The date on this post will probably say November 18, but that will be a lie as far as the day Doris Lessing died, which is actually today, the 17th, here in America. I want to point this out first because Doris Lessing is among the greatest writers I’ve ever read, and I want to do her justice by getting the date right; and I also think it’s appropriate to start out a blog post about her by pointing out the arbitrary nature of language and its inherent inability to achieve its own ideal of absolute, clear, effective communication exactly because the whole thing is made up and only exists because we all pretend it does.. If you didn’t know, Lessing was a postmodern novelist. More
November 18, 2013
November 13, 2013
For a while now, For Whom the Bell Tolls has been my main war novel. I read it when I was sixteen, and it was the first story to expose to me the deluded simplification of war and violence that most people grow up learning–at least, it was the first one that I listened to and understood. I’ve tried rereading it a couple times, but I’m only ever able to get through the first quarter of the book, up until Pilar tells Jordan the story of how the Spanish republican rebels captured her home town and executed the local fascist party members. It was a brutal and emotionally draining message about how ideology becomes just an abstract concept for an individual caught in a war, and how all a person can really do is try to survive and keep on being a human, but ideology can even take their humanity from them. Every time I finish that part, the force of the truth of warfare is just too heavy. I need to take a break, and I never get back to it.
Now I’ve just finished reading Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, and I feel like it deserves to be my new go-to war novel, except that I’m not sure if it’s fair to compare the two. It might not exactly be fair to compare The Things They Carried to any other war novel I can think of. It’s just as concerned with the truth of warfare as any book brave enough to take on something like that, but it’s the only one that grapples with the challenge itself: how to tell that kind of truth at all. More
October 30, 2013
If I’m going to talk about the publishing industry at all, I need to say something about the gigantic existential crisis both publishers and readers have been suffering for the past few years: print is dying (sort of). More
October 21, 2013
It took me a super long time to finally get to Mass Effect 2–I only finished it last year. And I got some serious flack, involving repurposed Rick Perry memes, from friends for initially saying that I was pretty sure the original Mass Effect was better. More
October 9, 2013
The Mass Effect video game series has been another source of guilt for me. The original Mass Effect came out during the brief console golden age of 2007 to 2009 when AAA (industry term for huge, top-tier) game developers and publishers started taking risks on a whole gaggle of fresh intellectual properties that fueled the creation of big-budget games, and these games are the same that have given us five years of nothing but sequels thanks to their success. Assassin’s Creed, Gears of War, Modern Warfare, Mirror’s Edge, Dragon Age, the long-awaited reemergence of Fallout, and Mass Effect are all children of this era, and I did my best to get into all of them, since this was probably an era that will be remembered by the gaming world forever. But I just didn’t have time to devote to all of them. I’ve played the original game in each series, all of which are fantastic in their own ways, but I haven’t been able to get any further with any of them for years.
I knew that if I had to choose one series to complete, it had to be Mass Effect. I mean, a galaxy-spanning, Star Trek inspired, sci-fi action roll-playing epic trilogy flavored with some pulpy space opera? Nothing like this has ever existed anywhere near this scale in the game industry, and the fact that it’s as huge a commercial success as it is, living in a somewhat niche genre, makes it probably the most interesting 2007-2009 golden age specimen to get into.
There’s an endless list of things I could talk about with these games, and most of it comes out when I try to answer the most interesting question of all: Which Mass Effect game is the best? More
October 1, 2013
I wrote this review a couple months ago now, but the magazine kept shelving it in favor of topical news, naturally. But here it is, finally published. Here is the link for “From the Ancients to the Aughts: The Story of the Human Search for God”
September 25, 2013
I first got myself a Facebook account in 2008 only because my friend was hugely crushing on a girl he was super excited to tell me all about and have me meet, and I guess the way to do this in the 21st century is through social media. But by then Facebook had far exceeded the threshold of usership past which everyone would switch to and stick with it just because all their friends were using it, so I stuck around, and a couple of my friends there managed to accidentally expose me to the Vlogbrothers through their constant fangirl wall posts.
So I got to know John and Hank Green, two brothers in their late 20s at the time, as they did a collaborative Youtube vlog in which each would record himself talking to the other for four minutes about whatever he had on his mind. More