Review: Tacoma

Tacoma is a first person story based video game. I downloaded a copy on Steam when it was on sale. It’s not too long a game – 10-20 hours tops – but it was enjoyable.

Being story-based the game play was fairly linear. You made your way from module to module in a set order as the game unlocked each area for you. The set-up and setting are:

The lunar transfer station Tacoma has experienced a critical life support failure and all crew have abandoned ship. You have been hired by the station’s corporate owners to retrieve any “black box” data from the station’s various computers and then retrieve the station’s AI wetware core.

As you progress through this mission you have the opportunity to view AR ship logs recorded at various times (from 12 months prior to 12 hours prior). In these recordings the crew of Tacoma (4 women, 2 men) are shown as slightly geometric figures, each colour coded so you know who is who. It seemed weird at first but I actually enjoyed it.

The recordings aren’t on screens, they’re full-body projections that are walking around the space around you, talking to each other. You can access various personal terminals and work stations, go through drawers, and look in closets. As you go you’ll find things that don’t add up, as well as details about the crew.

What I enjoyed most about the game, and what prompted me to write this review, was the diversity. You play a female character named  Amitjyoti (Amy) Ferrier, which is a huge step. First of all, you rarely see yourself but from what you do see, you’re dressed in practical clothing, and you’re not a “white” character. While the character has no speech or hearing impairments she interacts with the computer systems using sign language.

The crew is mostly female, including an African-American woman in charge of the station, an East Indian female medical doctor, and two Caucasian women working as the mechanical engineer (she reminds me of Pam from Archer and they call her Bert, short for Roberta) and the network technician (who is Russian and a bit of a bitch by the way, but you get to love her, I swear)

The two men are an Asian botanist (I do apologize, I am not familiar with the Asian nationalities so I can’t be more specific) and a Caucasian HR director (very British).

On top of the obvious national diversity, there are three couples mentioned in the game. First, the station director and the HR director are having a fling . Second, Bert and Nat (the mechanical engineer and the network tech) are married. Third, the Botanist has a husband and an 18 year old son back on Earth. So there is that diversity as well.

The story is part human-interest, part corporate thriller. The more time you spend examining papers and terminals, the more sense everything starts to make.

The graphics were simple in texture but the environment was detailed – lots of papers and pens and lights and bits and bobs everywhere. The AI, ODIN, whom you meet in the AR recordings, is serious but seems to care about the crew of his station. The interactions between crew members were interesting and realistic without the boring grind of “hey how are you?” “fine, how are you?” over and over again.

The ending was a bit of a jump and the story was short, but otherwise this game was a lot of fun to play and visually appealing. I give this a 4 out of 5.


The Value of Trades

Remember opening your lunch kit in elementary school and there it is, that snack you just hate? For me it was Wagon Wheels (thank god my Mom never bought the damn things) and Gushers (which she did buy, thanks Sis). If there were Gushers in my lunch it was going to be a no good awful day. Unless someone was willing to trade me their granola bar or their cheese and crackers for those damn squishy sugar-water filled sorry excuse for a fruit snack. Technically trades weren’t allowed but if you did it quiet-like and under the table maybe the teacher wouldn’t notice and you’d actually get to eat snack that day.

For writers, trades come in many forms and all of them can be important for marketing and networking.

Blog Hopping

This first type of trade deals in blog posts. You interview me, I’ll interview you. You do a post on my newest release, I’ll do a post on your upcoming reading. Whatever the format or content of this trade the purpose remains the same: expanding your online visibility and reach.

Presumably each author has a different set of followers with some overlap from shared groups. By getting your name and information and book cover on someone else’s blog you are making yourself visible to the unique set of followers they have access to and maybe some of them will be interested in you.

When doing any sort of blog trade be sure to include an author photo, at least one cover photo, and links to the other author’s blog, Facebook page, Twitter, or whatever. Make the post conversational – which is why interviews work so well. You want to generate interest in the person, not sound like a bad sales commercial on the shopping network.

Oh, and make sure you’re trading with someone you can trust to come through on their end of the bargain. Blog trades are free but they do take up time and effort. And if someone burns you in a trade feel free to take down the post. Also, if you see them volunteer to do a trade with someone else quietly and privately offer a warning that you got burned. I never advocate for making a public spectacle of these situations.

Digital Copy Trades

Generally these are the dreaded review trades. I do this a lot because I have a book addiction and no where near enough money to buy as many books as I read in a year. Over the summer I was reading two books a week!

First, be clear on where and when you will review the book and get a clear answer on where and when they will review yours. Is this a blog review? Will they post to Amazon or Goodreads? Will they get to it this week? This month? Next month? Don’t nag but do check in to make sure there are no errors with the file or no emergencies that may cause a delay on their part. There’s nothing wrong with staying in touch and up to date.

Second, a trade has to be mutually beneficial. That not only means both authors get a review and both authors get a free e-book, it also means both authors get a book they are potentially interested in. You need to talk to each other first and make sure you’re both getting a book you’ll actually read and hopefully enjoy.

Third, be clear on what you want the other author to do if they don’t like your book. For me I say as long as you’re willing to post something polite and constructive I don’t care if it’s a 1 or 2 star review. I know other authors don’t like getting 1 and 2 star reviews so they may ask to receive the review by PM and not have it publicly posted. You can ask someone not to post a review but  you cannot ask someone to post a faked review. If they don’t like your book, or if you don’t like theirs, then there shouldn’t be a 5 star review going up. Please. For the continued credibility of book reviews, be honest.

Paperback Trades

I went to When Words Collide, a readercon in Calgary, this August. I could go on for a few blog posts about how awesome WWC is (and I did, you can go read them if you’d like) but for now I will share this one story:

At the mass autograph session I got to talking with another author (who is also a musician) and he gave me a copy of his novella (which comes with a soundtrack!). Yeah. GAVE me a copy. “Here, take it”. So I gave him a copy of my novel, Pieces. There were no strings attached. I do plan to write a review on my blog and we keep in touch a little on social media, but this wasn’t a “you review mine, I review yours” sort of trade.

I highly encourage authors at conventions and other live sales to trade books with other authors. First, it’s a cheap way to build your own library. Second, it’s a cheap way to build connections with other authors. Third, it’s a cheap way to build an audience (I’ll explain that in a minute).

I belong to a local authors’ cooperative and we do a lot of these events together, 2 or more authors at one table or booth with all our books on display – it’s a wonderful experience. Sadly, a lot of authors in the group have never read the books of the other authors. We’re supposed to be supporting each other but we don’t even know what the other books are about, or what the writing style is. This may not sound important but I sold a book by one of my fellow authors because I’d read it and could honestly say I couldn’t put it down, and why it was so exciting to read. Actually, I’ve snagged more than one sale because I’d actually read the book I was trying to sell. I was selling to them as a fellow reader, not as a desperate author, and it worked REALLY well.

And that leads me to:


I get it, giving shit away is counter-intuitive. We’ve all done giveaways and free-weekends, and forever-free-first-books and seen minimal translation into hard sales. The internet loves free and books are horribly undervalued. So let me explain why trades are different from other forms of giving shit away.

First – Trades are not like other freebie deals because instead of shouting at the whole world you’re targeting people who like to read, who understand the value of reviews, and who want to support you in some way. General freebies get lots of downloads but never translate into sales because you’re targeting mostly people who like free stuff, and not people who like to read, like to review, or like to support authors.

Authors are great readers but horrible customers. Most of the authors I know fall into one or more of the following categories: living paycheck to paycheck, supporting more than one person on a single reliable income, living with some form of disability which affects their ability to work, raising kids, attending university or college. All those things, in some way shape or form, limit expendable income. Most authors are pretty damn close to broke. So they save their money for those few books that they just HAVE TO HAVE – the next book in a series they love, or by their favourite author. They want to support fellow indies but they don’t have the money and won’t have the money unless they A) make it big or B) you can edge your way into their “Favourite Author” or “Must Have” lists.

In short, they won’t take a chance on your books if they have to spend money on it, not because they’re elitist but because they’re broke.

2) Trades have long been a viable economic structure. I have chickens, you have cows – I’ll trade you some eggs for some milk. You have sheep, I have a garden – I’ll give you veggies in return for winter hats for my kids. You have a book I want to read, I have a book you want to read – let’s swap books and leave each other a review and point other people towards these lovely books we have discovered.

Remember, with a trade you’re not really giving something away, you’re paying for goods with goods, or services with services. Just make sure that the trade is economically fair in both directions.

3) Digital books cost us nothing upfront. Yes, they cost us that elusive “sale” we’re all chasing but you’re not out the cost of paper and shipping. As with my second point, though, you’re not giving it away, you’re exchanging it for something of equal value PLUS, hopefully, a review and some good word of mouth marketing.

4) Personal connection – this is HUGE. You’ve spent some time talking with this other author, either while working a table together at an event, or working neighbouring tables, or you’ve been in an online writing group together. You know what sort of pet they have and if they like notebooks and whether they’re a coffee drinker or a tea drinker. Maybe this isn’t enough to spark a romantic relationship, but you do have a connection to them now. You are more likely to actually read the “free” book you got from this person because of that connection, and they are more likely to read yours for the same reason. This connection is lacking in those “free for 3 days” offers you see on Amazon. Readers download the book but they have no reason to pick it out of their TBR piles because they have no connection to you.

5) Readers sell more books than writers – Who are you going to listen to? Your BFF who just finished reading this awesome book in a genre you both love? Or that guy on your Facebook page who talks about his book ALL THE TIME?

This goes back to what I was saying about my local authors’ group. I’m really good at selling books by other authors because the potential buyer is viewing me as a fellow reader. I have no financial investment in the outcome of their purchase if I’m not selling my book and that makes my opinion more credible.

This is also why I post a link to a review I’ve done when someone posts about their book in a self-promo thread. It’s not to derail or get more views it’s a way of saying “Here, don’t take the author’s word for it. I’m a real reader and this is what I thought of the book.”

But, on that note, it means you have to talk about books you’ve read and enjoyed. And not just the latest by Stephen King or JK Rowling or Cassandra whats-her-name. Talk about the indie books you’ve read just like they’re the latest book by your favourite big name. Read the books in public, talk about them at coffee dates and cocktail parties. I mean, of course talk about your own books in a non-pushy, conversational way too, but I repeat: readers sell more books than writers.

Have you done many trades before? Do you prefer digital or print trades? Did you have a good experience with it? Do you do blog hops and interview swaps? I would love to hear your stories.


Casia Schreyer Does Panels

And apparently I’m pretty good at it too.

Sometimes being full of yourself is a necessity. Well, maybe not to that extreme, but my mantra at When Words Collide was: Speak up, be bold, do not be afraid to take up space. And it paid off.

I did three panels this year and would like to take a moment to talk about each of them.

CROSSING GENRES: We spoke on the thrill and difficulties of writing in multiple genres, either in different projects, or in projects that blur the lines between established genres.

Pros: I write fantasy, contemporary lit, and science fiction, and I find the biggest pro is that when people are looking at my books I have a greater chance of having something for them. As someone who reads widely I don’t have a real preference for genre. I don’t write mystery, can’t get the hang of it, but anything else is fair game for me. If there’s a story I want to write, I’ll write it, and I’ll figure out how it fits into genres and my own collection later. This seemed to be the consensus on the panel – we were all happy to write what we enjoyed and figure out what the genre was, who to sell it to, and how to market it, after it was written.

Cons: My fantasy fans are always hounding me for the next book while I’m working on the sci-fi series. For traditionally published authors they may have to find a different publisher if they stray from their established genre. And if you are established in one genre it can be hard to bring fans with you when you write something new.

Nom de Plume: There are pros and cons for using a pen name. It takes time and effort to cultivate a following for each name. On the other hand, fans know what they’re getting when they see the name on the cover. Casia writes fantasy while KC writes contemporary lit (I don’t use a pen name). Some traditional publishers require it because of marketing and branding. We all agreed that if you were writing YA or MG and you also wrote smut that you should use a pen name for the smut.

Genre and marketing: Publishers, book stores, and online publishing platforms are the ones pigeon holing books into genres so they can market them and recommend them to people, and sort them on lists and shelves. Many authors write fantasy that could also be horror, or could also be sci-fi. Or they write literary fiction with a paranormal bent, which is basically fantasy with pretty language and a good moral. Is it a mystery with paranormal elements, or a fantasy with a mysterious plot? Authors don’t always have control over how their book is marketed by the publisher.

This was my first panel ever and I was very nervous but I was the only indie on the panel so I had some unique insights to bring to the conversation. The other panelists were friendly and knowledgeable and no one person dominated the session. As an introduction to this type of speaking it was perfect for me and I hope those who attended enjoyed themselves.

YOUNG ADULT TO NEW ADULT:I could write a whole post on this subject!

There’s been a shift in YA literature. It used to be for teens, 14+, now it’s for kids as young as 10. Which isn’t a problem, except that over half the buying and reading market for YA lit are adults. Which means the YA category gets broken into young or lower YA (for 10-15 year olds – what used to be MG) YA (14-18) and upper YA (17+). NA looks to fill that crossover market, writing books that sound and feel like YA but feature protagonists who are in college or out of school completely as compared to being in junior high or high school.

The age of the protagonist and the maturity level of the content (violence, swearing, sex, politics, etc) are mainly what mark the difference between NA and YA but there is a large grey area between them and a lot of crossover depending on the interest and maturity of the reader.

PEN TO PAPER: When writing doesn’t look like putting words on the page.

We discussed outlining, doodling, world building, daydreaming, and brainstorming. We talked about where our inspiration came from and the types of activities we filled our time with while we were pondering or working through writers’ block.

Repetitive, mindless, physical activity, be it yoga, chopping wood, mowing the lawn, taking a walk, doing dishes, etc, was brought up time and again as a way to keep the body busy and distracted while the mind is free to wander.

We talked about visiting the settings of our stories, or if we wrote fantasy at least visiting museums and such places to get a feel for the time period we were basing our fantasy world in.

We discussed music as inspiration and as motivator (and we were split down the middle with two of us preferring silence and two of us using music to fuel our writing).

We weren’t very talented with art but map making was one of the doodling things we did for inspiration. That, and timelines and calendars for working through writers’ block.

And that was my experience doing panels. I admit, I was nervous, but I had a great time and I learned a lot. I hope other people learned something from me.

When Words Collide 2017

When Words Collide is a writers’ conference held in Calgary each year in August. They host 3 days of panels and workshops plus some additional “master classes”. The major sponsors of the event are IFWA, the Albert Writer’s Guild and the Alberta Romance Writers’ Association. They also host a merchant’s room and several evening social events over the weekend. Each year they have six or so headlining “celebrities” including authors, agents, and editors.

And most impressive, in my opinion, is that the whole thing is run by volunteers. Registration is manned by volunteers. If you want your book on the Shared Author table you volunteer an hour at the table. Volunteers do head counts at the sessions and watch the clock for the presenters. Volunteers fill out the panels and run the workshops.

They offer a variety of programming for all authors and readers. Sessions on the business end of writing, on every genre in general and panels on specifics like world building, how to kill characters, how to write about fighting or time travel, and so much more.

The social events included a Steampunk party, a pajama party, a Poetry Slam, an evening of erotic readings, book launch parties, and general socials over at the pub. There was a banquet and a mass autograph session (which was loud, friendly, and more fun than I expected!)

This was my first writing conference ever and I can say it was beyond all my expectations. Everyone was friendly. Everything was fun and casual and entertaining and educational. I will be back next year, without a doubt.

Stay tuned for two more posts: one on the panels I spoke on and one on the sessions I attended.

My Trip To Calgary

This is the first in a series of entries about my recent trip West. This post will be about the flight, my in-Calgary transportation experiences, and my hotel. I will also be doing one on the When Words Collide conference in general, one on the panels I spoke on, and one on the sessions I sat in on.

I left home mid-morning on Thursday August 10th and arrived in Calgary around 2pm local time. It was a fairly empty flight and West Jet was clean, prompt, and professional. Their staff was friendly, and while I had no special needs (wheelchair, children, etc) I watched them handle all their customers with care and respect.

I had done some research before leaving and planned to take the bus to my hotel. The signs in the airport made it easy to find my way out and I ended up right where I needed to be to buy my bus pass. I caught the next 300 BRT and was on my way. I got off the bus a few stops early so I could walk a few blocks, stretch my legs, and take in a little of downtown Calgary, then onto the C-Train (201) which was so easy to use. I’m from a little big-city so we don’t have anything like the C-Train, no subway either. From the C-Train station I wandered down to the bus stop and asked one of the drivers which bus I needed to get to the intersection I was looking for. They pointed me to the right bus (Transit drivers are amazing people) and I was dropped on the hotel’s doorstep. Took me close to 2 hours instead of 40 minutes but it was cheaper than the cab and super easy.

I stayed at the Delta Hotel, the Calgary South location. Checking in was a breeze and they upgraded me to a king-room. The room was clean and had all the necessary comforts. I settled in, got myself some snacks from the Wal-mart across the street, and spent some time at the pool. They have a great water slide with a pool and hot tub in the Tower building and a second pool and hot tub in the Atrium building.

The Delta is actually two buildings with a road between them but there’s a skywalk on the third floor. There are signs pointing to all the conference rooms and back to the elevators. I got turned around a few times but only because I was texting and not looking up!

The lunch bar they had available for conference attendees was delicious. And I had dinner at the pub next door the one night (Boomtown Pub), their pizza is fantastic.

My only complaint with the room, okay, there were two things. One, there was a shower but no tub. I’m assuming this is because I was in a king room and if I got a double with my husband and kids there would be a tub to bathe the wee ones in. 2 – my room was freezing and adjusting the in-room thermostat seemed to do nothing. Considering how little time I spent in my room it was a small complaint.

Checking out was just as easy and there was a cab on hand so off to the airport I went again. Security at the Calgary airport was slower than at home but it is a bigger airport. Still, wait times were not unreasonable and the staff was efficient and friendly.

I was on a full flight headed East but again the staff was friendly and the flight was clean and on time.

I was nervous going on this trip. I was travelling alone to a city I’d never visited before and I wasn’t there to stay with family or friends. Everyone I dealt with at the airports, on the flights, and at the hotel, including house keeping, was polite, friendly, and helpful. It made the trip much easier, and far more enjoyable.

Local Business Review: 10 Acre Woods

10 Acre Woods is a petting farm, community resource center, animal rescue, located on Highway 15, east of Anola Manitoba. This family run farm offers a children’s outdoor education program, community craft and vendor sales, community BBQs, goat yoga, swimming with ducklings, and a unique site for birthdays, photo shoots, and even weddings.

They may be small but they are dedicated. When you book for a birthday that is the only booking they take for the day so you have the full attention of everyone working that day, you aren’t rushed, and you aren’t crowded. They are hands on, knowledgeable, and friendly and are concerned with the safety of every visitor and their animals.

They have goats, sheep, pigs, ducks, geese, an alpaca, Guinea fowl, a turkey, rabbits, peacocks, pigeons, and chickens. The Guinea fowl eat wood ticks so that is one thing you don’t have to worry about when you visit.

Their children’s program is called Trackers and they run both a spring and fall session. The program costs $50 per child for a 10 week session and the kids learn to interact with the animals, identify plants and bugs, and make nature based crafts.

The petting zoo costs $5 per person but once you’ve paid you can go in and out all day. This is nice because the kids get bored or overwhelmed and need a break (which is why they also have a large play structure) and you don’t need to worry about “getting your money’s worth” before walking out of the gate. This is really great if you’re attending a vendor sale as a vendor. I was able to bring my kids along and they could just run about on the play structure or go in to see the animals. There are electric fences in some places so parental supervision is advised (my kids were in Trackers so they already knew their way around).

Goat yoga is an experience I haven’t tried but it’s getting rave reviews. Thick mats are provided to protect your yoga mat from the ground and then you do your yoga outside, with an instructor, in the pen with the animals. The baby goats get right in your face as you’re stretching.

This is a great place to visit with the family and if you’re in the area I highly recommend the Trackers program.

Local Business Review: Driven 2 Sew

Driven 2 Sew is a quilt and craft shop located at 354 Main St in Steinbach Manitoba. The owner, Sherri-Lynn Parent is a fourth generation (at least) quilter. As well as selling quilting supplies and both ready-made and custom ordered quilts Driven 2 Sew offers the following services: long arm sewing machine services (if you are a quilter and want to use the big fancy machine), quilting classes, sewing lessons for home school families, and various quilted items such as make-up bags, wallets, notebook covers, coffee cup cozies, coasters, and more.

Driven 2 Sew is also home to Evangaline’s Creative Comforts which sells receiving blankets, hats, and other handmade items and offers alteration services, and a soap maker who has a variety of scented, unscented, and vegan soaps, body scrubs, and bath bombs.

With all this, Driven 2 Sew has also found space to host the Authors of Manitoba Steinbach Book Nook. They have one corner of the shop set up with shelves featuring the works of over 2 dozen authors from across Manitoba. They also host the Steinbach and Area Book Club on Monday evenings.

Sherri and her co-workers are fun and friendly. They know a lot about fabrics and sewing and quilting patterns. They love to talk and they love to teach. This store is truly welcoming, both to customers and clients, and to local crafters and authors. They are always adding something new to the display.

This is a strong example of a small, community-minded, business that is giving back in every way possible.

Review: Wonder Woman

I saw Wonder Woman in theatres on June 6th and I waited until the 11th to write this (won’t show up on my blog until the 25th). I like to wait a few days after I see a movie before reviewing it. I like to think about it first.

Visually Wonder Woman was wonderful. You start on the sun swept beaches of her island home watching Diana grow up in a sequence that is emotional and fun, not at all tedious. It’s made even better by the cast. You move from there to London in the 1900s – all fog and smog and dirty streets. Then into Paris and Belgium to the front lines of the war.

The stunts were visually pleasing, the effects were spot on and not overwhelming. Gal Gabot’s acting was amazing.

The story, of course, is about Diana’s first foray into the world of mankind during World War 1. She is at turns innocent and wise, strong and vulnerable, powerful and powerless. She has choices to make, and she maintains her right to make them herself.

“What I do is none of your concern” “But it’s what I’m going to do”

She was a woman of strong convictions who faces an existential crisis.

I am beyond pleased that this is the first super hero movie we took my daughter to see. She wore her bracers and skirt and headband to the theatre. She was mesmerized. She beams when I call her my little Wonder Woman, my little Diana. I will likely make her a little brown tunic for October so she can attend C4 as a little Diana. She has been in love with Wonder Woman from the first trailer.

This will be the Wonder Woman my daughter grows up with. This woman who is full of moral conviction, who refuses to be left out, who refuses to be silenced. She demands that her knowledge be acknowledged, she demands that she be seen and heard. She is curious and bold. She is full of wonder. She is full of compassion. She is athletic and graceful but at times awkward and blunt. She fights because she has to and does not relish in the destruction. She loves and she mourns and she looks for the best in people always.

I loved the entire cast. The vulnerability of “Dr. Poison”, the pig-headedness of the British High Command, the endearing babbling of the secretary, the misfit band she travels with, the too-smooth British lord, the bull-headed German general – the boys at the end, relieved to be alive. And I loved that the ending was so strong. They didn’t back down. They didn’t cop out. And they leave Diana full of regret, and full of hope.

With a little luck this will be out on DVD for Christmas and I’ll be able to buy my daughter a copy to keep forever. Because Wonder Woman is her first favourite super hero and so very rightly so.

Review – The Magnificent 7

I usually review books but I watched The Magnificent 7 last night and it stuck with me for a few reasons, mainly because of all the conversations going on right now about whitewashing in movies. WARNING: this post contains MAJOR spoilers.

Overview: The Magnificent 7 is about the valley of Rose Creek, a small farm community down river of a mine shortly after the Civil War. The settlers are being forced out by an unscrupulous mine owner. They go in search of help and find it in Sam Chisholm.

Sam (played by Denzel Washington) recruits six other men to assist him in protecting this town. The main cast of gunmen consists of an African-American, a Mexican, a Native-American, an Asian (please forgive me that I can’t be more specific, the movie mentions Shenghai so I’m assuming Chinese but I could be wrong), and three Caucasians of various backgrounds. As well, of the two main townsfolk you focus on, one is female, and she’s a good shot and she’s got a lot of guts.

There were several reasons why this movie stuck with me.

  1. The POC cast members were played by actors of those nationalities. There was no white washing in this movie. Of the named characters with lines 5 were non-white, 10 were white. Still leaning to the white roles of course, but more balanced than other movies.
  2. The main character, ring leader, and driving force of the movie was Denzel Washington. The second character slot would have to go either to Chris Pratt or Hailey Bennet.
  3. The black man is not a criminal. In fact he’s a sanctioned warrant officer in Kansas and a peace officer in 7 states and the Indian Province.
  4. The female lead is not helpless. She is courageous and winds up fighting alongside the men. At the same time she does not have to cut her hair or wear pants. She is a widow and she doesn’t have to fall in love with one of the gun men.
  5. The movie passes the Bechdel Test. There are two named female characters and they talk about something other than men, though only briefly and only once. Still, combine this with the fact that the female lead has a story arc that centers on revenge and not romance, and that she has agency and fulfills her own story arc, those are all pluses.
  6. The story line focuses on a conflict between a white town and a white business man. This isn’t a white-invasion of Native land movie (except of course that all those early western towns were built on Native land, but that’s not the focus of the movie). This isn’t a white-saviour movie with a white man coming in and saving a Native village.
  7. SPOILER Of all the gunmen, only one of the POC characters dies. That’s right. The three surviving gunmen are all POC. And not a single woman dies in the final fight sequence that you see, or that is overly focused on. And they ride off together. No lone hero at the end of this movie.
  8.  The movie actually shows the men bonding (a short fall in Suicide Squad). While some of their motives for being in the fight are thin by the time it comes to “this is your last chance to bale” they are all committed to the town and each other and you believe it.
  9. The movie shows a character with PTSD. I’m not sure how well they do with this representation, I would love to hear other opinions on this, but he’s there, and he knows something is “wrong”.
  10. The stunts were action movie big but too far over the top. Reload times weren’t shortened too badly. People took a realistic amount of damage. Property damage was realistic too.

The movie was fun. There were some amazing lines in there that made me chuckle. The pacing was good – you had time to connect to the characters, there were conversations, but there was tension and more than one action sequence. The movie built to a peak and had a fulfilling climax and conclusion.

My only complaint? Her voice over at the end was DUMB. They could have made a much stronger ending, something without the cliche and corniness. Overall I give it 4.5 stars.


“You Have No Power Over Me” : Why the movie Labyrinth matters

This was the first movie I ever personally owned. I still love it today. This is a very good analysis of why it was an important piece of film making.

Views From the Tesseract

I was a kid of the 1980s.  I was a SF/Fantasy loving kid who ate up movies and books with the full glee of a kid creating their pop culture references for the first time.  I was there to watch Elliot lay a trail of Reeses Pieces for E.T.   I was there to sob as Artax was swallowed in the pits of Despair.   It was Inigo Montoya I invoked whenever I picked up a toy sword.  I watched The Navigator, Explorers, Legend, the Dark Crystal, Ghostbusters . . . the list goes on.   And then there was Labyrinth (1986).

Labyrinth was the first movie I ever saw in the theaters without an adult.  My best friend and I went to see it for my birthday and dined on huge tubs of popcorn, gigantic cups of Cherry Coke and nachos with hot cheese. (movie food was cheaper back…

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