Partially Stars

A love story. I don’t usually like love stories, but this one came right out of me. I don’t usually finish my own writing, but this time I did. So. So I guess there’s nothing to it but putting it up.

Partially Stars

He was the most charming person she had ever met. His dark eyes shone with the alacrity of stars. When he smiled, it was a supernova shattering her world and bringing heaven down on Earth. When asked who she wanted to ask to the prom, who she wanted to spend the last night of her senior year, the last time she’d ever affiliate herself with her public high school in the middle of nowhere, it was no question. It was a tease. It was never a question.

That was, until her friends told her he was a devil.

“Do you remember that time when Hell broke and the devils and imps and monsters started to come to this side?” her best friend said, not looking up from her textbook. “Some of them stayed after the war was over.”

“So if he’s a devil what difference does that make?”

“Devils eat human souls. See,” she showed her the book, a research on supernatural creatures, printed five years ago, only ten years after the war ended and enough time to brag that the research was done right. Among others, the page told her that devils were tricksters, the most powerful and despicable races in the underworld. “You shouldn’t get caught up with them,”  her friend concluded.

She gave it some thoughts, and then she went to her grandfather, who had fought in the war, and asked him what he thought of devils. Continue reading “Partially Stars”


I will never stop raving about The Final Station

Some “notes” I made while writing my review for The Final Station. If you can read Indonesian, check it out at Tech in Asia ID. Only parts of this made it to the full review, and it sure ain’t as raving mad as these.

tl;dr: The Final Station is a damn fine game that should be played by everybody, particularly those interested in storytelling.

Although the actions stay the same for the length of the game–open doors, shoot, run, survive–it never feels tacky or repetitive. There’s always something for you to find, always something out there to surprise you. A little note there, a message from a wife to her husband, an innocent “I’m going to go out for  tea” while you know, you always know, that they most certainly never came back from their break. And then the more sinister signs, a broken light pole, a light that’s left on, blood marks in the door, and of course, the corpses. On the street (probably was out for a walk), in their bedroom (didn’t see it coming), locked in a closet (starve themselves to death?). And the monsters, in all the places that you can find them.

Even with its simple pixel style, its minimalist exposition, the game is a hallmark of environmental storytelling. Only a few of those spread-out narrative matters to the main plot, but they don’t have to. Here is a world, this is what it was like before it died. Sometimes you’ll open a door and shoot your way through a horde of zombies just because you want to know what’s out there, if there were anybody alive.

It’s a desperate struggle not to just save yourself, but also to save other people, to care about everyone no matter who they are.

It’s a kind game. It has a heart. You’d think in a zombie shooter you’d get used with all the carnage, you’d think after saving yet another person and hearing them babble yet again about how wrong the world is turning out to be and how much of a disadvantage it’s putting them in you’d get numb to the ideas, but here it never stops the suspense. The game doesn’t remind you that the world is cruel, but it doesn’t have to. It writes down its thought of how cruel it is and scatter it around the world for you yourself to find.

It’s a damn fine game. It keeps your heart pumping. It doesn’t pull you in, but it compels you to pull yourself in. It’s challenging without trying too hard, it’s threatening without going overboard. With its pixel aesthetic and indie sentiment, you’d come and expect something lite and simple and you’d be wrong. It’s a gem that’s polished to near-perfection. A pitch-perfect combination of everything that made it what it is.

What You Find Between the Pages

Not a review, more some thoughts about Fahrenheit 451, a novel by Ray Bradbury.

I finished Fahrenheit 451 today. I cried twice reading it, and I can’t quite say why. I guess it’s more to do with me right now than it is about this sixty-year old story, but it’s still kind of interesting, kind of funny, what sort of things can trigger me down like that. I don’t usually show any emotion at all while reading.

So. Fahrenheit 451, the world-famous novel by Ray Bradbury. It’s the first time I’ve read Bradbury; I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading it. I guess I’ve heard, of course, that it’s about a world where books are banned and burned. When I first heard about it I sort of imagined something more fast-paced, more explosive. People running to save what they can from the fire, people hiding from the flame. Burning is a strong word.

I guess in a way, this is what it’s about too. Fire take and give, and when it takes you run. But I guess I didn’t notice that fire can burn slowly, that it takes its time with its destruction, save in its belief that nothing will stop it while it eats up everything. Fahrenheit 451 reads sort of like flame eating through paper. It’s slow, and steady, and magnificent. Its depiction of destruction enchants, distract, until you realise that the paper has all burned out, that there’s nothing left but ashes.

The book, the story; it’s a ridiculous form of irony, a sort of a self-demonstration. It’s a book about burning books, and the ideas and people that were burned alongside them.

There’s this part in it where its characters were reading and reciting words from books and they get drowned in them, can’t understand a word, can’t retain a meaning out of the petty obfuscation of words, and an antagonist made it a point as to why books are useless. Too many words, to little things said, just burn them, they confuse you and ruin you. And yet that’s exactly what Fahrenheit 451 feels like. It’s so many words.

So many words, but also so many things said, between the lines and strung up between scenes and unrelated paragraphs. The mind works in so many things impossible to say with words, but words is what we have to describe what’s in the mind. So we string those words together and hope against everything that your audience can decipher even the things that are unsaid.

Fahrenheit 415 is a book about books, about fire, about wars, about comfort, about the mass media, about what you can see and what you have to make an effort to see, about people, about people. It’s a cautionary tale about the future, they say. Sure, that’s true too. My edition came with an introduction by Neil Gaiman, who said that when someone say what a book is about, then that’s probably true, but that’s not all that the book is about. It’s what you find between the pages.

So, so honestly so far I guess I’ve just been saying nonsense, trying to to explain what I’ve found between its pages. It’s a book I pick up on a couple quite afternoon, and every time I put it down for the day I can’t help feeling a bit more melancholic, a bit sadder, a bit more contemplative. And if you ask me why, I guess at this point I can’t quite articulate what in it that makes me feel this way.

Books, you know. Words. Stories. They’re real powerful. One of the most mysterious force in the universe.