Bonjourno. This is just a quick post while I’m waiting for Siggy to get home so we can have tea together and relax after a busy week at work. In fact it hardly qualifies as a ramble. As usual beware spoilers…

I recently read Piercing by Ryu Murakami, a novella originally published in Japan in 1994, which was published in English in 2008. It is about a family man obsessed with the idea of stabbing someone in the abdomen with an ice-pick. He watches his baby daughter sleeping and fights back his desire to stab her. He realises that in order to protect his daughter from harm that he needs to carry out his violent desire on a prostitute, to get it out of his system.

He takes copious notes formulating the perfect murder and then takes himself off to stay in a down-town Tokyo hotel. He calls an agency for an S&M call-girl intent on having a dry-run but matters soon spiral out of control, leaving him escorting the prostitute to the hospital after she self-harms. The book can be seen as a Hollywood influenced dark comedy about sexual frustration and mental health. I’ve read quite a few highfalutin reviews that put the book on quite a high pedestal, but while it was better than In the Miso Soup I wasn’t that impressed. Once you’ve got over the initial savagery of the main character’s desires it’s not that deep a book and I was happy it was only 185 pages long.

I finished watching Season 3 of the Amazon Original The Man in the High Castle and thought it was a great season. It built strongly on ideas hinted at in the last season, developed some ideas original author Philip K Dick I’m sure would’ve approved of if he were still alive, and it seemed to me like something of significance happened in every episode.

For a series from an online digital streaming service this seems quite unusual. Usually there’s a lot of filler and very slow storytelling as the writers seem to spread their scant supply of ideas across the episodes. Sense8 fell afoul of this, Preacher also and indeed earlier seasons of The Man in the High Castle.

The show really comes into its own with the more fleshed out idea of ‘travellers’ i.e. those who can move from one parallel reality to another in the multiverse bringing with them stories (and in some cases film reels) of how the allies won WWII. A couple of important characters (almost literally) get the chop and the Nazi’s special project is revealed – perhaps stealing some thunder from the very stupendous Mr Robot, if rumours of what’s planned for Season 4 of that Amazon Original are to be believed.

It was also nice to see that Doctor Who seems to be bedding in quite nicely with what I’m sure was a revamp of a ‘killer bandages’ storyline (episode two) from the old days and an educational missive about Rosa Parks’s pivotal role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the American civil rights movement of the mid-50s (episode three). The fact that one or two of the Doctor’s new companions in those days would be asked to board and sit at the back of the bus helped sell the struggle and the writing seemed a lot tighter for this episode.

During the course of events a bad guy was zapped back in time which I’m sure is going to return to haunt the team in a later episode. I hope this upward trend continues and my only gripe now is that I really don’t like the new interior design of the TARDIS.

Finally, I’ve been so preoccupied with waiting for the next Star Wars Battlefront II update (due out 30 October) that I failed to notice the release of a news Assassins Creed game in the form of Assassins Creed: Odyssey. It’s early days yet, I’ve only played about 7 hours, but so far so good. As the title suggests it’s based in ancient Greece and sees the main character acting as a mercenary among what I guess amounts to a civil war among rival factions.

What I think is unique in this game, which has all the usual weapon and ability systems, is the choice given to you right from the get-go to play as a male or female character, and indeed to choose a difficulty level. In much the same way as Doctor Who was due a female lead that’s also the case for AC:O. Of course, being a geeky heterosexual gamer I opted for the female character as I’d much rather spend hours looking at her than some guy in a skirt. Perhaps not the most PC of things to say in this day and age, but there you have it.

It’s hard to provide a balanced review of a game I know is going to take me ages to complete – especially if there is value in playing the game through again as the male character (it really depends if story options are markedly different between characters) – but I may jot down a few thoughts now and again about it as I progress. So far it looks amazing, plays relatively bug free (although I expect I’m going to get annoyed with the ship-based missions) and I hope there’s going to be some nice ‘alien civilisation’ Easter eggs along the way.