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[personal profile] helloladies
Jenny: Okay, it's episode four and Black Sails is finally, finally setting sail for its shores of magnificence! The Walrus takes a time-out from piracy to perform some important ship maintenance; we learn a very great deal more about Mrs. Barlow's background and her history with Flint; Eleanor does some maneuvering to acquire the guns that Flint needs to go after the Urca; and the Max plotline continues to make me want to maroon the showrunners on an uninhabited island to die of thirst.

Spoilers Ahoy! )
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Jenny: The fandom newsletter The Rec Center used the words queer and pirates and postcolonial text to describe Black Sails back in June, and I left cartoon dust trails in my wake dashing off to my TV to watch it. Though the first season is notoriously worse and less substantive than the rest of the show, it took approx 30 seconds of run time before I was (DON’T DO IT) (I’m definitely doing it) (JENNY NO) (JENNY YES) …. hooked.

(Get it?)

Months have passed since then, and I have not yet grown tired of talking about Black Sails. Accordingly I badgered the wonderful Jodie into watching it and doing recaps with me -- mainly because I want an excuse to rewatch the show, but also to give myself an outlet for the thinking and reading and talking about this show I wanted to be doing anyway. We’ll be discussing it on an episode-by-episode basis, and we’d love for you to watch along with us!

Spoilers Ahoy )
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Transistor cover


From the creators of Bastion, Transistor is a sci-fi themed action RPG that invites you to wield an extraordinary weapon of unknown origin as you fight through a stunning futuristic city. Transistor seamlessly integrates thoughtful strategic planning into a fast-paced action experience, melding responsive gameplay and rich atmospheric storytelling. During the course of the adventure, you will piece together the Transistor's mysteries as you pursue its former owners.


Susan
"Buy a bundle with the soundtrack?" I asked myself at checkout. "Why on earth would I do that?!" LITTLE DID I KNOW.

Ira
LITTLE DID YOU KNOW. As the game's developer, Supergiant, is apparently wont to do, the soundtrack for this game is absolutely gorgeous and woven into its storytelling and characterization. The music is a great way to start this review because it's so much a part of the game's atmosphere and worldbuilding. The game is set in a city, Cloudbank, that is ever-changing based on the votes of its populace, from what's on restaurant menus to the colour of the sky to the weather. We start the game with Red, the female protagonist, and a man's voice coming from the titular sword, the Transistor, and we face the Camerata as our antagonists. The cast also includes a variety of diverse characters, including people of colour and queer folks, though the way the narrative treats them is... complicated. Red is a silent protagonist, but the sword talks plenty, providing narration, commentary, and interaction. This is accomplished by absolutely superb voice acting on the part of Logan Cunningham, the voice of the Transistor. It's especially effective when he has emotional moments with Red or when he's being affected by the Spines.

Transistor screenshot: stopping to hum


Susan
Logan Cunningham carried so much of the game for me, entirely on the strength of his voice acting. The man in the transistor is our narrator, our primary source of explanations and world-building, and the voice acting adds so much colour and emotion – which is really what you need in a game where the protagonist can't speak for herself. The way he says Red's name breaks my heart, there's a world of backstory in the way he says "Hello again, Sybil," his pitch-perfect reactions – Ira, I don't think I can tell you how much I liked that voice acting, and the bits you picked out are the bits that got me too.

(The other voices are good too – Royce sounds like Matthew McConnahey's character in True Detective, played back at a slower speed, Asher is the right level of awkward stiltedness for someone trying to reveal and conceal the truth at the same time, and the distortions of Sibyl are appropriately unnerving – but the man in the transistor is the stand-out part for me.)

The voice acting is also what sold me on Red and the transistor's relationship in the early stages of the game. Who and what they are to each other isn't really clear for at least half of the game – I admit, I spent the first few levels going "Please tell me he's not a charming creeper taking advantage, that is a trope I recognise" until I caught up. But through the voice acting, it's crystal clear that he adores her, even though he's essentially talking to himself the entire game.

This structure – the transistor speaking mostly in monologue rather than dialogue – means much of the story and characterisation is told in gaps. Because Red doesn't speak at all during the game, you have to actually look for her characterisation. A lot of it is done through what the other characters say about her, or through her gestures and comments on the OVC terminals – public-access computer terminals set up all over town to enable the mass voting that Cloudbank relies on – but interacting with most of the terminals is completely optional, which means that you can actually skip half of the characterisation of the game's main character. But the way it's done is excellent - she can leave comments on news items and surveys, so you can watch her type, delete, type -

("Is it following me?" she writes, but she posts something different entirely.)

Transistor screenshot: stopping to hum


And there are only two chances that I've found to have Red and the Transistor actually interact, both of which come through the OVC terminals (one I actually MISSED the first time around - when I say that it's possible to actually skip some of the characterisation, I'm not kidding!).

Ira
At this point I want to pause and consider the problem of silent women. Read more... )

SPOILERS BELOW

Spoilers )
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Book cover of Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia


Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are off to Alabama to visit their grandmother, Big Ma, and her mother, Ma Charles. Across the way lives Ma Charles's half sister, Miss Trotter. The two half sisters haven't spoken in years. As Delphine hears about her family history, she uncovers the surprising truth that's been keeping the sisters apart. But when tragedy strikes, Delphine discovers that the bonds of family run deeper than she ever knew possible. (Source)


Both Ana and I reviewed One Crazy Summer, the first of Rita Williams-Garcia's books about the three Gaither sisters, their Pa, Grandma (Big Ma) and their activist mother. Join us as we (sadly) see the trilogy finish up and co-review the final book, Gone Crazy in Alabama.

Read more... )
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Cover of Nnedi Okorafor's book Lagoon showing a green illustrated sea scene with squid, sharks and a person at the bottom of the ocean surrounded by a spotlight


Today Jodie is joined by Meghan, from Medieval Bookworm, for a co-review of Nnedi Okorafor's Lagoon. Did this novel of aliens, squids and a magic closely tied to Lagos' oceans sink or swim with the ladies?


Read more... )
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American version of The Shattering   Australian version of The Shattering


Seventeen-year-old Keri likes to plan for every possibility. She knows what to do if you break an arm, or get caught in an earthquake or fire. But she wasn’t prepared for her brother’s suicide, and his death has left her shattered with grief. When her childhood friend Janna tells her it was murder, not suicide, Keri wants to believe her. After all, Janna’s brother died under similar circumstances years ago, and Janna insists a visiting tourist, Sione, who also lost a brother to apparent suicide that year, has helped her find some answers.

As the three dig deeper, disturbing facts begin to pile up: one boy killed every year; all older brothers; all had spent New Year’s Eve in the idyllic town of Summerton. But when their search for the serial killer takes an unexpected turn, suspicion is cast on those they trust the most.

As secrets shatter around them, can they save the next victim? Or will they become victims themselves? (source)


Spoilers.

Jodie: I remember you were a huge fan of Healey's first novel Guardian of the Dead. Do you want to start off by talking about how the experience of reading The Shattering compared to reading Guardian of the Dead? Did you enjoy it as much and if so, why? And what were your favourite elements of The Shattering?

Renay: I loved that novel! It's been some time since I read it, but I really loved the main character and the rich world building of that story. Coming away from The Shattering, though, I do think I prefer The Guardian of the Dead, although this book was fun, too. That's because this book was harder for me, because of the POV switches — first person to third — that I have a lot of trouble with while I'm reading. I get bumped out of the story, and it doesn't help I'm not wild about first person narration so the constant back and forth was really jarring. The Shattering suffered a little because of that, and it took me 70 or so pages to really get into it. Plus, I'm unsure about the pacing. But before we dig into all that, my favorite element was the renewal of friendship between Keri and Janna and watching Sione gain confidence in himself. The friendship elements here were really strong! Healey does great friendship. What about you? Read more... )
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Illustration by Wesley Allsbrook showing Essie with her purple braid wearing a suit and carrying a gun

It is probably best to for us to embrace subjectivity, to withhold judgement. Let us say that the entity believing himself to be Matthew Corley feels that he regained consciousness while reading an article in the newspaper about the computer replication of personalities of the dead. He believes that it is 1994, the year of his death, that he regained consciousness after a brief nap, and that the article he was reading is nonsense. All of these beliefs are wrong.
(...)
“It’s 2064,” Essie says. “You’re a simulation of yourself. I am your biographer.”

Ana: "Sleeper" by Jo Walton is a story that presents us not only with a technologicaly advanced world where it's possible to create a AI consciousness based on your understanding of a historical figure, but also a world where the stark economic inequalities we're familiar with today have been greatly magnified. The dystopian nature of this world becomes increasingly obvious as the story progresses, thanks to passages such as this:
She finds it hard to imagine the space Matthew had, the luxury. Only the rich live like that now. Essie is thirty-five, and has student debt that she may never pay off. She cannot imagine being able to buy a house, marry, have a child. She knows Matthew wasn’t considered rich, but it was a different world.

Later on, Essie tells the simulation of Matthew that,
“The class system needs to come down again. You didn’t bring it down far enough, and it went back up. The corporations and the rich own everything. We need all the things you had—unions, and free education, and paid holidays, and a health service. And very few people know about them and fewer care.”

This is not new territory for Jo Walton. Although at first glance this story is very different from the Small Change trilogy, they also have quite a few things in common. One looks towards the future and another towards an alternate past; one is science fiction and the other alternative history interlaced with crime — but all the same, the themes and political concerns at the heart of the two works are closely linked. I wanted to start by asking you what you thought of the world depicted in "Sleeper". Do you think that despite its brevity the story manages to set up a vivid picture of the threats of uncontrolled capitalism?
Read more... )

You can read "Sleeper" for free at Tor.com.
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[personal profile] helloladies
What does it mean when a book is released as YA fantasy in one country but adult fantasy in another? What IS epic fantasy, anyway? Should everyone read One Piece (YES)? Does it matter if most of the awesome parts of a book have to be found in hindsight and require qualification? Are revenge narratives over kingdoms even interesting anymore? Does Joe Abercrombie like pain and suffering to the exclusion of everything else*? Renay and Ana from The Book Smugglers tackle these questions and more using thousands and thousands of words.

* lies; we don't tackle this at all, because the answer is obviously yes.


cover and blurb although the blurb got a little overwhelmed with itself )




Spoilers.

Renay: So, that happened. Read more... )

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Ira is an illustrator and gamer who decided that disagreeing with everyone would be a good way to spend their time on the internet. more? » twitter icon tumblr icon AO3 icon

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