Sunday, 3 July 2011

Magical Creatures

Is it just me, or are fantasy creatures slowly becoming rarer?

Don't get me wrong, they're all over videogames. Naga are everywhere, and centaurs, but mainly naga. Even the everpresent elf is on the decline- in fact, popular fantasy has almost entirely sidelined the faye realm. But the last story I read about, say, a faun in- well, that would be C. S. Lewis's work. There is the odd reference, or the use of a magical creature I've personally never come across before. But by and large, the grand spectrum of magical creatures in fantasy is fading.

Prehaps, it is simply the fact that my reading material as aged- matured- as I have. I no longer read the works of Lewis, instead listening to Brent Weeks, or Abercrombie, or George R. R. Martin. I no longer see magical creatures because what I now read is not so much fantasy as political drama set in a fantasy world. No longer do Tolkeinien heroes rise from nowhere and strike down the great evil, instead Lordling bastards watch from the shadows as Lords and Ladies play war, scrabbling for every tiny ounce of power.

And yet, despite that the current grimdark fashion has squashed the mighty phoenix, magic is still a major factor in contemporary fantasy. And herein lies my confusion: If we can suspend our disbelief to accept an old bearded man striking down armies with fire, why have we allowed the great balrog to fall into out of memory? Is it somehow less believeable? If men can utilize a extraordinary power to truly blend into shadow, to completely silence all sound, and become the perfect assassin- why can nymphs and fair eleven maidens host grand parties in deep forests, which completely vanish at the appearance of a bumbling mortal? Are fearsome sirens and the mighty cyclops no longer sufficient to cause us concern for our mighty hero?

And yet, not all fantasy creatures truly fade. Zombies, once the mindless hands of evil necromancers, now threaten to wipe out humanity simply by being, through their endless desire to feed.

This loss of the magical menagerie would be a great blow the the genre. So much of what fantasy is, is anchored in giants and dwarfs and faeries, dragons and basilisks and Such a thing should not be allowed to go quietly into the night. We have other plans for them, yet.

Or at least, I like to think I do.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Things, I suppose

(Philbyy has logged in)
So I promised myself I'd start doing a little writing each day. And you, my dear... obeservers? whatever - you get to bear the results. Sounds good, eh?

He had just stopped. Not in a dead kind of way, barely even a bad kind of way. A thoughtful kind of way. Where had he stopped? That was very important, so I shall tell you where he stopped, and it will go a long way to explaining his thoughtfulness.
He had stopped half in and half out of the shower. That is to say, scalding water was even now running down his back, forcing heat into him; and the chilling cold of the atmosphere cut through his chest, hiding in its cloak of steam. And in him, they raged, not a war but a continuing calamitous cocophony, and he had lost all focus on everything as it filled his senses beyond filling. He could have laughed at the allegory, or even just forgotten and kept moving, but instead he simply stood stock still, and thought.

At least, until the hot water ran out.

-There, that wasn't so bad now, was it? Well, it's over now. I'll give you warning next time I pull a stunt like that, promise!

Anywho, laters.
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Thursday, 16 September 2010

Mountains, Old video games and more about mopeds

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...Oh wow, I actually came back. Hooray, the biggest hurdle is past!

Before I start, a quick nod back to my last post.
I commented on the little cloth leg covers moped riders wear. Well, I asked my colleague- a moteorcycleist himself- about them, and as it turns out, they are rain covers.

Thats right. Rain covers.

So... moped riders fear rain, but not the physics of a car hitting them at 60 miles an hour!? What!?


So, I just got back from a few days in Snowdonia in Wales with some friends. The weather wasn't perfect, there were issues with the travel, and our tent leaked- but it was a good holiday. Sure, I didn't actually get any rest, but it was a hiking holiday, I didn't go to rest, I went to see some beautiful Welsh countryside. And I did.

See what I mean? And that's just one of the photos I took. This one was from about half way down the side of Snowdon, the only time throughout that whole trip that we got weather that nice. Personally, I thought the low visibility gave it a sort of vieled bueaty, until the mist got so bad we couldn't see much further than ten feet. Yeah. At any rate, this holiday reminded me why I love walking so much, something I really shouldn't have forgotten to begin with. The fact is, this world is incredibly beautiful, and I want to see as much of it as I can. Maybe I'll post a few more pictures, if I'm asked for them. Of course, a few people would have to actually read this blog before anyone asks for anything.

And so, on to my final (ish) topic for this post.
Recently I bought myself a copy of Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War Platinum Edition on steam. Why? Well, I'm letting my World Of Warcraft account expire so I can invest some of that time seeing what else the video game medium has to offer. And I started by sticking my finger in a pie I haven't so much as smelt in years: The Real Time Strategy Game. (sec, daddy long legs)

... Right, we're good. Anyway.

So I haven't played much of this game yet, so expect more mention of it as I continue to play through it. But right off the bat, it made me do something I haven't had to do for years since I became a dedicated wowfag. Just to get past the first few missions, I had to think. Think about who I was placeing where, and why. Think about how best to use the terrain, how best to utilise my resources, how best to deal with the goddamn river of looted leman russ tanks the orcs seemed to be pissing like the things were heavily armored water. Once that little barrier clicked in my mind and I remembered how to game before the days of mindless button mashing enforced by warcraft's faceroll gameplay, it all gently fell into place. Patience, forward thinking, terrain manipulation, proiritisation, even a little micro-management- it all fell into place. And those poor greenskins didn't stand a chance anymore.

Since we're on the topic of video games, I want to point anyone who reads this in the direction of what I consider to be a very insightful- or at least thought-provoking- series of videos, published by the escapist magazine. I've been watching Extra Credits since video one, and every single one of their videos has left me thinking. You don't need a subscription, you don't need to be a member, theres no need to sign up to anything. Just check out these videos, and keep an eye out for the weekly updates:

Seriously guys, it's these people you have to blame for my freedom from the tyranny of Warcraft. So at least give them a quick check out, yes?

Anyway, I should probably clam up. Cheers for listening!

(Philbyy has logged out)

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

S'all new in here

(Philbyy has logged in)
So I figured I should make a blog. Y'know, somewhere to vent my thoughts and all that. So here I am. Took me long enough, to be hounest.

So what have I been thinking about?
...good question. See, I've been thinking about doing this for a long time, and I've thought about a lot of things to put in here, but I've managed to drag my feet on actually making the damn thing so long I've forgotten what I actually inteded to write about. So, for this one at least, you're just gonna have to settle for a couple (maybe) of thought... puddles? pools? ponds? Whatever, they probably won't be long enough to constitute thought streams...

So! Time to splash about in our first puddle! How exiting!

I've been traveling to work- and, for the most part, back from work too- on the back of my Dad's motorbike, since we work in the same building, for the time being at least. For some reason, I spot other bikers much better from the back of the bike. And quite a few scooterers as well. Y'know, things like vespers. And more often than not, they are using these odd blanket things, attatched to the inside of the front, and spreading over their knees.

Could someone explain these things for me please? Seriously?

They look like they're made of the same sorta stuff as the fabric leathers. But do they have any actual protective value? Really? I mean, your knees are effectively inside the bike, they don't need protecting there. And if you actually hit anything, you're gonna come off your bike, rendering the blanket-thing- which is attatched to the bike- utterly useless. I guess it might be for warmth, but I tend to find even on cold mornings I overheat in my leathers. So what gives? I guess its some secret known only to vesper riders.

Well, that was our first puddle! And a delicously badly thought out and underinformed one it was, too. And now that your wellies are nice and damp and ready for the big puddle over there, it's time for me to leave you, on the realisation that I have no more to talk about, that I can remember. Sorry guys, looks like the sun came out. Puddles are all dried up, and the pool's closed for cleaning.

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