Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The PulpRev Sampler Review [SPONSORED]



All right, so, first things first. This is, as it says in the title of the post, a sponsored review. I was not involved in the production of this anthology in any way, shape, or form, other than cheering from the sidelines. I was approached by one of the writers, who cleared this with the others, nearly all of which I know and communicate with on some personal level, and I was paid the fee I mention in the podcast ($20 for a month of advertising), and then I went and bought a copy of the book so that I wouldn't be lying when I made remarks as to the quality. Of course, I had total faith from the beginning that this would be the best damn anthology to come out of 2017, but I wanted to be sure before I ran my mouth off and got bit for it. So now that you know that they paid me not only for advertising on the blog, the podcast, and social media, as well as to write this post, you can decide for yourself how seriously to take this review. The review is going to be glowing, can't be helped, but I am attempting to remain as objective as possible on a subjective matter, and not let the cash I was paid color my opinion. If there were shitty stories in this, I'd let you know. But, again, how seriously you want to take that opinion is your decision.

Disclosure achieved, let's get into the review.

This is, in my opinion, the best damn anthology to come out of 2017. 

No, seriously. I know it sounds like I'm heaping praise because I'm being paid to heap praise, but I was paid for an honest opinion (and to advertise the work regardless of that opinion), and that's what I'm doing. The ads go on the social media, podcast, and blog. The opinion goes here. Guys.

This shit is really, really good.

There is not a single story in this anthology that isn't original, entertaining, weird, and downright fun to read. These stories, all of them that I read, are absolutely riveting. Now, I say, "all of them that I read," because two stories, the ones by Jon Del Arroz and David J. West, are excerpts from their novels For Steam And Country and Walking Through Walls respectively. These novels I want to read in their entirety, and so I skipped the stories. But I'm certain that if you choose to read them you will not be disappointed. I skipped them personally because, as they say, spoilers. There was also an excerpt by John C. Wright that I did read, and didn't realize it was part of a larger thing until he started using a lot of jargon that I just did not understand, so I guess now I have to pick up the rest of that series.

Anyway, back to the ones I did read. Most of these stories are fairly short (the entire anthology is only about 146 or so pages), and as such they're very action packed. Lots of them involve fighting of some kind, a couple involve romance, all of them are fun.

So this anthology opens up with The Knights of Aos Si, by N. A. Roberts. Knights is a very tight story about a duel between some elven knights and some witch knights. It's a straight up fight, with little sandwiching the fight itself. This story feels like a complete tale unto itself, as the fight only happens once every hundred years or so, and not much of a picture of the world outside the fight itself is given. For what it's worth, the elves in this story feel more Dunsanian than Tolkienesque, which was a very refreshing change up from the incredibly vast majority of modern fantasy. There's just enough there to whet your appetite, and leave you wanting more. Which, honestly, is true of all the stories in this anthology.

Next there is The Ghost Fist Gambit by Bradford Walker. This is a very impressive story about a battle between two space navies, whose commanders are rivals. There is a feint, a boarding action, a laser sword fight, and a victory, but I won't tell you who wins. It's well written, the action doesn't let up for a second, and I want to personally thank Bradford for stealing back laser swords from Star Wars. Somebody had to do it first, and it might as well be the PulpRev. Bradford's action flows like a raging river, pulling you along in a Flash Gordon-esque space opera (minus one exploding planet. Next time, Bradford) reminiscent of Star Wars but infinitely more interesting. At least to a jaded old fuck like me. 

After this there is Primitive Life Forms by Julie Frost. This was the first story that threw me for a loop. It begins with a man who is far too complacent about being infected (sexually) with lycanthropy. He's just kind of accepted it by the time the story starts, which is fine, but he seems a little too easygoing for someone who turns into an eight foot tall, razor clawed and fanged, damned near immortal killing machine. And then he gets abducted by aliens. You can see why I was thrown right about here. The aliens then proceed to regret abducting this particular human, very quickly. This story started as a standard werewolf story and then took a sharp left turn into fucking crazytown when the aliens showed up, and it's right about here that you realize that this isn't your usual sci-fi/fantasy anthology. 

The Plowshare's Lament is the next story, by Jesse Abraham Lucas. This was one of the more inventive or outside-the-box stories, as it's not about people, but sentient magical weapons. They live for centuries, change hands, see the rise and fall of kingdoms, and come to an ignoble end. I have to applaud Jesse's creativity here, because this is not a story that would've occurred to someone like me to even entertain the idea of writing, and it was an interesting take on a classic fantasy concept that I personally haven't seen done before.

Yes, we're going through all of them, because I need you to understand precisely how awesome and different all of these stories are.

Herald of the Dead by Todd Everhart is next. This story is more of a prologue to a fantasy novel in feel, as it deals with the invasion of a village by an undead army from underground. One teenage boy escapes, and runs to warn the king that his kingdom is in danger. As I say, it feels more like a traditional fantasy story, but the way Todd handles it makes it immediately engaging, and as with most of these stories, it ended too soon and I wanted more.

Silence in the Cell Block by T. T. Arkansas is an incredibly weird story that accurately captures the ethos of "weird fiction." It would've been right at home in the pages of Weird Tales right alongside Lovecraft and Howard. It's the tale of an innocent man imprisoned, who dies in his prison cell and meets a creature that's described like Nito from Dark Souls but in reality just wants some company. There is danger in the hereafter, but there is also hope of peace, however distant. This story is a mystery wrapped in an enigma, and not a lot gets properly explained with expository dialogue or prose, which is precisely how I like it. It keeps one guessing, and there is fodder enough here to keep fan theorists busy for several months at least.

The King's Portion by David Skinner is the tale of a ruler in exile, fleeing the userper's hordes, who is dragged from a hopeless fight by his servant and into a demon-haunted wood to speak with a terrifying forest spirit. It seems, though, that even deadly demons respect royalty. This was, once again, very competently written, and highly enjoyable. It's a take on the king-in-exile trope that I haven't personally seen done before, and makes a point of how human nobility, arrogance, and a touch of hubris can help you live to fight another day, if not outright win the war. 

Excerpt: Assassin in Everest by John C. Wright is the one I was too stupid to realize was part of something larger till about halfway through the story. This story features a technologically advanced group of people called "The Lords of Creation" with tech that is functionally indistinguishable from magic. One of them, Aeneas, is attacked in his room by an assassin with a similar level of technology. The entire story is a fight scene, and an incredibly entertaining one, at that. It really has to be read to be believed, but now I understand why Wright garners so much respect with regards to his fiction.

Into The Hands Of A Living God by Dominika Lein was another that threw me for a loop. It takes place in a fancy ballroom in space, with the humans in the room captivated by an alien creature. The story is told first-person, and our protagonist is infatuated with this creature as well, despite being no human. A man shows up to fight for her hand, but as the title says, what chance does he have against a living god? The tone of this one is remarkably consistent, and I loved the way it was written. It never once deviates from the first-person perspective, which is no mean feat in writing, and the reader knows precisely as much as the character relating events at the time those events happened. It also has far more bloodshed and monsters than your average ballroom, which is always a favorable thing.

Lucky Spider's Last Stand by JD Cowan is next, and this was one of my favorites. In a collection this good it's hard to pick a favorite, or a few favorites, but this is one of them for sure. It's the tale of a gangster who was his boss' right hand. The boss is dead, there's a legit, no-shit superhero who is immune to bullets called "A Crusader" (nice touch btw), and Lucky Spider has to fight this superhero with a healing factor in a god damned sword fight. This story read like an old-school Dark Horse comic, and I loved every line of it. Spider was sympathetic without having a tragic backstory, the Crusader was a kickass honor-at-all-costs hero presented more as a force of nature than a man, and the action was quick paced and very well detailed. You'll want to watch all the writers contributing to this anthology, but I'm going to be paying special attention to JD's career in the future, because hot damn can that boy spin a yarn.

Avatar of Pain by PR Marshall is an interesting tale that might be a little too out there for its own good. Don't get me wrong, it's a very good story. It's the tale of a warrior sent by the chieftain of a tribe to rescue his daughter from the cult of the god of suffering. Very cool stuff, and I liked the touches with the alcohol and the ax. It's essentially Conan on another world, and that, honestly is what lends to the overall busy-ness of this story. None of the characters are humans, and the various skin tones vary wildly, so it leads to a lot of description about the various players in the story that tends to weigh it down a bit in parts. However, this is not a critical flaw, just something I noticed while I was reading it. Very good story, awesome premise, a well told tale that I thoroughly enjoyed, as I enjoyed all the stories in this anthology.

The Red World Dies by Fenton Skeegs is another example of the diversity of ideas in this anthology. It's the tale of a barbarian warrior come into the ruin of the former civilization to kill a wizard, and they wind up banding together to escape the encroachment of faceless savages as the wizard goes on about the people of another planet whom the previous civilization modeled their...well, pretty much everything after. A very interesting concept, it had me riveted throughout, and left me wanting to know more about this. I hope that most of the stories in this anthology are continued in some fashion, because quite a few of them, this one included, sound like tales just begun.

Longman & Cobbledick (snrk) by David Godward was another of my favorites, because it played with a lot of ideas and had a good time doing it. It was obviously set in a kind of modern day, but the main character has had interactions with gods that let him bend reality a slight bit, and give him a bored, hard-boiled detective internal monologue that serves as the prose of most of the story. This was Longman. Cobbledick is a kind of magic-user, who's infiltrated a magic cult to rescue the son of a rich family, and he can hear Longman's internal monologue. This story was incredibly fun to read, had good amounts of action, a few twists and turns, and a couple of good funny surprises that got me to chuckle more than once. 

Danger On The Colony Ship by John Daker is a classic action story about a security officer on a ship that has been boarded by raiders determined to kill the civilians, and so he dons his armored boxing gloves and proceeds to beat some aliens to death. This was a lot of fun as well, and I liked the idea of honest-to-god fisticuffs against a multi-limbed alien monster that could end your life by putting one of its claws through your heart. If there was a problem with this story, it's that there were a few echoes near the beginning, meaning a word was used twice in the same sentence. The idea of the sentence was put across without an issue, but that's one of my personal bugbears in my own writing, and it's something I tend to notice easily when reading the work of others. Apart from that, this story stands proudly alongside the rest in this anthology, and the heroism of the main character was very inspiring. Particularly that little bit at the end, and if you go read it you'll know what I'm talking about. But again, spoilers.

Defiance by Jon Mollison is the last story in the group, and here's another one of my favorites, but I might be biased because I've read Jon's work before and I greatly enjoy it. He writes with a Robert E. Howard flair and attention to heroism and bravery in the face of seemingly unbeatable odds, and that is most certainly not lacking in this story. The King of Eternity, master of multiple universes faces down one defiant man who has vowed to kill him and free the multiverse from his tyranny. There's some good banter, high stakes, a gorgeous redhead (bonus points, btw), and no small amount of good old hack and slash action. It was definitely the right choice to end the anthology on, because I'm not sure much else could've topped it in my estimation, even the venerable John C. Wright's work. But then again, Jon and I come from the same school of writing, so I might be biased in that regard. 

I have to stress that there are no, zero, absolutely not a single damned low spot in this anthology. All of the stories fire on all cylinders, and it seemed to me that all the authors were trying to out-do one another in sheer gonzo levels of action, adventure, and wild ideas. Some succeeded more than others in my personal opinion.

As I said, I'm quite partial to the stories by Bradford Walker, Dominika Lein, Jon Mollison, JD Cowan, and David Godward. But this isn't meant to disparage or put on a lower tier the other writers. These people merely appealed to my sense of enjoyment in fiction more. This is without a doubt the craziest collection of short stories I've ever read in my life, and quite frankly they're undercharging by only asking one dollar American for the whole kit and caboodle. 

This anthology is worth what the big name publishers charge for their collections of garbage think pieces dressed up as science fiction and fantasy. It blurs the lines between action, adventure, horror, fantasy, and science fiction in the best spirit of the old pulps, and I'm currently trying to convince them to put it in print via Createspace so that I can bother friends, family, and strangers by breaking into their houses in the middle of the night and leaving a copy on their coffee tables. Whether or not that happens is up in the air at the moment, but we'll see.

Without doubt this is an anthology that you do not want to miss. It contains, and I speak from the heart and head with all the honesty I can muster in my being, stories by the absolute best of the best up and coming authors writing in the field of speculative fiction. Some of these stories are on the level of my personal deity Robert E. Howard, and the rest are at least as good as Fritz Leiber. 

These people set out on a mission, that being to prove that the PulpRev wasn't just bluster and hot air. That we were serious about this shit, and we meant what we said when we wanted to recapture the spirit of the pulps, not merely ape them for brand recognition or to tug on the heartstrings of those nostalgic for the days when scifi and fantasy didn't have to be ideologically motivated. To, in a phrase, make fiction fun again.

After reading the book, I can safely report that they have accomplished this goal in spades and then some. There's merely meeting a bar, then showing you're better than everybody else currently trying to meet that bar, and then there's The PulpRev Sampler. With the possible exception of Cirsova Magazine, this is the absolute best anthology to be published this year. Buy it, and tell your friends that fun fiction just came back in style.

Here's a link to the Amazon store page where you can get this landmark in the revival of SFF literature for one measly dollar.

I'm sure you've got a dollar to spare. Put it where it counts and get this anthology on your kindle or phone. I can guarantee that you will not in any wise regret it.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The JimFear138 Podcast Ep. 75 ft. The Mad Shangi



Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the podcast! Sorry this one is late, I ran into an issue with my conversion software that ate up an entire day to fix because I'm almost tech-illiterate. But late is better than never, or so I'm told, so here we are! This episode I talk to The Mad Shangi about Phantasm and other horror movies, the insanity in Hollywood lately, and then we get into MGTOW for a while.

Hope y'all enjoy!

The Mad Shangi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MadShangi

And YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHbE75zwJRfU3LP0Ca1EbFg


[SPONSOR] The PulpRev Sampler on Amazon & PulpRev.com! Be sure to sign up for the newsletter!

MP3 Download of this episode:  https://ia800408.us.archive.org/25/items/jimfear_audio_productions/ep75.mp3


Social Media Dump:

Hatreon: https://hatreon.us/JimFear138/

Steemit: https://steemit.com/@jimfear138

Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/jimfear138/id1107844659?mt=2

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Minds: https://www.minds.com/JimFear138

Vid.me: https://vid.me/JimFear138

Dailymotion: http://www.dailymotion.com/jimfear138

Opening Music:
Honey Bee by Kevin Macleod: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100755
Honey Bee Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Closing Music: 
Crunk Knight by Kevin Macleod: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1400044
Crunk Knight Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The JimFear138 Podcast Ep. 74 - EA, Trump Sips, & Contraceptives



Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of the podcast! Sorry this one is a bit late, my brother wanted me to watch some Marvel show with him and I don't get to chill with him often. This time I go over the Star Wars Battlefront 2 shitstorm, give a couple better game recommendations, and talk about some fucking ridiculous news like Trump drinking water, Twitter removing verification badges, and state lawsuits against contraception. It's a long one, so grab a drink, turn on your favorite RTS, and strap in for the haul!

Don't forget to sign up for the PulpRev.com newsletter, guys! 


[SPONSOR] PulpRev Sampler on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/PulpRev-Sampler-Anthology-2017-Mollison-ebook/dp/B076WH49CS?pd_rd_wg=Irstl&pd_rd_r=6bb3f3f0-4094-4afd-9729-1a2504cc7632&pd_rd_w=Qj2jN&ref_=newr&pf_rd_r=33BJGZ78XCJA11ZP7243&pf_rd_p=16b35636-6c7d-51f6-83b5-988d33d81888
Unlocking Everything in Star Wars Battlefront II Reportedly takes 4,500 hours or $2100: http://nichegamer.com/2017/11/15/unlocking-everything-star-wars-battlefront-ii-reportedly-takes-4500-hours-2100/

EA Exec Responds to Battlefront 2 Microtransaction Controversy: https://archive.fo/TYNqf

Star Wars Battlefront 2, Overwatch Being Investigated for Unlicensed Gambling: https://www.oneangrygamer.net/2017/11/star-wars-battlefront-2-overwatch-investigated-unlicensed-gambling/44284/

GayFraggs Youtube screencap from Cusman: https://twitter.com/GayFraggs/status/931263043220201472/photo/1

SidAlpha's Dirty Devs: Star Wars Battlefront 2 EA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THt3ODESeew&t=626s

Sidalpha's The Star Wars Battlefront 2 EA Refund Controversy and Cooldown Timers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOzBsZqvHiU

SidAlpha's Star Wars Battlefront 2 EA Reddit AMA and Gambling Investigation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30acpxuaiIU&t=620s

SidAlpha's EA and DICE Surrender (for now) to community outrage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xm_kq8Sxzs

Where's Our Star Wars Battlefront II Review?: https://archive.fo/fgIxj

Electronic Arts says Loot boxes aren't gambling: https://archive.fo/4eDBG


The Curious Case of the 'EA Game Dev' Who Said he received death threats: https://archive.fo/saFti

NicheGamer's removal of online currency in Battlefront 2: https://twitter.com/nichegamer/status/931325974016278528

EAStarWars twitter statement from DICE General Manager: https://archive.fo/5fw9h

EA official statement full: https://archive.fo/s2JFp



By me at Pulprev.com: The Big Difference Between Us and Them: http://www.pulprev.com/2017/07/the-big-difference-between-us-and-them.html

Trump Drinks Water: https://archive.fo/SvHQK



Twitter says it will remove verification badges from accounts that violate its rules: https://archive.fo/t0Nmw

State Lawsuits against contraception mandate acceptions would gut religious liberty: http://thefederalist.com/2017/11/14/state-lawsuits-contraception-mandate-exceptions-gut-religious-liberty/



Social Media Dump:














Opening Music:
Honey Bee Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The JimFear138 Podcast Ep. 73 - RE6, Gun Sense, & Dumb News



Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of the podcast! In this one I vent my spleen about Resident Evil 6, talk about the RedPillBlack controversy for a bit, have a laugh at the expense of USA Today, and go over some news relating to Facebook telling people to send nudes, Fusion GPS, and fake hate crimes. It's a lot to fit in, but I missed last week, so I wanted to jam pack this episode with as much content as I could to make up for being sick. Hope y'all enjoy!

MP3 Download of this episode:  https://ia600408.us.archive.org/25/items/jimfear_audio_productions/ep73.mp3

Blaire White & RedPillBlack on The Rubin Report: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REHex5e57HI

MAGA 2020 & Beyond: https://www.amazon.com/MAGA-2020-Beyond-Milo-Yiannopoulos/dp/1925645487/

Townhall spanking USAToday: http://archive.is/bukyK

The Daily Wire spanking USAToday: http://archive.is/73Csj

CloudCuckooCountry's Book Burning: The Ancient Solitary Reign Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzdvUcDfdGo

John C. Wright's Phoenix on the Sword Review: http://www.scifiwright.com/2017/11/conan-phoenix-on-the-sword/

Fox News Fusion GPS Official Met W/Russian Operative: http://archive.is/0JJvi

Burt Kreisher's The Machine (Russian Mafia story): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paG1-lPtIXA

Hard Bastard: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYmqiv_DNFYFkn8fvvJujmA

Facebook's Nudes Scam: http://archive.is/iuezf

Air Force Academy Fake Hate Crime: http://archive.is/k0LsC

Sargon of Akkad's This Week In Stupid about anti-white racism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4XmA6ZVLHww

Aydin Paladin's Why Is It Not Okay To Be White?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1X6G64iM82k

Dr. Layman's Paul Joseph Watson Doesn't Understand Anything: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30YF8rSpqpE

Scream Helplessly At The Sky: http://archive.is/RDZSt

NotJohnDaker/The Mixed GM's Book Recommendations: https://twitter.com/NotJohnDaker/status/928461536393383941



Social Media Dump:

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Vid.me: https://vid.me/JimFear138

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Opening Music:
Honey Bee by Kevin Macleod: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100755
Honey Bee Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Monday, October 30, 2017

The JimFear138 Podcast Ep. 72 - Legacy of Kain, YA SocJus, & Cultural Roots



Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of the podcast! Sorry this one is late, but my dad was in town this weekend, and I don't get to see him that often, so I spent the afternoon I should've spent editing the podcast hanging out with my dad. Anyway, in this episode I ramble about The Legacy of Kain games, talk about an article Bradford wrote about serialized stories, go over an article by Jon Del Arroz about social justice in young adult publishing, and talk about another article in which a woman has raised her child to hate herself because she's white. Fun stuff, yeah? Hope y'all enjoy!


Crystal Dynamics LoK Post: https://twitter.com/CrystalDynamics/status/921167223263129600

Let's Ramble With Rae: Soul Reaver 2 by Dawn Somewhere: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g63IzB0ZVos&list=PLNC_sRuPtMomRdD3RUxFBc_NhrKQ5gG6A

[ON SALE] Nethereal by Brian Niemeier: https://www.amazon.com/Nethereal-Soul-Cycle-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00ZBDOHKU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1509253419&sr=8-1&keywords=nethereal

Getting Started: Reconsider the Serial by Bradford Walker: http://www.pulprev.com/2017/10/getting-started-reconsider-serial.html

How Never-Satisfied Social Justice Mobs Are Ruining YA Book Publishing by Jon Del Arroz: http://thefederalist.com/2017/10/25/never-satisfied-social-justice-mobs-ruining-ya-book-publishing/

Jon Del Arroz's Website: http://delarroz.com/

T-Rex na Kanojo (My Girlfriend Is A T-Rex): http://www.mangahere.co/manga/t_rex_na_kanojo/c001/

CTRL ALT Revolt! by Nick Cole: https://www.amazon.com/CTRL-ALT-Revolt-Nick-Cole-ebook/dp/B01BKWKBCS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1509260171&sr=8-1&keywords=control+alt+revolt

The Young Protectors is the Comic You Always Wanted by Nerkish: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sk5stat0weg

The Black Witch by Laurie Forest (AFFILIATE LINK): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0373212313/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=jimfear138-20&camp=1789&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=0373212313&linkId=1645a944c198e248940775ec9fed1076

Postcolonial Parenting by Tama Ward: https://archive.fo/ytoE0

MP3 Download of this episode: https://ia600408.us.archive.org/25/items/jimfear_audio_productions/ep72.mp3

Social Media Dump:

Hatreon: https://hatreon.us/JimFear138/

Steemit: https://steemit.com/@jimfear138

Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/jimfear138/id1107844659?mt=2

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JimFear138

Tumblr: http://jimfear138.tumblr.com/

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Blogspot: http://jimfear138.blogspot.com/

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Minds: https://www.minds.com/JimFear138

Vid.me: https://vid.me/JimFear138

Dailymotion: http://www.dailymotion.com/jimfear138

Opening Music:
Honey Bee by Kevin Macleod: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100755
Honey Bee Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Three Different Kinds Of Horror Games



As most of you who frequent this blog, or the podcast, or my social media feeds in general will know, I'm a horror junkie. I love horror games, movies, books, short stories, comics, anything horror I can get my hands on. It's a bit strange, because I'm a night owl, and it's ridiculously easy for a horror concept to get inside my head and freak me out when I'm alone at night. But for some reason I can't get enough of the spooky stuff. Christmas is way overblown as the most wonderful time of the year. Halloween's where it's at, in my extremely arrogant opinion.

I've been playing horror games since Resident Evil 2, and in the time since that game and the present day I've noticed a very disturbing trend in horror games. There are a ridiculous amount of games masquerading as "survival horror" that, quite frankly, aren't. So, in an effort to set the record firmly crooked about a couple of things I view as important, I'm going to explain the three different types of horror games.

I should mention that survival horror is my jam, and my favorite of the three, so if I sound disparaging of the other two subgenres it's not because I hate them.

It's just because I view them as inherently inferior.


Now that I've got my survival horror supremacy worked out of my system, at least a little bit, on with the show here.

Horror, at least with regards to video games, falls on a spectrum. This spectrum covers the vast majority of horror games, and while the subgenres do mix and blend occasionally there is a definitive place along this spectrum that most horror games will fall on. On the one side you have action horror, on the other you have psychological horror, and resting comfortably in the middle like a filthy centrist is survival horror. So what separates these three classes of horror game, and why do so many of the other two get paraded around as survival horror when they're self-evidently not?

We'll start out with action horror first. This subgenre is typified by hordes of enemies that you can't skirt, as well as plenty of weapons and ammunition to take them down with. You might get several different kinds of pistols and shotguns, a couple of long rifles, maybe even a grenade or rocket launcher for the really big bads. They also tend to take place in the day. In these games you never really have to worry about running out of ammunition or healing items (unless you're playing on harder difficulties), and in most cases your character is the "ultimate badass" type. Resident Evil 5 is a perfect example of an action horror game. Chris Redfield is a strong, heroic special forces agent with more weapons than you can shake a stick at, and most of the areas with hordes of enemies require the enemies to be defeated or a timer to count down before you can go anywhere. Quick time events are another staple of this subgenre, although they weren't before 2005. Thanks for that, RE4.

Yes, I'm still salty about qte's. 

On the other side of the spectrum is psychological horror. These games are typically dark, brooding, and have more of a haunted house feel to them. You're usually confined to a single structure, such as an insane asylum, a castle, or a mine turned research facility. Your protagonist is usually some kind of completely worthless dandy or fop with no ability to fight back whatsoever. You are typically given no weapons, and if you are given weapons they are almost worthless themselves so far as self defense goes. You are not supposed to fight, you're supposed to sneak around and avoid the enemy, running and hiding when you're spotted. Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Outlast are perfect examples of this type of game. 

Finally, in the middle, you have survival horror. In a survival horror game your character can be a member of a special forces team, but doesn't have to be, as everymen are staples of this subgenre. You have effective weapons, but limited ammunition and healing items, therefore it's often more judicious to flee from a fight rather than taking down minor enemies. These games can be set in haunted houses, small towns, research facilities, the list goes on. Good examples of this are Dino Crisis, the first 3 Resident Evil games, and the first 3 Silent Hill games. 

So why the confusion? Partly I think because very few people have taken the time to sperg out this hard and be this pedantic about it. A good couple rules of thumb I use are as follows:

1. If you can fight back, it isn't psychological horror.
2. If fighting back is too easy, it's action horror.
3. If you can fight back but have to decide whether it's a good idea or not, it's survival horror.

Of course these aren't hard and fast rules. Some games fall through the cracks in between these subgenres. The Telltale Walking Dead game is most certainly horror, but it's a point and click adventure game. You can fight back, but only when the game lets you. I'm not sure where that would fall on this scale, but I think it's safe to say that TWD is an outlier in the genre. Likewise, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver is definitely a horror game, but it also falls somewhere between survival and action horror. Horror is a complicated genre, and this isn't meant to be exhaustive or definitive. I'm merely laying out the three big ones.

So why do action horror games and psychological horror games get marketed as survival horror games all the time? Frankly, and let's not be coy here, survival horror is a money printing machine. Games that bill themselves as survival horror sell ridiculous amounts of copies, and yet nobody has truly been able to capture the feeling of playing the original Silent Hill, or Resident Evil, or Dino Crisis. 

Not without actually re-releasing graphically updated versions of those games themselves, of course. 

But Amnesia: The Dark Descent, let's just look at that. According to this article in Yahoo Finance, this game has sold over 1 million copies based on the idea that it's survival horror when it isn't. And yet, if you check the game's steam page, that's one of the top rated user-generated tags for the game. I remember when this game came out. It was billed as survival horror, but there is a clear and present difference between what this game is and what survival horror meant during the heyday of the genre.

Now of course the game is good. I have a love-hate relationship with it, as I do all psychological horror games, but I can admit when it does what it's supposed to do and does it well. Amnesia is a well-crafted experience, even if it isn't specifically to my own tastes as a horror gamer. So this game no doubt sold on its own merits as well. Plenty of people, myself included, saw YouTube let's players get ahold of this game and go to town, thought it looked fun, and picked it up ourselves. But there is the undeniable draw that the classification of "survival horror" gives to a game. 

If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say the confusion is deliberate. Survival horror is a hard genre to make well. It's far easier to overpower your protagonist with ridiculous amounts of weapons and ammo, or take away their ability to fight entirely and railroad the player through a haunted house. Crafting a balanced horror experience where the player will have to backtrack, solve puzzles, run around monsters, and fight their way through enemies and bosses alike is far more difficult. So most devs nowadays just make it action or psychological horror, slap the survival horror logo on it, and call it a day. It's understandable, but this watering down of the genre doesn't do anybody any favors in the long run. 

While action and psychological horror are fun subgenres, it looks like we'll have to deal with them masquerading as survival horror for the foreseeable future. Until someone gets off their ass and designs another proper survival horror game, we'll have to content ourselves with what's currently being released, or with revving up our old consoles so that we can get an actual survival horror experience. And in the interest of facilitating this, I'm going to be working on a post to have out by Halloween detailing precisely what makes a good survival horror game. I've been meaning to write this for a couple years now, and there's no time like the present to get this out of my system. So expect that in the next few days.

In the meantime, if you haven't played Dino Crisis, the original Resident Evil games, or the original Silent Hill games, and you want to understand how they're different in tone and gameplay from what's marketed as survival horror today, I'd suggest you look up an emulator or try to find the disk copies if you've still got a PS2. They'll be well worth your money, I can promise you.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The JimFear138 Podcast Ep. 71 - Alien Isolation, The State, Political Compass Tests, & The Black Pill


Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of the podcast! This time I go over Alien: Isolation, talk about The State and how it's ISIS propaganda, demonstrate the fallibility of political compass tests, and explain how to avoid a black pill state of mind! Hope y'all enjoy!
They Mostly Come At Night by Killahawke1: https://www.reddit.com/r/freehorrorstories/comments/4i7ktz/they_mostly_come_at_night/

Aydin Paladin's The Appeal of Fear: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vERK4zJjC0&t=2s

Aydin Paladin's Analyzing 'The State' Propaganda w/Hard Bastard Ep.1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIS1Kgo3X_k

Political Party Quiz: http://www.people-press.org/quiz/political-party-quiz/

The Political Compass: https://www.politicalcompass.org/test

Mouthy Buddha's Am I A Crypto-Fascist Making Nazi Propaganda: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9_O-0pmxSU&t=217s

Stardusk's Gradations And Hues | Towards A Black Pill State Of Mind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vh95zAeurLg&t=0s

Turd Flinging Monkey's Antisemitism & Patriarchy Theory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-5GmpakfKY


MP3 Download of this episode: https://ia600408.us.archive.org/25/items/jimfear_audio_productions/ep71.mp3



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Opening Music:
Honey Bee by Kevin Macleod: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100755
Honey Bee Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
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