Publisher: Random House
Author: Ernest Cline
Recommended? Probably? Just be prepared for 80s gender politics nostalgia.
It’s midnight on a Monday. I’m logged into no less than 9 different social media/email accounts, with a browser holding 12 open tabs. It’s a calm day. I’m not sure if I spent most of the evening distracting myself from reality in the OASIS of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, or if it was the other way around. The book follows Wade Watts, a poor nobody of a teenager on a virtual adventure in the ultimate video game, fighting against the evil multinational corporation, IOI, competing to win the largest company in the world and save us all from their corruption. A real rags to riches story, complete with a token queer black woman, an underdeveloped and honor obsessed (cliché) Japanese sidekick, and a beautiful (but not too beautiful, she’s got a birthmark) love interest who uses her superior knowledge and ability to help our hero win the game, because what’s a nerdboy story without the manic pixie dream girl? Especially in a world where one’s best friend’s dead wife should OF COURSE be the password in the game winning puzzle. Duh. It will teach the boy to tell the girl he likes her in real life so he doesn’t wind up pining for her in the virtual world for the rest of his days.
Continue reading Ready for Player One to Not Be a Hetcis Boy
Ursula le Guin died yesterday. She was 88 years old. She was the pillar of anarchist fiction.
I’m not someone impressed by celebrity, I don’t believe. I’m not even impressed simply by talent. But I can’t easily express how important it was to me that le Guin existed. When I was a baby anarchist fiction writer, I reached out to her. I wanted to write a zine about politics and fiction. She agreed to let me interview her, and started me on the path I’m on.
Continue reading Mythmakers and Lawbreakers: an interview with Ursula le Guin
Showrunners: The Duffer Brothers
Director of Punx Episode: Rebecca Thomas
Recommended? Yeah duh
Stranger Things season 2 was different from Stranger Things season 1, which is probably a good thing but sometimes I was not happy about it because season 1 was so good. This isn’t a review of Stranger Things season 2. It’s an ode to the punks, and to their representation.
Continue reading Here’s to the Punks: Stranger Things season 2
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writers: Hampton Fancher, Michael Green
Recommended? I dunno.
Blade Runner 2049 is a movie about women, and it’s a shame that the people who made it didn’t realize that. Almost every interesting idea that lies untended in the fallow thematic field of the movie is about women. Almost all of the interesting characters in the movie are women. Hell, most of the characters with power and authority in the film are women. Which, it’s curious to realize, doesn’t make the film passably feminist in any regard.
Continue reading Just Like A Real Girl: Blade Runner 2049
Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Based on a novel by: Stephen King
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
by Margaret Killjoy
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
Publisher: Infinite Fall
Writers: Bethany Hockenberry, Scott Benson
Review of Night in the Woods by Io
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
Publishers: Amplitude Studios, Iceberg Interactive
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
Writer and Director: James Merendino
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
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