What makes a story engaging? It’s something I’ve been wondering as I make my way through Samuel R. Delany’s Babel-17. It’s a science-fiction novel from 1966 about a young linguist, Rydra Wong, trying to decipher the language – codenamed ‘Babel-17’ – of an alien Invader. It’s a novel that’s very much focused on ideas and has very little colour. The thing it most lacks, in my opinion, is memorable characters.
Ever since its release, I’ve been slowly making my way through Mass Effect: Andromeda. It’s been a good time so far, despite some janky animations and other glitches. The game was developed by more or less the same team who also did Dragon Age: Inquisition, so the missions are spread out across a little more than a handful of very large, open maps.
It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog post for my own website. What can I say? I’ve been extremely busy with my editorial duties at Karwansaray Publishers and have only recently started to feel like I’m getting a handle on things. I’m planning on rebuilding this website, as well as building a few new ones, in the not-too-distant future, so great things – I hope – are ahead.
But the reason for writing a new blog post is this absolutely asinine article over at PC games website Rock, Paper, Shotgun. It’s written by Alec Meer and has the kind of headline that makes you scratch your head. Without even a hint of irony, Meer declares: ‘I wish Mass Effect was like The Expanse.’ I’m utterly baffled. I simply don’t understand why you would complain, in this instance, about X not being (more) like Y for reasons that I will briefly explain below.
Id Software, developers of the first Doom, released in 1993, created a new instalment in the series, also called Doom; it’s probably intended to be reboot. I loved the original Doom back in the day, which spawned the first-person shooter genre. In a few words: the new Doom is fantastic. It’s fast-paced, looks gorgeous, and plays great. What struck me most about the game is its near-perfect pace: in Doom, the lulls between the action give the game a heart-pounding sense of rhythm.
Spring is the time to clean out the house. I’ve emptied the attic (for the most part) and given away a few boxes’ worth of books. One of the books that I’ll never give away is The Ultimate Dinosaur, edited by Byron Preiss and Robert Silverberg, and published in 1992. I got this book as a present when I was still very young and very much into dinosaurs. It’s a curious book, and noteworthy.
A few weeks ago, I renewed my mobile phone contract, which came with an iPhone 6S. I used to have an iPhone 5S, but went with a Nokia Lumia 1520 back in 2014. I liked my Windows Phone, especially the quality of the photos it took, but the apps left a lot to be desired. Since I like to play games, I felt that it made sense to go back to Apple and revisit some of the games I once played on my iPhone 5S and to check out some of the newer games that have appeared on the platform since then.
Recently, I managed to convince my girlfriend to watch all of the classic Bond movies, one after the other. We started with Dr No (1962) and then watched From Russia With Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), and finally Diamonds Are Forever (1971). They’re all notable in their own way, though in my opinion, the first four are probably the best and Diamonds is clearly the weakest entry in this series of seven films.