A great Twitter thread from the author of the Grey Goose Chronicles Substack, on Russian Orthodox missions in Alaska. I thought the story of Saint Peter the Aleut was a bit out of character for the Franciscan missions in California, and sure enough down thread Stone Age Herbalist agrees with that assessment.
The Dark Herald comes in with another adventure story archetype, the detective, a relatively recent invention.
Skydance Animation has a movie coming out on Apple TV called Blush. Skydance is where John Lasseter landed. John Lasseter was #MeTooed out of Pixar, but as far as I can tell, what he actually did was an order of magnitude less bad than the worst offenders. Probably even a little less bad than Issac Asimov, who has not yet been exhumed and posthumously #MeTooed.
Hopefully he has learned his lesson, as Lasseter was involved in just about every great Pixar movie, and several great Disney movies as well. I had hoped he would pop back up and continue making great movies.
For some reason I find videogame reviews harder to write than book reviews. I’ve done fewer than ten in the last decade. This is the review I wish I had written about the good but not great Subnautica: Below Zero. [Amazon link] The original game, Subnautica, was great but unpolished in some ways. The sequel clearly tried to take that feedback into account, but in the process fell Wile E. Coyote like feel into every trap of modern game design.
Too much attention was put into the story, and making the experience movie-like. The difficulty is shockingly easy compared to the original. The world feels smaller too, even though in some ways it is better developed. In a way, not really knowing what they were doing the first time was a benefit, because the original game felt, well, original.
Travis Baldree is a talented guy. He is the audiobook narrator for an astonishingly large number of audiobooks, including Cradle by Will Wight. He has also done some great videogames, such as Rebel Galaxy: Outlaw. So I’m not entirely surprised his first book launch went so well. Baldree goes into everything he did to publish his own book here.
This interview with Zahn makes it clear that he is having a great time collaborating with Star Wars and hasn’t got any need to go independent. However, he is also working pretty steadily on non-Star Wars projects, including a sequel to the Icarus Hunt.
This interview confirmed a lot of ideas I had about Zahn. I had noted in my review of Starcraft: Evolution that he’s remarkably good at playing in other people’s universes. I suspect this is because he is both very creative and very humble. He never once gives off the impression that he chafes under the creative control of the Star Wars story group, or even that he is disappointed they have turned him down so many times when he has offered to consult on a character he created for them.
In the two Thrawn trilogies Zahn has written since Disney bought Star Wars he has written Thrawn as a very good man in the service of a very wicked organization. This makes for an interesting story, and the interviewer asked Zahn what “alignment” Thrawn is, which confused Zahn a bit, but he did respond that he writes Thrawn as a good man, er… Chiss.
Which is probably why Zahn writes the most interesting Star Wars books at present.
J. Manfred Weichsel has a new book out, Not Far From Eden, that shares some themes with his first book Expedition to Eden. Weichsel pulled his first book as he thinks he can do a better job now, but until I get the review up of the new book, check out what I thought of his first attempt.
Robert Kagan was a frequently reviewed author for John J. Reilly. The Return of History and the End of Dreams [Amazon link] was useful to John as he tried to generate a synthesis that would move us forward, instead of just arguing about which of our currently inadequate tribal positions must prevail.