Reading “American Gods”: The Longest Road Trip Ever

This past month I finally read a Neil Gaiman novel. I’ve been wanting to read his work forever, as he’s a sort of mythic figure in nerd culture for his comic books, his work on Doctor Who, and his fantastical stories and books. I know a lot of people who are huge fans, so hearing that his novel American Gods was being made into a Starz TV series, I settled in to explore what might be the most famous work from Gaiman.

American Gods poses a fascinating idea: What if pagan gods were trying to survive in modern-day America? Immigrants would bring their beliefs from their original countries to the United States, and the gods would survive through people’s belief — however long that lasts.

So what if the goddess Bilquis (the Queen of Sheba) — a divine being who eats men alive as they worship her during lovemaking — lived in the United States today? And how would the ancient Egyptian gods fare, if they made their livings as modern undertakers? The idea that their enemies would be today’s media and technology — the things we American are currently obsessed with — manifests into exactly those kinds of new gods, like Media and the Technical Boy. So a war is brewing between the old gods and the new.

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Why I ♥ “Cosmic Star Heroine”

This past month I have fallen in love with a little game called Cosmic Star Heroine. It’s a Kickstarter by Zeboyd Games, featuring 16-bit graphics and a conspiracy story set on another planet. Because of the retro art style and turn-based combat, I would recommend it specifically to gamers who enjoy those things. It’s not for everybody. But it feels made for me, and since it’s not a AAA title getting tons of attention, I want to make sure to share it with you all. Here are a few reasons I’m loving it so much.

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What’s New — May 2017

It’s a new month, which means it’s time for another update and a fresh start on nerdy adventures! Here’s what I’ve been up to…

jaal_mass_effect_andromeda.jpgLast month I started my adventures in Mass Effect: Andromeda. This month I’ll be wrapping them up. I’m about halfway through the game now, and I’m sure I’ll have some video posts incoming as I keep playing, along with a full review! I seriously ❤ this game. And Jaal! I finally found my new BioWare romance. You can follow along with my adventures here if you are so inclined to read a ridiculously long, detailed, spoiler-filled diary of the game!

I’ve also been playing the indie game Cosmic Star Heroine which I recommend to anyone who is into a.) 16-bit graphics, b.) turn-based combat, c.) wacky, kickass sci-fi, and/or d.) visual novel-style dialogue all over the place. It’s so much fun, guys.

Prey and Farpoint are out this month, and I must say, I would dig a solid shooter sometime soon. Mass Effect is technically a shooter, but I use my powers rather than shooting half the time and am currently playing on an easier difficulty — which means I spend way more time just hanging out and talking in the game. Prey seems like it will scratch my shooter itch, but I don’t know if I’ll get around to it immediately. I kinda want to finish Mass Effect first.

Same thing with Farpoint, which is intriguing mainly for being a VR shooter with the new Aim controller. I don’t know how I feel about holding a gun-like object in my hand, but I’m curious to try it. It might feel too real to me, too violent, if that makes sense. Whether or not I get into it, it looks amazing and I’m sure it will elevate the whole VR experience to new realistic heights.

HandmaidsTaleTA.jpgHulu’s new series The Handmaid’s Tale has also just started. An adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel, I’ve been waiting for it since I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Claire Danes, earlier this year. Few books have resonated with me quite like The Handmaid’s Tale, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I’m enjoying the Hulu series a lot so far. It keeps the protagonist Offred’s narration at the forefront, which might make it slow-paced to some, but as a reader I believe it’s the most fulfilling way to understand the story.

As for my writing, I’m gradually getting back into my book. After a couple of months of inspiration and sweat after National Novel Writing Month, things sort of tapered off. Part of that was from family stuff I was dealing with, and a new job I was getting used to, and… yeah, priorities. But I’m setting myself up with a new schedule to continue writing my novel. I want to finish this thing and pop open the bottle of wine I’ve been storing for when I finally type the last period. Or question mark? I might end my book with a question mark.

What are you guys up to this month? What’s everybody watching and playing? I also need new TV show recommendations… =)

Ashley

What Makes “Dragon Age: Origins” Different

Some of you may know that Dragon Age: Origins is my most cherished video game. It is one of the very first games I played as an adult — back when I was not a gamer — and it made me fall in love with video games. Especially RPGs, because they had characters to get to know, stories to engage with, worlds to explore, even romances to pursue. BioWare is known for creating games that capture you in all of these ways, and playing Origins was the start of my passion for these games.

One of the cool things is that I know many people who still love Dragon Age: Origins, even though it’s been out for eight years already. Some people, like myself, even replay it. I try to do so every year. Going back to it, I feel its age — the stiff character animations and the PC visual novel-like dialogue selection feel pretty dated nowadays — but I give myself some time to sink back into it, and then I forget about all that. The game is magical. It’s also timeless, in many ways.

BioWare has come out with many other games since then that I have fallen in love with. Mass Effect is my favorite video game series ever, for instance. But there are a few things that make Dragon Age: Origins stand out, and BioWare has never brought these elements back. It’s okay if they don’t, though I would love it if they did. But in any case, they are what make Origins so special to me.

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SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, and VIDEO GAMES!