First, The Red Tree by Caitlin R. Kiernan. It's billed as a horror, but I wouldn't go so far. Kiernan does a really good job with the journal style; it's self-serving, egotistical, and follows a variety of tangents in the way a real journal does. Very little that is terrifying is "shown" to us, but that which is, is powerful and startling. It's like reading someone's dreams. One of the things I like is that I don't actually like the main character/voice very much; I don't really have respect for her, but I feel (yay writer skill!) that I understand her. Powerfully human, unabashedly human. You should read it, but don't be surprised if you don't get nightmares out of it.
The second is Day by Day Armageddon by J.L. Bourne. A journal style zombie book written by an Naval officer on active duty. Bourne knows his voice; he sounds like what I would expect a contemplative officer to sound. Great suspense that is well rewarded; the cover of my copy is bent because I found myself gripping it so hard at some intervals. It's simple enough fiction, a nice look at zombies. There is something "new" about zombies in this one too, and I'm always a fan of extrapolating zombie mythology. Bourne does take a heavy hand with deus ex machina, so it reflects life perhaps a little less than one might expect. It also ends fairly suddenly, and I felt like it was too soon. This may have to do with some real wold issues; Bourne promises a sequel (which I'm waiting for!) but he is on active duty. Read this book if you like zombie stuff. It's fun.
There's a new game for the PS3 coming out soon that I MUST HAVE. We played the Heavy Rain downloadable demo recently, and I was massively impressed. It looks gorgeous, it's interactive in a way many games can't manage, it's noir, and it promises a different experience for each player, depending on the decisions you make. Some playtester reviews suggest that it's not as black and white as games like Fable, that everything is shades of subtle grey. Oh, and it seems to have a distinct science-fiction element, for which I'm pleased. Putting classic style detectives in a Sci-Fi story isn't new; Asimov did it with Elijah Baley. Curmudgeons, old men who try too hard, there's something about them that's memorable. Anywho, although it may be all trope, what works well for a video game IS recognition of characters. I'm really excited about this, and people are welcome to play it on my "guest" account once I get it. I may not have much time until school is out, but that's alright.
Final Fantasy XIII also looks bloody amazing, but what FF game doesn't? I love that what I expect from the series is a fascinating, stunning, intelligent game, and that's what I get every time. I'm going to buy the re-release of Final Fantasy VII and feel all warm inside.
I finally watched Avatar in 3D. Ala wrote the best about it. To paraphrase, the story has all the subtlety of an anvil marked "colonialism" dropped on your head. It is, of course, so many kinds of visual incredible. I was just disappointed whenever anyone spoke. Well, except maybe the Jane Goodall character, Grace. I liked her. I was also disappointed at the very Western look at business as usual. In short, only the lone white guy (who only cares because he thought with his penis and mistook lust for love) is capable of inciting the natives to rebel against the totally inhuman white businessmen. Not enough integrity, not enough sovereignty. The final scene --SPOILER SPOILER-- wherein the humans are leaving, being marched out by the Na'vi and the avatars --SPOILER ALERT OVER-- feels like a sort of pity fuck. I realize that many people may not have any idea, that perhaps subtlety would have been too much, but I doubt this film will cause anyone to stop buying blood diamonds, to not buy nikes, etc. For Western, and specifically American audiences, I felt that the tie between "big corporation/government" and voting with your dollar (what YOU do) was nonexistant. It can still just be something that happens out there, to other people, by other people. Individual responsibility was desperately lacking. Finally, unobtainium? Godawful stupid name.