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(Spoiler disclaimer, etc.)

Nostalgia is unfair. Our fondness for the things of our past often leads to the overlooking of faults and the elevation of mediocrities while worthier art languishes. And that dynamic has affected the western reception of Final Fantasy V, since, unlike its siblings on either side, vanishingly few westerners can claim it as an object of nostalgia.

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A (moral) NaNo victory

A few days ago, at around the 25,000 word mark, I completed the first Part/Book/Act of my NaNoWriMo novel. I stopped writing a couple of pages after that. This was partly because my schedule was getting tight, but also because I realized while writing that there were enough significant lacunae in my worldbuilding and research such that I wasn’t sure if I actually wanted to cross the finish line before addressing them.

I know that NaNo is supposed to be about quantity over quality, but I think that I’ve gone as far as haphazardness can take me with this story – a more methodical approach is required now. And so I find I’m more than willing to turn my sights away from the virtual badge of crossing the 50,000 word line.

Perhaps this is all an elaborate psychological excuse of my laziness, but I prefer to think of it as a sort of moral NaNo victory.

(On a related note, does anyone have good recommendations for books on Medieval chivalry and combat? I have a feeling that Medieval Otaku may have something to say here)

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It’s not exactly Heinlein, but…

The main criticism directed towards Ridley Scott’s The Martian is that it is a series of hard sci-fi/engineering problems strung together on a thin plot with minimal characterization. This is true, but I’m not sure it qualifies as a criticism. It’s a bit like complaining that an Agatha Christie novel is largely an exercise of applying logical inductions and deductions to some forensic observations.

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Aegloga Vndecima


But nowe sadde Winter welked hath the day,
And Phoebus weary of his yerely take,
Ystabled hath his steedes in lowlye laye,
And taken vp his ynne in Fishes haske…

-From “Nouember” in Edmund Spenser’s Shepheardes Calender

So it turns out that writing both a thesis and a novel while studying two languages doesn’t leave a lot of free time for blogging.

In spite of hitting a number of, “oh crap I should have researched this,” moments, my NaNo novel is still clicking along. And I do feel as though my English major is finally paying some practical dividends both for my Old Testament thesis (which is more literary in method than historical-critical) and for the novel, which is more shamelessly gnawing at choice morsels from the western canon than any of my previous NaNo attempts.

And I do appreciate this unusually mild November.

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Someone to protect – Final Fantasy XII, Part 3 of 3

Young_Ashe_(artwork)(Part I, Part II)
(Spoiler Warning, etc.)

Charles Norris Cochrane, in his fascinating book Christianity and Classical Culture describes the reign of Augustus Caesar as the definitive manifestation of of said culture. From Plato onwards there was an intellectual desire to break free of contingency and the whims of history through discernment of the fundamental nature of reality and construction of an ideal, fully rationalized polis that would integrate the individual and human society as a whole into that reality.

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Someone to protect – Final Fantasy XII, Part 2 of 3

Ivalice_map(Part I)
(Spoiler Warning, etc.)

So just what is the story, anyway?

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Someone to protect – Final Fantasy XII, Part 1 of 3

Final_Fantasy_XII_Box_Art(Fair Warning: Spoilers ahoy!)

Final Fantasy XII was released when I was a high school senior. By that point, however, my early enthusiasm for gaming had atrophied away, and I was at the peak of my phase where I snobbishly scoffed at almost any form of leisure activity that didn’t consist of reading literature or listening to classical music. And so XII became the first mainline entry in the series to be met with total disregard on my part.

But a certain apathy had also begun to creep into my life.

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The shape of things to come

I’ve been a little bit dry on the blogging front lately. But here are a couple of other things on the backburner:

  1. Once again, I’ve convinced myself to participate in NaNoWriMo. I’m feeling particularly sanguine this year, as I’m using a story that has been kicking around for a while (it was originally supposed to be an RPGMaker game, but I felt it was too ambitious to waste on a mediocre Dragon Quest clone. Also, in spite of my thesis, I’m less swamped this semester than I was last fall. My progress (or lack thereof) throughout November can be tracked here, for those interested.
  2. A followup to my unexpectedly popular Final Fantasy IX post is finally taking shape. But because I’ve decided to tackle Final Fantasy XII, that Mount Everest of FF games, it may take some time before it emerges.
  3. I hope to get in at least one or two more Hallowe’en themed posts before All Saints Day arrives.

And, of course, Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians.


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Hallowe’en Edition: The Tales of Hoffmann


One could object that The Tales of Hoffmann, not being a horror film by anyone’s definition of the term, has no right in being considered a Hallowe’en film. But this objection hangs upon the assumption that our seasonal and liturgical celebrations somehow essentially correspond to movie genres, and becomes completely exploded when one considers how many people treat Die Hard as a Christmas movie.

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Final thoughts on Lensman

grey lensman

I have now completed my reading of E.E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensman novels, which I began a couple of months ago. There is another Lensman book, endearingly titled Masters of the Vortex,  which I haven’t read, but it’s a spin-off existing outside of the series’ narrative.

To reiterate: along with Smith’s Skylark series, Lensman is the ur-space opera. Its premise is that interstellar travel has made police work impossible (what with the vastness of space and all). To compensate, a race of advanced aliens called the Arisians have allowed for certain extraordinary persons – not, it is important to note, necessarily human persons – the ability to wield the Lens, a device which grants the wearer (and only the proper wearer) the incredible psychic powers to fight interstellar crime. One such person is the protagonist, the human Kimball Kinnison. The series details his attempt to bring down Boskone, something which at first appears to be a crime syndicate, but which is literally a conspiracy of astronomical proportions. And of course those Arisians aren’t without hidden motives of their own.

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