Semiosis

I read the Semiosis duology by S. Burke and I loved it. It’s about a small colony of humans on another planet, Pax, their adventures with indigenous and visiting life-forms and in some ways even more alien fellow humans from distant Earth, which had been ravaged by the failing ecology and wars. The books comprising the series, Semiosis and Interference, are thoroughly engrossing, often unpredictable, subtly satirical, and gently suspenseful.

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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!

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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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