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Caligula_K3

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  1. Caligula_K3

    On realism, grimdark and childishness

    Ok, the book isn't about rape, if you want to be pedantic about word choice. But rape is used as a device to introduce the main character and to show you how evil he is and how dark this book is going to be, and it is suggested that this is the tone of the world, along with extreme and excessive violence. As the book goes on and next to no female characters appear (his mother in flashback and the princess are the only two I remember) , I found this element especially jarring and noticeable in his worldbuilding. And if I remember, there are other acts of sexual violence in the book. And my point in that post is that including rape does not make this book more "adult;" in his blog post, Lawrence talks about A Clockwork Orange. I don't see any of the same thoughtfulness about issues like this in Prince of Thorns as I do in Burgess' book.
  2. Caligula_K3

    On realism, grimdark and childishness

    Umm, thanks for the doubt, but I promise you that I read it. I don't have a precise memory of everything that happens in the book, because I read it a year ago and didn't enjoy it, but I do remember that Jorg and his band of rogues do commit rape, close to the beginning of the book. This is part of how Jorg's character and the setting is established. Just as in Thomas Covenant, even though much of the story isn't about rape, the foundation for the novel and his character is an act of rape. In fact, I just double checked this through an internet search, and Mark Lawrence talks about this in a blogpost, so I know my memory is not making it up: http://mark---lawrence.blogspot.com/2015/03/a-difficult-post.html
  3. Caligula_K3

    On realism, grimdark and childishness

    One thought I had about this topic, when I finally got around to reading Mark Lawrence's Prince of Thorns book last year, was that this "adult book" was incredibly childish. Despite being about rape and horror and violence and war and what we consider to be very adult issues, it's very much a YA power-fantasy book, except the protagonist is a 13 year old evil wunderkind who can do everything he wants to do (I think at one point, the main character learns how to do kung fu from reading a book) instead of a 13 year old good wunderkind who can do whatever they want to do. It's all very edgy and GRIM in a way that reminds me of how 13 year olds can think that swearing and blood and gore are signs of maturity. I think it's a key example of how grimdark does not equal adult. I haven't read anything more by Lawrence though, so this only applies to that one book. In general, I'd say fantasy publishers are getting pretty crafty at marketing YA books as "adult" books though. Not that there's anything wrong with YA in itself, but I'm getting kind of tired of starting new, seemingly well reviewed books that promise political, cultural, and character complexity but are really, again, shallow power fantasies about a young woman/man who learns they're the most special snowflake in all the land. Chakraborty's City of Brass and Scwhab's A Darker Shade of Magic come to mind. And as I read these books, which are supposed to be adult fiction, all I can think of is how The Hobbit, a book definitely meant for kids, handles "adult" themes with more maturity.
  4. Anyone comparing Black Panther to Ant Man and the Wasp is just grasping. Look, maybe you didn't think it was as great as many do, maybe you thought Infinity War was better, whatever. But Black Panther is an incredibly well made blockbuster movie; it has its own voice (a problem that many Marvel movies struggle with), it has fantastic acting, a very good script, innovative costume/set design, tackles more complex themes than most superhero movies, and yes, it is significant in a way that Ant Man isn't. It's not hard to understand how out of all the blockbusters that came out this year, it was the one Oscar voters thought was most deserving of a nomination. I put it ahead of a movie like Bohemian Rhapsody, which I also liked well enough,
  5. I've been playing Assassin's Creed: Odyssey. I'm a huge ancient history nerd, so just getting to explore 5th century B.C. ancient Greece through the eyes of Ubisoft's talented world designers is a treat, as it was in Origins with Hellenistic Egypt. That said, this one feels much better overall in terms of quality than Origins: the voice actor who plays the main character (or at least the one I chose, Kassandra,) is excellent, and she's a much more dynamic character than Bayek. I'm still pretty early in, but having my own boat is also great: the only AC games I really love are the ones that are pirate simulators, so I'm glad that they've integrated it well into the main game. Before this, I was playing Hollow Knight. Despite some frustration due to the developers (unnecessarily, imo) adopting design decisions from the Dark Souls series, this was one of the best 2D metroidvanias I've played. It has beautiful level and world design, fun combat, and a fantastic score. I don't have the patience or skills to go for the "true ending," but I'm very happy I picked this one up and played through to the main ending, despite almost giving up a couple times.
  6. It was definitely a weaker year for movies, but If they're going to give one nod to a blockbuster (which the Oscars usually do at this point), Black Panther was the best blockbuster I saw this year by a mile. I don't think it deserves to win, but it deserves to be nominated just as much as The Favourite or Bohemian Rhapsody.
  7. Caligula_K3

    Marvel Netflix

    I've been rewatching Daredevil season 1. It and JJ season 1 are really just so far ahead of anything else Marvel Netflix has produced since then, even though I liked DD Season 3 and JJ season 2. What strikes me most is that Fisk is a much more interesting character and villain when he's not all powerful, when he faces setbacks too, and when he is torn between competing impulses.
  8. Yeah, the X-Men and the issues they face make no sense in a universe of other superheroes. For that reason alone I don't like the idea of them being integrated into the MCU. Besides that, there's also the fact that Fox has shown it can produce excellent X-Men movies. The MCU has had some very good movies, especially lately when directors have been given more room to experiment (Guardians, Thor: Ragnorak and Black Panther come to mind), but it usually plays things safe and very rarely makes great movies. Spiderman: Homecoming was fun, but it was no Spiderman 2 or Into the Spiderverse (to its credit, it also was no Amazing Spiderman 2). The X-Men series has had some bad misses, but it also tries new things, and that's given us some of the best superhero movies of all time: X2, Days of Future Past, Logan. In general I don't feel the need to have every superhero ever come under the control of the MCU and interact with each other.
  9. Caligula_K3

    Rank your 2018 TV shows throughout the year

    1. The Expanse: The best season of the show yet. It's even more impressive given that they were adapting a (IMO) pretty weak book in the second half of the season. This is the best space sci-fi on TV since the early seasons of BSG, 2. Better Call Saul: Like all seasons of Better Call Saul since Season 1, this show suffers from its fragmented plotlines, which are inconsistent in quality. Everything with Jimmy and Kim is gold. Mike had a pretty interesting plotline this season. Nacho was wasted, and Gus just bores me at this point; he seems to only be there to provide Breaking Bad easter eggs. But when the show is good, it's incredible. I just really hope that Season 5 can actually make this into a single show, not four separate ones that barely feel connected. 3. The Good Place: A fantastic and innovative second season let down only by a kind of weak last few episodes, as the show became slightly too schmaltzy. The first half of season 3 has had some excellent episodes but also some of the show's worst. 4.. Westworld: Season 2 had some phenomenal moments and episodes that topped anything in season 1 (especially episodes four and eight), but as a whole it feels less than the sum of its parts. Too many pointless journeys without much payoff, too little development of secondary characters, too much trying to set up uninteresting mysteries instead of telling an interesting story. Still, the acting and cinematography are amazing, and when it's good, it's really good. 5. Daredevil: Season 3 is definitely the best Marvel Netflix season since Seasons 1 of Daredevil and Jessica Jones; a very nice return to form, with some great new characters, especially Nadeem, Sister Maggie, and Dex, who was a terrifying villain. That said, Kingpin, who was a phenomenal villain in season 1, really dragged this down for me; the actor is good, but was only rarely given good material to work with. And the writing for his plots and how he constantly manages to outsmart everyone is just ridiculous and very often dumb (the same goes for Foggy and anything involving the legal system in this show). _______________________________________ 6. Jessica Jones: A good, if flawed, second season 7. Arrested Development: The first half of season 5 was pretty uneven. It's great to have the cast interacting again, and there are some hilarious episodes and gags, but especially in the early episodes, the pacing is pretty bad. In general episodes are too long, and there's still too much exposition. But the good moments make up for the bad. I have no idea if the mythical second half is ever coming. 8. House of Cards: It was deeply average. But that's better than the past few seasons. _______________________________________ 9. Star Trek: Discovery: The second half of the season was a huge disappointment for me, particularly the parallel universe shenanigans. This isn't coming from a Star Trek purist; this is the first time I've ever watched a full Star Trek season of anything. I just felt there was lots of wasted potential here. 10. Troy: Fall of a City. Wow, this was uninspired. How anyone can take the Iliad and the Trojan War myths and make them this boring and prosaic is beyond me.
  10. You make a lot of good points in your post; god knows I'd like to play a recent Bethesda game where I don't need to load everytime I enter a building, and I miss some of the free-roaming that Morrowind allowed, with cities being out in the open world. But you can't do all this in the Witcher 3 by any means. It's been a while, so I loaded up the game to confirm: most objects can only be interacted with in very specific ways. Most of the cities are essentially backdrops, and many of the npcs as well. You can't attack civilians; you can attack guards, but as soon as you're out of sight they'll completely forget about you and your attack. Now, it's true that Bethesda games have gotten more restrictive over who you can kill or not kill to avoid messing with quests; I miss the days of Morrowind where you just got a message saying "you've screwed over the world, might want to reload." But it's definitely not true that you can't kill most NPCs; only ones that are heavily involved in a guild or main quest tend to be considered mission critical. But really, the killing this is just one aspect of this - god knows I don't tend to have mass murder playthroughs of these games. There is just a ton more "unscripted" events happening in these worlds than in the Witcher 3, and a lot more ways players can interact with the world and have unique content. In Skyrim, I've had insane adventures where in the middle of a quest escorting an NPC, I've gotten attacked by giants, bandits, giant spiders, and bears, who are fighting me as they fight each other; and then a dragon comes out of nowhere and we all band together to eliminate the common threat. There's a lot more room for bugs to appear here then in a heavily scripted Witcher 3 quest, or in one of many identical bandit camps that CD Projekt Red put around the map. As for graphics- sure, most Bethesda games aren't going to be as beautiful as Cyberpunk. I don't care about this myself, since to me game graphics hit a point of excellence around 2010, and what tends to make the difference to me is good art design. I know I'm in the minority here, and I play all my games on a laptop with a terrible graphics card or the Switch. But replaying through Skyrim recently, I was struck by how beautiful the game still looks. As for old code from Morrowind... I again no jackshit about how any of this works, or why that's necessarily a bad thing. But here's the article from Kotaku I mentioned by Jason Schreier, one of, to my mind, the most trustworthy video game writers out there, and I mainly buy what he's selling. https://kotaku.com/the-controversy-over-bethesdas-game-engine-is-misguided-1830435351
  11. About the never-ending debate about Bethesda's engine: look, I can't pretend to know jackshit about video game engines. and I'm confident 95% percent of people who talk about them on the internet know nothing too. I did appreciate the recent Kotaku article about this issue, which argued convincingly (again, to me, who knows jackshit) that all this talk of "new vs. old engine" is pretty misguided. Now, from my layman's perspective there's one thing that always strikes me when people talk about how buggy Bethesda games are compared to other open world games like The Witcher 3 and how awful this is. Most open world games aren't at all interactive. In the Witcher 3, in Dragon Age: Inquisition, in whatever, you can interact with certain set objects, people, and buildings. The world is open, but it's a backdrop with very specific things used in very specific ways. If there's a pot I can pick up, it can go in my inventory and I can sell it, and that's about it. In Bethesda games, I can pick up any object I see. I can add a pot to my inventory, but I can also stick it on someone's head, or drag it to the opposite side of the map and put it in my house. I can talk to NPCs, sure, but I can also kill them, I can also steal their wealth, I can burgle every single thing inside their homes. This to me is the charm of Bethesda games. No, their writing has never been as good as Bioware or CD Projekt Red; I'm convinced that people who say that Morrowind has good writing are looking back with serious rose tinted glasses. But their worlds are immersive in a way that no other RPG or open world game (except for maybe Breath of the Wild, in a different way) can match. That's because their worlds are so interactive, which to me seems like a massive technical challenge, and one that's bound to produce many more bugs than other RPGs, because there's no way playtesters can account for every single way millions of players are going to interact with the world/the way the world will interact with itself. So I cut Bethesda a lot of slack about bugs, and if they choose to not build an entirely new engine from scratch, I'll assume there's a good reason aside from them being lazy, evil game developers like most of the internet seems to think. All that being said, Fallout 76 looks like crap, or at least totally not for me, and I have no desire to play it. I am enjoying the hell out of Pokemon Let's Go Eevee, though, which is the most charming and purely fun game I've played since Mario Odyssey last year, and which got rid of a lot of the grindy mechanics that prevent me from enjoying Pokemon games.
  12. Caligula_K3

    Malazan: High House Shadow edition

    Oh god, the hobbling. That was so, so, so, awful. But pretty much the whole of DoD leaves a bad taste in my mouth, from the meandering, overlong plotlines to pretentious writing to the very, very random spaceship lizard battle at the end as the "climax" (it has been a while, so I may be misremembering exactly what happened here).
  13. Caligula_K3

    Fire and Blood: Just arrived!

    Fair enough. I'm a big history buff, so the idea of a history of Westeros should be cool for me; but it just wasn't working from what I read. I'll try giving it another shot and read a few more chapters before deciding whether or not to buy it. I can't deny that my interest in "the world" of Westeros has probably also declined as the delay between books has increased and I've gotten older, influencing my view of Fire and Blood. As I reread the books, I've tended to find the increased amount of random characters expositing about Targaryen history in Feast and Dance to be less and less interesting, and I think I'm just less interested in worldbuilding in fantasy than I used to be. So it's possible that this book just isn't for me, and that I'm expecting too much by hoping for something along the lines of Vandermeer.
  14. Caligula_K3

    Malazan: High House Shadow edition

    Count me in as another who counts Midnight Tides as their favorite, though it's been over ten years now- I'm curious to see how it's held up as I move through my slow re-read of the series. I do remember that it has some pacing problems early on, which isn't helpful when it's introducing entirely new characters. But in my memory, it was the most complete book, had the best characters and character development, an excellent climax, and showed Erikson at his wittiest. His humor can be very hit or miss for me, but I loved Tehol and Bugg in this book. Toll the Hounds completely lost me, and Dust of Dreams was even worse, from what I remember. The Crippled God was a decent ending to the series, but I also remember endless descriptions of the Bonehunters crossing a desert. The books were always self-indulgent and overlong, but it's a problem that got real bad in the last five.
  15. Caligula_K3

    Fire and Blood: Just arrived!

    I think my main problem with Fire and Blood (based on reading some of it in a bookstore yesterday and the excerpts he'd released in various volumes) is that it's fake history done in such a boring and tedious way. It doesn't have the beauty of the Silmarillion or the hilarious satire of academia you find in Vandermeer's "History of Ambergris" or "Shriek" or the use of "historical documents" to develop and shed light on a single character, like in Gore Vidal's Julian. It's just dry political pop history of, to my mind, pretty uninteresting parts of this world's history; it's worldbuilding for the sake of worldbuilding. A long time ago GRRM used to talk about writing an autobiography of Aegon IV; if he had to do a Targaryen history book (or, maybe more accurately, if his publishers demanded one to make money while the iron is still hot), that sounds a lot more interesting to me than this.
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