4.1.16



More here.

3.1.16

Stuff I liked in 2015

As always, this list is purely personal, not just in terms of reflecting my tastes, but also because it's about what I found in 2015, regardless of when it was made.

Films


Mad Max: Fury Road
A masterclass in minimalist world-building. Fury Road paints a weird, vibrant, thrilling world that it trusts you to pick up as you go along, never slowing the action to spell out what you can infer or imagine.

Captain Philips
Naturalistic filmmaking that puts the audience on board as the captain of a container ship negotiates with the pirates that are trying to hijack it. An edge-of-your-seat story with a large dollop of veracity.

John Wick 
I feel like I’m losing my taste for slick, stylised violence, especially the kind that glorifies dudes taking out their grievances on strangers. Nevertheless, John Wick is a film that violences real good.

Books


Leviathan Wakes - James S.A. Corey
The first in a series of science fiction page-turners that manages to keep the space adventuring grounded and believable, even as a crew of misfits and a hard-drinking detective uncover a conspiracy that reaches far beyond the politically divided solar system.

Annihilation - Jeff Vandemeer
“Eerie and unsettling”, the blurb on the back of the book says. And then some. An utterly riveting journey into a bizarre wilderness.

A Darker Shade of Magic - V.E. Schwab
Alternate Londons, dangerous magic and sadistic tyrants make for a charming fantasy.

Comics


Ms. Marvel - G. Willow Wilson, et al.
If you read one superhero comic, read this.

Rocket Raccoon - Skottie Young, et al.
Colourful adventures in space with everyone’s new favourite interstellar rodent.

Fuse - Antony Johnston, Justin Greenwood, et al.
A police odd couple solve crimes on a space station. Given the restrained tone, I found it a bit disappointingly soft in the sci-fi stakes, but the characters are great and the whodunnits genuinely engrossing.

TV


Person of Interest
We’re only up to season 3 of this show in the UK, but it’s still some of the best science fiction TV out there (masquerading as, ick, a crime procedural). Three-dimensional characters deal intelligently with thought provoking and important themes - without forgetting to get mixed up in plenty of gripping drama while they’re at it.

The Flash
So at this point the Arrowverse is shaping up to be TV’s Marvel Cinematic Universe (only with lesser-known DC characters), and this is it at its fun, imaginative, colourful best.

Parks and Recreation
Imagine The West Wing, but with really low stakes. Then fill it with great characters that the show clearly has lots of affection for. Pierce lid. Microwave for five minutes. Excellent television.

Video Games


Soma
I loved everything about this game. It certainly has its flaws, but I didn't mind any of them. An unflinchingly honest exploration of some of the more uncomfortable ideas in science fiction, in a gruesomely beautiful underwater setting, with cool non-human characters, scary monsters, and tonnes of widgets to fiddle with. Loved it, loved it, loved it.

Alien Isolation
A remarkable love letter to Ridley Scott’s original 1979 horror film. The game may never be quite sure what to do with itself, but exploring a note-perfect extension of the world of Alien, while being stalked by cinema’s most memorable monster, was always going to be something that would win me over.

Invisible Inc.
I do like me some stealth games. I play them methodically, slowly, carefully - exploring everything. Invisible Inc. is a turn-based stealth game that aims to change everything calcified and clich├ęd in the genre, turning my play style on its head and encouraging nail-biting, carefully planned risk taking. I imagine people will be talking about the design of this game for many, many years to come.

27.11.15

OH HI

I've been working on a thing since April that's been taking forever and is now in the get-other-people-to-poke-it stage.

You can also take a peek at a thing that I didn't get to work on here.

28.4.15

Blast Off


In case you missed it, version 1.0 of Kerbal Space Program is out, with new kerbals, new parts and new mechanics.

I've started over in career mode and it also seem to be much less of a grind than before...

11.1.15

2014: Stuff I Thought was Cool

Better late than never: the definitive list of stuff I found and liked in 2014. A lot of superhero stuff this time.

Films



Guardians of the Galaxy
Captain America: Winter Soldier
These two films, both critical and commercial successes, are radically different approaches to making a Marvel movie. One builds heavily on the shared universe, the other strikes out into strange new territory. Both barely seem like superhero stories.

Man of Tai Chi
So Keanu Reeves' directorial debut is a great kung fu film and also a solid bit of filmmaking. How 'bout that.

Honourable Mention: Sanjuro

Books



Railsea - China Mieville
It's Moby Dick on a train, only deeper and stranger than that.

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
Engrossing, imaginative and magical.

Ancillary Justice
- Ann Leckie
A nuanced and carefully constructed space opera with a fantastic main character.

Honourable Mention: Embassytown - China Mieville

Comics



Ms Marvel - G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, et al.
A nice balance of fun superheroics and down-to-earth character drama. A lot of bollocks has been written about Kamala Khan, but the simple fact is that she's a great everyman protagonist.

Hawkeye - Matt Fraction, David Aja et al.
A low key, character-led comic in which your least-favourite Avenger turns out to be a loveable loser trying to do best by those around him.

Saga - Brian Vaughn, Fiona Staples et al.
The new 20th Century Boys in terms of these end-of-year lists of mine.

Honourable Mention: Black Widow - Nathan Edmondson, Phil Noto et al.

TV



Person of Interest
I avoided this show reflexively at first, assuming it was yet another post-9/11 show about questioning rights and freedoms as though they were ambiguous or even undesirable. But no, it's actually a stealth science fiction show with a much better treatment of privacy and exceptional power than you might expect.

Arrow
That dark, gritty, camp, out-of-this-world action show about Robin Hood.

Smallville
The New Adventures of Superguy and Robin Hood, guest starring Martian Detective.

Honourable Mention: Sleepy Hollow

Video Games



Valkyria Chronicles
The World War 2 era fantasy land is beautifully realised, the melodrama can be surprisingly affecting and the real-time-meets-turn-based gameplay is addictive.

Shadowrun Returns
A solid and fun cyberpunk roleplaying game.

The Stanley Parable
Big, funny and clever.

Honourable Mention: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

23.11.14

Shorter for Science


I've been using pretty much the same rocket design for trips to Kerbin's moons for a while now, but, especially with the extra science components for career mode, I finally got exasperated with its gangly instability.

This new rocket uses the same layout for most of its stages, but has a much shorter and broader lander. I wasn't convinced that the extra engines and reduced fuel capacity weren't a compromise too far, but Jebediah successfully took it to the Mun's Farside Crater and back.