The Forever Shelf

There are times when the sheer availability of modern media leaves me awestruck. Netflix means that, more than ever before, I can watch my favorites whenever I want. I’m having trouble emphasizing how big that difference is. I spent my youth encountering things I enjoyed and carefully watching for title sequences, “[show] will return after this,” and anything else that put a name on it I could use to recognize it in my friends or on toy-store shelves. I dreaded when shows would inevitably leave the airwaves, and watched reruns obsessively to fill in gaps from the previous viewing. Media was ephemeral, and there were never enough blank VHS tapes to capture it all.

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The Forever Shelf
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For Today I Am a Boy – A Review

There are many little bits and pieces of growing up transfeminine in a hostile world. Recognizing ourselves early as pressed into a gender we neither desire nor understand is not always a blessing, and often merely changes the character of our seeping hurt. Our youthful relationships with boys, our youthful relationships with girls, how we feel about clothing and sport and our parents, all get colored through these lenses, already complicated and made more so by inept striving toward a less horrid vision of the future.

In her novel For Today I Am a Boy, Kim Fu finds them all.

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For Today I Am a Boy – A Review

Blood and Roses: A Virtual Reality

For as long as people have been talking about social justice online, there have been people, trolls really, who make a point to argue, harass, and otherwise engage in actively hateful and bigoted behaviour. This has been the case in every online community I have been involved with: the feminist community, the atheist community, disability community. There is always someone prepared to defend the vilest behaviour you can think of. If you are a representative of these communities: a Person of Colour, a Trans Woman, a Disabled Person, if you are a member of some minority, the number of people who target you in particular escalates.

The sheer number of people committed to spreading hate has made places like the comment boards on Youtube a place to be avoided. Many magazines and blogsites have closed their comment sections. More than one writer, activist, organizer, and so forth has been forced off the internet as a result of death threats, threats of rape and violence, dealing with a constant barrage of slurs and hatred, and even having their private information released to the public.

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Blood and Roses: A Virtual Reality

Jane and Jessie: A Better, Shinier World – Epilogue

Chapter 1 – Chapter 2 – Chapter 3 – Chapter 4 – Chapter 5 – Chapter 6 – Chapter 7 – Chapter 8 – Chapter 9 – Chapter 10 – Epilogue

All 11 chapters in a single article (Patreon patrons only)

Alyssa’s Fiction

“Are you ready?” Lizabeth Hiromi asked her Pokémon. Gorebyss, Dragalge, Corsola, Golduck, and Kabutops nodded, as did the series of Seakings, Buizels, Medichams, and others behind her in or around the levitating globes of water on the Pacifidlog stage. She wore a costume version of her usual clothes, with more pronounced shoulders and a flared skirt instead of jeans, but retaining the triangle of exposed midriff. Behind her, her parents Kyle and Meredith and grandfather Ship helped direct the crowd of performers.

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Jane and Jessie: A Better, Shinier World – Epilogue

Jane and Jessie: A Better, Shinier World – Chapter 10

Chapter 1 – Chapter 2 – Chapter 3 – Chapter 4 – Chapter 5 – Chapter 6 – Chapter 7 – Chapter 8 – Chapter 9 – Chapter 10 – Epilogue

All 11 chapters in a single article (Patreon patrons only)

Alyssa’s Fiction

Ortolan’s door slid open, and the lights on his side of it cut out. Fog rolled into the room, cloaking the immediate vicinity of the door as the sound of shuffling feet finally prodded him to turn around.

To the door’s right, the light above Flannery turned on, and she announced, “To protect the world from devastation…”

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Jane and Jessie: A Better, Shinier World – Chapter 10

Nineteen Meltdowns: Pokémon Movies While Autistic

Pokémon is a long-running television series, currently spanning nearly 1000 episodes since its Japanese debut in 1997. Like many such cartoons, it also encompasses a number of feature-length films, set between the episodes of the series and occasionally referenced thereafter. The nineteen Pokémon films are a fascinating oeuvre in their own right, because they return repeatedly to themes particularly dear to me and to other autistic, indigenous viewers.

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Nineteen Meltdowns: Pokémon Movies While Autistic

Jane and Jessie: A Better, Shinier World – Chapter 9

Chapter 1 – Chapter 2 – Chapter 3 – Chapter 4 – Chapter 5 – Chapter 6 – Chapter 7 – Chapter 8 – Chapter 9 – Chapter 10 – Epilogue

All 11 chapters in a single article (Patreon patrons only)

Alyssa’s Fiction

The turbine shaft descended far below ground level, by Jessie’s calculations. At the bottom, the shaft entered a cavern, where large vents in the shaft allowed the rocks taken inside of it to fall out and, presumably, get carried elsewhere. The Pokémon laborers who would have done that carrying, or aided the Magnemites’ efforts to turn the drill via the long rods sticking out into the cave, were long gone, but evidence of their violent departure lay scattered about. Even the Magnezone was gone, apparently still healthy enough to flee once whatever force compelled its aggression let it go. Jane, Jessie, and a minute later Flannery reached the bottom and waved goodbye to their steel assistants as they climbed into the cavern to take in the drill.

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Jane and Jessie: A Better, Shinier World – Chapter 9

The Way of the Heathen – A Review

Reading The Way of the Heathen, first and foremost, reminded me of why I fell in love with Greta Christina’s writing. A series of meditations on weighty topics from an atheist, science-loving perspective, The Way of the Heathen is the antidote to religious insistence that we have no answers for what it means to live a life well lived, and a much-appreciated bridge between the scientific and the sublime.

The front cover of Greta Christina's book
Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life

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The Way of the Heathen – A Review

Jane and Jessie: A Better, Shinier World – Chapter 8

Chapter 1 – Chapter 2 – Chapter 3 – Chapter 4 – Chapter 5 – Chapter 6 – Chapter 7 – Chapter 8 – Chapter 9 – Chapter 10 – Epilogue

All 11 chapters in a single article (Patreon patrons only)

Alyssa’s Fiction

Jane and Jessie proceeded downward apace, having learned the pattern in which the flamethrowers and cameras were arranged around the shaft. They got frantic attention from the guards and other staff whenever they crossed a glass region, but no attempts against them could be made while they methodically destroyed the weapons that enforced the turbine’s shape. Up above, the Magnemites increasingly strayed from position but didn’t leave the shaft or otherwise make their defiance known. From below, a disc-shaped Pokémon flew upward, stopping at the level Jane and Jessie had reached. Its raised head and the trio of horseshoe magnets on its rim identified it as a Magnezone, and it immediately began collecting energy to aim at the two humans.

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Jane and Jessie: A Better, Shinier World – Chapter 8

Two Weird Free Tabletop RPGs You Should Check Out

Tabletop roleplaying games are a site of boundless creativity. The fact that the processor that runs them is a series of human brains rather than a computer means that any given instance of a tabletop game can venture much farther from what its designers had in mind than a PC or console game is likely to support, but more than that, whole new games can form much more easily. In addition to venerable institutions like Dungeons and Dragons, Shadowrun, and Warhammer, with huge bodies of accumulated resources and long histories, numerous smaller games populate the less mobile shelves of gaming stores. These don’t often get their due, even with demonstrations and endorsements from the likes of Wil Wheaton.

There’s a tier below that, though, of roleplaying game rulesets released to the public without any hope of eventual profit. Some folks write entire new roleplaying games and turn them loose on the Internet for fun and notoriety, and these efforts are fascinating, unusual, and (importantly for us) don’t cost anything an RPG enthusiast hasn’t already paid. They represent monumental undertakings in conceptualizing, integrating, and devising game material, without even the glimmer of profit that might someday visit the games that do get formally published.

I’ve come across two of these in particular that are now freely available online, extraordinarily different in tone, scope, and intensity and worth every tabletop gamer’s time at least once: Pokémon Conquest and Actual Cannibal Shia LaBoeuf.

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Two Weird Free Tabletop RPGs You Should Check Out