Using the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel as a concept blueprint for his story, Moers tells his own version of two small children lost in a big, scary forest. Unlike in the original, they get lost all on their own. During their journey they face many different dangers, until the finally meet a witch, like in the original.
This is a very slim book compared to Moers’s other Zamonien novels, even less if one discounts the short biography of the fictional author Hildegunst von Mythenmetz and his disruptions during the ongoing plot. These disruptions happen from time to time, and range from extremely annoying to quite funny, depending on the mood you’re in. When they’re annoying, they break the flow of the story and may even make you stop reading for some time. At other times they made me laugh out loud with their over the top attacks on fictional entities like Mythenmetz’s main critic and archenemy Laptantidel Latuda.
The main plot is well done, even if it needs, unlike in Moers’s other books, some time to get started and captivate the reader. Overall I liked it, but it felt like a snack. At the end you’ll need more to satisfy your hunger instead of feeling sated.
no English translation, German title: Ensel und Krete
Within a Deep Forest, Let’s Play
WaDF is your typical platformer, safe for the fact that the hero is a bouncing ball. Which doesn’t sound like much of a difference to the standard hero who jumps around, until you play the game. Bouncing means if you bang against a wall, you bounce back. It means you don’t jump, you start by pushing against the ground and then bouncing into the air, higher and higher, until you bounce high enough to move to your desired platform. If that wouldn’t be enough, you can unlock other ball modes in the game, each has different features. The most interesting, but also the most difficult ball mode, was the glass ball. If you bounce to high, you shatter on the ground. If you bounce with too much force against a wall, you shatter. WaDF is a bit tougher than most games, yet while some parts seem impossible at first, soon, with some training, they are beaten. Overall, a great game.
The time traveler goes back to the future to save Weena, the Eloi girl he met in The Time Machine. But instead of reaching the future he already knows, he reaches another future where the Morlocks are much more advanced, and where the Eloi don’t exist. Together with one of them, Nebogipfel, the time traveler goes on a journey that spans the entirety of time.
While not making a similar quantum leap like The Time Machine, The Time Ships raised the bar for concept-driven, time travel fiction. Personally, I like it even better than its famous predecessor, it’s full of neat ideas and concepts about time travel, yet always remains faithful to its source, and it has Nebogipfel, a good Morlock, one of Baxter’s most brilliant ideas. Baxter always could write non-human characters very well, and to me it wasn’t a surprise, that Nebogipfel was more interesting than the time traveler itself. What’s cool about Baxter’s sequel is how seamlessly it ties up to The Time Machine. Baxter writes as if he has channeled Wells ghost, and then spiced the mix up with something from himself. What comes out is a mix that has grandeur, yet always remains grounded in its characters. And the ending, that was just brilliant.
A time traveler recounts to a group of friends and colleagues his experiences of traveling into the far future: the fate of mankind, the twilight of Earth itself when the sun begins to die and his return. TTM isn’t the first book about a time machine, but it’s the one most will recall as the one that implanted the idea of time travel using a machine in the public consciousness.
Classics are always a doubled edged sword, should you judge them entirely on their own merits as reading material, or should you also merit the influence they’ve had or still have. Mostly I go with gut feeling, like always when I write about books. Since I like SF mostly for it’s idea content, I can be very lenient when other aspects feel slightly dated or lacking, but that’s thankfully the strongest aspect of TTM. The scope and audacity of Wells’s speculations is stunning.
Even decades after the publication of TTM most writers used the concept of the time machine to venture into the past, not the future, and only few have since ventured as far ahead as he has. Even today a chill runs down your spine when you read some of Wells’s descriptions of the far future (even when you know that his visions of the far future have been superseded and outdated by newer science). Plot, characters, even his writing style feels a bit dated to me, but Wells’s vision of the future has still power to impress and inspire.
Over three thousand years in the future Earth has been taken over by the Qax. But then a spaceship comes back to Earth that has been sent out before the Qax invasion, and with them they have a wormhole opening whose counterpart the Qax destroyed when they invaded the solar system. The clue is, the wormhole opening on the human spaceship is connected with the other opening in the past due to time dilations effects. And nobody knows what the plans of the humans on the spaceship are, neither humans nor Qax.
I think I was lucky that Timelike Infinity was the first book by Baxter I read. If it had been Raft for example, I wonder if I would have stopped right there. Timelike Infinity merges great concepts (even mind bending ones) with some, for Baxter at that time, good character development (he has improved over the years, or at least I like to think so) and an interesting plot. It’s also the best book that introduces the reader to Baxter’s Stapledonian future history, the Xeelee sequence. Unlike in later books, the humans aren’t yet the intergalactic idiots who fight something for no apparent reason, the behavior of all human characters makes sense. Interestingly the most memorable character of the book is the Qax-collaborator, not the human scientist who is more like a hero. Overall, for such a slim book there’s much story inside, and if you like it, you’re most likely hooked on Baxter’s Xeelee sequence.
made by iishenron . (Download)
Curiosity made me try MGA, since after I played TtHW by iishenron, I wanted to know how his first RM2k game compared to his masterpiece. Well, to say it nicely, MGA isn’t the worst RM2k thing I’ve ever played. On the plus side: it’s fairly long and the plot improves toward the later part of the game. You’ll play a figure from the Dragon Ball universe, well, more a fanfiction creature made for a private rpg that iishenron used for this game where he teleported her into a fantasy world and where she has to safe the world to return home again. The game is your typical kill monsters, level up, explore a bit more of the world, and so on. The background of the Dragon Ball influenced main character does clash with the whole fantasy story and this part never works well, but some of the elements of the plot weren’t too bad and my level of interest was sufficient to make me play through the whole game. It was an uneven experience, some of the map designs were really bad, the difficulty of the game not well balanced, and often I wasn’t sure what to do next. Overall MGA just isn’t a very good game, but for me it was interesting to see iishenron’s first game, and I thought its plot had a bit of the same intricate nature as the plot in TtHW, only not as accomplished.
made by syn9 . (Download)
TGL is a nice effort, but some problems hamper the gameplay. For an action RPG (or any game that has an action element) the controls have to work perfectly. But very often the strange jump-sword-swing-combo your character uses all the time let you get stuck on some edges for those important few seconds the enemies need to mow you down. And the game is full of enemies, if you’ve cleaned a screen and come back, they have instantly regrown.
Another annoying problem is that the graphics make it sometimes difficult to distinguish between ground floor and higher or lower terrain, making you wonder why you can’t go a certain way until you’ll realize it’s on another height level (I just have to mention it, TGL is one of the rare cases where the game looks better on screenshots than while playing). All that said, if you’ll adapt to these annoying habits, playing TGL is a good way to kill some time.
The Emperor and his circle of immortals guard the Fourlands against the deadly insect hordes, but when suddenly more and more insects begin to appear, it seems the Fourlands are lost. And if that wouldn’t be bad enough, conflict between the immortals themselves breaks out at the worst moment, weakening them even more, at a time when they should show unity against the common enemy.
TYoOW was an uneven read. The main character was extremely annoying when he became his spineless self. The pacing had some problems too. There’s no calm minute, as if the author feared the reader could become bored any moment and threw plot developments, new ideas and background history at the reader without ever slowing down, which assured that the reader never became bored, but which also made for a wearisome reading experience. A more mature writer would have known when to slow down or when to give the reader some time to catch his breath.
Another problem is that while the book is full of neat and intriguing ideas when it comes to the world-building, it doesn’t always cohere into a single vision. Most of the time it remained a package of neat ideas with no unifying feature. This was more a problem in the first half of the book, later when I had adapted to the quirks of the novel it worked much better and toward the ending I enjoyed the book much more than at first. Despite the problems I had with TYoOW, I think it’s still a good book that tries to do something new in fantasy, and while I’m not sure it succeeded completely, I did enjoy it.
made by Mark Pay . (Download, OST, More OSTs)
TSE looks like a platformer, but it’s a fully realized RPG from a slightly (for RPGs) uncommon viewpoint, if you don’t count action RPGs or platformer with RPG elements (which TSE is neither). The world is a mix of fantasy and science fiction elements. Three heroes have been summoned to guard a spirit from a mighty corporation who wants to use it for something nefarious. You have to chose wisely at the begin of the game, since only a good mix of different talents allows the team to succeed (you have the choice from nine different characters). TSE has all the common RPG stuff, experience points plus leveling-up and allocation of skill points on diverse talents, item management and fighting, fighting and more fighting. The battle system is custom-tailored to the 2d-perspective and while it is real time, you can only win if you fight strategically intelligent. The graphics are beautiful, on the same level as commercial 2d-games of the past. Overall TSE is one of the best freeware RPGs on the net, melding unique gameplay, a good plot and an excellent look to make it absolutely worth your time.
made by iishenron . (Download)
At first glance TtHW doesn’t look too impressive. It has agreeable maps and graphics, but nothing too fancy. Only much later in the game do these things change from agreeable to (in parts) really good. What TtHW has is tons of gameplay, a neat character growth system that forces you to explore (you’ll either hate or love the system) and some nifty mini-games sprinkled through the whole game. All that only makes a good, not a great game. And here comes the one thing that its so impressive about TtHW. The story and the writing. Admittedly, the plot is the common safe-the-world-from-evildoers fantasy cliche, but it’s done so well that it didn’t fazed me the least. The plot turns and twists, you’ll never know what happens next, but it always remains coherent. What drives the plot are the characters, their interactions, their dialogue, and that is, aside from the plot itself, the main strength of TtHW. The characters become alive during the course of the game, you really want to know what happens next to them, how they develop, whether they live or die. TtHW is a brilliant freeware game, one that even rivals (and surpasses) many commercial games when it comes to plot and writing.