Top 5 Wednesday – Ideal Hypothetical Mash-ups

“Top 5 Wednesday” is a weekly meme currently hosted on Goodreads by Sam of Thoughts on Tomes, where you list your top 5 for the week’s chosen topic. This weeks theme is: Ideal Mash-Ups.

I was debating whether or not to participate in this one because I usually dislike blurbs that go, “Harry Potter meets The Hunger Games!” or “The love child of Game of Thrones and Twilight!” because I think they’re easy ways of saying something without really saying anything.

Then I started randomly mashing stories together in my head and ended up getting attached to a lot of the combinations. And now I’ve made myself sad because I would REALLY love to read some of these and it kills me that they don’t exist (yet). Or maybe they do. Yell at me in the comments if you know any books that are similar to the following (a few of these might seem ridiculous, but bear with me here):

1. Brooklyn 99 meets The Lord of the Rings

B99+LOTR

This popped into my head out of nowhere and now I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s not even a hypothetical mashup, really. I just want a comical fantasy series featuring the law enforcement of Shire and their cleanup of the various shenanigans the local Hobbits get into. Oh, and clever and insightful social commentary about Middle Earth culture would be nice too.

2. Band of Brothers meets Wind in the Willows

BandofBrothersWind

So basically a panoramic drama featuring two armies of animals at war, with heartpounding action and tearjerking character interactions. We’re long due for a new Redwall-esque series and reading The Builders by Daniel Polansky only fueled my appetite for gritty stories about anthropomorphic animals.

3. Sailor Moon meets Dark Souls 

SailorMoonDS

Don’t look at me like that. Yes, this is a mashup of two complete opposites. Sailor Moon is a bright, cheerful story about magical school girls and romance and friendship defeating all evils. And Dark Souls is, uh…not that. The land you traverse in the game is desolate and unforgiving; the enemies you face range from eerie yet captivating to HOLY SHIT GET ME OUTTA HERE; the allies you meet are lost between apathy and disorientation.

With anime, I guess the closest is Madoka Magica. But I want this story to be told in a secondary fantasy world. I want a group of girls who are chosen, by prophecy or fate or whatever, to wield great magical powers and protect the world from monsters, both within and without. I want the grimdark alongside the themes of hope and friendship.

4. Mass Effect meets Ocean’s Eleven

MEOceansEleven

I am dying for a fun scifi story about a heist set across a series of planets and galaxy not like our own. And if it also explores interesting, complex relationships between the heisters? Even better.

(Someone actually made a parody mashup poster of ME and Ocean’s Eleven, and it’s fantastic: https://pen-gwyn.deviantart.com/art/ME2-Shepard-s-Eleven-Poster-168557919)

5. America’s Got Talent meets Mad Max

GotTalentMax

An apocalyptic wasteland society that has an annual talent show of sorts in which the winner is awarded some mysterious, but highly coveted, prize. So a little like the Hunger Games, but with less murder and more interpretive dancing and magic tricks performed with your radioactive pet mongoose.

flourish

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go write some hobbit fanfic.

 

Top 5 Wednesday – Favourite Sci-Fi & Fantasy in Other Media

“Top 5 Wednesday” is a weekly meme, currently hosted on Goodreads by Sam of Thoughts on Tomes, where you list your top 5 for the week’s chosen topic. This week’s theme: favourite Sci-fi & Fantasy in other media.

I consume a lot of SFF media (especially video games and anime) and I wrung my brain out trying to pare the list down to five.

So here are the lucky winners:

 1. Dragon Age Series (Video Game)

Dragon Age Inquisition

Let’s start with my favourite video game series of all time.

Bioware’s Dragon Age franchise is not perfect by any means. There are many other games with tighter narratives and more dynamic gameplay. But there are two things that Dragon Age does better than any other game (including the Mass Effect series): character relationships and continuous worldbuilding. The combination of the fact that you can meet, befriend, and pursue relationships (romantic or otherwise) with these interesting, complex characters, and the sheer vastness of the history of Thedas–the knowledge that there is so much more of this world to uncover–makes for a series that is wholly consuming. I’ve probably sunk over 2000 hours into the three games and their DLCs, and every single one of them have been an absolute joy.

2. Hunter x Hunter (Anime)

Hunter x Hunter - Chimera Ant ArcAn adaptation of the manga created by Togashi Yoshihiro, Hunter x Hunter is, in my opinion, the best shounen manga/anime out there. Its cute, colourful artstyle belies a story that is extraordinarily complex and meditative of Eastern religions (most prominently Buddhism), while subverting classic shounen and hero’s journey tropes. The development of its character across 148 episodes is some of the best I’ve seen in any media, and the budding love and friendship between its two young protagonists brought me to tears more times than I could count. Its Chimera Ant arc, which spans around 70 episodes, is a masterpiece of storytelling and character building that everyone, regardless of whether or not you’re an anime fan, needs to experience.

3. The Witcher 3 (Video Game)

Geralt and YenThe Witcher 3 is the third and final entry in the game series adapted from/inspired by Andrzej Sapkowski’s highly successful Polish fantasy book series. It stars Geralt of Rivia–a “witcher” trained and mutated (via potions) from a young age for the sole purpose of fighting monsters that plague the world–and his ward/adopted daughter Ciri (not the woman pictured above).

There are many things that make TW3 a brilliant RPG. A fantastic cast of characters; a world that feels organic and populated (its cities actually feel like medieval cities–bustling and noisy and grimy); choices you make that actually lead to major, often unforetold, consequences. Most importantly, though? It’s got some of the best quests I’ve ever encountered in a game. You can star as the leading man in a play. You can help a troll pursue its dream of becoming a painter. You and your friends can get wasted and spend the night squeezing into dresses and making prank calls. These stories–small and large–range from funny to sweet to heartbreaking, and many of them have been forever etched into my brain.

Also, you can have sexytimes with your girlfriend on a stuffed unicorn. Enough said.

4. Pan’s Labyrinth (Film)

3-pans-labyrinth
Pan’s Labyrinth
is the film that introduced me to Guillermo del Toro and I think it remains, even with the release of The Shape of Water, his masterpiece. It’s everything that makes del Toro’s work so great combined and distilled into two hours of perfection.
A fairy tale unlike any other, Pan’s Labyrinth is a dark, dark story of childhood innocence and selflessness and courage pitted against the worst of human evil.

Beautiful, horrific, and heartwrenching–it became a major inspiration to me during my teenage years.

5. Lost (TV Show)

Lost poster
Bu-But the last season
–I know.

We still don’t know what the island–I know.

Character assassinations–Shhhh

I know.

I’m not blind to the many faults of Lost. But, in the grand scheme of things, I don’t really care.

Beacuase Lost was years and years of my teenagehood. It was summers of rewatch-marathons. It was sitting down with my family every week concocting theories and staying up until 4 AM biting on nails. It was watching these broken characters find themselves and grow from stereotypes into more. No show before or after–Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones–has gripped me to a frenzy like Lost had. And you can’t wipe those memories away. In this case, the journey does triumph over destination.

I used to feel guilty whenever I had to defend the show to people violently proclaiming it as the worst in the history of television.

Well, fuck that.

Love what you love. And in the words of the McElroy brothers, don’t yuck someone’s yum.

~*~*~

And there you have it. Feel free to tell me some of your favourite SFF works and if any of the entries on my list correspond with yours! We can geek out together.

The Almost-But-Not-Quite: Alice Isn’t Dead (podcast), The Adventure Zone (podcast), Persona 5 (Video Game), The Last of Us (Video Game), Divinity: Original Sin 2 (Video Game), Magical Girl Madoka Magica (Anime), Cowboy Bebop (Anime), Penny Dreadful (TV Show), The Lord of the Rings (Film)

 

Top 5 Wednesday – Children’s Books to Read as an Adult

“Top 5 Wednesday” is a weekly meme currently hosted on Goodreads by Sam of Thoughts on Tomes, where you list your top 5 for the week’s chosen topic. I thought it’d be fun to join in and that it might help me keep some semblance of a consistent schedule for this blog.

This week’s theme is: children’s books that should be revisited as an adult. As Philip Pullman said, some stories can only be told through the eyes of children. But that doesn’t mean you should stop reading them once you grow older. One thing to note: it’s been forever since I read a new children’s release, so all my suggestions are like, pre-2011. Also, some of these straddle the line between Children/Middle Grade and Young Adult.

1. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate Dicamillo

Tale of Desperaux
I could add all of Kate Dicamillo’s works to the list and they would happily fill up the whole roster, but I’ll refrain and just pick one. The Tale of Despereaux is the story of a very special mouse, one with very large ears and an even bigger heart, who falls in love with a princess. If that sounds like a cute fairy tale, brace yourself, because it’s not. As with most of Dicamillo’s works, there are heavy topics mixed in with the soft and fuzzy. This one features prejudice and abuse, but also the power of compassion and forgiveness–a contrast of light and dark that adult readers will appreciate.

Young or old, this is a necessary read that will break your heart and mend it anew.

2. The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials 1) by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass
I still can’t believe Pullman got away with calling this series children’s fantasy because holy hell, he took the genre to crazy places others wouldn’t dare dream of going. The Golden Compass (or The Northern Lights) definitely feels more suited for children than the later books, where things get a hell of a lot more dark and abstract. That’s not to say it’s a stroll through a daisy field; there are scenes that freaked me out as a kid and still make me shudder to this day. Then there are bits to do with authoritarianism, religion, sexuality, string theory and such that you just don’t fully understand or appreciate until you’re older.

I think the series is a masterpiece. Others think it’s trash. My church minister said I would go to hell for reading it. And so on. It’s a shifting minefield of opinions. So if you read the books as a kid, it’s definitely worth going back and re-examining them with shiny new adult eyes.

3. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book
A Gaiman book that defies age groups? Huh, you don’t say.

The Graveyard Book is a retelling of Kipyard’s The Jungle Book. In Gaiman’s version, the story is set in contemporary times and the main character, Nobody, gets adopted by the denizens of a graveyard. The graveyard Gaiman creates is a strange, beautiful world of its own filled with its own traditions and mysteries. It’s one that rivals adult fantasies in terms of atmosphere and detail, so you get just as much enjoyment and wonder out of it as you did when you were a kid.

The story is also worth revisiting just for the full-cast audiobook version, which is absolutely stellar and really helps bring the characters to life.

4. Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Dealing with Dragons
The first in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles is a clever story that subverts classic fantasy and fairy tale tropes. When our protagonist, Princess Cimorene, overhears that she will be married her off to some random Prince, she decides to take matters into her own hands by running away and volunteering herself to be the personal princess of a dragon. Now, if all the knights and princes would just stop trying to rescue her, things would be perfect.

Cimorene isn’t a “not like the other girls” brand of rebellious princess, which is great, and her no-nonsense attitude and wry humour will be an absolute delight for older readers. All in all, it’s a fun and charming read that I often return to when I need a pick-me-up.

5. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Little Prince
The Little Prince is a small book that is chock full of timeless wisdom and I think its teachings become more and more relevant as you grow older. What was once a strange, but wonderful, little story about a pilot who meets a boy from the stars, becomes a story on the nature of love and remaining true to yourself in a world that tries so hard to scrub the magic out of you. I first met Little Prince and his friends when I was six and they have lived deep in my heart since, ever a source of inspiration and comfort. Wherever Saint-Exupéry is–and I like to believe that he flew himself all the way to Asteroid B-612–I hope he found some measure of peace and happiness, as I found in his words.