Derik Badman's Journal

2020-07-25 09:27

Over the course of this week (and much of last week) I wrote almost 7000 words of a new story, which is almost a finished first draft. That's why this journal has so few (and short) entries. Somehow I just managed to sit down and keep going from where I left off each day. Right now this is the fourth in the series I am working on, though the third (which I also added a bit more to this week) is not quite done, as I am still a bit bogged down in a few parts of it (I wrote it non-linearly and then had to fill in the gaps).

I'm also still playing Ghost of Tsushima regularly. I'm somewhere in the second of three "acts", though I have nowhere near covered all the various side missions and locations scattered about the game. It's not as big as Assassin's Creed: Odyssey but it sure has a lot packed into it, much of which gets a little repetitive or kind of pointless (collectibles and visual customizations that serve little use). I enjoy the gameplay, but I am finding much of the story (especially a few of the characters) problematic. Perhaps it will change over the rest of the narrative, but so far it is far too "yeah, samurai's are awesome protector's of the people", which doesn't jive at all with my sense of how things really were (perhaps a lot colored by Sanpei Shirato's Kamui-Den which shows the samurai in very poor light and other readings I've done). The lord of the island who you spend the first act trying to rescue is an insufferable asshole noble, and I am just hoping that somewhere along the line the protagonist figures that out, since this is not the type of game where I can make any decisions on the storyline. I suspect it's headed towards some kind of rulership conflict. Some of the side characters are also pretty insufferable in their... stuck-up opinions and revenge obsessions (I think The Last of Us 2 really burned me out on the revenge narrative arc). But damn the game really impresses with the visuals of the world, the surprising variety of it, and the crazy use of weather and light. Sometimes as the sun is setting or rising a huge swath of your visual field is this soft yellow light that almost burns out everything around it, it actually makes it hard to see where you are going at times, but it looks cool.

I've also been watching Cursed on Netflix, a Arthurian fantasy (apparently based on a Frank Miller YA book???) with a whole lot of twists on the expected setup: the protagonist is Nimue, future lady of the lake (I assume), Merlin is a drunk who lost his magic, Arthur is both black and a young ruffian, Morgana is also black and a lesbian, the enemies are the pope and these fanatical paladins (not all the Lawful Good warriors of AD&D), and there is a lot more of the "fey" people. The production design is decent enough (I do like the Roman ruins that occasionally appear) as are a number of the actors, but the writing/plotting seems off to me. I think I've decided the main issues are in regards to the "bad guys". They are all (with perhaps one exception) poorly acted, silly looking, and completely lame. Uther Pendragon is a petulant whiner (and the actor is truly bad). The leader of the paladins is a tubby looking old white dude who does not seem at all scary or charismatic enough to be leading all these fanatics. And there's the obligatory young mysterious dude who wears a cloak and is super good at everything, but has so far (I'm 6 episodes in) has no personality, backstory, motivation, or... really anything. It'd be a better show by far if we never even saw any of them, if the sense of the religious fanatics was solely based on their obsessively killing of the fey people (very crusades-y mixed with inquisition) without any cuts to leaders or what not.

I finished up my reread of volume 3 of The Book of the New Sun yesterday, a volume that feels a bit more picareseque than the previous volumes, perhaps because Severian the protagonist pretty much spends the whole book travelling from place to place, but also that he has no long term, regular companions to provide any extra sense of consistency. Sometimes the various events and characters he meet seem so random, but I can't help feel like there is some thematic purpose to all of them that if I tried hard enough I might find. I do feel like in this reread I am perhaps being more careful in my reading and getting more of the details and specifics (often rather subtle) out of the prose. On a first read through it is often too easy to get caught up in the "what happens next" and novelty of the events, that elements can go missing.