Gotham: Pilot

I watched the pilot of Gotham over lunch today. I don't like to go all-out positive over a TV series from just the pilot, but I have to say this was a very good start. Spoilers follow, of course.

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Posted by Drew Shiel on September 23, 2014 at 14:59

Recommendations

What book should I read next?

Nobody actually asked this, but I'm going to make some recommendations anyway, because I'm in a mood to dispense wisdom, and I think that recommending books to read is about as wise as it gets.

So if you're looking for general life advice, then I recommend David Allen's Getting Things Done. Saying it changed my life is something of an exaggeration, but it certainly turned me from someone who had a long list of projects and not a lot of success in finishing them into someone who, by and large, manages an insanely busy calendar of stuff, gets projects finished, and doesn't go mad in the process.

If you're looking for a good graphic novel, I reckon you can't go far wrong with Saga or The Unwritten. Saga is still running, as far as I know, but there are two or three collections already, and The Unwritten has about eight collections, and is one of the better comics I've read in years. It's up there, to some degree, with Sandman. Saga is a sort of science-fiction, science-fantasy setup, detailing the life of a child whose parents were on opposite sides of a long, long war. The Unwritten is about a guy who's part Christopher Robin, part Harry Potter, and his quest to find out if he's real or fictional.

And if you're looking for a novel, well, Ann Lackey's Ancillary Justice is pretty thoroughly stonking. The point of view character is one avatar of a multi-selfed artificially intelligent spacecraft, who has a rough time perceiving gender signals, and therefore calls everyone "she". There are elements of the Left Hand of Darkness in it, and a bit of the feeling of Charles Stross' work on Saturn's Children, and maybe a bit of C J Cherryh. It's very much worth your time.

Posted by Drew Shiel on September 13, 2014 at 21:07

Doctor Who: Deep Breath

There was a time, about six, seven years ago, when this was one of the premier Doctor Who sites, at least according to Google. And lo there was traffic, and therefore there were comments, and mostly the comments were strange, or at the very least obsessed with whether Rose would come back, and then if Rose would come back again, and then if Martha was a better companion than Rose, and so on. It was very much about the companions, in the comments.

This mystified me a little; that's not really how I watch Who. I've always been more interested in the big plots, the aliens and their interactions, and the long-term continuity. The concept of the Church of the Papal Mainframe, and its Silent confessors, for example, is a fascinating one. But by and large, with the huge focus on the companions in the series itself over the last few years, I haven't been paying as much attention.

It is possible that I will be paying more attention to the Twelfth Doctor. Spoilers, of course, follow, for the first episode of Series 8: Deep Breath.

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Posted by Drew Shiel on August 25, 2014 at 16:44

Max Gladstone: Full Fathom Five

Earlier this month, I reviewed the first two books in Max Gladstone's Craft Sequence. I have now, finally, finished reading the third, Full Fathom Five. I say finally; it was only released on July 15th. But two weeks is a long time for me to take to finish a book - I was savouring it, stretching it out, and making it last, which I almost never do.

Some minor spoilers follow; nothing you wouldn't find in the first few chapters.

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Posted by Drew Shiel on July 30, 2014 at 11:05

Top MMOs by Revenue

There's a post on Polygon listing the top MMOs by Revenue. The top one, obviously, is World of Warcraft. However, the second is Lineage, and the fourth is SW:TOR, which I find very odd. This isn't a lifetime revenue measure, either; it's the last year. The top four here made more than $100 million in that time.

There are some games on there that I've only barely heard of, too: TERA:Online is not on my radar at all, likewise Blade and Soul, and RIFT. And I've really only heard of Lineage 2 by way of it's predecessor. Looks like I'm more out of touch than I thought - or else I'm paying attention to a very Western-only section of the MMO demographic, and not getting much from the Korean-focussed market where Lineage and its relatives are popular.

Posted by Drew Shiel on July 21, 2014 at 11:39

The New D&D: Swaying Opinion

Earlier, I expressed my doubts concerning D&D's 5th Edition.

However, since then, I've had a look at the Basic Rules, and read some impressions from other gamers.

In particular, there's a line in the Basic Rules which says "You don't need to be confined to binary notions of sex and gender", and goes on to explain that androgynous, hermaphroditic, and various other points along the gender spectrum are ok to play. I will concede a great deal of slack to 5th Edition on the basis of that one line. It also makes sure you know you can play male or female characters of any race without hindrance.

It's not enough to make me buy the books, but I might give the game a try at a convention, and I'm certainly much better disposed toward it.

Posted by Drew Shiel on July 10, 2014 at 09:56

Max Gladstone's Craft Sequence

A very long time ago now, when I first started writing on dukestreet.org, I had intended the site to be mostly book reviews, and sometimes even essays about fantasy and sf books in general. That never really happened, for one reason or another. However, there are a few books I want to review in the coming weeks, and I'm pleased to be able to fulfil some of my original thinking.

The first ones I'm going to look at are Max Gladstone's Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise, the first two books in the Craft Sequence.

Some spoilers are inevitable, but I've tried to keep them to an absolute minimum.

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Posted by Drew Shiel on July 1, 2014 at 16:24

Speculative Browser Game

I am thinking about a particular browser game, and I'm not sure it exists. It's a sort of a combination of Farmville, of Neverwinter's Gateway, and of the auction house of World of Warcraft. Maybe a bit of Civilisation thrown in, or EVE's Planetary Interaction. Let me list some features.

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Posted by Drew Shiel on June 30, 2014 at 14:35

The New D&D: 5E, Next, or... Whatever

When I first heard of the new, new D&D - the 5th Edition, or D&D Next, as it was called for a while, I was interested. 3E had been a really good streamlining and improvement on 2E, and 4th Edition was a completely different game. I was expecting 5E D&D to be another different game, with something built in from previous versions, but new material as well. I signed up for the playtest to see what was in there.

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Posted by Drew Shiel on May 20, 2014 at 12:40

Pathfinder Online

I've been following the development of Pathfinder Online with considerable interest, ever since the people making it said it'd be a sandbox game. One of the things I'm particularly pleased with as it goes along is the sheer quality of the posts on the development blog.

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Posted by Drew Shiel on January 9, 2014 at 15:53

Letting Go

The Reboot proceeds apace. But one of the things that it has to include is letting go of some of the old stuff I liked, as well as the old stuff I'd gotten tired of. In particular, the jump of 50 years in the world's timeline, and the inclusion of a major world-spanning war in the intervening time means that a few of the characters I liked had to go.

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Posted by Drew Shiel on January 7, 2014 at 15:35

Rebooting a Campaign World

I am a creature of sudden enthusiasms, and unlike many of my friends, I never quite let them go. I can go from not having thought about something to being evangelistic about it in hours, sometimes minutes. Epic Metal, WWI-era Jazz, sonnets, the Fate system, even back to mailing lists, I've latched onto pretty damn quickly. However, I don't think I've ever seized on an idea with quite such vim as the suggestion by Nina that I reboot my main campaign world.

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Posted by Drew Shiel on December 28, 2013 at 13:44

Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor

I have, in the past, been a little unforgiving with regard to the show-runners for Doctor Who. I've been several notches less than merciful with my opinions regarding RTD's dulling of emotional impact by not letting go, and by trying to turn the Doctor into a one-note angst-bunny.

I am therefore pleased to say that considering everything, I quite liked The Day of the Doctor.

Spoilers follow...

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Posted by Drew Shiel on November 25, 2013 at 13:06

Agents of SHIELD, Season 1, Episode 6: FZZT

If you haven't seen the episode yet, probably best not read the rest of this. Suffice it to say that this is the episode where, for me at least, the show comes together.

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Posted by Drew Shiel on November 6, 2013 at 14:37