Hugh Likes Comics: Lake of Fire

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Lake of Fire #1
Written by Nathan Fairbairn
Drawn by Matt Smith
Published by Image Comics
“Lake of Fire” is Aliens with Crusaders instead off Space Marines, and it’s perfect.  Set in a remote village in the French Pyrenees in the 13th Century, a crashed space ship releases monstrous aliens that the people of the time can only conceptualize as demons.  When a team of errant crusaders come to the village to root out heresy, they come face to face with the terrifying creatures.
What I find most interesting about this concept is how asymmetrical the understanding of the characters is.  Fairbairn and Smith do an excellent job making clear the nature of the ‘demonic’ threat in the opening sequence, with a huge panel of the massive ship passing overhead before crashing in the mountains.  Conflict between highly advanced and pre-enlightenment societies isn’t a new concept.  ‘Star Trek’ made a lot of hay out of it over the years.  But this is an intriguing perspective.  The reader perspective follows the superstitious humans rather than the Xenomorph-like aliens, which really increases the tension.  They have absolutely no idea what they’re up against.
Fairbairn’s story is well researched and detailed without getting too bogged down in historical minutia.  The action is well paced and the characters are well developed.  The interplay between the greenhorn knight and his friend and the more seasoned knights and noblemen was interesting, and it kept the story moving.
Smith’s art is less realistic than I would have expected, but he has a great mastery of expressions.  The page layouts are a bit cramped, with lots of small panels.  This also helps keep the story compressed and tense.  Colors by Fairbairn are vibrant and atmospheric.
Lake of Fire is a heck of a good read to tide you over if you’re still waiting for the next George R. R. Martin book.  You can find it on Comixology, or on the shelves of your local comics shop.

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Podcast: CCR28: The Last Woman on Earth

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The full crew of Chrononauts gathers to tackle an apocalypse so cheap, only Roger Corman could’ve caused it.

Take a deep breath and click HERE to download the podcast.

Click HERE to watch the movie on Youtube!

Chrononaut Cinema Reviews is presented by http://skinner.fm and Way of the Buffalo, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

This podcast was originally posted at Skinner.FM on October 8, 2016.

Thanks for listening!  If you enjoyed this podcast, please review it!  Also, you can support me on Patreon for more exclusive content!

Hugh Likes Video Games: Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin

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Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin
Nintendo DS, 2006
Welcome to Dracula Season, my annual celebration of my favorite defunct game franchise, Castlevania!  This is the second installment of the franchise on the Nintendo DS, Portrait of Ruin.  Like the other handheld titles of the era, this is a 2D side-scrolling exploration game.  The twist in this one is that the player controls two characters that share the screen, Johnathan Morris and Charlotte Aulin.
A sequel to the somewhat obscure Sega Genesis title “Castlevania Bloodlines,” Johnathan is the son of one of that game’s protagonists, John Morris, and the grandson of ‘Dracula’ character Quincy Morris.  He’s a more physical character, while Charlotte is a magician.  Players can switch between the two, and choose to go solo, or have the other character onscreen as an AI partner.  Two players can also team up over a wireless connection.  Both collect equipment, sub-weapons, and spells as they explore Dracula’s Castle.
But the count is not at home.  Rather, the castle is being manipulated by Brauner, a vampiric artist whose daughters were killed in World War I.  He’s taken control of the castle with the aim to destroy the world.  Players have to enter Brauner’s paintings in order to disrupt his hold on it.
Portrait of Ruin is visually stunning, and puts the DS’s graphics processor through its paces.  The concept of entering the paintings is cool, and adds some visual flair and variety to the maps.  The unusual maps and layouts challenge players in ways that call back to “Symphony of the Night.”  The story is interesting but easy to follow, even for someone like myself who hasn’t played the Genesis prequel.
It would have been nice to have more paintings later in the game rather than reusing the first four, but this is a small nitpick.  Portrait of Ruin is a worthy successor to the Castlevania line, and while it is no longer in print, you can probably pick up a used copy at your local games shop for a steal.
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Podcast: Fiction: “The Real Stuff” by Tara Campbell

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The Way of the Buffalo podcast is proud to present “The Real Stuff” by Tara Campbell!
Today’s story is read by Scott Roche.
Click HERE to listen!
Today’s promo is for The Voice of Free Planet X.
Music is today’s podcast was provided by Kevin MacLeod of Incompetech.com.
If you enjoyed today’s podcast, please share it, or leave a review on iTunes.  You can also support Hugh on Patreon for early content and other cool bonuses!
Thanks for listening!

This podcast originally appeared at The Way of the Buffalo on Saturday, October 1, 2016.

Podcast: CCRC11: Galactica 1980

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Hugh, Rich the Time Traveler, and JRD comment on “The Return of Starbuck,” an episode of Galactica 1980.  It’s like Robinson Crusoe, only in space, and dumb.

Click HERE to listen to the Commentary,

And click HERE to watch the episode on Youtube!

Chrononaut Cinema Reviews is presented by http://skinner.fm and Way of the Buffalo, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

This podcast originally appeared at Skinner.FM on September 27, 2016.

Thank you for listening.  If you liked this podcast, please share it, or leave a review on the podcatcher of your choice.  You can also support me on Patreon for more writing and podcasting.

Hugh Likes Fiction: The Turn of the Screw

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The Turn of the Screw
By Henry James
Read by Emma Thompson with Richard Armitage

The Turn of the Screw is a classic suspense novel and ghost story, but perhaps it suffers from being too firmly rooted in the time of its creation.  The short novel is the story of a young governess sent to care for the orphaned niece and nephew of a rich London gentleman.  Her employer wants nothing to do with the two small children, but that is only the start of their troubles.  The governess is soon convinced that they are haunted by a pair of ghosts.
James’s short novel is preserved as a primary example of Victorian suspense, but the style would be way too wordy and anticlimactic to best-seller readers today.  But the nouvelle is both steady and deliberate in the application of suspense as the main character attempts to unwind the layers of mystery surrounding her two charges.  The opening section, in which the James claims to have heard this story from a friend one Christmas holiday serves as a statement of purpose to this effect, and also as a sort of carnival barker, stoking the nerves of the reader and daring them to turn the page.
But “The Turn of the Screw” is perhaps a bit too steeped in the cultural and social mores of Victorian England to be relevant to modern readers.  Class and gender relationships, with a clear hierarchy, are taken for granted throughout the work.  The narrator asserts that young Miles is either her equal or superior on the basis of his sex.  Also, class consciousness is central to the scandalous behavior of the two ghosts.  The novel asserts either a tryst between a common manservant and the well-born governess.  It also implies that their contact with the two children was inappropriate, and that their return from beyond the grave is to snatch the children.  James doesn’t seem to see any difference between breaking class taboos and pedophilia ,  which was troubling to my twenty-first century American morals.
I listened to this book on Audible.  Emma Thompson’s reading is quite good, and she manages to cut the dense verbiage of James’s style down to a manageable path.  Her performance keeps the modern listener invested and upholds the air of gothic suspense that may be lost on a reader unaccustomed to the style.  The Turn of the Screw is also available in print and digitally from a number of public domain sources.
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Hugh Likes Comics: The Wicked + The Divine

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The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 1: The Faust Act
Written by Kieron Gillen
Drawn by Jaime McKelvie
Published by Image Comics


Gillen and McKelvie are my all-time favorite team of comics creators.  Yes.  Even above Stan and Jack.  Deal with it.  I was impressed with their urban fantasy indie-pop black and white opus “Phonogram,” and their run of “Young Avengers” was my favorite comic of 2013.  So when they announced “The Wicked + The Divine,” I knew right away that it was going to be right in my wheelhouse.  But I slept on it, knowing that it would be there when I wanted it the most, and that graphic novels would be a better choice than single issues, for me.  This week I finally took the plunge.  And I was entirely right.
Every ninety years, twelve gods return to earth, incarnated as teenaged pop stars.  They spend the next two years inspiring humanity, then they die.  And the cycle repeats.  It’s called The Recurrence, and it’s happening right now.
Laura is a fanatic.  She’s seen every god that has appeared so far.  And when Luci, this incarnation of the Prince of Lies as filtered through the Thin White Duke, takes a shine to her and invites her backstage, she becomes enmeshed in the affairs of beings that are equal parts divine being, celebrity, and terminally-ill teenager.
The Wicked + The Divine is another moonshot high concept of a comic from Gillen and McKelvie.  A strange mix of pop culture and religious iconography, it is constantly shocking, melancholic, and larger-than-life.  McKelvie’s clean, gorgeous line work is once again perfectly suited, with a whole class of post-modern deities to accompany his work on Marvel’s Young Avengers.  Matthew Wilson’s colors once again provide a rich partner to McKelvie’s art.
The Wicked + The Divine vol. 1 is available in trade from your local comics shop or digitally from Comixology.  It’s a hell of a good read.

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