So I normally do a lot of top fives at the end of the year in bigger categories, but I wanted to break it down for a few specific categories within board games so you can see what I really enjoy in the various genres […]
Tag: Harry Potter
Urban Fantasy, what is it? And how do you create good urban fantasy? I’ve mentioned Urban Fantasy before in some articles, but I wanted to delve deeper into it and provide some more examples beyond my normal one. Urban fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy in which the narrative has […]
I always have to add in series, because a lot of the time, my favorite is because they are a series. And a good series can really take a good book and bring it to another level. I’ve also written about bad series before, but that’s it’s own article. Without any more ado, my top 5 Books/Series.
1 The Dresden Files
I don’t think that this will be a surprise for anyone, but I really love this series. Jim Butcher does a really good job creating an interesting urban fantasy world that has some of that classic pulp feel to it while having very interesting villains and characters. The series starts a little slow, but as there is more focus to it, Harry Dresden’s world really takes off.
I really like Stephen King and by far his standout work for me is It. I think that I’ve probably read the book a handful of times or more now. The story is just compelling and the interweaving of the past with the present to fill in the readers knowledge of what is going on works very well. I also like the fact that this book doesn’t fall flat at the end like some of his other books can do. The horror aspect is strong with this book, and Pennywise is a great villain and a valid reason for people to hate clowns.
3 The Reckoners
A series that I’ve talked about some and a game that I’m really excited to play, the Reckoners is a nice different twist on those with super powers. The Epics as the super powered are known in this series are all evil. And the Reckoners are a group of normal people who are trying to to bring some normalcy back to the world and take down the Epics who rule it. It’s a YA series and there’s a bit of it that’s not amazing at a few points in time, but overall, the series is really well done, and it’s just a good super power twist series by Brandon Sanderson.
4 Harry Potter
I’m done with JK Rowling in a lot of ways, she just needs to take her hands off the stranglehold she has on this world, but I really like the series still. There’s something nostalgic about them for me, though I am older than the average who has those feelings about them, seeing as I read them in college. There is just something so magical about the world that allows you to overlook some pretty obvious flaws with it. The story just stands up well, and while the movies might not, the first movie is rough, I will always enjoy going back to the books.
5 Stormlight Archive
More Brandon Sanderson for the list. This series is epic fantasy at it’s best. The leader who didn’t want to be the leader now has to save the people. The slave rising up to save the day, and so many more classic tropes put together, but it feels new and unique and so huge. I mean, the books literally are massive, and the audio books are great because they are 45+ hours long, so you have a good amount of listening time to them. This is the epic fantasy that I’m always hoping to find.
Of course, I’m going to do some honorable mentions as well. My goal will be to the finish off a top 10 with them, like I did with the board games. In no particular order, my honorable mentions:
Lord of the Rings
The Hunger Games
Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Swallows and Amazons
What are your favorite book series?
When I was writing about fantasy last, see the Not Your Normal Fantasy article, I touched on a concept that I really didn’t have time to flesh out. That what the difference between high and low magic fantasy settings are. Let’s jump into the top […]
Now, This is meant as more of a play on the new game that came out called My Little Scythe. To see if you want to continue reading this, this is not about small games, though I’ll probably do a post on that soon now that I’m writing about it, it’s going to be about the nerdy things that I’m looking forward to when the kid has been born and is able to start playing board games, etc.
The first thing that I think of is reading books to our kid and getting them into those worlds are make-believe and encouraging their creativity. For me growing up, my parents read to us kids a lot of books, and I’m excited to start doing that with a kid as well. And this is something that you can do even before they really truly understand it, but will be more fun when they do. The Swallows and Amazons series is the big one that I’m excited to read to them, it’s the one that I remember most fondly from my childhood. And there are plenty of other series, Harry Potter is one of the series that I want to read as well, something that my parents couldn’t have done for me because of how old I am. But I remember them reading Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and Chronicles of Narnia as well. I have to imagine with how much Kristen and I read that it’ll rub off on the kid, but it’s something that we really want to encourage.
Then there are RPG’s. I actually think that most kids should play RPG’s. One, it’s a good form of play that they can do and really stretch imaginations. It’s also a good outlet for creativity, and is in some ways what kids are doing when they play make-believe. The other thing is that it puts yourself in a situation that you aren’t used to, it’s outside of the norms of social interaction and can be a good way to tease out those social interactions. As you can see, focusing in on that creativity is something that important in my mind for the development of a child, which I don’t think should be surprising.
I’m also really excited for teaching board games. I’m probably going to have to get a few simpler board games like My Little Scythe or My First Carcassone to start with, and actually on Board Game Breakfast from The Dice Tower, there’s a segment on games for younger kids that I’ll probably mind for information as well. But games like Ice Cool are already on my shelf that a kid is going to be able to play. Then as they get older I can introduce games like Tsuro and Splendor that are simple but have more strategy to them. This is there I’m looking to start developing the logical side of our child.
I also want to teach them Magic the Gathering or Star Wars: Destiny or whatever the newest CCG (collectible card game) is. The reason for that is that I really want to teach the deck building and the logic that goes into those things. It means that right now I can’t totally fall of the Magic bandwagon even though I don’t get to play much. But deck building in those games is very much logic and very much finding the fun combinations that you can play. Plus, if they get into Magic or any CCG, they don’t have money to spend on anything else, as the joke goes. However, these deck builders are clearly further down the line, as they are very logical, but I want to introduce them for that reason, to help build that logic and reasoning skill that you can get in both CCG’s and board games.
Now, there are a ton more things that I’m excited to introduce at the right times. The first time that they see the Lord of the Rings movies or the original Star Wars movies. Taking them to Universal Studios when they are old enough to appreciate Harry Potter world. And it’ll be interesting to see what nerdy things that they’ll get into that will be coming out for them. What will be there Harry Potter or Hunger Games?
What nerdy things are you excited to introduce a child to? Is there some particular area that you’re really excited for?
Share questions, ideas for articles, or comments with us!
Back with some Anime fun, this time it’s the crazy anime Assassination Classroom. This is a weird one that I just randomly found on my own, and I’m very glad that I did. For a title like it has, it’s actually way less violent and considerably more […]
Another article on a concept that I’ve been tossing around for a while is how to write time travel, and what generally makes for the most effective time-travel stories. This is going to be focused more heavily on writing about the time travel side of things, but it is an interesting concept that hopefully most people will enjoy.
There’s a lot of media out there about time travel, and there are two directions that time travel stories usually go — the first is more lighthearted time travel stories like Back to the Future, where the whole concept is pretty goofy. The second is the heavier time-travel stories such as Primer or Dark. In the lighter stories, the way time travel works isn’t all that important, everything works out in the end, and there’s a lot of comedy or goofiness; writing time travel in that way is much simpler. But for the heavier time travel stories, you have to think a lot more about how the time travel works, so that’s the one I’m going to be focused on.
Time travel and time itself, when written well, are characters themselves in the story. Even if it is just used to send a character backward or forward in time, time is something that the characters have to interact with. Often, when you watch something like Primer or Dark, time is something that the characters are interacting with and pushing against. In both of those examples, it is actively the antagonist in the show, and while Dark has another antagonist, time itself is the larger concern in many ways for the characters. Time is actively trying to stop the characters from getting what they want, because if they get what they want, then it changes the timeline from what it should have been in the first place.
I want to delve into that more, the idea of time being a character and what sort of character time is, but that’ll come later. Right now I want to deal more with the mechanics of time travel.
There are a number of questions you need to ask yourself when thinking about time travel. For example, is it limited in the direction and distance it can go? Dark has a time loop with very specific time frames you can go to. In Primer, the characters can only go back in time. Steins;Gate has rules about how much information can go back in time. In Back to the Future, it’s a free-for-all. The level of structure the means of time travel in the story has in terms of limits and direction influences how much a character can use time travel to change things.
How much can a person actually change? I won’t go too much into examples, but different shows handle this differently. Is time basically a linear path so that the fact that you’ve jumped back in time has always happened and you therefore can’t really change anything, or is it a situation wher, each time you hop backward in time, you are causing a new timeline to branch off of the one that you started on? This will come into play later as I talk about time as a character again.
Does your time travel send things backward or forward? In a show like Dark and the movie Primer, they are sending their whole bodies back in time. In Steins;Gate, characters are just sending information backward in time that then influences what happens in the future (though that model does change partway through Steins;Gate. Back to the Future handles it differently with the DeLorean, which travels with its characters back in time.
Do you need to worry about running into yourself? What happens if you cause a paradox? This often strays into the goofier side of things — for example, in Futurama, Fry becomes his own grandfather. But there are often more serious consequences for this, as well. For example, in Harry Potter, if the characters run into themselves while using the Time Turner, it can drive their past selves insane (if I’m remembering correctly). Some stories even explore the idea of whether a paradox caused by two versions of the same person being in the same place at the same time would cause everything to end and the universe to implode.
Final question: How easy is time to reset? Can you go further back in time than you did before to reset the timeline to what it had been before you even went back in time in the first place? In Steins;Gate, they deal with this by showing that, when someone goes back in time and takes a different action than before, there is then a divergence from the timeline that they were on, and they explore how far away from the original timeline you have to get in order to jump into a new one. Dark deals with this concept by showing that the things that have happened have already been determined to happen one way or another, no matter how the timeline is manipulated (or at least from what we can tell thus far). But can you go farther back than you were before to reset onto a new timeline and undo everything that you’ve done up to that point?
This brings us back to time as a character itself. If time is portrayed as an antagonist that is actively working against you, how do you deal with that? Time can be used basically as an omniscient power. So often you see in stories that when someone goes back in time to change something and then comes back to the future, the thing they tried to change is even worse. They figure out what might have caused that problem and they repeat it again, and it still isn’t better, and so on and so forth. To me, that’s the most interesting way to handle time, because it opens up an interesting dilemma — namely, how can you beat time? If it takes whatever you’ve done a few years in the past and changes it to something worse in the future, how can you really beat time?
I think that’s where seeing time as a character is interesting. Either time is truly omniscient and controls the outcome so that you will never get the outcome you want and you have to figure out how to get it back to the original, good-enough state, or there’s some way to actually beat it and change the timeline. But how do you beat something that has that much power/control? I think you normally have to cheat it to win. There is generally some outside factor, some twist of logic that needs to be employed to actually beat time itself; otherwise, it keeps piling on and on. So how do you cheat time? This is where seeing time as a character helps. If time is an active antagonist, what are its weaknesses that you can exploit, what are the blind spots it might have, and what won’t time be able to handle because it doesn’t make sense in the flow of time?
I don’t have answers for you as to what those should be — maybe time truly can’t be beat. I’ve written a story where there was a way to beat time, but not one that was good for the character; it changed the rules of the problem the main character wanted to solve, and that’s how they cheated time out of what it had done before and how it had messed up their life. It wasn’t a happy story, but heavier time travel stories rarely are.
What are some of your favorite time travel stories? How do the characters get around time screwing them over?
Share questions, ideas for articles, or comments with us!