Culture Consumption: May 2024

Dead Girl, Driving and Other Devastations is a fantastic debut short story collection by Carina Bissett. The collection includes a wide range of stories that blend horror and the fantastical in order to explore the ways in which women can reclaim their power.

In the titular “Dead Girl, Driving,” a girl is murdered by a local boy—only to resurrected by Godmother Death, who wishes to give her a second chance a life. But as she grows older, the girl becomes increasingly frustrated with her own seeming immortality and so continues to place herself in danger, with unexpected consequences.

In “Twice in the Telling,” a young ogress is accused of killing her human sister. So, she leans into her monstrousness for the sake of revenge.

In “Water Like Broken Glass,” a drowned women transformed into a watermeid, a birch bride bound to the river and capable of drowning passersby. She is drawn out of her solitude by a red-haired woman, who carries her own burdens and seeks a bloody retribution.

And these are just a few of the beautiful tales that can be found in this book. So many of these stories are powerful and moving and so wonderful.

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Culture Consumption: April 2024

The Night Eaters is a gorgeous graphic horror novel by by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda, which tells the story of a Chinese American family. Ipo and Keon, the parents, are in town visiting their children, twins Milly and Billy, who are working hard to keep their restaurant afloat. Despite their hard work, however, the parents wonder if they’ve been too soft on their children, wondering if they are going to be able to stand on their own.

Underlying this struggle is a deeper mystery. The house across the street is overgrown and eerie in appearance. When Ipo enlists her children to help her clean up the house, the hellish truth behind the haunted structure is revealed, as well as hidden family truths.

The story feels both grounded in family conflict, while at the same time providing an interesting exploration of the fantastical — along with darker and more dangerous threats that are likely to come in future volumes. This, combined with the stunning, layered artwork makes for a beautiful, unsettling book. I can’t wait to read more from these authors, and I may have to also catch up on their previous work, Monstress.

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Demo for Monochrome Heights Available!

Awesome news, friends! Monochrome Heights, a challenging platformer with a unique mechanic created by Patrick Knisely of One Frog Games, now has a demo available (which he also updated recently)!

I’ve been working with Patrick to help develop and write the narrative for this game, in which Happy the robot must climb a tower to defeat an old comrade before she destroys the last of humanity. It is so amazing to see Patrick’s hard work as this game comes together.

Culture Consumption: March 2024

Books

The Haunting of Velkwood by Gwendolyn Kiste

Gwendolyn Kiste is one of my favorite horror writers — in a large part because of the way she centers female friendships and love. Her characters and their relationships with each other are interesting and complex and messy, and this is equally true with her latest novel The Haunting of Velkwood.

When the block of homes within the Velkwood Vicinity suddenly turned into a ghostly apparition with all of the families trapped inside, only three young women (away at college at the time of the event) survived. The site became a hot spot for occultists and scientist hoping to understand the strange phenomena and how it is tied to the afterlife. Haunted by pestering reporters and by memories they’d rather keep secret, the three young women attempt to move on with their lives, with varying degrees of success.

Years later, Talitha Velkwood is alienated from her former friends and living a kind of half-life in a grungy apartment with a crappy job that barely pays the rent. The dour routine of her life is dirupted, when Jack, a new occult researched of the Velkwood phenomena, contacts her about a new project to investigate the haunted neighborhood. Exhausted by her relentless present, she agrees to return home with him in the hopes of seeing her eight-year-old sister one more time. She steps back into the void of her own home and begin to dredge up the remnants of the past — and act that brings her back into contact with her fellow survivors.

A Seemingly Impossible Adventure by Laura Madeline Wiseman

An Apparently Impossible Adventure by Laura Madeline Wiseman is a beautiful collection of poetry that explores the magical and wondrous in everyday experiences. The narrator of this collection processes the isolation of mundanity and personal loss through a longing for magic. And these prose poems feel both confessional and like a kind of spell casting, drawing the reader into their world.

At the free special exhibit opening on contemporary fairy folk art at the university art museum, I’m sure fairies are hiding behind the trees in the photograph, behind the girl, the one like your sister, with the candy cigarette. This is America, the late 1980s of outlandish white ruffles, plastic wristwatches, hair sunbleached and wild.

from “Candy, Cigarettes, and Fairies”

The lake that was an ocean, the coffee can, backseat’s chrome, hours of sun on road, flooded trees, while nude beneath bark, shimmered. The back of her head silvered-blonde, the back of hers fire-streaked, my kid sister’s big eyes, glinted. The dolls unraveled from sparkly clothes, dark self from bright others, one country’s sunrise from another’s sunset.

from “Radiance”

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Exploring the Potential of Poetry in Games

Poetic art installation at the Memorial Art Gallery, NY. (Photo by Hudson Graves on Unsplash.)

Recently, I had the delightful experience of joining Syd (aka thechosengiraffe) for an interview on her stream (available to watch here). Together, we played Minecraft and discussed game development, poetry, and the writing life. Syd is a wonderful interviewer and her skills led us in a fantastic conversation.

One of the questions asked by the chat was whether or not I would ever consider blending poetry into one of the games I make — and I answered that I had not considered it. As much as I love both poetry and games, I didn’t have any concepts that made sense to me. And I also could not come up with many examples of games that incorporate poetry on the spot.

After the interview ended, I couldn’t stop thinking about the question. What games did I know off that included poetry? I found a few examples that specifically comprised either an interactive poem or the use of actual poetry in the gameplay.

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