We Wuz Samurai

Recently Ubisoft announced Assassin’s Creed Shadows, the next title in their overly-long-running series. This would normally attract little to no attention from me as I don’t particularly like the series and never have. The only two I played through to the end were the original game and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag which was set in the Caribbean and so was a refreshing departure from what had come before. This announcement was interesting for a couple of reasons. The first was that there was finally going to be a game set in Japan which is such a perfect setting for the series that I’m surprised it wasn’t done a decade ago. The second was that one of the game’s two protagonists was revealed to be a samurai of African origin. This latter piece of information overshadowed the former and has been the source of understandable controversy.

I wouldn’t normally bother with this as this absurd race-swapping is happening so much now that it is best to just ignore it. This one at least is based on a thread of historical evidence though it is a big stretch indeed. What is more interesting, and so worth discussing, is that this is the first time to my knowledge it has happened in a non-European context. Continue reading

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Trouble in Babylon

I have held off writing about the incident in Australia’s Parliament House involving two staffers Brittany Higgins and Bruce Lehrmann that became public in 2021. As I have repeatedly stated in other posts, I don’t follow mainstream news so this is yet another example of something I only hear about piecemeal. Despite this, being familiar enough with how those in the media, government and indeed the legal profession operate, it is not hard to read between the lines and understand something of what has actually happened.

One might expect me to come down on one of the sides involved but that is not my intention in writing about this. the most interesting and important aspect of this public drama is that it has shown the Australian people the ugly face of the ruling class as well as their wretched, self-serving behaviour. I am confident that almost everyone involved in this scandal has been dishonest, cowardly or malevolent in some way. I would like to leave out the security guards but even they might have dirty hands given the interests at stake.

So as this scandal now seems to be coming to a close, I want to share some thoughts on it. 

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The Main Course of Selenoth Begins

A Throne of Bones by Vox Day, Castalia House, December 4th, 2016
(originally published by Marcher Lord Press on December 1st, 2012) 

Back in January I posted a review of Summa Elvetica and Other Stories which I read for the second time over the 2023-2024 holiday period. After letting a few books get in the way, I finally got to A Throne of Bones last month and have now finished reading it. As I mentioned in the previous review, I originally read this before Summa Elvetica back in 2013 so it has been over a decade since I first read it. This means there were a few connections with the previous book that I’d forgotten about that I didn’t include in the previous post. As of writing, I’m still waiting for the physical release of the follow-up A Sea of Skulls which has been available digitally for a few months now.

In preparing for this post, I also want to highlight the somewhat confusing release history. Both of these books have gone through a multiple releases and publishers and both were originally published before Castalia House existed. They were also removed by Amazon for never-explained reasons but are all available again as of writing. The best (and most reliable), way to buy them digitally remains directly through the Arkhaven Store. This all naturally makes publication dates a little confusing and that is reflected above.

This review will include some spoilers for the plot but I will try to keep them minimal.

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The Appeal of Crime Films

Although I’ve seen most of the well-known crime films, I’ve never found the genre particularly appealing. The main reason is I prefer to have characters that I can relate to — or at least want the best for, and such characters are seldom found in the average crime film. And although they rarely end well for the criminal characters, there is certainly an element of glorification of the lives they live in most of them — whether or not the main characters live or die. Most people remember the scenes of Vito Corleone calmly issuing orders to underlings much better than they do the final scene of him keeling over and dying pathetically among grape vines. Similarly, most remember Henry Hill’s rise and success in the criminal underworld much better than the cowardly way he exited it. 

I do understand why people see appeal in the larger-than-life characters and the shadowy parallel world they live in. Beyond that, I think there is a much more concrete appeal that is ironically enough closer to reality than the films I prefer. That is that they live in a world where consequences exist. Where what you say and what you do matters. Where you have to be willing to use force to defend what you have or to obtain more. A world where most of the background characters want to keep out of the frame as much as possible. 

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The new anti-natalist Barbie

I recently watched the 2023 Barbie film and I didn’t like it nor did I expect to. I didn’t pay money to see it but I did waste time watching it. My purpose for watching it wasn’t to “hate-watch” or anything like that. My interest was really only that I had heard Ryan Gosling’s portrayal of Ken was amusing. He was rather hilariously nominated for an Oscar for his role in this while both the lead actress and female director were snubbed. Gosling’s Ken was certainly the best thing about the movie but wasn’t enough to elevate what was otherwise awful. Overall, it was even worse than I expected.

This won’t be a long review but I particularly want to address the overt anti-natalism of the film.

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Dune: Part Two – The Cinematic Battle for Arrakis

I favourably reviewed the 2021 Dune film almost a year after its release in theatres and have watched it multiple times since. I certainly thought it was better than the 1984 David Lynch adaptation which was all I could then compare it to outside of the 1965 novel. Since writing that review, I have watched the 2000 TV mini-series which I’d never seen. I was impressed with it and also watched the follow-up Children of Dune which adapts Herbert’s next two novels. 

After seeing Dune: Part Two last week, I decided to re-watch Lynch’s film for the first time in over twenty years. I still don’t like it but it was better than I remember and would be improved considerably without the grotesqueness. This review will focus on the latest film but I expect I will be writing another post considering all three major adaptations of the original novel now that they are fresh in my memory. I will state at the outset that I already need to watch this again as I’m not sure how I would feel on a second viewing. Although I saw it in the cinema, it wasn’t the experience I had been hoping for as the cinema complex was dirty and smelled like urine. This is more a sign of the times and not the film’s fault but I can’t say that I regret missing the first part on the big screen anymore.

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Doom Guy: Life in First Person Review

Doom Guy: Life in First Person by John Romero, Abrams Press, August 23rd, 2023

One of the better known books about video games is Masters of Doom by David Kushner which was published back in 2003 and which I read over a decade ago. I remember it being an enthralling read that told the story of id Software mostly through the personalities of John Carmack and John Romero; from their early days through to the early 2000s. A special appeal for me (and I’m sure most others), was that I had played many of the games they created including the Commander Keen games, Wolfenstein 3D, DOOM and Quake and so it was fascinating learning about the personalities and creation process behind these games. It also covered Romero’s more notorious and less successful work at Ion Storm which I wasn’t familiar with outside the mockery it received at places like Something Awful.com.

Romero seems to have generally approved of Masters of Doom but his memoir offers differing perspectives on a number of the events as well as delving more deeply into his early years and his life following the failure of Ion Storm through to today. 

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Moviebob’s Book: Blob by Blob

  Super Mario Bros. 3: Brick by Brick by Bob Chipman, Fangamer, 1st July, 2013

Why would I review a book that is not only out of print but seems to be one the author would mostly want to forget? Well, the main reason is that I’ve reviewed quite a bit of gamma fiction over the years and this is an interesting opportunity to try some gamma non-fiction. Bob Chipman (better known online as “Moviebob”), is one of the most pure living gamma archetypes (along with John Scalzi), that has a public profile. Bob is also unique in that his extreme progressivism has managed not only to alienate a significant portion of his potential audience who don’t share his views but also embarrass people he would (at least like to), consider his friends and allies. He’s really quite a fascinating figure but not for any of the reasons he would like to be.

Another reason is the book is considered notoriously bad in such a way that I was curious to look for myself. It is out of print but easy enough to find online — though I still don’t recommend it. I also state it is something he would “mostly” want to forget because he does still list it on his website as of writing. This along with a number of other books available digitally which are apparently just collections of his blog posts. 

However, after reading most of the book, I would say the main reason I’m writing a review is to make fun of it. Continue reading

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A Gamma’s Midlife Crisis

 

Sideways by Rex Pickett, St Martin’s Griffin, October 1st, 2004

I first learned of the film Sideways through this post on what was (it is now hard to believe), one of the more entertaining websites on the Internet. I remember watching the film around this time too — though I don’t remember exactly when. I don’t think I disliked it but I do remember thinking that the two main characters were pathetic. This was when I was in my early twenties and still at university. About four years ago, I watched the film again — now being long married with children and a regular job. I still thought the two main characters were pathetic but I was better able to understand the film’s appeal. The wine tasting for example, was also something I could relate to but not for good reasons

More recently I found out there was a Japanese remake that changes some details but is generally the same film with the same title rendered as Saidoweizu (サイドウェイズ) in Japanese. I sought it out just recently and watched it. I only now remained curious about the novel that the original film was based on. Interestingly the film was in development before the book was published and released in theatres just months after the novel’s publication.

It might seem odd to be interested in reading a book based on a film that I didn’t really like but this is a film that was both a critical and box office success. It won numerous awards and unlike so many Oscar-bait films, remains well-regarded even twenty years later. The original book has also now had a third sequel Sideways New Zealand: The Road Back release this year so it clearly still has an audience. Continue reading

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Fable Reconsidered

Quite a while back now, I wrote a review of the original Fable, mostly based on the Anniversary version which released around the same time. I had also meant to review both Fable II and Fable III but never got around to either. Both of the latter titles are now only available on Xbox systems as the second game was never ported to PC and the third was removed from digital stores once support ended for Microsoft’s horrid Games for Windows Live service. The series ended with the Kinect-only Fable: The Journey and the canceled Fable Legends on Xbox One. Both of which departed (or at least would have), from the core design of the main series. There were also a few other forgettable spin-offs released here and there that were related mostly in name only.

The disappointing demise of Lionhead Studios didn’t mean the end for the series though and a new Fable is currently in development with British developer Playground Games — who are best known for the Forza Horizon racing series. A teaser trailer was released last year and it frankly looks horrible. Most notably, the ugly female protagonist suggests we’re also in for a lot of the typical identity politics and degeneracy. I should quickly add before someone writes “Actually…” that none of what I expect this game will focus on is necessarily inconsistent with the original series and I shall elaborate below.

 

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