31 December 2017

Writing Distractions - a gaming rundown

Over at The Book Smugglers they're well into their yearly Smugglivus celebrations, and I have a post about the games I've been playing, and my thoughts about virtual gaming.

Lots of pretty pictures in this one!

22 December 2017

Smuggled Touchstone Editions!

Here is some very cool news!  The Touchstone Trilogy has been republished in paperback by The Book Smugglers with scrumptious new covers by Kirbi Fagan.

Isn't that a fabulous cover?  See the others, and check out a giveaway for the whole trilogy, over at Smuggler HQ.

19 December 2017

A Bad or Good Last Jedi? (spoilers)

I enjoyed The Last Jedi a lot, which is not to say there aren't plenty of issues with the choices made in the story.

But first some













for those whose browsers display too much and ignore cut commands.

A lot of the blow-back I've seen about TLJ has revolved around Luke.  Both for his brief madness regarding Ben, for his subsequent self-exile on a not-nearly-as-deserted-a-world-as-it-seemed, and for his epic or not-epic end.

Luke was a nice kid, but the fact that he persuaded Vader to do a heel-face turn doesn't mean he's not going to have some difficulty when faced with a Baby Hitler issue.  Or whiny teen emo Hitler.  I can understand both the moment's temptation, and the agonised self-recrimination in the aftermath.  The self-exile leaving his sister and friend to deal with not only their grief, but the rise of the First Order is less easy to understand.  But since this was established in the first movie of this trilogy, it's not something I'm going to harp on in the second.

His end was epic and fitting, though.  That worked for me – both in facing the problem he had contributed to, and finally helping the Rebellion out a little, in a way that calls clearly back to Ben Kenobi's end.

The tonal shifts of humour inserted into very dramatic scenes were definitely jarring.  I didn't hate them, and they did make me laugh, but definitely jarring.

I think the thing that bothered me most was that there was an A story, where Important Rey goes to find Important Luke, and is deflected to Important Conflict with Important Kylo, while in the B story side-character Poe causes a series of issues, and sends side-character Finn and side-character Rose off on a futile escapade that ultimately achieves the death of most of the Rebellion.

Difficult to miss that these two storylines are rather divided by skin colour.

For the A story, I am very glad that Rey completely rejected any ruling of Empires, and that she failed to redeem Kylo.  I'm a little at a loss as to why she felt it worth trying – even if he really is struggling internally, he's still a murderous child-killer who has slaughtered many more people than Han Solo.  The death of Snoke and the epic throne room battle were very good, and the discovery that Kylo is not a good kid gone wrong, but someone who likes the idea of ruling a galaxy, worked very well for me.  I'm glad Rey is not related to anyone we know, though sad that her parents apparently 'sold' her (and confused as to what exactly she was sold into, since she didn't seem to be tied to anyone at all in her intro).

For the B story, I really liked Rose, and continue to like Finn and Poe.  I like that Poe appears to be designated as new leader of the Rebellion, though I thought the method of getting him there was awkward and contrived.  I'm also a little unsure why people don't hyperspace shatter Star Destroyers as a matter of course.

Finn was the worst-used: he's in danger of becoming a primarily comic character, which I felt a pity because he's such a likeable person.  I think that perhaps the writers don't know what to do with him – they haven't found an arc for him in the main plotline.  With Rey becoming a Jedi and Poe becoming a leader, the story attempts to make his role 'becoming an inspiration' – which I like as a purpose, if only the B plot hadn't completely deflated his heroism.

Rose is outright wonderful.  I loved her switch from fan-girl to taser-wielder.  I disliked the rapidity of the romantic arc – this is a story that progresses over a matter of hours, and is given precious little chemistry or foundation, though I wouldn't object to the romance if it had been set up a little more adroitly.

There is also a C story which seems to be 'the Rebellion is run by older women, but unfortunately they will all soon be dead'.  I didn't hate Leia's Force flight, though wish she'd been wearing some kind of pressure suit to make her survival less unlikely.  It felt like she was being rescued by the Force, rather than being in a condition to rescue herself.

So, overall, I enjoyed but neither outright loved nor hated The Last Jedi.  I'd have cut at least half an hour from it, and made the Poe-Finn-Rose mission a positive one, rather than primarily negative in result, even though the final scenes of an inspired child spared it from being a totally worthless venture.

Touchstone Trilogy - French Edition

Some news for the Touchstone fans. The wonderful Justine of Seraminda Editions has faced down the truly daunting task of translating Cass...