Ghost of Tsushima and other stories

Ghost of Tsushima

This game blew me away. Ghost of Tsushima is one of the most beautiful games I've ever played. It's a visual feast with three separate biomes, changeable weather, gorgeous scenery that gives you a whole 'nother level of immersion. It's so beautiful that for me it forgives some of the game's little flaws. Though yes, there are flaws. I played in Japanese audio as usual, and the dialogue sync / English subtitles are a little off. The stealth can be a bit weird, there are some documented funny physics bugs, and the game's slow on my vanilla PS4. Still, though: what an incredibly beautiful game. I kept stopping to take photographs. The game's set pieces are visually stunning. There's a Kurosawa mode for lovers of black and white classic cinema which actually even changes the sound and frame rate of the game to match.

I recommend playing it in Samurai Cinema mode though: full colour, Japanese audio. After all, the main character Jin's voice actor is One Piece's Zoro's Nakai Kazuya. The difference is immense. The plot is gorgeously written. The ending shattered me. If I could erase my memory of the game and play it again, I would. If you have a PS4, check this out. For a final year game for the console, it's been worth the wait. If they revamp it for the PS5, I might play it again. Right now, all I can do is hope for DLC. Wow. It's been an experience.

Damn. I don't remember anything else from this month. Everything seems to be flowing into an endless elastic stretch of time. Hope you're all doing OK out there. Melbourne's still in stage 3 lockdown, contemplating stage 4 since there was a spike in cases to 700 a few days ago. Face masks now mandatory throughout Victoria, police and army on the streets. It's been a strange year.

Things I've Watched

Street Food | Latin America: If you haven't seen the Asia version of this great street food series, I recommend starting with it first. Latin America's set is gorgeous too. Don't watch while hungry. The Brazil ep inspired me to try moqueca for the first time: there's a delicious version in Carlton by Bossa Nova, which is now doing takeaway.

The Old Guard: Watched this for the promised Charlize Theron action, stayed for the Joe x Nicky. The action's all right, though. I think John Wick's started to make me expect too much for the aimbot-style Western action film.

Double World: Also on Netflix, Double World is a surprisingly entertaining found family silkpunk adventure, where a twink thief with a heart of gold, Dong Yilong, has to team up with a stoic warrior with a sad past, and an upbeat Final Fantasy little girl with a broadsword. The action's surprisingly good, as are the special effects. Fun watch.

Things I've Read

Forgot to mention this earlier because the book didn't auto-register on my goodreads, but I read Jim Al-Khalili's Sunfall a month or so ago. It's dense near-future SF&F by a theoretical physicist: goes heavy on the science and a little lighter on the characters. The het romance between the two main scientists felt weirdly shoehorned: would've preferred a friendly professional relationship where people tried to offer support for the woman scientist, rather than the book insinuating that she gets to be a talking head because she's pretty. Ouch.

Uehashi Nahoko | Moribito: Guardian of the Darkness | These books are a delight for people who love John-Wick-esque historical SF&F set in Japan. Eminently readable action. Love the main character, Balsa. Hoping her entire body of work gets translated into English. Sorry to hear the current translation got scrapped because of poor sales, what even. It's very good.

Saygin Ersin | The Pasha of Cuisine | My favourite book of the month and possibly of the year, this book is a gastronomic delight for the senses, speculative fiction that's tied into a delicious accounting of Ottoman lore and cuisine. A must-read for lovers of food writing, historical fiction, and SF&F. Don't read it while hungry, though.

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o | Wizard of the Crow | A satirical SF&F tale about totalitarianism and translated from Kikuyu to English by the author, this book is a sprawling masterpiece about life under authoritarian rule and a women-led resistance.

Renee Ahdieh | The Wrath and the Dawn | A Scheherazade YA retelling, this story had a bit too much teen romance for me. I confess I'm not personally very keen on Scheherazade stories where the murderous king becomes a love interest, whatever the reason he has for murdering one young woman every night, but YMMV. Worldbuilding was pretty good and the prose was readable enough to get to the end, though.

Karen Lord | The Best of All Possible Worlds | This was very much a Star Trek story. Intricate worldbuilding, but I'm personally not into childbirth narratives. Still, was an entertaining read.

A Final Note

Ghost of Tsushima

Play this game if you can. Seriously.