So, what have I been up to lately? This:
What I’m Reading
I just plowed through the entire Dark Tower series by Stephen King for the second time, and I have some shocking and terrible news for you: it’s still incredible. I first started reading the series when I was around 15 years old, and was forced to wait painfully for the last four books to come out.
Being able to read them all back-to-back provided a slightly different experience. But, overall, yeah. I think it’s still my favorite book series of all time. It’s so epic and surreal and strange, with a truly unique world (well, worlds) that feel 100% real. Even the weirder meta elements in the last few books work really well for me.
Now I’m reading Republic of Thieves, the third and final book in the “Gentlemen Bastards” series from Scott Lynch. The first two books were perfect fantasy heist stories, and the third is shaping up to provide the same high-tension atmosphere.
What I’m Watching
My wife has hooked me into the Worst Chefs in America show. While I’m normally pretty resistant to reality television’s enervating rays, I am myself a not-great cook who’s trying to do better, so I derive some combination of schadenfreude and actual inspiration from the show.
I also just recently re-watched the IT remake for the first time since I first peeped it in the theaters. I felt about the same way I did the first time: the kid actors are great (especially Beverly, Eddie, and Bill), the childhood shenanigans are done well, but the movie just lacks all subtlety. I appreciate Bill Skarsgard’s intensity, his ability to morph his face into truly unreal shapes without the aid of CGI: but at the end of the day this Pennywise just isn’t as scary.
It’s not really Skarsgard’s fault, he’s bringing all of his considerable might to the part. It’s more that the script and the filmmakers just abandoned all subtlety: every Pennywise encounter just ends with him going “BOOGAH BOOGAH BOOGAH” and running at the kid and then letting them get away so the plot can continue.
What I’m Playing
A combination of Civilization VI on my PC and Resident Evil: Revelations 2 on the Switch.
I’ve played A LOT of both franchises in the past, and these newest iterations are both excellent additions to their august lineages.
Civ VI has a great cartoony style that adds a lot of personality to the proceedings, and it seems to create a bit more dimension in how you build out your cities with the new “districts” system. In general, a lot of things just seem to have more options, like the multiple “cassus belli” for war that impart different warmonger penalities based off different circumstances.
Resident Evil: Revelations 2 is also shockingly great. Resident Evil has always had an uneven history of quality, but since around 5 the arrow has been trending in a downward direction. Revelations 1 brought the series back to its simpler, less-actiony roots (at least, for a while), and Revelations 2 seems to be pushing that even further. Ammo is less plentiful, enemies are more deadly, and the game stresses looking, running, and using the environment above just hosing enemies with bullets.
Revelations 2 also has an interesting hook where you play as two characters in different time periods in the same area, separated by about 6 months. Each character (old favorites Barry and Claire, respectively) come with a kind of AI sidekick that can be switched to on the fly, who is less badass in a fight but come with their own unique exploration skills.
It creates a really cool strategy dimension the series never really had, and I’m enjoying the heck out of it.
What I’m Writing
Deadgirl: Daybreak, actually!
I had a bit of a stall the past few weeks: writers are broken piles of ambition and sloth, and it creates a strange environment for consistent work.
BUT, I’ve recently had a story breakthrough and worked out some stuff and am back on track. I’ve also pretty much embraced that the book is going to have a nightmarish page count and that’s just something I’m going to have to accept. Trying to keep it lean is going to involve more massive structural changes and maybe I don’t want to. Not out of laziness (though, potentially), but more because I actually like the current story structure and maybe length isn’t all that important (title of your sex tape).
But, it means more Lucy and Morgan and Zack, so I’m hoping fans won’t mind. And more mendicants and more mythology about the Grey and more scenes for side characters and oh god what have I done.
That’s it for this week! Thanks for stopping by!