Author: Wena Poon
Publisher: BookSurge Publishing
First off, please let me start by saying that I’ll be migrating a few of my posts from my previous blog (WordPress) gradually. While this is an older post, I enjoy this science fiction piece by author Wena Poon until this day. So here goes.
“Note to self: never get slapped twice by a polar bear. Especially a Nagy polar bear. You may not survive the second time.”
When Imogen gets transported to Nagy, she meets talking animals (Gromer, the wise overseer Polar Bear and Tristram, the common sergeant in many battles, to name a few) and learns of the parallel wars each universe is going through. Not to miss what could be the most interesting experience of her life, she ropes in Kai as they join the side of the animal allies against the Penumbra, human-like zombies bent on expanding industrialisation on Nagy.
Imogen Park, the protagonist of this series, is introduced as a rebellious, independent girl in the beginning of the book, Imogen is quick-witted and highly-adaptable – getting used to Nagy within days and being able to switch jobs without much complaint for the sake of survival. However, what many may miss out is how Imogen is quite the sentimental.
Despite seeming to give up her dream as a writer in New York City, she continues to muse with her best friend, Kai Montserrat. At the same time, she insisted on bringing Kai to Nagy, placing their friendship above all else. Their dynamic already embedded into her being, Imogen recognises the importance of Kai’s presence in her life, risking missions in Nagy to ensure that this best friend of hers remains alive.
The title of the novel itself, Biophilia, speaks of the love of flora and fauna. On Earth, Imogen often voices her displeasure at how humans are attacking each other due to their own carelessness in the past. Conversely, she feels free on Nagy, which is much bigger than Earth itself, and where animals ruled with nature – the talking animals show her and each other more respect for their capabilities, despite their differences.
Earth is in constant war over resources. Nagy is in constant war over land and sea. Earth’s enemies are its own people. Nagy’s enemies are the Penumbra – often placed with descriptions parallel to that of humans. However, it could also be due to Imogen’s crave for freedom – she was able to do most things without restriction, as compared to all the laws she had to face when she was back on Earth.
Biophilia was told in the first-person perspective of Imogen, which, like many other first-person novel, immerses the reader into the world which has been built by the author. At the same time, the flashbacks between Imogen’s life on Earth before her landing in Nagy may be slightly disorientating at first, but it also reflects the complexity of the human mind, together with how easily distracted we are in this age of countless needs.
It’s timeless, funny, and keeps you turning pages. And what warms my heart is the fact that Biophilia was Wena’s debut into internet recognition – which launched her to the rest of her other novels.
The Biophilia series is written by Wena Poon. You can find out more about the series and her works here.
Title: Love Letter - Adventure Time
Designer: Seiji Kanai
Publisher: Alderac Entertainment in collaboration with Cryptozoic Entertainment
Love Letter was one of the first card games I played after my return to the analog gaming world. And like Munchkin, Love Letter has expanded to so many expansions and versions. This particular version caught my eye, and I’ve been excited about it since it was announced during GenCon earlier this year.
It started when Dave got the version with the velvet Jake bag. Then the Tiger got it.
So we decided to play with Lyn and see what she said.
Adventure Time Love Letter’s set up is exactly the same as regular Love Letter.
Because Love Letter is such a short game, the winner of each round gets a jewel. Like the rules of Love Letter, the first play to either 3-7 jewels (depending on the number of people playing (2-4)) wins. In Adventure Time Love Letter, however, has a special win condition should you choose to play it.
Special Win Condition: If you’re holding a Hero card – value 5, with a picture of either Finn or Jake, and you use it to have someone discard the other Hero card, you win.
For other cards, here’s what they do:
STORY OF THE GAME
Like in regular Love Letter, you’re trying to find out who has written a love letter to the Princess (Bubblegum, this time). But in an attempt to find out who, you’ll have to speak to a group of people around her, like the Guard, Companion, or even the Duchess. Now in the Land of Ooo, your mission is to find out which of our beloved characters from the Adventure Time series is the culprit. Without Jake and Finn’s help.
Players: Myself, Max a.k.a. The Tiger, Lyn a.k.a. Kentangjambu
We were really fortunate Basilico (where we played our first game with this set) let us play our game as long as we didn’t disturb the other patrons or took more food from the buffet. It was just as well because we were feeling the effects of the food. Regardless, Lyn picked up the game quickly, thanks to the guide card which showed all the cards (and the amount of each card) present in the deck.
Each round went fast, with only 16 cards to go. However, we learnt a few things from this session.
It is incredibly easy (in the middle of the ‘last-few-card’ excitement) to forget that a player is under the protection of the “Companion” or “Handmaid” card.
We decided it’ll be more fun to make a new house rule. Thanks to an inside joke, every first player to play the Guard card in Lyn’s presence has to guess for a “Royal Subject / Priest” card regardless. Because it’s card number TU.
Beginner’s luck seems to play a huge part in this game. Lyn slaughtered the both of us, pretty much. LOLOL.
Regardless, Adventure Time Love Letter is an enjoyable, quick game for gamers who want to play something, but don’t have to time or the space for a big box or semi-long game. Love Letter the card game was created by Japanese Game Designer Seiji Kanai. Adventure Time Love Letter was jointly published by Cryptozoic Entertainment (the same ones behind Skullzfyre!) and Alderac Entertainment Group (they handle the rest of the Love Letter franchise). To find out more about them, click here.
Title: Within the Wires
Writers: Jeffrey Cranor and Janina Matthewson
Producers: Night Vale Presents
There are some podcasts that are meant to keep you on the edge of your seat. This one, strangely, lets you sink into your seat while keeping your brain occupied – waiting for the next instruction to embrace your subconscious.
Produced by Welcome to Night Vale producer Jeffrey Cranor and Janina Matthewson, Within the Wires is a 10-episode podcast series resembling those therapy tape serials you use you train your subconscious. And it’s one of my new favourite podcasts to listen to.
Strangely, I found out about it while listening to Alice Isn’t Dead, another production from Night Vale Presents. Curious, I listened to the teaser podcast and was immediately hooked.
The podcast presents like a series of therapy / treatment tapes not unlike those tapes people listened to while they were going to sleep to help them quit smoking. Speaking to us, a supposed patient in a mental facility, each podcast disguises its story plot amid relaxation exercises narrated over a background soundtrack of waves on the beach.
Each episode is also broken into two digestible sections. Woven in the relaxation exercises for different parts of the body, the true plot was incredibly satisfying to find as each episode progressed. The second-person narration established at the start of the podcast brings us in, fully-intending to immerse us in the world both Cranor and Matthewson created.
So if you’re looking for a fictional podcast to immerse into, perhaps try some of these tapes?
To listen to Within the Wires, click here (I usually use Libsyn but Night Vale Presents’s main website has more options). To find out more about Within the Wires or find out more about Night Vale Presents’s other podcasts, click here.
My adventures with in urban speculative fiction.