Tag Archives: werewolves

Sims: Supernatural Expansion – The Sims I’ve Always Wanted

The Sims uses the slogan “Play with Life” and it’s true. Sims is and has always been a giant sandbox with an ever-increasing world of options. It has a variety of appeal. If you like to design and build houses and buildings, you can do that. If you like to give Sims opposite personality traits, shove them in a studio apartment and watch what happens, you can do that too. The Sims 3 Expansion packs have increasingly created richer, more realistic environments and potential. They’ve given us pets. They’ve given usĀ  toy chests and dragon costumes. They’ve given us jobs that you don’t just sit back and wait for, but jobs you do: making over other Sims or remodeling their houses.

But Sims Supernatural is, to be honest, the Sims I’ve always wanted. We’ve had vampires since Late Night, but you had to meet a vampire and convince them to turn your Sim if you wanted to be one. Now you can be a vampire or a faerie or a witch or a genie or even a ghost right out of the gate. This pack gives us historical and faerie outfits and something I’m going to call “Lestat hair.”

This is also the pack that fully gives us magic. Witches can do alchemy and make zombies rise. Vampires can turn other Sims. People joke about “why play the Sims? So you can have a fake person clean the kitchen and go to work and pay bills.” This is the pack that changes the game completely, allowing the player to delve into all sorts of fantasy worlds and create their own stories with fantastical elements.

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Being a Sookie Stackhouse Vampire Kind of Sucks

Guess after 'True Blood's' success, they decided to scrap the cartoony covers.

Last week, the second to last installment of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse Southern Mysteries hit shelves. I actually thought it was the final book and despite my gripes with the last few, I wanted to see how it ended. Deadlocked is a surprising improvement. The mysteries are actually suspenseful, some of the reveals were impressively shocking and unpredictable (but not way out of left field), and Harris is clearly starting to tie up all of her loose ends. If the last book is this good, the series will end on a high note.

The politics are still there, because you can’t change course mid-stream (or something; I am not a sailor) but there’s less of it, which is a relief. I’m sorry, but State Kingdoms? Sheriffs? Political power? Marriage contracts? What is that?

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: being a vampire in the Sookie Stackhouse universe royally sucks (no puns intended). Which is fine. There are plenty of books that make being a vampire seem awesome and god knows you can’t throw a rock in a bookstore without smacking a broody vampire in the forehead (double points for a Cullen). But still, I genuinely love vampires, and this world takes away everything about that’s awesome.

First, because vampires are “out of the coffin” they now have to follow mortal law. And apparently on top of that, they have an insane convoluted form of government that no immortal worth his salt would bother to follow. Vampires have to obey their makers. There are marriage contracts (I am still annoyed about that). It’s so stupid. At least in this book, Sookie agrees with me.

I’m going to quote myself here from a review I wrote two books ago on my old and now deleted blog:

Vampires are the ultimate escapism fantasy: to become a vampire is to have all of the strings cut. Vampires don’t have to work or go to school, they don’t have to stayed tied down to one city or even one continent, they don’t have to follow rules or laws (at least not mortal ones and most of them ignore the any rules other vampires try to impose). They can wear pink polyester and jaywalk in front of cops and chain smoke because they are free of all of mortal pressures, like traffic tickets and fashion sense and lung cancer. Vampires can run night clubs (it’s been done to death), they can do business and pay property taxes to avoid suspicion. But it’s a choice and if they want to go wear rags and live in a cemetery and kill passerbys, well, that’s their choice too.

And that is what these books lack to me. A sense of whimsy of the supernatural. Being anything, from a demon to a shapeshifter, has no appeal in this world. It’s the one case where I can see myself saying to a vampire, “No thanks. I’d rather stay human.”

Which doesn’t mean the books aren’t good. In some ways, it’s the most mind-blowing thing about the entire series. I do enjoy reading them (when they’re not weighted down too far with politics). They’re quirky and fun. But they’re really less for fans of vampires than for people who like mysteries that sometimes happen to contain non-human beings. That said, I wait with baited breath for the final book, and I look forward to whatever Harris does next.

CopperCon Panels: Meet Carrie Vaughn

At this year’s CopperCon in Phoenix, Arizona, author Carrie Vaughn was the guest of honor. On Saturday, there was a panel held to get to know Vaughn, who’s authored more than ten books including the bestselling Kitty Norville series, about a werewolf talk radio host, and After the Golden Age, a superhero novel.

Carrie Vaughn

Vaughn’s always been a writer. It wasn’t until 8th grade that she realized not everyone enjoys writing stories.

Her popular series, about a werewolf named Kitty who hosts her own late-night supernatural advice show, wasn’t an instant sell to publishers. It took four different novels until she was signed. At one point, Vaughn decided to let Kitty speak her mind. She put quotes around all of the snarky, sarcastic, or rude thoughts that her character had, and all of sudden things worked. Instead of Kitty watching two other people converse, she was part of the conversation and moving the action along.

When asked why she choose to make Kitty a werewolf, rather than a human or a vampire or something else, she says it was a very deliberate decision. She had the concept of a midnight DJ and had to make the call. She chose to make her a werewolf because other than horror movie monsters at the time she began writing, they didn’t get a lot of attention, and anyhow, she’d “had enough of vampires.”

“I wanted to confront the mythology directly,” she explained. Besides, werewolves often get shorted in fiction, or used to.

Vaughn talked about her other stand alone novels, saying she’s very proud of After the Golden Age. It’s about a woman whose parents are famous superheroes, but she has no powers. Still, she tries to save the world with her one skill: accounting. Vaughn’s mother is an accountant and really likes that novel.

Then she revealed her secret hope for a future spin-off to the Kitty Norville series (which she says does have an ending she’s working towards). She’d like to do a Buddy Cop series featuring Cormac, whom she originally intended to just be a one-off character in the first book.

It took Vaughn ten years to sell a novel from the first time she tried, so she encourages aspiring authors to keep at it. She thinks maybe there’s some level of insanity to people who are driven to write and that she, at least, would have kept doing it even if none of her books was ever picked up.

Review: Kitty and the Midnight Hour

Shewolf with a Tramp Stamp

For the sake of full disclosure, I should admit that I’m going to see the author of this book, Carrie Vaughn, this weekend at Copper Con 31. So I want to reassure you that this review is entirely unbiased.

This is the BEST BOOK EVER.

Okay, I’ll be serious now. Well, mostly. I’m not a fan of werewolves. I never have been, except in the rare b-movie, or of Oz on Buffy. For one thing, I have never thought ‘man, it’d be so cool if I could turn into a wolf every month.’ For another, they often have no control over their “power.” This isn’t the case for Kitty, who can change whenever she wants but only has to change during the full moon.

And then there are the wolf pack politics. Every book I’ve read about werewolves goes into great detail about the pack’s power struggles and the alpha male trying to keep the other wolves in line, and how there’s a chain of command, yadda yadda yadda. This book is no exception. I realize it’s based on actual canine behavior but it just doesn’t float my boat.

What is exceptional about it is how cool Kitty is. A newly turned werewolf, she has a job as a night DJ at an alternative rock station. One night while babbling on the air, she gets on the topic of the supernatural, and to her surprise, it ups her ratings like mad. Soon she’s hosting a weekly talk show called ‘The Midnight Hour,’ where people call in and talk about werewolves, vampires, you name it. She adores doing the show and feels that it’s important and maybe even helping people.

But all of the attention makes her pack nervous and worries a local vampire family. Some sends an assassin after her. And eventually, she spills her secret on air and admits she’s a werewolf. And then the cops show up to ask her questions about a series of mauling murders. The trouble never seems to end.

It’s an interesting read about a young woman trying to come into her own and out of the shadow of her wolf pack, her parents, and her job. I didn’t like how accepting/believing people were when she admitted what she was. Sure, there were some side-eyes and snide comments, but a lot of people around her simply accepted it as truth. Of course she’s a werewolf! It all makes sense. It was a bit absurd.

This is the first novel in a series, and as with many series, including The Dresden Files, this book mostly exists to set things up for the rest of it, whether it was intentional by the author or not. And like Dresden, I’m willing to bet the series improves as it goes on and the characters come into their own. Especially because [spoiler] by the end of the novel, Kitty has left her pack. [/spoiler] So despite its slightly rocky start and wolf pack cliches, I’m definitely planning on getting the next few in the series and giving it a chance.