A thought-provoking short story, whose literal premise is about a man who escaped a solitary imprisonment (in a castle) only to find rejection. It's nA thought-provoking short story, whose literal premise is about a man who escaped a solitary imprisonment (in a castle) only to find rejection. It's not quite horror for me as I found it rather predictable. The thought-provoking part is because the imprisonment and the escape can be interpreted in several ways, when you consider the oddity of the disparity between the realities before and after the escape. All in all, an interesting read....more
A short, yet gripping tale of a scholar who went looking for a missing link between an ancient snake god and more present-day myths and legends from RA short, yet gripping tale of a scholar who went looking for a missing link between an ancient snake god and more present-day myths and legends from Red Indians. Great imagery; it conjured up pretty eerie depictions of what the victims must be going through. Great twist at the end to pile on the shock....more
A tragic short story about a man detached from reality, who wastes away his life chasing after a dream he had. It has beautiful imagery and imaginatioA tragic short story about a man detached from reality, who wastes away his life chasing after a dream he had. It has beautiful imagery and imagination on worlds and existence. It even has an Innsmouth (of Dagon fame) cameo....more
A satiric parody of academic pomposity that follows a skull's journey through the ages. It's funny at times, as it tells the tale of how the soul chanA satiric parody of academic pomposity that follows a skull's journey through the ages. It's funny at times, as it tells the tale of how the soul changes hands, and where it ultimately ends up....more
A short story that has a decent amount of creepiness to it. I particularly liked the build-up towards the end. I do think that there's an unreconciledA short story that has a decent amount of creepiness to it. I particularly liked the build-up towards the end. I do think that there's an unreconciled gap between the initial creature and what happened in the end though....more
A subtly creepy short story that deals with the simple supernatural and altered perceptions rather than the later Cthulhu horrors. I certainly wasn'tA subtly creepy short story that deals with the simple supernatural and altered perceptions rather than the later Cthulhu horrors. I certainly wasn't expecting the level of enjoyment I got out of this. The idea of insanity is basically a perspective or view of reality that is incomprehensible to the majority of people, so you'd be hard-pressed to even understand it. The story focuses on a young man who has developed an unhealthy obsession with a tomb, and perhaps an unnatural attachment with a supernatural or spiritual force. Who's to say which is the truth, as things are always in the eyes of the beholder....more
A very short story, supposedly from a dream. There's not much story to it except for a horrific compulsion. It has excellent imagery and beautiful proA very short story, supposedly from a dream. There's not much story to it except for a horrific compulsion. It has excellent imagery and beautiful prose though. ...more
I'll give book props for cheesiness ala Army of Darkness and budget zombie flicks. Aside from that, there's not much to recommend. It's supposed to beI'll give book props for cheesiness ala Army of Darkness and budget zombie flicks. Aside from that, there's not much to recommend. It's supposed to be a special edition gamebook, but again, there's nothing spectacular about it.
App-wise, it's similar in polish to other Tin Man Games, so there's no complaints there. The game system is different from all other Fighting Fantasy gamebooks and is a way too simplistic and punishing. One - just one - unlucky roll can kill you or basically makes it impossible to finish the gamebook. It's so superfluous that it's almost pointless to play. Doing hardcore mode is basically just abusing the unlimited bookmarks the app allows you.
The story itself is ok - you've been kidnapped while being a mythology-obsessed student - and now needs to put an end to a dastardly plan to eradicate all humans. Even the premise is a bit silly - for example, you got kidnapped while touring the world (student? really?). The writing itself is pretty bland and ignores it's own inconsistencies - like zombies crawling all over the manor despite it not being ready to release them yet, or none of the still living inhabitants reacting to grenades and machine gun fire all over the manor. Or the fact that you had been starved for almost a week and still rather hale.
I know, the tone of this gamebook is such that it's not meant to be taken seriously. I just got the feeling that there's any attempt at storytelling, and just glossing things over to get to the zombies. It also only works if you enjoy the journey, which I didn't. This gamebook adhered absolutely to the One True Path approach. Deviate even slightly (right instead of left, for example) and you either die a horrible death, or miss out killing one zombie and lose, or miss out one item and lose. With each replay you get a little further in, following the exact same path you took previously.
Ok, so I didn't know about the author before I got this off the App store at a discounted price. Would've skipped it had I known. The premise soundedOk, so I didn't know about the author before I got this off the App store at a discounted price. Would've skipped it had I known. The premise sounded interesting so I took the bait.
I'll start with the mechanics. The system is pretty simple and for the most part works. It's just that the challenges are pretty unevenly and poorly placed. It is fight-heavy towards the end so depending on how you started, it may be virtually impossible to finish since low fighting skills plus few opportunities to heal plus numerous heavy-hitting foes is guaranteed to make certain paths through the book unviable without the cheat mode. But it is pretty nice that there essentially three approaches (fighter, medic, engineer) you can start from and three different endings you could reach.
The prose itself is quite... something. It's mostly juvenile in a nerdy just-hit-puberty way, filled with crude sexual innuendos and trivialised violence. After dying a few times, you'll realise that the stupid choices are usually the better choice, although this is sometimes flipped and the absurd jokes are usually in the poorer choice. While I laughed at some of these jokes and tongue-in-cheek moments early on, they were far too frequent (something like every other sentence) for me to the point they just become predictable cringing and eye-rolling exercises. It doesn't help that the protagonist, i.e. the reader, is an idiotic dork.
At least the plot comes with a nice twist and and endings that I find satisfying. Too bad the journey to get there was not fun (and yes, I perservered for a couple of playthroughs just so to get a more complete view of the gamebook)....more
Beyond the Wall of Sleep is a pretty short short story - perhaps a bit too short. As the title implies, it explores the what-if regarding the dream woBeyond the Wall of Sleep is a pretty short short story - perhaps a bit too short. As the title implies, it explores the what-if regarding the dream world.
The story follows a medical officer's observations of a rustic patient at an asylum, who is prone to outbursts of strange descriptions and exhortations of what appears to be his dreams.
While it has the same style of prose as the other short stories, I can't feel any sort of creepy vibe out of this. It's a nice quick read but it lacks that induced prickly sensation. Perhaps it's the imaginary, since they are not presented as horrifying but instead meant to be beautiful and otherworldly.
I wouldn't recommend this as an entry into Lovecraft's works, as it is somewhat of a different vibe from the others....more
The whole plot revolves around early hackers, back before the term was actually commonly used. It starts with cracking the phone systems before movingThe whole plot revolves around early hackers, back before the term was actually commonly used. It starts with cracking the phone systems before moving on to computer systems and early networks. Kevin Phenicle, the hacker, eventually ends up being on the run from law enforcement and was later held without trial. So I guess a sub-theme is the oppression from a system and people who knew a lot less than they think about the true state of things.
The graphic novel failed on several counts for me. For one, Kevin himself is no saint. Sure, another theme is about how harmful media speculation and sensationalism can be. But Kevin himself is a loser most of the time. He does what he does out of selfishness - just because he can. He may not have done it out of spite, but he certainly didn't do it with any good intention. I just find it odd that he would have a friend who would stick up for him so much, considering their childhood didn't seem that way. His friend seems to exist only because the story needed someone to champion him later on.
Another thing that doesn't work is the imagery. There are plenty of pointless imageries. I can't be bothered to type out the spoilers, but suffice to say, there are a lot of frames where characters would be having a dialogue, and then the frame would be picturing something crude or pornographic - just because - just like Kevin. I have nothing against them, but they were just completely irrelevant and seemed to be included "just because".
Overall, the plot is ok, along the lines of what has probably happened already, and some portrayal of interesting early "hacking". But everything feels too over the top for me and none of the characters were even a little appealing....more
The story follows a mother of two who was first forced by circumstance into the role of a one-time executioner, and then forced by other circumstancesThe story follows a mother of two who was first forced by circumstance into the role of a one-time executioner, and then forced by other circumstances into a conqueror, bearing the blown-up reputation of an "executioness". *blink* *blink* Yes, that the transition.
I think perhaps this short story would really have been better off as a longer novel. The actual idea, and the rather strong female lead, was pretty good. Things just seemed to escalate a little too quickly and I haven't quite lost that "mom" perspective of Tana, the protagonist.
Another problem I had with the escalation into war is the actual war itself. I couldn't help but notice rather glaring conflicts - in description, logistics, and scale - resulting in a general sense of disbelief. (view spoiler)[Paika is this large and impressive city, but it's manned by very little soldiers, which doesn't really make sense. Portions of this army would travel weeks and months away to murder and kidnap. These raiders appear to be very capable, efficient, and deadly. These people actually originally conquered the city of Paika with this small army of theirs, ok, so they're very capable. Yet, upon being attacked by an army of desperate peasants with only a few months training, they basically threw open their city gates, let themselves get slaughtered, and gave the city away. (hide spoiler)]
I haven't read the paired novella yet, so this was my initial exposure to this world they've built. It's an interesting dilemma, where magic use is forbidden due to the fact that it causes unchecked growth of a poisonous plant termed the "bramble" that can't be killed off, only hacked and burned to keep it at bay. But that's about the only thing that stands out about it.
It's a quick read, but don't expect it to be deep. The middle-aged (yes, the story keeps emphasising this) mom-protagonist is actually quite likeable, but more reflection and length would've probably improved the story; more opportunity to be attached to the characters. As it is, when I finished reading, I just shrugged. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I like this one much better than the paired novella, The Executioness. This one follows an ill-fated alchemist whose noble goal was twisted into a horI like this one much better than the paired novella, The Executioness. This one follows an ill-fated alchemist whose noble goal was twisted into a horrific purpose and being forced to take part in it.
It is set in the same city, and the events happen more or less simultaneously with the other novella. There's two or three places that hint at the events that happened in the other novella.
The reason I preferred this treatment of the world is because it goes down into a more personal level. It follows the challenges faced by the alchemist forced to juggle between his dream, his life, and his daughter. The inner struggles and self-justification of the use of magic was well portrayed. It showcases the dark side of human nature, being collectively unable to resist temptations and always focused on the self, damning the many, to benefit the few.
It suffers a similar problem with The Executioness though, in the ending of it. A bit of problem with realism - it just happened too fast and too easily, it's just "the end". (view spoiler)[The unbelievable bit is how the daughter could even have made it through the city gates "leaking" a blue glow. Unmanned city streets and gates I suppose. And how a scholarly man who was locked up and weakening in a cell for two years, poisoned by bramble, and resuscitated (read: scorched and jolted) from near-death able to make an escape on foot out of a city is just incredible. (hide spoiler)]
But don't look at it too critically and it's actually a nice story. The plot is not exactly fresh (genius forced to work for villains) but it's a good take. Like the other novella, it would probably be a lot better as a full-length novel, with greater room for developing not just the protagonist, but the supporting characters as well. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I found nothing much to like about this satire. Perhaps I'm neither American nor Japanese? It falls short for me on several factors.
Syms Thorley is B-I found nothing much to like about this satire. Perhaps I'm neither American nor Japanese? It falls short for me on several factors.
Syms Thorley is B-movie actor, where an obvious theme is the love of monster movies. I love 'em, but I'm not the type to love everything about them - actors, writers, special effects, costumes, conventions, etc. So this doesn't do much for me, just a plot device for an alternate history of the second world war.
As a character, he started off as a roguish smart-talking person who's somewhat likeable, and ended up a sad despairing man unable to move on. The ridiculous things he did in between (specifically how he treats something supposed to be top secret) was only mildly funny, quite unrealistic, and very certainly doesn't go well with the seriousness and suddenness of the anti-nuclear diatribe towards the end.
It's a quick read, so I'd excuse the undeveloped supporting characters, there only to provide some dialogue, but mostly internal monologue.
The whole thing just doesn't jive for me, both from a literary point of view and from an empathic point of view....more