Arbiter Libera

Well that took a smidgen longer than expected. Only.. a MONTH since the last one? Damn. Where did the time go? Anyway, I bring you some monastic strife with Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth and warn you ahead of time it's the kind of game that needs replaying to get all cheevos if that's your thing. Fortunately, I'm lazy immune so all's good on that front. I'm also back with non-game stuff after taking a break in the last update with a healthy variety – City, Mindhunter (Season 2) and The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance for your perusing pleasure. I'll probably just do bold styling for these from now on because it's easier. Openings get way too colorful if I just post the usual formatting.

City ( Science Fiction, 1952, 251 pages )

Here we have an anthology of eight stories, albeit one connected by an ongoing narrative and threaded together with a peculiar premise – far off into the future mankind seems to have disappeared and our inheritors, intelligent dogs with their robot assistants, are piecing together what these strange beings were and how they relate to their “doggish” ways from said stories as they express varying degrees of disbelief and reverence. Quality varies on story-by-story basis and I didn't really care for the earliest ones, but as it escalates it becomes more engaging as we follow a family of Websters and their successes and failures across the centuries until they almost become synonymous with the ever-elusive humans. How did dogs learn to speak and become the new masters of the planet? What will they do when another threat rises to challenge their peaceful way of life? If you take into account my solid recommendation it falls on you to give it a read.


Mindhunter, Season 2 ( Crime, Thriller, 2019, 10 episodes )

Well, second season sure came quickly. Or should I say was late to watching the original as I mentioned some time back when I talked about it. This is honestly more of the same with two major differences that bring the season down for me. First, there's the matter of Tench's autistic/killer in the making son arc I don't really care for much myself and is either setting up the obvious or supplanting expectations. Following that would be show's increased focus on just one case, admittedly notable case of Atlanta Murders, while the usual interviews and behind the scenes stuff got shafted to a degree. I preferred the first season's structure in that sense. I'd still say give it a watch with a “see the first season” asterisk attached.


The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance ( Adventure, Fantasy, 2019, 10 episodes )

I went into this entirely skeptical, but goddamn if I wasn't impressed by the end. It goes to show practical, specifically puppetry in the Dark Crystal, with hints of CG for what's just plain impossible to do otherwise really is the way to go when it comes to special effects. By the time last few episodes rolled around I was wondering if they were going to retcon the movie entirely, but alas is just typical Netflix "let's dump the entire season at once" and then make you wait for the next season after a cliffhanger ending. If you don't know Age of Resistance is a prequel to the original movie preceding the Gelfling resistance where they rose up against their Skeksis overlords in a fantastical world of Thra. Terrific story and characters which sadly end on a cliffhanger the way Netflix shows all seem to... as they trod on their way down to a downer ending the movie itself picks up at. Heartily recommended and you don't even need to have seen the movie first.

VitoStippkow

Interesting review of The Pillars of the Earth, I always enjoy learning a bit about history when playing games. So, another game to potentially buy in the next sale :D

our inheritors, intelligent dogs with their robot assistants,

Now I’m hooked! I feel like oldern SciFi are sometimes way more imaginative and free in their stories…but maybe that’s just because today everyone expects SciFi to be “like StarWars”. I’ve got to admit I haven’t read too many modern SciFi novels though…

Arbiter Libera

I mean, I wouldn’t teach history lessons from it, but it felt incredibly grounded and not just backdrop to tell some fantasy story. For example, father abandoning his child and coming back for him still meant he lost his parental rights in the eyes of the church because he abandoned said child in the first place. Not to mention people willingly doing horrible things because they know they can get their sins absolved after the fact. Stuff like that.

Now I’m hooked! I feel like oldern SciFi are sometimes way more imaginative and free in their stories…but maybe that’s just because today everyone expects SciFi to be “like StarWars”. I’ve got to admit I haven’t read too many modern SciFi novels though…

Keep in mind it takes a while for talking doggos to take central stage because the book has to get to it. There’s a lot more about how humans are changing, going elsewhere, etc. It’s kinda sad what happens at the end. I also share your sentiment, but it may have something to do with how SF and fantasy weren’t as strictly defined or segregated back in the early days. Who can forget pulp stories about a soldier getting transported to Mars where he fights not!Orcs with cavalry saber and blaster in hand? Strangely enough while fantasy now seems to occupy the Young Adult domain it’s like Science Fiction went more and more towards hard/military SF.

VitoStippkow

I mean, I wouldn’t teach history lessons from it,

Sure, you would have to double-check everything first. Still good to know that it’s historically more or less accurate.

I agree with your assessment, the fact that SciFi and Fantasy weren’t as separated is probably one of the main reasons. I very much enjoy hard/military SciFi, so I’m not too disappointed with the direction it took, but I think variety is never a bad thing. I’ve read or heard about some russian SciFi books which at least somewhat diverge from the western authors, but I’ve never really found the time to actually read anything. Well, I’m still young and there is plenty of time to read books left, so maybe I’ll get around to it someday :)

Arbiter Libera

I’ve read or heard about some russian SciFi books which at least somewhat diverge from the western authors, but I’ve never really found the time to actually read anything.

Yeah, there’s a lot of Russian SF works that sadly never got translated to English. Even some modern authors like Vladimir Sorokin, for example.

Trent

Thank you for the Pillars review. I’m looking forward to playing it someday. Re: “You don’t have to end with a stinger every time to hook the audience,” can I give an Amen? I hate when they do that kind of thing just for the sake of it. It seems insecure, like they’re afraid their story/game isn’t fun/interesting enough to get you to continue to the next chapter unless there’s some cliffhanger/stinger. BTW, your review is entitled Memento Mori, which I imagine is a template holdover or copy/paste error.
Thank you for the review!

Arbiter Libera

Glad you liked it. Yeah, like I said each “book” feels like it’s a whole part that leads into the next. What I’m trying to say is they’re way better paced than the way Telltale left their episodes hanging. Probably because “oh, I’m getting good three hours out of this” sticks with you better than knowing you have an hour or so to work with episodically.

BTW, your review is entitled Memento Mori, which I imagine is a template holdover or copy/paste error.

I wondered what you were talking about until I actually looked back at my other reviews. The part after REVIEW is not meant to be the title of the game I’m reviewing, but rather a phrase or something that stuck with me. :D

Trent

Oh, that’s funny! Understood. :D

vigor

The game is a B, the book(at least the first one) is a AAA <3

Arbiter Libera

Isn’t there only on book and the other two were sequel that take in different periods?

GiseIIe

I also only watched the tv show, but it was so many years ago I forgot a lot!!! I really want to read the book before heading into this game so hopefully, by the time I’m done, the game would have had a massive discount or end up in a 1$ bundle!! :D

Arbiter Libera

It was in a Humble Monthly about a year ago so anything’s possible.