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Everything posted by dog-days

  1. Interview with Obsidian CEO Fearghus Urquhart. Aaand they've got me again. I'm still playing Witcher 3 though flagging slightly. I love the idea of open world games, but the reality is often is less rewarding than my hopes of it.
  2. Heh, fun question. Will have a think about it. For bonus points, I think boarders should provide a short extract from L-Space, ideally without the assistance of ChatGPT. Though this does remind me of an old Terry Goodkind thread – various works rewritten in his own particular style.
  3. Yes, I was a bit worried that the narrative/characterisation didn't seem to be foregrounded in the trailer, beyond a generic 'there's a terrible plague' fantasy problem*. It's not due until 2024. Hopefully later publicity releases will be more promising and make me think 'a yes, this is a real Pillars of Eternity/Obsidian game' and not just 'kind of like Skyrim'. * Absurd and unrealistic fantasy genre tropes strike again.
  4. What the owners have been arguing is that there is no reliable way to detect AI-based posts. Also, that AI can be a valid support tool for people writing in their second language. I'm sympathetic to the second point, but that could surely be covered by regulations with code being excluded; no idea to what extent the first is true.
  5. Forgot to say – baths used to help a lot with the pain, but obviously that won't help her at school. At home it was nice to know there was a temporary escape available. I also took ibuprofen, and that did help, but could take a while to kick in. Also, I needed a lot of ibuprofen on the first couple of days, and I was never happy about that.
  6. Finished Scarlet by Genevieve Cogman, who completed her Invisible Library fantasy series last year. This is a retelling of the Scarlet Pimpernel with vampires, making it Baroness Orczy fanfiction. I have distant memories of reading one of the original books as a teenager and being unimpressed by its florid prose and simple narrative; it was one of those cases where you feel that the idea of a good story was given to the wrong author, so I was happy to hear Cogman would be giving her take on it. And it was very enjoyable – a fun, light adventure focused on an English servant maid with a striking resemblance to Marie Antoinette. I got through it in a couple of sittings, hoping that Cogman would upset the apple cart completely at the end, but she didn't, even if she's not in love with the aristocracy as was Orczy. My impression was the Cogman is more interested in working with and against genre tropes than in doing a lot of serious historical research; she's definitely not attempting a Sansom-like engagement with the period. Also, you know, vampires. Ones influenced by Terry Pratchett and Barbara Hambly, according to the author's notes: 'sanguinocrats' – not content to exploit the peasantry through traditional aristocratic means like taxes, they take their blood too. As with Naomi Novik and dragons and no doubt other alternative reality fantasies (Fritz and the Werewolves: the unauthorised biography of King Frederick II ? The Genie in the Cabinet Office? Actually this is quite fun, I could go on...) you do have to handwave the question of why everything isn't completely, unrecognisably different. The prose is middling. It relies too much on common modern idioms for my taste, and not in the way that I felt that Cogman was doing it deliberately. But it's not terrible either. Mostly it feels invisible, which is fine. Anyway, this could potentially be a very entertaining series, especially if later instalments diverge further from the source material.
  7. Yes, this. And maybe find a female doctor. Also, you've mentioned the pill, but the mini-pill could potentially work better for her. It's good that you're taking this so seriously. As a teen, I wrote off types of career that I might have enjoyed (inc. archaeologist) because I couldn't imagine being able to cope with them plus the mess and pain of periods. I was quite fatalistic about them – I had no idea, and didn't for a long time, that I could get rid of them by taking a small pill every day. I wish I'd known that when I was fifteen.
  8. StackExchange is also having problems: there are moderation strikes happening because the site owners, as opposed to the majority of the site users, want to allow posts created through generative AI.
  9. Age rating aren't censorship, though indirectly they can encourage self-censorship. e.g. If your funders want access to the under-twelves market, any scenes risking a 12+ rating could get snipped. I imagine it could work similarly for books with the stale pressure of suitability encouraging authors towards conservatism. I grew up in a house full of books, and largely read whatever I picked up, which was mostly children's and young adult lit, but occasionally wasn't. The Raj Quartet probably wasn't written with an audience of eleven-year-olds in mind. Generally, I think that's fine. Maybe a kid who never reads but then for whatever reason chooses one deeply unpleasant book could be badly affected, but if they're reading widely and being encouraged to take a broad view of things, I reckon any negative consequences will just bounce off them.
  10. Finished the audiobooks of the Rain Wild Chronicles by Robin Hobb. I've now read all of her Realm of the Elderlings work except the short stories. Looking at her blog, it seems that in March 2023 Hobb got a bad dose of Covid. She's also a carer now for her sister. I hope she'll write more Elderlings one day (perhaps the further adventures of Bee); if not, I'm grateful for what there is.
  11. Pictures of rare dog breeds and funny stories about people's pet guinea pigs.
  12. Yes, it sucks. There's going to be a protest, but if the owners have their eyes on a pile of money from an IPO, it'll have no effect. Just seems crazy. "We've got a vast, thriving community of people using our site billions of times every day, Chris, so you know what this means." "Too right, Steve, I'll get the dynamite, you light the fuse."
  13. An alcoholic at the shared house I live in who's 95% nice, 4% dodgy, 1% completely crazy decided to set the fire alarm off and go on a screaming rant after a disagreement with one of the tenants that he'd apparently brooded and got drunker over. Things escalated, the neighbours came round and he made to attack one of them, they phoned the police. Things are quieter now. The police say he's calmed down, the other tenants are sounding calmer too, and maybe the rest of the night will be quiet. Unless he has more to drink and goes for an encore. Sigh. Things have been fairly decent here since Nightmare Tenant from Hell moved out at the end of last July. But it's not too bad. A few more months, and I'm off. Just feel sorry for anyone stuck in places like this with no other choice. ETA: And he went off again, this time with a hammer. Only a window was hurt thankfully. I'm staying the night in a hotel since he disappeared before the police arrived a second time. Glad I finished my book before all this nonsense.
  14. Will be interested to see how this and the trials in Wales develop.
  15. Loved Children of Memory the second book to follow Adrian Tchaikovsky's 2015 Children of Time. I still haven't read the latter, and must go back to it, if only to encounter Avrana Kern as a human. This book is told for the most part from the POVs of Liff, a child descended from the colonisers of a partially terraformed new world, of Miranda a reformed killer fungus, and of Gethli and Gothi, a pair of hybrid crows with a symbiotic mind who decline to be sentient. It's carried along by carefully laid hints at mysteries and by a timeline that starts out vanilla before elaborating. Oh yeah, and by plot, character, engagement with some big concepts, and humour. There's a line I'd love to quote, but it's a bit too spoiler-heavy for the review thread. One of the reasons I love Tchaikovsky's science fiction is that it's never only sci-fi: you can pull the threads apart and trace them back to multiple genres. Here he drew hard on Grimm's Fairy Tales and Norse myth. The hybrid corvids Gethli and Gothi come from a species that evolved to have an extraordinary divided intelligence as a result of environmental pressure. And then again, they're Huginn and Muninn, Thought and Memory, riding on the shoulders of a dark god. I don't think any writer is going to fill the hole in the sky that Terry Pratchett left, and Tchaikovsky's writing isn't very much like Terry's, but sometimes it seems to shine with a similar radiance. Checked Amazon and noticed that Tchaikovsky has no new books scheduled for release. WTF. Man normally writes as fast as if he gets up before dawn and drinks five espressos. Afterwards I immediately went to his Twitter account, and to my relief he does appear to be okay.
  16. That's my MP. Glad I didn't vote for him. His record in the expenses scandal is lousy too. I feel like I bring some kind of curse down on Labour MPs when I live in an area, given that Chris Matheson resigned (also for making unwanted sexual advances) last year.
  17. Not related to Lost, but the Guardian did a good article on Akinnuoye-Agbaje's background. His Nigerian parents paid for a family to bring him up in Essex.
  18. It's very sad to read about in detail, but I don't think I'm surprised – even when I watched it in 2010, the abrupt writing out of black characters wasn't lost on me. Plus other weird choices. The behaviour on all levels of the writers' room still shocks me though.
  19. That does explain why dogs have such a fraught relationship with vacuum cleaners. They know a rival when they see one. And those robo-vacs have moves.
  20. Thanks for sharing. A blog entry from Clarke made in February gives some context for his corner of the industry: A Concerning Trend.
  21. Bret Devereaux takes a break from real and fantastical military history to talk about what kind of heroes society needs. Hope he turns the Tweets into a full essay!
  22. Finished The Broken Crown, the first part of Michelle West's Sun Sword series as recced by Lord Patrek and others, and found in it much to admire. The style is clear, slightly detached and put me most in mind of Guy Kavriel Kay. Dialogue is on a less high-flown level than, say, the elves of Tolkien; however, the characters – cautious and verklempt by reason of the solid world building, and as bound to the mores of courtly expression as they are to their social position – speak indirectly, and formally; they're a long way from Abercrombie, say. The characters – at least those from the Dominion, I was less sold on the ones from the Empire – had a pleasing sense of otherness. They really felt as if they had been brought up in a culture with a strict and different sense of what was valuable and what was not. As regards the former: warrior aristocrats and power. And the latter: everything else, but especially women and slaves. But it never seems as if the author wants you to think that they are just terrible people full stop, or that the people lower down the hierarchy are only of interest as victims. Instead you see them creating their own connections within the limits set for them. Or – as in Teresa's case – using their prescribed role and expected traits as a shield to give them space to pursue their own goals. The paperback edition runs to 754 pages, making me glad for the sake of my arms that I read it on Kindle. It was a strange book in that whenever I was reading it, I enjoyed it, but I also rarely felt compelled to pick it up when I wasn't. Will I read the rest of the series? Probably, yes, though not right now. I'm listening to the last book in Hobb's Rain Wild Chronicles, and playing Witcher 3. I feel I'm fantasy-epic'd-out, and will be looking for a shorter, different kind of story in the immediate future.
  23. Watched Y Sŵn (The Noise) about the Plaid Cymru politician Gwynfor Evans and the creation of S4C, the Welsh-language television channel. I did want to like it, but in the end found it too self-congratulatory and tonally uneven, the dialogue so clumsy that I wondered if it had been written by an intern hired on the strength of family connections. The film half-wanted to be a playful political comedy with the well-known, very Welsh actor Mark Lewis Jones playing eighties Chancellor of the Exchequer Willie Whitelaw with a hyper-careful upper-crust English drawl; folk singers/collectors/academic Meredydd Evans and Phyllis Kinney seem almost to have walked out of a Wes Anderson film, while apparitions of Gandhi and Martin Luther King appear by a windswept Llyn Pencarreg. The scenes in Westminster are played in black-and-white. Everywhere in Wales is shot in colour. At the same time, Y Sŵn was a deal less cartoonish about Gwynfor Evans himself, and took the drama of the threatened hunger strike very seriously, as shown in his scenes with his loving, exasperated wife of many years. But as a drama about sacrifice for a political cause, it's a damp squib, because the Tories gave in and set up S4C before Evans needed to forego food or drink of any kind.
  24. A boiled egg and reasonably-priced love to anyone marking the Glorious Twenty-Fifth of May. : )
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