While Flying Island Press is admittedly interested in people reading our stuff (see those links above to subscribe or buy an issue?), I also want to direct people’s attention to other places where I’ve found good story lately. After all, we just had a Galley Table episode about storytelling in different venues / mediums, so it seems appropriate to kick off a little occasional post that points people at interesting things.

Xam’d

20110924-150534.jpgFirst, last night I finished watching one of the crazier anime series I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing lately – Xam’d, Lost Memories, or just Xam’d.
Xam’d is one of those anime series that give the rest of the field a reputation for giving you absolutely no background on the world before dumping you straight into the weird. Suicide bomber kids are distributing “seeds” that embed themselves into people, creating “Xam’d”. You don’t know why they’re doing this until about episode 24 of 25. In the meantime, there’s some action, crazy biological weapons that may or may not be weaponized spirits, suits that may be mostly mechanical but which also require a living “soul” to operate, and lots of turning stuff into stone, almost stone, and the avoiding of turning into stone. Also, one character’s obsession with finding his enemy that reminded me of one of the crazier comic book series I used to read, Mike Baron’s “The Badger”.
Xam’d is a crazy ride, but one that I enjoyed at least in part because I got to theorize about what the heck was going on so much, and because it was on Netflix streaming and I could binge on four episodes at a time late at night.
Not exactly one I’d recommend to kids and younger teens. It’s not so much an assault on the “willing suspension of disbelief” as it is a test of your ability to survive multiple instances of “okay, what the heck is THAT thing?”
One of the other things that anime is so good at is creating an ending where the protagonists win, but it hurts them to gain the victory. They try in the last episode to hit a balance of “OH, MAN THAT SUCKS!” and “YAY”, but the last scene will probably divide some people as to whether it was appropriate and maybe cheapened the ending a little, but it was probably as close to a happy ending as we were going to get from this series. At least it wasn’t the end of “Full Metal Alchemist”!

Conan the Barbarian – Michael Stackpole

20110924-145818.jpgAnd I’m about 1/3 of the way through Michael Stackpole’s adaptation of the Conan the Barbarian movie. While I have to take Stackpole the person in small doses (stormwolf.com and dragonpage.com), Stackpole the author is amazingly good at keeping me entertained. His Conan story is, so far, hitting all the right notes, and very purposely avoiding one of the criticisms I’ve seen levelled at the movie version – the “You killed my (father in this case), and I will have my unholy vengeance!” motif. The way this is handled in the book is striking – Stackpole really hangs a lantern on it and says “Okay, I know this is going to look like a revenge tale, and it’s kind of a revenge tale, sure, but that’s not ALL this is”. Very well done so far, and any of Stackpole’s fans from his other material won’t be disappointed.

What are you reading / watching / playing that’s tickling your story bone?

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