Count and Countess (Rose Christo)

Count and Countess is an epistolary novel that describes the never-fulfilled romance between Vladislaus Drakulya, Prince of Wallachia, and Elizabeth Bathory, Princess of Hungary, who find as children that though they are separated from each other by a hundred years, they can send letters to each other. It is part historical fiction/alternate history and part paranormal romance; but more Wuthering Heights with gore than Twilight, and not just because it takes great care never to mention the word vampire.

I found this book on tvtropes – I don’t think it even has a wikipedia page – fell in love with the premise, and immediately bought it from the Kindle Store. It’s gory from start to finish, but the character development is the interesting part; they grow from somewhat entitled, slightly abnormal kids in trying circumstances to being simply deranged and psychopathic, holding onto each other all the more desperately as everything else falls apart. I wouldn’t say it paints a sympathetic portrait of the characters – hard to, when it describes so calmly how Elizabeth kills her ladies in waiting, or Vlad impales thousands of Turkish men, women and children, or how he decorates his dining halls with the heads of his page boys and doesn’t understand why his guests leave before the dinner is over- but it certainly shows a side to them that’s interesting. Elizabeth, especially, is more tragic than horrific, and even Vlad, as he ends the book saying that he looks forward to finally being with her in hell as he knows neither of them are destined for heaven, evokes a certain pity.

There’s plenty more on the tvtropes page linked above, but at $2.99, I would just advise anyone who finds this interesting to buy and read it.

Unicorn Waltz

Wrote a poem in about 20 minutes on, well, unicorns. I’m too scared to put it up here. It’s on my deviant art page.

(Not my pic: from modcult.org)

(Not my pic: from modcult.org)

I’m not not putting it up here because people will think I’m a bad poet- I don’t write poetry anyway, except for yesterday’s sudden impulse, so I don’t have much ego associated with it. I’m uploading it at all only because of some possibly ridiculous commitment to intellectual honesty. It’s about KILLING unicorns. In some amount of graphic detail. I’m too scared to put it up because I’m scared of what I wrote.

Yes, inspired by Questionable Content/Deathmole. The comic, that is…I haven’t heard the songs.

Tsukihime

I missed a lot of stuff here because I went home for the weekend, but (aside from all the food and the seeing everyone again bit, of course) one thing makes up for it: being able to download and play Tsukihime*. (The OTHER tangible thing was the new, totally cool, gorgeous looking 500 GB USB hard disk that I brought it back in.)

“Play” is not quite the right word, because you do very little except make choices every now and then and read the narration-it’s a visual novel, not an arcade game. But that suits me just fine, when the writing is this good.I wasn’t really planning on reviewing it here considering that, well, it’s supposed to be porn and this might be setting a dangerous precedent, but the fact is that it’s so much more than that, and even after being only halfway(or less; I hope less) through playing it, I can’t remember being this excited about anything in a while.

What is it? You could call it a paranormal romance- there’s a boy with a dangerous ability, and a girl that he thinks he loves who just happens to be a vampire princess. Of course, she’s an utterly unbelievably devastatingly beautiful vampire princess, but the adjectives are all mine: Kinoko Nasu and/or the good translators at Mirror Moon know how to describe someone without vomiting out a thesaurus, unlike some people who shall remain unnamed. She’s also 600 years old(at least) and stronger and faster than pretty much everyone else, and she behaves like a kid most of the time-this is brought out more in the anime(yes, there’s an anime) than in the visual novel. You could call it a psychological thriller, about a boy with partial amnesia who loses his mind and blacks out and who has killed at least one person with no idea why, even though [tiny SPOILER] she can’t exactly die.[end SPOILER]. You could call it a philosophical treatise on the nature of death and immortality, good and evil, and love and lust and attraction.You could call it just another Dracula variant, with members of the Church hunting down the vampires that are terrorising small towns, except that this time they’re in japan, not Transylvania. Or, of course, you could call it porn, although there’s not nearly enough of it.

The description on Wikipedia fails to do justice to the game because the true beauty lies in the writing, especially the Shiki’s long stream-of-consciousness monologues. Sometimes it degenerates to the entire screen filling up with “kill kill kill” to the backdrop of dripping blood, but even that has its purpose, namely, telling you that you’re going insane. The visuals are beautiful, but probably nothing beyond what we’re used to in most games or anime. They usually go well with the text, although more backgrounds and more sprites would have been better. Still, given that it’s a fan-produced(doujin) game, it’s all of very decent quality.

Of course, since it’s a Japanese game, we have to deal with the general pokemon-like names for all the attacks( “Mystic Eyes of Death perception”? “Reality Marble”?) but for anyone who regularly reads/views fantasy, it shouldn’t be much of a problem. What MIGHT be a problem for some people is that at least in the “Near Moon” routes, this is one of the darkest stories I’ve ever seen, although there are the occasional patches of humour. Overall, something no fantasy enthusiast should miss.

*For whatever reason, my download manager kept cutting off at exactly 20.0 MB every time I tried to download the file from megaupload here in the institute.

Quote of the Week: Everybody Love-Hates Twilight

Including Steven Levitt.

Every single one of the comments on that post essentially say that the books were “terribly engrossing, yet poorly written.”I don’t think I’ve ever seen that level of agreement on any post on Freakonomics before. 🙂

Although my actual quote was(context should be obvious):

It’s good that kids are reading but that’s almost like saying “My kids are eating McDonalds, but hey, the burgers have nutritional lettuce and tomato on them…”
–ethicalBob

*”Although I will say I was somewhat disappointed with the book, an outside observer would laugh at that description, given that I read it in less than a week. My kids would remind me that I told them they would have to make their own dinner because I had to finish the book to find out whether Bella would turn into a vampire or not. I guess the fact that I ordered the other three books in the series from Amazon also gives me away.”

PS:  I should mention that the book is a literary masterpiece when compared to the movie, which so overwhelmingly SUCKS. I realize that they had to cut it down a bit, but the sparse narrative bits by Kristen Stewart sound totally energy-less, the fact that so little happens and so little is explained from when Bella first meets Edward to when she decides that she can’t possibly live without him makes both of them seem quite crazy, and just as predicted, seeing Edward stare at Bella sleeping is just plain creepy.
Disclaimer: I saw a leaked print taken on a hand cam from a theatre, which had quite abysmal sound and picture quality. That has probably had some impact on my assessment of the movie(bad prints are just irritating, and that irritation generally gets transferred to the movie as well), and although I’ve tried to account for it, I may not have been entirely successful.

And of course, its probably still the bestest movie in the world if you’re a barely teenage girl.

Quote of the Week: Prudent Vampires

“In other words, he is exactly the vampire we want right now: sure, he’s strong, he can fly* and his skin sparkles in sunlight, but more important, he’s not going to go and do anything stupid with his 401(k).”

–About Edward Cullen (Twilight), in a Newsweek bit about vampires in pop culture (yes, I subscribe).

Oh, and also: 9 year old girl passes MCP Exam. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

*Can he?

PS: I know the last 3 posts have all had some mention of the book. No, I still don’t like it that much. The answer is simply that all 3 were written a day or 2 after finishing it, even though they were published at different times.

Monday Thoughts

I so want to see this movie: Let the Right One In.  Why am I running into so many vampire references all of a sudden?

Based on the works of Roald Dahl

Based on the works of Roald Dahl

From Tales of The Unexpected.Lots more after the link.

Actually wrote a poem. I can’t remember the last time I did that. Unfortunately, also made the discovery that I can only really write poetry if it’s actually about real, personal, emotional experiences.  Aside from not leaving me a wide range of topics to write on, it also means that I’m unlikely to ever show it to anyone.