ultranos: cecilia adelhyde holding spell book (the world in my hand)
Well, two of 'em.

BOOK!
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. The world has suffered an energy crisis and is pretty much a collection of overpopulated and polluted cities. The only solace is OASIS, which is what replaced the internet: a virtual reality MMORPG. Teenager Wade Watts, like most people, use OASIS as a refuge for their incredibly crappy lives. The creator of OASIS has died, and because he was a bit of an eccentric, his will has an interesting little quirk: there is a giant Easter egg hunt in OASIS, and the person who finds the egg inherits his fortune. The only clues are buried in the creator's writings, and the only cipher is...1980s pop culture.

It's pretty much a love letter to the 80s, especially "nerd" culture in the form of shows, movies, books, and video games from that decade, in a sci-fi plot.

VIDEO GAME!
Gone Home by the Fullbright Company. Gone Home is...difficult to describe. It's more of an interactive story than a "game". The year is 1995. You are Katie Greenbriar, a 20-year-old who just came back from a year overseas to a house your parents bought while you were away. You take an earlier, cheaper flight back and a shuttle home so your mother doesn't have to pick you up. From there, nothing is quite like you expect: you arrive at a locked, empty house, in the middle of the stormy night, and you have to figure out where everyone is, why no one is home, and how to get in the house.

I really can't say more without spoiling things. Like I said, it's more of an exercise in interactive narrative. The story of the year is told through narrated segments and through the bits and pieces of ephemera that exist in peoples' lives.

You can buy it directly from the publisher here.
It also exists on Steam and from the Humble Store.

(As a note: the game is fairly short for it's list price. I finished it in about 1.5 hours. Exploring fully could probably get you 3-4 hours. They recently added a developer commentary track. Whether or not you want to wait for it to go on sale [the annual Steam Holiday Sale is likely to start in a few weeks] depends on your own heuristics for evaluating time and craft. I will say that it is entirely worth playing.)
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ultranos: kino and hermes on a coffee break (i need a coffee break)
1) neboat got me addicted to Two Steps from Hell last week. I've been pretty much listening to them and only them since. It has the interesting property of making absolutely anything you do Epic. Highly recommend it for music while writing. (Two Steps from Hell is a group that writes original music for movie and game trailers. Brushing your teeth has never felt this badass.)

Current favorites are "Heart of Courage", "Black Blade", "Protectors of Earth", "After the Fall".

2) I seem to be writing an original fic. What is this I don't even

3) Finishing the Mass Effect series flipped something in my brain, and I seem to be desperately craving gritty space opera. Possibly, more accurately, a reconstructed space opera ('ware, TVTropes). Or sci-fi assassin/spycraft stories. I dunno. My brain is demanding something to chew on like those two (I've been reading a bunch of spycraft and information handling lately), or else I'm going to lose the battle against replaying the damn series.

This is slightly annoying because I have a giant pile of games right now, and other than Bastion, I haven't been able to convince myself to play any of them. Bastion, by the way, is excellent, and is currently the bonus game in the Humble Indie Bundle V. All the games in the bundle are excellent, available for Windows, Mac, and Linux, and proceeds go to the developers and charity (Child's Plan and the EFF), depending on how you want the split. In any case, if you're interested or curious, check it out. Or ask me if I think you'd like it if you're not sure. It's for an excellent cause.
ultranos: ashley from Trace Memory (white-haired girl) sleeping (sleepy)
Yes, I'm alive. To some definition of "alive". (A week of 6 or less hours of sleep per night is starting to catch up with me.) I spent last weekend in Milwaukee with my parents, since that's probably the last chance I'm going to get to be in that city until next year (I'm not currently planning on flying into Milwaukee for Christmas and/or New Years). Plus, you know, seeing my folks.

Problem is that I did this without taking any vacation days, so it went "get into work early, work, go to airport for 5pm flight" and then "get up early, go to airport for 7:45am flight (and make it with 3 minutes to spare because of hour-long TSA line), get into work by 11:30, work full day". Yes, sometimes, I do wonder if I was dropped on the head as a child.

One thing the flights were good for is chewing through A Song of Ice and Fire, because I'm impatient and can't wait until next year for s2 of Game of Thrones. If the little tick marks on the progress bar in the Kindle omnibus of the first 4 books mean anything, I'm about 75% through A Storm of Swords. I've just been chewing through it, after I finished the nonfiction book I'd been reading.

(Said nonfiction book is For Us Surrender is Out of the Question: A Story from Burma's Never-Ending War by Mac McClelland, who's also the human-rights reporter over at Mother Jones. It's about McClelland's time as a young twentysomething when she went to a Burmese refugee camp in Thailand for six weeks and got a hell of an education. In between her own story, which is written in the wry kind of "god, I was an idiot" voice at some points, are the stories of the people she met, which are heartbreaking and rage-inducing for their sakes. It's not an easy book, but I do recommend it.)

In non-media consumption news, I did get myself a Google+ account (it helps having friends at Google). Yes, this still means I do not have a Facebook, and I'm perfectly alright with that. I kinda like it so far. The interface design does not make me want to claw my eyes out, the asynchronous circles are nice and remind me of DW, and the multi-way video chat is not only neat, but nicely integrated into the entire thing.
ultranos: souji with his head stuck inside a tv (tv is eating my brain)
So, on Monday this past week, over lunch, DMark managed to convince me to download League of Legends so that we all could play against the internet. (Because we actually tend to be pretty good at that) What is LoL? It's a PvP RTS sort of like Demigod: control a character on a team, level him or her up throughout the game by beating minions or other players, and then destroy the other team's base. Unlike Demigod, LoL is a) free, b) has 1 map, and c) has about 80 characters, 10 of which are free any one week (and then they rotate through the 80). So there's a lot of mechanically interesting characters to play.

In case it's not completely obvious, I'm sort of addicted.

(It might have been decided that there's a specific character that I have to play when she's needed, because otherwise, the namespace collision makes life too confusing on TeamSpeak. This would be the identical namespace collision I ran into for FFXII that had me twitching during cutscenes for the first 20 hours.)

Today, a bunch of us piled into a car and drove out for really good Chinese noodles and Gaming Underground, an awesome used game store with arcade machines and systems and screens to rent so you can play old school games right there. I was convinced to finally try DDR, and to my utter surprise, I found that I like it. I absolutely suck right now, but I like it and I was able to play without utterly fucking up my knee again. (This involves keeping a grip on the back bar the entire time so every jump and twist is supported by my arms.) So yay me. I CAN SORT OF JUMP AGAIN!

Speaking of gaming, I finally finished reading Jane McGonigal's Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World, which I bought back in March. (It took me so long because I mostly read it in 10 minute chunks on the subway on my Kindle, and there was a month I chose to read Black Lagoon manga instead) It's actually a really good argument about how aspects of games and game design can influence and affect the real world in very positive ways. From Chore Wars, the ARG that convinces you that chores can be fun, to Folding@Home, the protein-folding distributed computing program that comes on every PS3 sold to further scientific research, McGonigal gives examples of how positive games have been in small ways in reality. And argues the point that my generation is a generation of gamers, and that gamers have a huge, mostly-untapped potential to do a world of good. It's certainly an interesting read, and sort of makes me want to hand a copy to my parents who said that gaming would never help me in real life.

(And now, since apparently I can't deal with that much optimism, I'm reading what might be one of the most depressing books I've ever read. And my high school lit classes were awash in shining examples of depressing books.)
ultranos: cecilia adelhyde holding spell book (the world in my hand)
I stumbled across a book series I loved as a youngish teen while surfing Amazon (don't ask), and in a moment of weakness brought about by nostalgia, I've managed to track down and order copies of William Nicholson's Wind on Fire Trilogy.

This is one of those series I mourn the lack of fandom for. Kestrel eats awesome for breakfast. (And I possibly nearly developed a crush on my mental image of Bowman by Book 2, Slaves of the Mastery) Am I the only one who remembers reading these books? Because seriously, they are/were awesome.

Speaking of books, I might give up on The First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie for the moment. I'm just not in the correct mood for it. I think I'm going to start Across the Nightingale Floor (Book 1 of Tales of the Ootori) by Lian Hearn next. Probably.

As I'm at it, anyone got any particularly interesting book recs? I hear I have a membership to a certain library on campus...
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ultranos: arisato minato listening to music in minimalist colors (beat of a different drum)
[personal profile] havocthecat mentioned at one point that it'd be nice to have a rec list for various anime. Since I've fallen way back into my old modes of operation, I thought this was a great idea, and went overboard.

Here's Vol. 1, with Vol. 2 to come at some point in the future where I think straight again. They're divided up into categories by length.

Giant List of Anime Recs, Vol. 1 )
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ultranos: arisato minato listening to music in minimalist colors (beat of a different drum)
I know I mentioned that I'd get to do this earlier, and that I was looking forward to it. I have to say, my expectations got totally blown out of the water.

If you get the chance, be it through US distribution (September is the street date for the DVD and Blu-Ray) or the internet, do yourself a favor and see Mamoru Hosoda's Summer Wars. It's not about the difference between the analog and digital worlds, but about communication across national boundaries and the internet as a tool of globalization. And it's about the people behind the avatars on the internet, and what people can accomplish in this new digital/analog world.

This is a movie for us.

I was lucky enough to see it in a screening tonight, with Hosoda himself in attendance and my Japanese popular culture studies professor acting as translator. The man himself is amazing, good-natured, and pretty damn humble. He said, essentially, there are two types of directors: those who become great directors to become great directors, and those who become great directors because they want to create great films. And he thinks of himself as the latter.

That's a sentiment I can totally get behind. Whatever you do, do it well because you love it and want to do it well.
ultranos: ashley from Trace Memory (white-haired girl) sleeping (head down go to sleep)
So, in the aftermath of term, my brain is starting to act...weird. A few weeks ago, I wasn't feeling the love for Stargate that I was kind of used to. I was blaming term, because it was seriously eating my life.

Now, it's seeming just vaulted over Stargate entirely and landed back into the old, worn things. I found myself looking for and re-reading old Final Fantasy favorites (and being more than a little gleeful when I found that an old favorite author posted something new).

I dreamed the night before my chemistry final that I was Small and Donatello the Ninja Turtle was sneaking into my room to help me with my math homework. (He was always my favorite.)

I think I'm trying to recapture that spark. Things are all tumbling in my brain and want to get out, because I've kept them holed-up and stewing for three months. I've got so many things I want to do. And the urge to game is not helping. (P4, I'll finish you, I promise! FFXIII and Resonance of Fate, why do you have to be so pretty?)

Anyway, three months is a long time. And there are fic I was in the middle of that I want to finish, so in an effort to jump-start that part of my brain, anyone got recs for something to chew on? I'm kind of in the mood for something long and plotty, actually. Something I can sink my teeth into.
ultranos: cecilia adelhyde holding spell book (the world in my hand)
Take Neverwhere, Perdido Street Station, and The Lies of Locke Lamora, throw them into a blender and hit puree. Sprinkle liberally with creepy religions, kickass characters, undead, and airships.

This is starting to approximate Alan Campbell's Deepgate Codex series.

Welcome to Deepgate. Mind the gap. )
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ultranos: daniel jackson stares at coffee mug and wonders "who drank my coffee?" (need caffeine; this is unacceptable)
I finally got around to reading The Kids Aren't All Right, by [livejournal.com profile] samdonne,an Iron Man fic I've seen crop up by name in a few places, but [livejournal.com profile] shanghairain threw the link at me when I had nothing better to do.

Fantastic fic. And, yeah, to me, this is pitch-perfect characterization and resonates a little too well for me, because while I'm no Tony Stark, I do know what lies ahead of me in terms of future employment. So it's really hard not to sympathize.

What they got right, and why I've generally been wary of a lot of IM fanfic )
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ultranos: cecilia adelhyde holding spell book (Default)
One thing I'd like to do this year is get back to doing things I really enjoyed when I was younger. I started writing for pleasure beyond LARPs, and rediscovered how much I enjoy it and why I would stay up until the wee hours of the morning just typing away on Notepad on the old 1992 Dell machine in my room when I was in high school. (Which is why this journal now exists.)

One other trend I dislike is how much my reading novels has decreased. When I was younger, I'd take out 8 novels from the library and be begging my mother to take me back to get more by the middle of Week Two. Nowadays, I'm lucky if I finish one novel in a month. And I really hate that.

My brother must be psychic, because for Christmas, he got me a gift card to Barnes and Nobel (he's awesome like that). I also got a gift card to Borders, because I'm an equal-opportunity consumer whore in terms of bookstores. Alas, I cannot fling myself at the shelves, and thus must be a little more judicious in my choosing of how to use these gift cards.

So, Obi-wan Flist, you're my only hope. Are there any books out there that are OMG-get-thee-to-a-bookstore-you-must-read-this-RIGHT-NOW? I have to admit to a certain fondness right now for science-fiction and fantasy, specifically:

  • post-apocalyptic
  • urban fantasy (world of magic coinciding with Real World. Examples: Neverwhere and American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Drinking Midnight Wine by Simon R Green)
  • "science fantasy" (magic and spaceships)
  • near-future cybertech
  • actually, anything cybertech, information tech, etc (from Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson to Matrix-esque type stories)

but, I'll take recommendations for almost anything. Really. I'm desperate.
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ultranos: daniel jackson stares at coffee mug and wonders "who drank my coffee?" (need caffeine; this is unacceptable)
I'm beginning to think that there is something very wrong with my media choices. Either that, or I really am a masochist. About the only good movies I've seen lately are Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest and Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (with bonus RiffTrax). Other than that, I've watched Fantastic 4 (with RiffTrax; oh god, right in the SCIENCE), Superman Returns (there is no Earth logic), Star Wars 3: Backstroke of the West (RotS Chinese bootleg with mangled subtitles for added hilarity, with RiffTrax, the entire thing becomes vaguely watchable), and all those movies from my birthday Bad Movie marathon in October. Dear god, I was ready to watch the 1999 version of Beowulf again tonight. You know, the one with the techno music during fight scenes, the hero dual-wielding repeating crossbows and a sword with a circ-saw attachment (or something), set in some post-apocalyptic place. Maybe. Okay, the movie is so bad it's awesome, much in the same way that Jesus Christ: Vampire Hunter was.

Anyway, the more I watch these things, the more I feel myself getting dumber, even with the RiffTrax and the additional snarking. Because, oh god, the bad, nonsensical, pseudo-science hurts SO BAD. It's like they lured Science into a dark alley, beat it up, stole it's lunch money, and left it in a dumpster somewhere. Please, think of the science.

Anyone got any good movie recs that won't make my brain leak out of my ears or scream/snark/throw things at the TV?
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ultranos: it's a duckcat (ZOMG DUCKCAT)
First off, I'd say Happy Thanksgiving to all Americans out there, but how about I just fling general wishings of goodwill and family and kindness towards fellow humans out there? It's what I love about the end of the year. Regardless of what you believe, there seems to be a concentration of holidays at this time. And while I think "happy holidays" seems a bit politically-correct or some such nonsense, it's a lot quicker to say. Because I see this time of year as humanity's semi-official "goodwill and kindness towards your fellow human, time to enjoy family and friends and just be thankful we're alive and have what we do" time of year. But that's clunky to say. :)

Anyway, enough of me waxing philosophical over warm, fuzzy feelings and human nature. Why? I have book recs!

I've had a couple of friends on my case for awhile to read Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko. The movie, which is in Russian, which I have yet to see, but has been living on my HD for half a year, I hear is "meh". The book, however, is really, really good. I practically read it all in one day. Granted, I was in airports most of that day, but the last time I attempted to read a book on a plane and in the airport, I gave up and fell asleep. This time, I couldn't put it down. Night Watch is the first in a trilogy that tells the story of the Others, an ancient race of humans with magical powers. The Others swear allegiance to either the Light or the Dark. There is currently a Treaty between them, and both sides have people who police the other in order to keep the balance. The Night Watch are agents of the Light, the Day Watch are agents of the Dark. It's all supernatural events in modern-day Moscow, following a mid-level Night Watch agent as, well, big stuff happens. The next two books in the series are Day Watch, which is from the POV of a Day Watch agent, and Twilight Watch.

After I finish those, the next on the list is The Family Trade by Charles Stross, which I picked up yesterday. I've been looking for it for months. Why? Because it looks like it might be one of those urban fantasies, the one where the parallel realm of fantasy lies side-by-side with reality, that I have a secret weakness for. Also, it's by Charles Stross. Also known as the guy who wrote The Atrocity Archives.
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ultranos: city at the edge of forever; moon colony with v.small text (where the wild dreams are)
I've somehow managed to find myself rereading Utopian Entrepreneur by Brenda Laurel. (It was one of the required texts for a class I took 1.5 years ago.) It's a really wonderful little book, and it's a very easy read. As background information, Laurel is a Silicon Valley veteran who's managed to participate in four of the major computer tech bubbles of the last 25 years (those being games, multimedia, virtual reality, and the infamous dot-coms). She was also one of the founders of the late girl's software company Purple Moon, a company that actually made games aimed at the adolescent female demographic, not cheap marketing tie-ins to earn an exploitive quick buck. (I have issues with a lot of the so-called "games" intended for girls back in the 1990s. It's gotten a bit better these days, but it's still pretty bad.) Really, it's a really good read.

But I wanted to share one thing she had to say on storytelling:

Brenda Laurel, on stories )
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ultranos: cecilia adelhyde holding spell book (I will slay you if you don't shut up)
To save your flist, this entry has been cut into convenient sections. Hurrah, HTML coding.

There was once a time when I swore I'd never write fanfic. )

What prompted this rant? Well, to be honest, I got smacked in the head by an idea for SG-1.

Why Stargate might be the thing to get me to cave and write fanfic: )

So, this will be called The Stargate Fic I Am Not Writing. We'll see how that goes.

Profile

ultranos: cecilia adelhyde holding spell book (Default)
ultranos

Memoranda from the Usual Suspects

Media List:

Currently Watching:
-- Supergirl(hiatus)
--Pitch (hiatus)


Currently Playing:
--[null] (PS3)
--[null] (PS2)
--Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS)
--[null] (PSP)
--[null] (XBox360)
--Endless Legend (PC)
--Fallout: New Vegas (PC)


Currently Reading:

Manga
-[null]

Fiction
-The Rook, Daniel O'Malley
-Fortune's Rising, Sara King

Nonfiction
-Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy, David Daley


------------------

"So she's good cop, he's bad cop, you're morally-questionable cop, and I'm set-things-on-fire cop."

"Sounds about right."

--------

"WARNING: When attempting to be clever, make sure you not actually just being stupid."

--------

"Did you remember to sacrifice the goat before burning the ISO to the DVD-R?"

"Crap! Um, I've got a charred piece of meat here."

"That's called a steak. That's dinner. What about the sacrifices?"

--------

"I escape through quantum-tunneling. What do I need to roll for that?"

--------

"Why is it called a 'Monkeylord'?"

"Because it looks like a spider."

--------

"I have a moral objection to this problem. It implies microwaving a steak."

--------

"Did you eat the crazy cookies this morning?"

--------

"The GPU goes 4 by 4, hurrah, hurrah."

April 2017

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