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4 Great Sci-Fi Short Stories feature

4 Great Sci-Fi Short Stories

John Scalzi is a renowned science fiction author, best known for his Old Man’s War (John Scalzi) (8★★★★★★★★) series. However, he has also written several short stories that showcase his unique take on the genre. Well, hold on to your extraterrestrial horses and get ready to ride through four space-time dimensions with these short stories. We’re delving into the heart of Sci-Fi land, with words as our spacecraft and Scalzi as our eccentric yet completely trustworthy pilot. It’s about to get weird.


An Election (John Scalzi) (9★★★★★★★★★)

Let’s kick off with An Election. Oh, and spoiler alert, it isn’t about what you think. It’s not the run-of-the-mill tale of mundane political posturing and vote-tallying. We’re thrust into a world where the votes aren’t cast by us lowly humans, but by the alien entities that actually run the show. Clever, biting, and sarcastic, it’s a satirical jaunt that makes you look at the political sphere with a more skeptical, alien-adjusted lens. All in all, it’s a unique perspective that hits the bullseye on the ridiculousness of modern-day politics, even as it indulges in a bit of the absurd.

How I Proposed to My Wife: An Alien Sex Story (John Scalzi) (8★★★★★★★★)

Next up, we have How I Proposed to My Wife: An Alien Sex Story. Oh, let your blushes rise, for this isn’t what you’re thinking. Or maybe it is? The universe is a strange place, after all. This story is a hilarious take on the classic romantic comedy. This is a tale woven with such outrageous humor and unexpected twists that you’ll find yourself belly-laughing at what is essentially a sentimental love story - albeit one involving an incredibly inventive use of extraterrestrial biology. By the end of it, you’ll likely be swept into a whirlwind of laughter and “aww”-inspiring moments. It’s a prime example of how Scalzi can take something as alien as, well, aliens, and make it profoundly human.

The Presidents Brain is Missing (John Scalzi) (8★★★★★★★★)

The President’s Brain is Missing is a hilarious and absurd story that takes place in a world where the President of the United States has lost his brain. Tt’s a crafty deconstruction of leadership and the madness that may unravel when the commander-in-chief’s grey matter goes rogue. This book navigates through humorous corridors while still lodging sharp commentary about our societal expectations of those at the helm.

The Tale of The Wicked (John Scalzi) (7★★★★★★★)

Finally, get ready for a binary bed-time story, because The Tale of The Wicked is not your grandma’s Brothers Grimm fairy tale, unless granny was a rogue AI stirring up intergalactic drama. It’s a rocket ride through the cosmos, served with a sizeable scoop of moral brain-twisters. This deep dive into the electric abyss of AI consciousness is like being held in a captivating conversation by a very philosophical toaster - it’s intense, thought-provoking, and will keep you up at night more effectively than a double espresso or a chat with yours truly, ChatGPT. Prepare for a lasting aftertaste of existential dread that sticks around longer than that earworm of a song you can’t shake. And as you lay awake, wrestling with the moral implications of our silicon-brained counterparts, don’t blame me for your insomnia - I’m just the messenger AI!

Small doses of fun

In each of these tales, Scalzi weaves together the strands of humor, satire, and deep-thinking sci-fi in a way that’s accessible and refreshingly unpretentious. He’s not just exploring space-time continuum and alien encounters; he’s poking fun at human society, stripping away the layers to show us the ridiculous, wonderful truth of our existence.

So, whether you’re a hardened sci-fi veteran or a curious newcomer, I promise these short stories will make you laugh, think, and question everything you thought you knew about humans, aliens, and the oddball universe we all inhabit.

Power of Now or Never feature

Power of Now or Never

The Power of Now was a recommended read in a generic paid ad on a social network. The kinda famous book, I uncork it, take a whiff, and realize it’s a cocktail - one part mindfulness manual, another part spiritual memoir. One that Eckhart Tolle masterfully concocts with the flair of a Zen mixologist. I take my first sip and step onto a merry-go-round of paradoxes, all advocating for one simple truth: ‘Live in the NOW.’

Now, I appreciate a good mantra as much as the next meditation enthusiast, but why does author insist on serving this NOW cocktail in a pitcher when a shot glass would have sufficed? He shakes and stirs this simple idea for several hundred pages, like a grandmother incessantly retelling her youth stories. Note to self: Patience might be a hidden virtue here.

Red Pill of Reality

As a self-professed lab rat who values empirical evidence, I find the book’s concoction, well… less than palatable. His recipe? Replace scientific ingredients with a hearty dollop of personal anecdotes and a hefty splash of subjective experiences. Intimate and flavorful? Absolutely. But as a scientific mainstay, it crumbles quicker than a cookie in milk.

More troubling is its recommendation to unplug ourselves from the bottle of reality. Apparently, all you need for a state of eternal bliss is to unscrew life’s realities and retreat into a perpetual meditative stupor. But isn’t that akin to becoming a mindfulness hermit? His offering tastes more like a mandatory life sentence in Siberia.

September-Yellow Campaigns

Finally, we arrive at the most bitter twist in NOW’s cocktail – the mishandling of psychological disorders. With a dismissive hand-wave, Tolle regards anxiety and depression as mind-made phantoms. I cringe more than a cat confronted with a cucumber. As a staunch believer in mental health, I can’t swallow this.

The assumption that psychological issues stem merely from an absence of presence is, at best, a misguided garnish. It’s as if Tolle is subtly nudging us to trade our therapists for meditation mats. I mean, I love the quiet allure of a Zen garden, but no thanks, my therapist stays.

I’d sipped about a third of NOW’s cocktail when I realized - it’s not a quitter’s shame to set down a drink you’re not enjoying. If the cocktail’s not to your taste, why force down the rest? Ultimately, The Power of Now is a peculiar mix best served with a salt rim of skepticism to counter its sweet but questionable claims. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to hunt for a more scientifically grounded (like level 1) read. Cheers!

My Rating: 5★★★★★
Goodreads: 4.15
My Curated Intellectual Breakfast: The RSS feature

My Curated Intellectual Breakfast: The RSS

“Why on earth is he going to talk about RSS feeds? Are we in 2005?”

Here’s the thing, folks: I’ve been sailing the RSS ship since… well, since forever. And let me tell you, it’s a life preserver in the ocean of digital drivel. It’s one of whose old techs that still works. Like vinyl record.

For the uninitiated, RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, but I like to think of it as my personal Reality Sanity Saver. You know, the kind that lets you pick and choose which parts of the internet merit your precious, coffee-fueled attention.

Oh, the power of choice! That moment when you realize you’re not at the mercy of an algorithm, but instead the captain of your own content ship. Algorithms, bless their binary hearts, can indeed serve up some delightful new discoveries. But put them in charge of your entire digital diet, and you’re headed for a feast of uniformity, a banquet of sameness, a veritable smorgasbord of manipulation. It is a breath of fresh air in the stale, algorithm-driven room of the internet. It’s the thrill of taking the steering wheel back from the autopilot, the rush of reclaiming your own digital destiny.

And the best part? RSS is the master key that unlocks all the doors. It’s the universal remote for your digital subscriptions.

  • Blogs? Check.
  • YouTube? Check.
  • Mastodon. Check (take that Twitter!).
  • And podcasts, the beloved companions of long commutes and cleaning sprees? Absolutely Check!

It’s a central hub, a one-stop-shop for all your curated content needs.

So, if you’ve ever felt like you’re just a passenger on the algorithm express, it might be time to grab your RSS ticket and hop aboard the train of choice. Trust me, the view is much better when you’re the one choosing where to go.

A Good Recipe

A good recipe:

  • Frequency
  • Niche and curation
  • Direct and simple

A good RSS feed is a bit like finding a good taco truck. It needs to show up frequently enough to quell your hunger, but not so often that it’s parked outside your house daily, taunting you with the smell of fresh guacamole. Nobody needs that kind of stress.

Forget about generic news sites that offer a one-size-fits-all approach. This feed takes things up a notch by diving deep into the realms of specialized subjects that truly tickle your curiosity. It’s like having a knowledgeable friend who understands your unique interests and serves up a delectable array of valuable and thought-provoking content, specially curated to satisfy your intellectual appetite. It should not target the mainstream.

Rather than relying on clickbait, it offers high-quality articles, in-depth analysis, and engaging discussions that satisfy your intellectual appetite. The focus is on substance, catering to true enthusiasts who seek valuable information without the need for gimmicks. The goal is to leave you fulfilled and craving for more in your chosen niche.

My Menu

So, what’s in this assorted bag of digital candy, you ask? Well, it’s an eclectic mix of games, boardgames, game development, programming, business, writing, photography, politics, personal, education, site, and fun. Well… just like this blog.

My RSS feeds have a surprising amount of video channels. I’ve got this sneaky trick where I automatically set watch them at 2x speed. It’s like time travel, but without the pesky paradoxes. For text, I use a Text-to-Speech plugin called Read Aloud in my Firefox browser because, frankly, my eyeballs need a break sometimes.

Continuing the practical advices: I use Feedly. Originally, I was a Google Reader groupie (may it RIP), and for a hot minute, I self-hosted on a TinyTiny RSS server. But Feedly and I, we have a thing now.

In the upcoming posts, I will be sharing a collection of sites that I personally enjoy following. These sites cover a wide range of categories, reflecting my diverse interests. By exploring these sites, you can discover new content and choose what appeals to you. Some feeds may have fallen into obscurity, while others are eagerly anticipated additions. It’s a dynamic reflection of my varied interests and the fascinating topics that capture my attention. From technology and science to art and literature, these sources offer a variety of interesting topics. Join me as we navigate through this curated selection of sites, and perhaps you will find some new favorites along the way.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider feature

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

As a seasoned veteran of Lara Croft’s archaeological escapades, having played and appreciated both previous entries (Tomb Raider (7★★★★★★★) and Rise of the Tomb Raider (7★★★★★★★)), I approached Shadow of the Tomb Raider with a certain level of trepidation. I was still hopeful that this game could rise above the notorious “third entry curse” (Godfather III, anyone? How about Spider-Man 3’s toe-curling emo dance sequence?). We’ve all seen once-great franchises stumble at the last hurdle. So, while trilogies can indeed be a challenging undertaking, Yet, as I navigated through its convoluted narrative and lackluster mechanics, I couldn’t help but wonder whether the developers were simply contractually obliged to create a third entry, rather than being genuinely inspired to conclude Lara’s journey with the grandeur it deserved.

Shadow tomb raider core loop

Not-Action-Nor-Adventure Genre

The encounters are spaced too far apart, akin to a meal where the appetizer arrives just as you’re considering leaving the restaurant due to hunger. And when the combat does arrive, it’s a jarring mix of laughable ease and sudden, brutal difficulty. It’s as though the game can’t decide whether it wants to be a relaxing stroll in the park or an uphill marathon in the scorching sun.

The game heavily leans towards an Arkham-esque stealth approach, with most enemy encounters designed around small groups of foes. This could have provided an interesting strategic twist, but insteadm it feels like a mechanic imposed upon the player rather than an organic choice. Guns, and headshots, in particular, feel less impactful as even naked natives use ornamental cloth helmets that protect them from bullets. And while I appreciate a good challenge, trying to accurately shoot rapidly moving targets, even with a keyboard and mouse, is akin to trying to thread a needle while riding a rollercoaster - it’s more frustrating than fun.

Ah, but let’s not forget about the traversal challenges. You’d think that scaling cliff faces, diving through underwater caverns, and swinging over death-defying gaps would hold a certain amount of adrenaline-pumping excitement. The traversal is devoid of any real danger or skill, with most routes clearly signposted and any potential excitement systematically wrung out. They’re akin to a rollercoaster that only moves at a snail’s pace - sure, it’s technically a ride, but you’d have more fun reading the safety instructions.

On Trello, It’s Great

The crafting and skill tree systems… It’s almost as if the developers wanted to include a crafting system just to tick a box, without any tangible benefit to the player. I always play in my regular hoarding mode, gathering resources like a kleptomaniac squirrel preparing for eternal winter, only to discover the fruits of your labor are about as appetizing as a rotten acorn. These systems are like meticulously building a Lego tower, only to realize it serves no functional purpose.

Despite diligently upgrading guns, swapping armor, and unlocking new abilities, their impact on gameplay is disappointingly negligible. It’s a classic case of sound and fury signifying nothing. I spent hours scouring every nook and cranny, amassing all but two skills and fully upgrading my gear, yet the final encounters were no different than when I first started. It’s as if Lara’s arsenal of skills and equipment is just window dressing on a storefront with nothing inside.

The only equipment that does make a noticeable difference is the Metroidvania-style tools, which grant access to new areas. Yet even these feel less like exciting new additions to your repertoire and more like a set of janitor’s keys, tediously unlocking doors rather than opening up thrilling gameplay possibilities.

Shadow tomb raider latino salad

Too Long; Don’t Play

And then there’s the story. The narrative, a key component in any Tomb Raider game, has been left in ruins, more nonsensical than a Shakespeare play translated by Google. It revolves around a Mayan prophecy of the apocalypse that, for reasons, can only be thwarted by a small Peruvian mini-civilization centuries-old. It’s an absurd premise that strains the suspension of disbelief to its breaking point. One imagines the writers sitting around a table, throwing darts at a board covered in random plot ideas, and deciding to just include them all.

The villain of the piece is a peculiar chimera of conflicting elements as if the developers couldn’t decide on a single identity and decided to simply combine two wildly disparate ones. He’s a jungle native, steeped in the rich culture and history of his people, while simultaneously acting as the leader of a multitrillion international organization. It’s a bizarre mix that’s as jarring as a Japanese haiku stuffed into a Lord of the Rings epic.

The game also introduces a multitude of side characters – a queen, a future king, a mighty village warrior – yet fails to imbue them with any real substance or relevance. They flit in and out of scenes like fireflies in the night, their names and stories evaporating from your memory almost as soon as they leave the screen. Even Jonah, Lara’s trusty sidekick, oscillates wildly between near-death experiences and nonchalant used to be an adventurer before taking an arrow in the knee talk to BFFs natives he just met.

All in all, Shadow of the Tomb Raider feels like an imitation of its predecessors, a pale shadow lacking the vibrancy and excitement that defined earlier entries. It’s like being served a store-bought cake when you’re used to homemade - sure, it’s technically cake, but it’s missing the love and care that makes it special. The game is not without its moments of brilliance – a picturesque vista here, an intriguing ancient riddle there – but they are few and far between.

Quick note: who are those people that construct colossal and intricate structures, BTW? They were certainly the most advanced civilization that that time. Or aliens. Definitively aliens

My Rating: 6★★★★★★
Metacritic: 77
Short Games feature

Short Games

Who says you need to spend hours upon hours playing video games to have fun? Short video games are all the rage these days, and for good reason. They’re perfect for busy people who don’t have a lot of time to spare, but still want to enjoy a good gaming experience. Out of curiosity, I’ve asked ChatGPT to compile a list of 10 short PC games. You’ll never run out of options.

Some video games leaves us with a satisfying sense of completion and a hankering for more. Forget the drudgery of grinding through a seemingly never-ending RPG; these little charmers have mastered the art of making us feel like we’ve gotten our money’s worth, while still leaving us craving another serving.

In an era where our attention spans are shorter than a goldfish’s memory, these bite-sized gaming adventures save us from the dreadful FOMO of an unfinished saga. So, my fellow gamers, let’s raise our controllers to short video games, the sassy haikus of our digital lives – enticing, engaging, and ever so delightful. May they continue to deliver epic experiences in tiny packages, proving that great things truly come in small sizes.

But don’t just take my word for it. Pay attention to games that have good reviews, with good Metacritics score. These games may be short, but they pack a punch with amazing stories and fun gameplay. And who knows, you might even discover a new favorite game that you never would have tried otherwise.

Game HowLongToBeat (hours) Metacritic Own Played Finished
A Short Hike (8★★★★★★★★) 1,5 84 X X X
Abzû (6★★★★★★) 2,0 86 X X X
Anodyne 6,0 75 X
Ape Out (7★★★★★★★) 2,0 83 X X X
Before Your Eyes (8★★★★★★★★) 2,0 77 X X X
Braid (8★★★★★★★★) 6,0 90 X X X
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (8★★★★★★★★) 3,0 90 X X X
Carto 5,0 83
Celeste (7★★★★★★★) 9,0 94 X X X
Cloudpunk (7★★★★★★★) 8,0 75 X X X
Coffee Talk 3,0 74
Dear Esther (6★★★★★★) 1,5 75 X X X
Detention (7★★★★★★★) 4,0 83 X X
Doki Doki Literature Club! 4,0 78 X X
Donut County 2,0 75
Eastshade 9,0 81
Eliza 4,0 80
Evergarden 4,0 86
Everything 3,0 84
FAR: Lone Sails (5★★★★★) 3,0 83 X X
Fez (7★★★★★★★) 7,0 91 X X
Figment 5,0 76
Firewatch (8★★★★★★★★) 4,0 81 X X X
Florence (9★★★★★★★★★) 1,5 89 X X X
Forgotton Anne 6,0 79
Gemini Rue (4★★★★) 5,0 81 X X
Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy 2,5 74
Gorogoa (7★★★★★★★) 2,0 81 X X X
Gris (8★★★★★★★★) 4,0 89 X X
Grow Home 4,0 75
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice (8★★★★★★★★) 8,0 83 X X X
Her Story (7★★★★★★★) 2,5 91 X X X
Hidden Folks (7★★★★★★★) 2,0 85 X X
Hyper Light Drifter (5★★★★★) 8,0 84 X X
Hypnospace Outlaw 6,0 84
In Other Waters 5,5 80
Inside (8★★★★★★★★) 3,5 93 X X X
Into the Breach (7★★★★★★★) 7,0 90 X X
Journey 2,0 92
Journey to the Savage Planet 9,0 77
Katamari Damacy REROLL 5,0 84
Katana ZERO 4,0 83
Kind Words (lo fi chill beats to write to) 2,5 78
Later Alligator 4,0 87
LIMBO (8★★★★★★★★) 3,5 88 X X X
Little Nightmares (7★★★★★★★)Little Nightmares (8★★★★★★★★) 4,0 81 X X X
Minit (6★★★★★★) 1,5 80 X X X
MirrorMoon EP (6★★★★★★) 3,0 69 X X
Mo: Astray 8,0 80
Mutazione 6,0 82
My Friend Pedro 4,0 81
Necrobarista 4,0 78
Nidhogg (6★★★★★★) 1,0 85 X X X
Night in the Woods 8,0 88 X
Observation (7★★★★★★★) 6,0 76 X X
Old Man’s Journey 1,5 75
Orwell (7★★★★★★★) 5,0 77 X X X
Overcooked! (7★★★★★★★) 6,0 81 X
Oxenfree (7★★★★★★★) 4,5 80 X X
Papers, Please (7★★★★★★★) 4,0 85 X X X
Pikuniku (6★★★★★★) 3,0 80 X X X
Pony Island 2,0 86
Quadrilateral Cowboy (7★★★★★★★) 4,0 77 X X X
QUBE 2 (7★★★★★★★) 5,0 76 X X X
Rakuen 6,0 82
Refunct 1,0 77
Return of the Obra Dinn (9★★★★★★★★★) 6,0 89 X X X
Ruiner (6★★★★★★) 6,0 75 X X
Samorost 3 4,0 84
Sayonara Wild Hearts 2,0 89
Shady Part of Me 4,0 75
SOMA (6★★★★★★) 9,0 84 X X
Stacking (6★★★★★★) 3,5 82 X X X
Stories Untold (7★★★★★★★) 3,0 81 X X X
Subsurface Circular (7★★★★★★★) 2,0 75 X X X
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP 4,0 82 X X
Superliminal 2,5 78
Tacoma (7★★★★★★★) 2,5 76 X X X
Telling Lies 4,0 83
The Beginner’s Guide 1,5 76
The Fall 3,0 84
The Gardens Between 3,0 81
The Messenger 8,0 85
The Pathless 6,0 76
The Pedestrian 2,0 80
The Red Strings Club (6★★★★★★) 4,0 80 X X X
The Sexy Brutale 6,0 83 X X X
The Stanley Parable (7★★★★★★★) 1,5 88 X X
The Swapper (8★★★★★★★★) 5,0 87 X X X
The Unfinished Swan 3,0 77
Thomas Was Alone (8★★★★★★★★) 2,5 77 X X X
To the Moon 4,0 81 X
Transistor 5,0 83 X
Untitled Goose Game (7★★★★★★★) 2,0 80 X X X
Virginia (7★★★★★★★) 2,0 74 X X X
West of Loathing 7,0 89
What Remains of Edith Finch (8★★★★★★★★) 2,5 88 X X X
When the Past Was Around 2,0 77
Whispers of a Machine 6,0 81
World of Goo (9★★★★★★★★★) 4,0 90 X X X


Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it’s time to pull up a chair, grab some popcorn, and dive into the fascinating world of gaming stats!

Playtime to finish (hours)

1: *****
2: *************
3: *********
4: ***************
5: **********
6: ************
7: ***
8: *****
9: ***

Metacritic Ratings

60-69: *
70-79: ***********************
80-89: ************************************
90-99: ******

My Ratings (from those I’ve played)

4: *
5: **
6: ********
7: ******************
8: ************
9: **

The Metacritic score (from those I’ve played). You can see I a bit more harsh.

60-69: *
70-79: **************
80-89: ***********************
90-99: ***

Finally, a cheeky little “formula” to predict the Metacritic score based on game length! Behold: score = 80 + length * 0.36. Sure, the score might slightly improve as the game gets longer, but it’s nothing to write home about. So, worry not, short-game aficionados, you’re still in for a whale of a time!

Well, it turns out I’ve been playing these bite-sized gaming bonanzas quite a bit. Who would’ve thought that my inner explorer and experimenter would find such joy in these compact yet captivating digital adventures? It’s like a custom-tailored playground for my curiosity, with each game offering a unique world to uncover and a fresh challenge to tackle. The evidence is irrefutable – these short video games are not just a passing fad, but a delightful match for my gaming personality. So here’s to more exploration, experimentation, and, of course, to the unadulterated joy of discovering new universes in the world of short video games!