Quick Recommendation: “Tales From the Borderlands”

I did not like “Borderlands 2”, which I found somewhat dull (ooh, hey, a slightly bigger gun, that’ll make a difference) and after that had no desire to try the original. When Telltale announced a Borderlands game, I was very meh about it.

But I tried it out, and let me tell you, it was OUTSTANDING.

I don’t think I need to talk much about gameplay. It’s a Telltale game, meaning it’s basically a playable television show. They’ve really perfected their unique choice mechanic since episode 1 of “The Walking Dead”, and the cel-shaded graphics are as gorgeous as always. The voice acting is uniformly exceptional, especially from the always sensational Troy Baker as Rhys. The guy playing the villain (I’m not going to say who that is since it’s actually a REALLY big spoiler) is also fantastic.

But the real appeal of any Telltale game is the story, so that’s what I’ll talk about.

I’m writing this here and not on Superversive SF because “Tales” isn’t even CLOSE to superversive, which is part of the charm. Oh, there’s a moral order; it’s not nihilistic or depressing. In fact, it’s comedic, and very funny indeed. It’s just that all of the characters are terrible people.

There’s actually something oddly charming about this…I mean, the game isn’t even trying to hide it. Outside of the two robots – and even Loader Bot kills QUITE A LOT OF PEOPLE – you’re all varying degrees of terrible.

Is there any redemption for you guys? Yes, but not as much as you’d think. Is there a REAL villain to fight, someone who is obviously the bad guy here even more clearly than you are? Yes, there definitely is, which helps a lot. Even so, you can really only be called the good guys because the people you happen to be up against are either worse or ACTIVELY trying to kill you.

I mean, Rhys idolized HANDSOME JACK. That’s…not the sign of a noble person.

There’s also something charmingly low key about it all. There’s no big hero’s journey or save the world stuff going on here. You’re doing all of this because you want whatever is in the vault you’re hunting. That’s it. No other reason. At the very end you get another, stronger motivation to complete the quest, but this doesn’t come until the game is almost over – and even it isn’t something that’s going to affect anyone outside of your immediate circle of friends.

Still, the game has a surprisingly big heart to it. The characters are all likable even in spite of themselves, the story is entertaining as hell, it’s very funny, and it can even be surprisingly poignant at times. I was actually amazed at how much I liked it. If you like story-based games and aren’t adverse to hanging out with some real low-lives for awhile this is a game you really don’t want to miss.

I’m not a fan of star ratings, but this gets two thumbs way up. Highly recommended.

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For Nomination Season

Stuff I could be nominated for:

Short stories:

“Modified” (from “God, Robot”)

“Cover Up” (from “God, Robot”)

Best Fanzine:

Superversive SF

A great many Castalia articles for Best Related Work. I’m particularly proud of my piece on “Rick and Morty”: http://www.castaliahouse.com/superversive-even-rick-and-morty-has-a-heart-under-its-hideous-cronenberged-exterior/

Best Novel:

“God, Robot”. Yes, it is eligible as a novel. It has one coherent story with a beginning, middle, and end. It is a novel with multiple authors, but it is a novel.

Other recommendations: Obviously I am biased, but I honestly think “God, Robot” has some FANTASTIC stories. My personal favorites (Ah, they all know I like them) are – with my “least” (not the quotation marks) favorite first – “An Unimaginable Light”, by John C. Wright, “The Ring of Sounding Brass”, by L. Jagi Lamplighter, and especially “Felix Culpa”, by Josh Young.

Josh Young is, I truly believe, one of the most promising up-and-coming young writers in science fiction. He has a really unique voice and features some truly fascinating sci-fi concepts that he explores from a fascinating philosophical and theological perspective. I’ve been looking forward to his novel “Do Buddhas Dream of Enlightened Sheep?” for over a year now.

Keep an eye out for Josh Young and L. Jagi Lamplighter in the upcoming “Tales of the Once and Future King”. Their stories are two of the most mind-bending I’ve ever read. Wonderful stuff!

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Not a Tame Lion

Zippy has an excellent post up on St. Maria Goretti. I have nothing specifically to criticize it, but I want to add my thoughts.

I understand the desire to try and downplay St. Goretti’s martyrdom for purity – I truly do. When one thinks of the Elizabeth Smarts of the world, who specifically made the choice to do whatever their attacker told them to in order to get back to their family and now serves as an activist for the abused and traumatized, the mind rebels to think that she would have been better off dying as a martyr to purity.

Furthermore, it is natural for every man to tell the women in his life that if they are attacked, they are to do what the attacker tells them to in order to get back alive, as opposed to resist.

Then there’s St. Maria Goretti, who stands as a symbol of a higher, holier way. What happened to her is deeply uncomfortable and unsettling. It was a horrible, horrible situation. That she died for her purity is disturbing, and it should be, because it was a disturbing attack.

But our response to it can be summarized like this: Aslan is not a tame lion. If purity is really something to aspire to, if it really is holy state, than the logical extrapolation from there is that dying to keep your purity is a holy, heroic thing. It is an unavoidable conclusion if we start from those premises. I don’t like it. I don’t think anyone does. But there it is.

The truth doesn’t exist to make us feel better. It exists because it is true. It exists independent of us and our desires, our worries and fears.

After all, Aslan is not a tame lion.

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Greatest. Press Conference. Ever.

If you aren’t watching CNN, put it on now. Their reaction is absolutely priceless.

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The Argument Against Voting in National Elections

Let me see if I have this right:

  1. No matter how close the vote – even if it’s less than 1,000 votes – my vote is statistically insignificant in regards to a national election. If I did not vote there would literally be no difference in outcome either way
  2. Though I am supporting candidate X for reasons that I think are important and not intrinsically immoral, other people who vote for candidate X are certainly voting for him because of a certain immoral position he holds – e.g., Grandma Abortion Witch is Grandma Abortion Witch, Trump supports torture, et cetera.
  3. These people, by voting for that person, for that reason, are doing something immoral – that is, sinning. This is true as long as they are voting for candidate X because of the immoral position he holds.
  4. By going out and going to the voting booth, I am a visible symbol in support of voting, meaning, I am tempting other people to vote.
  5. The other people I tempt to vote are quite possibly – perhaps even probably – going to do so for immoral reasons
  6. This means I am tempting them to sin – thus committing the sin of scandal
  7. Since my vote is statistically insignificant anyway (meaning whatever important position I think candidate X holds is literally irrelevant to what I do or don’t do), there is no way aforementioned important position is worth the immediate risk of committing scandal
  8. Thus, one should not vote

Am I missing anything?

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So That Healthcare Debate

Hopefully Bernie’s got good healthcare, because the beating he’s taking is savage.

Seriously, if there was ever any doubt Bernie was actually a clown, this should hopefully clear that up.

Also, this should really end any ideas that Bernie is really a “nice guy”. Just listen to the contempt he has for the middle class dripping off of every sentence. Yeesh.

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A Quick Note

Earlier I gave my brief piece on lust vs. eros and what that means, and the correlation from there is that this is in some ways a Protestant/Catholic divide. And so, if that thread was anything to go by, it tends to be.

But – and some people may not like this – this seems, to me, to stem from a misunderstanding of what Catholics traditionally mean when they use the world “lust” as opposed to erotic love or something of that nature.

Take this link. It’s long and well-written enough, but the conclusion it comes to by the end is actually already strikingly similar to the traditional interpretation of that verse already! The misinterpretation arose when the nuance was lost in the distinction between lust/eros – a distinction I had already learned by my senior year Catholic theology class.

Just a thought.

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