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  1. Wow. And I thought acquiring Bethesda was aggressive for Microsoft. I can't say I'm happy about all the AAA publishers becoming owned by the same three to four companies. Still, quite the coup for Microsoft and a massive turnaround for them. Last generation, if I could afford it, between PS4 and Xbox the obvious answer would have been PS4 because of Sony's exclusives. Now it would be a much harder choice. Good thing I can't afford either!
  2. I'm enjoying this season a lot. The MVP is without a doubt Drummer. She's a wonderful and interesting character, and Cara Gee's performance has been next level this season. Marco's actor could really stand to tone it down, and he's become a pretty boring villain, all in all. But I'm liking the rest of the characters and performances. The cut down to six episodes has some downsides - not every character and plotline can get their due, unfortunately - but it's also made the show much tighter, with a pace closer to season 3, imo the best season. Season 5's pace really dragged it down at the end, especially once we had multiple episodes that were nothing but Naomi trying to survive on a ship and everyone trying to rescue her. So, overall, it's a very strong season. In the long term, though, I think the showrunners either must know something we all don't or are hubristic for not planning to wrap this whole story up in six seasons. I am really skeptical that some other studio is going to pick up this show and let them finish it. Few drama shows make it to six seasons to begin with. At that point, actors are itching to get out or receive hefty raises that increase the expense of the show. So it's weird to me that they weren't planning to get through all nine books in six to seven seasons to begin with. But especially since it seems that this wasn't a sudden cancellation, and that they knew Amazon would only probably be giving them three more seasons, I really don't understand why they didn't plan for that. Or why they're spending a big part of this season's run time on Laconia and the Strange Dogs storyline, when there will almost certainly be no payoff. If we're going to use the David Simon analogy: he was planning six seasons for the Wire. But when it was restricted to five (and the fifth only had ten episodes instead of the usual thirteen), he wrapped things up as best he could. Some of it was rushed, sure. But he didn't punt it down the line, hoping that in five years HBO might pick up the Wire again and that all its actors might miraculously be available. Since I've read the later books, I know the story and the ending. But if I were a TV only fan, I would not be happy (my girlfriend, who hasn't read any of the books and doesn't plan to, is at this stage). And even as someone who's read the books - I've always enjoyed the show far more, and would have really appreciated seeing it tackle the long term Romans vs. Goths stuff. Oh well. It's still quality sci-fi TV, which is unfortunately rare these days, given how many sci-fi shows are out! I'm excited for the finale. Fingers crossed Drummer gets to punch Marco in the face.
  3. I enjoyed The Witcher Season 2 - and this is coming from someone who thought season 1 was pretty bad all around. It wasn't perfect, or prestige drama quality - in particular, everything involving the deathless mother, especially in episodes 2 and 7, was cheesy and difficult to follow. There were many great possible big bads for the season - I'm not sure why you need to throw in a cackling witch. As a reader of the books, I'm not bothered by most changes, though I'm still not sure why they killed Eskel so quickly - if you're going to kill him off, do it at the end of the season, when we've formed some attachment to him. But Blood of Elves really is a difficult novel to adapt - it's nowhere near the best of the Witcher books, and I think they did a good job of getting at the core of the book while making an exciting television adaptation. Comparing it to Wheel of Time Season 1 (as the article a couple posts above me does), I can see why I enjoyed the Witcher so much more; I disagree with that article in just about every way. The season succeeds at getting you invested in the central characters and their relationships, especially Geralt and Ciri - but even Yennefer and the elves, despite the less than stellar beginning to both plotlines. It can be a serious show, but it's also fun and funny, especially whenever Dandelion shows up. From a technical point of view, it's also just better made - better directed, better cinematography, better costuming, etc... And as an adaptation, I felt like they got the spirit of the books right.
  4. Finally got around to reading this book too. I liked it and thought it was a strong conclusion to a book series I haven't always loved or liked. I agree with pretty much everyone here that the first half of the book had major pacing issues. It's not just that Tanaka is (at least at the beginning of the book) yet another one note Expanse villain ranting about how much she hates Jim Holden, and the endless cat and mouse chase. It's also Teresa Duarte - she was a really hard character to care about. The universe is in constant danger of disintegrating. Who cares if she gets to live with her aunt and go to school? It doesn't help that she doesn't do much in the end, and that her character arc ends on a really depressing note. But in the second half of the book, Teresa aside, things picked up. Tanaka as our main POV into humanity sharing consciousness was surprisingly effective. To me, the book series has always been better when it focuses on alien weirdness than human was and politics, and I loved pretty much everything from that perspective. I was expecting more traditional exposition on the Romans and Goths, and I was surprised that I enjoyed the fact that everything wasn't explained. I feel like I got a good enough grounding in what the two sides were about while they still feel alien and mysterious. That's pretty cool. And then the climax was a big success, especially with the return of Miller. There's nothing wrong with predictable if you do it well and deliver on the emotional stakes. My only couple of late-game plot quibbles was that I didn't really understand how Duarte's hive mind effect was able to become so powerful and affect people all over the universe, even if they hadn't passed through the ring gates. I also felt we could have used some more denouement. I loved the epilogue, but it did feel strange to end both Teresa's and Naomi's arcs right after the big battles where they lose nearly everyone they care about. Kudos to "Corey" on wrapping this series up well. And I am very excited for Abraham's return to fantasy.
  5. Crossroads of Twilight is definitely the worst book. But I can't say that I ever felt that Knife of Dreams was a real return to form. Sure, some stuff happens, but that's kind of the baseline for any book to be enjoyable - or at least a plot-focused epic fantasy novel. For example (spoilers for the Perrin plotline) And I don't think the ending of the series makes it worth reading through the slog. The Gathering Storm, Sanderson's first book, is actually pretty good. But the final book is just as bloated as some of the earlier books in the series, just now with never-ending Trolloc fighting scenes instead of dress and tea descriptions. There also wasn't really much emotional payoff in the book to justify the 800 pages of battle scenes, not to mention the thousands of earlier pages of set up. As for the show, I finally finished season 1. Pretty mediocre, all in all. It's such a disjointed show that it makes it hard to care about anything that's happening - only the Aes Sedai politics had any real life or development. Rosamund Pike tried her best, but unless the show gets much better reviews in season 2 (which could happen - Witcher Season 2 was much better than Season 1), I think I'll stop watching.
  6. This last episode was definitely better than the fifth. I enjoyed the Moiraine/Aes Sedai politics angle and I'm glad that's getting some focus. On the other hand... As a whole, they're really not doing a good job of getting you invested in an ensemble cast. Rand and Mat have done nothing for about three whole episodes. It's really hard to care about reunion scenes since the characters spent so little time together early in the season. And it's not like these episodes are so packed with cool stuff that there's no room for character work. There's been plenty of filler, even in the best episodes, but most noticably the Steppenwolf plotline from last episode (yaya, I know that's not his name, but I don't care enough to google him and find out). And so I go into these last couple of episodes with little investment in any of the Two Rivers crew but Nynaeve and Mat. But then... Damn, when people said that the Mat actor was leaving, I didn't expect it to be in the middle of the season! This is nobody's fault, but it's a real pity, because Mat was by far the best actor of the Two Rivers folks. That's quite a loss for the show.
  7. I get the concern about variant chasing; by the time an omicron vaccine is ready in March, we might be on to rho. But since Omicron is clearly very different from OG COVID, and since it's so contagious that it's likely to become the main strain sooner rather than later, it makes sense to me to create a vaccine for it, since future mutations will probably come from it rather than another strain. But I'm not an immunologist so what the hell do I know. Anyway, the news from Pfizer does... not seem great.
  8. Oh no! I think he's by far the best actor of the Three Rivers crew. That's a really huge loss for the show.
  9. Finally caught up with this show. I watched the first two episodes last week, thought they were pretty bad, and was planning to stop there. But then a friend wanted to watch it, so I rewatched the first two with them (still pretty bad) and watched episodes 3-4. The quality of these last two episodes is definitely better - not great, but good enough that I'm willing to watch until the end of the season. A few thoughts: -Episode 1 features the most blatant use of fridging that I've seen in years. I still can't believe that they would give Perrin a wife just for... that. -So far, my favourite parts of the show have been Mat and Rand in the village with the darkfriend innkeeper and Thom, and last episode's scenes with the Aes Sedai and Logain. The One Power effects are still very cheesy, but somehow the direction made it work better than in the village fight in episode one. -I agree with @IFR above that the show has improved some of the book characters, like Thom and Nynaeve. My least favourite parts of the show are everything involving Perrin and now, the Tinkers. I know a lot of this is from the books, but wow, that cheesy dialogue! Not to mention the costume design that looks like it came out of a middle school play. Although the last two episodes were definitely better, overall I'd still say the pacing is a mess. It somehow feels both very slow paced in that little is actually happening, yet insanely fast in how quickly characters are introduced and come together and then separate. "Perrin, you just killed your wife and all of you just saw your village get burned down? Time to leave home forever, no time for discussion!" "Thom has joined the party! Thom has left the party!" I do get that this book is hard to adapt. I loved The Eye of the World when I was fourteen. But in the end, it's a pretty unremarkable Tolkien ripoff novel. It might have been best to just start the show in media res. The main reasons against doing that are because you want to build the relationships between the characters who all start off in the Two Rivers... But the show hasn't done a great job with that anyway.
  10. Glad to hear that it's great! It had been so long since I read the first two that I figured I would just enjoy the fourth more if I remembered everything. And they're such a pleasure to re-read too. I love his prose.
  11. Yeah, when I first played Mass Effect 1, I got through it in about 20 hours - now when I replay it it's more like 15. I don't do everything, because most of the side content in that game is repetitive and boring, but I do some of the more interesting sidequests. Mass Effect 2 usually takes me 30-35 hours to 100%. Mass Effect 3 is the longest, about 50-60 hours or so. This is one of the best things about the Mass Effect games - they are very focused experiences. The only reason I could see the playtime going way up is if you play on Nightmare mode - I usually stick to Normal for ME1 and Veteran for the next two. On Nightmare, though, I'm sure it takes a while to get through some of those fights.
  12. I've read four of the Hugo finalists now. Black Sun and Relentless Moon are the only two left to go. Of the four, Piranesi is by far my favourite. It's, to me, a perfect little surrealist novel. I enjoyed Harrow the Ninth less than Gideon, but I still respect the ambition and I see why people would nominate it. Network Effect... I don't know, I don't think it did Murderbot any favours to have a full length novel. The writing is very clunky and repetitive, the plot is a bore (which has always been a problem in Murderbot), and there's not much going on beneath the surface. I enjoy Murderbot and ART banter, but this was my least favourite Murderbot so far. But I'd take it over The City We Became, which I thought was a bad novel - and this is coming from someone who loved Broken Earth. It reminded me a little of Mieville's Kraken - lots of fun and interesting ideas, but with so frantic a pace and such shallow characters that you can't care about any of it.
  13. The new book (and final one in the Babel series) by Josiah Bancroft just arrived! I'm very excited to read it. After starting the first chapter though, I realized that I remember way too little of the first three books. So re-read time it is, starting with Senlin Ascends.
  14. I don't think I hate this show as much as some. Ultimately, I do think Foundation is unfilmable and that it's next to impossible to do it well - I see some of what they're going for as they adapt it, and there are some cool ideas. But I am continually bored by the show, the absence of Seldon/Jared Harris is getting to me, and I think I'm done with it.
  15. I recently finished watching Season 4 of this show. It was a very, very silly season. But still fun in a schlocky kind of way. I know Alfred had to die, but the show lost its best actor by far with him gone, and now there's no character who can balance out the "Uthred is an ubermensch who is the single most important person in every place at any time" aspect of the show. One more season (and a movie, sure, why not) seems for the best.
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