alias_sqbr: the symbol pi on a pretty background (I like pi!)
A space opera novel I wanted to like more than I did. In terms of basics it was good, I breezed through it quickly and was engaged the whole way through. But I am left feeling a bit meh now I'm done.

The things people recommended it to me for: diversity, space opera, robots, and maths.
My tl;dr thoughts on which are, respectively: good, ok, ok, and meh )
alias_sqbr: Hannelore: Worry hat! Bravery plus 10, charisma plus 5 (worry hat)
Which is to say, things I am using to distract myself from stressing about our upcoming trip.
Read more... )
alias_sqbr: A cartoon cat saying Ham! (ham!)
Comics:

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl 1: Good naturedly silly comic about a girl with the POWER OF SQUIRRELS balancing the start of college with saving the world from various random supervillains. Written by Ryan North of Dinosaur Comics. She isn't sexualised at all which is nice, and there's understated but pervasive diversity.
Read more... )
alias_sqbr: (happy dragon)
Webcomics:

O Human Star: SO GREAT. A cantankerous robotics researcher wakes up in a new robot body 16 years after his death. Robots, queerness and the nature of self :D Compassionate and sweet and funny :D :D Still ongoing D: (currently mid sad flashback, but it's about the main character's death which is hardly a cliffhanger)

Games:

Read Only Memories: 80s scifi styled point and click adventure game about artificial intelligence. Only just started but so far it's charming and fun.

To the Moon: Found out the ending was very Sick Wife, removed from my to-play list.

Books and anime )
alias_sqbr: the symbol pi on a pretty background (I like pi!)
So this I LOVED. It's exactly what I wanted: a fun reboot of the original which is funny and thrilling and charming and also feminist. Women being competent and weird and unsexualised and having complex relationships with each other and saving the world!! FORTY SOMETHING SCIENCE LADIES :D FAT LADIES :D AS CLOSE TO QUEER AS THE STUDIO WOULD ALLOW LADIES :D (which is not very queer. Holtzman flirts a little) ONE POC LADY WHICH IS BETTER THAN NOTHING I GUESS.

It was a very deliberate reversal of 80s comedy tropes, with Chris Helmsworth having a ball as the dim but pretty secretary who needs to be rescued. There's no romance, ones a little swoony over how pretty he is but seems to know intellectually that he'd make a terrible boyfriend. Instead there's just some really lovely female friendships (which are absolutely perfect for femslashing ;))
Some more thoughts, no spoilers )
alias_sqbr: the symbol pi on a pretty background (I like pi!)
Saw this yesterday, and I liked it! Unlike the previous two, it was a sincere and mostly successful attempt to make an actual Star Trek movie: There was a mildly interesting philosophical conflict, some attempt at diversity, and a LOT of bromancey interactions between Kirk, Spock, and Bones. Although most of the film was made up of fight scenes and explosions, which were pretty. It felt a bit like an original series Star Trek episode spliced with a Michael Bay film. Sometimes that fusion felt a little strained but it was enjoyable enough. It's not SUPER scary but some scary stuff does happen.

The diversity was very pasted on, it is at heart very much a story about White Dudes Saving The Day, and while the fact there's a teeny bit of lgbt representation is nice (and it was handled ok) it's just ambiguous enough that a determined homophobe could say they were just Very Close Friends, and homophobic censors can easily cut it entirely. On the plus side I thought they were going somewhere Very Racist with the villain and they weren't, though he's still a POC-in-latex villain (with an African accent I think? I am so bad at accents) being defeated by a white hero.

Also Uhura and her relationship with Spock is so quickly sidelined it felt like the start of a slash fic. If it had actually turned into Spock/Kirk/Bones it might almost have been worth it but no, it was no homo bromance all the way. Sulu could have had more to do as well. On the plus side, the "Strong Female Characters who are competent and not sexualised but ultimately secondary to men" approach to women in this film is still more feminist than "Into Darkness". And the new female character is conventionally attractive but noone seems to notice, it all feels like brotherly friendship (I don't think we ever see her talking to any women. In general this is not a Bechdel Test friendly movie)

As someone who used to be a HUGE fan of the original Star Trek movies I did enjoy the cuddly bromacey feels. Everyone felt more in character than in the previous two, and there was in general a cuddly, optimistic feel to the Enterprise and Federation as a whole. Also, since it would have been heartbreaking given that the actor died: nothing bad happens to Chekhov.

And it really is pretty. Lots of cool science fictiony special effects.

Imzy!

Jul. 24th, 2016 12:06 pm
alias_sqbr: And yet all I can think is this will make for a great dreamwidth entry. (dreamwidth)
Thanks to [personal profile] snarp I got an invite to Imzy, a new social media platform some people have suggested might be The Next Tumblr. (Snarp herself described it as a possible successor to Reddit)

And...it is definitely not the next tumblr. THERE ARE NO PERSONAL BLOGS ONLY COMMUNITIES!! But the communities are pretty nicely set up, so I can see it being a good supplemental social media hub, assuming it takes off. I wonder if I could just make a "community" for posts by me lol.

You can make separate profiles that only you know are linked, including for anonymous comments, though I haven't done that yet. Also communities can be private, which I can see being useful.

Afaict there's no way to friend people but here's my profile anyway.

Anyway, if it sounds appealing I have five invites! Comments screened, give me your email address.
alias_sqbr: pretentious quote over a seascape (naughty shell)
So, as implied by my last post, I got Pokemon Go! As also mentioned, it tends to crash a LOT. I knew that going in but was still surprised quite how much it crashes, not just when you do anything fancy like open a menu but also just at random. And then the server doesn't let you back in like 75% of the time. It's very frustrating!

EDIT: It's free with microtransactions. I haven't spent any real world money yet but it's definitely tempting.

Other than that it's pretty fun. Pokemon show up in the world at random and you catch them, it's like bird watching. Catching pokemon is pretty easy, though it does require mild hand eye coordination. It's supposed to be an exploring game but a moderate amount show up for me staying in the one place eg bed. Unfortunately I had to turn off the cute "augmented reality" feature where they are shown as if they are in the world in front of you. It makes it crash, you see...
more details )
alias_sqbr: (happy dragon)
A nice well behaved middle class 11 year old girl in 1920s England wakes up Wrong. Something's off about her memories. She's always hungry. Her sister keeps screaming that she's fake. Her parents start to wonder what's happened to their Nice Little Girl...

I normally don't like kid's books but I LOVED this with a FIERCE PASSION. I think all nice little 11 year old girls start to feel like there is Something Wrong With Them and Soon Everyone Will Know but this takes that experience and dials it up to a thousand and it was all very satisfying. The delightfully awful little sister is great too.

Note that this is children's horror, I found the awful things that happen cathartic but they can be quite awful.

Spoilers about what's going on and how it broadly plays out. I wanted to know, and am glad I knew in advance, but ymmv. I also mention the one thing I didn't like, which some people may find very upsetting.
Spoilers )
alias_sqbr: (up and down)
So after MUCH PROMPTING from some of my friends I watched the anime .hack//sign and it was exactly as relevant to my interests as they said it would be: explorations of the nature of self, people being permanently damaged by life but continuing on, computers and the internet, an ensemble cast where everyone's sympathetically drawn including the morally ambiguous and antagonistic characters, canon f/f, varied and complex female characters, a sympathetic disabled major character who neither dies nor gets cured, consistent character arcs that go to dark and distressing places but end in growth and happiness. It was a bit slow and confusing, and the depiction of disability is well meaning but flawed, but I'm still really glad I watched it. Definitely suits watching in one go, there's a lot of individual episodes where not much happens.

I made a meme image of how wrong my expectations were: I'd somehow gotten the impression it was "plucky regular kid gets stuck in weird online game, goes on generic fantasy adventures trying to get free" story, but it was in fact "weird kid gets stuck in (mostly) regular online game, everyone else tries to persude him that being stuck in an game is WEIRD AND BAD but he tells them to get lost". The MMO (massively multiplayer online game, like World of Warcraft) setting is used to give everything an air of fantasy, but the only people who talk like fantasy characters are pretentious roleplayers, death is an inconvenience, and people have to log off to do homework etc. It's not a fantasy story using an MMO as a gimmick, it's actually about playing MMOs, and the way online games and communities can be important to people. There is some very late 90s/early 2000s-ish WEIRD METAPHORICAL SCIFI STUFF, and some odd choices about what to show and what to imply, but unlike most weird 90s/early 2000s anime it all makes a moderate amount of sense in the end and even more after reading some wiki pages. And the characters! I love them all, even the annoying or antagonistic ones.

A note about the series episode structure, no spoilers )

Now the MAJOR SPOILERS I was told before I watched it which made me more enthusiastic. If you're already planning on watching the show then don't click!
SPOILERS )
alias_sqbr: (happy dragon)
Which is to say, I was VERY WOOZY for some of these.

Games (mostly from the currently ongoing steam sale):

Scribblenauts Unlimited (windows only): Solve people's problems by creating/editing objects. Fun, but you play as a guy saving his sister, and everytime you finish a level you gain another sibling as a possible avatar and ALL FORTY OF THEM are male. I checked! WHY NOT MAKE HALF OF THEM GIRLS. OR EVEN ONE OF THEM. They're not even compulsory so dude players wouldn't have to play as a girl, but girl players could! This annoys me so much I have stopped playing. IT'S SO UNNECCESARILY SEXIST. (Non binary/ungendered characters would also be good but if they can't manage girls)

Grim Legends: the Forsaken Bride: a Hidden object game from Artifex Mundi, only just started. Graphics are a bit uncanny valley but it's a nicely immersive Olde Worlde village setting. So far you're a woman rescuing your sister.

Higurashi When They Cry: Stalled on this completely. It's not bad, I just find it hard to keep up momentum with kinetic novels (like a visual novel but with no real choices)

Message Quest: a puzzle game about a lazy messenger in a fantasy world trying to avoid doing his quest. Has occasional simple turn based combat and I got stuck on a battle, but was enjoying it until then and will use a walkthrough to get past it at some point. Has some things that made me :/ about gender but is ultimately good hearted. It's a bit weird having to poke a lazy character who "just wants to sleep" when you have cfs, but he really is just lazy.

Audiosurf 2: Crashed on both windows and Mac :/
Books, manga, anime )
alias_sqbr: (happy dragon)
Books/comics:

Wheel of the Infinite by Martha Wells: Fantasy about a middle aged priestess who's fallen significantly from grace facing Supernatural Shenanigans with wry resignation. Reminds me a lot of Paladin of Souls, except set in a tropical country (loosely based on...a mixture of Tibet and North Africa maybe??) A little underwritten but otherwise really good. The 30 something pale skinned foreign swordsman who would be the hero in most books is just the love interest, and happy to let the heroine take the lead :D (He's on the cover of some versions of the book anyway because BLAH PUBLISHING INDUSTRY) Normally "friends with benefits" relationships don't work for me but they have a really nice friendship, plus makeouts. And the worldbuilding is interesting and feels real. A lot of it was very predictable if you've read the right kinds of fantasy, and all the twists were heavily telegraphed, but it all made sense and came to a fairly satisfying conclusion.

Color and Light by James Gurney: A non fiction book on painting by the guy who made Dinotopia. I am reading it VERY SLOWLY but it's been interesting and I've definitely learned some stuff I will use for my art.

From the Humble LGBT Book Bundle, which is ongoing for the next few days:

Wuvable Oaf: A big hairy gay man with a sweet nature looks for love. Cute for what it is, but too indie-comic-weird for my tastes, I didn't feel connected to the characters and found the art style and occasional grossness off putting.

Kevin Keller: Welcome to Riverdale. First gay Archie character! It’s otherwise a typical Archie comic eg kinda bland, and I got bored and stopped.
games and music )
alias_sqbr: (happy dragon)
Books:

The Raven and the Reindeer by T Kingfisher aka Ursula Vernon: this is a very cute Gerta/Little Robber Girl retelling of The Snow Queen. It's in a light, fairytale style but has a bit more modern fantasy novel to it than the original 19th century children's short story. There also a bit more gore than I remember, of just the sort I like but other people may not. I haven't read the original in years so can't say how much is changed in general, but was attached to the Kay/Gerta friendship which is much more unhealthy here, I think it works really well as a new story but was still slightly sad to lose the old one. Also there's that undertone of slightly smug tweeness that tends to underlie all of Ursula Vernon's work, and it took me a while to get into it for some reason. Still, lots of well drawn, endearing, mostly female characters, and a cute fantasy story that hasn't lost the fairytale atmosphere, bittersweet bite and sense of place of the original.

(putting above the cut because "f/f fairytale" is relevant to a lot of my readers' interests :))

Aso, while I'm here: Steam is having a sale on anime themed games and I at least didn't get an email about some stuff on my wishlist which is discounted. So, check your wishlist!
More books and some tv )
alias_sqbr: exploding train (train)
This was exactly what I expected from the trailer: a well made, entertaining superhero film with great fights, nice character moments and utterly repulsive political subtext. On the plus side it abandons it's pretense to ~realism about halfway through and becomes purely character/explosion driven, at which point I stopped thinking "bloody Americans" every five minutes and was actually able to enjoy it.

Spoilers for the basic premise and political subtext stuff, but not the rest of the plot or the ending )
alias_sqbr: WV stands proudly as mayor (homestuck)
For anyone who's missed it, Homestuck is a very strange, very long multimedia webcomic. If you have read part of it and are curious to see how it ends you could just watch the final animation, you'd be confused but...you were going to be confused anyway ;) And it's very pretty!

Of course I do not put it past Hussie to come out with a second ending/epilogue in a bit, that would totally be his style.
Spoilery Reactions )

Hustle Cat

Mar. 4th, 2016 12:38 pm
alias_sqbr: A cartoon cat saying Ham! (ham!)
Hustle Cat is really cute fluffy dating sim about 19 year old Avery (of unspecified gender with a range of pronouns, skin colours, and presentations!) who ends up working at a cat cafe where all the other workers (2 women and 4 men) turn out to be cursed to turn into cats. You get to know them all and then have a romance with whoever you get along with best. The romances are all really adorable and the end of each path is thrilling and satisfying. I LOVED being able to choose my pronouns and presentation, and the love interests/romances were nicely varied and avoided annoying/sexist romance tropes while still wallowing in good ones (grumpy butch women and shy dudes and tsunderes and... omg my heart). The writing for the protagonist tries to be unisex which was really refreshing even if it didn't always quite work. I loved EVERYONE and EVERY romance (even Reese, who I didn't like at first), which is almost unknown for me and dating sims or ensemble casts in general.

There are a few issues: It's so fluffy it ends up glossing over points of conflict in ways that can feel shallow and erasing. The darkest any of the characters get is light brown, and the "brown" characters mostly have light eyes/hair and generically American names. The writing and art for Avery attempts to be unisex but sometimes felt like it was assuming I was a boy/girl in heterosexist ways, especially when you encounter the One Strawman Sexist (who treats you like a cis dude while you're romancing a girl) The "unisex"ness means you can't be femme which some women may feel limited by. There is literally one choice after you get on your love interest's path, which would be less annoying if the choices Avery made without asking weren't so frequently TERRIBLE. It all turns out ok but it shouldn't, and Avery is especially overbearing on the girls' paths :/ The 2 female/4 male gender balance is annoying, why not three of each, or 2 women/2 men/2 non binary? And there is zero diversity of body type or disability, asides from some fluffily presented implied mental illness.

But I still REALLY ENJOYED playing a woman romancing a hot grumpy butch lady, and then a dude romancing a shy guy with an implied anxiety disorder, and then a male presenting non binary person romancing a mysterious goth dude :D Also the cat versions of the characters are ADORABLE (nb there are no sexy scenes with cats)

Note: most of the paths are easy to get onto if you're just especially nice to that person, but the last one is SUPER TRICKY without a walkthrough.

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