Game: Ravenloft: Strahd’s Possession [1994]

May 22, 2018

Strahd’s Possession is a Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) video game published by SSI in 1994. It takes place in D&D’s Ravenloft setting, a horror fantasy genre inspired by classic horror literature and taking place in a Romania-like country ruled over by a powerful vampire lord named Count Strahd. My overall reaction is that I want to like this game, and the atmosphere and art are wonderful, but there are a few game design flaws that make it frustrating to play.

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Film: Godzilla [1954]

April 16, 2018

Godzilla, directed by Ishirou Honda, 1954.

I went into this movie with a vague expectation of cheap effects and a lot of toy cars and trucks getting knocked around. What I got was a completely different movie than I was expecting, with awesome pacing and spectacular camera work. This is a movie about tragedy, loss, pain, and the real, personal cost of weapons of mass destruction, war, and devastation.

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Books: Son of a Trickster [2017]

April 16, 2018

Son of a Trickster, by Eden Robinson, 2017.

There are right ways and wrong ways to write magic realism and modern fantasy. I feel like this book did it all the wrong ways. Son of a Trickster is about a teenager named Jared growing up in a broken house on a reservation in BC, struggling to get through the next day, much less anything beyond that. I found Jared’s situation to be compelling, and too many people know how much it sucks to grow up like Jared has to. That part of the story was compelling, and I actually liked the turn the book and Jared took at the very end (no spoilers). The parts of the story that have nothing to do with the supernatural ring true despite Robinson’s attempts at snark. The parts that are rooted in spirits and magic… shit all over everything else.

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Books: Golem in the Gears [1986]

April 16, 2018

Golem in the Gears, by Piers Anthony [1986]

I liked it, albeit with the usual caveat about misogyny in these books. Grundy Golem is a golem: a creature made of wood and rags animated through magic by the Good Magician of Information to help in his researches. Grundy has the magical ability to speak with any animate entity, whether plant, animal, or… other, as long as they are alive. Since he can talk to just about anyone or anything, he likes to run his mouth and insults everything around him all the time. Since being created, Grundy was granted true flesh-and-blood life through another act of magic (in a previous book I haven’t read). At the beginning of this book, Grundy is finds himself battling a depression rooted in the fact that he is tiny, the world has no respect for him, and he only insults other things to make himself feel more important. This book finds Grundy embarking on a quest, riding upon Snortimer, the monster under Princess Ivy’s bed, to find meaning and value to his existence. Of course, this means he acts heroically and… ultimately find himself a woman.

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Books: Crewel Lye: A Caustic Yarn [1984]

April 16, 2018

Crewel Lye: A Caustic Yarn in another Xanth book by Piers Anthony. In it a young girl named Ivy helps one of the ghosts haunting her castle to clean up the magic tapestry that shows the history of the world. This helps the ghost, Jordan the Barbarian, remember his own story, and the book is primarily the retelling of his adventure. I just recently finished reading the novel that comes before this one, Dragon on a Pedestal, and I quite enjoyed that one. This book has an interesting premise, but I have to admit, I had a hard time getting past Anthony’s casual misogyny in this one.

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Books: Dragon on a Pedestal [1984]

April 2, 2018

Dragon on a Pedestal, by Piers Anthony, 1984.

Some time ago I reviewed A Spell for Chameleon, the first book in the Xanth series by Piers Anthony. It was not a good book; I found so much wrong with it I never did finish it. Now I know there are roughly a billion books in the Xanth series, and it clearly has enjoyed a lot of popularity, so I thought I’d give it another shot. This book, Dragon on a Pedestal, is actually the seventh book in the series, and was written seven years after the first. I am pleased to note that Anthony seems to have done a lot of maturing in those seven years, and I actually enjoyed this one.

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TV: The Ministry of Time [Season 1, 2015]

March 31, 2018

This Spanish TV show, El Ministerio del Tiempo, is about a secret ministry in the Spanish government that controls a series of doorways in an old cavern system that allow them to travel through time. The ministry uses those doors to preserve Spanish history, deal with accidental time travelers, and occasionally for petty things like establishing they have the rightful claim to the patent on the mop. It’s a fun program with incredible sets based in Spanish history, though the time travel element itself can be sometimes a little too thin.

 

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