Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Nanoreviews: The Rosewater Redemption, Peter Watts is an Angry Sentient Tumor, Call of Cthulhu

Thompson, Tade. The Rosewater Redemption [Orbit, 2019]

Spoiler warning for the previous two Rosewater novels.

It had to come to this, right? After the fight between Nigeria and the city-state of Rosewater, we now have aliens living in human bodies (corpses, really). They live among the people of Rosewater, and they’re more or less undetectable. But the aliens need bodies, and the troublemakers don’t die when the host corpse dies; they just get downloaded back into a new body. When some aliens start to take up mass murder to get the bodies they need, a human resistance forms. It’s comprised of strange bedfellows, but they’ve got one mission: to stop the extinction of the human race.

Redemption is a fitting conclusion to the trilogy. As with the previous novels, Thompson writes fully formed characters, and then sticks them in this dirty, strange world to see what happens. Some questions lingering in your brain from the previous two novels will get addressed, but Redemption does take some odd detours that haven’t really added up in hindsight. Regardless, so many authors don’t know how to end something, and Thompson, thankfully, does. There’s a minimal amount of deus ex machina, but it works. If you’ve made it this far, and you should because these books are good, see the conclusion.

Score: 8/10

Watts, Peter. Peter Watts Is An Angry Sentient Tumor: Revenge Fantasies and Essays [Tachyon Publications, 2019]

You’ve seen this before, right? The novelist maintains a blog, someone has the brilliant idea to turn that blog into an essay collection, so the author and an editor spend an afternoon collating, winnowing, and editing to produce a new book from old material. If you like Peter Watts, here’s a chance to see his blog posts in paper form. But this isn’t really the kind of thing you want to read in one go, right? It’s kind of a pick-up, put-down. You’re getting a firehose of Peter Watts’ brain in machine gun fashion, so you can take the rapid fire blasts right in the face, but I chose to get a taste and shelve it. You wouldn’t read a blog from beginning to end, so doing the same here is a bad idea. Watts is an easy read (in this form, at least), and the essays are generally entertaining. If you want to know what Watts thinks about enough to put hands to keyboard for a blog post, but you want it to be slightly more edited and selected for quality, here it is. Just don’t read it in one go.

Score: 6/10

Cyanide Studio. Call of Cthulhu [Focus Home Interactive, 2018]

Call of Cthulhu is a first person role-playing video game set in the world of the pen-and-paper role-playing game, Call of Cthulhu, deeply inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. You play a detective sent to the isle of Darkwater to investigate the strange circumstances surrounding the death of a local family. Along the way you find cultists, a mad scientist, elder signs, and deep old ones. Call of Cthulhu starts off very strong as you arrive in Darkwater and start to piece together what the situation is, but it soon deteriorates into a series of linear game levels that demand very little and give very little back in return. It’s like you’re at a theme park and you get to spend the beginning milling about the park, but eventually you get to the roller coaster and then you’re just strapped in for the ride. It’s far from bad, but it does boil out a lot of the flavor and freedom of the pen-and-paper game. Your player stats don’t seem to mean much beyond those first couple hours. It’s also ugly, and not stylistically ugly. It just looks like it was made 5 years ago, put on a shelf, and dusted off to release last year. I played through it all over a weekend, which is about the perfect use for it. A good weekend game, but no need to ever play it again or give it much more thought.

Score: 5/10 

POSTED BY: brian, sci-fi/fantasy/video game dork and contributor since 2014