Once upon a time I sat down in my first GCSE English class and waited for the teacher to arrive. It wasn’t long before he’d sauntered in to the room and declared to us, before even introducing himself, that he would not be teaching us Of Mice and Men, because he hated it. We’d be doing the short stories in the anthology instead. I enjoyed the short stories immensely (it was the first time I’d read Hemingway or Plath), but still wonder what I missed out on.
That was nearly twelve years ago now, and I still haven’t read Of Mice and Men.
In fact, there’s a lot of things I haven’t read. An anxiety inducing amount of things.
I remember slightly later on, one of my A level teachers gave us an extract from Middlemarch. None of us recognised it. She said the examiners would expect us to have read Middlemarch. Ruh roh. Luckily I still managed to get my A levels without reading it.
One of my favourite anecdotes about the prodigiously well-read is that Coleridge was reportedly the last man to have read everything that had been written. This is certainly bollocks, but illustrates the point all the same. Who today could possibly claim to have read a hundredth of what is written, let alone all of it?
So, I must accept that I can’t read everything. I can’t even read all the books I own, because I keep buying more.
But still, here’s a laundry list of things I really ought to have read, but haven’t:
Of Mice and Men
To Kill a Mockingbird
A lot of Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, King Lear)
North and South
The Age of Innocence
There’s more, I’m sure, that’s just slipped my mind. This isn’t counting the things I never read in school that everyone else did (1984, Animal Farm, The Catcher in the Rye). That also doesn’t mention things like Homer, Plato, and Aristotle, that I am familiar with but am by no means an expert on.
Until as recently as last week, Pride and Prejudice was on that list. No one ever made me read it, and I hadn’t ever gotten around to it. I have vague memories of bunking off reading Persuasion at university, but no one expected us to have read Pride and Prejudice. And really, I ought to have read Pride and Prejudice. So I decided to give it a go. I didn’t have high hopes. It just didn’t seem like the kind of thing I’d be interested in. But everyone raves about it and it’s one of those works that is constantly floating around in the public imagination, and I hadn’t even watched an adaptation of it. It was a huge gap in my knowledge.
It wasn’t as boring as I expected it to be. I knew it to be a comedy of manners, so I expected lots of drawing room conversations and scandalous gossip, and I knew Austen raised gossip to an artform. I knew enough, basically, to figure I wouldn’t be interested. But I thought I’d grind through it and be able to talk to people about it even if I didn’t like it.
It wasn’t a grind though. It went down easy. The prose is very, very modern. Even the fact it’s largely an epistolary novel doesn’t make it seem slow or archaic, given how much of our communications even with the people we love dearest are now done through text, and at a distance.
Austen does a remarkable job of portraying subtle shades of emotion and the ability of the human mind to trick itself and think past itself even as you are not conscious of the process. I still found it a bit difficult to care *that* much about what happened to the characters, but their inner emotional lives were certainly engaging, and Austen captures a certain interplay of egos that is interesting to watch unfold.
I don’t regret waiting this long to read it. Five years ago I might have found Elizabeth insufferable. Now, I know what it is to have grown up a bit and be sure who you are, only to have circumstances change and thus you with them, imperceptibly at first but then unignorably, such as you do even more growing up, and your ignorance is revealed to you. I should suppose if I had any grown daughters, it should take on new dimensions.
I fully intend to have read all the things. I want to read Middlemarch and Bleak House. I will, one day. Maybe I should try move that day forward, because the dips I’ve taken back in to the canon since passing the point of being forced to swim in it, I’ve enjoyed. And it is the canon for a reason.
A long time ago I read an essay which argues that Ender’s Game parallels Hitler’s life story with such detail that the man who read it could not fail to be a nazi. This put me off reading it for a long time. I recently found a copy for 50p and decided for that price I would chance what could be nazi propaganda. I mean, everyone else loved it, right?
They were right to love it; it’s a great novel. But yes, it is a bit morally ambiguous. While it doesn’t explicitly say that Ender’s act of xenocide was wrong, it also doesn’t say it wasn’t right. That’s the beauty of fiction, I suppose. The reader can make their own mind up. I am quite firmly not a nazi, and all I can say is that I feel sorry for the kid. I think Radford’s essay is a bit simplistic in its conclusions (well, she does say she’s not a critic), but I can see where she was coming from. Ambiguity, you see.
While the novel as a whole might be taken as a discussion of ends and means, I ended up reading it almost as a revenge fantasy. I know nothing about Card’s upbringing, but I can bet you he was the weird kid in his class. The kid nobody else quite understood or knew how to take. The kid who got a bit more shit than anyone else for one facile (childish) reason or another. The kid who developed a bit faster and ended up alienated from his peers because of it. The first half of Ender’s Game reads like what that weird kid wishes reality was like (I was that weird kid, so I know); a reality in which he is recognised and valued for what he is good at; a reality in which he is powerful enough and free enough to make sure his tormentors don’t torment him again; a reality in which he is challenged to grow.
And most of all, it provides a *reason* as to why Ender ends up tormented and isolated. All the weird kid knows is that he feels different to everyone else, and that everyone else seems to hate him for no good reason. Ender’s Game provides a (good or bad, take your pick) reason for all Ender’s torment and pain. It serves a purpose. It wasn’t just meanness, hate, and spite on the part of all his peers.
But then again, it is all with the explicit aim of moulding him into a hyper-capable mass murderer. It is not always a good thing to get what you want. Revenge fantasies tend to stay fantasies for a reason, but they can make good fiction.
Is that me reading too much of myself in to it? Possibly. I’d love to see a Freudian reading of this novel. The copy I got must have been a special scholastic edition, because it even had a list of study questions in the back. I can certainly see using this novel as a teaching aid.
I haven’t read any of the other Ender novels yet, so I can’t comment on the arc as a whole, but there’s certainly a lot to chew on in this novel; it courts such a variety of issues that it makes a lot of other SF novels feel one dimensional. When people talk about SF reflecting the time and society it was written in, and having an ability to comment on society in a way that realistic fiction can’t really do, they may as well be talking about this book.
As an endnote, see this excellent XKCD comic about the subplot. If you’re reading this website, you know SF writers don’t always get everything right.
When I was a kid, we had a small TV and a big bookcase. They were both walnut veneer over MDF. By the time I’d grown to about the height of the TV, the bookcase was still three times bigger than I was. It had weight and heft. It imposed itself on the room. You were forced to engage with it. If you did it with open eyes and a receptive mind, you got a lot back. The TV is long gone, but the bookcase is still there.
Now I am twenty five and can fit a library on my phone.
I’ve been aware of Project Gutenberg for at least as long as I’ve known of Wikipedia, because when I used to look up books I’d heard of, there’d often be a link to a public domain text. My mum read a lot but didn’t have many of the classics. I read Lord of the Flies at school and wanted more. I started following hyperlinks and ended up at the library of Alexandria.
I didn’t end up reading a lot of those classics, though. At least not that way.
Classics can be dense enough without trying to read them on a bright plasma screen. That and the fact that it can end up presenting so much text to you at once that you end up overwhelmed. Sure, you can adjust zoom/font settings, but it’s hard to get over that initial shock of seeing an entire chapter on your screen. That, and a scroll wheel is no replacement for turning pages. There’s a reason dedicated e-book readers (and apps) maintain discrete pages.
I got a Kindle as soon as there was a model I could afford. I read about ten percent of Les Misérables and put the Kindle in a drawer for about two years. It feels odd to talk about literature in terms of percentages, but on a fixed size screen the number of pages changes as the font size does, whereas you have always read a certain percentage of the words. I can’t remember if I had a specific reason for putting my Kindle in storage, but it probably had something to do with me studying for a degree at the time, and needing the notes and other luxuries that are present in more modern editions of the classics.
So my Kindle made me a better scholar, but not in the way I thought it might.
In addition, I do just like physical books. I like turning pages. I like how they look and how they smell. And they do furnish a room (unless you’re like me and they spill out over the furnishings and on to the floor).
They’re also objects in a way a digital book isn’t, in that they suffer from impermanence. Of course, permanence is a lovely upside to the new library of Alexandria, but there is no history there bar the odd change of spelling and the occasional transcriber’s note. I remember where I was when I bought my (first) copy of Ulysses, I remember the context of my life at the time. I remember that it was slightly shop soiled and I got a discount. I was paying by gift card and this meant I had about a quid left on it, and that I bought a bottle of coke with that quid to use the card up. I remember that I got the gift card from my form at school, as a leaving present. I can’t remember where I was when I downloaded that copy of Les Misérablesexcept that it must have been from Project Gutenberg.
I have books that contain paw prints, left there by long dead pets.
A friend of mine once tried to convince me to convert all my books in to a digital format and junk them. I love this friend and value his input, but his suggestion made me think of his room. It was like an Apple advert, all white and clean, nothing amiss or out of place. Everything of worth, value, or interest, he did on his computer or phone. That he had a physical, analogue now seems to me an extravagance out of character for him. He had a collection of old, boxed PC games, but I’m pretty sure he’s since made images of the discs, written down the keys, and disposed of them one way or another. I would have gained space in following his lead, but I would have lost that sense of containment and context that I needed, and still need.
I picked my Kindle back up again because of some mandatory update shenanigans that would have forced me to flash it myself, and that would have been a pain in the arse. I have one, so I may as well use it. I’ve been reading the odd free classic on it, mostly ones I don’t own or only have in big bus-unfriendly omnibus editions (H.G. Wells, mainly). I’ve discovered that choice can be a bad thing. It’s not so bad on my Kindle as on my phone (on which I can tab out and check twitter), but as with most things digital, distraction reigns. If I’m reading, say, Pride and Prejudice, and get even slightly bored, I’ll just start reading Bleak House. What’s that, a five page description of a street? Boring. I’ll give some Hugo a go (go). I have found it difficult to read heftier classics on a screen. I miss the weight, and I find it too easy to stop. As much as people say reading War and Peace or Middlemarch could and should be fun (and is), it is still a challenge. A Kindle (or god forbid, my phone), makes giving up even easier. Having the doorstop in your hand makes it feel like a weapon your taking with you on an excursion, so you can swat the twin insects of Facebook and Twitter.
It certainly is good for sampling, though, and that’s what I can see the long term use of my Kindle being. I can turn the distraction in to something useful. Fill it with the canon, courtesy of Gutenberg, then dip in and out. Anything I find that piques my immediate interest I can go and get a hard copy of, and enjoy properly. There’s nowt wrong with reading on a screen, and it even has advantages (like FREE BOOKS), but you really shouldn’t read War and Peace on a tablet or a phone if it can be helped.
I think Don DeLillo is a pretty cool guy. He writes stuff that some might consider pretty wanky; achingly postmodern stuff about the emptiness at the heart of modern capitalist living and an anxiety about death that stops you living meaningfully. I love this kind of stuff, and when I was young and trawling through Wikipedia filling my head with a list of Old White Dudes that sounded like they had similar concerns and anxieties to me (a Young White Dude), DeLillo was near the top of the list. I hated being a Young White Dude a lot. I often felt the kind of pain only people who grew up (mostly, in my case) securely and safely can feel, a pain about pretty much nothing and then, also, everything. See what I mean about wanky? I read White Noise about the same time I read Camus’ The Stranger and I was deeply effected/affected and was miserable for quite a while. That I found the first fifty or so pages of Americana dreadfully boring probably says more about my growth than it does about the novel’s quality. I ended up coming back though. I wish I’d spent more time with Conan Doyle than Camus when I was younger.
Mostly I thought Americana was a really boring version of American Psycho. For the first few chapters it was the same kind of narcissistic assholes sexually harassing their secretaries and listing brand names and feeling *very* despondent about their incredibly easy, well-paying jobs. There was none of the interest of the Pure Fucking Evil lurking below, though. Maybe I want more human novels, now? In all likelihood I didn’t get the joke, being a working class person who lives in East Anglia. That I realised this means I probably have grown up. A bit.
I put the book down for a few months. I wrote a bit about it here. I went back to Americana because I don’t like leaving books unfinished (he says, about 20 to 30 pages in to twenty or so different books). I wasn’t exactly gripped, but I wasn’t repulsed, and that was enough to keep me reading pretty much straight through until I finished it. Yep, it certainly was a book about the emptiness of modern life and the need to strike out in some unconventional way and create your own meaning. Once David Bell’s family came in to it there was a bit more to hang on to. His parents, at least, faced problems that were actually problems, and DeLillo does a neat little job of telling a family drama in weirdly framed flashbacks and monologues. The jokes get funnier. The one about the zippo surviving the Bataan death march was particularly funny. He also writes the truest representation of being a young boy and feeling the gaping emptiness at the heart of a summer evening I have ever read. There is some truly impassioned writing, if you can slog through the fifty or so pages that really don’t do much, but I guess were necessary all the same.
As David Bell gets in to his road trip and the novel descends in to weirdness, the book I thought of was On the Road. Americana exposes the vacuousness of that book, or at least the solutions it offers. This is what On the Road *really* is, drinking and drugging oneself in the heart of the American weirdness, beatific visions exposed as art that is representational because it is incomprehensible. DeLillo attacks the kind of consumerism that On the Road promotes even as it disparages it. There is a reason Burroughs said that On the Road sold Levi’s and espresso machines. I love the beats, but they were full of shit, and DeLillo roundly calls them on it here.
I’ve been reading a lot of SF lately. I’ve always had a degree of interest in it, but it’s only recently that I’ve started thinking of myself as someone who has an active interest in SF. The first SF novel I remember reading is Dune, which I read when I was about 13, I think? I don’t even know where I got my copy of it from, probably from a charity shop. I might have been induced to buy it because 1) it had a cool cover and 2) I knew that Iron Maiden had wanted to write a song about it and been denied by Frank Herbert. If Iron Maiden liked it, then it must be worth my time, right? I wonder where that version of myself went, the boy who happily read a novel just because Iron Maiden liked it. That was the same version of me that started reading Ballard because of Joy Division.
I liked Dune a lot, but it didn’t exactly spark a love of SF off the bat. I read Naked Lunch a couple of years later, which is certainly part of the cultural context of SF, even if it isn’t a hard SF novel itself. I liked Naked Lunch a lot, and it is responsible for most of my juvenilia, and a lot of the first novel I wrote, being incomprehensible gibberish. I knew I liked fiction like that, fiction that was transgressive and weird and didn’t hold your hand. But I still didn’t know I liked SF until I took a class on it at university, a lot of the material for which was taken from The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories (an excellent starting place if you’re interested in SF but don’t know what to read). Around this time I also read every Philip K. Dick novel I could get my hands on. I became very conscious that I liked SF, and that class is where I learned about the history of the form.
That class is also where I learned about the new wave SF of the ‘60s. I was already familiar with Ballard, Burroughs, and Dick, and now I could place them within a context and appreciate more fully just what it was they were trying to do. I really did learn a lot in that class. I probably learned more in that class than any other, bar the one I took on medievalism, which was a deluge of things I had never encountered in any way before, Monty Python excepted.
I learned about the collection Harlan Ellison edited, Dangerous Visions, which was something like the high water mark of the new wave of SF. Many of the writers featured in Dangerous Visions went on to win Hugos and Nebulas, among other forms of fame and acclaim. The collection includes the first story that Samuel R. Delany sold, Aye, and Gomorrah, which is a masterpiece, by the way.
So I knew that Dangerous Visions was this touchstone for a lot of writers that I admired, and had introduced the public to the kind of weird, transgressive fiction that I knew I liked but didn’t know was SF, or new wave, or any of those things. I found a copy of it in my local library and decided to continue my education.
It still holds up. It’s not quite as dangerous as Ellison assures us it was when it came out, but you can definitely see how it widened the field. The broad variety of stories present such topics as incest, voyeurism, automation, transhumanism, gambling, murder, racism, and drugs. These stories are not space westerns filled with bug eyed monsters. I quickly realised that this was responsible for a lot of what I enjoy about SF, namely that it can take on themes and issues in ways that literary fiction can’t.
Contributing to the air of deliberation is the fact that each story is pre- and post-scripted. Ellison contributed a foreword to each story, often detailing how he personally knows the author of the work, always describing just why it is that he’s decided to include the story and how it furthers the stated aim of shaking up established SF publishing and tastes. Each afterword is contributed by the author of the story; some describe exactly what convention or taboo they were trying to break, others explain their stylistic experiments, a few are cryptic as to their intentions. I know I said that I’d gotten to like fiction that doesn’t expect you to understand, but all the explanatory extra remarks are of much use to the student or interested reader, and were probably included originally as a kind of hedge. If it’d just been a broadside of far-out stories with no rhyme or reason, the accusations of cultural vandalism would’ve been easier to make. Ellison was trying to help build something, not just destroy what had come before.
The explanatory notes also help add focus to what is a very diverse (not many stories by women though) anthology. All the stories were intended to be “dangerous” in one way or another but they vary wildly in their approach; the broadness in itself becomes the theme. It would be impossible to talk about all the stories, but considering an anthology of this size (33 stories), it would be a useful exercise to talk about the stories that still stick out to me, a few weeks after having read it.
The one that stands out the most is Riders of the Purple Wage by Philip José Farmer, really a novella more than a short story, but a novella of such high quality that Ellison could not refuse Farmer his extra wordcount. What a good decision by Ellison. It is a psychedelic tale of a young artist living in a decadent future society where automation has caused untold plenty and turned many people into Huxley style hedonists. Farmer’s writing is constantly inventive, always punning and playing, a decadence of writing that perfectly reflects the society he imagines (and its capacity for onanism). It is an excellent little bit of world building, and I admit it also stood out to me because Farmer is very fond of Joyce, and references him a lot in this novella. Finnegans Wake as style guide for SF novella; it’s not exactly dangerous, but it certainly pushes boundaries. Stories like this are why I read SF.
One of the truly dangerous stories in the anthology is Theodor Sturgeon’s If All Men were Brothers, Would You Let One Marry Your Sister?, which takes on a theme no less hefty than the incest taboo. It is almost an exercise in taking perceived wisdom and arguing against it using logical extremes, and Sturgeon admits as much in his afterword. It begins as a tale of paranoia and intergalactic politics: a man discovers a planet that isn’t on any of the charts, and no one who knows anything will talk to him about it. They (big T) do their best to stop him finding out more. The frame of the story is that of the man who knows too much laying out his case. This hides the revelation from us the same way it was hidden from the protagonist and enables a play on the sympathies of the reader. We learn Vexvelt is a utopia long before learning it is a planet on which incest is actively encouraged, a literary shell game. We empathise with a man trying to speak truth to power, a power whose disgust and narrow mindedness we don’t understand, and as the story ends this is quickly inverted, because of course, the executive knew all about it and had good reasons for being disgusted. This story is a masterly example of building up and managing a reader’s expectations, and demonstrates just how effective an SF story can be in probing an idea and examining the the so-called self-evident in a way that compels and engages the reader.
Carol Emshwiller’s Sex and/or Mr. Morrison, one of the few stories by a woman in Dangerous Visions, is dangerous because of its frank portrayal of voyeurism from a female perspective. This story isn’t SF per se, but does what a really, really good SF story can do; make the everyday seem utterly alien. I’d explain further, but someone else already has, and far better than I could.
This is getting too long, so I’ll just quickly mention a couple other stories I really liked. Fritz Leiber’s story Gonna Roll the Bones is a glittering, gorgeously written story about a man playing craps with the devil. It is full of gem-like, hallucinatory descriptions of the paranormal and the legendary, contrasted with grotty regularity. The kind of dream you’ll remember just because you didn’t think your brain capable of it.
The closing story, Samuel R. Delany’s Aye, and Gomorrah, is really a horror story, and horrifies so effectively that I can’t help but recall it. In this story, humanity has begun to explore and colonise space. The humans who do this, do so at the price of their genitalia. These spacers go on shore leave, and come across frelks, people that find spacers attractive and fetishize their lack of genitalia. Delany’s descriptions of being denied a sexuality, and of having a sexuality that cannot be fulfilled, are devastating. Good SF can make the normal strange, but it can also take the strange and make it awfully, terribly human.
One last honourable mention: the anthology also includes one of my favourite Philip K. Dick stories, Faith of Our Fathers.
Not every story is as dangerous as it would like to be, and some are less transgressive than they once were, but there isn’t a single story in Dangerous Visions that I feel like I wasted my time reading, something that is remarkable both because of its size and because of its experimental nature. Even the failed experiments are of interest, and Dangerous Visions is worth your time if you have even the vaguest interest in SF or weird, transgressive fiction. Dangerous Visions stands out as one of the points where SF started to really deliver on some of the wider promise of the genre.
I must confess, I had never heard of White Light before I picked it up. Being the intelligent and discerning consumer I am, I bought it because it had a shiny cover and only cost 50p. I’m pretty sure you can’t even get a Freddo for 50p anymore. I browsed the introduction on the way home and was informed that it should be considered part of the context of cyberpunk, even if it isn’t necessarily cyberpunk itself. I like William Gibson a lot, so this interested me enough to immediately make a start on the novel, something I don’t often do when I pick up a used book, unless it’s something I’ve been looking for for aaaaaaages.
And pretty much all of a sudden, I’d finished it, and was sat there thinking that I’d normally have to pay a lot more than 50p to trip that hard.
White Light certainly is akin to cyberpunk, even if a lot of the novel takes place in lucid dreams as opposed to cyberspace, and in a lot of ways cyberspace is a collective lucid dream anyway. We are taken from a quiet college town in upstate New York to infinite dreamscapes filled with impossible mathematical constructs, decaying cities, and a hallucinatory miasma. If cyberpunk is what happened when the kids who grew up reading Kerouac and doing LSD started thinking about computers, then this fits pretty nicely in this context (a context that should also include Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, a text that is an obvious jumping off point for White Light).
The novel moves with the frenetic pace of the Velvet Underground song of the same name. You might expect that a preoccupation with heavy mathematical concepts would slow the novel down, but that’s not the case at all. Being as concerned with landscapes and dreamworlds as the novel is, Rucker works these concepts in to the fabric of the plot and the logic of the story, creating an effect much like the same (or similar) concepts applied to painting. The quest narrative never gets bogged down by philosophical exegesis and Rucker always does a good job of making sure you can at least try and imagine the things he is describing. He does it well enough that you don’t get slowed down by looking things up.
But you can if you want. You do not need a postgrad education in math or philosophy to understand anything in White Light. I have a C in GCSE mathematics and got by just fine. Rucker even explains things well enough (without doing it explicitly) that I got curious and spent an hour in a Wikipedia hole that started at the article on set theory. I even understood some of it. In fact, I suspect that this novel might even be of help if you are starting out learning concepts like Hilbert’s hotel, and need help visualising it.
The psychedelic, mathy parts are great and I’m definitely interested in reading some of Rucker’s nonfiction work on the same subjects. This side of the novel is definitely its strongest aspect. The more human dramatic aspect is a fair enough beginning point, but the sorrows of Felix Rayman ring a little hollow when you consider how much of an asshole he is to his wife. Rayman wanting to escape dreamland and see his wife again is ostensibly the driving force of the story, but one gets the feeling that the author, like his autobiographical protagonist, is probably more interested in exploring infinity than human relationships. It’s a perfectly functional frame, and I don’t think anyone will come to this novel expecting Henry James, but it is a weakness that is even acknowledged by the author in the afterword, so it bears mentioning.
White Light wasn’t the deepest SF novel I’ve picked up recently, but it’s been one of the more fun ones. I might have had more to chew on if I was in any way a serviceable mathematician, but White Light was still enjoyable the way a stoned conversation with a friend about shapeshifting lizards is enjoyable. If you like Drug Novels (maybe Dick, but less depressing), or enjoyed Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, give it a go.
I thoroughly enjoy watching people play videogames. I enjoy playing them myself, of course, but there is something about watching people play that is a joy in itself. This might (for me) stem partly from one of the few positive memories I have of my father; watching him beat Goldeneye on 007 difficulty, something I couldn’t (and still can’t) do. A videogame is something you can share (even discounting multiplayer games) in a way that you can’t share a book or a film. Sure you can read it or watch it at the same time as someone else, but you can’t really talk all the while. These are shareable experiences, but not in the same way.
So Twitch.tv is something I am very happy exists. In many ways it’s an awful platform filled with awful people, but any community with subcommunities can be like that (hello Reddit). And at its best, that is what Twitch is; a place to form a community around a game. It might be a modern game, it might be an old game, there might only be five people that still play that game; they can get together and watch each other play it. The particular subcommunity I want to talk about is the Resident Evil (RE) community on Twitch (and Youtube). I have loved the RE games since they first came out, and I am delighted that there is a large group that plays these games on Twitch. I’d love to support these people monetarily, but I’m skint, and I can’t, so instead I am going to point you in their direction to try make up for some of the many hours of entertainment I’ve received from these guys.
Twitch – https://www.twitch.tv/carcinogensda
Twitter – https://twitter.com/CarcinogenSDA
This guy’s been there and done it, man. He’s probably been speedrunning since before you were born. The SDA in his name stands for speeddemosarchive, the place that used to be the nexus of the (western) speedrunning community before streaming happened and shit got real (like, Cosmo’s Ocarina of Time runs on the BBC news, real). Carcinogen was there at the first AGDQ, the one in Mike Uyama’s basement.
Carcinogen has speedrun just about every RE game there is, even the ones he hates. He is also a walking encyclopaedia of RE knowledge, being able to access original sources and the Japanese RE community because he speaks Japanese too he’s that cool. Recently he’s been doing challenge runs of the first RE game (all kills, knife only, that kind of thing). He’s even put in the effort of getting the Sega Saturn version up and running, so he can show off the differences. Carcinogen’s stream is a great place to visit if you’re interested in higher level mechanics. He’ll make sure you know exactly what push priority, pump cancelling, and stair skating are. I’ve been playing these games since they came out, and I still learn something new every time I visit his stream.
Carcinogen is by no means a strictly RE streamer though. Part of the reason I love his stream is that he also runs the Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid games. These are the games I played with my friends after school, and this only heightens the feeling of Twitch being a modern way of doing the same thing. He’s also played Dino Crisis and a bunch of other PS1/2 era survival horror games, along with more modern titles.
Do give his stream a visit. Just remember to read the FAQ, and not to ask him what his favourite RE is.
Twitch – https://www.twitch.tv/bawkbasoup
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Bawkbasoup
Personality counts for a lot, and this guy has it in buckets. A high energy streamer whose enthusiasm a lot of other streamers could learn from. He is always talking, laughing or singing. And he has a nice voice, so don’t worry about the singing part. If you like the RE games as much as I do, then his sheer passion for them will likely interest you as it does me. What’s more remarkable is that he’s kept this up despite his most recent project being to learn RE3, an RNG nightmare of a game whose main reset point is a good few minutes in, after some very tricky dodges. Fucking magnum. Despite only running this game “properly” for a few months as of this writing, he has posted some very respectable times.
Not that he hasn’t posted respectable times in the other games he runs. He’s had various world records for Resident Evil 2, and for the Silent Hill games. And as a bonus, he generally runs the Gamecube version of RE2, which is fantastic, because hearing Marvin’s monologue does get a bit old after the twentieth murder hall reset.
Bawkbasoup also plays the odd game of League of Legends with his subscribers. And sometimes he plays Dance Dance Revolution. And he does a weekly cooking show (he worked as a chef but now streams full time). A true renaissance man. Go watch him.
Twitch – https://www.twitch.tv/dudleyc_
Twitter – https://twitter.com/dudleyc_
The hype is real in this one. Another high energy stream, with MIDI keyboard sound effects to boot.
DudleyC_ streams RE3 as a main game. He has won and lost the RE3 (PC) world record many, many times, and through various route changes. Definitely one of, if not the, best RE3 players in the world and knows a shitload about the game. Hasn’t been playing it as much lately because he tends to let it sit for a bit after he reclaims the world record, which he holds as of this writing. Tends to play Smash Bros, or The Division, during his time of RE3. You can’t blame him for taking some time off RE3, because like I said, it’s an RNG nightmare. Fucking. Magnum. DudleyC_ does try to do at least one RE3 run a day before he moves on, but he’s worth watching whatever he streams. He can also be found racing RE3 with WolfDNC fairly often, worth bearing in mind if you like races.
As a bonus, every time he completes an RE3 run he moves over to his music setup, mutes the game, and plays the ending piano solo himself. It’s a sight to behold.
He also has one of the best sub emotes on Twitch for an RE fan: dudsMagnum.
(Sub to dudz).
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