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Reading

Desire: A Follow-up

You know that meme, “how it started/how it’s going”? I’m doing that today, but in text form!

Basically, I just want to take a quick look back at my “24 Days of Desire” feature and see how many of them have been fulfilled. It’s been almost a year now, I should have been able to get everything I wanted, right? Let’s see!

Day 1: Television – This was about me wanting to have cable, and if I recall correctly, it was specifically so I could watch the Chucky series. Well, I never got cable, because that would be stupid, and I still haven’t watched Chucky, because I don’t pirate TV shows or movies any more. Chucky is also on Paramount+, which has other things I want to watch, so I’m thinking about a subscription to that… But probably won’t bother.

Day 2: A better GPU – Ain’t got this. I’ve heard that prices are going down, but I haven’t bothered to look in many months. Besides, I only wanted it to beef up my Quest 2, so it’s right down at the bottom of my priority ladder.

Day 3: Star Wars sequels box set – I haven’t looked to see if this exists, and I don’t actually care enough to check. This was a filler episode, for sure.

Continue reading Desire: A Follow-up

24 Days of Desire (22): Fazbear Frights

I was all gung-ho to write this post about how I wanted a physical collection of the Fazbear Frights book series, and how I was sad that in this age of digital everything it would likely never happen.

And then I was proved wrong. It’s happening in February of 2022.

Continue reading 24 Days of Desire (22): Fazbear Frights

24 Days of Desire (6): Maverick Hunter’s Field Guide

I like a lot of things. I like Mega Man, reading, and video game lore, to name a few. And it just so happens that today’s entry is an items that checks all three of those boxes.

Mega Man X: Maverick Hunter’s Field Guide is, as I understand it, something of a character bible for the Mega Man X series. Contained within are complete bios for (probably) each and every character that has ever appeared in one of the games. And that’s a lot, because it includes all of the boss robots, of which there are at least eight new ones in each sequel.

Continue reading 24 Days of Desire (6): Maverick Hunter’s Field Guide

24 Days of Quarantine Fun – Day 9: Holiday Reading

I don’t know about you, but I sure as heck don’t have any reading material that’s holiday-appropriate by any means. There may be some good holiday novels out there, but in my experience it’s all sappy dreck. So I don’t know why I thought that this was a good idea.

Oh, wait! There’s a faint glimmer of light in the darkness – comics!

Yep, I’ve pored over all the comics I own (which is not many, but probably still more than you would assume), and I’ve found… exactly one special issue. Well, it’s something!

From Hack/Slash Omnibus Volume 4, we have The Gift of Hack/Slash. Now, you’re probably not familiar with Hack/Slash, and honestly I wouldn’t blame you for it. This is a comic series which -to put it very briefly- is about a duo of vigilantes who hunt down “slashers”, which is a cute way of saying “villains inspired by horror movies”. And also sometimes there are crossovers with actual villains from horror movies.

Truth be told, this isn’t really even much of a holiday special. It’s four pages long and you have to squint really hard to see any holiday-related meaning. It’s all in that cover. And that’s all I’ve got.

I did once win a more holiday-themed novel as part of a raffle prize basket, but I immediately gave it to my mom because it was clearly just shlocky romantic nonsense. And I do not tolerate romance in my shlocky nonsense.

Commence countdown

I know that I’ve mentioned it before, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually embedded the trailer for the film adaptation of Annihilation. So… here it is. Watch and get hype! Less than a month to go!

BTW, though I put it down for a while about halfway through because… probably because I started taking my Switch to work to play on lunch break, I finally finished the third book in the Southern Reach trilogy, Acceptance. It was really, really good. Better than Authority, maybe not quite as good as Annihilation. There’s definitely more going on, and you actually get a few answers about what’s happening in the story, but overall it just wasn’t as absorbing. Still great!

Book reporting

I finished reading The Forever War again this afternoon. Probably still my favourite book. At the very least, I can’t think of another book that I like more off the top of my head. Maybe if I take a good long look at my bookshelf. But probably not. The Forever War is just so great. Why is it that Hollywood sinks so damn much money into tween-bait garbage like Twilight and Maze Runner but can’t get a big-screen version of this off the ground?

Ah, I suppose it doesn’t matter. Maybe for the best, even. I finally watched the trailer for Annihilation a couple days ago and it looks nothing at all like the book. The broad strokes, I guess, but it seems like it’s mainly adapting Annihilation while taking parts from Authority, and also just making up a whole bunch of other stuff to fill in the blanks and make it more mainstreamey. Whatever. I’ll still be there on opening night.

Anyway, yeah, The Forever War. It’s real good. I almost think I should re-read it again right away.

With a steady pace

Alright, so maybe last weekend I got a little carried away with video games and YouTube and just generally doing things that weren’t reading. Though I am “behind schedule,” I have completed the second book in the Southern Reach Trilogy, Authority.

Authority takes place a certain amount of time after Annihilation, how long exactly I can’t remember, but it’s a direct sequel that follows up the evens of the first book from a vastly different perspective. There are many parallels between the two main characters, despite the fact that they have such different personalities. Authority, as you might expect, gives you answers to some of the mysteries in Annihilation, while leaving other things unclear, and posing many new questions of its own. I’m thinking that the final book, Acceptance, is probably going to do the same thing.

Again, I don’t want to tell much of the plot because it’s absolutely best to go in completely blind. But whereas the first book was about exploring a pristine wilderness, Authority is more of an office drama/mystery. It’s a huge jump in setting, tone, and overall readability. Authority is much less abstract, easier to digest. It’s also a fair shake longer, which is one reason why I took forever to read it despite having “powered through” it, at least from my perspective. The other reason is that it starts of real slow. Like, real slow. But maybe that’s just how novels work? Or at least most of the novels I read. Anyhow, it picked up before long, and I became completely absorbed and found myself doing the good ol’ “just one more chapter” thing.

It’s a good thing that I don’t have a habit of reading before bed.

All in all, I’d say that Authority is worthy follow-up, even though it’s a very different experience than Annihilation. And the ending, man. The ending was just something else entirely. It seems like a popular opinion that it’s the weakest of the trilogy, but I don’t really want to assign placement before I’ve finished them all (also, HOW?). With that said, onto Acceptance!

And that’s a very literal “onto Acceptance!” By the time this post goes live, I’ll probably be halfway through it.

Book-reading

I read another novel last weekend. That makes two weekends in a row in which I have read an entire novel. What is happening to me?

The most recent was Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation, which is the first book in the Southern Reach Trilogy. I fully intend to read the next two over the next two weekends. I don’t remember the context, exactly, but I purchased the trilogy because Matt Peckham said something about it on the now-defunct GameLife podcast that clearly affected me on some level.

As a strange twist, I have previously read another book by VanderMeer: Monstrous Creatures: Explorations of Fantasy through Essays. Which is not a novel, but rather a collection of essays about cryptids and other fantastical animals. This is a twist because my choices of literature are so impulsive that I haven’t ever felt the need to explore a particular writer’s greater oeuvre.

Although, to be fair, a significant portion of the books I’ve read in the past decade have come in trilogies. So there’s that.

Back to Annihilation! It was just excellent. I don’t want to say too much about it because the mystery and suspense are key tenets of the novel, but it was wholly unlike anything I’ve read before. I highly recommend checking it out, and I feel certain that the next two Southern Reach books will be equally, if not more, enjoyable.

I think that the only thing that I had a problem with is that I had a very hard time picturing the events in my head. This issue lies not with the writing, which is perfectly good at building a scene and describing events, but rather with my brain, which has a certain lack of focus. It makes reading a bit of a chore, as my mind will often drift off and I’ll find myself having to re-read up to an entire page. But as far as visualization goes, I often found myself wishing for a film adaptation, simply because I would love to actually see this world (although parts of it will be literally impossible to recreate on film). I can’t help it, I’m very much a visual kind of guy. Ask anyone who has ever tried to teach me anything without flashcards.

Oh, guess what, there’s a film adaptation coming out next February. Hooray! I’ve missed out on a lot of movies that I’ve wanted to see over the last couple years, but this will definitely be one that I see on opening night.

As an aside, the fact that this is all lining up so nicely makes me a bit salty, because the Five Nights at Freddy’s movie has apparently gone through the film version of development hell and has got me wondering if it’ll ever be real. Oh well. Win some, lose some.

The FanFic’d Ones

Very randomly, I received a promotional email from Amazon about an upcoming book: The Freddy Files, which seems to essentially be the Five Nights at Freddy’s bible. I clicked on the link, because I’m interested in all things FNAF, and it was there that I found the biggest surprise…

There is a second FNAF novel.

I had no idea at all! I’ve been so out of every loop since I stopped frequenting Talking Time. But that’s besides the point. I read and enjoyed the first FNAF novel, The Silver Eyes, on the very day that it became available. The sequel, The Twisted Ones, has been out for a couple months now and nobody told me about it. How rude!

So long story short, I bought it and read the whole thing last weekend. It’s not a long book by any metric, and the target audience is tweens, but I think it’s still pretty impressive that I polished off a whole novel in a single weekend. I’m a terribly slow reader, and even though I do love to read, it always gets lowest priority of all my hobbies. It’s a little sad that FNAF is one of the few things that really, truly excites me any more.

If you aren’t at all familiar with the Five Nights at Freddy’s lore, the games are about bipedal, animatronic animals that come to life at night and kill any unfortunate security guards that they might come across. There’s also something about how said animatronics are possessed by the vengeful spirits of murdered children, looking for the pink/purple/phone guy(s) who may or may not have murdered them. The lore goes deep, is what I’m getting at, but that doesn’t really matter because the novels take place in an alternate continuity.

While I did like the original book, and the second is by no means bad, The Twisted Ones almost comes off seeming like FNAF fan fiction. It was written by Scott Cawthon, creator of the games, so it can’t be fan fiction. But it feels like it. There are a lot of really weird story conceits and maybe pushes certain ideas a little too far. This is not unusual for the franchise; it’s built on weirdness and FNAF4 absolutely tried too hard in some of the same ways. But it’s easier to ignore that kind of stuff in a video game. I expect better from books, I guess.

Anyway, if you’re a big ol’ FNAF fanboy like me, you can’t go wrong with The Twisted Ones. It’s got its share of issues, but it’s definitely a step above The Silver Eyes in writing quality and it is significantly more focused from a storytelling perspective. Just don’t expect it to knock your socks off. This is Young Adult literature, after all. Still more interesting than Harry Potter, IMO.

So it goes

I’ll be honest right up front: that is probably the most clichéd title for a blog post or article or review of Slaughterhouse-Five. But it kinda makes the most sense, you know? Or maybe you don’t, because you haven’t read the book. I want to tell you that you should, but that is probably best saved for the ending of whatever this series of ramblings turns out to be.

I don’t know Kurt Vonnegut’s greater oeuvre very well at all. In fact, before I read Slaughterhouse-Five, the only work of his that I had read previously was a collection of short stories, Welcome to the Monkey House. And even that I only read because one time Chris Kohler compared Mario Kart 8 to Harrison Bergeron. My lack of experience be damned, I would gladly tell people that Vonnegut is one of my favourite authors.

Perhaps my favourite author, on account of I don’t read enough to even know other authors.

Slaughterhouse-Five, if you are not familiar with it, is the story of a man named Billy Pilgrim and his experiences being a prisoner of war in World War Two. It is also the story of Billy Pilgrim’s life before and after the war, and the story of how he was abducted by aliens and kept in their zoo. It is also a semi-autobiographical account of a survivor of the bombing of Dresden in 1945.

The tale is told very disjointedly and not at all in chronological order, as Billy is “unstuck in time” and will randomly bounce between points in his life. This makes it a little confusing to follow at first, but the writing style is simple enough for even a man of my limited intelligence to grasp. However, it is immediately engrossing and the fragmented style ensures that something new is always grabbing your attention. One might suggest that Vonnegut’s unwillingness to stay on one story thread for more than a page or two at a time is flaky, that it’s the literary equivalent of jingling keys in front of a baby. But it worked wonders for me and my ever-diminishing attention span.

Like most books, and movies, and whatever other media I enjoy, I find it difficult to describe exactly why I liked the book so much. It was funny, it was shocking, and it very easily captured my attention throughout. I read the entire novel in under a week. The last novel I read took over two years. It also proposed many interesting ideas about religion and philosophy and time itself, but this work is called satirical. The problem is that I, with my not-good brain, can’t tell where honest opinions end and satire begins. For example, the entire book was about Billy Pilgrim adopting a fatalistic point of view, but I can’t tell if Vonnegut is championing or tearing apart that particular way of looking at life.

Despite the fact that I can’t properly articulate why I like this novel, I think it it’s easy to say why Slaughterhouse-Five is a good novel: It made me think. As few cylinders as my brain has, the book had them firing at all times; I was always pondering the theories and philosophies that Vonnegut was presenting, sincere or otherwise. And these ponderings continued even when I was no longer reading. Things I read are typically cheap fluff that has you follow a character for 200-300 pages and then put it all out of your mind immediately afterward. Such is why I’m even bothering to put these words to the page.

And so, we come back around to the point where I can finally tell you explicitly that I think you should read Slaughterhouse-Five. I highly recommend it. But as is always the case when it comes to reading, I must reiterate that I read so little that I can’t in good faith say that I have any taste in literature. Still, it was an exceptional read that kept me interested from the first page to the last.