The Imagination of Nintendo

I bought a Switch. It was a little impulsive. E3 was last week and they announced they are doing a core Pokemon RPG for the Switch.

If you are unaware, I’m obsessed with Pokemon. Plushies and figurines litter my room to the point a friend visiting asked where the 12 year old was. I’m the 12 year old. The moment they announced some nebulous Pokemon RPG for the Switch, I was in. I went out, hit up three Targets, and bought one.

There are about six games for the Switch. I picked up Zelda. There is a beautiful world with lots of weird things to kill you, and some neat abilities. Zelda is an amazing life lesson. Run up to a goblin thing with a branch, hit it and do no damage, proceed to have it kill you in one shot. See a lake, try to swim across it, die immediately from cold. This is the game. “I want to do this thing!” Die. Still, it’s a beautiful world.

Then I picked up Mario Kart 8. There is no sense in Mario Kart 8. Truly, there never has been, but I haven’t played since college. The lanes wobble either due to psychedelic haunted houses or Bowser punching it.

The maps are gorgeous, imaginative, expansive. They tell entire stories, while only taking three minutes to do a few laps on.

Image result for mario kart 8 screenshots tough guy mountain

While the fact you hang glide is cool, you’re hang gliding after driving down a waterfall. To get to the top you drove up a water fall. You drive upside down, sideways, every which way. You’re really not sure where you are in relation to the ground. Every once and a while you want to throw up a little at how the world moves because it’s not supposed to move that way.

Image result for mario kart 8 screenshots tough guy mountain

That’s a space station. There are three Rainbow Roads and each is more ridiculous than the other. It’s incredible. One is over a city, this is in space, and the other I can’t quite remember but it’s an acid trip.

Why do I bring this up? Between Mario’s LCD and Zelda’s attempt at becoming Skyrim, my imagination is exploding. I didn’t realize how stagnant it was. I do think NieR: Automata helped a little, but it’s also been putting me into an existential depression.

Fantasy and science fiction more and more needs to fit into a neat box. I blame our zeal for science. Everything must make sense. It must have an explanation. Mario Kart doesn’t care about your science. It doesn’t care about gravity. It doesn’t care. It inspired me not to care, and to write a few more imaginative pieces.

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Team Yennifer > Team Triss

First Note: This is a massive Witcher spoiler. Like anything and everything for the franchise.

Second Note: I can’t believe I’m doing this. Here’s looking at you, Mac. (You can find the Team Triss opinion at his website at this link)

Third Note: Mac’s post has more about the setting. I just kind of dove in.

yen

Today I present to you how Gerifer is the ultimate ship in the Witcher franchise. (Totally went there)

Is it Yennifer’s onyx hair which glistens like silk under the torchlight? Her porcelain skin which shimmers? What a delightful illusion Yennifer conjures with her sorceress skills, that could take a hunchback and create such a tantalizing creature?

While I argue that Yennifer is the better beauty of the two, let’s not stop our gaze with such base assets!

Geralt of Riva, the brutish stoic of a Witcher, is quiet and intense in most cases. He is burdened by the decisions he makes. His heavy soul can easily overpower the playful or light of heart.

Enter Yen. When they first met, Yen was hunting a djinn. Using numerous elves and humans, she was able to obtain her object of desire. Strong willed, she pushed all others aside so she alone could claim the bounty! So moved by her beauty of character was Geralt that when the djinn would certainly kill her, he wished for them to be tied by fate for all eternity. What a romantic! But for any other woman, Geralt has been notorious for brief beddings!

There are times where Geralt’s heart is weak, weighted by the millstone of morality and duty. When hunting his adopted daughter, Ciri, he had to destroy a holy tree to perform a ritual which would gain him information. However, the tree being holy and cared for by people he respected, he could not bring himself to do it. Yen took on the burden. She stripped that tree of magical energy in two seconds, knowing it would bring Geralt closer to a girl he saw as a daughter.

But there is more! When the caretakers of the tree approached, shunning Geralt and Yen from the island, Yen took all the blame that Geralt could keep in their good graces. What kindness, despite such a cold exterior.

My friends, Yennifer is not only beautiful, but prudent and strong willed. She knows what Geralt needs and will obtain it though he cannot dare to reach for his goal. Geralt is the moral anchor that reminds Yennifer sometimes the ability to do something isn’t the reason to do it.

So I argue, the true romantic ship of The Witcher, is Gerifer!

 

 

The Mosquito Stratagem

This is a fan fiction based off a game I’m currently playing. The game is Blight of the Immortals. Good fun.

“Sir, it looks like they’re going north. To the Thicket.”

Frog growled, itching his jawls as the trolls marched before him. He let out a heavy sigh and those around him could feel it quake. “Ogre spit.” He picked a piece of pork from his tooth and placed it so he could gnaw more.

“Should we pursue?” Gullet pointed to the burning goblin settlement of Coldbeep. All they would have to do is follow the road there, then go off into the wilderness. They would catch the immortal King of Coins.

The King had been a thorn for the beginning of the campaign. Somehow he was able to grasp every bit of coin within a hundred leagues, and it left the trolls broke. With him sitting in Coldbeep, they had a quick shot at him. He was on the front lines. Retreating to the Thicket meant he was hiding behind the undead army he helped put in place.

“There were goblin bowmen in the Tangle, weren’t there?”

Gullet snorted. “Are we running with our tails between our legs?”

“We have no money?”

“Correct,” he growled.

“There’s an army waiting for us. We’re intimidating, yes?”

Gullet straightened as well as he could under the ton of heft, then beat his chest. His sagging green flesh wobbled, then stilled. “We are damned intimidating, sir.”

“We’ll go get those archers.”

“But we can handle this on our own. We’re more than enough for the thief.”

“We need to conserve until we can get the immortals under control. We will reach Coldbeep, burn the corpses left behind, then enlist those archers, and the King of Coin will die in a volley of arrows.”

“But that’s not the troll way!” He stomped in the fields like a small child, beating his chest. Others rallied with him.

“The troll way worked when we fought men, elves, and dwarves. When we could put them over a spit when we were done and eat them. It worked when our fallen did not get back up. It worked when goblins gnawing at us meant nothing. Now they gnaw us to the bone in seconds.” He slammed a club down and the crowd silenced. “We will again eat man and elf, but it will not be today. It may not be in our life time. But our children will know man flesh, yet they will only know it if we swallow our pride to defeat the blight in front of us.”

Frog snarled as he paced a few moments. “It is the troll way to kill Gullet for insurrection. However, every troll here is needed. Every troll here can succumb to the immortals. And when the immortals get him, maybe not today, maybe not this week, but when they do get him, I will take incredible pleasure in removing his head.”

Gullet skulked off into the crowd, understanding he no longer held honors with Frog. Then Frog said, “We continue to Coldbeep. We then retreat to the Tangle for the archers. I want the King of Coin dead by tomorrow night.”

Book Reviews: Vivatera

 

I was in Utah a few weeks ago and learned a lot. Also met a lot of cool people. A new habit I wanted to form was doing regular book reviews. A cool person I met was Candace J. Thomas, author of Vivatera. And that’s how we reached this review.

Vivatera

I was standing in line for coffee talking with Candace who I met maybe five minutes earlier. I asked about her book.

Basically what I got out of it was magic was a virus, a curse, and your ghost sticks around after you die because it stains your soul. There was more, but that was basically all I needed. After that I bought both her books, Vivatera and Conjectrix. It is a series, with the third book on the way. The review for Conjectrix will come later.

I went to my hotel early, due to a late night, early flight, lots of flying, and a very busy day filled with information and networking. By nine I was in bed with Vivatera. By midnight I turned out my light. Bad Paul.

I devoured the book as it kept me in the pages.

The primary reason I stuck around in the beginning was due to strong syntax and diction. The book was descriptive and a fluid read through quality of craft instead of simplicity of language.

The pacing was unique to most modern fantasy. It was a little more drawn out, though not quite Tolkien level of drawn out. Strong structure, the mysterious hooks for the plot, and interesting characters led to the pacing being enjoyable, where usually I greatly dislike slow pacing.

Our protagonist, Naomi, has a fascinating mystery behind her as she’s wanted by a prince, captured by a boy, and has magical powers that are sought after.

She is an excellent vessel for the reader as we have no clue what’s going on in the world, and up until page three or so, she was just an honest working girl trying to help her adopted family get by. As the story progresses, she learns more and more of the greater world, along with watching her become more powerful in her own right, as she fights with an internal demon.

My only two complaints consist of sometimes the PoV switches weren’t smooth and the ending had a bit of a deus ex moment, just enough that you noticed the fingers of gods playing in mortal lives.

I got past both of these based on the quality of craft and the compelling story.

I give it a 8/10.

Ultimately, buy Vivatera for the strong writing, good characters, and compelling plot, along with a fresh re-imagining of magic in a fantasy world. Along with that, I can assure you Candace is pretty awesome. So buy her books.

Exhaustion

I swayed back and forth, unsure what was truth and what was hallucination. I was too tired to discern.

Is that the proper path?

The voice whispered to me, and I squinted sallow eyes. “No.”

Why travel it?

“Because I’m lonely.” I stood back up, brushing sand from me. I huffed and continued forward, leaning so to keep my body going in the direction. Standing straight up would lead me to stopping, dropping to my knees, and passing out. Or weeping. I wasn’t sure which was the bigger need.

Lonely? Even if you are not lonely, the paths you take are stupid. If it is not against My Will, it is simply against better judgment!

A smirk revealed brown teeth. They were not brown from decay, but with my tongue I could feel all the grit building up. I took a sip of water and spat to wash out my mouth. “I will always choose the same option. I will choose it every fucking time. I thank You for all You forced down my throat, but if you do not want me to defy common sense, remove my heart. Remove my soul. Put them aside and consume me with Your Will. Otherwise, just let me make my damned mistakes.”

The village was real. It existed. A small village with a couple dozen families, a few hundred people, and I knew them all by name, and they knew me, and we hated each other. We despised each other. But I couldn’t be happier, because there was a woman who was an exception.

You will be crushed.

“I will be alive.” The people looked at me as if I were mad, and perhaps madness consumed me, but I stood when I finished weeping, the tears cutting a clean trail through my dirty face, and I hobbled towards her hut. My knees ached and my ankles felt as if they would give out. But they kept together, and I stumbled forward until I rapped three times on the door.

The voice of angels replied, “Coming. One moment.”

She opened the door and saw me, and she teared up and brought her hands to her mouth. I laughed, my eyes crescents from bulging cheeks. She remembered, and she looked happy to see me. Until the door shut and I dropped to the floor.

“Please,” I begged, “Let me in. I’m a simple man, and I look only for company.”

Liar.

“I am sorry for my cruelty. You are a good person. I wish to be here for you.”

Deceiver. This brings only pain.

“I can put it aside. I can just be a friend.”

There are not enough cows and goats in all G’desh to create the heaping pile of shit you are spewing, not in five centuries.

He was right. I didn’t care. The door opened, and that was all that mattered to me.

Sandstorms and Will-o-Wisps

“No. No no no no.” I dropped to my knees, slack jawed, as the storm passed.

I saw a half dozen illusions, beautiful and filled with hope. There were three that I reached out for, three that I wanted. The rest were too easy to pluck, and they would not give fulfillment. Then the storm stopped, and all I saw was ruin. Will-o-wisps. Fucking will-o-wisps.

The feeling coursing through me was strange. False hope always does that. Was it anger? It wasn’t quite anger. As I looked out at the wastes, the fallen buildings which were not populated for centuries, there was a lacking desire to smash it all.

Despair wasn’t quite right. I had no desire to die or hurt myself. There was no wish for death, though based on my predicament it was plausible. Maybe I would find a usable well, but the chances were slim.

Frustration. Frustration and disappointment. I nodded, those were the feelings. I was thwarted again, denied again, brought out somewhere in hope, and then I was left wanting and empty, like every other time. I put my head in my hands. “Not again.”

You wanted to know what to do. You acted. You were to do nothing.

I smirked. Then grinned. Then smiled until you could see my teeth. That smile turned into a chuckle, which exploded into a laugh. Or cackle. Cackle would be more correct. My frustration turned into hysteria. What else could it morph into? It wasn’t the first time I sat in that position. It would not be the last. I would pray that it would be the last, but it would not. I learned too much from false hope. From dashed hope.

That’s the spirit. Laughter.

That storm raged on forever, and I prayed so hard to understand it. And the voice was right. Now I understood. I understood everything, and that everything was nothing. I stood up, exhausted from the trip. From the hopes and dreams. From the breaking. From dehydration. I shambled through the ruins of some old city.

Up ahead. To the right. Now go into the third house on the left. Yes. In the basement. It’s the only house in the entire city with a basement. They were greedy people, but their hearts were hardened so your life could be saved. Aside from this well, they were good people.

There was a well where the voice said I would find one. I drank from it, pulling up buckets. No matter the plight falling on my head, I at least had a strong survival instinct. There were too many people back home relying on me. I could not fail them.

The water was fresh, a delightful taste on my splitting lips. I let it pour down my sand scoured front, and it both felt cool and searing as it agrivated the wounds from coarse sand. I didn’t mind, though. The water was plentiful and I filled the three goat stomachs I brought with me, corking them for safe keeping. I found lizards which were sunbathing, and I caught them and cooked them so I could eat. They were filling, and I slept well, using food and water to stave off the onset of depression.

In the morning, the sun rising, I surveyed the ruins, and found a few useful pieces, mostly leather and metal to be remade later. I stashed them and went to the outskirts of town, to the east where the sun was rising.

Where to next?

I shrugged. “You’re the guide. I’m just a follower.”

Even after I led you here? After I tricked you?

“You taught me. You fed me. My heart was doing no matter when I didn’t follow you, and the food and water didn’t taste as sweet. I will take two of three. Every obstacle you give me is a lesson.”

What was the lesson here?

“I don’t know. But I’ll figure it out. You’ll reveal it. For now? Harden my heart. Keep moving.” I lied. My chest ached as if something inside me pulsed, fighting for room. I would swallow that bitterness down in time, and by the next morning it would be gone. But for the day I would let it rest inside me.

You’re a horrible liar. But you are right. You’ll figure it out in time. East seems as good a direction as any. We should continue.

Heroes: Published in October

Heroes

Weird. I thought this was further off. I was so focused on my novel that I forgot I will be published in October. I thought there would be no more publications this year, that my run for 2015 was finished. It was good. I was published once, which in math is a mathematically significantly multiplier, since zero times anything is still zero. It is an impossible number. Good game.

The first publication, Den of Thieves, was based on India mythology and put through the Den of Quills writing group. The second, Heroes, will be based on an awkward kid in elementary school trying to stick up for what is right and is going through the Phoenix Quill writing group. It’s currently with the editor. I suppose that’s a sign that it was happening soon.

I should get edits back by the end of this week, and I will clean it up this weekend. Meanwhile, my second novel has stalled, I’m waiting anxiously for the feedback on the first one (there is a massive part of me that just wants to fire it off to the editor and say, “DONE!” because then it would be out by November or December), and tomorrow I’m buying a huge piece of paper to make a map so I can get a cool map in my book. Continuity issues blow.

October is going to be exhausting with this publication, men’s retreat in San Antonio, leading a Guatemala trip, and possibly moving. Stressful. But at least I’ll have a second publication under my belt.