Redspace Rising Goes to Space, Lara Croft and Shogun

Why yes, this is For All Mankind’s Amelia Gomez (Tasha Dixon) literally bringing my novel Redspace Rising into space. No seriously. A little reading for the trip.  🙂


That alone makes this February the coolest of my life, though the universe delivered a couple other treats. And like Tasha herself, they involve a kickass woman.

I decided to pick up the Tomb Raider Remastered games, because as I’ve written about before, I’m a lifelong fan of the franchise (at least, the early installments). This triple-pack of joy aren’t gritty, deconstructed reboots, but the original entries (tank controls and all) with a fresh coat of graphical paint. If you’re a true purist, you can even toggle back to the 1990s-era visuals.

Globe-spanning adventures with one of the most popular characters in all of gaming, 1996’s Tomb Raider felt like someone had made a game just for me. With challenging puzzles, mesmerizing atmosphere, and a cinematic flair we simply hadn’t seen in most games at that time, it also propelled the young field of 3D platforming into mainstream viability. Tomb Raider II was in many ways better, with a more interesting story, improved visuals, and varied level design ranging from open-air Venice to sunken cruise ships to the yeti-inhabited mountains of Tibet. The third game was the weakest link up to that point, yet still delivered a nation-hopping odyssey with enemies mundane, mutant, supernatural, and extraterrestrial in turn.

These remastered versions of the first three games also take me right back to late-night college gatherings with good friends, trial-and-erroring our way between bites of cold pizza.

And because the universe was especially kind, this month also saw the unveiling of the first two episodes of FX’s Shogun.

I generally detest cinematic adaptations of books. Too often we get bombastic absurdities like The Hobbit, or hollow cash-ins on name recognition that have little to do with the source material, like I Robot and I Am Legend.

But Shogun–at least a few episodes in–is a striking exception.

James Clavell’s 1975 novel on feudal Japan is a sweeping epic with fascinating characters, complex interactions, and intricate plotting. It was first adapted for TV in 1980 and did a respectable job of bringing its massive story to the small screen. Performances were generally good, with Toshiro Mifune and (especially) Yoko Shimada outstanding in their roles.

FX’s newest adaptation is (so far) spectacular. Like the book, we get three iconic main characters whose interactions shape the destiny of a nation: the stranded pilot Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis) trying to navigate a world he doesn’t yet understand; the shrewdly brilliant Lord Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada) caught in a deadly web of political intrigue; and Lady Mariko (Anna Sawai) finding herself at the center of the pending storm. Special shoutout to Tadanobu Asano as well, who is simply mesmerizing as the conniving and villainous Kashigi Yabushige. Beyond the excellent acting is truly gorgeous cinematography and art direction; the use of color alone is sublime, and the attention to detail is perfection.

Most importantly, this is a largely faithful adaptation of the book, by people who revere the source material. That isn’t to say that a few changes weren’t made; there’s a scene involving the drawing of a map that simplifies the context and dialogue from the book, resulting in a slightly different dynamic, but it doesn’t make the scene any less dramatic or impactful.

Overall, this is riveting, immersive storytelling that manages to be both epic and intimate. I really hope the wheels don’t come off, because so far this is the best show of the last couple years. Highly, highly recommended.

And there we have our February update. My novel Redspace Rising was taken into space, a remastered version of some of my favorite games doesn’t suck, and a new version of one of my favorite books is likely 2024’s best justification for television.

February is always cold in New England, but for me it’s never been this cool.

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