pedanther: (Default)
Fiction books
David McGillivray, Walter Zerlin Jnr. The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen's Guild Operatic Society's Production of The Mikado
Terry Pratchett. Carpe Jugulum (e)

In progress
Terry Pratchett. The Fifth Elephant (e) (re-read)

Non-fiction books in progress
Pauline Scudamore. Spike

short, screen, and stage )
books bought and borrowed )

Top of the to-read pile
Josephine Tey. A Shilling for Candles
pedanther: (cheerful)
1. I mentioned that the Rep Club will next be doing our annual season of one-act plays, then The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In an excess of enthusiasm, I have signed on for both, and there are very few evenings now that I'm not rehearsing for something. It makes a change from last year when I didn't get to act in anything at all, but I may end up having to beg off the Christmas Show just to get a bit of a rest.


2. At the gaming group, we played Stay Away!, in which the players represent a group of explorers in an isolated location who have to figure out which of their number is now an inhuman Thing in disguise, before they all get turned into inhuman Things themselves. (The flavour text and illustrations are all jazz-era Lovecraftian, down to namedropping R'lyeh, but I suspect the real inspiration is something that isn't out of copyright yet, particularly since the standard tool for Thing-destruction is a flamethrower.)

I said before that I don't get on well with games that are all about watching people's body language to figure out who's the traitor, but I do better with games where there's an abstract mechanic and things to do other than make and deflect accusations. The formal mechanism of this game involves drawing, playing, and trading cards: useful cards, like the flamethrower and the barricade, and other cards, like the one that says, The person who gave you this card is an inhuman Thing - and now, so are you...

I had a stroke of luck in the first game we played: my starting hand included the card which lets you prove you're not the Thing, and so did the starting hand of the more experienced player next to me. That meant we each had someone we could trust watching one flank, and also that I could learn from how he assessed the other players without having to worry that he was making stuff up to throw me off. We ended up being the last two humans in the game. And then one of the Things got him with a flamethrower, and I was the last human, and then I did something unwise and the Things won.

The second game went a lot quicker. Fairly early on one of the players was accused of being the Thing and completely failed to produce a convincingly innocent response. After that, the rest of the table closed ranks and it was only a matter of time before a flamethrower was found and deployed, securing victory for the humans.

The third game went even quicker than that, because less than one turn around the table a player got hold of the flamethrower and decided to torch one of his neighbours on spec, and it turned out that the neighbour was, in fact, the Thing, producing another easy victory for the humans.

The fourth game was another long one like the first. At one point I was one of only two humans who knew for sure the identity of the Thing. Then, while I was concentrating on setting the other one up to take a shot with a flamethrower, I let my guard down and got Thinged. My former ally did get his shot, but it turned out the Thing had a card that let him temporarily escape getting barbecued. I went on to make a key move in the eventual victory for us Things.


3. At home, I've started playing Lego Jurassic World. I wasn't sure I liked it at first; it felt like the game was being held back by adhering too closely to the events of the movie, not helped by the decision to use actual voice tracks, which don't suit the cartoony style that Lego game cutscenes are usually in. (Also, I started off resenting it somewhat because it turns out to be a bit much for my relatively-elderly computer to handle well. The actual game levels play smoothly, but it takes an awful long time for each one to load.) I have to admit, though, that it picked up quite a bit once all the introductory gubbins was out of the way and I got to a bit with actual dinosaurs in. Crashing around as a Triceratops busting up Lego scenery is quite a bit of fun.


4. Getting in early with a suggestion for next year's Hugo Award nominations: Freefall: Chapter One.

I've been wanting to plug Freefall for Best Graphic Story ever since the category was introduced, but always got stuck on the question of how to define the eligible portion of an ongoing webcomic where each plot thread flowed into the next. However, this week the creator announced "Thus brings us to the end of chapter one", so I guess that answers that question.

Freefall starts out as broad comedy but develops (while still being very funny) a deeper story about what it means to be human, featuring three characters who technically aren't: Florence is an uplifted animal, Sam is an extraterrestrial, and Helix is a robot.

It's not short - several thousand daily-comic-strip sized installments - hence why I'm putting it out there now, so anybody who might be interested has time to read it and see for themselves.


5. This week's fanfic rec: we must cultivate our garden is about Eve in Heaven, coming to grips with the ramifications of the choice she made that day in Eden. Somewhat complicated by Heaven transcending time and space, meaning that when she arrives it already contains crowds of her descendants, batting around names and concepts she doesn't understand. ("Oh, theology. After your time, dear.")

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