Culture Consumption: August 2022

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

Books

Maw, written by Jude Ellison S. Doyle with art by A.L. Kaplan and Fabiana MascoloNghi Vo’s Siren Queen is a stunning work of art. Presented as the life story of a Chinese American woman, who rises to become a star in Hollywood — but this is not the Hollywood of this world. Instead it is a kind of fairy realm, one that exacts a sharp (and sometimes deadly) price on those who long for fame, a realm in which it is all to easy to loose yourself and the ones you love.

Vo’s prose is rich and lyrical, evoking a sense of magic, menace, and desire on nearly every page. Phenomenal, powerful, and evocative — this is a book I have fallen in love with. one that I’ll want to read again and again. It’s just that beautiful.

I read two phenomenal comics. The first is Maw, written by Jude Ellison S. Doyle with art by A.L. Kaplan and Fabiana Mascolo. Maw is a story of rage and monstrousness. When Marion joins her sister Wendy at a remote feminist retreat, she begins a strange and horrifying transformation, one that leads to bloodshed and a renewed sense of power.

The fantastic writing and art in this comic reflects the dark nature of the story, both in the present and the characters’ past — and the ending is chilling in the best of ways. I seriously hope they continue the series.

Saga series written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona StaplesI fell in love with the Saga series from page one. Written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples features a beautifully illustrated and rich scifi fantasy, in which two people from the opposing sides of a multi-generational war fall in love, have a child together, and attempt to escape the conflict — only to be hunted down as outlaws.

In addition to providing powerful storytelling and some wonderfully weird worlds and societies, one of the many things I love about these books is that this story begins with two people already in love with each other. The conflict in their relationship comes not from getting to know each other, but from the struggles of trying to hold on their love in the face of their desperate circumstances.

I’ve read the first four volumes thus far, and I’m completely invested in all of these characters. I cannot wait to continue with the series.

Books Finished This Month:
1. Siren Queen by Nghi Vo
2. Maw, written by Jude Ellison S. Doyle with art by A.L. Kaplan and Fabiana Mascolo
3. Saga, Vol. 1, written by Brian K. Vaughan with art by Fiona Staples
4. Saga, Vol. 2, written by Brian K. Vaughan with art by Fiona Staples
5. Saga, Vol. 3, written by Brian K. Vaughan with art by Fiona Staples
6. Saga, Vol. 4, written by Brian K. Vaughan with art by Fiona Staples

Total Books for the Year: 30

Still in Progress at the End of the Month: The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, East of Eden by John Steinbeck, Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games by Tracy Fullerton, Upon a Once Time, The 2022 Rhysling Anthology edited by F.J. Bergmann and Brian U. Garrison, and The Mothman Prophecies by John A. Keel

Short Stories & Poetry

Men, Women, and Chainsaws” by Stephen Graham Jones (Tor.com) — “Victor boosted Jenna over the tall, solid fence—like she hadn’t grown up scrambling over half the fences in East Texas herself?—then climbed it himself, set down with both boots at once like this junkyard was theirs. For tonight, at least.”

Identify: a poem” by Brandon O’Brian —

“Tell the hawk your name.
Whisper it between the root-toes of
the beating tree outside your window.
Let the toads know you trust them
with something special about you.”

A Fable” by Robin Myers (the drift) —

“Once something closed
around them
like a basket
and there they stayed for a long
long time, falling
in love with the tragic
slats of light across
their faces.”

The Hollow Tree” by Jordan Kurella (PseudoPod) — “There are two kinds of secrets: those we keep from others, and those we keep from ourselves.”

Water, to Grow a Garden” by Jessica Cho (Anathema Mag) —

“I bury my feet in the dirt, hoping
that they might choose for once to stay
and learn the trick of giving back,
of feeding that which sees to me in turn.
But seeds carried over an ocean of salt
have never known nurture.”

Mana” by Katerina Neocleous (Corvid Queen) —

“I reasoned it away at first
imagining I’d glimpsed
a flitting shape, a flickering
—the way a lighter

or a glinting flick-knife
in an undecided hand might.”

Cannibal Woman” by Ada Limón (SWWIM) —

“I’m looking for the right words, but all I can think of is:
parachute or ice water.

There’s nothing, but this sailboat inside me, slowly trying to catch
a wind, maybe there’s an old man on it, maybe a small child,”

Scallop” by J.L. Akagi (Strange Horizons) — “Scallops are ringed with eyes. They have hundreds of them. Over two hundred eyes tucked under the edge of their shells. Inside each of these eyes are mirrors, like a telescope. Human eyes have retinas. Scallop eyes have mirrors.”

Off the Road” by Matt Ellis (PseudoPod) — “They’re gonna try to tell you that hitchhiking is dangerous. Mostly men. They’ll throw ‘girl’ in there, possibly lumped in with ‘pretty young thang’ and close out the topic with a crooked wink smile. I get this a lot.”

Estate” by Kendra Leonard (sage cigarettes magazine) —

“My father leaves to me Macbeth
and all concomitant Shakespeare;

fear of angry men and their power;

thin lips conveyed by genetics:
I can now recognize our kin by their mouths;”

proctoring” by Hajar Hussaini (AAWW) —

“in a previously vacant hall, students concentrate on passing a theory test, and as time, in a traditional clock, analogs, one person complains, accounting is the art of keeping,”

There Is No Beauty Without Resistance” by Dominica Phetteplace (Fireside Fiction) — “In the summer after abortion was outlawed, a lot of us went wild with our makeup. We started wearing thick stripes of dark eyeliner, or we drew teeth on our lips. Blush came in lavenders and pale greens. We started painting ourselves like cute zombies. Open wounds on the face but with splashes of festive glitter all over.”

Movies

Nope, staring Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, and Brandon Perea.

My love for Jordan Peele’s horror films continues to grow. Nope is a phenomenal movie about two siblings who attempt to capture evidence of the UFO flying over their horse ranch. As terrifying as this movie is, what pushes it into being something more powerful and compelling is the way provides multiple layers of meaning within every scene.

The opening quote notes that the movie promises spectacle — and this movie does provide just that, but it also looks at the ways human beings make spectacles of others and the world around them. Centered around a family that provides trained horses for Hollywood, the movie addresses animal training and exploitation, as well as who is doing the viewing in relation to who is being seen.

Nope is all at once horrifying and thought provoking, and I’m going to have to watch it multiple times (and read other’s perspectives) to really start unraveling the layers.

New-to-Me Movies Watched Last Month:
1. Nope (2022)
2. The Outfit (2022)

Television

Lupin (played by Omar Sy).

I’m a sucker for gentleman (or honest) thief narratives, so Lupin was right up my alley — and the addition of a classic book as being the inspiration for Assane becoming a thief adds another layer of charm for me. Omar Sy is wonderfully charming as the lead, and the way the story layers in present and past events to explore how class impacts the characters’ choices and their lives provides dimension for a story of clever thievery.

I also watched all of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Season One. I enjoyed the way the show explored Ben Kenobi’s trauma following the loss of his apprentice to the dark side and how that affected his ability to wield the force. And the action sequences when they come together were tense and fun.

I finally finished the last two episodes of Squid Game, which were much more heartbreaking than I expected (though I shouldn’t have been surprised, considering the inevitability of my favorite characters dying). I’m excited to see the second season when it comes around, as I’m curious where they can possibly take things from here.

The ending of The Boys, Season 3, was as kick ass and powerful as I could have hoped it would be. The growth of these characters has been fantastic over this season — and I particularly liked the moment when Hughie let Starlight shine.

Games

The Cult of the Lamb is an adorably charming game with a folksy goth aesthetic. You play a cute little lamb, who is about to be sacrificed by a quartet of bishops — only to be saved by The One Who Waits, an ancient god trapped in some kind of under realm. The god promises to give you knew life, as long as you promise to start a cult in his name and gather followers with the purpose of setting him free.

The gameplay involves two main gameplay elements — fighting through dungeons to gather supplies and community building and management (involving constructing and providing homes, resources, and religious services to your followers). These two elements alone were totally addictive for me, sucking me right into the game. In addition, the game also provides a number of mini games, such as fishing and a dice game called Rattlebones, which I love.

I would absolutely recommend this game.

I’ve reached the final quest for Horizon II: Forbidden West, and as much as I have loved playing this game, I’m ready for the conclusion of this story. The open world of this game is huge. On the one hand that’s great, because it provides so many villages, ruins, and ecosystems to explore. On the other hand, it’s almost too much to consume. I love these characters and this world, but I’m getting to the point where I’m ready to move on.


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

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