THE BOOKENING TITLE #9: The Raven Boys, Maggie Stiefvater.
Standing next to him in his very alive state, she couldn't imagine that he would be dead in less than a year. He was wearing a teal polo shirt, and it seemed impossible that someone in a teal polo shirt could perish of anything other than heart disease at age eighty-six, possibly at a polo match.
Dear mystery person who gifted this to me back in June: I'm sorry it took me so long to finish it! (It was sent to me under the name 'Noah?', which was perplexing at the time and is frankly unsettling now that I've actually read the book.)
I really enjoyed Stiefvater's style; the narrative had a lot of great turns of phrase and quiet humour. ('Blue tried not to look at Gansey's boat shoes; she felt better about him as a person if she pretended he wasn't wearing them' is one of my favourite lines.) I liked Gansey and Adam and Blue, and the relationships between them. I didn't especially care for the plot - I've always found it difficult to get excited about ley lines - but the style and the characters carried me through very comfortably.
My favourite aspect of the book is the friendship between Adam and Gansey; it's so important to both of them, but Adam resents that importance because he feels it gives Gansey a hold over him. And on some level his fear might be justified; there is a part of Gansey that wants to own him. It's such an interesting dynamic. (I really love that Gansey's feelings about Blue are essentially 'yes, she feels right, this is one of the people I need.' If I get fannishly invested in these books, I suspect I'm going to end up 'shipping Gansey/everyone.)
Other parts I enjoyed: Gansey making a horrible first impression on Blue. The general sense of unreality in the scene where Gansey is threatened with a gun, as if he can't quite grasp that this is a real thing that's really happening to him. The long description of a car journey that takes ages to get to the point, the point being that the passenger is tied up in the back seat.
This novel feels very warm, somehow. It's about friendship, and how it's not always comfortable but always important. And it's also about ley lines, but let's ignore that. I liked it a great deal.
THE BOOKENING TITLE #8: The Last Beginning
, Lauren James.
Sequel to The Next Together
! A more traditional time-travel story; a less traditional romance. What I'm saying is that this is a YA novel about time-travelling lesbians. (There are spoilers in this entry, so you might want to skip it if you're planning to pick the series up.)
Like its predecessor, this was great fun and I tore through it in two days. It addressed one of my issues with the preceding book (we got to see how the break-out happened at last!), but, again, there are things I wish it had done. I thought for a moment we were going to get to see two versions of Matthew from different times meet! Don't dangle that possibility in front of me and then snatch it away!
The romance in these books is cute, but there's always a slightly unsettling aspect to it, which fascinates me. In The Last Beginning
, there's the constant sense that some sort of outside force is trying to get Katherine and Matthew together in every time. In The Next Together
, Ella shows up to announce, 'Hi, I'm from the future and I already know I'm the love of your life, because that's established historical fact in my time!' That must be so strange on both sides.
Speaking of strange aspects to the romance, my favourite part of this book was 1745 Matthew and 2040 Kate being romantic while 2040 Matthew was still stuck in prison. It's possible that my disappointment in 1745 and 2040 Matthew never meeting stems largely from my curiosity about whether they were going to manage some sort of two-person threesome. My second-favourite part was probably Tom in the alternate timeline, trying to protect and help the daughter he doesn't remember.
I mentioned in my entry on The Next Together
that I was convinced the author had written fanfiction. I have since uncovered two pieces of evidence to corroborate this. Firstly, an extract from an instant messaging conversation in The Last Beginning
:LuckyClover: please don't say it
Nuts_Meg: i'm sorry, clove. I have to. There is fanfiction about your dad.
LuckyClover: this isn't happening. i wish i was dead.
Nuts_Meg: I haven't even sent you any links yet. Wait until you hear about the werewolf soulbonding erotica I found about him and Kate.
Nuts_Meg: This is the best thing that has ever happened to me ever.
LuckyClover: i'm going to vomit all over you
Secondly, I, er, found some fanfiction by the author
. Fairly solid, as evidence of fanfiction-writing goes. She wrote a crossover between her own novel and Harry Potter
. I can respect that. If I ever published a novel, it'd be solely for the sake of writing Pokémon
My memories from the last time I watched House
are hazy, but I had definitely not
forgotten the episode 'Autopsy'. A terminally ill nine-year-old girl asks Chase for a kiss because she's afraid she isn't going to get one before she dies, and he actually does it
(just a peck, I should probably clarify) because he is Robert Chase and he makes the absolute worst decisions.
The kiss itself has always made for uncomfortable viewing, but it's much worse now that I'm closer to Chase's age than to Andie's. CHASE. CHASE, THIS IS SUCH A BAD IDEA. I realise you're trying to be kind, but seriously
(Characters who make catastrophically terrible decisions tend to be amongst my favourites to this day. I wonder whether that started with Chase.)
In the second-series House episode 'Spin', Wilson and Cameron have a guilty talk about their respective sexual/emotional affairs in their marriages.
'They would have such regrettable sex,' Rei observed.
They really would, and I'm now extremely sad
that Wilson and Cameron never canonically had miserable, guilty sex (or at least they didn't when I was watching). It would have been amazing
I was never especially into Cameron/Chase as a pairing (because it wasn't Cameron/Foreman, grumble grumble), but on this rewatch I'm finding that their scenes together tend to be pretty great. My favourite scene in the entire first series was Cameron giving Chase a lengthy monologue on sex while Chase stares at her and quietly dies inside
. And, although the circumstances are a bit uncomfortable, I love Chase's '???????????????
' expression when he goes to her apartment in 'Hunting' and she immediately pushes him up against the wall. (The only good-quality video I could find was this one
, which has a slightly odd aspect ratio. Warning for impaired consent; one party is high. Chase really isn't coming off well in this entry.)
My problem with House
is that the characters I'm most interested in are House's underlings. I want to focus on Chase and Cameron and Foreman, but House
very much wants me to focus on House himself. House's barbs are amusing, and I don't think the show would work without him, but he's probably the character who interests me the least. Each of his underlings is a terrible mess of complicated issues, and they interact with each other in ways that bring out even more
issues, whereas I feel House takes less digging; he's grumpy, sarcastic and ruthless, just as he appears on the surface. Wilson definitely falls into the 'fascinating mess of a person' category, but he gets very little screentime. I wish he interacted with House's underlings more often.
THE CAT STEPPED ON MY KEYBOARD AND LOST MY ENTRY DRAFT. That draft had been accumulating bits and pieces of potential entries for a very long time. It looks like I'm blogging with a blank slate now. I hope I didn't lose anything interesting.
I do remember that I'd recorded Housemate C shouting 'I'm not a fucking frog salesman! Why don't you fuck off?' at Rei in there, but I cannot for the life of me remember the context.
THE BOOKENING TITLE #7: The Next Together, Lauren James.
"Kate, what on earth happened?" Flo exclaimed. "We let you into the loft and the next we know you're a fugitive from the law, hiding in Scotland, and your boyfriend has been arrested for terrorist offenses!"
Kate scratched her head, embarrassed. "Yeah. It's been a hectic few days."
"Your parents are furious. They didn't even know you had a boyfriend."
This is a book about a couple who are endlessly reincarnated in different situations throughout time. It holds the distinction of being the only book I've ever read that contains both Comic Sans and the (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻┻ flipping-a-table emoticon.
This was great fun. I settled comfortably into it almost immediately, because I recognised the writing impulse that had led to the concept: it's the same reason people write fanfiction. You find some characters, you like their dynamic, and then you start to wonder what that dynamic would be like if the circumstances were different. What if they were a lady and a servant having a scandalous relationship in the eighteenth century? What if he's a nineteenth-century war journalist and she crossdresses to become his manservant? What if they're twenty-first-century scientists uncovering a government conspiracy? All scenarios this book explores!
If the author hasn't written fanfiction at some point, I will eat an entire sock.
There are a few things I wish this book had done. Firstly: if you set up multiple scandalous relationships, it's a tragic waste if nobody finds out and is scandalised by them. I kept waiting for someone to go, 'Hold on, Matthew: why are you kissing your apparently male assistant here in the nineteenth century?' and it never happened! Secondly, I'm fairly certain it's illegal to go 'well, I suppose we're going to have to break someone out of prison' and then not let your readers see how the prison break was carried out, although perhaps that'll be addressed in the sequel. And I always want love to blossom before the crossdressing is exposed in crossdressing romance stories, so I'm sad that Blackadder's 'Bells' is still the only crossdressing romance story that hasn't let me down on that front.
But, missed opportunities aside, I enjoyed this a lot. The humour and the sense of mystery carried things along very quickly, and I liked the way we uncovered one of the timelines solely through notes and documents. I got the sense that the author was having an absolute blast writing this, which made me smile.
There's also my favourite moment in the entire book. Matt and Kate are university students and have only met relatively recently. They don't know about their reincarnations. They're just starting to wake up, having fallen asleep during research. Matt, still half-asleep and affected by vague memories of his past lives, absently kisses Kate's neck. She has no idea how to react. They're not in a relationship, they've never kissed on the mouth, and he kisses her neck as if they've been together for years. It's exactly the sort of weirdness that delights me.
I don't know why I've ended up writing such a huge entry on a game none of you have played, but, er, here you go. (The last few paragraphs of the entry still concern Until Dawn but may be of more general interest to people who play videogames.)
I ended up spoiling myself for just about everything in Until Dawn, because I was far too freaked out to keep watching when I didn't know what was going on, and it's amazing how much of a difference it made. Every QTE was terrifying when I was unspoiled; every decision felt like a matter of life or death. Once I'd looked things up, I was absolutely fine; I could just watch and enjoy this story about a group of flawed teenagers in a horrible situation without being constantly on the verge of dissolving into petrified sobs.
In a way, I do regret robbing myself of the opportunity to play the game blind, making my own bad decisions and seeing who survives to the end. On the other hand, even if a first playthrough is probably a powerful experience, I feel it wouldn't be an experience I'd enjoy.
It's really interesting to see the way the game's situation brings out certain qualities in its characters. Mike and Sam are at their absolute best when they and their friends are in mortal peril (even if Mike screws up sometimes). Emily very much looks out for herself, but she's able to stay focused and keep going. Ashley doesn't do well under pressure at all, although, to be fair, she's put in really horrifying situations. You might die! You might not! It's completely up to the person who's weighing your life against something else, and all you can do is wait helplessly!
I think an Animorphs AU for Until Dawn could work really well: it's a similar 'hey, teenagers, here's an awful situation you've suddenly been thrown into, you're going to have to think strategically to not die, good luck!' concept, and I'd love to see how the Until Dawn characters would handle it. Given that there are eight characters involved, though, it'd probably be too ambitious a project for me to attempt.
(Would Mike be the leader? Sam? Maybe Mike's the leader in name and Sam's actually the one who keeps things together.)
I don't think I'll be writing any more Until Dawn fanfiction, although admittedly I thought that after my first Until Dawn fic, and indeed after my second. But I've written 'Mike and Sam are miserable and make out', 'Mike and Sam are miserable and don't make out' and 'Mike wants to make out with everyone (and is miserable)'. Where else can I go? I can't just write endlessly about Mike being miserable, but it's the only thing my heart is interested in.
(I got a review on my Mike/everyone fic that said 'THIS WAS SADDER THAN I THOUGHT IT WAS GONNA BE. ;A;', which I'm pleased with because it is exactly according to my evil plan. The summary is 'Mike Munroe has a lot of attractive friends, and he'd make out with all of them if he could.' Hey, this'll be silly and fun! NO. NO FUN. MISERY. IT'S UNTIL DAWN.)
If I could write sex, I'd probably write a fic where Mike and Sam are the only ones left alive, they're still trapped on the mountain, and they end up banging unhappily because they're probably going to die anyway and it's the only thing they can think of to do. Alas, it's not in my skillset.
I've been skipping around and watching bits of a lot of different Until Dawn Let's Plays, and not just because I could watch Mike cut his own fingers off all day. I really like watching people slowly warm to Mike. He makes such a bad first impression (the first two things he does are 'participate in a cruel prank' and 'jumpscare you'), and I love the way a lot of players gradually progress from 'who's this arsehole?' to 'actually, I'm really invested in this arsehole's survival.'
Something I found interesting: at one point, when ChristopherOdd was playing as Mike, Jessica called to Mike for help. ChristopherOdd commented on 'the sheer terror in her voice, calling out our name'. When you play as Mike, does Mike's name become your name as well? Referring to playable characters in the first person is common enough; if Nathan Drake falls off a cliff when I'm controlling him, I'll usually say that I fell, rather than that Nate fell. Referring to yourself and the playable character together as 'us' isn't unheard of; you might say, 'Come on, Mike, let's see what's over here' (I'd never say 'we fell off a cliff' in the Uncharted example, though). But thinking of the name of the character you're playing as 'your' name strikes me as unusual.
Then again, if you saw me playing Silent Hill 2 and asked what was happening in it, I feel I might say that I'm looking for my wife. I don't know why names are specifically the point at which I feel a barrier falls between me and the playable character.
Are there any studies on when people refer to playable characters in the first person? Does it happen more with customisable protagonists, with silent protagonists, with protagonists that share the player's gender? Does having more than one playable character in the game affect it? (I feel I don't generally use 'I' in Final Fantasy games, for example, where you can usually control the actions of multiple characters.) Does whether the player likes the protagonist affect it? It's a difficult subject to Google, unfortunately. I don't want to know about first-person videogames; I want to know about people talking about videogames in the first person!
I think this is my fourth 'pairing one particular character up with everyone
' fic. Previous characters who's received this treatment: Patrick Jane, Jeff Winger, Nagito Komaeda. Now it's Mike Munroe's turn, apparently. (There's a definite 'overconfident arsehole' pattern emerging, although one of those characters is in fact an underconfident arsehole.) I'm not sure how I got into this particular ficcing habit, but, hey, I'm enjoying myself.
This turned out a little more serious than I was expecting.Title:
SatisfiedFandom: Until DawnRating:
Mike Munroe has a lot of attractive friends, and he'd make out with all of them if he could.( SatisfiedCollapse )
thought I was going to write one Until Dawn
fic and then never touch the fandom again, but apparently not. It's just got so much scope for psychologically tormenting characters. I can't resist that. Here's fic number two.Title:
Alone TogetherFandom: Until DawnRating:
Sam is the sole survivor. In another world, Mike is the only one who made it out. Somehow, they meet.( Alone TogetherCollapse )
Five hours. I think this may be the fastest I've ever gone from finishing a canon to posting fanfiction (although admittedly I've posted fanfiction prior
to finishing a canon before). Here is a fic about Mike Munroe being a psychological wreck and making out with Sam, because he looks like Nathan Drake and she looks like Elena Fisher and that's the law.Title:
AfterFandom: Until DawnRating:
Mike and Sam have been broken by their experiences. It's a little easier when they can be broken together.( AfterCollapse )
Maybe I should watch a Let's Play of Until Dawn,
I found myself thinking recently. I've heard it puts a lot of emphasis on choice and consequences, and that's something I'm interested in: how the same videogame can tell different stories on different playthroughs. Let's look some videos up.
And then I remembered that I hate
horror, but it was too late. BYE, SLEEP. I tried to stop watching, but then I realised I'd never be able to put this story behind me unless I got some sort of resolution to it, so it looks like I'm locked in until the ending.
(The specific Let's Play I've been watching is this one
by the Scary Game Squad, in case any of you are fans of the 'a group of teenagers go to an isolated lodge, HORRIBLE THINGS HAPPEN' brand of horror. If you are not
a horror fan, be more sensible than me and steer clear; it contains gore, jumpscares, decapitation, scary chase sequences, scary nothing-happening sequences etc. The commentary's pretty good; it's not grating, for the most part, and they joke around but still take things seriously enough for them to remain scary. They're also endearingly invested in keeping everyone alive. There's one character they all dislike, and they joke a couple of times about leaving her to die, but then she gets into terrible peril and they spend the whole chase sequence yelling encouragement at her. 'Go, baby girl! Go, baby girl!')
I feel you can probably tell a lot about a person by the scenes they choose to rewatch. In Until Dawn
, there are a handful of scenes I keep coming back to. One of these scenes is 'Mike and Sam meet each other in the lodge, the first friendly faces they've seen respectively since all hell broke loose'. That's perfectly respectable. I probably 'ship them. Fine.
(I have a feeling that I started 'shipping them before
that scene, which is odd, given that I'm, er, not sure they'd interacted on-screen on any previous occasion. I was delighted when they actually met up. I have such low expectations of my pairings. 'It'd be nice if these two could be in the same room at some point.')
To my slight concern, the other scenes I've watched multiple times on assorted different Let's Plays are:
- Mike finds his girlfriend semi-conscious and thinks at first that she's dead.
- Mike gets his fingers caught in a bear trap and has to amputate them with a machete.
Apparently Mike is just one of those characters I want to see suffering physically and emotionally, so I suppose it's good news for me that he's in a horror game. Maybe it's because he looks and acts a bit like Nathan Drake. I love both Mike and Nate, but in a scary way that means I'm happiest when they're bloodied emotional wrecks.
(There's one Let's Play where the player gets Mike's hand caught but really doesn't want to amputate his fingers, so he keeps trying to make Mike prise open the trap instead. On the first two attempts, the trap snaps shut again. The third time, Mike whimpers
before he gives it another go. It's great. I'm the worst person in the world.)
About half of the scenes in this have been posted to this journal before, but the other half are brand new! I thought I'd gather together all my old Project Komaeda
scenes and fill in the gaps so I could post them to AO3. Komaeda's the worst and I love him.
I was going to say 'this is the worst fic title I've ever had' and then remembered that I named my Pokémon/Merlin
crossover 'Gotta Camelotch Them All'.Title:
Nagito Komaeda Makes Everyone Uncomfortable and Possibly Sleeps With Them AllFandom: Super Dangan Ronpa 2Rating:
Komaeda gets very close to a lot of people on the island. Hinata has to see more of it than he'd like.( Nagito Komaeda Makes Everyone Uncomfortable and Possibly Sleeps With Them AllCollapse )
I just checked my e-mail drafts and found this in an otherwise empty missive, with no subject and no recipient. I don't know why I wrote this.
Admittedly, Ross didn't have a spotless track record with marriages, but he felt pretty good about this fourth one. He'd figured out the one common factor in all his failed relationships, and this one was going to work out. Probably.
'Hey, man,' Chandler said quietly to him at the reception, 'I hate to be the one to tell you this, but I think your spouse is gay.'
Ross stared at him for a long moment. 'Please tell me you didn't marry me just so you could make that joke.'
'Sorry,' Chandler said. 'I actually have the divorce papers with me.'
In other old-fandom news, I'm rewatching House! It's been so long. I really want Chase, Cameron and Foreman to have a weird threesome where they spend the entire time complaining about their boss.
In a way, this rewatch is a bit embarrassing. I usually like to read my old entries on things I'm rewatching or replaying, so I can see what I thought of it the first time around and how my perception has changed. But most of my entries on House are from about ten years ago, when all my entries were very breathless and fangirly and overemphasised EVERYTHING.
I'm still a breathless fangirl, of course, but I have at least cut down slightly on the italics and allcaps.
It seems I've never entirely let go of my Cameron/Foreman 'ship from all those years ago. There's an episode where Dr Hamilton (the doctor Foreman previously worked under) offers Foreman a partnership. Hamilton asks whether Foreman is seeing anyone, and Foreman replies, 'Kinda-sorta,' and Hamilton asks whether she'd be willing to travel if Foreman took a new job. And the next scene was Foreman telling Chase and Cameron about the job offer, and I really wanted him to take Cameron aside and ask if she'd come with him. I was very sad when I realised his 'kinda-sorta' was actually referring to the girlfriend I'd forgotten he had.
Even though Cameron and Chase are my favourite characters in the show, I always slightly resented the canonical Cameron/Chase for not being Cameron/Foreman.
My favourite moments in House are the ones where House's underlings form very unprofessional emotional attachments with the patient of the week. Particularly when it's Chase or Foreman; I love Cameron, but she forms intense emotional attachments with people who are suffering very easily, so it stands out more when it's one of the boys. DON'T COMFORT A DYING WOMAN BY PRETENDING TO BE HER DEAD HUSBAND, FOREMAN. I mean, do, because it's interesting, but you really shouldn't.
I keep remembering how people really hated Cameron back in the day. She's such a sweetheart! And not just a sweetheart, but an interestingly screwed-up one!
I wonder how House fandom would be different if it were around today. Cameron and Foreman (but, alas, probably not Cameron/Foreman) would be more popular, I think, and House himself less so. On the downside, I fear there would be enormous, tedious arguments about whether it's morally wrong to 'ship House with any of his underlings.
I haven't talked about Danganronpa 3
for a while, but I have things to say about the most recent episode (episode 10 of the Despair Arc). This entry also contains spoilers for episode 9 of the Future Arc.( Thoughts on Despair Arc episode 10, Danganronpa 3.Collapse )
I always seem drawn to the aggressive, hotheaded arsehole who makes terrible decisions in Dangan Ronpa
. Mondo, Kuzuryuu, Sakakura... (I don't love Sakakura as much as I love Mondo or Kuzuryuu, but he's definitely the character introduced in Danganronpa 3
I care about the most. Which is strange, because after the first episode my thoughts were 'well, I haven't seen enough of these new characters to form an opinion on most of them, but SAKAKURA IS TERRIBLE.')
The other Dangan Ronpa
character types I'm drawn to are 'good-hearted, relatively normal people in the midst of over-the-top casts' and 'boys in green hoodies who are voiced by Megumi Ogata and talk a lot about hope'. Naegi is at the overlap point for these two types and is therefore the best character.
I went to a recording of The Unbelievable Truth a few days ago! The panellists were John Finnemore, Lucy Porter, Jeremy Hardy and Frankie Boyle; the host, as ever, was David Mitchell. It's the first time I've seen Lucy Porter live; she's never entirely worked for me on the radio, but I quite enjoyed her here.
I don't think I'll ever reach the ridiculous lengths of my recording recaps in my university days, but I actually remember a handful of things!
The aim in The Unbelievable Truth, if anyone's unfamiliar with the rules, is to spot the ridiculous truths concealed in a lecture composed almost entirely of nonsense. Finnemore, lecturing on the subject 'Donald Trump', opened with, 'Donald Trump is the current Republican nominee for the office of President of the United States.'
Hardy: (buzzes, very hesitantly)
Hardy: I mean... God help us, but that is true, isn't it?
Mitchell: Yes, it is, in fact, true.
Hardy: I thought for a moment maybe I'd woken up and it had all been a horrible dream.
Finnemore: It's a game about ridiculous, unbelievable facts. I had to open with that one.
Other apparently true facts I've now learnt about Donald Trump: his failed business ventures include 'Trump Steaks', 'Trump Vodka', 'Trump: The Game', 'Trump Magazine', 'Trump University', 'Tour de Trump' (an American version of the Tour de France, apparently - although, given the name, perhaps the bikes would just be riding over Trump himself) and a travel website called 'GoTrump.com', and he once wrestled another millionaire to the ground and forcibly shaved him.
Porter: A woman stabbed her husband at their wedding reception with the knife used to cut the cake. He survived but spent the rest of the night in tiers.
Mitchell: I've always found the cake-cutting part of weddings very dull. The sense of jeopardy might help to enliven things.
Porter: It's more exciting when they snap each other's necks in the first dance.
One of Finnemore's claims in his lecture on spies was that David Mitchell had been recruited by MI6. Jeremy Hardy buzzed it as true.
Mitchell: Unfortunately, that is not true.
Hardy: But that's what you'd say if you had been, isn't it?
Mitchell: No, no, I'm not a spy.
(Finnemore resumes lecture)
Mitchell: (in a very loud 'confidential' whisper) I AM.
Porter: Whereas China has the Great Wall of China, Great Yarmouth has the Wall of Great Yarmouth, which runs the length of Great Yarmouth and is the only manmade structure visible from Great Yarmouth.
Finnemore: (buzzes on Porter's lecture) ...oh, I don't like Lucy's smile.
Mitchell: There's no need to be rude.
Later, Finnemore declared, 'I don't like Frankie's haircut' - but it had been too long for a call-back and, for a strange, uncomfortable instant, it seemed like he was just insulting Boyle out of the blue. He very hastily explained his intention.
Mitchell: (on snail racing) Unfortunately, it's been discovered that the practice of removing the snails' shells 'to make them go faster' actually just makes them sluggish.
Finnemore screwed up several retakes of one line, eventually cursing and throwing his script across the stage mid-sentence.
'You know, you worry a lot about tiny details,' Mitchell said, 'but that last take was fine.'
Producer: All that remains is for me to tell you that this will be broadcast... (checking dates)
Producer: This will be broadcast on the...
Entirely unrelatedly: there's a picture of Winhill in Esthar's Presidential Palace. I never noticed it before, in all the thousands of times I've played Final Fantasy VIII. Oh, Laguna.
I've been waiting for the start of a fresh month to share this story! On the first of August, I was contacted by one of my clients.
'I've got a new book coming in for you to edit,' he said. 'It'll need to be ready by the end of the month.'
'Okay! How long is it?'
'About thirty days.'
Unfortunately, I also have to share a story where I'm
the one who ends up looking silly.
'I don't know why I finished Life Is Strange
and immediately started writing horrible fanfiction about [unpleasant character],' I said to reipan
'Don't take this the wrong way,' Rei said, 'but I'm really not surprised.'
'I don't know. I've always thought of my writing as reasonably wholesome.'
Rei laughed in my face.
Here's the thing: I was serious. And then I started scrolling through my Archive of Our Own account
, trying to find the most recent wholesome thing I'd written. And scrolling. And scrolling. And scrolling.
'Let's see... psychological trauma, psychological trauma, two teenagers discuss the horrible murders of their classmates, someone is afflicted with a hallucinogen and nearly kills her brother, someone isn't
afflicted with a hallucinogen and nearly kills her friend... does "someone ropes a friend into having sex with her purely so she can use her pregnancy to evade execution" count?'
'A guy has the memories of fourteen other people loaded into his head and has a mental breakdown, a photographer deliberately cuts off her fingers so she can't hold a camera... hey, my fic where the Final Fantasy VIII
cast become l'Cie is all right!'
'Doesn't that mean they're doomed to become either monsters or crystals?' Housemate C asked.
'IT'S A LOVELY WHOLESOME STORY ABOUT MORTALITY.'
So, yes, it turns out that everything I write is horrible
and somehow I never even realised it. So much murder! So much guilt! So many psychological breakdowns!
This is a genuine revelation and I don't understand how I never noticed it before.
APPARENTLY I'VE WRITTEN MORE LIFE IS STRANGE
FANFICTION. timydamonkey mentioned enjoying the brief prison visit scene in Split
, so I started wondering whether that was a concept I could explore further.Title:
At Arm's LengthFandom: Life Is StrangeRating:
Arcadia Bay has been saved, time is back to where it should be, and Max has no one to talk to about her trauma. Except maybe the asshole in prison who caused half of it.( At Arm"s LengthCollapse )
I really wasn't expecting to write Life Is Strange
fanfiction, and then somehow this happened. Please be aware that it contains imprisonment, sexual threat and general creepiness
SplitFandom: Life Is StrangeRating:
Max feels like she's living three different lives simultaneously. Maybe she really did break time.( SplitCollapse )
I finished Life Is Strange
The 'finding bottles to shoot' sequence was a bit frustrating, but I was very entertained (whilst also being horrified) afterwards, when I screwed up my aiming instructions so badly that I accidentally made Chloe shoot herself. Sorry, Chloe! Sorry for the trauma, Max.( Spoilery thoughts on the entirety of Life Is Strange.Collapse )
So that was Life Is Strange
! It's been an interesting experience. It has its flaws as a piece of interactive fiction, and there are moments when it almost feels a bit too
dark and bleak, and there's the uncomfortable sense that the characters might say 'lollerskates' at any moment, but overall I've enjoyed it a lot.
I think Max herself was my favourite character. Her internal observations were good fun, and her relationship with Chloe was fascinating, and I liked her conflict over whether she's nice out of the goodness of her heart or just because she wants people to like her. It was pleasant to inhabit her for a while. Even if she did once say 'wowser' three times within the space of ten minutes.
Videogame morality is an odd thing. In Red Dead Redemption
, you can shoot innocent passers-by whenever you feel like it and then cleanse your soul by protecting a ranch from criminals. By performing a minor good deed, you've paid for your murder and you're morally pure again. It's very strange.
It can sometimes be hard to shake off the 'good things undo bad things, right?' brand of videogame morality when you're playing games with actual moral consequences. In the first Bioshock
game, you occasionally encounter children who have been genetically altered and brainwashed. You can either cure them of their brainwashing or harvest some sort of power-enhancing substance from them, killing the child in the process. When th_esaurus
played, she sometimes rescued and sometimes harvested. She ended up getting the bad ending, which castigated her for her cruelty.
"I barely harvested any of them!" she exclaimed at the screen.
"It's not okay if you only kill some
of the children," I said.
And yet I recognised where her reasoning came from; in many videogames, we're trained to think that we can deliberately do something bad and then avoid any consequences by doing something good, even if the bad thing is deeply, deeply awful.
I'm not saying that this is an impression we carry into real life; I'm fairly certain most people who play videogames can tell the difference between real-world morality and videogame morality. But it's a curious difference between real life and many videogames with morality systems. I suppose it's difficult to construct a system more complex than 'good things get you goodness points, bad things get you badness points and they cancel each other out.Undertale
takes a really interesting approach to moral choice. Unlike Bioshock
, where 'more power' is the temptation for immoral actions, Undertale
tempts you with something much more valuable: more story, more game. But it deliberately makes the 'murder everything' route as unenjoyable to play as possible. You have to really make an effort
to do awful things. You have to consciously want to go down the evil route. You have to be determined. The game judges you intensely for it, and that judgement feels earned; there was no reason you couldn't have done a nice
I've been thinking about this because I've been playing Virtue's Last Reward
. The point of the murder route in Undertale
is that you don't have to do it. You can beat the game quite happily without killing a single enemy. Virtue's Last Reward
is different; there are a lot of different routes, some of which you can access only by being a huge arsehole, and you have
to go down most of them in order to beat the game. Do your actions have no weight because you're ultimately required to take them if you want to reach the ending?
There's another question in Virtue's Last Reward
: do your actions have no weight because you can canonically jump to another timeline in which you weren't an arsehole? Or do they have an inescapable weight, because all timelines in the game are canonically real timelines that exist in some capacity? The moment you hit the 'betray' button, that's a thing that happened in some universe. But, in the end, it doesn't really feel like your decision, because the game acts as if that universe exists before you truly bring it into being. It punishes you based on your future actions, which it knows you'll take because the game will eventually corner you into making them.
Wow, Virtue's Last Reward
is really difficult to explain.
In any case, if you're cruel in Undertale
, it feels like your
cruelty. You could have made friends, you could have helped people, and instead you made the conscious choice to kill everyone. The game judges you, and you know you deserve it. If you're cruel in Virtue's Last Reward
, it's easy to mentally defend yourself. I betrayed an unconscious child in that game, because I reasoned that, hey, that might be the only way I could deactivate a bomb in another timeline and save everyone. The game judges you, and you go 'hey, you were the one who made me do this!'
This isn't a criticism of Virtue's Last Reward
, which I'm enjoying! I like the way it examines the concept of different timelines branching out from different choices, and I'm looking forward to seeing what it's working towards. I suppose I just felt like rambling about videogames for hundreds of words, because I always feel like rambling about videogames for hundreds of words.