welcome to fantastical! ᚠ
a newsletter about the things that make life worth living: games, tv shows, movies, novels and all that jazz
"Soul of the mind, key to life's ether. Soul of the lost, withdrawn from its vessel. Let strength be granted, so the world might be mended... so the world might be mended..." ~ The Maiden in Black, Demon’s Souls
Welcome, dearest readers, to my newest project: fantastical!
Yes, I know. I already have one Substack newsletter—diabolical. I’ve decided that I would rather write two. Let me explain . . . .
At diabolical I will continue to focus on controversial topics like free speech, cancel culture, the problems with fandom, game journalism and so forth. I’ll be moving more and more toward cultural and media criticism, often but not always through the lens of art and entertainment. There I’ll write about the controversies surrounding games like Six Days In Fallujah or This Land Is My Land, or the smearing of Zack Snyder fans, or the attacks against game devs like Troy Leavitt of Hogwarts Legacy. I’ll discuss the Israel/Palestine conflict, Critical Race Theory, ridiculous politicians, the “problematic fantasy tropes” of Redwall (smh) and the ethics of suing a baker who won’t bake someone a cake based on religious grounds. I will talk about the narrative created by activists and the media—sometimes on the left, sometimes on the right—that trades truth for something else. Something more sinister.
I realize not everyone will want to read that stuff.
Some people are just here for the games, the shows, the entertainment and the fun. And sometimes that’s all I want to talk about. I want to write about why Elden Ring is so exciting, or how Might and Magic II changed my life, or why I can’t stop watching Schitt’s Creek even though I know binging it will only end in tears. I want to write movie reviews for films both new and old—from Black Widow to The Mission.
This is why I’m creating fantastical
Think of it as diabolical’s angelic twin.
Here we will avoid controversial topics like the plague (as much as humanly possible) and focus instead on the myriad things that bring us joy, escapism and wonder. Fantasy novels, video games—preferably more niche titles, though some bigger ones as well—TV shows and movies. What you should play, what you should watch, what this little game is that nobody’s ever heard of, why this old movie from before we were born is still worth your time.
Over at my YouTube channel (please do subscribe!) I aim to mix both the light and dark sides, sometimes addressing controversies like those I’ve listed above, and sometimes simply previewing games or talking about movies and so forth. I’m also going to start doing some live-streams as well—just to chat with all you fine people, or play some games. One thing at a time, step by step.
I’m aiming for a holistic approach to my coverage. I am a generalist blogger at heart, and I enjoy writing about and discussing a wide range of topics and hobbies. I think the notion of the renaissance man is frowned upon in this day and age and I think that’s a shame. We should be well-rounded, able to hold our own in a wide range of activities both physical and intellectual. We should all strive to be warrior poets.
It might be wiser to focus on just one game or one subject and really go full bore in that direction, but I’m not sure that’s for me. Certainly it’s been suggested to me on more than one occasion. At least with two newsletters you, dearest reader, can pick and choose. You can unsubscribe to one and only follow the other. The choice is yours. (I considered creating a video game newsletter, an entertainment newsletter and a politics newsletter but I think that might be excessive. If you disagree please let me know!)
I have felt a bit . . . lost lately, if I’m being truthful. Struggling with my own self-doubt, confronting hard truths, always questioning whether or not I’m making the right choices. Looking back on the last decade as a professional writer and wondering did I make mistakes? Should I have gone to YouTube years ago? Have I lost my mojo? Did I lose steam at some point? Why haven’t I gained more Twitter followers? Am I stuck?
So yes, I’ve felt a little lost, a little uncertain how to proceed, a little—if I’m being entirely honest—discouraged at times. Gaining followers is hard. You look around and see the wild success of some of your peers and you wonder, “What am I doing wrong?” But maybe it is just patience and perseverance that’s required. Weathering the storm and rolling the dice.
When your career is built around followers, readers, subscribers, etc. it’s hard not to sometimes find yourself mired in this kind of thinking, this kind of spiral. That I have given up some of my old crutches has helped me find clarity in some ways, but in others has sent me down this long dark hallway of second-guessing and anxiety. I say this not for pity but simply to be honest and open.
So to help me focus, to help me have a better sense of what subjects to cover and how to proceed, I give you fantastical.
This puts a little more choice in your hands, dear readers. Follow diabolical for the media criticism, the defense of free speech, the political discussions from the point of view of someone who is politically homeless rather than partisan. Follow fantastical for game and movie reviews, TV discussions and meditations on The Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones. Follow my YouTube channel for a little bit of everything. And, of course, Forbes is still where I earn my bread until—perhaps—someday I can earn it here instead. Ah, the dream of independence.
I’m excited for fantastical. It may be just the thing—the yin to diabolical’s yang. The balance. And who knows? It could be fun to have an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. I hope you’ll join me on this fantastic voyage into mystical lands, uncharted waters, into the fog of Boletaria and the wide prairies of Rohan.
In the meantime, tell your friends! Thanks for reading and subscribing!