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The Media's How It's Perceived

Here are some thoughts on stuff I’ve been playing and reading and watching! Most of it's genre stuff that's easy to read because that's what I've been in the mood for recently! Anyway here's some words!

The Spider’s War

I chewed through most of the Dagger and Coin book in the last couple of years, so I was pretty happy when the final book finally came out. I guess I was actually just happy to know that the series actually had an ending; Daniel Abraham’s other series (The Expanse, co-written with another author under a pseudonym) just seems to be something that’s going on march on indefinitely, which has led to some uneven installments.

Wrapping up a world-spanning war in the space of one volume takes a bit of a convenient out, but not one that’s tremendously far-fetched. At any rate, I really do love the concept here (religious zealots take over the world; they can both make anyone believe what they say and can always tell when someone are lying to them), and Abraham’s really great at creating an enjoyable and believable cast of characters. Worth checking out at least the first book if you’re into fantasy, I guess!



I know people really like Brandon Sanderson’s stuff, and even though I didn’t particularly care for the Mistborn trilogy, I figured I’d give this a shot based on the Kindle sample I got. It seems decent so far, aside from a gripe that I have fairly often in genre fiction: the guy and the girl in it immediately start making googly-eyes at each other, practically the first time they meet. That’s a bit of an oversimplification, but the protagonist’s train of thought shifts pretty quickly from “I must avenge my father’s death” to “holy shit this girl is so hot” as soon as she’s introduced. It’s difficult to replicate the effect without some extended quotations, so I won’t bother, but nothing makes me go all Liz Lemon eyeroll more than romantic subplots that are endlessly telegraphed before they reach fruition. I get that romantic subplots help sell books, but I also gag a bit when it’s beaten over a reader’s head before we get a sense for who the characters really are or even care about them much. I’ll keep reading it because I already bought it, though, I guess!


Peter Clines’ Ex-Heroes series is what I would firmly classify as a guilty pleasure if I really believed in that as a term: it’s a mashup of zombies and superheroes comic book tropes into novels that probably shouldn’t be as fun to read as they are. If there’s a drawback here, it’s that they’re fairly unoriginal: the main characters are almost 1:1 analogues for Batman, Superman, and Iron Man, and there are plenty other characters that are plainly inspired by other superheroes as well. Also, there’s only so many ways to describe an invulnerable superhero snapping a zombie neck before the action gets repetitive, and I think I hit that point somewhere in the first book.

Still, decent enough books to fit into whatever vaguely condescending grouping you prefer, whether it’s “guilty pleasure” or “beach read” or “airplane book” or whatever. None of them are as good as his 14 or The Fold, both of which have the guts to get way weirder than you may expect. I don’t know if it’s insulting or not to say that a book “feels like something that could be made into a movie,” but 14 definitely struck me more in that sense than almost any other book I’ve read in the last couple years. Find it in your local library.

Unclean Spirits

Another book by Daniel Abraham (writing as MLN Hanover for some reason), this is a series that initially feels inspired by Buffy the Vampire Slayer in that “young girl finds herself imbued with mysterious powers and fighting strange demons and vampires” kind of vibe. I initially wasn’t sure if it was intended to be a YA novel series or whatnot, but the quick dash to premarital sex and people getting shot in the back of the head cured me of that notion. (Sometimes authors use pseudonyms when writing YA stuff, which is what made me initially think that this might be one, but apparently not.)

breasts: a novel
breasts: a novel

This is another one of those books that has characters that immediately wind up making googly eyes at each other, so it’s interesting to see how Abraham immediately pumps the brakes on that shit after things seem to be working out. Abraham uses his characters’ sexualities in interesting ways in his other work, with a drunken hookup in the Dragon and Coin series almost directly leading to the deaths of thousands of people. (Cithrin’s definitely one of the reasons I find those books so interesting; who knew the adventures of an alcoholic banker could wind up making for compelling fantasy?) I’m not sure where it’s going here but it feels, so far? (I’m only in the second book.) Sex is complicated in real life but it usually treated pretty simplistically in genre fiction, where it’s so often used as a cheap hook to make us care about characters that might not always warrant it, but it’ll be interesting to see where Abraham goes with this stuff.

Of note: the cover art for this series is...interesting. Jayne is portrayed as attractive and young in the books, but I don't think she’s ever explicitly mentioned wearing a trenchcoat and leather bra when she hits the town. Not sure if this is an ongoing series (I’m guessing not), but if there are more books forthcoming it looks like they’re on a trajectory where she’ll just wind up appearing naked on the book covers by book nine or so. Marketing!

Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate

I dug this a lot, but it suffered from some of the same endgame tedium that a lot of other AC games (and a lot of open-world games in general) tend to suffer from: if you wind up doing any amount of the side content, you wind up with max stats and superpowerful weapons by the time the last couple of chapters roll around, which effectively eliminates all challenge from most fights. Evie and Jacob were easy characters to like, though, and the devs get some credit for going to some really unexpected places with that time portal at the end of the Thames. Really fun game for the most part, and the grappling gun eliminated a lot of the endless wall climbing that tended to get in the way of my enjoyment of the end-of-game stuff in previous games.

Dying Light: The Following

Finally managed to beat this after 65 hours spent in both the game and the expansion. Highly recommended if you overlooked it previously, as there’s a lot of fun content here. Just make sure you stick with it past the fairly weak first few hours! Or don’t, I’m not the boss of you!


I really wish this show was better! I'm not a fan of any of the actors (Jon Bernthal's decent), and the writing really descends into the shit from time to time. (Foggy's speech to the two dudes in the ER was absolutely cringe-inducing, for example.) It feels like a show that should be a lot better and probably could be if the various directors didn't wind up spending all their time on gee-whiz fighting sequences, which usually wind up just feeling kind of anemic to me for some reason. I get that long-take fighting sequences are all the rage these days, but these don't seem to be shot with the same care that the stuff in, say, Tony Jaa or Gareth Evans movies is. Obviously that's a bit of apples and oranges when you're comparing movie budgets to "TV" budgets, even when the TV here is Netflix (which spends a lot of money on its shows), but still, the fact that I've seen so many amazing long takes in films of the last decade or so just means that the bar is set really high, and Daredevil just seems to wind up falling short for me. I mean, it's no...

The Flash

I like this show a lot. Grant Gustin (is he Canadian? he seems Canadian for some reason) is a great lead and he's surrounded by some real fun actors, especially Tom Cavanagh when he's allowed to either get petulant or chew some scenery. It's a shame that this was extended to 21 episodes or whatever it's at this season, as that's led to some filler episodes, but at least the budget seems to have made for some CGI that's even more impressive than what was on last year. Even if The Flash in CGI motion still sometimes appears a bit rubbery, and no one's going to confuse any of this stuff for Michael Bay-budget work, the stuff around him is fantastic, especially that damn Time Wraith from the last episode. I'm not a fan of the way it keeps taking weeks off from its airdates (probably to fit the last four episodes into May sweeps), but hey, I'll take it when I can get it.

That’s all I got! I’m looking forward to putting some more time into Enter the Gungeon and holy smokes is Uncharted 4 really almost around the corner? Some say: maybe!