Rewind Interview – Ian Cameron Esslemont

After a long and trying journey into the Azath I was finally able to track down one of the architects of the Malazan world that I find myself completely addicted to.

When I first read Ian Cameron Esslemont’s first book Night of Knives, I must admit my reaction was a bit lukewarm, not unwelcome but not a piece that impacted me. After I added more pieces to the puzzle and studied the ones I had with more scrutiny I tackled the book again and it was one of those books that made me review it and now I’m somewhat of an unabashed fan and while I don’t think it requires defending, I find myself doing so when the occasion presents itself.

night of knives ian cameron esslemont
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Studio Ghibli Fans, Grave of the Fireflies Gets New Steel Book For Your Shelf Porn Needs

I’m excited to see that one of great movies ever made is getting a new U.S. steelbook treatment. Grave of the Fireflies, an animated masterpiece directed by Isao Takahata for Studio Ghibli is getting another release next month, and sporting a familiar yet different cover for collectors of steelbooks, Studio Ghibli enthusiasts, or people who just like films of the highest order.

grave of the fireflies steel book studio ghibli

It’s similar to the Japanese steelbook which is this image in white silhouette though both offer a I think pleasing minimalist presentation.

Grave of the Fireflies is a beautiful, emotional, piece of art that for years I thought was perhaps the best of the Studio Ghibli and Takahata movies but what has happened in recent years is this odd shift where while this movie hasn’t lost any spot in my overall film ranking but still somehow became only my third favorite Takahata movie.

I love it as much as I always have but others movies have just grown on me and passed a movie that I consider one of the greatest movies ever made.

The Tale of the Princess of Kaguya is a late classic from Takahata and an earlier work, his Only Yesterday, over the last two years or so has just ascended for me as maybe my favorite movie of any kind period, a title which for years was held by the all time legendary animator/director and Studio Ghibli-mate Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away.

Only Yesterday in recent viewings has just blown me away. Go watch it.

The one downer about this steelbook?

It’s quite frankly absurdly priced.

It’s nearly twice as much as it should be at most and is so unusual or incongruous in standard pricing I thought the initial price was an early placeholder but just doing a little bit of browsing around and seeing the original suggested price listed at other outlets and the pricing of other Sentai products, I feel like this pre-order listing is the price we are stuck with.

I’m going to get it because I’m a Studio Ghibli head but that price point I feel is going to be an incredible turn off for many people.

steel book blu ray grave of the fireflies

Scott Lynch Takes to the High Seas in Red Seas Under Red Skies and it’s Badass

We find the remnants of our band from The Lies of Locke Lamora stalking the pits of the Sinspire, patiently and calculatingly ascending lady luck’s ladder in Lynch’s Monte Carlo, the city-state Tal Verrar, marked on any map as the destination for the apex of high society and high stakes. The absurdity of the back in-saddle starting point exhibits the author’s greatest strength, his choices on how to pace a novel.

red seas under red skies scott lynch

The cut scenes to the recent past gives us the anatomy of the scheme that takes us to moments transpiring in the direct aftermath of The Lies of Locke Lamora are perfectly placed, functioning as a new door to open just before the occupied space stagnates. You seem to never be anywhere but where you want to be,

Lynch just doesn’t let you in on the fact until a chapter later, the reader neither sprinting or running a marathon as much as they are in a literary shuttle run. Our ‘hero’ is doing the only thing any reader should expect as an aftermath to the first book…

The Thorn of Camorr is grieving.

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On Haruki Murakami’s Birthday Let Me Rec a Book

Today is the great Haruki Murakami’s birthday and while he doesn’t need my or anyone else’s help to broadcast his amazing catalog of books I’m going to use the completely arbitrary occasion to recommend my favorite of his novels.

I’ve read every book he has written and most of his short stories and I feel like the usual recommendation, or at least the one I see the most americans having is Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. It has kind of a long but catchy name, is widely successful, an easy recommendation to fans of science fiction or speculative fiction in general, and has been mentioned by the author himself as his personal favorite of his own work.

That’s a lot of reason to pick it up and it’s a great book that I have unmitigated love for and at some point in my life would also be my choice but is, however, not my favorite.

My favorite has changed more than once. In various times it has been The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle or Norwegian Wood, and while never my very favorite I remain quite enamored by 1Q84 and think about it quite a lot.

My favorite at the moment is Kafka on the Shore.

kafka on the shore haruki murakami

This book can be befuddling for some. It doesn’t set-up and knock down questions in ways many people would want but I think does so in the best way possible and while by the time Murakami wrote Kafka on the Shore he was already widely successful and known and had proven he could write incredible stories whether they were infused with magic realism or just realism.

It’s here for me where his command was evident and he felt free enough to write about not so much incomplete ideas but ideas not fully revealed in a traditional manner and the confidence of his pen just exudes because he’s leaving a lot to the reader. He either finally felt like we earned his trust or felt like he had earned our enough to go on this ride.

This is not exactly an uncommon choice as a Murakami favorite but for those who only have dipped into one or two of his more represented books and are looking for the next one, Kafka on the Shore is way beyond a solid choice and could possibly become your next favorite book.

After Gygax and Before Critical Role, Greenwood Pastures in Forgotten Realms

I’m always interested in the origins or beginnings of things that take on a greater life of their own. Most of the time such things are quite humble in their beginnings and this feels very much that.

The Forgotten Realms has spawned several dozen bestselling novels (SO MUCH Drizzt), multiple incredibly successful video games, including one of my all time favorites in Neverwinter Nights, and obviously had an incalculable impact on Dungeons and Dragons and role playing in general, which itself is a reascending hobby (see Critical role) and entertainment choice both online and people actually getting together and having conversations with each other.

Realms was birthed from the mind of one Ed Greenwood who first put to official publication his words in Dragon magazine, one of two official DnD publications, that Greenwood would go on to write many columns and articles for laying the groundwork to his now iconic campaign setting that he first created as backdrops for various short stories he had written in the ’60s and would later turn into a personal campaign setting.

The first Greenwood writings would come in Dragon magazine #30 in 1979.

dragon magazine forgotten realms greenwood

For anyone interested it was an entry in the Dragon’s Bestiary column and on the Curst that started it all.

We throw around the word worldbuilding a lot when we talk about games, novels, and comics, but I’m not sure if that term has ever found a more appropriate avatar on earth than Greenwood.

While Realms isn’t near my favorite fantastic locale nor is Greenwood my favorite author in it, the part of me that has always liked to build and plan things, to find, contemplate, and fill-in minutia greatly admires someone who does the same but has served millions of people with his groundwork in so many aforementioned modes of entertainment.

Who would have thought something Dungeons & Dragons adjacent from the uber nerdy ’80s portfolio and often carried perhaps the most negative stereotype of the time with it, would now be viewed as some form of a growing last bastion of IRL social interaction?

It’s pretty incredible.

And it started, at least for public consumption, here.

Rewind Review – Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora

Sandwiched in between new content I’m going to be representing some of my older content, mostly reviews and interviews, and this was a review of mine of Scott Lynch’s debut novel The Lies of Locke Lamora. I read this several months before it was published so you’re getting one of the earliest takes on this book (though undoubtedly not one of the best lol!).

Hope you enjoy

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Two Posters Added to the Collection – Mirai & The Night is Short. Walk on Girl.

I collect movie posters, I have some-odd thousands of them on my quest to find two dozen perfect ones to hang in a theater room when I get around to it lol.

My interests are fairly broad, we all have our personal favorites or just like the overall appeal of the artistry of a poster we just only kind of like. I do enjoy buying posters for anime films because even the popular ones worldwide often get very little play in the United States distribution or promotional push even though all your kids watch anime.

mirai anime poster

Mirai came out in 2018 and was directed by Mamoru Hosoda, in what might be his most quiet yet best movie. It was nominated for the academy award in a year that was owned by Into the Spider-verse, which I largely agree, one of the few times I didn’t think a superior Japanese anime got beat by (usually) a very good or even great Pixar or Disney offering.

the night is short walk on girl anime psoter

The Night is Short. Walk on Girl is a strange movie and is everything people who don’t like anime don’t like about anime. Which means it’s pretty great. Uniquely animated, surreal, and vibrant it’s a true experience that can be absolutely bewildering but still feels oh so familiar.

Japan doesn’t make movies for the world, they make them for Japan, and if the world feels us they do, if they don’t, oh well and this movie is one of the prime examples of it though I think anyone who just likes storytelling unlike they have encountered in a sweet film can appreciate this.

If you’re into anime and not just punch me punch you back anime these are two films you need.