Sunday, September 24, 2017

DragonCon 2017: The Logic of Magic

A panel on developing magic systems, with Jim Butcher, Kathryn Hinds, Faith Hunter, and Elizabeth Moon.

Yeah, sorry about the audio on this one. Turn the volume up to maximum, and concentrate real hard. Otherwise, you may not be able to hear anything.

Again, I didn't do this video, so I have no control over how it turned out. Though I'm going to have to listen to this one later. I couldn't get into this one for love or money.

Enjoy.






Saturday, September 23, 2017

DragonCon 2017: Keeping the Peace: Liaison Characters in UF

Whether striving to improve communication & relations between supernatural & human communities, or between different groups within the supernatural world, our panelists’ characters often find themselves in the position of peacemaker.

Panelists: Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Delilah S. Dawson, Kim Harrison, Nancy Holzner, Faith Hunter.

This is another one I couldn't get into. Because, again, the hall was WWWAAAYYYY too small for Jim Butcher ALONE, nevermind all of the other authors.

And the audio is a little finicky at times. The farther away you get from the camera, the less you can hear people. Even with headphones, you might want to edge the volume higher and higher. That's all.







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Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Catholic Geek: DragonCon Report

The Catholic Geek: DragonCon Report 09/17 by We Built That Network | Books Podcasts:






Declan Finn (Love at First Bite) reports on the Dragon Awards, and the latest news about Monster Hunter International, Harry Dresden spin-offs, Jim Butcher tales, and some words from the late, great Jerry Pournelle.





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Saturday, September 16, 2017

A Review of Death Note (Anime)

After encountering the trailer for the Death Note for Netflix, I looked up the general premise. Then I looked up a video on YouTube.

Then I ended up binging the whole bloody show.


A Shinigami (A Japanese god of Death) named Ryuk is bored. His world is a mess, a disaster. On a lark, for something to do, he takes his death note--a black notebook that will kill anyone whose name is written down in it--and throws it down to Earth, just to see what happens.

Enter Light.

Light Yagami is about to graduate high school. The son of a police officer, he finds the world grim, unchanging, and ... boring.

And then he finds this little black notebook. The Death Note comes with instructions, written in by Ryuk.

Light reads the rules of the death note, and first tests it out on a hostage taker, and then a rapist in progress... and five days later, he has filled the Death Note with hundreds of names. When Ryuk comes to him to elaborate on the death note, Light declares that "I will happily sacrifice my soul to make a better world." But Ryuk explains that, no, the Death Note will not come with selling his soul, but "merely" forfeiting his place in Heaven or Hell. With that bit of new information, Light's mission becomes all about him becoming a god, out to start the creation a new world, free of criminals.

There's little buildup to Light's declaration. It's just that sudden.

But we have a show to start, and all of this is episode 1.

After the first thousand dead criminals, it becomes obvious to all that it is the work of a mass murderer, and he is labeled "Kira" -- killer.

Over time, we see that Light is possibly one of the most evil SOBs I think I've ever seen outside of Sauron. Seriously, there's not one person near him he doesn't manipulate. He drives at least one person to suicide without using the death note. At least one person he spent 30 minutes of screen time with (IE: who knows how much in-story time with) and gets to know them, connect with them, realize what a good and loving person they are ... and then kills them, because there's a possibility that they know something that might expose him. Friends? What's a friend? Allies? An ally is just a tool, a pawn, for his own convenience. Light needs no one. Light cares for no one but himself. Even his family seem to be of value to him only as an extension of Light's own ego, and there are points in the plot where even they seem to be expendable.

At the end of the day, Light is charming and suave, and I have read blood-sucking vampires written by Ringo and Correia that have more humanity than this guy.

But good God, it is hard to tell which of these people are scarier.  Light wants to be a god, and reshape the world where only "hardworking good people" exist. Light jumps onto this bandwagon fairly quickly. He goes from killing criminals, to killing cops investigating him, to ultimately deciding with one person "You have defied me, the new god! For that alone, you will die."

Then there's Light's girlfriend, Misa. Yes, his girlfriend. On the surface, Misa is every anime blonde cliche made manifest. She is bright, she is perky. She is outgoing ... and she might be more evil than Light is. She possesses her own death note, and is a fan of "Kira." Because that's what every mass murdering serial killer needs -- a groupie.

Bute when Misa gets going, the bodies start dropping all over the place.

While Light, at the very least, makes certain the ascertain guilt or innocence of criminals who drop dead--or cops coming after him directly-- Misa's quite happy to off anyone who even expresses disapproval of "Kira." 

While Misa comes off as a ditzy blonde, I don't think there's a single person in this entire series who classifies as stupid. We won't even go into some of the various and sundry oddballs, nut jobs, and seemingly "normal" people who join Light's team. Though it is amusing to have Light deal with girl trouble at some particularly perilous points in the story. It almost gives you hope that he's human. Don't worry, those moments don't last long.

Then we meet L, the detective in charge of hunting Kira.

L is the Holmes brothers, Nero Wolfe, and a stack of eccentricities rolled into one. There is an awful lot of thought put into this character, as well as the various and sundry back and forth between L and Light that would make for a great Columbo episode. Heck, there's even a tennis match here that Alfred Hitchcock would love. The tennis matches here are interesting-- but only one of them is literal. Watching the various and sundry thought processes of L and Light ping ponging back and forth between each other is particularly entertaining.

One of the things that makes Death Note particularly tragic is that, at one point, Light has to give up the death note. Without the notebook, he loses every and all memory of being Kira. During this time, we see that Light is actually not a bad guy. He's particularly bright, and possibly on par with or smarter than L. Like Aquinas put it, the corruption of the best leads to the creation of the worst -- and Light is one of the worst.

And that's before Light starts to truly spiral out of control

The animation is largely smooth and fluid. The artwork is creative and beautiful. The faces are unusually well defined for anime. The music is great and atmospheric, and borrows from Gregorian chant.

Overall, I was surprised at how easily I was sucked into this series. There is little of the hysterics that usually mark anime, and the characters are largely rich, well-developed people, with a host of strengths and foibles. Light is possibly the best murdering psychopath since Hannibal Lecter. And yes, I have read Dexter. Light makes Dexter look almost shallow in comparison, and I enjoyed those books.

All in all, I recommend it. It's currently on Netflix.



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Friday, September 15, 2017

DragonCon 2017: Magnificent Men of Sci-Fi/Fantasy

The top men of our genres discuss their careers & offer advice to new writers. Panelists: Kevin J. Anderson, Jim Butcher, Larry Correia, Peter David, and Larry Niven.

Yes, this has audio ... it's audio only.

Sorry, again, this isn't mine, so no, I can't fix any problems that arise. I just find the stuff, and hope you enjoy it.

Enjoy, all.



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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

DragonCon 2017: From the Beginning: The Evolution of the Urban Fantasy Protagonist

The authors on our panel have played vital roles in the advancement of the Urban Fantasy genre. We’ll discuss how their seminal characters have developed & changed over time, all while continuing to influence the field.

Panelists: Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Laurel K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Sherrilyn Kenyon.

Skim this one. Why? I think you'll see why, after a while. I have never seen Jim Butcher go passive aggressive before, but when he says, "I think Joss Whedon has something to do with Urban Fantasy. Just a little," he sounds just a might put out.

Best lines

BUtcher: "Laurell writes Hammer villians, Harry Dresden is a magical Spencer for Hire. We take archetypes of different genres and use them. Genre is just a publisher's problem."

Pat Briggs: College writing progessors can rip books apart, they can't put them together.
Kenyon: I was kicked out of a writing track as being too disruptive.
Briggs: I got a C on a story that ended up in a NY Times bestselling anthology.

Butcher will also be doing a Goodman Grey Spinoff, as well as one for Maggie Dresden. Yes, really.

Fun fun fun.


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