THE FLUX takes place a couple years after the FLEX, and mostly centers around the same three characters. The magic (or ‘mancy) in the universe of these books is extremely personal–if you are obsessed enough with something, that obsession can bend the universe around you to suit your beliefs. But it comes at a cost–every time a ‘mancer changes the world with their ‘mancy, the universe pushes back against the change with flux. Flux is a load of bad luck proportional to the extremeness of your mancy.
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Autumn snuck up faster than expected. Ushio and Tora is the only summer show that is continuing its run into the fall, but I’m not quite as gung-ho about it as I used to be, so if there is something good here, it could possibly displace it. Fafner: Exodus is also returning after its summer hiatus, and I’m more likely to keep watching that.
I selected eight shows to check out this season and these are my impressions based on their first episode as well as which ones I’m likely to come back to.
Dystopian fiction has long found a home among the canonical halls of literature, but not until recent years have we seen so many offerings within this theme geared toward a young adult audience. Not only are there numerous young adult dystopian novels being written, but many of them don’t stop at just one novel but rather evolve into trilogies that then morph into three or more movies based on their various namesakes. One of the latest films in this phenomenon is The Scorch Trials, the second installment in The Maze Runner series.
Night Vale is a mysterious small town in the American Southwest, a place of monsters, alternate worlds, angels, and any other manner of goings-on. This book tells the tale of two women living in Night Vale. The first woman is Jackie Fierro, a nineteen-year old owner of the town’s pawn shop. She has been nineteen for a long time, as long as she can remember. One day she is visited by an utterly forgettable man in a tan jacket and carrying a deerskin briefcase who pawns a piece of paper that says “KING CITY”. Jackie can’t let the piece of paper go. Literally, she can’t make the paper leave her hand–she can drop it, burn it, soak it in water, and it will always be in her hand again entirely intact. What does the paper mean? What is it for? Who is the man in the tan jacket? The second woman is Diane Crayton, PTA treasurer and mother of shapeshifting son Josh. Lately Diane has been seeing Josh’s estranged father everywhere she goes, and at the same time Josh has started to voice interest in this man he’s never met. Diane and Jackie both go searching for answers, and cross paths with each other in their search.
I wish I hadn’t taken so long to watch Natsume’s Book of Friends. If you like Hayao Miyasaki’s Spirited Away with all its strange supernatural creatures that exist in parallel to the world of humans, there’s a really good chance you’ll like Natsume’s Book of Friends.
The Shepherd’s Crown is the fourth installment in the Tiffany Aching subseries set on Discworld, written by Terry Pratchett. Pratchett passed away earlier this year and this is his final published work. On a personal note, it is a somber thought to think that I have read every Discworld story there ever will be.
Tiffany Aching is a full witch these days, the only witch of her homeland known as the Chalk, a land of sheep and plains, though she has a strong bond with the witches of Lancre who trained her in witchery. She spends her days taking care of the business of witching, which is mostly a matter of taking care of practical everyday things–bringing food to the homebound elderly, helping people with their ailments, being a sort of broom-flying country doctor.
Tokyo Ghoul is a messy bag that almost made me quit watching twice, but the thing is, when it’s good, it’s powerful stuff. It’s unfortunate that the audience has to deal with so many ups and down that it gives the impression that the showrunners really had no idea what they were doing when they adapted Sui Ishida’s manga.
Gunslinger Stratos is the rare show I decided to watch despite having low expectations of it. It’s based off an arcade game only released in Japan, and because of being an arcade game, I was not expecting much of a plot. Mostly, I wanted to watch it because it had an interesting concept involving parallel timelines and the potential for really cool anti-gravity gunslinging combat scenes.
Chasing the Phoenix is a science fiction novel by Michael Swanwick, published by Tor Books earlier this month.
The book stars Swanwick’s recurring characters, the con men Darger and Surplus. As the story begins, Surplus is journeying through a future China with the Darger’s corpse carried on the back of a yak, seeking the services of the legendary healer the Infallible Physician to raise Darger from the dead. Once that’s happened (it happens early enough in the book that I don’t think that counts as a spoiler). Considering greed a virtue, the con men are always looking for ways to profit from their circumstances. Surplus, who is an anthropomorphic dog, has used his appearance to his advantage by pretending to be an immortal, and with Surplus rising from the dead they have soon gained the attention of powerful people involved in a brewing civil war. Even among one side of the war, there are always those jockeying for power and willing to kill to get their way, and soon the two con men are working all sides just to stay alive.
Less than a month ago, just before the Hugo Award voting deadline, I gave a preliminary review of the first 100 pages or so of the Hugo-nominated novel The Three Body Problem. I gave the partial review then to get it published before the Hugo deadline, but since then I’ve finished reading. This review will be pretty brief because I don’t want to spoil everything, and the truth about what exactly explains the weirdness that’s happened so far in the book takes a while to unroll.