The Dark Tower and Swarms of Evil Nihilists

Director: Nikolaj Arcel

Based on a novel by: Stephen King

Recommended? eh

I heard that The Dark Tower wasn’t very good, but you have to understand that tickets are only $5 on Tuesdays at this one theatre and also The Dark Tower is speculative fiction and I’ll watch pretty much any spec fic you put in front of me.

So off I went to go see The Dark Tower.

And the thing is, it’s actually a decent movie. The landscapes were pretty, the evil skin people were creepy, and maybe most importantly the central mythos of the whole thing is weird enough to be cool. Maybe I’m just easily amused, I don’t know. I like being easily amused. It means I get to be amused a lot.

The thing that is garbage about this film is the same thing that is garbage about half the shit that Hollywood shoves down our throats. Which is:

Why the fuck are the bad guys doing what they’re doing?
Continue reading The Dark Tower and Swarms of Evil Nihilists

The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion

by Margaret Killjoy

2017, Tor.com

Recommended? Yes

Disclaimer: Margaret Killjoy is a dear friend of mine, and someone I care about very much. This may bias me in favor of her absolutely great fiction. She is also the founder of the AGR, the website that is hosting this review. She did not, however, write any part of this review, ask me to write any part of this review, or otherwise influence it in any way, besides having written a fucking great book that got me excited enough to write this.

Margaret Killjoy is an astounding writer, and her latest, The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion, is an astounding book. Her work is intriguing, thought provoking, and enjoyable as hell to read. Killjoy is absolutely amazing in her ability to combine realism, imagination, idealism, and storytelling. In that way, her stories are perfectly anarchist. She seamlessly combines an understanding of, frustration with, and love of the forms of anarchism expressed by academic theory essays, crust punks, black blocs, punk shows, endless meetings, and squatted homes to show a thoroughly realistic, thoroughly idealistic enactment of her politics, perfect primarily in that she refuses to portray perfection. What makes her stories work so well, narratively and politically, is that her anarchist societies are messy, and the people are fully human. This forms the basis for some beautifully creative, dark, and ultimately hopeful speculative fiction.
Continue reading The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion

Night In the Woods

Publisher: Infinite Fall

Writers: Bethany Hockenberry, Scott Benson

Release: 2017

Recommended? Yes.

Review of Night in the Woods by Io

AKA

Capitalism: just one more greasy tendril of the eldritch horror at the center of reality

“It’s the most peaceful societies which are also the most haunted, in their imaginative constructions of the cosmos, by the constant specters of perennial war.” – David Graeber

I kept an eye on Night in the Woods over the last 3 years because I liked the artists involved and it was sold to me as a platformer where a cat parkours around a haunted town and sometimes says ACAB, which sounded pretty fresh. And once I got it I became a bottomless well of feelings. I’m what professionals call a “casual” or “fake gamer girl”. I don’t often get to play video games. The ones in my house’s living room are all simple power fantasy simulators, overthrowing this or that authority, going on crime sprees, crashing helicopters into the racist players on the online chat. Not often does a game speak to my reality as a neurodivergent, lower-class radical who despite occasional delusions of grandeur does little more than take petty pot shots at the causes of my misery. Night in the Woods, though populated by anthropomorphic animals, puts you in a somewhat familiar world defined mainly by the crisis that propels it. It does a remarkably good job of gamifying an eerie atmosphere of dissatisfaction that should not be totally unrecognizable to anyone living in poverty, dealing with depression or who sometimes feels as if life’s only moments of rapturous joy in the face of this cartoonish amount of alienation come in the form of breaking things for no reason with your friends. You may think this sounds like a bummer of a game, and I wouldn’t argue against that, but I cannot recommend it enough. Night in the Woods is so fun, funny, immersive, and accessible. I have talked it up to so many of my friends who don’t play video games but who love comic books and good fiction because it plays like an interactive novel with absolutely gorgeous art & sound direction, and you don’t need a very fancy laptop to run it. It just makes it rain emotional investments and it is hypnotically cool to run around jumping up/on/off buildings/telephone wires/cars in this deeply fleshed out world of a formally prosperous mining town in Pennsylvania named Possum Springs.
Continue reading Night In the Woods

Endless Space and Why Can’t We Have Anarchist Strategy Games

Publishers: Amplitude Studios, Iceberg Interactive

Release: 2012

Recommended? Yes.

This morning I conquered an entire galaxy as a race of spacefaring, pacifist-ish, ecologically-focused anarchist robots. I won an economic victory. There’s probably some irony there.

Endless Space is a damn good game. I’ve played its non-space-based sequel Endless Legends a couple of times, and I think I actually like this spacey one better. I play strategy games to lose myself for a day or three after too much bullshit like work and the world being a garbage fire, and this is now one of my favorites. I’m sure I’ll sacrifice more of the finite hours in which I’m alive to play this game.

It’s a “4X” game, which is like some weird acronym for things that don’t start with the letter X [editor’s note: “eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate”]. Basically, it’s the genre of turn-based games in which you construct buildings, research technologies, extract resources, colonize territory, negotiate trade deals, and go to war.

Which doesn’t sound very anarchist now that I’m typing it out.

Why am I addicted to these fucking things?
Continue reading Endless Space and Why Can’t We Have Anarchist Strategy Games

SLC Punk 2 is more punk than SLC Punk 1

Writer and Director: James Merendino

Recommended? Yes.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “wait, they made a sequel to SLC Punk? Why would you watch that?” and believe me, that’s an understandable sentiment. I don’t entirely know how I stumbled upon the sequel, to be honest. But stumble upon it I did, and I even watched it, and more surprising of all: I even liked it.

Punk’s Dead: SLC Punk 2 not a better movie than SLC Punk. By most criteria, it’s objectively worse. It’s not as funny, it’s not as engaging. The plot is dangerously linear and the intentional stereotyping of the characters is more awkward (to put it lightly). The emotions are more subdued and some of the acting is worse. The copy I illegally downloaded had weird file errors that made it skip a couple seconds here and there and clearly that’s something I can blame the filmmakers for. But we all know “more punk” does not directly translate to “better.” So somehow, even though the main character isn’t a punk, the movie itself is leaps and bounds more punk.
Continue reading SLC Punk 2 is more punk than SLC Punk 1

So A Nazi Walks Into An Iron Bar: the Meyer Lansky Story

I’m starting a series here where I talk about history, because geeks love history. I’m going to focus on stories I think anarchists will like. Here’s one:

“The Nazi scumbags were meeting one night on the second floor. Nat Arno and I went upstairs and threw stink bombs into the room where the creeps were. As they came out of the room, running from the horrible odor of the stink bombs and running down the steps to go into the street to escape, our boys were waiting with bats and iron bars. It was like running a gauntlet. Our boys were lined up on both sides and we started hitting, aiming for their heads or any other part of their bodies, with our bats and irons. The Nazis were screaming blue murder. This was one of the most happy moments of my life.”

That was Max “Puddy” Hinkes, of Newark, New Jersey, and today we’re going to be talking about Jewish gangsters who fucked up Nazis.
Continue reading So A Nazi Walks Into An Iron Bar: the Meyer Lansky Story

Everything I Need to Know About Trump I Learned From Playing Skyrim

If you’re anything like me, this is what happens when you first load up the game Skyrim.

You’re a prisoner on board a cart. Everything is dark. Why is everything dark. Is it everything supposed to be dark? Does your character have a blindfold on, or is there a problem with your pirated copy of the game?

Oh, it’s the latter.

Re-install, try again.

You’re a prisoner on board a cart. The Empire is planning to execute you for being in the wrong place at the wrong time (and for illegally crossing a border). Fuck the empire. Your name isn’t on their list of prisoners to be executed, but what the hell, they already have you, might as well cut off your head. Fuck the empire.
Continue reading Everything I Need to Know About Trump I Learned From Playing Skyrim

Vintage Tomorrows (2015)

vintage_tomorrows-poster

Director: Byrd McDonald

Recommended? Yes.

Vintage Tomorrows, currently streaming on Netflix, is a feature-length documentary about the steampunk movement. It is based on the book of the same name. It is a very personal film for me. I was a steampunk event organizer, DJ, blogger, and maker from 2007 until about 2013. I was such a fanatic that the large bureaucracy I worked for wrote a memorandum about hats in the workplace just to get the bowlers off my head. I know many of the people interviewed in this film personally. Full disclosure, one of the interviewees is Margaret Killjoy of this website. The film has clearly been in post-production a long time: none of these interviews or events took place any later than 2012, so this film is unintentionally a retrospective of steampunk at its peak.
Continue reading Vintage Tomorrows (2015)

MRA Pissbabies Should Be Even Madder About Ghostbusters Than They Are

ghostbusters-movieposter

Director: Paul Feig

Screenplay: Katie Dippold, Paul Feig

Recommended? Yes.

We don’t really do hot takes here at AGR, apparently. Now that you’re all done talking about Ghostbusters and probably never want to hear about it again, here are some thoughts.

MRA pissbabies should be even madder about Ghostbusters than they are. Though that would probably kill them. Which, I mean, ok, if they have to go, literally burning up in a column of incandescent rage over a movie that has girls in it is probably how they’d want to go.
Continue reading MRA Pissbabies Should Be Even Madder About Ghostbusters Than They Are

Don’t Make People Nazis Just Because You’re a Lazy Writer: A Response to this Steve Rogers Hydra Nonsense

It’s like Marvel reads my posts. One minute I publish an article claiming that Steve Rogers as Captain America exemplifies anarchist principles, the next minute he’s being clumsily outed in the comic books as a fascist this whole time. Under deep cover. Under such deep cover that he has been fighting Red Skull, and also was able to pick up Mjolnir, and has done so many other things directly counter to being an undercover Hydra agent this whole time (since BEFORE HE WAS PICKED OUT FOR THE SUPERSOLDIER PROGRAM????) that it’s just not worth getting into. It doesn’t work, and we all know it. This is bad, bad writing. It’s gimmicky crap in the worst tradition of gimmicky crap comic book plot twists.
Continue reading Don’t Make People Nazis Just Because You’re a Lazy Writer: A Response to this Steve Rogers Hydra Nonsense