Sunday, December 15, 2013

Ultra Hip Glorified Writer's Best of 2013

Folks, I am not an "Up-To-Date" kind of guy. The movies and TV shows and books I read are all pretty old. Even the comics I read monthly are very months, sometimes years behind their current issues. Hell, I didn't see E.T. until '90 and when I told my friends what a wonderful, new film it was they laughed at me.

Okay, I get it, I'm behind. So, why do you think this essay about The Year's End, "Best Of" piece would be anything but about topics also behind the times.

Let me tell you guys and gals something you probably already know: it is impossible to watch every film made in any given year. It is damned impossible, improvable, and unthinkable to read every book in any given month in that year let alone the year itself. So everyone, not just me is wwwaaayyy behind the times.

Now, this is one if best years, in terms of quantity in the books, comics and films I've experienced in recent memory. As for books - as of right now - I've read sixty two volumes. In terms of films I've watched about a hundred and fifty. Most of them, like I explained, are not recent material and why would they be, I like rewatching old films from my youth and reading books that is at least new to me.

So, for this Year’s End Ultra Hip Review of the Best Thing it will be about what I've like and nothing to do with a timely manner most critics and blogger relished over. I’m sorry, I just don’t have the time or money do such a thing. Also, I will not be doing movies or TV this year because nothing was special or I’ve already written about it before and I kinda, sorta think those things have to be up-to-date to have relevance in a Year End “Best Of Article.” That however will not stop me from writing about them.

So, it's time for:

Books, Comics and Games I've Experienced This Years That Made Me A Very Happy Camper.

Book of the Year: Xenocide by Orson Scott Card.

So when it came time to sit back and read the biggest book I've read all year; when I told myself I was tired of old Orson; when I listened to the people tell me how much of a bad person he was; when they kept on screaming it over and over that his other books were nothing like his great novel Ender's Game and the screaming got louder and louder...I had to admitted, it got to me.

That being said, when Xenocide - by the way a terrible title - passed before my eyes I found myself loving just about everything Orson Scott Card shared in this novel.

It is the best novel I've read all year and yes, this included The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein and Children of the Night by Dan Simmons.

Yeah, yeah, yeah the book has its problems but what is, from what I can tell it is, probably is by far Card's best book. It is better then Ender's Game, better then Speaker of the Dead. Those first two books in his Ender's Series won both Hugo and Nebula Awards and while this one was looked over and it still received a few nominations for the same awards. Why it didn’t win…I don’t know, maybe they didn’t want to make it a hat trick.

For a book with such a complex plot - about an older Andrew "Ender" Wiggin trying to save two planets for cultural and physical destruction - Card paints a picture that is so fully displayed in your mind you would think you are living that world, that universe. It is a book which relies so heavily on dialogue yet it’s never forced. If it was forced Card would have written a book that would suck so hard it would whistle. You listen to these people talk about life and death situations for more then a few hundred pages, the conflict builds on and on from these words and it's wonderfully simplicity adds a flavor to a dense book about time and space and life and death and disease and hatred and faith and mother and child relationships and fear, deathly disturbing fear.

Xenocide is ultimately a triumph of control, from a writer who is completely in control of his material. For that, it is probably a masterpiece.

Comic of the Year: Saga Volume One by Brian K. Vaughn.

Dear God: Thank You for creating Brian K. Vaughn.

Ahhh...this is the best thing, in comics, in films, in anything I've read or seen or experienced - okay that Strawberry Ice Cream in March was pretty - all year.

Mr. Vaughn said he was inspired by Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings when writing this comic...he might have been inspired sure, I'll give him that but, and he may not agree, he wrote something so entirely better. And it's a comic folks.

I've read volume two of the Saga Series and liked it. I was disappointed by it but not because it was badly written, it just wasn't volume one. Unless Vaughn manages to pull Jesus out of hat for volume three I will still be disappointed by that as well, probably not because that will be badly written. Again, it probably will not be volume one.

The story in Saga starts with a birth. The narrator is the child being born and the parents are the best kinds of people among two alien races from two different worlds who hate each other and who engage in continuous war. The comic is not entirely about them, there are other people to care about in this volume but it is most certainly centered on them. It has moment of joy, of sadness, of shocking acts. It is a well intentioned comic but with serious subject matter that children should stay away from but not for the rest of their lives. When they grown they would certainly like to read something as good as this and they would be hard pressed to find anything better in the medium.

But for now, adults and only adults should read Saga and smile over the details.

Video Game of the Year: BioShock Infinite by Irrational Games.

It came out at the beginning of the year and stunned gamers with its beauty, it unique take on its style of gameplay, its story unlike anything in the medium. Irrational Games always get it right by stating: if you want your art to be considered art, take your time, make the best game possible, done hack it. Make something that is indeed art.

BioShock Infinite asks two questions. Video games have asked first question but never the second: Are You Willing to Kill Your Enemy? What if you are the Enemy?

And the end of the game we learn the answers and their both exciting and refreshing.

Booker DeWitt, you in the game, has a mission: to deliver a young woman out of bondage and take her away from a skyward city called Columbia. He will fight corruption along the way, with many weapons and powers given to him and takne from elixirs called Vigors.  Along the way he learns about past sins, about what he did before he came to this rail-riding-so-called "utopia". The woman he frees is Elizabeth. She is beautiful, has a gift of tearing holes in the fabric of time and space and he is useful on the battlefield as well.

The time has come for more games like BioShock Infinite. Whether or not companies will heed the call to get passed just the status quo is another matter entirely.

Read, see, play!