Posts Tagged ‘Red Rising’

My car, the Unholy Roller.

This past weekend was a busy one for me, all due to it being the Jewish holiday of Passover (which, if you’re unfamiliar, is us celebrating the events movies like Ten Commandments and Prince of Egypt are based on). Among other things, I somehow ended up tying the musical Hamilton to two different dinners, played a prank on my stepmom that I posted on YouTube (you can watch it here), ate more food lacking in yeast and drank more wine than is probably recommended, and watched a lot of anime and Lucifer.

However, what feels for me like the highlight of my weekend was something quite different. As some of you know, I only got my driver’s license this past July after nearly ten years of on-and-off instruction and practice, and my car, the Unholy Roller, this past October. Since then, I’ve had a number of firsts: driving to work, driving to the movie theater, driving on the highway without anyone else beside me, driving at night, driving in the rain, driving in the rain at night, driving at night in the rain on the highway (not something I’m ready to repeat anytime soon). And this past weekend, I racked up another first: my first road trip.

You see, I live in Columbus, Ohio and my dad lives in Cleveland, which meant I had to drive up to Cleveland to attend his Seder (Passover ritual meal), and then drive back the next day. And I was driving up by myself.

Honestly, I was more than a little nervous. I’ve never driven that long or that far on my own, and while I’ve gotten comfortable driving on highways, I’ll never like doing so. But I got some good advice before I embarked, and I made sure to have caffeine and snacks, as well as a full tank of gas, before setting out. And you know what? It went well. Very well. In fact, the ride back home was almost enjoyable. I listened to an audio book both ways, Red Rising by Pierce Brown,* which is one of my favorite science-fiction stories and which kept me calm in the absence of music. This allowed me to enjoy the passing scenery (Ohio has some lovely mountains and farmlands) and keep an eye on the road without getting antsy.

It was fine. Even better, it was fine. And dare I say it…it was fun at times. Lots of fun.

I guess this makes sense for Passover. The ancient Israelites had never been outside Egypt prior to the Exodus, and had no idea of what to expect, though they had been prepared for the trip for a while now. But they left, crossed the Red Sea, and…found numerous instances to complain and want to go back to Egypt, which eventually led to no Israelites entering Israel until all the generation who had known Egypt died off forty years later. But if they hadn’t freaked out and tried to turn around anytime they faced a small inconvenience, they would’ve enjoyed life in the Holy Land instead of dying in the desert.

And I went on a trip, with only a vague idea of what to expect. But I didn’t freak out every time a driver cut in front of me without signaling and tried to turn off and go home. And in the end, I got to my hotel in one piece, enjoyed dinner with my family, and somehow ended up rapping a mini-medley of Hamilton songs with the lyrics changed to reflect Passover (yeah, that was a thing. And it is something only heavy demand will make me repeat). And the next day I got home, easy as pie, with enough time afterwards to relax before cooking dinner.

I would love to revisit the Reformatory and reconnect with the ghosts there someday soon.

And perhaps I’ll do the trip again. I’ve applied for some vacation time at work, and I’d like to spend a few days in Cleveland with my dad and see some of the city’s sites, including the cemetery where James Garfield is buried (yes, I’m bringing the dowsing rods), as well as go back to the Ohio State Reformatory and check out some other haunted locations in Ohio. Now that I know I can, it should be a breeze.

Oh, and before I forget, on the way up I made a pit stop in the village of Bellville, Ohio, which I found to be quintessential small-town Ohio at its best. The Waze app on my phone had me drive around the place a little bit in order to get back on the interstate, and I was charmed by what I saw. Bellville feels like the perfect place to set a novel, and I even have an idea for one cooking in my head. I’ll have to visit again at some point so I can write it and make it feel real. Maybe after visiting my dad and the Reformatory?

I just hope nobody in Bellville minds their town being the setting of a horror novel. Otherwise, I might never be able to return!

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I’m off to have dinner and then do some writing. In the meantime, I’m still looking for advanced readers for my upcoming fantasy-horror novel Rose, being released by Castrum Press. The story follows a young woman who starts turning into a plant creature (and that’s just the start of her problems). In exchange for an early electronic copy, all I ask is you read it and consider posting a review after the book is released. If interested, please email me at ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com.

Until next time, pleasant nightmares!

*They’re slight, but there are some parallels between Moses and Darrow, the main character of Red Rising, which is why I listened to it. Totally recommend the book, by the way. If you want a science-fiction story about a revolution of the have-nots against the haves in a dystopian world but want it to be much more immersive and smarter than Hunger Games, the Red Rising series might just be for you.

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(Again, slight spoilers on this one, so be careful going own. You may learn something you were hoping to be surprised about)

Well, we’re back. I’m listing the five greatest villains I’ve seen throughout the past year. Will your favorite appear on the list? Who will win the number one spot? And will I use a real person or one of my own villains (no on both of those)? Let’s dive in!

Also, check out #10-6 if you haven’t already.

5. The Society (Red Rising trilogy)

The society pyramid

Big thanks to Kat Impossible for introducing me to this series and getting me hooked on it.

Now, if you’re not familiar with this trilogy, let me explain the premise: imagine about 700-1000 years in our future, mankind has evolved and divided itself into colors: Blue, Green, White, Pink, Red, Obsidian, etc. And on the very top are the god-kings, the Golds, who use the system they helped create to become rich and powerful.

But even if the Golds are the ones who benefit most from this system, and even if there plenty of Golds who alone would qualify for this list (I’m looking at you, Jackal!), none of them on their own are the true villains. If you ask me, the Society as a whole–one that enslaves some of its citizens, and kills others in order for the strongest to survive and rule–is the true villain. It’s a system that takes the very essence of humanity and destroys it for the sake of economic power and prosperity, where those who are compliant can get power even if they’re not Golds or any of the other High Colors. The Society molds the monsters it creates, and the people who fight against it, all at once.

For that reason, I’m nominating an entire civilization for #5 on this list.

And if you haven’t read this series, I highly recommend you do. The characters are awesome, you never see where the story will go, and it constantly finds ways to surprise you and keep you reading. I highly recommend it for anyone who has a thing for science fiction, or just good stories in general.

4. James Patrick Marsh (American Horror Story: Hotel)

I said in my review that AHS: Hotel was my favorite season of the series so far, and March was a big part of that. Played by perennial series mainstay Evan Peters and based partially on real-life serial killer HH Holmes, March is a serial killer who builds the Hotel Cortez to be the ultimate murder palace. After his early death, he mentors other killers as a ghost, inviting people to stop in his hotel to learn the art of murder from him, and even doing a few kills here and there as well.

There are so many reasons to love him as a villain. For one, he’s just so much fun! He’s like Walt Disney turned into a murderer, full of old-fashioned charm and bravado. He’s literally the sort of person you would want to meet in a bar and have a drink with. Whenever March appears on screen, he steals the scene, and no one seems to have more fun with him than Peters himself, who looks like he’s having so much fun playing this murderous hotelier.

Another good reason to like this guy is that everything that happens in the show, you can trace back to him. Even when he was alive, a lot of his actions tended to have far-reaching effects, some of which are felt in the modern-day events of the season. I love a villain who only needs to flip a single domino and then sits back to watch the chaos unfold, and March does it with just a few words and a charming smile. His spot on this list is well-deserved.

3. Whitney Frost (Marvel’s Agent Carter)

Season 2’s villainess is definitely a unique woman, and that’s why she’s so high up on the list. An actress who moonlights as a world-class genius physicist for her husband’s company, Whitney has always been told that, as a woman, her value is in her looks, not in her brains, and is upset when her film roles start to dry up because she’s considered “old” (though if you ask me, her best days are still ahead of her). Because of that, she helps to develop, study, and eventually become one with a strange and destructive substance known as zero matter, which allows her to break down and absorb the people and objects around her. After that, she starts using zero matter to gain power, creating even more so that she can become even stronger.

What’s interesting is how she’s such a contrast from series’ lead Peggy Carter, and yet so very similar. Both are women, very pretty women, and because it’s still a male-dominated age, men continually underestimate them and think they’re better off as secretaries or housewives. However, Peggy proves herself time and time again by taking on the cases and getting the bad guys, while Whitney uses crime, her looks and brains, and zero matter as a way of gaining power in order to validate herself. She’s kind of a dark Agent Carter, in a way, and her evolution through the season and her war with Peggy Carter make for a fascinating battle of the beauties. For that, I give her #3 on this list.

2. Helmut Zemo (Captain America: Civil War)

The penultimate entry on our list is another Marvel villain, this time Baron Zemo’s film portrayal in Captain America: Civil War. Now, I know that the film version, portrayed by Daniel Bruhl, is extremely different from the comic book version. The thing is, I don’t read the comic books (too many continuities and canons to keep track of), so I really have only this version to go on.

And what a version it is. He goes to great lengths and does such elaborate things to carry out his plan. And what is his plan? Simple: to manipulate the Avengers so as to fracture them. And he does it! He breaks the Avengers apart with more fireworks than any boy band could muster, and he almost gets away with it! In fact he does, he just gets captured at the end. This probably makes him the most effective villain in the MCU, and definitely worthy of the Number Two spot on this list.

And he does it all because his family was murdered in Age of Ultron. That’s anger and dedication mixed with patience and intelligence. Seriously, the #2 spot is definitely deserved.

1. The Dread Doctors (Teen Wolf)

Teen Wolf has produced three members of this esteemed list, including last year’s #1 spot. And this year, without a doubt, goes to Season 5’s villains, the well-named Dread Doctors, who I knew as soon as I saw them were going to be somewhere high up on this list.

A group of long-lived mad scientists who have taken the supernatural powers of the world and bent them to their own purposes, they produce hybrids of humans and the various creatures that the show’s famous for. A mix of steampunk fashion, Dr. Frankenstein, Venice plague doctors, Darth Vader, and a few other things, they take teens from Beacon Hills and experiment on them. And all for a very sinister purpose.

Creepy, ephemeral, and willing to go to any lengths to reach their goals. I seriously wish I’d created the Dread Doctors before the show did (or wrote the novel about the Dread Doctors that appears in the show). They deserve the #1 spot, and if you haven’t already, I seriously think you should go online and find some footage on them. You might get some nightmares from it, but it’s definitely worth the risk.

 

That’s this year’s list. But tell me, what did you think? Did you enjoy the list? Any entrees you disagree with? Who do you think should’ve made the list? Let’s discuss.