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Considering Cyberpunk: A Look Back at William Gibson's Neuromancer

On opening Neuromancer, I was immediately reminded of xkcd’s Fictional Rule of Thumb.

Fictional Rule of ThumbPartway into the first chapter, the reader is hit with the following passage:

He stepped out of the way to let a dark-suited sarariman, by spotting the Mitsubishi-Genentech logo tattoed across the back of the man’s right hand … The sarariman had been Japanese, but the Ninsei crowd was a gaijin crowd.

After consulting a dictionary and the internet, it turns out that only two of the four words in bold above are fictional: Genentech and Ninsei. Apparently sarariman is the Japanese origin of the somewhat obscure English word salaryman, and gaijin is Japanese for foreigner. Ninsei is a fictional street in Chiba, a Japanese city near Tokyo, while Genentech is a fictional biotech company which merged with Mistubishi in the hazy past of Neuromancer.

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Fantastic Language: Helen Phillips' And Yet They Were Happy

And Yet They Were HappyI found And Yet They Were Happy on the "New Fantasy Fiction" shelf at the public library, and I was immediately drawn to how different it looked from the other books surrounding it.  In a sea of mass market paperback-sized novels, with covers of purple and black that feature wizards on the cover, Helen Phillips' lemon-yellow, simply illustrated cover stood out as something unique.

The same could be said of the text of the book itself.  And Yet They Were Happy is not a novel, it does not tell the story of a young hero on an epic quest, magic doesn't appear through spells and wizards, and I don't remember seeing a single elf.  Honestly, I'm a bit surprised that it was shelved with the other fantasy novels.

But I'm so glad that it was.

Because, you see, the magic in And Yet They Were Happy is in the language and imagery of the text itself.  It is the magic of crisp imagery, precise wording, and direct sentences.  And as such, this is a magic that has the power to travel outside of its story, into the books next to it on the shelves. 

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Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko DVD CoverI watched Donnie Darko once, in college (a long long time ago) and thought it was ok, but I would never say that really liked it, let alone loved it.  On the advice of a good friend, I recently re-watched it and found it fascinating.  

I can tell you that I definitely liked it.

I can also tell you that I definitely didn’t understand it.

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Deus Ex: Human Revolution Playthrough, Part II

Deus Ex: Cover system and HUDAlright, I’m back and have put more time into the game, and so far, I've been really enjoying it.  This setup of having Jensen near death and needing augmentations to live really helps the story become more believable.  What I mean by that is when you begin the game, after completing the tutorial and the beginning credits have finished, you'll notice the game's HUD (heads-up display)  for the first time.  It makes sense that you can see it now and not before because augmentations were made to all components of Jensen's body including his eyes, because the HUD that you see is what he sees as well.  However, when you climb ladders, the camera shifts into 3rd person point of view, and the HUD is no longer visible.  This makes perfect sense as you’re not viewing the world through Jensen’s eyes any longer.  When you duck behind cover or hide around a corner, though, and you put yourself back into 3rd person view, the HUD is still visible.  This, to me, doesn’t make much sense as far as creating the overall experience, but it certainly doesn’t ruin my gameplay either.   I’m playing the game at a 1920x1080 resolution, and the HUD really hasn’t been a hindrance; in fact, even though a lot can be conveyed on the screen at one time as compared to other games where the HUD tends to take up a lot of screen space, Deus Ex does a better job of maintaining the developer’s created atmosphere.

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A haunted Scooby gang

Anna Dressed in BloodI love Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Love. It's one of my favorite shows, and I think it's fair to say that the show's influence on me has been profound. So when I tell you that Kendare Blake's excellent YA horror novel, Anna Dressed in Blood is Buffyesque, I hope you'll understand how much of a compliment I mean that to be.

One of the things I loved best about Buffy was the interaction between the Scooby gang. All of the characters were real, and their relationships with each other were as well. That central cohort of characters is the biggest thing that made me think "Buffy" when reading Anna Dressed in Blood. (Well, that and the presence of a minor character named Will Rosenberg.)

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