Speech jamming gun: a step toward a dystopian society?

The world may not end this year, but we might end up living in a dystopian society anyway. It looks like Big Brother is taking another step forward.
I came across this article the other day that talks about the creation of a “speech jamming gun.”
Oh sure, while I want to shut up the annoying, shrieky people (or *coughmykidsinthestorecough*) I’m not entirely sure this is a good idea.
The story behind the speech jammer is this: Japanese researchers Kazutaka Kurihara and Koji Tsukada created the SpeechJammer device based on the principles of Delayed Auditory Feedback (DAF). According to the researchers, DAF has been used successfully to treat stuttering. (Where they made the leap from “treat stuttering” to “forcefully shut people up” I’m not quite sure, but leap they did.)
Continue reading “Speech jamming gun: a step toward a dystopian society?”

First Impressions: I Am Alive (XBLA)

[wpspoiler name=”First Impressions vs. Reviews” ]First Impressions are based on demos while Reviews are based on entire games.[/wpspoiler]
I Am Alive tells the story of a man who spent over a year crossing the ruins of a ravaged country to get back home to his family. He’s practical and cautious, prepared with just enough of the right tools and abilities.
Gameplay is also practical and cautious with just the right amount of badassery.
Ubisoft makes such a wide variety of games from Farcry to Rayman so depending on how you’ve personally interacted with Ubisoft, this gritty, post-apocalyptic, personal journey might be something to add to the deck of awesome or something very unexpected but still very awesome. Continue reading “First Impressions: I Am Alive (XBLA)”

Book Review: This Perfect Day by Ira Levin

[1.Provided for review by Open Road]
Considered one of the great dystopian novels-alongside Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange and Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World-Ira Levin’s frightening glimpse into the future continues to fascinate readers even forty years after publication.
The story is set in a seemingly perfect global society. Uniformity is the defining feature; there is only one language and all ethnic groups have been eugenically merged into one race called “The Family.” The world is ruled by a central computer called UniComp that has been programmed to keep every single human on the surface of the earth in check. People are continually drugged by means of regular injections so that they will remain satisfied and cooperative. They are told where to live, when to eat, whom to marry, when to reproduce. Even the basic facts of nature are subject to the UniComp’s will-men do not grow facial hair, women do not develop breasts, and it only rains at night.
With a vision as frightening as any in the history of the science fiction genre, This Perfect Day is one of Ira Levin’s most haunting novels.
Grade: DNF
The trouble with classics and parents of a genre is that they often use tropes that are very common to the modern reader, or tropes that are outright nauseating due to values dissonance. Even if these things were acceptable and new when the book was written, a modern audience may struggle.
I struggled with this book. It’s not that I’m a girl with no love for the classics and no ability to look beyond the demands or the era in which a book was written- I’m probably one of the few people who reads classic literature for fun.
I just… really stuggled with this one.
Continue reading “Book Review: This Perfect Day by Ira Levin”

Book Review: This Perfect Day by Ira Levin

[1.Provided for review by Open Road]
Considered one of the great dystopian novels-alongside Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange and Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World-Ira Levin’s frightening glimpse into the future continues to fascinate readers even forty years after publication.
The story is set in a seemingly perfect global society. Uniformity is the defining feature; there is only one language and all ethnic groups have been eugenically merged into one race called “The Family.” The world is ruled by a central computer called UniComp that has been programmed to keep every single human on the surface of the earth in check. People are continually drugged by means of regular injections so that they will remain satisfied and cooperative. They are told where to live, when to eat, whom to marry, when to reproduce. Even the basic facts of nature are subject to the UniComp’s will-men do not grow facial hair, women do not develop breasts, and it only rains at night.
With a vision as frightening as any in the history of the science fiction genre, This Perfect Day is one of Ira Levin’s most haunting novels.
Grade: DNF
The trouble with classics and parents of a genre is that they often use tropes that are very common to the modern reader, or tropes that are outright nauseating due to values dissonance. Even if these things were acceptable and new when the book was written, a modern audience may struggle.
I struggled with this book. It’s not that I’m a girl with no love for the classics and no ability to look beyond the demands or the era in which a book was written- I’m probably one of the few people who reads classic literature for fun.
I just… really stuggled with this one.
Continue reading “Book Review: This Perfect Day by Ira Levin”

Comic Review: 30 Days of Night #1

30 Days of Night #1 (of 3)

Part 1 of 3. The story of an isolated Alaskan town that is plunged into darkness for a month each year when the sun sinks below the horizon. As the last rays of light fade, the town is attacked by a bloodthirsty gang of vampires bent on an uninterrupted orgy of destruction. Only the small town’s husband-and-wife Sheriff team stand between the survivors and certain destruction

At first I didn’t like the look of 30 days of Night. It was dark and smudgey like it had been drawn in a hurry and someone was trying to hide something. Then, like a Monet, I found the ambiguity beautiful. It was a part of the story, the setting, and the feeling imparted by not knowing exactly what that thing might be. Continue reading “Comic Review: 30 Days of Night #1”

Fiction Review: Wormwood, by D.H. Nevins

[1. Wormwood was provided for review by Black Wraith Books]
In the post-apocalyptic paranormal thriller, Wormwood by D. H. Nevins, the Earth has been decimated by a legion of half-angels. But while most of these creatures are bent on sending all humans to their final resting place, one, Tiamat, is tormented by the tasks he is called upon to do. When he rescues a woman named Kali, both their lives change forever. Kept alive by the grace of Tiamat, Kali defies him by trying to save as many of the human survivors as she can. The attraction between them is irresistible, but can Kali trust one of the half-angels who has sworn to destroy her world and everyone in it? And can Tiamat justify helping one of the very people he is meant to kill? The more he tries to keep Kali safe, the more his own life is in danger. As Kali struggles to find a way to survive in the Earth’s vast, devastated landscape, she finds herself plagued by the half-angels hell bent on her destruction. Forced to trust Tiamat, the one being who could prove to be her greatest enemy, she walks a thin line between life and death.
 
Grade: B-
Wormwood is a curious book. I enjoyed it a great deal, but a few unignorable flaws stopped it from being an A grade for me.
Continue reading “Fiction Review: Wormwood, by D.H. Nevins”

Book review: The Last Condo Board of the Apocalypse by Nina Post



Publisher’s blurb:[1. Review copy provided by Curiosity Quills Press]

Kelly Driscoll tracks down monsters for a living, but the job isn’t what it used to be.
Vampire hunters are the new big thing, but Kelly doesn’t swing that way. When a reclusive client hires her to locate a rival angel, Kelly’s search takes her to a downtown highrise that has become home to hundreds of fallen angels and dimension-hopping monsters.
As the fallen angels take over the condo board, argue over who’s handling pizza delivery, and begin planning for a little shindig otherwise known as the apocalypse, Kelly must team up with an unlikely group of allies to find her target and keep the fallen angels at bay. In the process, she befriends a reluctant Angel of Destruction, gets tips from a persistent ferret, uncovers the mysteries behind Pothole City’s hottest snack food empire, and tries to prevent the end of the world.
The Last Condo Board of the Apocalypse is a light-hearted urban fantasy novel, combining angels, monsters and other supernatural elements with realistic characters and a comedic tone.

I…am not quite sure what to say about this one. I had a really hard time writing this review, because I want to say why it didn’t work for me, but I don’t want to give away huge chunks of the plot. Especially since the WTFery goes into overdrive in the last half of this thing, and from my experience most people don’t like it when I give away huge chunks of the end of a book.
But. I will try my best to explain why this left me in an ambivalent state of dazed confusion without giving away the ending. I will TRY. But be warned: this review may end up with a boatload of spoilers in it anyway. So if you’re planning to read this book and don’t want to know what happens, then read this review AFTER you’ve read the book. If you don’t care either way, then by all means, read on.
Continue reading “Book review: The Last Condo Board of the Apocalypse by Nina Post”

Review: Bastion (XBLA)

“There’s like a kid who wakes up and everyone’s dead and the world is gone.” That was how my husband described Bastion to me.
“Ew.” Was my response. “That sounds terrible and sad and not like a game at all.”
“I guess I can see that. It is pretty sad… Meh, try it,” he said, handing me the controller.
I settled in and tried it.

Immediately I was sucked into the story of The Kid as narrated by the old man with a voice made for storytelling. The Kid and I had the same questions: What happened? Where’d everyone go? Where’d the world go? For the saddest premise in the world I jumped into Bastion feeling motivated and curious.
The controls were intuitive and the game was forgiving while I acclimated myself to my new surroundings. “The Kid just raged for a while,” The Narrator said, prompting me to move on from smashing all the boxes, objects, and general scenery as is customary in semi-similar action games. I found it easy to defeat my enemies as my ability was scaled proportionally with theirs. As the story unfolded and I learned about The Kid, Caelondia, and The Calamity that got us to the world as it is.  I fought slow moving enemies with slow weapons until I able to choose between brute force and speed. Eventually I was able to upgrade certain aspects of my gameplay using potions from the Liquor Store[1. It was called something more clever but it sold potion upgrades that were named to sound like liquor. eg.: Were Whiskey].
Your goal is to fight your way through The Wilds (levels) and collect Shards  to build up The Bastion, a mysterious situation that is the solution to the Calamity according to the narrator who clearly isn’t telling you the whole story.
The whole story is really what makes the game. While I was playing because it was a game I stuck with it because I wanted to  get to the end of the story– and I was the one who would get there. The Kid falls because I fall and he continues on because I continued on. Somehow Supergiant Games too that evocative part of books and movies and campfire stories and brought it to an action-adventure game.
All parts of the game worked harmoniously from the controls to the story to the design to the music[2. The music is unbearably AMAZING in this game. I normally don’t even notice but there were levels I didn’t want to finish for fear of never hearing the song again.] I was immersed.
I rarely finish games, I know “boo” “hiss,” I just get done playing before the game is done and if there isn’t enough of a story I don’t care if I don’t know how it ends. This game, I needed to know and I enjoyed playing. One of my few grips with Bastion was at one point I realized the forward motion of the story slight over shadowed the fact that it is in fact a video game: Once you complete a level you can’t go back to it. There was a level that I accidentally completed because the finish the level button and the attack button were the same and I happened to be standing by the exit… So i was done, never to complete that level to my satisfaction again until my second play through.
Overall, I would emphatically recommend Bastion as a game, story, or album.
[rating:4.5/5]
Check out some on the beautiful screenshots:

Book review: How to Make a Golem and Terrify People by Alette J. Willis



Book blurb from publisher’s website:[1. Review copy provided by Floris Books via NetGalley.]

“You think you’re a fairy godmother or something?” I asked.
“Or something,” Michael agreed.
Edda is tired of her nickname, ‘Mouse’, and wants to be braver. But when her house is burgled on her twelfth birthday, Edda is more afraid than ever. That is until new boy Michael Scot starts school. There’s something peculiar — and very annoying — about know-it-all Michael. He claims to be a great alchemist who can help Edda overcome her fears by teaching her to build a golem. But surely they can’t bring a giant mud monster to life? Can they?
Winner of the Kelpies Prize 2011.

Okay, I have a confession to make. I buy children’s books (middle grade and young adult) and use the excuse that I’m buying them for my kids. Seriously, my daughters are two and three and a half–they’re not exactly going to be cuddling with the Percy Jackson series anytime soon. But you bet your soggy winter boots in Alberta that I bought the entire set. I read them all, too. (Yes, I also have all seven Harry Potter books. Yes, I read them all. Yes, I’ve seen the movies. Well, except for the last one, the Blu-Ray of which is sitting on my desk somewhere.)
But in my defense, I’m just pre-screening these books for my kids. You know, for when they’re old enough to sit still for longer than thirty seconds and can actually read (not just recognize the alphabet and their names). Assuming they like fantasy. Because, um, yeah, that’s all I buy. (Ahem.)
When I was going through NetGalley the other day, the title “How to Make a Golem and Terrify People” jumped out and started waving its arms at me. Do you really think I can ignore a jumping golem? No, I cannot. So I requested the book.
And I loved it. I would’ve read it aloud to my kids if the giant, wailing mud-monster wouldn’t have scared the sleep out them. (Literally.) Unfortunately for me, the book is published in the UK and the print version is hard to find here (I read an e-ARC). Otherwise I would’ve bought a copy and saved it for the kidlets. (The only time I buy print versions of novels now is when they’re for my kids. If they’re for me, I get the e-book version.)
Continue reading “Book review: How to Make a Golem and Terrify People by Alette J. Willis”

Post-apocalyptic Reading — Impressions: THE JACKAL DREAMING by J.A. Caselberg

Book blurb, from publisher’s website:[1. Review copy provided by Musa Publishing]

A dark god is awakening and a young temple scribe holds the balance of the world in her hands.
Deep beneath the temple, young Tarith makes a discovery, one that will take her on a journey of learning and danger.  The Dreaming God is waking, and it is only Tarith who holds the balance of power within her hands.  Or is it?
Tarith’s journey will take her across vast lands and numerous encounters to try to restore the balance of power that keeps the world safe.”

I need to make a confession. I have not willingly gone out and bought an epic fantasy in a…well, in a long time. I’m currently editing a traditional fantasy (*ahem*releasesinApril*ahem*); you know, the kind with good wizards and bad wizards and lots of magic thrown around. I’m also editing two urban fantasies (ones that, thankfully, do not have any vampires in them whatsoever).
I haven’t read an epic fantasy in a long time. Probably because I’m a bit burned out on the repetitive UFs and I got tired of the whole genre.
But then! The lovely people over at Musa Publishing sent us this book for review. And suddenly I remembered why I like fantasy.
Seriously, this book was that good.
Continue reading “Post-apocalyptic Reading — Impressions: THE JACKAL DREAMING by J.A. Caselberg”