
““I came across time for you, Sarah. I love you. I always have.” – Kyle Reese
Skynet wants to win the war against humans so it sends back a Terminator to kill Sarah Connor, mother of John Connor who leads the resistance. The resistance sends someone as well, a soldier named Kyle Reese. He came across time to save her life. They fell for each other when they weren’t being shot at. Aww. “And maybe it'll be enough if you know that in the few hours we had together we loved a lifetime's worth.”


Paul Muad’dib /Chani (Dune)
“I see us giving love to each other in a time of quiet between storms. It's what we were meant to do.” – Chani
Paul is the son of a Duke on a water filled world, Chani is a Fremen on the desert planet Arrakis. Long before they even meet, Chani was in Paul’s dreams. When Paul finally arrives on Dune, Chani is assigned to guard him and help him assimilate to life on Arrakis. Paul is drawn to her, recognizing her form his dreams. When Paul defeats the Emperor and ascends the Imperial Throne, he takes Princess Irulan as his wife, but in name only. Paul remains utterly devoted to Chani, who - while officially just a concubine - he considers his true love and wife.

Honorable Mentions: David/Elise (The Adjustment Bureau), Richard/Elise (Somewhere in Time), Pete/Dorinda (Always), and Tommy/Isabel (The Fountain).

Saturday, July 12, 2014

GAMER GIRL WEEKENDS: Dragon's Crown

I had heard a bit about Dragon’s Crown before E brought it home for us to play, though mostly the controversy surrounding it all. This was largely due to the female depictions in the game which as we have been playing it now off and on for a couple of weeks is…exaggerated and that might be an understatement, but we will get to that later.

Brandish your blade, dust off your grimoire, and rally your online adventuring party. Dragon’s Crown thrusts you into a fantastical medieval world packed with labyrinthine dungeons to explore, vile monstrosities to smite, and nearly endless online adventure. Your mission is to dive into the dank underworld, uncovering treasure and strengthening your mettle as you unlock the secret behind the ancient dragon threatening the world.

Safe on the surface of the earth, humans believe that they dwell alone. Dragons, monsters and magic are simply fantasies to mankind — but what undiscovered secrets may lie right below our feet? Deep underground, a sprawling labyrinth holds treasure — and danger — beyond your wildest belief. Now, the portals to the subterranean world of magic have opened to you, inviting you on a perilous and glorious mission to uncover the dark secrets guarded by a deadly dragon. Descend into the labyrinth and arm yourself for massive-scale battles and magical encounters in the Dragon's dungeons.

The mysterious Dragon's Crown holds infinite power that's coveted by many. As a fierce warrior, you must journey through the winding pathways of the underground world to ensure that this power doesn't fall into the wrong hands. Embark on quests that take you across varying dungeon worlds, where you'll battle tremendous dragons and other powerful bosses in exhilarating combat. Hunt for hidden treasure, items and weapons that will propel you on your quest. Decide to team up with a legion of friends or take the road alone — whatever you choose, prepare for nonstop action and intense, role-playing immersion on your hunt for the Dragon's Crown.


The game is essentially a 2D beat-em up RPG. Looking at the game it reminds me of old school barbarian pulp comic/novel/piece of art that has become an arcade style game that recalls far too many hours spent at the arcade as a teen. You choose a character from one of six classes available: Fighter, Amazon, Dwarf (melee heavy), Wizard and Sorceress (Magic users), or finally, the Elf who uses her bow to attack from a distance. As a co-op you can have up to 4 characters that adventure with you (either your online buds, the lovely person beside you, or the AI). Just as you did with other brawlers such as Double Dragon you move your character to the right killing and destroying everything you can. You can still move up and down within the 2D space and of course there is plenty of loot.

One thing I enjoyed is that you have a rogue character with you who opens treasure chests, unlocks doors, and occasionally adds some humor. While there are only nine stages that you play over and over again (yes seeing the same scenery can get a bit boring), there are fun features such as runes to discover and activate, beasts to ride, and secret doors to unlock. Further into the game you can also choose the difficulty of the boss battles which are by far the most fun. Every level you also find more weapons and more equipment. Characters also earn skill points which can be used in either Class Skills or Common Skills. In this way you can play the same character in different ways and that helps the replay value.

There are some quibbles. Choosing runes can be annoying, partly because it was meant for the Vita’s touchscreen. Sometimes when I would choose a rune, the other players have to stay still as you can accidently choose the wrong rune if they move far enough to pull the screen. The analog stick choosing is also slower and more cumbersome than if I had swiped a finger or stylus. In this way I rarely used the runes while in battle which at times you would like to do as it can turn all enemies into stone, etc. E switched characters about 6 levels in because at times there enough enemies to fill your screen and sometimes we lost track of our characters because they were of similar build and we chose the same colors (our bad). I also learned that while you can block and parry, button mashing attacking is more effective so next play through I will put less points in the block and parry skills.

So let’s talk about the art. Some of it is absolutely gorgeous. In fact I quite enjoyed many of the side quests just to unlock more art. And then there are the characters. Dragon’s Crown is a game where the men have biceps on top of biceps, where mermaids have butt cheeks, and the Sorceress you can play has boobs that are ridiculous. Seriously, as a woman I couldn’t help but laugh a little on how exaggerated everything is. Yes the females can sometimes be…well gross (an injured lady knight with legs splayed far too wide across your screen and ill placed bits of what I am guessing is a chastity belt without the chastity part for example), and yet other times it is just laughable (the mermaid with the broken back pose and butt cheeks).

I look at the male characters who, as I said before, have muscles upon muscles. They are totally the male power fantasy and as hyper-sexualized as the women. The art is old school pulp art where Conan reigned as King and women wore chainmail bikinis. It is to the point of parody really. The Fighter with all of his muscles would not be able to move, certainly not with the finesse he has in the game, The Amazon with her impossibly tiny waist and posterior and thighs that are as large as the Dwarf’s chest is anatomically laughable. All of it is stylized though. It somehow fits with the game in an odd way.

The same can be said for the Sorceress (the first character E played). Yes she is hyper-sexualized (her base photo includes a pose with a skeleton where the head is nestled close to her watermelon sized breasts and her staff is suggestively placed against her just as amble buttocks). It is so over the top and exaggerated I can’t help but laugh. It’s as if a teenage boy drew her. When she runs she holds tight onto her hat while her bosom flops around in a way that would just hurt…a lot. It’s kind of hysterical. I don’t think the game is trying to be realistic at all. Is it right? Probably not. Did it get me to stop playing the game? Nope. Does this mean I am not allowed to be a feminist anymore because I didn’t hate it?

Personally I don’t find the over exaggerated features sexy at all. It’s laughable. And so yes this game may have been designed with the male player in mind, but I still liked it. I played the Elf, not because she was dressed appropriately or not exaggerated (the male wizard is not either…other than just being anime pretty, then again so is she in all of her cuteness), but because I enjoy playing a character that can both melee and also fire arrows from a long distance.

I will say that it made me start thinking after E and I had a discussion while playing the game (specifically after we save a waifish spirit lady who wore little clothing and was chained up and possibly moaning…it actually kind of reminded me of a Luis Royo painting done Dragon Crown parody style) as I was having more of a problem with all of the NPC ladies than I was the characters we were playing. Now I usually play female characters if I am able to in a game. Then again so does E. I have always found it funny that the stronger men get the more armor they were, but for women it is the exact opposite. But then I started thinking about my preferences. When given the choice in a game where I can choose an outfit, do I choose the head to toe armor which is practical, but usually less feminine and appealing to my eye…or do I choose the “sexy” outfit? Yep the “sexier” version usually wins every time.

I enjoy playing a character who is sexy but kicks ass. Feminine, but strong. But I also feel bad for artists in general because they are never going to win. If she wears too much clothing then she looks like a man, if she doesn’t wear enough she is a whore. Her butt can’t be too big, her waist too wide, or her face too pretty. Apparently in order to be a more serious character breasts must be smaller (which is insulting to any of us ladies with larger assets), and clothing school marmish. In a game setting like this the chainmail bikini works, if FemmeShep in Mass Effect wore belly baring armor into battle not so much (it’s okay if it was purple).

What I don’t like in games or comics or media is the sexy lamp (where you can replace the female character with a sexy lamp and they serve the same purpose, background characters as nothing but sex objects = not cool). I don’t like costume bits that don’t make sense (catsuit for a thief = makes sense, catsuit unzipped to the navel = not cool). I don’t like impossible poses engineered solely for the male gaze when other parts of the media might be empowering. I dislike damsels in distress schtick all the time. I don’t dig the woman in the refrigerator thing, and a variety of other tropes. I am annoyed that the makers of Assassin’s Creed say that having a female character would require too much work, though Bioware and Mass Effect would say differently.

I digress and I could do an entire post about this all. Sexism in games exists. It also exists in every other form of media as well. So while yes the objectification of the female NPCs was annoying in Dragon’s Crown, and the exaggerated characteristics of the characters laughable, but what about the game? Did I have fun? Should I not like the game? Should I stop being a gamer because ultimately most games are catering to the other 55% of gamers which happen to be men? I hate the depiction of women in certain games, but I am also a girl who likes to shoot things and blow stuff up and usually there is some sort of misogyny within because…well it was made for a guy in mind, not for me. Does this mean the only games I am allowed to play are Animal Crossing and Mirror’s Edge? Do I dislike the fact that this form of interactive media lets you demean women? That women are depicted so poorly? But do I also like playing a lady who holds her own with the male characters even if she may wear a skimpier outfit (cause let’s not do the shaming thing here)? Do I like storylines that are a bit seedy (even though ultimately I will play a lighter shade of grey because I can never do Renegade mode)? But how will the industry change unless the money makers feel the impact? I don’t want to stop gaming, or watching tv, or reading comics. It’s a tough place to be in and maybe I should write about it more at a later time because it is a problem.

Let’s get back to the game though. Where was I? Ah, yes the music. The soundtrack is okay sounding like something I would hear at a Renne faire. It fits, though doesn’t have the epic score that perhaps Final Fantasy or Mass Effect would have. Again, it fits with the rest of the overall theme and feel.

I wish that the female NPCs wouldn’t writhe and moan when you poke them (and it doesn’t happen just once). Sure your playable characters are laughable and what I see is parody, the NPCs are something else entirely. Vanillaware should have been aware of that when they made a game. That part was annoying, distracting, and sometimes made me want to put down the controller. It’s an unfortunate dalliance and hopefully they will not repeat the mistake if they make another game.

The game can get repetitive, but was still overall enjoyable. If given a choice I probably wouldn’t have picked a brawler for E and I, but I enjoyed this one. It has its issues both with game mechanics, the grinding, and well aesthetic choices. Overall though I am digging it. We might even play it again. We’ll see once we have finished it (we haven’t quite finished the game as we need to “find” a few more sigils) But we are having fun. And that’s really the point right?

3 out of 4 controllers.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Lady Mechanika - Volume 0: A Review

Lady Mechanika Volume #0
Written and Illustrated by: Joe Benitez
Comic Book: 25 pages
Publisher: Aspen Comics
Language: English
October 2010
Genre: Comic/Graphic novel, Steampunk

The mysteries surrounding private investigator LADY MECHANIKA and her origin begin to unfold as she heads to a rundown city known as Satan's Alley. Located on the lower eastside, it is an area of town under siege by the presence of a murderous creature of unknown origin. While a weapons manufacturer has issued a reward for the unknown slayer, drawing a crowd of bounty hunters looking to cash in, Lady Mechanika's purpose is far more personal - information that could lead to the truth about her creation.

+++++++++++++

What is it that people find so fascinating about steampunk? Is it the Victorian sensibilities, the mixture of the vaguely modern and the Victorian? Bustles and ray guns? Gears and Clockwork? Maybe it’s the zeppelins and mad scientists. My friend Nick jokes that Steampunk is when Goths found the brown palettes of color. Whatever the draw is, I dig it. And for all of the above things. Its period, but it’s not. Mostly it is just fun when done right.

Now Comixology is really a great resource at times though admittedly a bit less now that their free section is limited. Shame really as their free section was how I found a lot of decent comics. Anyway, as we tried to find some lady in comics, comics for our latest comic book 101, I found Lady Mechanika. Let’s face it the whole steampunk vibe had me hooked. She would be fun to cosplay. I know you are not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I so did. The art is quite lovely. I was intrigued. I decided to read more.

Lady Mechanika is half human and half machine. She cannot remember where she came from, who created her, who she is, and what she was meant to do. The official backstory on her, though not presented in the comics is that “The tabloids dubbed her "Lady Mechanika", the sole survivor of a serial killer's three-year rampage through England. Authorities found her locked in an abandoned laboratory amidst an undeterminable number of corpses and body parts, her own limbs having been amputated and replaced with mechanical components. With no memory of her captivity or her former life, Mechanika eventually built a new life for herself as a private detective, using her unique abilities to solve cases the police couldn't or wouldn't handle. But she never stopped searching for the answers to her own past." Nice premise. Wish we could have had that in Issue 0 as I would have been even more interested in the Lady.

In this preview issue Lady Mechanika is investigating the rumors of a half mechanical demon haunting Satan’s Alley. There she meets up with Nathaniel Blackpool of Blackpool Armaments who wants to capture her and study her bits that are mechanical. He is also hunting the “demon” who has been haunting the alleyway. When they discover what has really been inhabiting the shadows, each treats it very differently.

It’s a teaser issue so it is extremely short. However, even in those very limited pages, I fell for the artwork and for Lady herself. I want to know more. She can kick your ass, but she can also show you kindness. I enjoyed the introduction to what could be a fun character and a fashionable on at that with all of her harnesses, corsets, and maybe a bustle or two.

Joe Benitez gets a gold star for creating, writing, and illustrating Mechanika. In fact it was the artwork that drew me in.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. It’s worth checking out. Luckily Comixology lets you do just that.

Part of: Ongoing Series.

Also Recommended: For more Steampunk try books from Gail Carriger, Cassandra Clare, and Scott Westerfield (Leviathan series)

3 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow: A Review

Edge of Tomorrow
Directed By: Doug Liman
Written By:
Genre:ACTION ADVENTURE/SCI FI
Rated: PG
Time: 113 min
Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Brendan Gleeson, and Bill Paxton
Plot: An officer finds himself caught in a time loop in a war with an alien race. His skills increase as he faces the same brutal combat scenarios, and his union with a Special Forces warrior gets him closer and closer to defeating the enemy.

Comments: I don’t like Tom Cruise, but I do enjoy his movies. E feels the same way. We were feeling undecided about the film though. While the trailers looked interesting, they didn’t grab me. And then the critics began to rave a bit about how great it was. We were sold.

Based on a Japanese novel titled ‘All You Need is Kill’ (Better title by the way), it chronicles a not so heroic Major William Cage (Cruise) who finds himself on the frontlines battling the alien ‘Mimics’. It doesn’t go so well. But instead of staying dead, he finds himself waking up in the same spot he did before he was sent off to war. After enlisting Emily Blunt’s character, Rita Vrataski (Love the Full Metal Bitch moniker everyone gives her), they race to find a way to stop the Mimics and stop the massacre on the battlefield.

Strangely it was quite funny in places, kind of like a sci fi version of Groundhog Day and even had a score to reflect its lighter tone in those moments. But there were also your typical action scenes, a hint of romance, and some very palpable tension. In a way it also reminded me of a videogame where you died, respawned, and then played the game differently until you finished the Boss battle. I completely believed Emily Blunt could kick ass and take names. The third act is a bit slow, but perhaps this is largely due to the fact that we don’t have our repeat the day editing which is top notch. Loved the cinematography, loved that I hated Cage in the beginning and then was rooting for him in the end.

Rent/Cinema? Cinema. It was a great summer blockbuster full of aliens, explosions, and humor. Its far better than expected and I recommend it to all.

4/4 popcorns

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

We Are All Completely Fine: A Review

We Are All Completely Fine
Written by: Daryl Gregory
ARC Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Tachyon Publishing
Language: English
Expected Date: August 2014
Genre: Fiction/Horror/Urban Fantasy

Harrison is the Monster Detective, a storybook hero. Now he’s in his mid-thirties and spends most of his time not sleeping.

Stan became a minor celebrity after being partially eaten by cannibals. Barbara is haunted by the messages carved upon her bones. Greta may or may not be a mass-murdering arsonist. And for some reason, Martin never takes off his sunglasses.

Unsurprisingly, no one believes their horrific tales until they are sought out by psychotherapist Dr. Jan Sayer. What happens when these likely-insane outcasts join a support group? Together they must discover which monsters they face are within and which are lurking in plain sight.


+++++++++++++

I am always a big fan of aftermath stories. You know the ones that I am talking about. It doesn’t mean that everyone is safe, but there is something I truly enjoy about rebuilding stories or aftermath stories or hell even PTSD stories. In a way this is one of those aftermath stories.

The premise is fairly simple. Group therapy for survivors of the supernatural. Harrison was made famous for stopping the world’s destruction as a teenager and infamous after a series of books came out about him. Barbara survived the Schrimshander though she has never been able to see the carvings he left on her bones, only the scars. Stan survived a Texas Chainsaw Massacre clan of cannibals but not without a cost. Martin never takes off his glasses because he can see things with them that others cannot. Greta lived in a cult for most of her life and has the scars everywhere on her body to prove it. And finally Jan, our therapist who believes their stories and has secrets of her own.

Things I loved: On occasion the lovely folks over at Tachyon Publishing send me some ARCs and I dig what they send me as they are largely anthologies which I am a big fan of. And then sometimes they send me things that completely surprise me. This book was like that. I liked the premise, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. Then I liked it…a lot. Sure there are some problems and we will get to those later, but this is one of the first books in a long time where I read it in one sitting. It helps being a novella, but still.

I absolutely love the premise. I wanted to know about each character and what they had witnessed or survived and how that changed them. Of course if you a horror fan like I am you can see echoes of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the works of Lovecraft, and more. A nod to the things I love is great. Each group member had an interesting story and each dealt with what they had gone through and how they dealt with the other group members differently.

Things I didn’t love so much: It was short. Incredibly short. And while most of the book starts building on connections, revelations and growing the therapy group as a whole, when they go to fight and really come together it seems rushed. The big bad seems itty bitty and I wanted something more. I wanted every single member to use the skills that they have acquired to battle. I wanted them to use their knowledge. Like I said I wanted something more. I want a full length book. I want to know more about Harrison (who seems to be the only one we really don’t get to explore with a backstory chapter). I want my rag tag group to do something greater.

The voice of the novella got a bit annoying. Sometimes it was first person and then suddenly it would change to third person. I am not a big fan of the first person plural as when everyone is referred to as ‘we’ it means that the individual voices disappear which I think are very important as you spend enough time establishing them as such. Not everyone is going to look at the situation the same way or have the same feelings about the situation. It took away from the story, and kept me from getting as immersed as I would have liked.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. I enjoyed it enough that I am really hoping Gregory is preparing a sequel as we speak.

Part of: Stand Alone.

Also Recommended: For more Daryl Gregory please try Pandemonium and Afterparty. For more horror fiction try Observatory Mansions by Edward Carey.

3.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

TUESDAY TRAILERS: Lucy

Luc Besson is pretty high on my this guy is pretty cool list. He’s made some of my favorite films (Leon: The Professional, The Fifth Element, La Femme Nikita, Angel-A, and The Big Blue) and has his hand in many others either as Producer or Writer (District B13 and the recent Netflix gem of The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec). Now I am not normally a ScarJo fan, but I like her as Natasha Romanov and she just looks badass in this trailer. What do you think? Plans to see it?


Summary: A woman (Scarlett Johansson), accidentally caught in a dark deal, turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.…Opens July 25th, 2014.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Breakfast of Champions: A Review

Breakfast of Champions
Written by: Kurt Vonnegut
Paperback: 302 pages
Publisher: Dell Publishing
Language: English
March 1973
Genre: Fiction

In Breakfast of Champions, one of Kurt Vonnegut’s most beloved characters, the aging writer Kilgore Trout, finds to his horror that a Midwest car dealer is taking his fiction as truth. What follows is murderously funny satire, as Vonnegut looks at war, sex, racism, success, politics, and pollution in America and reminds us how to see the truth.

+++++++++++++

Every month for book club a new member chooses a book. We all have varying tastes and niches we go to so it has been interesting to read books that are outside of my comfort zone. But that is what we wanted to do, read books we normally wouldn’t read. Now it’s not that I don’t like Kurt Vonnegut, I just have to be in the right mood. Kathleen loves him to little itty bitty pieces. Breakfast of Champions is her favorite book and she cannot count the number of times she has read and reread the book. Everyone probably has a book like that, you know the one I am talking about…the one you go to when nothing else sounds good. Its dog eared and well loved, that go to book when you are in a particular mood, the one you could talk about for hours, and the one you wish you could be part of. For me that book is Beauty by Robin McKinley. For Kathleen it is Breakfast of Champions.

Breakfast of Champions follows Kilgore Trout and Dwayne Hoover – and the events that lead up and follow their meeting. Trout is a science-fiction writer, and one who believes his work to be completely unknown within the community. But after he receives an invitation to the Midland City Arts Festival he is not so sure. Dwayne is a businessman in the Midlands Area is going insane. This is made worse when he meets Trout, reads one of his books, and becomes convinced that not only is the book real but that he is the only one in the universe that has free will and everyone else is a robot.

On top of this crazy little tale you also have the storyteller who is telling you Kilgore and Dwayne’s tale as if you may not be from Earth. For example when speaking about Columbus he tells you, “The teachers told the children that this was when their continent was discovered by human beings. Actually, millions of human beings were already living full and imaginative lives on the continent in 1492. That was simply the year in which sea pirates began to cheat and rob and kill them.” He even draws pictures on occasion for you dear reader.

Things I loved: Breakfast of Champions is not the average book that I read. We’ve gone a little meta, but in a good way. There are things I really like about the book and then others that are just too quirky for my tastes. But let’s go back to the good stuff. For example the way the story is told. Not only do you have the story of Kilgore and Dwayne, but you have the narrator who may or not be Vonnegut. The narrator is not only telling the story, but he inserts himself into the story…he has control over it. We all want to be stories. We think of ourselves as having beginnings, middles, and ends, but then again life is never that neat. It’s chaos. It doesn’t make sense. It really doesn’t have an ending. It is all a bit of etc. It’s an interesting way to tell a story, one that breaks the fourth wall and kind of makes you think…or maybe that was just me. There is no end. And you don’t get the whole story, but do we ever.

It also brings up some ideas about free will, life, and history as we may or may not know it. I did find myself laughing at many different parts. This is good. It also tackles racism, war, sex, politics, and pretty much of every other hot button topic. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it falls flat, but mostly it works especially when he describes things as if you, the reader, are an alien life form and don’t exactly understand how things work down on Earth.

Things I didn’t love so much: There are some things that I didn’t like about it. It took a while for me to get into it and I found myself wanting more cultural and Earth insights than I did about Dwayne and Kilgore. I wanted more of the meta. While watching someone descend into utter madness should be fun, Dwayne was boring. I didn’t care and that was unfortunate. And let’s face it, sometimes, it was just too quirky for me. I can see why Kathleen absolutely adores the book, but there was something a little too odd for me. I think it is one of those books that you have to be in the right mood for. Kind of like how I feel about country music. Unfortunately, I am rarely in that mood for something that quirky. I respect Vonnegut as a writer. I think he certainly has earned his place among the greats. I just wish I felt the same fangirlyness for him as Kathleen does.

Buy or Borrow: Borrow. This is hard because I think in the right mood I would have loved it and you have to appreciate Vonnegut as he is an amazing writer, but I recommend some of his other books first.

Part of: Stand Alone though it does feature a character from other books.

Also Recommended: For more Vonnegut books please give Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse Five, Welcome to the Monkey House, and God Bless you, Mr. Rosewater. Plus many more.

3 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks