It’s been ages since the last time I read the Seventh Tower series by Garth Nix, but I’d been meaning to read it again, so this weekend I sat down and blasted through all six volumes. (At around 200 middle-gradey pages each, they’re not a heavy read.) I did remember enjoying the series when I read it the first time—probably way back around when it was published between 2000–2002—but very little else. All I remembered was that I liked them enough, so they’d survived several cullings of my ridiculously large book collection until such time as I could reread them and rejudge.
Having finally done just that, I am happy to report that the series is definitely an enjoyable read, although I probably won’t be holding onto them for another round a decade into the future. I was impressed to see that The Seventh Tower uses magic and worldbuilding in a fascinating way that allows for a deconstruction of privilege that feels organic to the story, while providing us with a strong female touchpoint character as well. Although, given that it was Garth Nix writing, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised. Continue reading →
The last thing I need right now is another game. I know this, but I also know full well that I’ll always, always make time for dating sims. I was pulled into this one by a couple of people from one of my D&D groups and was pleasantly surprised to discover that while I’m certainly easily swayed into trying dating sims by people simply saying that they’re good, this game is good. Very good. Follow me below the cut for a tale of murder, magic, intrigue, and most importantly, the Arcana.
Comic-Con isn’t really my scene, but this year a trailer dropped and with it, so too did my pre-emptive ten bucks for a theater ticket. Amidst the other announcements, none more enchanted me than beloved director Guillermo del Toro’s fusion between fairy tale and horror story, The Shape of Water. Just…. just look at it.
Like fish in an enthusiastic aquarium, fans are gobbling up the small flakes of information on Dragon Age 4 showing up on the surface of the internet. While most things remain, understandably, under metaphorical lock and key, one of these claims disrupted the community more than others. According to Daily Sun Knoxville, one of the most integral playable characters in DA4 would be none other than the templar Cullen. It’s important to note that Daily Sun Knoxville may not be an entirely reputable source—I mean, if this was a typical leak, it’s weird that no other news outlets appear to have the same information, especially big gaming outlets like Polygon or Kotaku. The legitimacy of the rumor aside, it did spark a discussion worth having within the community. From where I stand, it only makes sense that Cullen found his way from minor NPC to party member over the course of the four games. However, like many other fans, I find the emphasis on Cullen to be worrisome, especially given the narrative’s unsympathetic treatment of the fantastical minorities in Inquisition.
As with many families during the 90s, my family was a Disney family. In my eyes, though, there were fairy tales far more enrapturing than The Lion King or Pocahontas. My mom had this stash of fairy tale stories that I’d never heard of before—it was from this stash that I’d first learned about The Snow Queen and got a head start on my Frozen disappointment. Fairy tales don’t tend to age well under a critical eye, but I remember there being one story in particular that seemed outwardly feminist, even to my tiny baby mind, which had no idea what feminism even was. Jane Yolen’s 1989 Dove Isabeau doesn’t manage to escape all of the not great fairy tale tropes, but the agency given to its heroine and the rejection of typical masculinity saving the day is enough to make me forgive the tropes the story does hold onto.
The four issue run of Ladycastle, a limited series from Boom Comics, recently came to an end. The premise of the series was intriguing: after almost all the men of a castle in a fantasy land are killed while out on crusade, the women are left to seize power and agency for themselves for the first time. I thought the idea sounded interesting, and, as always, am enthusiastic about supporting comics stories about women by women, so I eagerly dove in.
The series tackles a number of gendered issues over the course of the story, from the traditional devaluation of femininity to accusations of misandry to challenging socialized behaviors. Ultimately, though, the story bit off more issues than four issues could chew. While it tried to say and do a lot of things, the matriarchy it attempted to sell me never really swept me off my feet.
In the hype of larger productions and bigger fanbases, it’s all too easy to completely miss out on less spoken of productions that are equally as good. With this seeming boom of Dungeons & Dragons webshows, it perhaps comes as no surprise that they suffer from the same thing—it’s definitely easy to fall in the shadow of amazing shows like Critical Role and The Adventure Zone. So today I bring you a beginner-friendly D&D webshow starring some of my favorite YouTubers and led by Wizards of the Coast’s own DM extraordinaire, Chris Perkins. Friends, readers, dim the lights, because it’s time for some Dice, Camera, Action.
From nothing comes a plot… j/k there’s still “nothing”. (via Art of VFX)
As soon as I read the title for Alyssa Rosenberg’s movie review in The Washington Post, I knew I had to watch King Arthur: Legend of the Sword as soon as I could. Rosenberg’s title is “It took awhile, but I found a movie worse than Batman v. Superman”: like, come on, how could I not be pulled in by that? Now, I may not have seen Batman v. Supermanunlike some unfortunate souls on this blog, but I still know a bad movie when I see it, and hoo boy, is Legend of the Sword some shit. Unlike Rosenberg, I’m not willing to write the entire movie off as being not worth anyone’s time—though I do agree with her on many of her points. Parts of Legend of the Sword are exactly the schlocky “thinks of itself too highly” moments that make a lot of popular movies great and fun to watch. Still, the rest of it is a convoluted mess that “thinks of itself too highly” in the worst possible pompous British way imaginable; both sides are constantly duking it out in a street brawl that never quite gets a definitive victor.
Not long ago, Ace and I were discussing how the wizards in the Harry Potter universe never seem to grow as a society. They are still stuck with very basic technology, and while many tasks are certainly made easier with magic, no one can deny that Muggles seem leaps ahead of wizards in a lot of ways. From being able to explore space, to using computers, to even having pens, Muggles have it better—seriously, why would I ever use a quill? But this got me thinking: this isn’t just in the Harry Potter world. A lot of magical societies in fiction seem to be stuck in a more medieval era. This led me to considerhow we evolve as a society. It is just a fact that human beings are more likely to grow and change to fulfill a need. It’s easier to wash clothes with a machine than by hand, and having a computer makes it easier for us to access information, keep in touch with friends, or learn new things. But for magic users, when you can wave a wand to conjure fully prepared food or teleport yourself somewhere in an instant, is there ever really a need or desire to grow and change?
Harry Potter has indisputably become an important part of our modern mythos about witches, wizards, and magical know-how. We’ve discussed the series a lot on this blog, but as I was randomly thinking the other day, what exactly prompted Rowling’s choice in animal companions for her young magic users? Creatures like toads and cats have long since been staples of witchiness in the current pop media consciousness (although as far as cats go, Hermione’s fluffy ball of grump Crookshanks isn’t exactly the stereotype), and rats kind of fit in by virtue of so many people having an aversion to them. But owls? From where I stood, owls seemed like a random choice. Rowling has stated that she chose the creatures because they’re “traditionally associated with magic” and just because she likes them—both valid points—but in my pop culture experience, owls aren’t the go-to bird for shorthand magical implication. No, that honor goes to ravens. Still, this got me thinking further: what are the symbolic differences between owls and ravens when it comes to magic? Surprisingly, their purpose in folklore and their general symbolism are quite similar.