Culture Consumption: June 2018

Hi, lovelies. Here’s my month in books, movies, television, and games.

Books

All Systems Red-Martha WellsMartha Wells’ novella All Systems Red presents the diaries of a company-supplied security android designed to provide protection for survey teams exploring planets for possible resources. Murderbot, as it calls itself, just wants to be left alone to watch hours of vids in peace. But when another survey team mysteriously goes silent, it has to work with it’s team of clients to discover the truth before they’re all killed.

I loved this book. Murderbot is cynical about humans and the world in general, an attitude that is totally understandable given its circumstances and understanding of the universe. But the team of scientists he’s assigned to give him a broader perspective on humanity, showing him people who are able to work together with compassion and intelligence — such considerations they show not just to each other but to Murderbot itself, as they continue to work with and rely on it. It’s so wonderful to read a story that centers people who are good to each other. Plus, the action is intense, making this short and rapid read.

I also completed Wonderbook, Jeff Vandermeer’s massive tome containing a beautifully illustrated toolboox for writers of fantastical fiction (which I wrote about here).

And I read through the 2018 Rhysling Anthology, which essentially acts as a voters packet for the Rhysling Awards. It’s a fantastic overview of the best short and long form speculative poetry from the previous year, as nominated by members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry association, showcasing a wide array of poetic voices, styles, and forms.

Books Read Last Month:
1. The 2018 Rhysling Anthology: The Best Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Poetry of 2017, edited by by Linda D. Addison
2. Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer
3. All Systems Red by Martha Wells

Total Books for the Year: 27

Still in Progress at the End of the Month:My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris; No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters by Ursula K. Le Guin; and An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon (all of these are Hugo Nominated works, which will represent the bulk of my reading this month)

Short Stories

Since I’ve been reading works nominated for the 2018 Hugos, most of my favorite reads for the month came from the short story short list. Each of the stories (which I talked about here) is moving and powerful in their own way.

I also loved and was thoroughly disturbed by “The Boy with the Glass Eyes,” by J.L. Flannery (published by Pseudopod), in which a man brings home an android that appears like a realistic baby. Although he knows this may potentially upset his wife, who is still grieving from the loss of their own child, the man assumes that everything will be alright. Spoiler: It’s not. The best horror has layers to the unsettling circumstances it presents, and this story has tons of layers.

Movies

Best Worst Movie poster

Best Worst Movie follows the cast of Troll 2 after they learn that the movie (considered one of the worst movies ever made) has gained a cult following. The cast explores the phenomena and begin making guest appearances at screenings. This documentary is an interesting look into cult fandom and the love of great bad films.

I also watched Deadpool 2, which I did not love quite as much as the first. There were just too many long, long scenes of Deadpool being uncomfortably weird while people stand around witnessing and not enough of the fourth-wall breaking that I dug from the first movie. Domino was amazing, however, and I hope we get to see more of her in feature films.

New-to-me Movies Watched This Month:
1. Deadpool 2 (2018)
2. Mirror Mirror (1990)
3. Best Worst Movie (2009)

Television

Tenchi Universe

I signed up for VRV last month, which has given me access to Crunchyroll (anime), Shudder (horror), and a number of other channels. This has allowed me to return to the world of Tenchi Muyo — which includes multiple anime television series and movies. Of these, I watched Tenchi Muyo! (the 1992 series from OVA) and Tenchi Universe. Both series center around Tenchi, a high school student from Earth, who is bombarded with encounters from alien women who fall in love with him — two in particular, Ryoko (a space pirate) and Ayeka (a princess of Jurai) continually fight over him. However, each of these present different overall styles, tones, and origin stories for each of the characters.

Neither series hit the same level of delight I remember initially having for the show. Although I liked the characters better as they were presented in Tenchi Universe, the story features little of the action adventure I loved, focusing more on the romantic comedy aspects of the story. On the other hand, while Tenchi Muyo! has all the action adventure, the characters are considerably less likable due in a large part to the way the sexual innuendos are fitted into the story in sometimes uncomfortable ways.  At this point, I’m less enthused with the shows than I once was.

Gaming

My gaming world got launched into the stratosphere with the purchase of a new PS 4. I was literally bouncing with excitement as I brought the system home, since this is the first time I’ve upgrading my gaming console in something like ten years (my last purchase prior to that was an X-Box 360).

One would think I’d take my new system and immediately play some new and shiny game with flashy graphics.  Being the odd duck that I am, however, I went for a nostalgia hit — Final Fantasy 7, an RPG I loved and have been wanting to replay for ages.

final fantasy 7
FF7 cast of playable characters.
FF7 gameplay.
FF7 gameplay.

It’s been an interesting experience. I remember being dazzled by the cut-scene graphics when this FF7 first came out. Now they’re so far behind what’s currently possible that it’s laughable — not really surprising considering the fact that the game is over 20 years old. Also, I had forgotten how annoying some of the controls and mini-games could be, not to mention the repetitive sound track.  There are definitely aspects about the game that are not great, BUT —

the characters and storyline are just as compelling as they’ve always been. Playing through again is allowing me to return to those moments that captivated me when I was younger. It’s the same comforting feeling as returning to a book that I loved. There’s a reason FF7 is one of the most beloved games in the Final Fantasy series.

I’m trying not to get myself too excited by the forthcoming remake, which is supposed to update both the graphics and the gameplay.


That’s it for me! What are you reading? Watching? Loving right now?


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