February 2024 media

  • Granblue Fantasy: Relink: I don’t play the Granblue Fantasy mobile game but have always admired its aesthetic from afar, so I was excited to try a game that’s more in my wheelhouse. Relink begins as a breezy action RPG in the vein of, say, a modern Ys game—and then, after a perfectly nice story of perhaps twenty hours, it reveals itself to have a protracted Monster Hunter-esque postgame grind. It’s a testament to how much I enjoyed the game that I stuck with that latter section as long as I did—it really does get brutally tedious—but even if you get off of that treadmill early I think there’s enough here to recommend.

  • Lincoln in the Bardo: I enjoyed George Saunders’s A Swim in a Pond in the Rain but was mixed on the short stories of his that I’d read, so I figured I would try his novel instead—I seem to have a thing for long-form prose by people who generally write shorter things, even poetry. And it’s great! I suppose Lincoln in the Bardo is arguably bleeding-edge historical fiction: it includes real contemporary accounts of the death of Abraham Lincoln’s son Willie, but weaves them into a story about the afterlife and the souls in Willie’s graveyard who have trouble moving on. I haven’t read anything quite like it before.

  • Close to the Machine: This is a book I only vaguely knew of through prescient-sounding excerpts screenshotted in Twitter threads or blockquoted in blog posts. It turned out to indeed be prescient—it would probably still seem so if it were originally written in 2007 instead of 1997— but it’s also a much richer and more personal read than I expected based on the mental image I’d created. I really enjoyed the portraits Ellen Ullman paints of that specific sort of person who only exists in tech.