33 days until I turn 36!

Might and Magic VI — So I used to play this game all the time, but on my previous computer (Windows XP) I had to jump through fiery hoops to get it to run. When I switched to Windows 7, despite the mad cravings I got for the game from time to time, I figured I’d probably never get it to run again. AND THEN I REALIZED you can get an emulated version from Good Old Games *__*

This game is exactly as I remember it. It’s a 2.5D game with hilarious old graphics mixed with even more hilarious still photos of people in silly hats. There is some semblance of a story woven very loosely throughout the game, but depending on how long it takes you to travel the continent, you may have forgotten every previous aspect of it before you encounter the next.

The gameplay switches between real-time and turn-based (if you want it to), and doesn’t do so very seamlessly. Otherwise it’s an incredibly standard dungeon-crawling RPG that even starts you out on giant rats and spiders and bats. And if you like endless grinding, saving up for new spellbooks, and constantly comparing the equipment you’ve found with the equipment you’ve got on before selling one or the other (and I DO), this game provides it in droves.

And where it really shines is in the extent of its world and the size and complexity of its dungeons. There’s a bazillion towns and cities to travel to and learn new skills in, and even more lengthy, secret-filled dungeons packed with enemies to fight and loot to pick up. It comes back to that RPG grind I like so much: Might and Magic VI provides a more than ample field for that exact style of play. I love the shit out of it.

No.6 episodes 3-4 — Still, obviously, getting tons of DoP from this, and loving the similar themes, especially because this is some straight-up ‘lain and Yae here.

There are some fandoms (I’m looking straight at you, WeiƟ Kreuz) wherein the main characters are reprehensible people more or less from the beginning, and because of this I don’t mind nearly so much when fanfiction puts them into unhealthy relationships. It’s like, Yeah, they’re already kinda terrible? so if they’re jerks to each other as well, of course it’s still sad, but it’s only to be expected.

So at this point in No.6, it’s like Shion has wandered into such a fandom out of another, happier one. He continues to be almost ridiculously optimistic and idealistic, and very charming, and while it’s an excellent contrast to Nezumi and his attitudes and mannerisms, it’s also very troubling. Because at this point I don’t think Shion is a reprehensible person, and so I do mind the idea of him getting into (more of an) unhealthy relationship.

And Nezumi is a patent asshole. He’s supposed to be. Some better qualities have been hinted at, but if he doesn’t eventually develop some respect for human life, he’s never going to be the kind of person I’d want to see the good and innocent Shion romantically involved with, no matter how well he sings. So I’m very interested in seeing to what extent he will change during the course of the series, and whether I’ll ever be satisfied with the developing relationship.

Moving on. There’s this thing I see in various works that doesn’t seem to have a name on TV Tropes, which is very frustrating. The closest thing to it may be As You Know. What I’m thinking of is a type of dialogue slightly less clunky and absurd than As You Know: expositional conversation that is not necessarily unnatural or illogical, but that is chronologically out of place — a conversation that is entirely reasonable for the characters to have, but that they logically would have had much earlier than they’re having it. I think I’ll call it Misplaced Expositional Dialogue.

I first recognized this as a thing writers do when I noticed it in some of my own stories, and ever since then I’ve been noticing it in various works. It’s an insidious little pitfall, because the conversation is reasonable, so it’s able to slide under the radar… I think a lot of writers don’t even realize they’re doing it. Some do, though, and they try to kinda make up for it by implying that this conversation takes place on a regular basis with lines like, “You say that every day,” or, “Same as it was the last time you asked.” This type of evasion, I find, has varying degrees of effectiveness.

Anyway, the point of all this is just to say that this series has had some Misplaced Expositional Dialogue so far. In future I’ll be able to say it a bit more concisely XD

Revisionary — So now I’ve finished the Magic Ex Libris series for the first time. I enjoyed the ending, and the series overall, very much, even if I did feel like there were a few scenes scattered throughout that were kinda pointless and almost fanservicey (for a slightly different-than-usual definition of fanservice).

Isaac was kindof annoying the entire time, and I never really liked him much, and I liked that I never really liked him much. It wasn’t anything offensive about him I hated — and, indeed, I can’t say I hated him at all — merely the fact that he wasn’t my kind of person. Which is another nice touch of realism (please see previous remarks on that phrase XD).

In addition to that, it was hinted earlier on and eventually confirmed that Isaac was being shaped by the events of the series into the new Gutenberg — and I’ve already mentioned how delightfully insufferable I found Gutenberg, so making the assumption of his position by another annoying character was satisfyingly appropriate. The conversations with memory!Gutenberg were a excellent way to reinforce this and keep him fresh in the reader’s mind.

However I felt about Isaac, I found his relationship with Nidhi FREAKING ADORABLE. I loved how the two of them became so close and comfortable with each other. And Lena becoming a vigilante at the end? Yes, please!

I thought Deb’s death was a very good choice. As the characters themselves pointed out, not the fact that she helped them nor her dedication to saving and protecting (some) non-humans nor her loyalty to Granach made up for what she’d done, and her crimes would eventually have needed to be addressed. It might have been less painful for her companions to watch her die a hero than to have to deal with justice in the aftermath of her surviving.

So speaking of companions, it’s time for me to do one of those tangents to explain something about which I will then say, “That happened here too.”

One of the many, many things I love about The Lord of the Rings is that Tolkien’s constant use of named secondary and tertiary characters creates a strong sense of community and the large-scale nature of the conflict. It’s not a plucky band of heroes alone against a looming menace; it’s everybody together against a looming menace. Yes, we’re focusing on a specific set of characters, but everybody is part of this conflict and everybody is important. (This is only one of many things Peter Jackson fucked up beyond belief, but I’ma force myself not to get into that right now.)

And Jim’s got some of that going on in this series, particularly in this last book. Did you hear that, Mr. Hines? I just compared you to Tolkien (to some extent). Eh, he didn’t hear that. Anyway, I love that minor characters such as Jason and Callie get names and snippets of story to indicate that not only do the events of the story affect more than just the main characters, more than just the main characters have the willingness and the ability to assist with what’s going on.

These aren’t isolated events, and the heroes aren’t The Chosen Ones; there’s a community that is affected by, and responds to, what’s going on. And in a book dealing with the effects of magic being revealed to the world at large, and how the world at large deals with that, I think that’s an incredibly important idea to get across.

Anyway, I liked the series, and this last book, very much. Did I like it more or less than the Princess series? Not sure. I’ll probably have to decide after I reread that one.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child script — OH YOU GUYS. Brief reminder here. I don’t think anyone is reading these AEL’s, which is fine since I write them for myself. But if anyone does happen to be looking at this, remember: SPOILERS.

Now, obviously, most plays aren’t written to be read… but some plays are. And I think that when a set of writers is as aware as these ones must have been that three quarters of the world is slathering after this story and won’t be able to get to London any time soon to see it performed, they’d better throw us a bone by making the script a slightly more book-like experience than it otherwise might have been. I definitely appreciated that this was not just dry stage directions.

Rowling commented that after having experienced this story, people would understand why it needed to be a stage play rather than expressed through some other medium (such as an actual novel). I have to admit that I don’t entirely see that necessity. I do see where a certain visual element is important — particularly in the beginning passage of time that plays like a montage, and in the dream sequences — but I still feel like this story could have been expressed a number of ways just as effectively. In any case, I’m hella jealous of Londoners and anyone else that has access to the plays for watching purposes.

The style and the feel of this work is completely different from that of the seven novels, despite characters and a world so familiar it’s like they’re my own family and home, and at first this was a little off-putting. But as soon as I got into the groove, which didn’t take long, I became perfectly comfortable. And then I loved every minute of it.

The overall plot is trite times ten, which is not disturbing at all, especially because what’s really important is less “crap, we’ve screwed up the timeline with our time-traveling antics” or “ZOMFG Voldemort’s daughter,” and more “parents and children that may not be on the same page learn a difficult lesson of how to connect and demonstrate their love for each other in productive, healthy ways.”

I loved all the parallel parent-child storylines running here. I cried especially hard at the brief mutual declaration of love between painting!Dumbledore and Harry, and how we were left with the painful impression that, despite that love, that relationship was never very good and can never be fixed. It was kindof a warning to Harry that this is what his relationship with his own younger son could become if he’s not careful.

I love the contrast between Harry’s relationship between his other two children and his relationship with Albus. It’s clear that James and Lily are essentially following the path expected of them, becoming what everyone expects them to be. I’m not saying this is a bad thing! It’s just that it means Harry doesn’t have to work nearly as hard to connect with them, to be a good father to them. He hasn’t, as Albus and Scorpius discuss at one point in CC, been tested yet when it comes to those two children.

He mentions at one point that, not having grown up with a father, he has no model, no guide to follow in parenting. But it seems clear to me that he’s been muddling along pretty well with his other two children, that he hasn’t necessarily needed a guide with James and Lily. With Albus he has no idea what to expect or how to react, and he’s absolutely feeling that here. He’s feeling the lack of a father in his own life more than he ever has before, which is what makes that brief exchange with the painted Dumbledore even more meaningful and heart-wrenching.

The parallel with Scorpius and Draco must, of course, be limited to some extent by the fact that Draco spends far less time onstage than Harry does, and the dialogue between him and his son is also much shorter and less emphasized. But it was very well developed in that limited time.

It’s wonderful to see that Draco, while still rather a jerk, has used all these years to become something of a better person — and that his love for his wife and son is a mirror and a (perhaps more healthy) augmentation of the love we saw in his family when he was younger. His expression of regret over his wife’s death was particularly moving, and that one moment of true friendship with Harry (and his confession that he would have loved to have real friendship such as Harry did back in their Hogwarts days) almost broke my heart.

Scorpius as the new Hermione is fantastic. Given what we saw in the darker alternate reality — the idea of an athletic, socially forward Scorpius with the world at his feet — I kinda feel like Scorpius is repressing a lot of his natural talent, turning to books and his back on things he might otherwise enjoy such as Quidditch, in response to the awful hand he’s been dealt. People treat him incredibly badly, so he withdraws, and the silver lining is that he’s become an excellent and adorable nerd with a lot of useful knowledge about the wizarding world.

In his position, I don’t even know what you’d want to prove to your father. That you’re like him in some ways but not in others, I suppose? Scorpius’ situation, honestly, is a lot more complex and difficult than Albus’, and I loved the scene where he basically (but kindly) points that out.

(I should probably get this out of the way: Scorpius and Albus seem really, really gay for each other, and I am totally on board. I’ve never been very interested in Harry Potter fanfiction, but I may be on the lookout for Albus/Scorpius henceforth.)

I was a little surprised at how much Rose didn’t figure into the story. Probably just from the cast photos that were released not too long ago, I thought she was going to be a much bigger part of things. Still, what we saw of her was amusing and funny, and I wonder just how much of the Weasley Quidditch talent she really has.

The various hints we had about how the Weasley-Granger relationship is going were interesting. I kinda feel like the writers — including, of course, a Rowling that has already realized this — recognized some of the problems inherent in that pairing and were subtly trying to address them.

Obviously Hermione/Ron can’t be retconned out of existence, so I think the writers did their best not only to portray Ron as less of a gormless asshole than he was earlier in life, but also to imply that he too sees some of these problems and works, in his Ron way, to try to rectify them. His proposal of marriage renewal to Hermione at the end shows pretty clearly that he knows they’ve had issues, that he still loves her and isn’t afraid to say it, and that he wants to make things better. I really appreciated that; it made me hate and regret that pairing a little less.

And Hermione as Minister for Magic? YES, PLEASE. Hermione as the most badass of all freedom fighters sacrificing her life for the cause? Yes, please. Honestly even Hermione as an embittered asshole of a DADA teacher was kinda Yes, please XD

Which brings me to some remarks about the trite plot. I love this trite plot. Trying to go back in time to fix something and just screwing everything up and then coming back to the future and seeing how everything has changed is an awesome trite plot. It allows us to see alternate versions of characters such as badass-freedom-fighter Hermione and not-dead Snape and Death-Eater Cedric(?!?), as well as plausible possibilities for the world that we can shudder over and move on from because they didn’t really happen, and I am ON BOARD.

The daughter of Voldemort was a trite plot angle that I loved less but didn’t particularly mind. It provided another fun parent-child parallel, and confirmed what we’ve all believed about Bellatrix all along. Plus it was fascinating to have a real child of Voldemort show up after all the rumors about Scorpius, and then to have Albus be attracted to her.

No, I didn’t really mind that almost-kinda-silly and certainly-overused plot device. In fact I think my only complaint about the entire thing (aside from my inability to see the plays performed) is that the dialogue of Albus and Scorpius seemed a little mature for their age. And even that wasn’t egregious, and might not even bother me if actors on stage pulled it off well.

Overall I really loved this story, and thought it was an excellent addition to the Harry Potter canon. I suppose I can see one reason for it not to be a novel as its predecessors were: it stands on its own better that way, with its own particular story and flavor, instead of attempting to be “the eighth Harry Potter book.”