Podcast: CCR29: Little Shop of Horrors

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Join a full compliment of Chrononauts as we tackle the original and certainly lesser 1960 version of “Little Shop of Horrors.”

Click HERE to listen

and 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.

Hugh Likes Fiction: Ancillary Justice

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Ancillary Justice
Written by Ann Leckie
Read by Celest Ciulla
Ancillary Justice is a return to old school science fiction filled with modern twists.  It is the story of 1-ESK, an ‘ancillary,’ or human imprinted with a spaceship AI.  Twenty years ago, she was permanently severed from her ship.  When she finds a former officer, whom she thought dead a thousand years, lying drugged in the snow, she makes a decision that will change the course of intergalactic civilization.
This Hugo-winning novel has been on my radar for a long time, and it was a delight to finally listen to.  Leckie’s universe is an intricate, well built puzzle supported by a story that is about people, even if the people at the center don’t see themselves that way.  The speculative bits are intriguing and explored well.  Her style is engaging and propellant.
The characters center around a society that does not recognize gender.  Leckie uses exclusively the female pronoun throughout the story, even for characters which are male.  This is both a custom of 1-ESK’s culture, which does not differentiate between genders as a cultural norm and a character trait.  She legitimately has difficulty differentiating between them.  It was a unique spin on the trope of a robot trying to act human, and while I don’t know if it was realistic, I did find this aspect of the novel fascinating.
The audio book was read by Celest Ciulla, and I feel she did a great job balancing the oddness of the novel’s culture and protagonist with a listenable cadence.  The story implies a whole slew of completely imaginary accents and speaking patterns, and she rises to the occasion.
Anciliary Justice is a novel that truly deserved its awards, and I can’t wait to dive into 1-ESK’s next adventure.  You can find it at your local bookstore, or on Audible and Amazon.

Podcast: CCRC14: Whoops!

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Join us in the Chronotheater for an early 90’s sitcom pilot set in post-apocalyptic America.  Or don’t.  You’re probably better off, really.

But here’s you can listen HERE.

And you can watch “Whoops!” on Youtube HERE.  If you want to.

What Do We Do Now?

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It’s has been a week.  Presumably, you’ve taken care of yourself however you need to, and are well, everybody is somewhere.  It’s a start.  Many good people didn’t want this.  Other people did want this.  Other people wanted something and didn’t think this would happen.  But it did.  To quote,
“We in the shit now, somebody got to shovel it.” Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Hamilton”
And that somebody is us.  Not the DNC, not the electoral college, us.  And us is not a magical, feel-good collective society.  Us means YOU.  Perhaps you’ve been working hard the last eight years.  Or perhaps, like myself, you’ve been resting on your laurels, trusting in reason and the better nature of mankind.  Well, congratu-fucking-lations on that one.
So where do we start?

Take care of your friends and neighbors.  This administration isn’t going to.  Make sure their needs are met.  Look after people.
Get informed.  Social media is an echo-chamber by design.  So much misinformation was passed around, and so few corrections and vital information reached those who needed to see it.  Diversify your own information streams.  Do due-diligence on the news you do hear.  Find credible sources of accurate reporting, not simply outlets which cater to your taste.
Protect yourself.  This might be as simple as saving extra money in case the economy tanks or you lose your heath benefits.  It might involve updating your will or other documents to include protections which you might lose.  It might involve preparing a ‘bugout bag’ or making a plan in case of catastrophe.  It might involve taking self-defense classes or learning to use a firearm.  This could also involve scheduling preventative medical exams or procedures.  Consider what you might need three, six, nine months from now and don’t put it off!
Support Causes you believe in!  Your donations will be more valuable than ever before.  This applies not only to political and charitable organizations, but also the sciences and the arts.  With all three branches of government in Republican hands, government funding will likely dry up for everyone that does not toe the party line.  If you want to see organizations continue beyond the next four years, donate now and keep your support consistent.  Waiting for a call to action may be too late.
Get involved!  This is the big one.  Find out where you can help.  Join organizations you believe in on every level, from national to local.  Volunteer.  If you have the time and ability, run for local office.  The most effective way to preserve our democratic institutions is to keep them running.
This has been a brief guide to what you can do now to make the next four years a bit better.  God willing, if we all do our part, it will be enough.

Hugh Likes Video Games: Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow

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Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow
Published by Konami
Nintendo DS, 2005
The sequel to 2003’s “Aria of Sorrow,” Castlevania Dawn of Sorrow” was the first installment of the series for the Nintendo DS.  A savvy reader might point out that ‘Dawn’ isn’t the best name for a sequel, but since it appeared in the first year of the system, it was one of many games that glommed on to the ‘DS’ suffix.
The game once again follows teen reincarnation of the Lord of Darkness Soma Cruz to a maze-like castle in which he will again come to terms with and try to overcome his destiny.  When he is confronted by a cult leader searching for the Lord of Darkness, Soma’s power of Dominance unexpectedly returns, forcing him to confront his past life once again.
On the whole, “Dawn of Sorrow” doesn’t bring much new from its GBA predecessors.  The main game puts you back in the shoes of Soma, with the ability to Dominate and use the powers of various monsters to fight and to solve puzzles.  You can also collect extra souls to power up your abilities and weapons, which is nice, but mostly this game is more Aria of Sorrow with prettier graphics.  The game does have a ‘seal’ system, in which bosses have to be sealed away to be beaten.  This involves drawing a symbol on the touch screen after the fight.  It is a bit annoying, forcing players to keep a stylus tucked in their hand during the fight, but hardly the most egregious tacked on touch-screen gimmick of its day.
The game also features a return of the standard Castlevania extras such as unlockable characters and Boss Rush modes.  The extra mode is a real treat in this version, as it allows the player to switch between characters in a fan-service nod to Castlevania III.
The game still holds up relatively well, with well-designed, highly detailed sprites.  The castle feels nice and big, and it isn’t too hard to navigate with plenty of warp and save areas.  The game had a little trouble running in my New 3DS, however.  It would occasionally freeze or glitch, and the system wouldn’t be able to read the game card.  This wasn’t enough of an issue to prevent normal play, however.
“Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow” is an incremental but worthy installment in the Castlevania franchise, and is well worth your time if you’re looking to explore Dracula’s castle this Halloween.  It doesn’t break a lot of ground, but it is a fun and challenging adventure.  You should be able to find a used copy at your local game store.

Thank you for reading this article.  If you enjoyed it, please share it.  You can also follow me on Patreon!  Visit today to check out a free short story for Halloween!

Podcast: CCRC13: Star Trek TNG S7E19

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Hugh, Opopinax and Jurd are back in the Chronotheater watching Star Trek: The Next Generation.  The Enterprise becomes a B-horror movie, and it’s all Barclay’s fault.

Click HERE to listen along.

Star Trek: The Next Generation is available on Netflix Streaming in the US and Canada.  This podcast was originally posted on October 26, 2016 at Skinner.FM.

Thanks for listening to this podcast.  If you enjoyed it please share it, or leave a review on iTunes.  You can also support Hugh on Patreon for more podcasts and writing.

Hugh Likes Podcasts: Six Stories Told at Night

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Six Stories Told At Night
Produced by K. T. Bryski
Performed by Blythe Haynes
“Six Stories Told at Night” is masterfully written and produced Canadian meta-fiction.  It is the story of Sam and Joelle, two college-age friends in Toronto.  Joelle is an artist and folklorist who suddenly disappears.  Concerned, Sam goes to her apartment and finds a note.  Joelle claims to have left for Fairyland, the place all stories come from.  Sam struggles to find her, using Joelle’s notes and their own personal history as a map.  But getting to Fairyland isn’t the same as getting in, and Joelle has already told her all the stories she knows.
The product of a grant from the Ontario Arts Council, the podcast examines some famous Canadian folktales and the nature of storytelling.  Each episode tells a different Canadian folktale, and also follows Sam as she searches for Joelle and recounts a little bit of their history.  It is effectively and subtly done, always connecting the historical tale to modern characters in a way that doesn’t feel moralistic.
The audio is well-mastered, with editing by Bryski and original music by composer Alex White.  Blythe Hayne’s performances are both fantastical and evocative as she switches between anxious, clipped Ontarian Sam and the languid, artistic Joelle, and between the present, and the past.  Haynes’ voice is as subtle and varied as the story, and the two are an excellent match.  “Six Stories” is a creation perfectly tailored for audio podcast, and it shows in the way that Haynes’ and Bryski’s work mesh so seamlessly.
The tales themselves are a collection of chilling ghost stories and supernatural encounters.  They are a perfect treat for a chilly autumn night.  You can subscribe or listen online to “Six Stories Told at Night” at KTBryski.com.  I highly recommend it.

Thank you for reading this article.  If you enjoyed it, please share it.  You can also support me on Patreon for more writing and podcasts.

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