Saturday June 23rd: Seoul and Books

I successfully made it to Seoul. I paid about twice what I would for a bus, plus the intercity bus, and then a bus, and a subway to get to Seoul, or about what I would have for the KTX train, but, this way I got a ride in a pretty nice car from one of the people at the last hostel I was loathe to leave. Door to door for 40,000 Won and a bit of help with my luggage. Not bad.

During the ride I managed to finally finish John Dies at the End while on the freeway, only having to stop once due to realization were I to go much longer motion sickness would set in. After that break, I read for the next two hours until we hit traffic. After John Dies at the End, I read a bit on the interwebs, discovered the Knee Deep in the Dead mountains are in China and not Taiwan, and started reading the third book in The Hunger Games because I could borrow it, what with it being June.

Finally, it occurred to me what bothers me so much about the whole Hunger Games series. Almost all of the interpersonal drama, almost all of the suspense, exists solely because of the character’s total inability to understand social interaction combined with, and this is what I realized, a constant stream of the Rom-Com third act misunderstanding. Well, basically. If people were to, I don’t know, take 15 seconds to communicate things would go off without a hitch, and people wouldn’t seem so infuriatingly blind.

There are some minor spoilers below, but nothing specific.

Granted, then it would be a series about a reluctant hero rising to the cause as a symbol of hope… instead of a cause forced to support and coddle a mannequin that really can only hunt well (except when written into a corner) who accidentally became a symbol.

That and the frequent failure to show rather than tell. So. Frustrating. It’s of course compounded because the character. The info dump chapters in Snow Crash can be frustrating as well but that was a totally different level of information. While it broke up the fluidity of the narrative it is also a pretty detailed crash course on a partially fictionalized version of the history of language and religion. Probably something like a quarter of the book is that information. In The Hunger Games it’s just a few paragraphs of history, maybe a few pages of “Okay, so it’s long after it actually matters, but here is what is going on because if we don’t tell you, you would become totally irrelevant to the story.”

It’s like if in Half-Life 2, the resistance didn’t tell you anything until afterwards, okay that’s not much of a stretch, however presume there was also a total lack of contextual information. The design of every location was bland, repetitive and featureless. No graffiti, no posters, no Breencasts (just a non-spoiler image).

(I just realized I kind of described the first Halo.)

You go attack a location but have no fucking clue why. Until two hours later, and then then some character spells out exactly what happened because of that and how it was good or bad.

Though at least then because of the game aspect it would be further commentary on the true lack of agency and how your actions could be assumed. You would accomplish the goals even if you weren’t told them because it’s the only thing you can think to do. Or in the sense of the game, literally the only thing you can do. Trapped by your own predictable behavior.


I have played that.

It’s an amazing mod for Half-Life 2 called The Stanley Parable. Well, also Bastion to a degree. Funny, both games feature a narrator and play with the concept of character and player agency.

You know what? That concept actually works pretty well in game because there, agency is inherent to the medium. It doesn’t really work when you’re reading a book. I’m sure someone will correct me here, so I’ll pre-concede the point and just say it doesn’t work when the book is written by a newish writer and aimed at pre-teens.

Anyway, the internet still works 70 minutes into my use, and clearly I can get to my own site, without issue I might add. Hopefully this will continue and I can simply stay here until I leave for Taiwan on the 3rd.

3 thoughts on “Saturday June 23rd: Seoul and Books

  1. Yay, Seoul! I see you figured out a way to get to Taiwan. What a wonderful trip you are having!

    • It’s $350 right now for a 2.5 hour direct flight unless I want a 1 stop 15 hour trip. I’m hoping it will drop, even if just slightly, 7 days out. Or I might lose money on the wager. Who knows?

      Either way I need my ticket out of Taiwan before I go there, as that may be part of the entry requirement (I’ve heard enforcement of that isn’t 100%). That’s the costly one. Looking at about $950. No one wants to bid lower this far out, so I’ll probably have to bite on that price.

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