ESSAY: Tadashi Hamada’s Legacy

written by David Steffen This is an essay contemplating the Marvel/Disney movie Big Hero 6 (reviewed here), an excellent animated superhero mystery comedy with one of my favorite characters of all time: Baymax, the inflatable healthcare companion android who gets (improbably) recruited to be part of a superhero team by teenage genius Hiro Hamada. I … Continue reading ESSAY: Tadashi Hamada’s Legacy

BOOK REVIEW: Mind of My Mind by Octavia Butler

written by David Steffen Mind of My Mind by Octavia Butler was the second book published in the Patternmaster series (preceded by Patternmaster), as well as the second book in the chronological order (preceded by Wild Seed). I read the books as a collection that included the four main books in chronological order, rather than … Continue reading BOOK REVIEW: Mind of My Mind by Octavia Butler

DP FICTION #59B: “Beldame” by Nickolas Furr

I never had a driver’s license, you see. Instead I was born blessed with epilepsy. The doctors said it was bad form to put a two-ton vehicle into the hands of a young man who could seize at any time, medication be damned. Grand mal, tonic-clonic—whatever you wanted to call it, it was the big one, and I grew up afraid to be responsible for running off the road and killing someone because of it. I tell you this simply to explain that I was completely at the mercy of the bus line when we stopped at the small town in Kansas where all the houses faced west and I met the whispery old crone who sat at the intersection of two worlds.

At the time I was suffering through a crisis of identity and ennui. It was more than just the listless, relentless boredom of youth. The side effects of the Dilantin I popped to keep the seizures at bay made me irritable, anxious, and dark—sometimes at different times, sometimes all at once. I came from a good family in Kansas City, with two parents who loved me and supported me and a sister who put up with me. I was holding down a 3.88 grade point average at the University of Kansas, and I’d just met a guy.

James was from Pueblo, Colorado. We met at school and were looking into whether or not we wanted to pursue a relationship. He brought a beautiful pair of stark blue eyes, a lingering echo of the English R.P. accent he’d developed during the first 10 years of his life, and a tolerance for my nervous flutters. We weren’t exactly dating, but there was something between us. He wasn’t the first guy I fell for, or the first that I’d had sex with, but he was the first I really started to love. When you’re already pharmaceutically primed for nervousness, anxiety, and agitation, worrying about falling in love really adds to the stress.

GAME REVIEW: Undertale

written by David Steffen Undertale is an RPG game developed by indie developer Toby Fox published by 2015. Its based on a familiar format to many gamers–the RPG, walking around the map and contending with random monster attacks and boss fights as you go fulfill your quest. You can fight the monsters, like you’d expect. … Continue reading GAME REVIEW: Undertale

DP FICTION #59A: “This Is What the Boogeyman Looks Like” by T.J. Berg

This is what the boogeyman looks like.

It has white eyes with no pupils and no irises. Just white all the way through. But it can see you. So I must not fall asleep as I wait outside this closet door in an empty room, in an empty house with a derelict For Sale sign in front of it, everything smaller than I remember, baseball bat gripped in my hands.

*

This is what the boogeyman sounds like.

Short, huffing breaths, almost snorts, like your boss calling you into his office for a chat, because you got yet another email by accident that was supposed go to the CEO, who shares your name. “And you understand,” huff huff huff, “that you obviously didn’t get the whole story with just that one email,” huff huff huff, “and the engineers are definitely going to address that problem before the product goes to market.” Huff. “We understand each other, right?” And you’re too scared of losing your job to do anything but understand.

The Betrayal of Hiro Hamada

written by David Steffen Note before you read any further that this article will definitely include spoilers for the Marvel/Disney movie Big Hero 6, so stop now if you don’t want it spoiled. (It was previously reviewed here, as well as an essay about Baymax) If you haven’t seen the movie, I would recommend it! It … Continue reading The Betrayal of Hiro Hamada

Is Baymax Really Compassionate?

written by David Steffen Note before you read any further that this article will definitely include spoilers for the Marvel/Disney movie Big Hero 6, so stop now if you don’t want it spoiled. If you haven’t seen the movie, I would recommend it! (it was reviewed here previously) It is one of my favorites–fun, funny, … Continue reading Is Baymax Really Compassionate?

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Flower

written by David Steffen Flower is a 2009 exploration game developed by ThatGameCompany and published by Sony, for the Playstation family of game systems. In the game you control the wind blowing through a blackened and nearly lifeless landscape, trying to revive the vivid and beautiful life within it. The controls are extremely simple–you have … Continue reading VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Flower

BOOK REVIEW: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

written by David Steffen The Testaments is a 2019 near-future (or I guess alternate-history at this point?) novel by Margaret Atwood, a sequel to the well-known 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale (reviewed here) (which in itself spawned the ongoing Hulu TV series of 3 seasons, seasons 1 2 and 3 reviewed here). Note that for … Continue reading BOOK REVIEW: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

DP FICTION #58B: “The Problem From Jamaica Plain” by Marie L. Vibbert

I was waiting for the teakettle to boil, and the office wasn’t due to open for, oh let’s say three minutes. The phone blinked and I considered not answering, what with those three minutes of leisure ahead of me, but I needed every client I could get. I put on my phone voice and chirped, “Jasmine Alexa, Attorney at law.”

The voice on the other end trembled with fear and flat, Bostonian vowels. “I’m not shuh, but Ah think I might have killed someone.”

That was as good as a shot of straight caffeine. “Excuse me? Wait… right now?”

There was an unsettling long pause. “No?” It was a woman’s voice, rough and deep, but definitely feminine.

You are no doubt thinking exactly what I was thinking at this point: This person is a murderer. After years of handling divorces and wills, I was suddenly transported into an episode of Law and Order: Special Weird Calls Unit. 

Before my brain could decide if murderers paid well, my mouth said, “I’m sorry, this is a civil law office. I don’t do criminal cases.”

“Crap. Wrong number.” She hung up.