Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Random Thoughts on Omnitopia: Dawn.


Okay, I was re-reading Omnitopia: Dawn by Diane Duane and it occurred to me that Dev Logan's business model and sense of responsibility toward his employees/players does not in any way fit a corporate model. (At least, not the corporate model as I understand it from my Introduction to Business class and the general attitude of business types in the news.) 

There's a key point toward the end of the book where this is emphasized. One of Dev's players is royalty and she not quite jokingly refers to the game as Dev's "kingdom" and Dev as a fellow ruler. Dev does not treat his employees precisely as employees and he does not treat the players of the game precisely as his clients or customers. He treats them as if were a particularly enlightened king and his employees and customers were his retainers and subjects. To use a phrase from a different author, Dev is "making Vor real" by creating a business culture that is also a community.   

The attitude is contrasted with Phil Sorenson's business culture where his employees expect him to blow up, and therefore tip toe around him. Sorenson does not care about the welfare of his employees except where it affects how much money he makes. He is aware there is something wrong about the way his employees have come to interact with him, but he does not understand that there is something "wrong" with the business culture he's creating. (His other issues, which lead to him into trying to destroy Dev's business because he wants Dev to be his friend again we can save for another time.)  He only makes token efforts at increasing morale, but regards things like "morale" as a waste of time. We don't get a very good look at Phil's business culture but we can guess it's probably fairly toxic. 

So, thoughts? (I can imagine some people are going to be suggesting that Dev's business model/culture is impossibly utopian.)



Omnitopia Dawn: Omnitopia #1Omnitopia: East Wind

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dear Gina, it Appears I Must Explain About Werewolves

For some reason, you have once more reviewed a show in a genre you do not like. You disliked it so much you felt compelled to spend most of the time comparing it to a series neither of us like, which would be Twilight. The show you decided review was Teen Wolf, which is several miles up the road from Twilight and if it’s following either the movie or the 80s cartoon, it is blessedly free of *Native American (coded or actual) werewolves.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Shiki, "The Final Hunt" --Review

The final episode begins the way that the very first episode begins, a search through the woods, looking for a missing person. This time however the villagers are hunting with an intent to kill. We shift from the villagers to the suitcase, where Sunako is waking up. She crawls out of the suitcase just as the villagers get closer. When she hears them she goes dashing off through the woods, sounding panicked, then we go to the opening credits.

After credits, we see Tatsumi playing decoy as he drives through the village. The villagers shoot at his car, but he keeps going, punching out the damaged windshield. The villagers continue shooting at the car, which flips and crashes. Tatsumi gets out of the car and takes off running, only to get shot in the back by someone driving after him. Tatsumi flips, and then smashes into the windshield of a car.

Read the rest of this recap at Associated Content.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Magic Lost, Trouble Found, by Lisa Shearin

Ace Fantasy
345 pp.

Magic Lost, Trouble Found (Raine Benares, Book 1)By rights, I should probably dislike this book. We have elves who are pretty much just humans with Vulcan ear caps, snappy and entirely too modern patter and Hollywood Backlot Fantasy Venice. It’s part “someone’s roleplaying campaign turned novel” and part “Garret P.I. Light.” I’d also say it had a lot in common with the Vlad Taltos novels, though Our Heroine of course does not engage in criminal activity, just her family. For some reason I was also strongly reminded of Eric Flint’s The Philosophical Strangler, though there isn’t actually a great deal in common between the books.  (There is of course nothing wrong with Garret P.I. or writing a novel based from a roleplaying campaign that was Just that Amazing. It wanders into “Argh, no, wait, stop,” territory when combined with Backlot Fantasy City and modern patter.)   

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mahou Shojo Madoka Magica Episode Eleven "The Only Path Remaining"--Review

This episode begins with Kyuube meeting with Homura in her apartment. Despite having been shot multiple times by Homura he manages to be very patient and reasonable as he explains what her repeated jumps back in time  have done. It turns out that each time line Homura had created in her attempts to save Madoka have resulted in the potential energy of those timelines becoming centered on next alternate Madoka--which is why she has so much potential as a magical girl (and why she will immediately become the most powerful witch ever). He cheerfully congratulates her for making Madoka so powerful, and then we go to credits.

The next scene after credits involves a news report about Sayaka's body having been found. We see Madoka returning from the funeral for Sayaka. Madoka's mother suspects that Madoka might know something about what happened to Sayaka but Madoka refuses to talk about it. She goes to her room, where she is visited by Kyuube. Madoka is upset that he does not seem to care that Kyoko and Sayaka are dead.

Read the rest of this recap at Associated Content

A List of Abusive and Dysfunctional Families in Manga and Anime

This is by no means a complete list, and will be somewhat random.

InuYasha

Neglect (whatever family Inuyasha's mother had kicked Inuyasha out of the house when his mother died), physical abuse (Sesshomaru and also possibly Kagome depending on if you want to view being "sat" as extreme aversion therapy and tough love or abuse). Emotional/mental abuse (from Sesshomaru mostly). Kagome's "sit" is played for laughs but the conflict between Inuyasha and Sesshomaru is played for drama or angst.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Outline of ElfQuest 6-10 by Richard and Wendy Pini


Elfquest: Archives, Volume 2
THE FORBIDDEN GROVE (issues 6-10) takes place five years after the events of JOURNEY TO SORROW’S END. Cutter and Leetah have become a very close couple, and now they have twins, the insanely adorable Suntop and Ember. The life the Wolfriders have lived for the past five years has been peaceful and idyllic, but the oasis paradise gets a handful of unwanted human visitors, which prompts the Grand Quest--Cutter’s attempt to find other tribes of elves. Again, my general agreement with the overall worldview of “The Elves Can Do No Wrong, The Humans Can Mostly Do Not Right Unless They Like Elves” started to falter after a while.  

SAVAH: *is having an out of body experience.*

*Bad touch is bad.*

SAVAH: Meep! *Wakes up.*

CUTTER and FAMILY: *Have quality time together.*

SHENSHEN: *Grumpy!* You kids get off my lawn!

CUTTER and FAMILY: *Snerk*

*Meanwhile...*

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mahou Shojo Madoka Magica Episode Ten "I Won't Depend on Anyone Anymore"--Review

The episode opens with a completely different Homura than the one we are used to. "Our" Homura is cool, calm and somewhat classy. This Homura is a very shy, with braids and glasses. She is a transfer student returning to school after having been in the hospital receiving treatment for her heart disease. In contrast, Madoka is a forthright girl who knows exactly what she wants out of life--she has all of the confidence that Homura lacks and immediately befriends and encourages the extremely shy Homura. This episode does not have any opening credits, instead, it runs right through the action.

Homura learns about magical girls and witches after Madoka rescues her from a witch. Our shy friend becomes a mascot and a sidekick and is one the scene when Madoka and Mami face Walpurgis for the first time Mami dies, and then Madoka, which prompts Homura to make a contract with Kyuube. Her wish is to go back and try to protect Madoka, which results in a "Groundhog Day" situation with Homura trying to protect Madoka, failing to protect Madoka and then going back in time to start over. We are shown five separate timelines but there are some hints that Homura has probably jumped back in time more than once. (More than five times would be the only way to explain the complete changes in both Madoka and Homura's general demeanor and personality, I think.)

Read the rest of this recap at Associated Content

Dark Descendant, by Jenna Black

Pocket Books
325 pp.

Dark DescendantDark Descendant is one of several books I have seen recently which involves people who are descended from various pantheons of deities. (God children may be the new vampires and werewolves.) In this book, Our Heroine, a private investigator named Nikki Glass discovers that she is one of the very rare descendants of Artemis, the goddess of the hunt. Shortly after discovering this, she is drawn into a conflict between two different groups of god-descended humans, the Olympians, who have been attempting to kill off all the non-Greek descendants for centuries, and a group led by a man named Anderson, which is in direct opposition to them.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Gosick Episode Eleven, "That Drill Speaks Eloquently of Love"--Review

We open with Grevil receiving a phone call from his father. It seems that Grevil's father does not approve of his son not keeping a closer eye on his half-sister. Grevil apologizes, and his father warns him not to let Victorique out of his sight. Grevil is not happy about the phone call, and even less happy about his job. We end the scene with Grevil looking at a newspaper photograph of Jacqueline, the wife of the police superintendent general.

When we return from the opening credits, Jacqueline is heading for the school to donate some books to the school library. Before she can get there, Jacqueline's maid bumps into a gentleman they both drop the suitcase they were carrying. After the maid and the gentleman pick up their suitcases, the scene shifts to Kujo and Cecile back at the school. Cecile is telling Kujo about the visitor and he's very surprised to discover that it's Jacqueline (who promptly jumps up and pinches his cheeks).

Read the rest of this recap at Associated Content

Monday, June 13, 2011

Shiki, "Twenty First Slaughter" --Review

After a very short montage, we settle of some villager women who are chatting as they receive a delivery of vampire corpses that have come to the shrine office. They've acquired a very relaxed attitude about the  situation that is slightly disturbing. When one of the bodies is discovered to be still moving, one of the women finishes off the vampire. A little later they decide to have a snack break. The woman who reaches for the onigiri (rice balls wrapped in seaweed, a snack food which is surprisingly yummy) and realizes her hand is bloody. She wipes her hand off on her apron, then reaches for a rice ball and picks it up--then we go to the opening credits.

After the opening credits, we see Yasuyo, who is being chased through the woods by dogs. Then we shift to the villagers still camped outside the mansion and end with Sunako who is an extremely terrified little monster. Seishin attempts to reassure Sunako, telling her that he and Tatsumi are with her. Tatsumi chimes in saying that Sunako should rest, and that he'll help her escape.

Read the rest of this recap at Associated Content.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Blameless by Gail Carriger


Orbit
355 pp.
Blameless (The Parasol Protectorate)In Blameless, we spend a great deal of time wanting to hit Lord Maccon upside the head with a brick. (Okay, that’s probably mostly just me who wanted to do that. The opinions of others may vary.) Alexia has gone home to her family (who don’t want her around because she’s an embarrassment), she’s been fired from her position as the queen’s mujah and she’s “expecting.” Also, someone is still trying to kill her and her friend Lord Akeldama has fled the city leaving behind an extremely cryptic message. Meanwhile, Lord Maccon is drinking formaldehyde and making a complete ass of himself because he believes his heart is broken. (Neither anyone in the narrative nor I am very impressed with his angst.)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mahou Shojo Madoka Magica Episode Nine "I'll Never Allow That"--Review

The episode opens with a continuation of the scene from the last episode. Sayaka is suddenly surrounded by a barrier that knocks Kyoko across the room. Lines of musical notations stream out everywhere and Sayaka's
 body is floating near a massive witch. Kyoko darts over to where Sayaka is and grabs her body. The witch screams and attacks, and Kyoko demands to know what the witch did to Sayaka. (She herself is not aware of the connection between magical girls and witches) The witch does not answer and Kyoko has to do a lot of dodging.

Homura comes to the rescue, catching hold of Kyoko and stopping time. She explains that if Kyoko lets go time will stop for her as well and starts running with Kyoko in tow. Kyoko wants to know what's going on and Homura tells her that the "witch" is in fact Sayaka. Homura tells Kyoko to drop Sayaka's body so that they can fight the witch, but Kyoko keeps running with the body. They leave the barrier and just before we go to the opening credits, we see Kyoko gently placing Sayaka's body on the ground.

After the credits, we see Madoka walking along the train train tracks. As she walks, she comes across Kyoko and Homura. Kyoko is carrying Sayaka's body. Homura explains that Sayaka's Soul Gem turned into a Grief Seed and that Sayaka is now a witch. This is the "final secret" of the Soul Gems--when they become completely tainted, the magical girls will mature into witches. Madoka is horrified and extremely upset.

Read the rest of this recap at Associated Content.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Gosick Episode Ten, "Girl with a Cold Dreams of Her Stubborn Friend"--Review

This episode begins with Kujo calling Victorique on the phone. Of course, she can't talk to him because the doctor has just stabbed her arm with a hypodermic needle and she can't talk to him because he gets snatched off the sidewalk by someone in a carriage. The street kid notes exact time Kujo gets kidnapped and we get a view of the dangling phone before going to credits.

In the carriage, Kujo meets a girl named Anastasia, a girl from Russia who had apparently been kidnapped when she had gone into the store. From her perspective, she believes that the people running the store are devil worshippers who are sacrificing and cursing people. (Actually, this is not what is happening.) She gives some important information on where the room in the department store where she had been confined. She had managed to escape and had been hiding in the box when Kujo found her. Kujo directs Anastasia to go to the police.



Read the rest of this recap at Associated Content

Monday, June 6, 2011

Shiki, "Twentieth Mourning" --Review

The episode begins with a very brief montage that resolves to a scene where Toshio and the villagers are searching the mansion. After looking around they find a compartment beneath the tatami mats covering the floor of one of the rooms. In the compartment is a box, and in the box is one of the vampires. When exposed to sunlight, the vampire begins to burn--and then we go to the opening credits.

When we return to the scene, the vampire is desperately trying to escape, but is unable to. The villagers pull him up out of the hole in the floor, and Toshio gives some further instruction and advice on staking vampires. The vampire is staked and the villagers go through the house again, looking for more hiding places. More vampires are hauled out of their hiding places and are messily killed. There is some slight wavering and horror at first, but the villagers have acquired a kind of momentum by now, and they get used to killing very quickly.

Toshio heads by his family home and finds that the vampires have murdered his mother. It also seems that someone is still in the house. Toshio follows a trail of blood into another room, and opens the door. It turns out that the murderer is Atsushi. He becomes extremely panicked when he wakes up to find his father in his face, covered with blood. Atsushi's father stakes him.

Read the rest of this recap at Associated Content

Friday, June 3, 2011

Gosick Episode Nine, "Blue Roses Bloom in the Cannibal Department Store"--Review

We open this episode with a urban legend about a department store that lures curious window shoppers into the building after hours, and when the shoppers go inside, they're never seen or heard from again. The story is being told by Avril to Kujo. Avril ends the story with a scream, which prompts an answering scream from Kujo. She teases him for screaming in surprise and calls him a coward. Kujo defends himself, stating that having someone scream in your face is very startling.

It turns out that Kujo's sister has sent him a shopping list. She wants clothes and something called a "blue rose." Avril tells him about a legendary blue diamond that had once been part of the crown jewels of Saubure, but has been missing since the war. Avril tells him that what his sister is asking for is most likely a glass paperweight replica that can be found at an old, expensive department store called Jeantan. Avril asks him if his sister sent him anything, which prompts him to remember that he has a present to give to Victorique. He mentions this as he heads off, prompting Avril to wonder who Victorique is, then we go to the opening credits.

Victorique meanwhile is going out of her mind with boredom when Kujo turns up. He mentions that he's going to be going into Saubreme, the capital of Saubure and he wants to give her a present. Before he can say very much she interrupts, ordering Kujo to get involved with an incredibly life threatening case. Kujo says "no thanks!" but Victorique states that he does not need to worry about it because she'll solve the case instantly in order to stave off the boredom.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Outline of Pawn of Prophecy by David and Leigh Eddings

Pawn of Prophecy (The Belgariad, No 1)This is an Outline, not a serious review or critique, meant for parody and humor purposes only.

Other Outlines can be found
here PAWN OF PROPHECY is the first novel in a High Fantasy series called the BELGARIAD, by David Eddings. The intent of the writer was to create a “realistic” epic fantasy. Whether or not he succeeded is--debatable. PAWN OF PROPHECY is one of the first fantasy novels I ever read, and the BELGARIAD itself was a huge favorite of mine. Unfortunately, as I’ve noted elsewhere there are actually quite a few problems with it as far as plot and “worldbuilding” goes. Despite the problems it’s entertaining and a very popular series and has managed to stay in print for years. 

AUTHOR 1: I hate Tolkien have interesting Ideas about High Fantasy so I will write a fantasy series where I address all the problems I think there are in High Fantasy based on my reading of THE HOBBIT!

AUTHOR 2: I will be a background figure who won’t even get name credit for years and when I do, I will be blamed for Author 1’s tendency to beat dead horses! 

AUTHOR 1: Look! Pseudo-historical documents! A map! You fantasy READERS eat this stuff up!

READER: Yes, yes we do! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mahou Shojo Madoka Magica Episode Eight "I'm Such a Fool"--Review

The episode continues with Sayaka still hacking at the witch as the barrier crumbles around her. She is laughing and having hysterics. She notes that it's easier once you figure it out. She picks up the Grief Seed and tosses it to Kyoko, who looks extremely wary. Sayaka transforms back into her ordinary school girl outfit, then collapses. Madoka supports her and begins to walk her home. Kyoko looks worried, and calls Sayaka an idiot, and then we go to the opening credits.

In the next scene, it is raining and Madoka and Sayaka are sitting together.. Madoka tries to convince Sayaka that she should not fight like that. She's worried and upset, but her concern is rejected by Sayaka who is angry and resentful about having become a magical girl. (Well, specifically she is angry because she is now a Soul Gem and she is now operating her body by remote control.) She is also resentful because Kyuube told her that Madoka would be much more powerful that she was, and takes it out on Madoka, telling her that if Madoka wants to help, she should become a magical girl too. Then she starts to walk away. She tells Madoka not to follow her, and then runs off. We get a shot of Sayaka's Soul Gem which is beginning to darken before heading to the next scene.





Read the rest of this recap at Associated Content.

Fuzzy Nation, by John Scalzi


Tor
301 pp.
Fuzzy NationFuzzy Nation is a reboot of H. Beam Piper’s Little Fuzzy. It is absolutely not necessary for you to have read Little Fuzzy in order to read Fuzzy Nation--but you might want to, and probably should. I’ve read both, so it will be a challenge to not compare and contrast the two books. Scalzi takes the story in a very different direction from the way things happened in the book though with the same end result.