Ambiguity Machines: An Examination April 29, 2015 Ambiguity Machines: An Examination Vandana Singh A test for Junior Navigators of Conceptual Machine-Space. The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn April 22, 2015 The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn Usman Malik He will inherit the Unseen. The Ways of Walls and Words April 15, 2015 The Ways of Walls and Words Sabrina Vourvoulias Can the spirit truly be imprisoned? Ballroom Blitz April 1, 2015 Ballroom Blitz Veronica Schanoes Can't stop drinking, can't stop dancing, can't stop smoking, can't even die.
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April 30, 2015
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Five Books Where Music is Practically a Character
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Message Fiction: Politics in Sci-Fi and Fantasy Literature
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Showing posts by: Theresa DeLucci click to see Theresa DeLucci's profile
Mon
May 4 2015 11:30am

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 4: “Sons of the Harpy”

Game of Thrones

Damn you, leaked episodes, for having no leaked previews to go with you after that evil cliffhanger ending. The spoiled among us have had to pay for our sneak peeks with nearly four long weeks before any new episodes. Everything has a price.

Major episode spoilers ahead.

[“Free Loras!”]

Mon
Apr 27 2015 9:00am

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 3: “The High Sparrow”

Game of Thrones The High Sparrow

This week’s divisive episode departs significantly from the books, meaning readers have a choice to make about Game of Thrones: keep playing or take yourself off the board to wait for more novels.

Personally, I enjoy both incarnations of Martin’s materials and recognize that each medium has its own strengths and weaknesses. Tonight’s big changes from A Dance with Dragons put a significant number of new players together and into harm’s way in the coming weeks, while in another region of the world, we seem to get confirmation that a big character from the fifth novel will not be making an appearance. There are a lot of interesting implications to chew on.

Also in this hour: All hail Queen Margaery. Again. First of Her Name and Ruler of Disgruntled Daughter-in-Laws everywhere.

Spoiler alert: Major episode spoilers for the currently aired season. Spoilers for the currently published George R. R. Martin novels are discussed in the review and fair game in the comments. We highly suggest not discussing spoilers for leaked episodes or early preview chapters, but if you must, white it out. Have courtesy for the patient among us who are waiting for next week’s airing or waiting and waiting (and waiting) for The Winds of Winter. Play nice. Thanks.

[“The North remembers.”...]

Mon
Apr 20 2015 10:00am

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 2: “The House of Black and White”

After last week’s pity party premiere, Game of Thrones is back for a second episode filled with people ready to take some action—especially with the pointy end of a sword.

Now that we’ve watched Arya say something extremely dark and awesome for a young child, Game of Thrones is officially back. And with some welcome surprises.

Spoilers for the episode ahead. Spoilers from George R. R. Martin’s published novels are also discussed in the review and fair game in the comments. Please don’t post open spoilers from any leaked episodes or preview chapters of The Winds of Winter. Tread carefully and play nice.

[“Hiss.”]

Tue
Apr 14 2015 10:00am

An Open Letter to HBO from House Greyjoy

Spoiler warning: Swim into these spoiler-infested waters at your peril. This post discusses events on Game of Thrones through season 4 and in A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons.

Dear Lords Benioff and Weiss of House HBO, Kings of the Five Premium Cable Channel Realms:

It has come to our attention that there have been no ravens announcing the casting of a certain kingsmoot for the fifth season of your charming little program, Game of Thrones. And while people may bemoan the absence of the rapidly-aging Bran Stark—will he grow a full beard by the time season six production starts?—and his method of transport, Hodor, no one sings songs for squids.

[“What worth is an Iron Throne without an ironborn trying to claim it?”]

Mon
Apr 13 2015 11:00am

Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 1: “The Wars to Come”

The nights have been dark and full of terror these long, cold months without Game of Thrones. Today was the first truly sunny day of spring here in the Northeastern kingdoms and millions of people were still eager to run home to their TVs or brand new HBO Now subscriptions. Or they had already downloaded the first four episodes in this weekend’s big screener leak and were out enjoying some well-earned fresh air. Either way, we are back in the world of hungry dragons, old prophecies, drunken Imps and Stannis being Stannis (i.e. colder than a wight’s arse.)

Spoilers for the episode ahead. Spoilers for George R. R. Martin’s published novels are fair game in the article and the comments, so read at your own peril. Please avoid or white out references to advance chapters from The Winds of Winter, however, for those who aren't reading ahead!

[“Can I drink myself to death on the road to Meereen?” Yes, but you maybe shouldn’t, Tyrion.]

Thu
Apr 2 2015 10:00am

Five Things to Watch for in Game of Thrones’ Fifth Season

Game of Thrones season 5 Tyrion Varys

Much like the fugitive Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones viewers are heading into new territory when the fifth season of HBO’s hit show returns this April. We’re still reeling from the dramatic events of last year (I still can’t look at crushed tomatoes without thinking of Oberyn Martell), based largely on the last half of George R. R. Martin’s arguably greatest novel, A Storm of Swords.

Written as two distinct novels, A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons take place almost simultaneously for all of the former and a big chunk of the latter. It’s George’s great “Meerenese knot” untangling the various plots and loose ends and theories that still have yet to play out. While not considered the strongest installments of A Song of Ice and Fire, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have been given some editorial spoilers for Thrones’ not-yet-written endgame. While this isn’t good news to book fans—some of whom have even decided to stop watching the show for fear of outpacing what’s known in the novels—fans of the show might just get another really great year of television as Benioff & Weiss trim some fat from George’s manuscripts and quicken the pace in ways the published novels have not.

And that’s to say nothing of the liberties the show is taking, creating rampant speculation and huge anticipation. So what themes might the show cover in its fifth year?

[A distinct animal motif, powerful women, and adult language...]

Wed
Mar 18 2015 11:00am

The Perfect Vessel: Kushiel’s Avatar, Part 2

Kushiel's Reread Tor.com Kushiel's Avatar new book cover Jacqueline CareyOur reread of Kushiel’s Legacy comes to a close! Whereas last week we were really beaten down by Phèdre and Joscelin’s willing entry into the hell of Daršanga, here we end on a joyous note. Not unlike Phèdre, filled with the Name of God, we’re brimming with new knowledge and insight into the trilogy—plus at least one disagreement about how things settle after the epic end of Kushiel’s Avatar.

We’re going to get spoilery—because it turns out there is a ton of foreshadowing for later books and trilogies—so feel free to do the same in the comments. As Shemhazai said, all knowledge is worth having. And as he might have said… Reread as thou wilt!

[Read more]

Fri
Mar 13 2015 1:00pm

Gaming Roundup: PAX East 2015 Edition

Final Fantasy XV 15

PAX East rolled through Boston this past weekend, and it’s safe to say that gaming as we know it is in a transitional phase. A largely low-key exhibition was highlighted by teases of potentially industry-shifting devices over the year (and next year) to come, but nothing yet imminent on the horizon. We don’t mean to imply that PAX East 2015 was entirely uneventful, though. Between rapid improvements in virtual reality tech, a new Blizzard IP, and live gameplay demos of Final Fantasy XV, there was plenty to talk about.

[The VR arms race escalates, and the Gaming Roundup bids you all a final farewell.]

Wed
Mar 11 2015 11:00am

The Perfect Victim: Kushiel’s Avatar, Part 1

Kushiel's Reread Tor.com Kushiel's Avatar new book cover Jacqueline Carey

“Serve true, and remember what others have named you; ten years’ respite shall be yours if you do.”

Kushiel’s Chosen closed with this warning, and Kushiel’s Avatar opens on the other side of ten years, with a prophetic dream calling anguissette/lypiphera Phèdre nó Delaunay to serve the gods of Terre d’Ange once more. Only this time, they’re turning her into a veritable Job, with their overlapping demands.

You thought that the island prison of La Dolorosa was bleak? Get ready to willingly lead yourselves into the kingdom that died and lives. Kushiel’s Reread is getting dark. We’re also going to get spoilery—because it turns out there is a ton of foreshadowing for later books and trilogies—so feel free to do the same in the comments. As Shemhazai said, all knowledge is worth having. And as he might have said… Reread as thou wilt!

[Read more]

Wed
Mar 4 2015 11:00am

Blood is Thicker Than Water: Kushiel’s Chosen, Part 2

Kushiel's Reread Tor.com Kushiel's Chosen Part 2Just as the first half of Kushiel’s Dart saw Delaunay and Alcuin murdered, and Phèdre and Joscelin sold into slavery, Kushiel’s Chosen Part 1 ends on a similar cliffhanger: Melisande Shahrizai, upon revealing herself in La Serenissima, has Phèdre’s chevaliers slain and imprisons the meddling anguissette on the island fortress of La Dolorosa. Clearly this murder plus slavery/imprisonment/exile combination is Melisande’s favorite move, though you’d think she would have learned from the events of Dart that she should not try to make her pet-turned-peer yield.

We’re going to get spoilery—because it turns out there is a ton of foreshadowing for later books and trilogies—so feel free to do the same in the comments. As Shemhazai said, all knowledge is worth having. And as he might have said… Reread as thou wilt!

[Read more]

Wed
Feb 25 2015 12:00pm

Of Masks and Mary Sues: Kushiel’s Chosen, Part 1

Kushiel's Reread Tor.com Kushiel's Chosen Jacqueline CareyWe’re continuing Kushiel’s Reread with Kushiel’s Chosen, the perennial middle book: It has to recapture the magic of the original, while upping its stakes without getting ludicrous. In many ways, Chosen tracks Phèdre nó Delaunay’s development into a better Servant of Naamah, spy, and peer of the realm. In other ways, the book is the weakest of the trilogy by dint of being a bridge between the naïve girl of Kushiel’s Dart and the worldly woman of Kushiel’s Avatar. But first, let’s find out what happens when Phèdre rededicates herself to serving and spying!

We’re going to get spoilery—because it turns out there is a ton of foreshadowing for later books and trilogies—so feel free to do the same in the comments. As Shemhazai said, all knowledge is worth having. And as he might have said… Reread as thou wilt!

[Read more]

Wed
Feb 18 2015 11:00am

That Which Yields is Not Always Weak: Kushiel’s Dart, Part 2

Kushiel's Dart Reread Tor.com Jacqueline Carey new cover trade paperbackWelcome back to Kushiel’s Reread! This week, we wrap up Part 2 of Kushiel’s Dart, in which Phèdre nó Delaunay and Joscelin Verreuil survive slavery in Skaldia, join a diplomatic delegation to the far shores of Alba, and bring Queen Ysandre’s betrothed to Terre d’Ange so he can help kick the Skaldi out.

In rereading Kushiel’s Legacy, we’re breaking each book into two parts; turns out there’s a very natural delineation between Part 1 and Part 2 of each of Phèdre’s adventures (hint: it involves her getting imprisoned and/or enslaved). Each reread will include a brief summary, some plot highlights, and our commentary. We’re going to get spoilery—because it turns out there is a ton of foreshadowing for later books and trilogies—so feel free to do the same in the comments.

As Shemhazai said, all knowledge is worth having. And as he might have said… Reread as thou wilt!

[From Skaldia to Alba to the Master of the Straits, and Phèdre finds a bedmate in every port...]

Thu
Feb 12 2015 3:00pm

Love and Cruelty: Kushiel’s Dart, Part 1

Kushiel's Dart Reread Tor.com Jacqueline Carey new cover trade paperbackGeorge R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire isn’t the only fantasy series to tackle the thrilling game of thrones: Jacqueline Carey was doing the same in the early 2000s with the Kushiel’s Legacy trilogy. And this one had plenty of sexposition long before it was a thing on the HBO series—thanks to courtesan/spy-turned-diplomat Phèdre nó Delaunay and her encounters with patrons, usurpers, and the divine. The Kushiel books readily accepted and depicted all sorts of sexualities—especially LGBTQ and BDSM—long before they were part of the mainstream conversation.

To celebrate the trade paperback release of Kushiel’s Dart, Theresa DeLucci and Natalie Zutter are rereading Kushiel’s Legacy. We’re breaking each book into two parts; turns out there’s a very natural delineation between Part 1 and Part 2 of each of Phèdre’s adventures (hint: it involves her getting imprisoned and/or enslaved). Each reread will include a brief summary, some plot highlights, and our commentary. We’re going to get spoilery—because it turns out there is a ton of foreshadowing for later books and trilogies—so feel free to do the same in the comments.

As Shemhazai said, all knowledge is worth having. And as he might have said… Reread as thou wilt!

[Read more]

Thu
Feb 5 2015 5:00pm

Gaming Roundup: Wander Through Ori and the Blind Forest in March

Ori and the Blind Forest

It’s not every day that a stylish, beautiful, Studio Ghibli-inspired 2D platformer hits the retail shelves, but that’s exactly what’s happening this March when Moon Studios’ Ori and the Blind Forest lands on the Xbox Marketplace this March. With gameplay guided by such genre stalwarts as the Rayman and Metroid franchises, artwork influenced by Ghibli’s lush, gorgeous anime classics, and a coming-of-age story inspired by some of the best Western animation has to offer in The Iron Giant and The Lion King, Ori is building a lot of expectations in a hurry—especially for an indie game.

[“A rebirth it was. Through a bond that was made.”]

Thu
Jan 29 2015 5:00pm

Gaming Roundup: The First Must-Have Game of 2015 is from 1998

Grim Fandango Remastered

For over a decade after its critically-acclaimed release in 1998, Grim Fandango was viewed as a lost classic—a forgotten disk that remained only attainable enough to affirm its scarcity throughout the 2000s. The game languished in the clutches of outdated OSes for years, and physical copies were banished to the furthest corners of eBay, where they were sold at inordinate prices. When GOG.com began turning yesteryear’s classics into digitized, DRM-free treasure troves, Grim Fandango quickly became their most-requested game. Rumors of the game’s return occasionally surfaced, but for so long, were never anything more than shadows and dust.

Until last year.

[“Buenos dias!”]

Fri
Jan 16 2015 3:00pm

Gaming Roundup: Evolve Slouches Towards Release

Evolve

Left 4 Dead launched just over six years ago, but the impact it had on the gaming landscape can still be felt today. Developer Turtle Rock Studios delivered a new standard for co-op multiplayer done right, but are now looking to push the envelope further with their next IP.

Enter Evolve—a multiplayer shooter still involving a team of four taking on monsters, but of a very different nature than L4D’s swarming zombie packs. Evolve works off of a 4 vs 1 concept, in which four hunters take on one very large, very powerful, and very angry monster. Unbalanced multiplayer is a tricky thing to pull off, but early indications suggest that Turtle Rock succeeded.

[“Choose your side.”]

Thu
Jan 8 2015 5:00pm

Gaming Roundup: Uncharted 4 Story Details Emerge

Uncharted 4

As the curtains close on 2014, a year that placed next-gen hardware in living rooms around the world, 2015 looks to bring the first wave of true next-gen games to the masses. Last year’s launch titles certainly looked impressive, but not many (with a select few exceptions) ventured into the realm of true innovation. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End qualifies as one of 2015’s great hopes in this respect, but until the last few weeks, little was known about developer Naughty Dog’s return to their best-known franchise other than the fact that it existed. Now the floodgates are beginning to open, and it’s hard not to like what we see.

[“Some chains can never be broken.”]

Fri
Dec 19 2014 1:00pm

Gaming Roundup: The Best (And Worst) of 2014

shadow of mordor

2014 was an eventful year in gaming. The Xbox One and PS4 both hit their one year anniversaries in strikingly different market positions, but a late surge by Microsoft helped bridge the gap. We’re still waiting for a game to take full advantage of current-gen capabilities, but 2015 looks extremely promising. Oh, right—and there was that little thing where we saw the worst of a large section of the gaming community for far too long a period of time. Let’s get right to our list of the best and worst of gaming in 2014.

[The year at a glance, a click away…]

Thu
Dec 11 2014 12:00pm

Gaming Roundup: Uncharted 4 Makes the Leap to PS4

gaming roundup uncharted 4

Sony’s PlayStation Experience rolled through Las Vegas this past weekend, bringing with it a number of exciting tidbits on several hotly-anticipated titles set to release in 2015—including the company’s first potential console-defining game, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. When last we left Nate Drake, he was wandering Colombia, France, Syria, and Yemen in search of yet another of Sir Francis Drake’s treasures, before getting hitched (again) to his wife, Elena. While anyone familiar with the previous 3 games of the series will have a fairly accurate sense of the game’s atmosphere and action, Uncharted 4 will still have its fair share of surprises on the PS4—including a new member of the Drake family.

[“It’s good to see you’re alive, little brother.”]

Fri
Dec 5 2014 5:00pm

Gaming Roundup: Is Telltale’s Game of Thrones As Good As The Walking Dead?

Tyrion Game of Thrones

In recent years, developer Telltale Games has positioned itself at the forefront of AAA dilemma-based, narrative-driven video games. After taking their medicine via the less-than-successful Back to the Future and Jurassic Park episodic features, the studio learned from its mistakes and hit one out of the park with their Walking Dead series—a critical and commercial smash hit that focused on engaging characters, tough decisions, and a relentless story en route to becoming a critical and commercial smash hit.

With success came opportunity, and Telltale was given the reins to one of the hottest IPs in the market today—Game of Thrones. Prior gaming ventures into Westeros have generally been about as successful as Viserys Targaryen’s quest to reclaim the Iron Throne, but Telltale’s Walking Dead story-heavy formula seemed to be a tailor-made fit for ASOIAF. Does Game of Thrones finally have a worthy entry in the gaming-verse?

WARNING: here there be spoilers for those new to the show or books.

[“What you do will have repercussions.”]