Friday, May 6, 2022

Quick Sips 05/06/2022

So the news has been rather front and center lately, and though I probably won’t say much on social media about it in order to amplify and center voices most impacted by what’s going on, and in order to keep my own sanity as I work with my local non-profit and allies to push for change there, I do want to offer whatever hopes I can for justice and comfort both to people as a new round of fighting gears up for human rights. I support everyone’s access to abortion and medical care that’s appropriate and right for them. This is bullshit. We will fight.

Outside of that, my attention is already stretched a little thin as I work on a number of projects and as certain events near. Before WisCon gets any closer, though, the announcement of the table of contents and the cover for We’re Here: The Best Queer Speculative Fiction 2021 has been released, and I am thrilled to be part of the editorial team (with guest editor L.D. Lewis) bringing you all this collection of unapologetically queer short SFF. The works here are sharp and defiant and joyous and very very good. You can preorder yourself a copy now in fact.

Also in that announcement is that the guest editor for 2022 will be Naomi Kanakia, whose amazing story “Everquest” was in the inaugural 2020 volume of We’re Here. I cannot wait! I think the submission portal for that is open now or will be opening shortly, so be on the lookout for that and send me all of your queer originals out this year. Please!

Otherwise, let’s see. Matt and I are back to watching Vera because the first two seasons are now included with BritBox despite that not being the case previously (I swear). And of course you can’t just watch two seasons of Vera so we are watching the whole thing again. I will say that for all the detectives who have to deal with people threatening to jump off of high places, I think Vera is the best at actually talking people down. Tricky when she needs to be, and a great judge of people. Vera is great.

In other media, Matt and I took a weekend to buy and play Return of the Obra Dinn, which aside from Matt getting motion sick because of the controls, was really fun. A horror mystery game is a nice starting point, and making it essentially a logic puzzle is great. We played for most of a day and got 27 of the fates figured out, at which point we got a bit frustrated and stopped (this was after ~6 hours of playing). The next day we looked for some non-spoiler hints and got put on the right direction to be able to deduce a lot more of the people. Surprisingly it was the scene in the second part where everyone is in the their beds that opened the floodgates, because it has the numbers on the bottom of the bunks and we could tell who was present and in some cases wearing what clothes.

It’s a very nicely crafted game, though. The opening is already fairly speculative, what with the device that lets you see the moment of death for people, but that could almost be a game mechanic more than a strictly speculative element, and it’s just matter-of-fact in the story so at first it seems like it might be a straightforward maritime disaster story. The game opens at the end of the narrative, and seems at first like it’s just a bloody mutiny. It’s not until later than the giant kraken shows up and again, that can almost be a non-speculative event. So it all builds nicely to the point where shit really starts hitting the fan, and even that comes in fits and starts.

But pacing and everything the game is intense and effective. It builds a compelling story and the mystery aspect is great. Both having to find out who’s who and in trying to piece together the whole story about what’s happening to the ship. Of course, it has its issues, but they’re relatively minor. Indeed, one of my big gripes is that the company ends up fining people for purely accidental deaths just because someone was indirectly involved with a death. The most bothersome of those is the guy who lights a cannon and is then crushed by the kraken, only for the cannon to go off, killing two people. His estate is totally fined for those deaths, and that’s kinda bullshit, ngl. Otherwise, though, it’s a fantastic game that I definitely recommend. Tricky and challenging but able to be gone through in a few days, especially if you get a few hints on where to pay attention.

In my comic book reading, I haven’t gotten much further. Askani’son was pretty good, and I’ve now started The Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix, which is related in as much as it involves the two characters and time travel and Apocalypse, but also very much its own thing. There’s no Cable and it’s pretty much staring Mr. Sinister (pre Sinister) despite the title. So yeah, that’s happening. Still thinking what to talk about on the Mutants as Metaphor panel I’ll be doing at WisCon. I think there are arguments that mutants have been used as queer, racial, and disability metaphors at the very least. Of those, I feel like racial is the messiest, and the one that the writers are most likely to sidestep or confront directly rather than use metaphor or allegory. Basically, race is something the writers actually engage with as it intersects mutants, not just as a metaphor. Disability and queer issues, though…those are more complicated despite a disabled man being at the heart of mutant issues from the very start. I think a lot more has been done recently about them, as queerness and disability have found explicit space within the comics to exist and get discussed. But yeah, still thinking a lot about the topic.

That’s about it for me, though. Cheers!


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