c.e. taillefer

October 22, 2016

The What If Game: The Traitor Baru Cormorant

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I mean, it’s right there in the title, yeah? The Traitor Baru Cormorant. It’s not exactly a twist ending.  Isn’t it?

(spoilers, obviously)

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September 30, 2016

Get your mind into the gutter: Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics

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If you’re into comics even the least little bit, chances are good the name Scott McCloud has crossed your radar. He’s better known for his comics about comics rather than the franchises he’s worked on, and for good reason – Understanding Comics is something I’d consider required reading for anyone working in a creative field.

Of particular interest to me is the concept of the “gutter” – the liminal space in comics (and arguably, in writing and games as well, and films and TV to a lesser extent) where the reader supplies the details of events between panels/sentences/scenes.

"Now you die!"

“I may have drawn an axe being raised in this example, but I’m not the one who let it drop, or decided how hard the blow, or who screamed, or why. That, dear reader, was your special crime, each of you committing it in your own style.”

This focus on reader participation in Understanding Comics began to highlight the ways in which I exploit similar stylistic choices in my chosen mediums of short and novel-length fiction, and games.  For example, from “Haven of the Waveless Sea”, where Fandral Staghelm relives the death of his son:

   “Again.”
       The meaty rip, the buzzing song, the sound of hope dying.
In fact, once I noticed it, I couldn’t stop noticing how often I used a similar “fade to black” style – as a cover for my own inexperience with elves being torn-apart by giant insect lords, or to give reuniting characters some privacy, a la William Goldman but also to poke fun at the reader’s own sense of imagination. All it takes is the narrator stating, “you can imagine the rest” after the beginning of a gory or erotic scene to get the readers actually thinking about it. (Don’t think of the pink elephant!) It’s a great way to pretend you’re a better writer than you are, since the readers are going to imagine whatever suits them best. It’s also one of the reasons why, a friend pointed out, that good tweets work so well as comic strips: they both make effective use to of the gutter to be funny or scary or poignant.
On the other hand, like any stylistic choice, it can be too often relied on.  One of the storytelling experiments I hope to use in my current Twine project is to write the whole story, regardless of how nonsensical or unreal it may seem, to get at the heart of a personal experience through the nitty gritty details. If the goal of a game is to promote both empathy and the sense of helplessness inherent in being trapped in an abusive relationship, going through the painful details with a fine tooth comb seems to be far more effective than letting the reader imagine for themselves, particularly if the project’s intent is to break down stereotypical media portrayals of abusive relationships.
In particular, I’m thinking of the ending of Watchmen by Alan Moore.  How much of a double gut punch is it for Ozymandias to admit his plan was already completed before the heroes ever arrived to stop him, and then to show, in explicit, bloody detail, what that plan entailed?  Moore’s goal was to play on tropes and stereotypes of superhero comics, and it’s effective both in thumbing its nose at the big Villain monologue (quite literally, Adrian says “I’m not some republic serial villain”!) and the amount of destruction that many superheroes cause in the process of saving the world. (Age of Ultron/Civil War in the Marvel cinematic universe tries this also, to lukewarm effect.) Moore’s got an explicit vision to sell in Watchmen, and sets it up via the non-linear transitions, where the reader can partake in their own version of Adrian’s plan before being exposed to the reality.
September 15, 2016

Where the Devil Don’t Go: Preacher, Season 1 (Part 3)

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(Part 1 and Part 2)

Aka Angel-Demon Baby Daddies and The Bad Stuff.

I left talking about Deblanc and Fiore till the very end for a few reasons – to give more people time to catch up (have you watched Preacher yet? HAVE YOU?) and because I love them so obviously, I saved the best for last.  In the comics, Deblanc and Fiore are barely there cardboard standouts that exist to provide some more jokers for Jesse to beat up in his search for God.  They come to Earth to look for Genesis, but give up fairly early on in favour of the pleasures of doing cocaine and masturbating. Oh, Garth Ennis, you wacky scamp.

Beware the spoilers for all of Season 1 below, as well as a trigger warning for discussions on suicide & racism.

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August 23, 2016

Bruise my knees gettin’ down to pray: Preacher Season 1 (Part 2)

Tulip O'Hare and Cassidy looking at each other
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Last week, I started writing a post about theology in AMC’s Preacher, but as you can imagine, it got a little wordy, so I decided to split it into three parts to cover the six topics I’d loosely defined in the first post. (Part one of this series, if you missed it.)  Today’s post is gonna cover two more: Grace and mercy, and Calvinism, Unfortunately.

Trigger warning in the discussion below for suicide, and pedophilia. As before, spoilers for the entire season behind the jump.

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August 16, 2016

Good Lord turned his back on me: Preacher, Season 1

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It’s been 2 weeks since the season finale of Preacher aired, so it’s high time to talk about Preacher and its theology.  If you haven’t seen the first season of Preacher, on AMC, stop before you click the cut, go find it, watch it and then come back.  I’ll wait.  Go on.

Tulip - Red Jacket

Spoilers for all episodes, including the season finale, behind the jump:

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March 9, 2016

Season of the Switch

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I promise this post is not actually about Game of Thrones. But I can’t lie, and tell you the season 6 promo trailer wasn’t the final straw for this post.  In the season 6 promo, we’re treated to the usual array of quick cut scenes, including one of two unidentifiable women kissing.  One of them looks a lot like Sansa (some on Westeros dot org speculating one of the women is Asha/Yara); of course shortly after this realization, I remembered all the awful brothel scenes from earlier seasons, so it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume it’s something from there.  Vomiting forever if both those speculations are correct at the same time.  The main thrust is, for a brief moment, I was excited. Sansa! Alive! Maybe her happily ever after with Margery isn’t outside of the realm of possibility.  But look at tv this year.  It’s a trick.

(The rest of the post contains spoilers for all 3 seasons of the 100, and season 1 of the Shannara Chronicles)

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August 22, 2015

Review: N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season

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This one may have broke me.

I don’t write very many book reviews, for someone who reads so much.  My kindle is littered with dozens of samples, and even more samples-that-became-purchases in the last year alone.  In the past twelve months, I estimate I read about 20 new books, and probably re-read a dozen more.  And yet my last book reviewed was (it’s embarrassing how long it took me to search this out): World of Shell and Bone, in 2013. 

I’ve read some really great books in the past year, like Uprooted by Naomi Novik, of Temeraire fame. Seraphina and its sequel by Rachel Hartman.  Some really clever fairy tale retellings by T.K. Kingfisher.  I’ve read some books I wasn’t enthralled by, despite expecting to love it, like Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie.  And I’ve read some truly mediocre stuff, like Virgina Boecker’s The Witch Hunter. I didn’t review any of them beyond perhaps a star rating, primarily because I was prompted to by Mother Amazon at the end of reading.

When I reviewed WOSAB in 2013, I did it because I was possessed with the need to dissect the failings of a post-apocalyptic/dystopian YA novel – probably borne out of a desire to avoid making any of those same mistakes in my own writing.  Or to warn people that a pretty cover can hide a multitude of sins.  I want to make explicit that is not the case here. The Fifth Season was a good read, with solid characters and world-building. Given my lukewarm reactions to both the Inheritance trilogy and the Dreamblood duology, I was far more invested in this book.

No explicit spoilers past the cut, but some minor ones.

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May 11, 2015

The North Remembers – Sansa’s Arc

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Warning: Here be spoilers (but no dragons) for books and seasons 1 thru 5.

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April 6, 2014

In a Relationship with: Game of Thrones – Status: it’s Complicated

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Valar morghulis, errybody.  It’s hard for me to decide what I appreciate more: “all men must die” serving as a tagline, or the new iconic crow image that’s going to be hundreds of tattoos in no time:

Image

why not both?

Spoilers for seasons 1-3 and books 1-3 below the cut!

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May 6, 2013

Game of Thrones and Sexualized Violence

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I have been mad at Game of Thrones before. I was mad when they made Daenerys’ wedding night into a graphic rape scene. I was mad at some of the asshole-clenchingly awful sexposition scenes. I was mad about the attempted rape on Sansa during the riot (and the dream-recap the next night). I was livid about the scene where Joffrey abuses two prostitutes.

Last night, I was mad enough to actually stand up and yell a lot. There was huffing. I scared Gary.

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