August 2013 Media Thread

by ArisKatsaris1 min read2nd Aug 2013122 comments


Personal Blog

This is the monthly thread for posting media of various types that you've found that you enjoy. Post what you're reading, listening to, watching, and your opinion of it. Post recommendations to blogs. Post whatever media you feel like discussing! To see previous recommendations, check out the older threads.


  • Please avoid downvoting recommendations just because you don't personally like the recommended material; remember that liking is a two-place word. If you can point out a specific flaw in a person's recommendation, consider posting a comment to that effect.
  • If you want to post something that (you know) has been recommended before, but have another recommendation to add, please link to the original, so that the reader has both recommendations.
  • Please use the comment trees for genres. There is a meta thread for comments about future threads.
  • If you think there should be a thread for a particular genre of media, please post it to the Other Media thread for now, and add a poll to the Meta thread asking if it should be a thread every month.
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Other Media Thread

8ShardPhoenix7yRecently I've been reading/playing Fate/stay night, a Japanese visual novel. (A "visual novel" is basically an illustrated choose-your-own-adventure, albeit with a much higher ratio of plot to choices). It's interesting from an LW perspective because Eliezer is a fan (eg quoting it here [], and apparently there's a reference in HPMOR) and there are philosophical similarities with HPMOR and Eliezer's work in general on topics like heroism and making an extraordinary effort, the notion of "something to protect" [], etc. Plot-wise, it's an urban-fantasy-slash-romance story where ancient heroes are summoned to help mages like our reluctant hero fight a battle for the Holy Grail, which promises unlimited power. Like apparently a lot of VNs there are 3 "routes" where the main plot works out differently depending on an early choice. I'm halfway through the 2nd one right now. Positives: * Fun setting. * Fun characters and interactions, good comedy at times. * Good art. * Excellent voice acting in the patched version. * Often gripping during the dramatic parts. * The secret identity of one of the main characters is pretty much maximally absurd and maximally awesome at the same time. Edit: having gotten further into Unlimited Blade Works, make that two of the main characters. * Good character development for the main character who starts out a bit chumpy and annoying in some aspects ("surely this woman who is 10x more powerful than me needs my protection") but grows well. Negatives: * Extremely long and long-winded. The narrative style during scenes is often repetitive, as is the overall story - you get similar exposition multiple times and I've gone through at least 15 breakfast scenes already. * The sex scenes (2 in the first route) were overly pornographic for my taste. * Some combat scenes are overly drawn out - plus the main character has been
1Baughn7yNote that there's a sex-less edition available, if you prefer.
1ShardPhoenix7yIt doesn't bother me that much, I just wish it was a little more realistic rather than like something out of a porno.
0Micaiah_Chang7yNote that the patch which removes the content also adds in PS2 specific content, like voices and CGs, the CGs are mostly on the final route. You can pick an option which only adds content and doesn't remove any.
0[anonymous]7yThis gets explained.
0ShardPhoenix7yI know - as I said I was already halfway through UBW when I wrote that (just finished it now). It's not that he survives that bothered me, more that it kept happening so much.
0Ben Pace7yHow are you reading it? (Platform)
5gwern7yA few weeks ago I began reading the visual novel Umineko no Naku Koro ni, partially because I enjoyed the Higurashi anime and partially because Tuxedage said it was a mindfuck; I'm up to 3 of 8, and it's becoming clear that this VN is going to take a while, to say the least. (I've never read any visual novels before, so I was not sure what to expect.) The cramped window and tedium of having to constantly hit the spacebar to advance lines aside (I wish I could just tell it 'my reading speed is 400WPM, please advance at that rate automatically except for dialogue'; visual novels seem to have the worst of both worlds of novels & anime, where they show as little information as a screen of an anime yet still force you to choose your own pacing without interaction being as easy as a novel where you read an entire page before needing to take any physical action), I'm enjoying it. It's an interesting mystery setup, I was able to beat the protagonist to some of the solutions which gratifies my ego, and recently it showed off the best use ever of Hempel's Raven which pleased the heck out of me. On the downside, I happened to read ANN's review of the second volume of the manga and apparently the author Ryukishi07 remarks that most readers will be convinced that it's all supernatural and inexplicable (implying that it'll turn out to be like Higurashi, with naturalistic explanations for all the events) - which makes me angry since in the dozens of hours I've spent reading this, I was pretty sure that we were being shown all the events from third-person omniscient perspective, and one of the narrative rules of third-person omniscient is that you don't lie to the reader, and we see plenty of supernatural events from this perspective. EDIT: final thoughts in my review []
3Baughn7yThere's lying, and there's lying. You're on the third game. You've seen the same series of events, multiple times - but they're not the same events, are they? What you see may be true, without being what you think it is. Consider Battler's position. Give it some thought. There are multiple layers of mystery in here.
0gwern7ySure, but it's one thing to show a true event and let the reader infer the wrong things, and another thing to simply lie entirely: 1. An example of the former: in episode 2, IIRC, there's a nice bit where Beatrice tries to set up a locked room by granting as axiom both that the only key to the room was in someone's possession the day before and also after the murder in that room, which is so suspiciously worded an affirmation that I instantly thought 'oh, so someone could've taken and replaced the key at any time in between', and sure enough, that's what Battler then argued. 2. What I'm worried about is that we're going to be told that the goats, the lightsabers, the parties at the end, the tea parties in another dimension, Rosa being fed her siblings - all the supernatural events we are shown, not told about, in which there's no need for misleading inference or mistaken assumptions or interpretations - will be somehow waved away like 'it was all a dream!' and I'll be mocked by the author for being so gullible as to believe what I saw on the screen. As Beatrice might say, there have to be some ground rules that both players follow or otherwise there can be no game. And going back on what was shown like that would definitely not be cricket. I certainly hope that there will be some satisfying resolution, given how much time I've already invested in reading Umineko, yes.
2Baughn7yRe. 2: I'm pretty sure red text has been brought up already. I'm also pretty sure those battles happen, in the sense that someone experiences them, but they aren't necessarily what Battler and Beatrice are arguing about. Unfortunately (?), there are multiple possible interpretations of what happened in Umineko. I'm inclined to take it all literally, but bear in mind that if you do that, you cannot also assume simple causality on a single timeline. If you haven't already, this would be a good time to watch through Higurashi, Higurashi Kai and Higurashi Rei. Especially that last one.
0gwern7yWell, we'll see what I think by the end of episode 8. I'm less than halfway through, if the episodes are all similarly-sized. I was just posting an interim review because it's so darn long and arguably should be considered multiple works, some of which I've now finished.
1gwern7yUpdate: this is exactly what happens. It even quasi-breaks the fourth wall to mock you. I had no words that day (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ ...And then we get mocked some more in the final episode.
0[anonymous]7yDon't worry, even if it doesn't give you a satisfying resolution, it does give you a hafu or two for your list.
0gwern7yIf it does, I will be a little disappointed in the comprehensiveness of [] which I had already mined for hafu characters.
0[anonymous]7yIt's very spoilery and not terribly straightforward, so I'm not surprised it's missing.
0gwern7yAh. Yeah, that was a little bit weird. I still think they should've included it, though...
1linkhyrule57yI will happily agree with you that certain bits of of the narrative are... decidedly not kosher in that regard. Nevertheless, Beatrice does spell out the rules of the game, though she's subtle about it - so once you know it's a game, you do have somewhere to stand. And I at least ended up enjoying it anyway. (You're lucky. I didn't realize it was supposed to be a soluble mystery until after it had been solved in-plot, which means I'll never know if I could've solved it.)
1ShardPhoenix7yI don't know if this uses the same software as Fate, but if so, try using your scroll wheel. I find it smoother than keys or clicking.
1gwern7yAlas, my trackball has no scroll wheel. Sounds like it'd be hard to know when to stop, too.
1Baughn7yThe software is open-source. I had a look at it some time ago, and it's also pretty hard to understand, but modifying it to your [gwern's] specifications should be doable.
1Micaiah_Chang7yUmineko runs on Nscripter [], which is closed source according to wiki []. Fate/Stay Night runs on Kirikiri2 [], which is, indeed open source. I'm not sure if the Umineko translation worked like the Tsukihime one, where they ported it over to the open source ONscripter, but AFAIK there is no way to change the text scroll behavior.
1Baughn7yThey did indeed port it to ONscripter, so that's the one I'm referring to. I remember doing.. something.. to the text scroll behaviour, though not what. The source isn't that impenetrable.
0Intrism7yJust so you're aware, it's fairly easy to dump the script files from Umineko if you'd prefer to read it that way. There's also an auto mode, which is irritatingly slow, and a skip mode, which I used to skim through the art after reading the script file. You might prefer the story of the Higurashi visual novels to the anime, and the English release has a configurable (and pleasantly fast) auto mode.
5ThrustVectoring7yKatawa Shouju. It's a visual novel about a guy with a heart condition transferring to a school for the disabled. I'm not the biggest fan of the genre, but made an exception for this one. I should probably plaster a gigantic trigger warning for this one, since, well, the big redeeming quality of this one is the ability to hit a lot of your emotions. I had a lonely childhood and adolescence, and I managed to mostly repress it until Hanako's story arc triggered me pretty badly. If you're particularly empathetic or have a history of loneliness, I wouldn't dive into this one unless you're willing to spend some time processing your emotions and having a good cathartic crying session.
[-][anonymous]7y 0

Just finished reading K.J. Parker's Devices and Desires. What struck me at first was "Eh, no, medieval people didn't think like that," but after mentally shifting gears to thinking of it as an author tract like HPMOR, with modern characters in a quasi-historical setting, it was much more enjoyable.

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Short Online Texts Thread

Do blog posts count? Out of Yvain's nearly uniformly excellent posts WHO BY VERY SLOW DECAY stands out in July. He is not kidding when prefacing it with the trigger warnings "death, pain, suffering, sadness". Ignore them at your peril.

7Qiaochu_Yuan7yThis post convinced one of my friends to volunteer at a program like the one mentioned in the post. Very affecting.

Online Videos Thread

Vihart's "Twelve Tones" is quite possibly the most mind-expanding mix of interdisciplinarity (math, music & creativity) in 2013 I've seen so far:

0lukeprog7yNBC's coverage [] of child prodigy Taylor Wilson [].

Fanfiction Thread

I guess it falls to me to fill this up.

In Memoriam, a reimaging of Toaru Majutsu no Index that generally raises the competence of everyone involved. Significant changes; prior knowledge not required.

Overlady, Zero no Tsukaima as seen through the lens of the Overlord games. Guess who's the new Overlady. Prior knowledge of ZnT definitely required; prior knowledge of Overlord positive but not required.

Halkeginia Online: Sword Art Online meets Zero no Tsukaima meets Island on the Sea of Time. In short, Louise summons Alfheim, as it turns out that AGI beats magic but AGI has odd priorities. Prior knowledge of ZnT and SAO required. Warning: TVTropes link.

Uchibi Sasuke: Naruto crackfic-with-plot. Highly amusing. Prior knowledge preferred, but fic is not to be taken seriously.

Game Theory: Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, with a slightly saner and far more rational Precia Testarossa. Highly recommended, prior knowledge of Nanoha preferred but not required; it's a rewrite. Complete, sequel in progress.

0knb7yGame Theory is really quite good. Thanks for the recommendation.
0Zaine7yHow would you rate the quality of these as compared to published fiction? I mean to ask how you'd compare time spent on the above with, say, some of the recommendations in the fiction section.
2Baughn7yIn Memoriam and Halkeginia Online are every bit as good as typical published fiction, if not better, and I've bought things that turned out to be significantly worse. I might add To The Stars (Puella Magica) to that list, but IIRC it was already recommended in a previous thread - I can't check at the moment, my internet connection is like unto wet string. Uchibi Sasuke is pretty much pure crack. Amusing, but if you're asking that question you shouldn't read it. Game Theory and Overlady are harder to judge. They're competently written, certainly, and I by no means regret spending time on them; however, my judgement is compromised by wanting to see more of the characters used. A lot of fanfiction is like that - you get attached to particular worlds, and want to expand on them. If that doesn't happen to you, there are better options in ordinary fiction. Of the two, Overlady depends more on comedy; Game Theory is straight drama.
0linkhyrule57yTo the Stars hasn't been recced yet, according to the site search.
2gwern7yGoogling "to the stars" OR (madoka fanfiction) may help.
0linkhyrule57yFirst thing I checked, but then again I didn't go past the first two pages or so.
5gwern7y...You didn't have to. Even now with this discussion in the results, you still could have found on-LW recommendations of "To The Stars" via hit #3: or hit #5 or hit #7, where one of the replies to reads "Relevant fanfic, for those interested." []
1linkhyrule57yAh! We are disagreeing on the definition of "recommendations." I had in mind something a little meatier - a dedicated post, or at least a plot/concept summary.
0beoShaffer7y? I recall recommended it in May [] and think I've seen it recommended in a different media thread.
7Leonhart7ySo, I've been hitting the ponyfic pretty hard lately. Here's the pick of the bunch. Note: I'm assuming no-one here needs to be told about either the Optimalverse [] or Mortal []. Contraptionology! []: Complete, Dark comedy. Everyone in Ponyville simultaneously becomes a mad scientist and steampunk apocalypse is initiated. Somehow manages to be deeply moving given this premise. Has the best Applejack. Read the prequel "Infernal Machines" first (in appendix C of the main fic). Whom The Princesses Would Destroy... [] Complete, Comedy. Bickering and politics in the Equestrian Civil Service. Tastes like early Pratchett; has footnotes. No real Mane6 presence. Naked Singularity [] Comedy. Twilight attempts to write a sensual romance novel. This goes about as well as one would expect. Edit to add: Warning, cringe comedy. I Forgot I Was There [] Incomplete, Dark. Twilight accidentally creates a duplicate of herself. And then they both slowly go mad. Warning: Incomplete and stops in a sad place. Parting Words [], complete, and The Great Alicorn Hunt [], incomplete. Munchkining and anti-deathism; not very good, narratively (not clear where the author's going to get any real conflict, and it's ranty) but the themes are unusual enough in FiM fic to point out. Melt [] Complete, WAFF. Celestia looks after filly!Twilight, who has caught the most overcomplicated form of flu possible. Much d'aww. Twice as Bright [
2Vaniver7yOh, this one. So much cringing. This is perfect if you enjoy the "so awkward it hurts" genre of comedy, but will be painful if you don't.

Nonfiction Books Thread

0djcb7yTalking about nuclear arms, I much liked Richard Rhodes's two books -- esp. The Making of the Atomic Bomb [], but also the "sequel", Dark Sun -- The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb [] . The first book focus much on the science (in a non-technical way) and the politics, while the second spends a lot of time of the espionage that helped the Soviets to create a bomb, too.
0gwern7yYes, Rhodes's books seem highly recommended but unfortunately, they're not on libgen.
3Dr_Manhattan7yinconceivable! []
4gwern7yWhat - how - I was sure I checked - IMPOSSIBRU!

"Don't Shoot the Dog" by Karen Pryor is about conditioning / elementary hedonics for humans and other mammals. This book is really really important and I should write more about it at some point.

2Zian7yThe book is worth reading even if you're crunched for time because the author get right to applications and helpful ideas. And, they're not trivial ones. In a way, reading the book was a bit like learning Scheme; big bombshells at the beginning and details later.
4Ben Pace7yHow to Think Straight About Psychology [] is the best introduction to the ideas of science that I've read. It's by Keith Stanovich, the cognitive scientist who wrote Lukeprog's favourite book on the cognitive science of rationality [] and who is also on the board of advisors [] at CFAR. It introduces, amongst other things, important ideas of how science works, how pseudoscience works, two chapters on probabilistic reasoning and recommends reading Kahneman, and also a section on why we shouldn't be arguing about the meaning of words, only the differences that exist in the real world (y'know, anticipated experiences that let us test hypothesise). It also destroys a lot of public misconceptions about science and psychology. I plan to give it to all of my friends who need a simple introduction to science. Contact me about a pdf. Edit: By the way, for a typical LWer though, it would be very basic; sorta like one of the best books of 'Traditional Rationality' or something.
2David_Gerard7yThe Golden Ticket: P, NP, and the Search for the Impossible by Lance Fortnow. A popularisation of the P=NP question. Very readable.
2Dr_Manhattan7yThe Emperor of all maladies [] An excellent laymen's book about cancer specifically, but also about the culture of medicine, how they deal with uncertainty, etc.
0Risto_Saarelma7yVia a comment in the proggit thread [] about an online Haskell and music theory book mentioning Guerino Mazzola's very intimidating The Topos of Music, I ended up looking up the author and finding that he's also written Comprehensive Mathematics for Computer Scientists 1 [] and 2 []. These look intriguingly compact, while staying at a sufficiently fundamental level that someone with a modest theoretical background might still have a chance of following them. Now I'll just need to try to actually read them properly.

Fiction Books Thread for all your "magical girls who wonder why their attacks are much less powerful than the mass-energy of the matter they can apparently create, who teleport to space so they can look at the Earth, and who synthesize unbihexium so scientists can get a look at it" needs.

Descending order:

  • Radiance (re-reading for my annotated transcription)
  • Shigurui (review)
  • Wired Love: A Romance of Dots and Dashes (review)
  • Spice and Wolf, Book 1 (review)
  • Qualia the Purple; copying over my interim review from MAL:

    Qualia the Purple was quite the curious read. I started it after being linked it as possibly the only example of manga discussing 'philosophical zombies', then I noted the second main character had purple eyes and began reading it to see if she'd be a hafu for my essay (the art is not great and the story was not compelling enough to keep me reading), then I kept reading because it seemed like it was improving into a light fluffy Haruhi Suzumiya-style manga with some superficial science, then it veered hard into Higurashi-level horror, then it did some shallow quantum mechanics, then it veered into really good hard SF on an almost Greg Egan level with a remarkable take on Lagrangians & Fermat's Principle of Least Action (the closest I can think of are Chiang's "Story of Your Life" and Egan's "The Infinite Assassin"), and then impressed me even more by observing that quantum indeterminacy seems like it should apply to the past as w

... (read more)
5Eliezer Yudkowsky7yQualia the Purple - read on this recommendation and now seconded.
1gwern7yCopying over from your MoR notes []:
2linkhyrule57yHafu link is broken, though trivially so.
2Baughn7yHaving read through it all in one sitting today, I can't second Purple Qualia strongly enough. My god... The chapter 12 ending worries me, I must say.
9Qiaochu_Yuan7yStarted reading The Name of the Wind []. The main character behaves a lot like HPMoR!Harry in many ways (although maybe the causation is in the other direction), I like the magic system, and there's a decent amount of lampshade-hanging []. And the dialogue is surprisingly funny. Generally recommend.
3shminux7yI concur with the recommendation, though it does tax my suspension of disbelief quite a bit on occasion, more so in the second book, as far as the characters' decision making is concerned.
5drethelin7yMy pet theory is that something like at least 30 percent of these books, which are written as the main character dictating his life to someone, are lies and exaggerations.
5[anonymous]7yI'm hoping so. If it's meant to be played straight, the main character is the biggest Mary Sue I've come across in published fiction.
0Qiaochu_Yuan7yCertainly all of the references to things not happening the way they would in stories, in addition to all of the exaggerated stories other characters tell about Kvothe, would lend support to this interpretation.
1Eliezer Yudkowsky7yNope. Couldn't seem to get into that one myself.
0Manfred7yYou mean the causation is from wish-fulfillment -> thoughts and plans and nigh-magical abilities, making it a mite Mary-Sue-ish? :P Though, to be fair, tempered with "but it was all for nothing, because everyone I loved died" at regular intervals..
0Qiaochu_Yuan7yI mean the causation might have been from Kvothe to Harry, although Eliezer said in another comment that this isn't the case.
5Prismattic7yRecommendations Tooth and Claw [\(novel\]) by Jo Walton. Briefly summarized as, "Maybe I would be able tolerate reading Jane Austen and the like if all of her characters had been dragons." Embassytown [] by China Mievelle. This a book that is primarily idea-driven and secondarily milieu-driven, with plot and character far behind. The pacing is a little slow to start, but it picks up. I guess I would says it's a work of speculative fiction about philosophy of language and philosophy of mind, which is unusual, and I thought it was quite well-executed. I'm now reading Kraken [\(novel\]), which is ok, but not awesome, so based on my sample so far, definitely go with Embassytown if you're only going to pick one of his books. I have been making my way through all of Iain M. Banks work. The Algebraist [] (not a Culture novel) was quite good. All of the Culture novels I've read have been good, but if I had to rank them (best to... least best), it would go Consider Phlebas [], Look to Windward [], The Player of Games [], Matter [\(novel\]), Use of Weapons [] Also working my way through all of Pratchett, but I assume I don't need to recommend that here. Antirecommendation: The Rapture of the Nerds [] It's transhumanist literature, so it should appeal thematically. Unfortunately, I think they made a conscious choice to convey the sense of an accelerating future by having the plot jump around frenetically and semi-randomly, and I hated this conceit. The parts taking place while the protagonist is an upload are pretty good, but you have to get thr
2Qiaochu_Yuan7yWhat did you like about Consider Phlebas? I found it deeply unsatisfying. It just seemed like a lot of stuff happened and there was very little thematic or conceptual cohesion behind what was happening. I couldn't finish it. (A few friends I've talked to about Culture novels recommended Player of Games over it, so I'll try reading that at some point.)
2Prismattic7yI have read somewhere that Consider Phlebas tends to get a very bimodal love-it-or-hate-it reaction. Certain parts of it I could have done without (the whole chase-through-the-GSV thing seemed the like the equivalent of summer blockbuster fluff), but overall I still found it more gripping than anything else. Possibly this is because, while I ultimately come down on the Culture's side, I understand Horza's objection, so the book strikes me as philosophically deeper than some of the others.
1roystgnr7yI also haven't yet met a Culture novel I didn't like; but I'm astonished by your ranking of them, which is nearly the opposite of my own. (I also preferred Consider Phlebas over Look to Windward). The books I've read but you haven't yet gotten to (Excession, Inversions, Surface Detail) are my favorites (in increasing order of preference); I would be very curious to know if they turn out to be your least favorites, in decreasing order...
5shminux7yI went through most of the Heinlein's Future history [] series and some other writings. It's very very uneven, even within a single novel. The dialog is often gripping and witty, at other times long and boring. Technical and scientific descriptions tend to ramble on as if it were a textbook or a manual. At his best, Heinlein has several quotable sentences on every page, it his worst, you can skip whole chapters. He generally sucks bad at writing endings, even to otherwise excellent novels. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (not generally considered a part of the series) is one of those I liked most. Stranger in a Strange Land was great at tmes, but spoiled by the occult parts and the meaningless (to me) ending. Time Enough for Love is probably the most uniformly well written, if you excise the genetics babbling, though the ending, again, could have been better. Whoever were his editors, they never did a good job. Still, as sci-fi goes, it aged well, except for computer-related references and plot twists. His rather anarchist and libertarian political ideas did not grate on me. This was a welcome contrast with Ayn Rand, whose novels I found impossible to get through.
3philh7yA review that I read of The Cat Who Walks Through Walls said that it was two thirds of a good novel, followed by one third of a good novel, but not the same novel. That seems apt to me, and I'd apply it to at least a few of his others ( Friday and The Number of the Beast come to mind).
3Luke_A_Somers7yThe same applies to The Door Into Summer. Less to Friday, though. What you've got to get about Friday is that it's about someone peripheral to events, who will stay peripheral to events even if important things sometimes happen through her. If you accept that, then the book is a lot more satisfying. Waiting for something that's not going to happen made it worse. I think it still has some issues around her opinions of the guy who pops up again at the end not really being adequately justified.
0[anonymous]7yTime Enough for Love is my favorite Heinlein story, and even I agree the genetics babbling in the second act was ridiculous.
3Manfred7yBrandon Sanderson continues to be impressive. He's started a new series with The Stormlight Archive, and it looks great so far. Warbreaker was also really good.
1Prismattic7yIt's not a book, but it doesn't really fit in the other categories either... Shadow Unit [] is quite good, though I wish more of it was available in e-reader format. Think Criminal Minds meets The X-Files.
0nicdevera7yJust finished reading K.J. Parker's Devices and Desires. What struck me at first was "Eh, no, medieval people didn't think like that," but after mentally shifting gears to thinking of it as an author tract like HPMOR, with modern characters in a quasi-historical setting, it was much more enjoyable.
0hesperidia7yI first read Metagame [] by Sam Landstrom around 2008. At the time, I was an effectively broke high school student who had decided that I liked AIVAS from the Pern series and wanted more of that, which got me pointed to science fiction, despite the school library making it impossible to tell science fiction from the literary kind by shelving them in the same place. Which meant that, by default, I ended up wandering the Internet looking for long science fiction. Metagame was, at the time, available on the author's website as full text, and I came out the other end of the novel most of a day later with my mind blown. And then I reread it... The short version of the premise is that some sort of almost-Friendly AI has taken over the world, attached everything a human can do to a point system, and offers immortality (by brain transplant; there's no uploading, apparently) to the people who "win" the game by amassing massive point totals (keep in mind this is 2008, well before "gamification" hit mainstream thought) - but the Game also has zones and rules about how to kill people, and thus "losing" and "dying" are the same concept. Also, there are clones that are morally equivalent to "expensive pieces of furniture" and with ~95% human genetics but are clearly sentient and sapient at human-like levels. These concepts collide (sometimes awkwardly); plot ensues. Metagame is very clearly a book written in service of its worldbuilding, rather than the other way around, and this shows as occasionally excessively "tellish" prose, occasional protagonist idiot-balls, and a general sense that the book does not actually pick up until Act/Part II (did I mention it was divided up into parts that exactly match modern interpretations of Greek three-act structure?) It is also an interesting read when interpreted as a almost-FAI weirdtopia where the original AI seed value programmers still retained the idea that human meat was special an

Television and Movies Thread

7Bakkot7yIf you can find it in theaters, Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing is very, very well done. The Shakespearian English takes a few minutes to get used to but is highly understandable. The cinematography is superb. The movie is, as a whole, lots of fun.
3Vaniver7yApparently I was mistaken. (I had a link to another film available for rental; sorry if you rented it based on that!)
6Turgurth7yPacific Rim pleasantly surprised me. I could list the manifold ways this movie dramatizes how to correctly deal with catastrophic risks, but I don't want to spoil it for you. Plus it is awesome, in both senses of the word.
4NancyLebovitz7yI'm curious about your line of thought. Would you be willing to post it in rot13?
5Turgurth7yGood idea. (Note, if you haven't seen the film, here's a spoiler-heavy synopsis []). My line of thought: Gur pngnfgebcuvp (yngre erirnyrq gb or rkvfgragvny) evfx bs gur svyz vf gur svpgvbany bar bs tvnag zbafgref, be xnvwh, nggnpxvat uhzna cbchyngvba pragref, ohg greebevfz hfvat shgher jrncbaf, nagvovbgvp erfvfgnapr, pyvzngr punatr, rgp. pna pyrneyl or fhofgvghgrq va. Tvnag zbafgref pna jbex nf na rfcrpvnyyl ivfpreny qenzngvmngvba bs pngnfgebcuvp evfxf, nf abg bayl Cnpvsvp Evz ohg gur bevtvany, harqvgrq, Wncnarfr-ynathntr irefvba bs gur svyz Tbwven (gur frzvany xnvwh zbivr) qrzbafgengr. V jbhyqa'g or fhecevfrq vs jr vafgvapgviryl srne ynetr, ntterffvir cerqngbef zber fb guna, fnl, punatrf va nirentr grzcrengher gung nttertngr bire gur pbhefr bs qrpnqrf, be cnegvpyrf fb fznyy jr pna'g frr gurz jvgubhg zvpebfpbcrf. Tbqmvyyn'f (uvtuyl tencuvp, crbcyr ohea nyvir) qrfgehpgvba bs Gbxlb ercerfragf gur Jbeyq Jne VV Nzrevpna sverobzovat bs gung pvgl naq gur ahpyrne nggnpxf ba Uvebfuvzn naq Antnfnxv. Gur punenpgref bs Tbwven rkcyvpvgyl yrnir bcra gur cbffvovyvgl bs shgher xnvwh (ernyyl jnef, ahpyrne rkpunatrf, naq gur raivebazragny rssrpgf bs ahpyrne jrncbaf grfgvat) jrnevat uhznavgl qbja hagvy gurer vf abguvat yrsg. Ubjrire, gubhtu Tbwven raqf ba n crffvzvfgvp abgr, Cnpvsvp Evz qbrf abg. Urer, pbbcrengvba vf fhssvpvrag gb birepbzr naq ryvzvangr gur guerng. Gur zbivr'f gvgyr vzcyvrf gur arprffvgl bs vagreangvbany pbbcrengvba, ohg gur vzcebivat eryngvbafuvcf orgjrra gur Wnrtre cvybgf nyfb qrzbafgengr gur gurzr bs pbbcrengvba qbja gb gur vagrecrefbany yriry. Guvf vf rfcrpvnyyl qenzngvmrq ol gur pbaprcg bs Qevsgvat, gur qrrcyl crefbany, pnershyyl rkrphgrq, OPV-ranoyrq flapuebavmngvba (ba nyy yriryf: zragny, rzbgvbany, naq culfvpny) arprffnel gb cvybg Wnrtref naq guhf qrsrng gur xnvwh. Jura uhznaf nggrzcg gb svtug tvnag zbafgref (naq pngnfgebcuvp evfxf) nybar, gurl ghea bhg rvgure qrnq be onqyl qnzntrq, obgu culfvpnyyl naq cflpu
2[anonymous]7ySorry, who did what correctly now? Do you mean the guys who decided that the best way to deal with big slow monsters coming out of the Mariana Trench is to let them reach coastal cities and then send giant robots to wrestle with them? With pilots inside? And who later figured out that nuking the portal would be a good idea, but decided to use the same giant robots (still with pilots inside) as a delivery system? All the while having perfect undersea radio communication, which we don't have? I'd say there was only one sane person in the movie, the guy who was selling kaiju parts as cures for delicate diseases. He'd probably be able to save the world without the military and make a profit in the process.
0James_Miller7yYes, and it's kid safe. My 8-year-old loved it.
0[anonymous]7yIndeed, the movie had at least one character who showed how to correctly deal with that particular risk. He'd probably be able to deal with it alone even if the military wasn't involved. Buy boats, kill kaijus at sea, sell their parts as quack cures for delicate conditions, repeat. Though more realistically, the military would get involved. They would cordon off a chunk of the ocean and use it for some really fun target practice. On some days they'd invite the CNN over. Big slow monsters appearing at a monitored spot in the middle of the ocean aren't a threat to mankind, they're more like a surprise gift. It would take a special kind of intelligence to let the monsters reach coastal cities, and then send giant robots to wrestle with them. With pilots inside. Yeah.
4gwern7yAnimated (descending): * Little Reimu [] (I both admire and resent this for how effectively it manipulated my emotions with its sentimentality) * Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! [!] (review []) * Nisemonogatari (Wow. That toothbrush scene is really something else, isn't it? Pity that the second arc is wooden, and the first arc didn't make much sense.) * Fantasia [] * Death Billiards [] Live-action: * Simon Birch [] (really bad; hilariously melodramatic, ham-handed, and predictable)
0taelor7yIn general, I'm of the oppinion that Nisemonogatari was a step down from its predecesor, Bakemonogatari.
0ShardPhoenix7yThat generally seems to be the consensus which is a shame because I recently finished Bakemonogatari and loved it. I'm still going to watch the rest of the series though.
0gwern7yIndeed. It would be pretty hard to beat Bakemonogatari, though.
0[anonymous]7yPreviously. [] As it turns out, Day Watch is on Netflix. (Unfortunately, this is the sequel to Night Watch, which is not on Netflix. Argh.) It was directed by Timur Bekmambetov [], who also directed Wanted and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. However, those things happened long after Day Watch, so his style here is a bit less refined -- which quite suits the setting. As far as I can tell, the Night Watch movie covers about half of the plot of the first book. Day Watch roughly covers the second half of the first book, dealing with Anton's attempts to recover the Chalk of Fate in order to undo a bad decision he made in his past. Of course, because it has this ability, practically everyone on either side also wants the Chalk. Good things: The movie may not be true to the book, but it is thematically true to it. Kostya's father was perfect. The casting of Gesser, Zabulon and Olga was flawless. Svetlana was chosen well, though her acting was not great. The subtitles are very excellent -- they use typographical effects to translate the tone of the speech. The mood is spot-on, and the plot captures the back-and-forth of the two sides quite well, with plenty of stereotypically Russian humor. Bad things: Anton. Sadly his actor doesn't do a great job. The scenes that happen in the Twilight can be difficult to follow. The translation itself is bad in many places, and inconsistent with the book's translation. There probably won't be a sequel, [] which means -- barring a reboot -- there won't be a canonical film adaptation of the series.
5gwern7yTouhou, reverse chronological: * "神々が恋した幻想郷 ~降神~" [] (hal; from '彩-AYA-完全版' {M3-2009}) [classical] * "Antique Days" [] (Kraster; 'Re:solution' {C79}) [vocal] * "稲田姫様に叱られるから (Because Princess Inada Is Scolding Me)" [] (高瀬; '風祝と神様のさいしょの物語 - Preview -' {C83}) [instrumental rock] * "Bad Apple!!" [] (おたクインテット; 'おたクインテット木管アレンジCD vol.0 おたっと♪' {M3-31}) [classical] * "幽雅に咲かせ、墨染の桜" [] (埼玉最終兵器; 'Frenzy Frenzy' {C83}) [instrumental rock] * "幽霊楽団 [Ver.2012]" [] (Eru; 'Frenzy Frenzy' {C83}) [instrumental rock] * "上海紅茶館" [] (埼玉最終兵器; 'Frenzy Frenzy' {C83}) [instrumental rock] * "無何有の郷" [] (埼玉最終兵器; 'Frenzy Frenzy' {C83}) [instrumental rock] * "傷林果 Bad Apple (演奏 ver)" [] (Yorihide Fukushima; '和楽東方撰' {C83?}) [Japanese classical] * "ネクロファンタジア" [] (Tutti Sound; '東方交響音楽選-Toho Symphonic Selection-' {C83}) [orchestral] * "Colorbar" [] (roop; 'T/H/E.2' {M3-31}) [techno] * "東方妖恋談" [] (Floating Cloud; 'C83 Special') [acoustic/Celtic] * "もう歌しか聞こえない ~ 蠢々秋月" [] (Floating Cloud; 'C83 Special') [Celtic] * "紅楼" [] (Floating Cloud; 'C83 Special') [acoustic] * "no more cry" [] (FELT, Boyz party; 'Ground Snow' {C83}) [ambient] * "kiminiaete" [] (Zytokine, aki; 'Double Key' {C83}) [electro-pop] * "Dreaming Again -T.V. Million Glittering Stars Remix" [
0Leonhart7yDammit gwern I'm crying now Incidentally, have you got (in your infinite notes) a list of particular circles you recommend? I have the Torrent of Doom, of course, but actually finding interesting stuff inside that is non-trivial and basically boils down to lucky encounters on YouTube.
2gwern7yI know, right? I was so sad that /r/TOUHOUMUSIC [] didn't appreciate it nearly as much as me. (I realize I come off as an inhuman cynic, but that just means that when something does break through to my atrophied heart, it affects me all the more.) Hm, not really. However, because of my in-progress analysis of Touhou music [] I can at least give you an idea of what populates my own personal collection using exiftool to extract metadata; by artist: * 17 Marasy * 10 Morrigan * 9 まさみティ (O-Life Japan) * 7 綾倉盟 * 6 dBu music * 5 UI-70 * 5 TOKYO Active NEETs * 5 EastNewSound * 5 cobu * 5 Casket * 4 彩音 ~xi-on~ * 4 埼玉最終兵器 * 4 Ravy * 4 MasamiT * 4 Jun.A * 4 ¨ÌÁ¿ * 4 Floating Cloud * 4 El Dorado * 4 aki * 4 ĹCt * 4 まらしぃ * 4 ハム * 3 ZUN * 3 ZuikakuP * 3 Yorihide Fukushima * 3 Toshimasa * 3 thj-quartet * 3 Takuya Hori * 3 itori * 3 IRON-CHINO * 3 FocasLens * 3 Eru * 3 Dark PHOENiX * 3 はちみつれもん * 3 どぶウサギ * 2 隣人/Vo. itori * 2 紅薙旅人 * 2 刹那 (Kokuyasou) * 2 xi-on * 2 UNDEADCORPORATION * 2 Tutti Sound * 2 TAM & Keigo Kanzaki * 2 Syrufit * 2 SYO * 2 SYNC.ART'S feat. 仲村芽衣子 (Meiko Nakamura [Adresse]) * 2 spctrm * 2 sisimai-3go, C-CLAYS, DDBY, kimino-museum * 2 PIROPARU * 2 NAGI☆ * 2 LV.4 feat. サリヤ人 * 2 LUNA * 2 Kou Ogata * 2 Kiyoma * 2 Kissing the Mirror * 2 CHINO.S * 2 ANastasia * 鯛の小骨 * 高瀬 * 雨宿どみ乃 * 隣人/Vo. ドニィ・ザ・ダイナマイト * 豆屋 (Mameya) * 紫苑 * 直立不動で愚者の認定を受ける * 猫未 * 激戦の人.(gekisen soul) * 溝口ゆうま(Innocent Key)/Vo. まめみ * 源屋 * 水橋ゆっきー * 柊秀雪 * 東京アクティブNEETs (TOKYO Active NEETs) * 愚者トリオ (みあ, io, mikage) * こがわ悠介 * 安井洋介 * みとせのりこ&名塚友梨(リリィ) * 古川未鈴 feat. Mirin Furukawa * 凛 * 六弦アリス * 仲篠田むぎ * 京箪笥 * ししまい三号 * Yu-ki * Yohsuke * Xi * White Elephant * Vocal:»q¿ * Unlimited Questions (mocchie) * Unlimited Questions (makky) * Tracy/Vo. 黒崎朔夜 * TOYO * Team UD * taste * Tanaka Arctica * TAK-sk & * Shihori * Sepher Project * Scale&Toshimasa * Scale,Tosh
2Leonhart7ySo awesome, thanks for this. I do recognise a couple there. Public Service Announcement: everyone who hasn't already, go listen to 夢裡櫻花 ~ perfeitas flores de cereja/unplugged []. Especially track 6. Are the descending number prefixes by the albums your own playcounts? Or something related to that analysis?
0gwern7yIn each case, they're the number of tracks in my collection. So I have 293 files, and of them, 3 are from the album 東方志奏 12th Spell -Trick Shooter-, while 1 is by the artist "高瀬". (The metadata is not perfect so you can see some files had empty fields and some obviously-identical albums or artists are broken up among slightly different versions, eg. Museum of Marasy.)
4Baughn7yAt least half the music from the Ar Tonelico series, especially the hymns. Given that music plays a large role in the games, this is perhaps to be expected. Just for an example, try EXEC_PURGER [].
1Leonhart7yAr Tonelico is the best game music no-one has heard. A niche taste within a niche taste, but have you tried the music-box arrangements from KaraCola Hymmnos Orgel Collection? I find them far more compelling than I'd have expected.Here's the same piece [].
0Nic_Smith7yStrongly agree, especially for "Flip" songs of the third game -- "EXEC_FLIP_ARPHAGE./" "EXEC_COSMOFLIPS/." and "EXEC_FLIP_FUSIONSPHERE/." The startup for my desktop is a small bit of EXEC_CHRONICLE_KEY/. For the most part, they are superbly dramatic.

Podcasts Thread

5Alicorn7yHas anyone mentioned Welcome to Night Vale [] yet? It is a comedy-horror podcast (there are transcripts [], although I recommend listening to one or two so you can imagine the others in the narrator's voice) and it's highly entertaining, with lots of room for creative headcanon.
0Zaine7yCrosslink [].
0Alicorn7yWhoops. Oh well.
[-][anonymous]7y 11

It's not a mistake (or it shouldn't be) to post about something that's come up before. You advertised it differently, and I imagine your recommendation carries more weight than mine here. And now we have the link to an earlier recommendation, which is I think the main reason for that one thread rule.

I just want to mention how much I appreciate these threads: this is my most trusted source of media recommendations! Thank you to all involved.

1[anonymous]7yHow about subsuming the fan fiction thread under the fiction thread instead? 1) Less clutter; 2) my impression is that there aren't enough high-quality works in fan fiction for it to warrant its own thread.
7Baughn7yI would agree to that, except for one thing: Fanfiction, by definition, requires you to be familiar with the source material. That's not true for all fanworks, but it's a good rule of thumb, and it justifies the separation.