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[personal profile] helloladies
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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[personal profile] helloladies
Cover at for PS Be Eleven by Rita-Williams Garcia, showing three black girls skipping rope on a city street, wearing 1960s style bell-bottom jeans


After spending the summer in Oakland with their mother and the Black Panthers, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern arrive home with a newfound streak of independence, and the sisters aren't the only ones who have changed. Now Pa has a girlfriend. Uncle Darnell returns from Vietnam a different man. But Big Ma still expects Delphine to keep her sisters in line. That's much harder now that Vonetta and Fern refuse to be bossed around. Besides her sisters, Delphine's got plenty of other things to worry about-like starting sixth grade, being the tallest girl in her class, and dreading the upcoming school dance (her first). The one person she confides in is her mother, Cecile. Through letters, Delphine pours her heart out and receives some constant advice: to be eleven while she can.

Jodie: Even though we didn't co-review One Crazy Summer I think we're united in our feelings about Rita Williams-Garcia's first Gaither Sisters book. Loved, loved, loved it! You recently said 'it's a story that makes room for several simultaneous truths', and the way the book validated both Delphine and Cecile's feelings absolutely swept me away.

Did you have any particular hopes, dreams and expectations going into the sequel, P.S. Be Eleven because of the way One Crazy Summer developed? Moar words )
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[personal profile] bookgazing
book cover for The Lie shows a young soldier holding staring at his hat in his hands and a scene of another soldier standing by barbed wire in No Man's Land


Cornwall, 1920, early spring.

A young man stands on a headland, looking out to sea. He is back from the war, homeless and without family.

Behind him lie the mud, barbed-wire entanglements and terror of the trenches. Behind him is also the most intense relationship of his life.1

Daniel has survived, but the horror and passion of the past seem more real than the quiet fields around him.

He is about to step into the unknown. But will he ever be able to escape the terrible, unforeseen consequences of a lie?


God, I am so sick of publishers using book blurb code for LGBTQ books. There are gay soldiers in "The Lie", OK? This happens:

'We were laughing. He was hauling me up. We staggered together and I could smell the drink on him as well as on me. I felt drunker than I'd been all night. I don't know what happened then except our faces must have got close. I tasted my own blood and then his mouth, his spit and the taste I seemed to know already because I knew the smell of him so well. Him, himself, as if we'd come out of the same womb. How good he tasted. We were no use on our own, either of us. If I was ever going to be myself I needed him.'




Gay soldiers.2

Read more... )

Other Reviews

The Telegraph
The Guardian
Kirkus
The Historical Novel Society
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[personal profile] bookgazing
book cover showing a partial body shot of a chromatic girl with a lit up leaf design trailing all down her right arm


'I think for a long time, I thought that art could save us, could save all of us. That our capacity to create beauty was enough to buoy us above the tide of bullshit.

I thought being visible for others who had to experience the god-help-us-all or worse that we had to experience – I thought this could give comfort, company, solace in desperate hours.

I saw it all in relation to the book-of-all-books, the book of everything that’s ever been written, that has the weight of history in it, which is always written by those in power, which is likely not the side anyone reading this is usually, overtly on. It felt really important to testify, to enter into the record that we were here, that we resisted, that there was dissent. I believed that art could save lives...

Part of me still knows that art can save lives, change minds, bear witness. But it’s not enough to talk about ending homelessness, ending rape, ending war. We need to be out there – however we can do it. Making things happen on more than just a linguistic level. Because words just aren’t enough. No one has died for lack of a poem. But people die every day for lack of food and shelter...

But what I wish it could do — any poetry could do — is save the world, whether by recuperating American letters and horror movies into a feminist construct, for example (Final Girl), or by re-membering female historical figures (Kissing Dead Girls), or documenting the prostitutes killed by a serial killer (Why Things Burn), or striking out at injustice in Gotham. But it won’t work. I only have a very small cape. And there is so much to write.'- (Daphne Gottlieb interviewed at The Rumpus)


"The Summer Prince" takes questions of art and political engagement, and examines them by winding its characters up in age old artistic struggles. Can art change the world? Are artists activists? How can artists use fame to change the political establishment? And perhaps most importantly of all, what good is art if it can’t save a life?

'There’s a song.'



At the same time, because of certain problematic elements in the world-building of "The Summer Prince" (pointed out to me by various smart commentators with knowledge of and ties to current Brazil) "The Summer Prince" ends up posing critical meta-questions about how art functions in the world. How do we react to a book that adds to the diversity of science fiction, but makes clumsy futuristic changes to real world settings which end up reinforcing stereotypical outsider views? How do we react when a narrative that contains bisexual characters only goes so far in re-imagining a narrative and ends up re-creating what is a painfully familiar ending in LGBTQ literature? How do we write about this kind of book in a way that encompasses the love we may have initially felt and the knowledge you gained later? The answer – complexly, extremely differently depending on who we are and with if you’re me, with a lot help for my more well-informed friends.

Spoilers )

The Summer Prince doesn’t propose a workable way for us to save the world with art. Nor, though it tries, does it totally, successfully work at expanding the SF worlds represented in Western media. It’s not going to be a book that many can feel comfortable while reading and that is a great shame for those readers who I’m sure would like great SF set in a country they love/ see a story where men who love each other aren’t torn apart by death. It presents a world where a two boys and a girl can love each other, where they can try to save the world, and there something great in that. I just wish this were a book that could be recommended all around, instead of another work to come with caveats.

I wrote this post for Aarti's A More Diverse Universe event

Other Reviews

The Book Smugglers
Foz Meadows
The Intergalactic Academy
Black Girl Nerds
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[personal profile] helloladies
Lady Business is excited to present a guest post about Pacific Rim - one of the best films to come out of that whole sticky, summer blockbuster season- from chaila of underline everything. We're fairly confident that this post will leave you groaning about the DVD release date. Whhhy isn't it here yet?


I did not expect to love Pacific Rim, and I certainly did not expect to be bribing Jodie to ask me to do a guest post about feminist themes in Pacific Rim (this is my recollection and I’m sticking to it). I don’t usually like summer blockbusters. I do always like Idris Elba (maybe this is the time to declare my biases; if Idris Elba is in a thing, I will be interested in that thing), but I wasn’t even convinced I would see it. Then I happened to hear the director, Guillermo del Toro, talking about the movie on the radio and he made me want to like it. It seemed like more thought had been put into this movie than is usually put into summer blockbusters and I really liked the idea of original genre film trying to do a little bit better.

Spoilers: robots punch sea monsters! But this post is not very much about that )

Other reviews I liked

Pacific Rim: And why this may be the most important film you see this summer (at Gray-Eyed Filmdom on Tumblr)

Mako Mori and the Hero’s Journey (at Hello, tailor.)

The Visual Intelligence of Pacific Rim (at Storming the Ivory Tower)
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[personal profile] renay
If you would like a fiery discussion about the Hugos, please see my tag on pinboard, containing all the passionate Hugo discourse you've ever wanted! Here, instead, I want to talk about my perspective as a new fan to this process. I'm almost tempted to not count my participation last year, because I missed all the verbal fireworks due to other professional obligations. This year has been a different matter. Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
Like last year’s study, Coverage of Women in SF/F blogs (2012) has generated a range of reactions. Much has been reasoned, and we’re grateful to everyone who took the time to look closely at the data. However, some responses have been, well…interesting. Oh internet, you all know what 'interesting' means in the context of discussions about gender, right?

Luckily, because we’re bloggers, we have our own space where we can deconstruct that kind of response. And that’s what we propose to do below: each of us will be taking apart particular reactions and trying to explain just why we found them suspect by examining the language used or the critical ideas expressed about our data. Since the 101 derailing nature of these reactions made us angry, we’re just going to let that anger roar in places, while simultaneously producing a clear outline of just why we are angry and how several respondents to our study hope to misrepresent our findings.
Read more... )
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[personal profile] helloladies
A lady after our own data-loving hearts, KJ, awesome librarian and feminist mentor extraordinaire agreed to share with us some data related to gender and categorization within the NPR's Young Adult list from 2012. You can read more of KJ's writing at [personal profile] owlmoose or [tumblr.com profile] lifeofkj.





I have long been interested in the issue of representation of female authors on best-of lists and in different genres of writing, particularly sci-fi/fantasy. There were two such SF/F lists that caught my attention during the summer of 2011, both based on reader polls, one run by Tor Books and the other by NPR. There were some notable differences between how these polls were run, which lead to some interesting contrasts between their final lists, but both suffered a lack of female representation. Tor's list (2 of the top 10, 24% of the top 50) was a bit better than NPRs (none in the top 10, 15% of the top 100). There are a number of possible reasons for this, but I would look to two in particular: Tor's poll was limited specifically to books published in the most recent decade, 2000 through 2010, while the NPR list was all-time; and the Tor list was a reader free-for-all, while the NPR list was curated, 200-some nominees culled from reader submissions with some strict rules about what genres were to be included. And though I hesitate to ascribe any intent to the NPR editors' choices, their genre exclusions — horror, paranormal romance, and YA — are areas in which female authors tend to be better represented than in other areas of SF/F, particularly the latter two. Anne Rice, Charlaine Harris, J.K. Rowling, and Stephenie Meyer come immediately to mind, but the list hardly stops there. I was not the only person to side-eye this decision in terms of how many popular female authors this choice would leave out — NPR's own Monkey See blog even mentioned it as a reason that fewer women were represented — but at the time, the NPR poll editors promised that they would do a YA poll in the summer of 2012. So I was curious to see what would happen with that poll. Read more... )

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