Hey! Thanks for reading! Just a reminder that I wrote this some years ago, and may have much more complicated feelings about this topic than I did when I wrote it. Happy to elaborate, feel free to reach out to me! 😄
The song for this post is Reach for the Summit, by Lena Raine.
Last time I talked about some lectures friends and I listened to as part of a book club. It dissolved! After one "book"! But it's for the best. I'll make a better book club! I'm the man who's going to burn your house down! Using the last book club!
Here are three things I finished recently that deserve many blog posts. Add your own faves, or tell me what you thought of them if you've had them too 😄
The Broken Earth
The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin is some of the most enjoyable fiction I've read in years. Folks who read a lot more sci-fi + fantasy call it the biggest thing to happen in decades, which I fully believe. I read Dune, Ender's Game, Heinlein, and many of the other classics, and none moved me as much as these have.
Part of the joy of reading/watching things is seeing the story for the first time, so I usually avoid reading too much ahead of time. While I get that "work should stand on its own even if you know the spoilers," learning them in real time has value too.
I'll say the following:
- What it is: you can call it either fantasy or sci-fi; it takes the elements of both without falling exclusively in the tropes of either.
- You don't need to commit to all three, if it helps you get over the hump, just pick up the first (The Fifth Season).
- The backbone of storytelling is conflict, and a lot of what differentiates a storyteller is how well they craft and describe them. I think the author's talent shines most here.
- It gets celebrated for its representation of many groups, which to me makes it the world more believable.
Celeste is a satisfying and heartwarming platformer. The dialogue is well-written, the art and music are beautiful, and the characters are charming. One of its central themes is depression and mental health, and it engages with it in some of the most affirming and relatable ways I've ever seen.
It's got tons of replay value, and does a lot with a little. If you play games, run, don't walk.
Avatar: The Last Airbender
I've never felt such a strong need to show something to children before. There are specific challenges in making things for young minds (usually kids aren't given enough credit) and conversely, there are many crutches writers use when making entertainment for adults (leaning on "grit" or violence, generating cheap conflicts). This beats both sides of this: it has you demand more from everything else you watch.
The characters are a tight ensemble, each contributing and playing off each other excellently. The world is familiar enough to be recognizable but different enough to stage this kind of adventure credibly. It's an endearing world. The action sequences are well-researched, beautiful examples of martial arts. None of the fantastical elements distract from the well-constructed conflicts and resolutions.
Again, I won't go incredibly far into spoilers, and I'll mention it took me about 3-4 episodes before I fell strongly into it. But it's perfect to wind down an evening, and there's one character I love so strongly I yell at the screen every time they make an appearance (I call this "the Appa show").
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