You can come home again.

Do you have a fictional world that you can always come back to? Something that no matter what, you can re-read, or know that the next book set there will be comforting and like coming home, at the very least.

That’s what the Shannara books are to me. I’ve re-read the first few trilogies several times, and I keep picking up more when I hit the bookstore. I wait to read until I have a complete trilogy or quartet, because when I get going, I don’t want to stop until I’ve digested the whole story.

Believe you me, Terry Brooks is prolific enough for me to be able to do that without worrying if it’ll stop the next one from coming out.

But, Skippy, you might say, the first book is awful! Well, dear reader, I’d be hard pressed to argue with you on that one. Though, in my teenage years, when I was devouring R. A. Salvatore and Isaac Asimov and Anne McCaffrey and Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman novels, each in a matter of days, I didn’t even notice. And the second series of books hooked me forever. The first ones may have anchored me into the world, but the second ones spoke to me.

Those are the ones that made the Four Lands feel like home.

I’m on pause now. Don’t give me the side-eye, I’m looking for two more to finish out the quartet. And then, dear reader, AND THEN? I’ll make a trip back to this world and devour that story, and I will be happy.

Where’s your fictional home away from home?

The problem with my favorite game.

Hob box art from Runic GamesHob is my favorite game. It’s a puzzle/action/adventure game with absolutely zero dialogue. That’s right, no text, no voice over, no nothin’. The few characters in the game do communicate, but you’re not let in on it. You explore the world, and you discover that it’s your job to put it back together. To fix the world.

This powerful idea spoke to me immediately. I signed up for the newsletter and eagerly awaited the game’s release. I didn’t even think that as someone who played games on YouTube and Twitch that I could’ve signed up for a free copy. I’m still facepalming over that one. In any case, I immediately purchased the game on release. When Runic Games shuttered weeks later, I picked up as much Hob merch as they offered, in case it disappeared off the face of the net. I streamed it from start to finish, and every time, I bemoaned that my next streaming schedule had the gall to be a whole week away. Oh, how I griped.

Have I convinced you that I love this game? Because I do. It’s a powerful, amazing story that I was immersed in, and invested in. I cared about the main character (I still don’t know if Hob is his name), and about the robot who gave its arm and its guidance.

SPOILERS AHEAD

The end was… problematic. An alien creature had landed on their world, and wanted to become part of it. At being excluded from having representation, it became enraged and sent the entire world into disarray. That’s not the problem. The natives of Hob’s world, including the ruling council, seem to be all male. The alien presence, and the warrior that fights for it, is decidedly female. The difference was obvious and emphasized.

In the end of the game, we discover that the all-male ruling council of this world discriminated against the female alien, who was just as smart and as capable as they were. In response to this injustice, the game creators have this world’s embodiment of femininity throw a giant fit and decide that if she can’t have it, no one can.

To add insult to injury, there are two endings to choose from. You can side with the ruling council, or you can side with the alien. If you side with the council, you destroy the alien, and return the world to its status quo, allowing all of the other (male) citizens of the world to come out of hiding. If you side with the alien, in response to her being the victim of discrimination, you see your robot friend open up another bunker, and the story starts all over.

This ending perpetuates the myth that women are overly emotional. It sets the status quo of an all-male government as the good ending, and the rejection of that as a world-destroying apocalypse. That’s not exaggeration, the main character is putting the world back together from exactly that.

I wish that Runic Games hadn’t closed, so I could ask them why they chose to do that.

Am I going to abandon my love for the game because of a problematic ending? Nope.

Am I going to stop telling people how amazing this game is? Nope.

Am I going to warn them that the ending comes across as anti-woman? You bet I am.

Fringe is the fringiest!

FringeI really should let you know that I own Fringe, in its entirety, on DVD. So… context.

The series starts out with a fairly straight-laced government agent stumbling into/being assigned to some Weird Shit. No, not Dana Scully. Weirder Shit. Turn the dial to seven or so, right off the bat.

Don’t get comfy, though. You remember all that crazy philosophy and pseudo-science you used to dream up with your friends while under the influence of one intoxicant or another? Not only is it real, viable, and provable, it’s vanilla. Try harder. Go deeper. That’s all real too, and not only is the government agent going to subject herself to it to solve this case, but she was subjected to all of it before, as a child. Turn that dial to 11.

We’re not talking Chosen One, but we’re not far off.

Or is the swindler son of the scientist the one that two universes have been waiting for? Is it both? Neither? Or, wait, was my first working theory right after all?

Then, there’s the last season. Not only are all bets off, but there may not have ever been any bets in the first place, because the bets were tallied and paid out ages ago. Just tear the dial off, throw it in the street, and run it over with a car. It was like watching Akira, but harder to make sense of.  I want to, though, I want to.

I recommend this show to anyone who doesn’t run screaming the instant I open my mouth about it. WATCH IT.

New kind of favorite

Go Get a Roomie, c Cloe C.I’m not sure I’ve ever called a comic one of my favorites because of how much I’ve learned. If I haven’t, this’ll be the first time. Go Get a Roomie has earned it.

For those of you that are new to the Skippy, I’ll tell you – I love webcomics. I read a ridiculous number of them daily, and I keep up with updates using RSS.

Roomie is a lesbian that believes, to her core, that love, platonic and physical, should be shared without shame or jealousy. But, as hard as the character tries to convince both her friends and herself, readers are left with doubt. Chlove is a great writer, letting us know that none of the characters are as two dimensional as they initially seem. In fact, every single character is deep and rich and full, and different enough from each other to be easily distinguished.

The webcomic updates several times a week, and is an open-ended just-a-little-NSFW not-quite-slice-of-life story. I highly recommend it.

Hang up and drive!

iOttie Easy One Touch 2As I’m sure has been well established by now, I’m particular when I buy things. Picky, even. I had my car for several years before I was able to find just the right one. And then, to rule out possible mistakes, I asked for it for Yule from my might-as-well-be-sister.

She always gets me precisely what I ask for.

My car came with a mounting disc. I’m not sure if the previous owners had a GPS, an MP3 player, or a phone mount; all that was left was the disc. Also, it appeared to be fused to the dashboard – the two were one. So, I needed a phone mount that had a long enough arm to be mounted to the disc, and wouldn’t let go of the phone on bumpy road, or anything else that would make me a sad panda.

Enter the iOttie Easy One Touch 2.

Two years of casual research later, and I stumbled upon this bad boy. Pressure-triggered switch activates the clamp on the phone, and the rubber grips hold my Otterbox tightly in place. Push on the releases, and the phone comes right out. A bumpy road is no match for its Kung-fu Grip.

It has multiple joints, a telescoping arm, and can make me a perfect grilled cheese sandwich. Okay, maybe not that last one. And sometimes the joints need tightening. THat’s just the nature of road vibration.

So, overall? VERY happy with it, and I’d recommend it to other picky shoppers. Give it an eyeball, if you’d like.