Sunday, April 29, 2012

Kagemono: The Shadow Folk

Kagemono: The Shadow Folk from Sabrina Cotugno on Vimeo.

This is adorable!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Book Review: The War Gods Own by David Weber

382 pp.

Buy on Amazon
In this sequel to the Oath of Swords, Bahzell discovers there is more to being a champion of Tomanāk than just wandering around being an paladin. It turns out that champions of Tomanāk are also the commanding officers of the Order of Tomanāk, a fact that the deity in question failed to mention somehow. (Most likely, because it would have been about a million times harder to get Bahzell to join up in the first place.)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Moribito Episode Ten "Soil and Heroes"--Review

This episode opens with Balsa talking about her feeling of responsibility for causing Toya and Saya to lose their home. The kids are currently living nearby and are doing okay, but she regrets having gotten them in trouble via association. Balsa believes that it will be safe for Toya and Saya to return to town. Tanda agrees somewhat, stating that Toya is not able to adjust to village life. He also states that Chagum seems to be adjusting much better, but Balsa does not agree, and invites herself and Chagum along on a trip to get Toya a new house.

Later they're at a restaurant and Tanda questions Balsa's belief that Chagum is not yet "fitting in" as a commoner. Balsa says that Chagum is introverted, too clever for his own good, and a little too used to being isolated. She wants him to learn how to interact naturally with "ordinary people." (Hence the reason for this trip into town.)

Toya turns up, and is extremely excited to see Balsa and Chagum. He's bursting with energy and general good feelings. He mentions that Saya is getting along with everyone in the village they're stuck in, and that she has been getting lots of marriage offers since she's such a good worker. Balsa makes a comment about Toya and Saya wanting to go back to town despite doing so well in the village, and Toya seems to become a little hesitant, indicating that all might not be well in the village.

Balsa asks Toya to show Chagum around town, which Toya readily agrees to.

Reading: A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs Part Three

What you may have noticed is the episodic nature of these short chapters! Like many early science fiction and fantasy novels, this novel was first printed as a serial! A Princess of Mars is actually fairly “joined together” for a serial novel. The next book in the series however is much, much worse, mostly because of the Very Obvious Repetitive Cliffhanger where it takes quite a long time to find out the full name of a young man John meets during his adventures. You will of course know who the young man is before the second cliffhanger cuts off the introduction. 

Chapter Five: I Elude My Watchdog

Sola sets John up in a room and leaves a very large monster named Woola to keep an eye on him. We are told this monster watchdog is unfailingly loyal and John’s life on at least two occasions. (This dog monster is the very best dog monster in the world, by the way.) John explores his new environment and studies a breathtaking mural that John immediately deduces could never, ever have been created by the brutish Green Men. (It would have been nice if Johnny Boy’s theory was proven to be incorrect, but the author agrees with character that the Green Men are a bunch of chumps.)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Reading Homestuck Part Twelve: ==> Dave: where MAKING THIS HAPEN

From here to here.

We get a good look at Bro’s room. Dave feels a lot of envy for his bro’s sweet gear! Of course, it’s the cool kind of envy where you do not actually care about all the sweet gear your brother has.Dave notices that one of his brother’s “expensive ninja swords” is missing. This can of course mean only one thing.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Movie Review: John Carter

John Carter is based off of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom novels and directed by Andrew Stanton. (To be more specific, it is based off of A Princess of Mars with included elements from Gods of Mars and The Warlord of Mars.) The title character is a former Confederate cavalry officer who due to disillusionment and personal tragedy has moved out west to Arizona, where he becomes a prospector.

(A prospector with a reputation for being more than a little unhinged.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Book Review: Echoes of Betrayal by Elizabeth Moon

451 pp.
Buy on Amazon.
Echoes of Betrayal is a direct continuation of Kings of the North. Arvid, the member of the Thieves Guild who helped Paksenarrion is trying to retrieve the necklace that had been stolen in the previous book. He is not initially very effective and he ends up in a great deal of trouble. Also, he is hearing the voice of someone who is probably Saint Gird. Gird would like to discuss Arvid’s life choices up to this point, but Arvid spends a great deal of time with his fingers stuck in his metaphorical ears in the hope that Gird will eventually get bored and go away. (Spoiler: He does not.)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Book Review: Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire

350 pp.

Buy on Amazon.
This is the first book in a new urban fantasy series, InCryptid. It has a much more humorous tone than the grittier and darker Toby Daye novels and has a few romantic sub plots worked into both the main story and the back story. It is about a family of cryptozoologists whose ancestors decamped from a monster hunting organization known as the Covenant of St. George. The Covenant believes that all “unnatural” creatures should be exterminated, but the Prices believe they should be studied, and only hunted down if individuals prey on humans.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Moribito Episode Nine "Shuga’s Thirst"--Review

This episode opens with Shuga visiting the Second Empress, who is being very serene about being under house arrest. Shuga is kind of disappointed that that she doesn't seem to be angry with him or blame him for Chagum's death. The Empress however states that Shuga has come to the wrong place if he's expecting penance for his sins. She also believes that Chagum is still alive because she is convinced that Balsa has the will to complete the task she was given. For some reason she asks Shuga to confirm that Chagum is still alive for her. (I think she is forgetting the part where Shuga is a major part of the reason that Chagum was under a death sentence to begin with.) Shuga of course agrees to this, though he as pretty much given up hope.

The next scene is Chagum back at the mill, trying to start a fire (and failing miserably). A few kids come to the door with a sack of rice, and Chagum is not quite able to effectively handle the mill's first customers of the day. Fortunately, Balsa comes to his rescue.

Next we see Chagum's elder brother, who is explaining some ideas he has about trade. The Emperor is kind of impressed and pleased by how well considered his plans are. Before the prince leaves he inquires about Chagum's personal effects, which are going to burned in hopes of removing the curse.

The elder prince offers to undertake the task himself, since the job needs to be done in complete secrecy from the rest of the imperial court.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Book Review: Intruder by C.J. Cherryh

374 pp.
In Intruder, the political machinations continue as Bren works toward creating a lasting trade agreement (and hopefully peace) between the Western Association and the Marid, and the Marid and Ilisidi’s Eastern district. This is a very complicated tangle made even more complicated by Machigi, the lord of the Marid giving Bren a letter revealing a number of things about what had been going on behind the scenes in Deceiver and Betrayer. (That is, if anything the letter says can be trusted as accurate, since Machigi also states that some of the things he wrote in the letter are lies.)

Moribito Episode Eight “The Swordsmith”--Review

We start this episode with Chagum being woken up by the sound of Balsa practicing with her spear. Balsa has an errand to run in town; finally getting her spear repaired. This is also intended to be a bit of an educational trip for Chagum, who has never had the opportunity to see how ordinary people live. Chagum asks where one goes to have a spear repaired, and Balsa replies with "a swordsmith." During the trip into town Balsa and Chagum have a discussion about steel, which is one of Yogo's main exports, smithies and a superstition that a warrior must never see weapons being forged, or they will never become powerful. (This leads to Balsa teasing Chagum a little.)

It turns out that Balsa is a longtime customer of this particular swordsmith, and that he had repaired the spear used by Balsa's protector Jiguro. The swordsmith examines her spear and tells her that he'd going to have to make her a new spear. He also wants to know the story behind the rumors, and states he wants to know the truth, or he won't be able help her.

Balsa states that the rumors are in some sense true. (He asked if she had taken up arms against the court. This is true, though her reasons for it are entirely good.) The swordsmith warns her that he'll have to report that she's still alive, and asks Balsa what she plans to do about it.

Balsa states that she'll stay right there in the shop until he makes her a new spear.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Book Review: Oath of Swords by David Weber

489 pp.
The world-building of this fantasy novel has the feel of a table top roleplaying campaign. (A really good roleplaying campaign though, by a game master who is not reading out loud from the module.) This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is also not a good thing either. It is not a bad thing because the writer plays around with a lot of fantasy genre tropes, and the characters are fun and engaging, even if you find yourself trying to estimate their statistics. It is not a good thing because the stiff “Dungeons and Dragons” plug-and-play theology and mythology occasionally gets in the way of what is otherwise a very solid, action-adventure fantasy.  

Friday, April 6, 2012

Moribito Episode Seven "Chagum’s Determination"--Review

We open with an early morning in town. Balsa wakes up in a room and just at the edge of our sight we can see a bucket and a pile of bloody bandages. After checking on Chagum, she takes out her spear and looks at it. It's badly scratched and even more broken than it had been previously. Balsa thinks to herself that it's incredible that they've managed to get this far.

The next scene is a view of the traditional burial ground for the royal family. (It involves a monument carved into a cliff with twin waterfalls cascading over the sides, which is where the funeral barge comes into play.) The emperor and the master star reader confer. The emperor is unhappy about his son's death and wants to create a memorial in his honor. (Though apparently, only emperors generally get a carved memorial at the family burial ground.)

We next see Balsa and Chagum who are sitting at the table of a an open-air restaurant. Chagum is rubbernecking, watching the crowd. (Look, there are commoners! Doing commoner things! He's never seen anything like this before! He isn't arrogant or stuck up, he's just genuinely curious and fascinated.) 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Rehabilitating the Confederate (Some Thoughts About John Carter)

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I recently (and finally) got to see John Carter. The movie borrows heavily not only from A Princess of Mars but also Gods of Mars and The Warlord of Mars. In other words, it only vaguely follows the set up and original plot of A Princess of Mars. (In general, I see this as a good thing, as the original books read and feel exactly like the serials they are. On the other hand, the time compression of events rendered some things kind of nonsensical.) They also gave Edgar Rice Burroughs’ author insert a larger part of in the story. Another aspect of the changes to the story line is the way they revamped and changed John Carter’s back story and his arrival on Barsoom.