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Podcast: NP26 – Nuke the Moon

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NP26

Welcome to Nostalgia Pilots! This week, Hugh, Jason, and Jurd delve into Gundam Wing Episode 26: The Eternal Flame of the Shooting Star!

Click HERE to listen online!

In tonight’s episode: Everyboyd hates Tubarov, Heero is very focused on murder, and the Treize Faction may have gotten sweet new uniforms, but they’re just as bad at this as the rest of Oz! Plus, The Nostalgia Pilots fall down a shonen anime rabbit hole, and Jason reveals the secret to piloting a giant robot.

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Hugh Likes Anime: Castlevania S2

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The Skinny: This definitely feels like a game, I’m just not sure it’s “Castlevania.”

I will admit that season two of Castlevania wasn’t boring. Although it was littered with references, the show took a very different turn from the short season one, and felt even more disconnected from its source material. But it is still an enjoyable, if gory, animated vampire-hunting romp.
After the short first season, itinerant vampire hunter Trevor Belmont, sassy wizard Sypha Belnades, and angsty but beautiful son of Dracula Alucard were all set to take down the King of the Vampires after saving a town from invasion. But first they have to go back to the ruins of the Belmont estate and figure out how to find the castle.
While they are off studying, the series introduces some new bad guys to play for time. Most of the season is taken up by the machinations of Dracula’s War Counsel, a collection of vampires from around the world that have gathered at the castle. The only two who are important to get speaking lines are Godbrand, a reckless viking vampire, and Carmilla, a lady vampire with war plans of her own. Also introduced are Isaac and Hector, a pair of humans who do the actual work of making monsters as Dracula’s Devil Forgemasters.
While this season wasn’t too long at just eight episodes, it feels like only the last two were very important to the story. Carmilla’s plotting, which feels straight out of a 90’s World of Darkness Vampire game, is fun, but ultimately kind of pointless, as she never even meets up with our heroes. The two plots feel like they are happening in two separate rooms, with a few monsters shuffling back and forth between them.
While it is a bit disjointed, Season 2 of Castlevania was still a heck of a lot of geeky, gory fun, with plenty of Easter eggs for fans of the games. These range from hordes of recognizable monsters, to an extremely Rococo portrait of “Lament of Innocence” protagonist Leon Belmont, to a few gorgeously arranged selections from the games’s soundtrack.
If you enjoyed S2 of Castlevania, this continues the story with some nice twists, and if you’ve been looking for some fun scheming and evil to tide you over until Game of Thrones returns, this has you covered as well. You can stream Castlevania on Netflix.

Hugh Likes Comics: Sparrowhawk

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Sparrowhawk #1and 2
Written by Delilah S. Dawson
Illustrated by Matias Basla
Colored by Rebecca Nalty
Lettered by Jim Campbell
Published by Boom! Studios

Sparrowhawk

The Skinny: Illegitimate daughter Artemisia must fight for a world that has always rejected her when she accidentally trades places with the Faerie Queen.

Artemisia Grey has had a difficult life. Born to a roustabout English nobleman and a slave, she was treated as no more than a servant to the rest of her family, serving as her older sister’s maid, until they needed a marriageable daughter to marry off, of course. Artemisia wishes for nothing more than the freedom to do as she wishes and for someone to love her as she is. The Faerie Queen uses her desires to trade places with her, trapping Artemisia in her realm and gaining a foothold in the human world. It is up to her family and her world, but when the time comes, will she even want to?
Dawson’s dark faerie tale is smart and well paced. Art’s trip through the looking glass from horrible situation to worse feels like an inverse of Alice’s story. Unseelie is a land here everything makes the most brutal kind of sense. Her guides through this world a Crispin, a monstrous little creature that is constantly urging her to acts of violence, and Warren, the only unloved son of the Unseelie Queen, and an avowed pacifist. Together they navigate a complex and mysterious fantasy world.
Basla’s art and Nalty’s colors create a vibrant but unsettling world, full of dutch angles and oversaturated and unnatural tones. It’s an excellent effect, and is contrasted with their much more constrained treatment of the ‘real’ world.
“Sparrowhawk” is a sharp and dark portal fantasy that delves into some fertile thematic territory concerning Love, Colonialism, and the moral hazards of both. You can find the first two issues online via Comixology, or in print at your local comics shop.

Fiction: The Break-In

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It was supposed to be a harmless teenage prank. Break into the abandoned church and nick something. He expected her to return with a rusty candlestick or rain-soaked hymnal. If she didn’t chicken out. He hadn’t expected her to creep out of the ruined abbey dragging a four-foot long sword behind her.
“Where’d you find that?” He really hadn’t expected her to stare at him, then raise the blade like it was weightless.
“I was chosen,” she said. Then her expression hardened. “And I can see what you truly are.”
“Oh,” he said, scrambling away from her. “Hell.”

Hugh Likes Fiction: Witchmark

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Witchmark
Written by C. L. Polk
Published by Tor

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The Skinny: Polk’s debut novel is a perfectly crafted queer fantasy masterpiece.

Witchmark is a remarkable queer fantasy novel that I picked up almost on accident. It follows the story of Dr. Miles Singer, a psychiatrist (and secretly, a magician) in the country of Aeland. Aeland recently won a war with neighboring Laneer, but thousands of veterans are returning with unusual psycological trauma. When a dying man is brought in to the hospital by handsome stranger Tristan Hunter, Miles will join him to unravel these mysteries. But finding the truth will mean returning to his past, and risking a fate worse than death.
Polk’s story is an excellent puzzle box of a story, with an incredible Edwardian-inspired setting that is richly conceived but also elegantly told. There is a lot of world-building that is vitally important to the story, and Polk is deft at delivering it without bogging down the reader in fictional history. Her other really great triumph is the way she depicts the motivations of her characters. As a gay man myself, I can strongly relate to Miles and his sister Grace’s situation, and being at odds with your family but still loving them. This dynamic is really well represented, and it isn’t one I often see in queer fiction.
And yes, this book is very queer. It’s so queer that the magic system has top and bottom roles. But it is also very sweet. I loved Mile’s and Tristan’s relationship and the way it unfolded. The romantic elements are definitely safe for work, in my view. All of the naughty bits occur off of the page.
Witchmark is a stunning debut novel from C. L. Polk and I can’t wait to read the follow up due out in February. You can find it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your local independent bookshop.

Fiction: Capturing Light

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“Where are the flowers?” I looked up from the painting.
“They’re on the table.” I said, gesturing to the bouquet.
“But you haven’t included them. And the vase is wrong. That looks like a perfume bottle!”
“I can’t draw what’s really there,”I said. “Have you ever heard the idea that taking a picture captures your soul?”
“What nonsense.”
“Inauspiciously worded wish. Now I can’t paint anything alive without capturing it.”
“That’s bullshi….”
I finished adding the tiny figure inside the jar. It was a fairly good likeness of him.
“See what I mean?” I asked, but he was gone.

Podcast – Nostalgia Pilots Episode 25

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Welcome to Nostalgia Pilots! This week, Hugh Jason, and Jurd tackle Gundam Wing Episode 25: Quatre Vs. Heero!

Click HERE to listen online!

In this episode, Heero continues to be a terrible friend, Treize throws some fancy shade, and Tubarov has a disappointingly modern gun.
Plus, there’s a model kit for that, and there’s no Zechs in the Champagne Room!

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