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friends mostly. and ... other stuff.

Grad student, sometimes-writer, and hobo.

I used to post fanfic on this account, but in an attempt to sync up my fanfic usernames, I've decided to post/link any new fics (2014 and later) to fdraskol/[personal profile] raskol. Other places to look for my fic include FFN and AO3, but note that I am more selective about what gets posted to those sites. Old fanworks will remain unlocked on this journal, but if you're here only for the fic, you might be better off checking out the aforementioned accounts instead.

If, however, you want to be let in on my immensely boring life, please drop me a comment! I am pretty open to friending people if we've exchanged words before or have similar interests. (And, vice versa, feel free to defriend me if I am too mundane for you.)

If you need to contact me about anything and for some unknown reason don't want to PM me, here's your chance to do so. Comments are screened and anonymous commenting is enabled, so have at it!


After a blistering hot & humid last week and a rush to meet a paper deadline -- the latter of which has confirmed my suspicions that I would have made an absolutely terrible linguist -- the heat broke, and this week has, in general, been much less taxing and much more enjoyable. I polished off a book (The Golem and the Jinni, highly recommended), started writing again after a long dry spell (thank you, school), and spent an absurd amount of time watching my favorite eSports event of the year, The International 5, which is the largest annual DotA 2 competition hosted by Valve.

The prize pool got jacked up this year, all the way up to $18 million. And, er, there is something incredibly humbling and awe-inspiring about that, you know, watching professional gamers -- most of them in their early- to mid-20s, some of them as young as sixteen -- making the big bucks on a stage playing a computer game. It's not unlike watching the Olympics, I suppose, except swap out the physical sports with the electronic sports.

(This is where I moan, "What have I done with my life? Why did I let my parents tell me I can't make a living playing computer games? Whyyyyyyy?")

In any case, the games for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place are starting tomorrow at 10:00 PDT. The remaining teams are EG (now carrying the last remaining torch for the Western DotA scene), CDEC (a Chinese team that's made a Cinderella run through the tournament after barely eeking into the main event through the wildcard qualifiers), and LGD (the Chinese giants). Tune in if you've got time to burn. Or, y'know, if you need some background noise to your day.

more books! (beware the spoilers)

First of all, new details have now been released about Guy Gavriel Kay's new book:

The bestselling author of the groundbreaking novels Under Heaven and River of Stars, Guy Gavriel Kay is back with a new novel, Children of Earth and Sky, set in a world inspired by the conflicts and dramas of Renaissance Europe. Against this tumultuous backdrop the lives of men and women unfold on the borderlands—where empires and faiths collide.

From the small coastal town of Senjan, notorious for its pirates, a young woman sets out to find vengeance for her lost family. That same spring, from the wealthy city-state of Seressa, famous for its canals and lagoon, come two very different people: a young artist traveling to the dangerous east to paint the grand khalif at his request—and possibly to do more—and a fiercely intelligent, angry woman, posing as a doctor’s wife, but sent by Seressa as a spy.

The trading ship that carries them is commanded by the accomplished younger son of a merchant family, ambivalent about the life he’s been born to live. And farther east a boy trains to become a soldier in the elite infantry of the khalif—to win glory in the war everyone knows is coming.

As these lives entwine, their fates—and those of many others—will hang in the balance, when the khalif sends out his massive army to take the great fortress that is the gateway to the western world…

Excuse me while I dance for joy. Renaissance Europe. If there is ever a setting for GGK to rock, it is that one.

Now, onto some late reviews:

Stein, Gil -- Rethinking World SystemsCollapse )

Renault, Mary -- The Fires from HeavenCollapse )

Addison, Katherine -- The Goblin EmperorCollapse )

dragon age 2: overall impressions

A lot of this is yoinked from discussion with [personal profile] mako_lies on the high points and low points of my DA2 experience.

Spoilers. Rambly.Collapse )

And now, back to my pro-templar playthrough. I have to say, I am pleased that it is actually possible to be nice to Anders and to still boost him up to 100% rivalry, but it really makes some of his scripted outbursts very, very strange.
Home sweet home! I just flew down to my parents' house yesterday and am now happily settled with my computer, several books, and A/C. Flight was delayed a little bit, so I touched down a tad late, but still managed to avoid the thunderstorm -- complete with heavy rain, heavy winds, heavy thunder, and heavy hail -- that started dropping around 30 minutes after I deboarded. Lucky me; I imagine if the flight was anymore delayed, they would've rerouted the plane to another state.

On another note, Dragon Age II impressionsCollapse )

a gaming summer

FF7 remake! Huzzah! I will look forward to watching playthroughs on Youtube, because there is no way in hell I can justify buying a PS4! (In fact, I am still stuck in PS2 land, and was not even aware that PS4 was actually released before I looked it up on Wikipedia just now.)

The trailer is absolutely gorgeous, though. I love what they've done for the setting and background work. Just the whole atmosphere!

I am a little bit worried about Cloud's design, however. We don't see his face, but his outfit makes me suspect that they'll be using something similar to his latest Dissidia model, which I do not like. I have always been partial to ACC!Cloud and even the PS3-demo!Cloud, and have never been a fan of his increasingly feminine design in the Dissidia series. (I feel the same about Squall's design in Dissidia. FF8!Squall has always looked the best to me.)

The other game that I am super-excited to watch playthroughs for is The Last Guardian, which I think I have been waiting for for-fucking-ever. The E3 trailer shows more footage of a scene you get some glimpses of in the old 2013 trailer, and I approve of almost all the changes I see in the 2015 trailer. It's so sunny. The boy is so cute. The gryphon-dog-thing is adorable; look at those little wings! Look at the boy jumping! Ahh! The gameplay also looks a whole lot crisper, and the boy's movements seem to straddle that line between realism and control much better than I expected. That was always one of my issues with SotC; yes, it's realistic for Wander to be bumbling around, and for there to be a lot of lag in the controls, but it made for an awful playing experience in my opinion. (To the extent that I finally just gave up playing the darn game.)


In other news, the school year's done, and I am finally alive again! Unfortunately, I still have one more paper to write, emergencies to take care of at my part-time job, and Dragon Age: Origins, which has somehow gobbled up my life. I started playing on a whim a week or two before finals, thinking I would hate it. Alas, I never learn.

Not only is it completely possible to play the whole game as a pseudo-RTS -- I really cannot stress how much I love the zoom-out option -- the game is everything I wanted from GRRM's A Song of Ice and Fire, with all the parts I didn't want excised and thrown out! Not to mention, much more loveable and interesting characters. I think I fell in love with Morrigan at first sight (and later felt vindicated by my total adoration of her character when I later discovered she is voiced by Claudia Black; this pretty much explains everything). The other characters that I adored from the beginning are Zevran, Wynne, and Shale. Leliana, Oghren, Sten, and Secret Character took some time to grow on me, but grow on me they did. I think the only character that suffered a drop in my approval from the beginning of the game to the end is Alistair, who is certainly a well-written character of his type but constantly made me want to throttle him. (In the "I want to throttle all the rebels in Tigana" way, if you get the reference.)

That said, I liked Alistair in Awakening (which I am now slowly grinding through) more than I ever did in Origins. Absence makes the heart grow fonder? I find myself missing the Origins characters in this expansion, though Anders and Nathaniel aren't too bad, and Sigrun is likeable. (Oghren is Oghren.) I can take or leave Justice and Velanna ...

I kind of want to get my hands on Dragon Age 2 now, but I'm afraid my computer won't be able to run it. It's already crashing on Origins from time to time. I've also heard the combat system in Dragon Age 2 is significantly different, which makes me sad, since I love the Origins combat system.

But this decision is to be made later! Luckily, it's the summer, so I will hypothetically have plenty of time to mindlessly game, mindlessly read, and mindlessly write. After I finish this damn paper.

long overdue

Spoilers for Berg (blacked out).

Berg, Carol -- RevelationCollapse )

Stewart, Mary -- The Crystal CaveCollapse )

TBC: The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison & Rethinking World Systems: Diasporas, Colonies, and Interaction in Uruk Mesopotamia by Gil Stein.
Now reading: The Hollow Hills by Mary Stewart.

the rage of achilles

No spoilers, unless you haven't read the Iliad.

Miller, Madeline -- The Song of AchillesCollapse )

Shay, Jonathan -- Achilles in VietnamCollapse )

TBC: Revelation by Carol Berg & The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart.
Now reading: The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison.

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August 2015



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