Stim — An Autistic Anthology

I have read Stim — An Autistic Anthology edited by L. Huxley-Jones and it was a breath of fresh air after suffering through the boredom of Le Carrre’s The Honorable Schoolboy, the relentless misery of R. F. Kuang’s The Poppy War series and the cringe-inducing annoyance with A. Romig’s The Light series, which were seriously threatening my recently reacquired reading enthusiasm.

Stim is a loose collection of stories and essays written by autistic authors. Most are about autism, in one way or another; some are biographical, others pure fiction, and I have seen some reviews that took issue with this diversity. It didn’t bother me even a little. They’re all excellently written and with a few exceptions, they all held my interest and felt fairly relatable. None stood out as extraordinary, something to remember for a long time or in any detail, but the anthology as a whole made for consistently enjoyable reading.

The one thing I will remember for a long time I actually stumbled upon in the epilogue, where the editor gives an overview, in broad strokes, of what autism is all about. To my delight, while explaining the elusive concept of “a special interest”, they use Mass Effect as an example, and I assume it’s one of their own. The mention of my own long-time obsession in this context still makes me smile.

Another thing that sets this book apart for me, is that I helped crowdfund it through Unbound and seeing my name among the contributors at the end made me very proud. I’m glad Stim could raise the funds necessary to get published and I hope many readers will find it as uplifting as I did.

Image: Celestial by PlanetaryStudios

Ergo Proxy

I started writing this post about half a year ago, just after seeing the series for the second time. The plan was to use another text about it as a platform for the development of my own thoughts and interpretations. But this turned out to be much more difficult than I had imagined (as I’ll explain later) and eventually I abandoned the draft. Obviously, I finished it now, because I want to preserve the memory of the experience, but the details I originally wanted to delve into are largely lost on me now. As a result, the text might still be a bit incongruous, despite the significant effort I put into to smoothing it out. Please bear with me!

Continue reading Ergo Proxy

My 2019 in Books

I might not have mentioned elsewhere on this blog that, in spite of my writerly ambitions, I’m a tragically slow reader. In 2018 I managed to read some 18 books — that’s 1.5 books a month — and considered it an achievement. In 2019 I planned to read 24 — the whole of 2 books a month! — but in the end managed only 20. Here they are, and how I remember them:

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Playing Skyrim–Beyond Skyrim

It’s not a witticism. Beyond Skyrim is one of those overambitious projects you sometimes hear about with regards to the highly modable games from Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls series that aim to expand the already huge game world by adding new provinces or rebuilding entire previous games in the latest one. But unlike most (possibly all) of them, Beyond Skyrim is actually playable. And it’s excellent. The new content is of DLC quality, virtually indistinguishable from the vanilla game, and where it differs, it’s mostly for the better.

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Sanctuary Dream

An Autism Simulation Movie

I ran into this while searching for authentic-looking movies dealing with autism. Sanctuary Dream is as authentic as it gets. Written and produced by Grant Carsten, a young man who is himself autistic, it thematizes domestic violence and homelessness, and attempts to simulate the way autistic people experience the world. This is achieved through unusual visual and sound effects, as well as the purposefully chopped-up narration.

The movie follows the journey of Faisal, an autistic teen, who flees from home and his abusive family in search of the Peace House, the titular dream sanctuary, where he could at last feel safe. Both the content and the presentation are raw, dissonant and disturbing, but the story ends on a hopeful note. Faisal finds the Peace House where one would least expect it at that point — in the company and kindness of well-meaning, open-minded people; and manages to connect with them through his interest in music and poetry.

For an indie production with a very modest budget, Sanctuary Dream is an amazing achievement. I enjoyed the soundtrack and the beautiful photography, and I was impressed by the performance of the lead actor, Traven Thomas, who was impeccable. I invite you to read the many thoughtful and overwhelmingly positive reviews on the Sanctuary Dream website, and visit its Facebook page for more info and some juicy behind-the-scenes morsels.

The movie can be purchased on Vimeo.