The 2020 Reading List: May

Since one of my writing goals for 2020 was also to read more, I thought it would help to keep track of what I knocked off Mount Tsundoku. Here’s as good a place as any to post what I’ve read in 2020 to keep me honest, and what I thought of each book immediately after finishing.

May:

Tiny Gunslingers by Gallant Knight Games: A minimalist western game. I’ve loved all the Tiny D6 games I’ve picked up so far, even if I haven’t played them as much as I’d like. I have a plan for this one though (Sigh. I have a plan for all of them). I especially like the shootout mechanic which uses playing cards and Blackjack rules to resolve, which feels like the iaijutsu duel mechanic from early editions of Legend of the Five Rings.

Beak, Feather, & Bone by Tyler Crumrine, Austin Breed, and Jonathan Yee: This is another Kickstarter game, a ‘zine-length competitive map labeling RPG and worldbuilding tool. I’ll probably be using it more for the later than the former, but it looks great, the rules read well, and it should be a fun way to spend an evening regardless of motive for playing. Also, loved the ravenfolk art by Austin Breed.

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin: I started this one back in March and was loving it up until about a quarter of the way through, and then the everything happened with the real world and wouldn’t let up. I set it down meaning to get back to it, and it took me a while to regain my focus–my issue, no fault with Jemisin’s writing, which was superb–but once I did pick it up again, it was a race to the finish. What a goddamned great book. I’ve never been to New York but The City We Became felt both true to the New York that I’ve seen dramatized and at the same time so much deeper. I hope I get to see the real place some day.

War of the Realms by Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, Matthew Wilson: I loved most of Jason Aaron’s run on Marvel’s Thor comics, but this book wasn’t to my taste. Dauterman’s art is as gorgeous as it ever was. Maybe if I’d read more of the ancillary issues tie-in issues my opinion might’ve changed, but I’m never a fan of Marvel’s big crossover events, and a book needs to stand on its own.

Forbidden Lands Player’s Guide by Free League: This was a reread. I’d missed a bunch of game sessions in a friend’s ongoing campaign, and now that I’ve been back a bit more regularly, I decided to refresh myself on the rules. Found a bunch of stuff I’d forgotten. Still love this game. A great, but deadly, hex-crawler with swift and deadly combat.

Here’s what I read in January.

Here’s what I read in February.

Here’s what I read in March.

Here’s what I read in April.

Pacific Rim: A (Mostly) Spoiler-Free Gushfest

This was the movie I was born to see.

Giant Robots versus Giant Monsters.

This was the movie I never thought I’d get to see.

To give a little background, I used to haunt the matinee showings of Godzilla movies my hometown theatre put on sometimes on Saturday afternoons. If I’m pressed to name a favourite science fiction movie, I say Gojira. One of the first comics I ever picked up was Shogun Warriors #15. (Still have it)

I don’t know where to even begin to dissect this movie. All I’ve been left thinking is: awesome.

Normally, I don’t bother with 3D if I have the option, but the 3D conversion didn’t feel tacked on in Pacific Rim, and didn’t play it for cheap gags or tricks. I didn’t have a headache by the time the movie was over either, which I often do after a 3D summer blockbuster.

The music was perfect. Each of the Jaegers had their own theme music, appropriate to their nationalities. And the Jaegers! Those three hundred feet tall robots always seemed to have weight. Such a hard trick to pull off with CGI. Gipsy Danger is a brilliant looking lead robot. But you could also believe that the Jaegers were developed by different countries, and at different times in war against the Kaiju. And while I am dubious of the physics that would allow a tanker ship to be used as a baseball bat (more than once!), quite simply, I didn’t care.

Two of the major rules of Jaeger piloting seem to be: 1. Don’t touch Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) and 2. Don’t touch Stacker Pentecost. Idris Elba absolutely killed it in Pacific Rim (he always does). But all of the cast were great. Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, Burn Gorman, and of course, Ron Perlman.

The story (and yes, there was one) was smarter than you’d expect, while never forgetting what it was supposed to be: a huge spectacle. Tonally, despite the end of the world being at stake, the movie seemed overly grim or dour.

My only complaint (and it’s barely that) would be that I wanted more. More Jaegers. More Kaiju. More Jaeger versus Kaiju fights. More Ron Perlman. I understand why I couldn’t get these things. Budgets. Pacing. Blah, blah, blah. I get it. I’m sure Guillermo Del Toro has notebooks full of more monsters and robots. Maybe we’ll get to see them some day. So, I guess my only complaint is not really a complaint, just me being greedy.

Now if only the box office for Pacific Rim will justify more movies like it. Should Marvel’s space opera weirdo fest Guardians of the Galaxy work, I might, dare I dream, get a Red Ronin versus Fin Fang Foom movie?

Dare to dream. Dare to dream.

In the meantime, I’m off to go buy another ticket so I can see Pacific Rim again. You should to. Right. Now.