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10 most anticipated book releases for November 2020

Now I know this year has been a drag. From the pandemic, tragedies, massacres and frankly just everything. Sometimes we all need an escape every once in a while. But, we need to remember how privileged we are to even escape. Not everybody has this luxury of escaping into a book like some of us do. Those protesting in Nigeria and Thailand certainly do not. 

Now that this has been acknowledged, I want to share the most anticipated reads for November 2020.

1. Rebel Rose by Emma Theriault

[Image description: Image of Rebel Rose] Via Goodreads
Calling all Disney fans! I am pretty sure we are all aware of the story of Beauty and the Beast, right? In this novel, we go back in time to France in the 18th century, where they are on the brink of revolution. Finally, Belle has broken the curse and now her Beast has reverted back to humanity and he is now her prince. But remember, they are on the brink of revolution and if you know about the French Revolution, it was off with the heads of the aristocracy. Belle must consider if being a Queen is truly worth it or simply just a title.

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2. Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao

[Image description: Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao] Via Goodreads
In this novel, we follow Chloe being nervous to introduce her boyfriend to her parents. But, plot twist – she doesn’t even know who her boyfriend is! To appease her parents, Chloe hires her boyfriend, Drew, from ‘Rents’, a company that trains boyfriends to impress traditional Asian parents. This is such an interesting concept and makes me think, are we commodifying humanity, for the fact Chloe is ‘renting’ a boyfriend. But, Chloe rents Drew to convince them he is worthy of their approval so they don’t marry her off to Hongbo, a total womanizer within their community. But, what if Chloe and Drew’s relationship is not as fake as they anticipated?

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3. The Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

[Image description: The Violent Delights by Chloe Gong] Via Goodreads
Imagining a Chinese retelling of Romeo and Juliet, coupled with gang rivalry – Chloe Gong’s The Violent Delights is based in 20th century Shanghai where gang rivalry is prevalent, leaving the people of Shanghai distressed and helpless. How chaotic. 

We then have Juliette Cai who is 18 and believes she is above the law and is leading the Scarlet Gang. And their rivals? White Flowers. And of course, these gangs have been fighting for generations. But, what’s most interesting is that the heir to White Flowers is her first love and betrayal. Do with that what you will. If you love Shakespearean retelling and gang rivalry – this is for you.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

4. Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man by Emmanuel Acho

[Image description: Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man] Via Goodreads
In light of everything that has happened in the world with Black Lives Matter, this book is a must. It’s time to have these conversations that people have been talking about.

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5. A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha

[Image description: A Curse of Roses by Diana Pinguicha] Via Goodreads
A Portuguese historical fantasy A Curse of Roses follows the story of Princess Yzabel who is cursed from eating. Here me out. With one touch of bread, it turns into roses. She attempts to bite cheese, the cheese now turns into lilies. This magic leaves her starving because any food she attempts to eat just turns into a bouquet. With a famine plaguing Portugal, she needs to decide what is the best solution for her to save her people?

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

6. Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer

[Image description: Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer] Via Goodreads
Meet Prudence Daniel – an overachiever with a disgusting attitude. Far too quick to cast judgement on her rude and lazy residents in her coastal town. But, something strange happens, one day she wakes up with the ability to cast instant karma on anybody. What a power to have. And of course, she abuses that power and wreaks havoc on anyone who irritates her. Except for this one person where he powers constantly backfire – Quint Erickson, who happens to be her enemy.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

7. A Promised Land by Barack Obama

[Image description: A Promised Land by Barack Obama] Via Goodreads
Need I say more? With elections taking place around the world, let’s hear from the former US President, Barack Obama, who reflects on his time in the Oval Office.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

8. Perfectly Impossible by Elizabeth Topp

[Image description: Perfectly Impossible by Elizabeth Topp]
For fans of the Devil Wears Prada, this is for you. The book is about an assistant to a stinking rich wife and a philanthropist, Bambi von Bizmarck. Aside from being an assistant, Anna is also an artist. But, she is met with a dilemma. Painting and all things art is her passion, her true calling. But it’s not paying the bills, at all. Whereas her position as an assistant enables her to be more successful. Follow Anna to delve into the life of the 1%. Must be nice.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

9. Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett

[Image description: Chasing Lucky by Jean Bennett] Via Goodreads
Josie Saint-Martin has spent half her life with her single mother  – they are practically glued to the hip, moving from one city to the other. If you like the cliches – bad boy trope, friends to lovers, I can 100% confirm this is for you. Until one time, her and her mother move back to their historic New England town to run her family bookstore but this time it’s different. It’s only a matter of time until her grandmother returns and they move again. Until Lucky Karras re-enters her life.

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

10. Murder in Old Bombay by Nev March

[Image description: Murder in Old Bombay by Nev March] Via Goodreads
Yet again, another historical fiction. But, something makes it different – it’s a historical crime fiction set in colonial India. Think Indian Sherlock Holmes. Both of the women who died belonged to the same family, now this is where it gets interesting.  The deaths are suspicious, but no one is talking. We meet Adi Framji, who is the husband of one of the women and ends up hiring Jim Agnihotrii, a captain in the army to help privately investigate the case. (Trigger warning: suicide.)

Get this book on The Tempest’s bookshop supporting local bookstores or on Amazon.

We truly can’t wait for these books. What are you waiting for? Get reading!

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History Poetry Forgotten History Lost in History

You probably don’t know about Hettie Jones, a crusading Beat poet

You’ve heard of a Jack Kerouac, but have you ever heard of a Hettie Jones?

The Beat Literary Movement of the 1950s is coined for its explicit subject matter and bohemian lifestyle. Americans in the 1950’s lived in largely suburban towns and felt threatened by things like communism. Men went to work in suits and women stayed home to cook, clean, and tend to the children.

The rebel, beatnik, group of authors that made up the Beat Generation were iconoclastic. Much of their work explored and influenced American culture and politics in the post-war era. They experimented with form and structure while writing about sex, drugs, and religion. Traditional literary houses rejected them and looked down on them as a group as being defiant, untalented, and unprofessional. 

I think that their being unconventional was the whole point, though.

They were the antithesis of mainstream American life.

They wanted to publish anything that was deemed inappropriate by society. These people were tired of the routine, and frankly, felt beaten down by the conservative lifestyle that they were stuck in. They were highly controversial in that they were the antithesis of mainstream American life and writing. Many of their works of poetry and prose focused on shifts of consciousness and escaping “squareness.” The stereotype around the Beats is that they were not in favor of what they considered to be straight jobs. Instead, they lived together, packed into small and dirty apartments, sold drugs, had sex with each other, and committed crimes. They are also known for exploring homosexuality, which was a highly taboo topic in 1950’s America.

Though they set many precedents together, the Beats still succumbed to the blatant sexism of the time. Most, if not all, of the women involved in the Beat literary movement were overshadowed by their male counterparts for no particular reason other than gender. These women were just as intelligent and qualified to question society as the beatnik men who have become well-known poets and activists.

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One of the most iconic, and downplayed, female poets of that time who deserves righted acknowledgment is Hettie Jones. 

Hettie Jones published 23 books- and yet, we forgot her

Hettie Jones is most known for her marriage to the famous Beat Poet Amiri Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones). Few people know that Hettie helped run Totem Press, one of the more important beat publishers, along with her husband. She went on to publish about 23 books, one being a memoir of her time spent with Amiri and the rest of the Beats titled, How I Became Hettie Jones (1990). She has also written for many prestigious journals, lectured writing across America, and began the literary magazine “Yugen.”

Hettie is one of my favorite poets, so I think that her writing deserved to be at the forefront of the Beat movement, right there with the boys who got so much praise for their work. 

Hettie’s writing is rooted in practical idealism. She left her family home in Long Island to go to college and to fully discover herself. When she graduated in 1955, she never turned back, and moved to New York City. She met Amiri while working at The Record Changer, a jazz magazine. He was a young, black poet with just as much intelligence and intensity as Hettie. They quickly fell in love and moved in together. They would go to poetry readings at cafes and bohemian bars, where they met many of the other Beat poets.

Hettie deserved to be at the forefront of the Beat movement.

When the pair founded their own magazine, they published the writings of many of the iconic beat players who could not find a home for their writing in the traditional sphere. Hettie was in charge of editing the works that were to be published in the magazine. It was here that she honed her craft and found power in the refined writing that makes her work stand out from the rest. 

By 1960, Hettie and Amiri had two children, were married, and lived in New York City. Being a biracial family, though, countless bigoted remarks were directed towards them regardless of the Beat scene. Hettie was on the receiving end of most of these cold stares and was able to see the world through the eyes of her husband and children. This affected her incredibly and eventually became a recurring theme in her writing.  

When Amiri became tightly involved with the Black Power movement, he was criticized for having a white wife. They divorced in 1968. Hettie thrived on her own though and made a living with her children while teaching and editing. Her separation from her husband also gave Hettie an outlet to speak up and finally publish works of her own. She has been quoted to say, “Without a him in the house, there was more space/time for her, and I tried to redefine the way a woman might use it.” 

To this day, Hettie’s writing is compassionate. She writes about her own experiences in a compelling manner while weaving in the issues that she cares about. Currently, Hettie lives in New York City, and is a writer and lecturer. In addition, she runs a writing workshop at the New York State Correctional Facility for Women where she recently published a volume of writing by incarcerated women.

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Tech BRB Gone Viral

Tech nostalgia: Why are young people so obsessed with old technology?

Looking back is nothing new. Fashion repeats trends all the time, musicians sample to create new hits, and every movie ever made is now being remade by Disney. However, in the past few years, I’ve noticed that more and more trends seem to be looking back at our technological pasts.  It seems to me that we’re suffering from, or maybe basking in, a sort of tech nostalgia.

I first heard about Vaporwave from a friend who is hilarious, hip and chronically ironic. When she described it for me I couldn’t tell if she genuinely enjoyed it or was fangirling as a joke. The answer, as it seems to be with so many throwback trends, is both.

Vaporwave was born on the internet. It started as a music genre that incorporated elevator music, smooth jazz and heavy synthesizing. From this, a broader visual aesthetic and subculture, emerged favoring cyans, magentas, and artifacts of the early internet such as clip art and glitch art. The result is absurd. Much like dad shoes, it’s so bad it’s good.

In February of this year, I attended the Krewe of Vaporwave’s Mardi Gras ball in New Orleans where I live. My boyfriend dressed as a jazz solo cup in the trash and I went as Microsoft Word 2000 with spellcheck zig-zag eyebrows and a keytar made from an old apple keyboard. The whole event was one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever participated in: there were dresses made of CDs and a wall of CRT televisions. My boyfriend insulted Win Butler, the lead singer of Arcade Fire also known as DJ Windows 98, and I spun around in a defunct gondola car. The parade that followed was virtual and felt like a dystopian version of the Mario Kart I played with my cousins as a kid, except all you could do was wander around.

Photo by Akasha Rabut [image description: woman in costume on one knee playing a computer keyboard like a guitar while a man with a jazz solo cup patterned shirt stands behind her]
Photo by Akasha Rabut [image description: a woman in costume on one knee playing a computer keyboard like a guitar while a man with a jazz solo cup patterned shirt stands behind her]
In the Midwest, my friends are similarly drawing from the past to inform their present parties. Namely, they’re participating in PowerPoint parties. All you need is a computer, a projector, and a group of very funny friends. Guests create comedic PowerPoints, often telling a story or making an argument, and then present them with plenty of swirling slide transitions and swooshing bullet points.

I saw a PowerPoint performance once, before having ever heard about the concept. In it, a ClickHole writer made a case to her parents about why she should have her ladder privileges restored, despite abusing those privileges in the past by climbing across the ceiling with her sticky frog hands and feet. It was one of the funniest comedic performances I have ever seen, due in no small part to her choice of format.

Vaporwave and PowerPoint both draw their inspiration from interfaces past. However, I think they’re both more extreme examples of a tech nostalgia trend visible across locations and platforms, from the glitchy gif stickers accessorizing Instagram stories to the “Is your child texting about [blank]” meme that rewrites early text-speak. So what’s the appeal?

My first instinct is that as technology becomes more powerful through AI, powerful algorithms and a more effective vessel for evil (*cough* Facebook *cough*), we’re all reaching back to an era of innocuous tech. Clippy could be annoying, but not a threat to democracy. The internet today can be a scary place with Black Mirror-esque peril seemingly looming. In the face of these threats, real or not, it would be nice if we could still Ask Jeeves.

Technology is also sad. Tech has left people more connected and more alone than ever, with people presenting picture perfect lives on social media as reality when in fact their realities are far from perfect. Memes have become a way for people to express their sadness or dismay, like with the “This is fine” dog. All of this makes the frivolity and superficiality of the early internet appealing. Returning to former tech is a way of using absurdity to highlight absurdity.

this is fine GIF
[image description: gif of cartoon dog surrounded by flames saying, “This is fine.”]
Both of these explanations would point to a form of escapism, which begs the question, what, exactly, are we escaping from?

Life Hacks Health Care TV Shows Movies Science Wellness Now + Beyond

Don’t worry – binge-watching Netflix shows is actually good for you

So, you like watching movies, and spending hours with your eyes glued to hours of Parks and Recreation. What if I told you that all of your late night, ice-cream and chill, on the couch, binge-watching sessions could be beneficial?

Yup, that’s right. According to neuroscience and psychology, watching hours of T.V. and movies can be good for you.

If you’re reading this and wondering how in the world could procrastinating and escaping to a far-away dimensional paradise could be great, then hear me out.
Girl from T.V. Show Shameless asking everyone if they would like to watch some television Via Giphy

I, like you, good folks, love to stream long-winded amounts of television, which, at this point, I’m not at all abashed, to admit, and you should not either. There are reasons why binge-watching also referred to as “modern escapism without any restraint” is very good in the long-term run. But, let’s talk about it on a scientific and psychological level.

1. Watching for long hours can act as a stress-reliever

Debi Mazar Television GIF by YoungerTV
Image Description: Woman looks into the camera whilst talking, the caption says “I’m into binge-watching” Via

Destressing has been reported by subjects in recent studies to be the number one cause for binge-watching television, according to Dr. John Mayer, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist.

Binge-watching has the unique capability to become a constant de-stressor in the midst of a world filled with work and responsibilities, with the notion of escapism.

A 2014 study demonstrated that individuals use television as a means to unwind or get away from the struggles and problems faced in life. There were; however, elements of cognitive dissonance which were inhibited by the individuals watching television. As, although, binge-watching made them more stress-free and relaxed, there were sentiments of guilt associated with the action itself.

2. Escaping reality can induce feelings of positivity
Image Description: A woman sits down on the couch while eating popcorn and is watching television via

In a research paper by Bernd Henning and Peter Vorderer, Kubrey states that watching television is an activity likely to be chosen by people wishing to escape from negative feelings and from the demands of reality. Elevation of feelings of positivity is sufficiently on the surface, with binge-watching. The research conducted included German students being observed concerning around the amount of television they were viewing of the need for cognition. It was discovered, that the longer viewers’ need for cognition is, the less pleasant the students’ felt, when they had nothing to do, but think.

From the study: “In its core, escapism means that most people have, due to unsatisfying life circumstances, again and again, cause to ‘leave’ the reality in which they live in a cognitive and emotional way.”

In another study, by Harris interactive, Netflix discovered in December of 2014, 61 percent of 1,500 television watchers claimed to binge-watch Netflix regularly. Three-quarters of the people reported having described feelings of positivity about their current actions.

3. Binge-watching can be a pleasurable activity
Image Description: A couple is sitting in their pajamas and is excited to be watching more television shows and movies via

As a task is about to be finished, our brains release a chemical known as dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which serves to be the pleasure center for the brain. So naturally, our brains would want to watch an ample amount more episodes after finishing the seventh Game of Thrones season, am I right? If we watch television at night, bright lights emitting from the screen of the television, increase our serotonin level. Serotonin regulates the anxiety, happiness, and mood in our brain, by the way.

Thus, the binge-watching sessions ensue, you shouldn’t feel bad about them. Just be smart about when to stop and continue.

Cultural Anthropologist Grant McCracken went into the houses of a surplus of respondents to discover that 76 percent reported that bingeing was a welcome gateway into their hectic lives. Eight out of ten believed that binge-watching a T.V. show was better than watching singular episodes.

4. We feel empathy for the characters on the screen

empathy GIF
Image description: A woman hugs a child with the caption “Let me hug you” via

With the “Golden Age of Television” on the rise and exposure to more intelligent content, binge-watching can surely become an addiction on accounts involving emotions.

Let’s talk more neuroscience, here.

Cognitive empathy observes how people can adopt the psychological characteristic traits of others’ with the inclusion of fictional characters. This phenomenon in psychology could potentially explain how we become engrossed in stories which appear to be similar, yet so different from our own on television. This could be due to our ability to recognize the feelings in others and see ourselves in characters on television using projection 

I finally have a reason to explain to anyone who dares to interrupt me while watching A Series of Unfortunate Events. And if anyone scratches their head in pure, utter confusion, I’ll tell them it’s because of science and refer them to this article. Problem solved.

All in all, it is seen binge-watching actually has benefits primarily from a scientific standpoint. So now, kick back, relax and go finish that season you’ve been putting off because you were too stressed.


My secret life as an undercover fangirl (and how I finally came out)

Remember when being a nerd was considered bad? When “nerd” and “geek” were used as insults for socially awkward people with glasses? Luckily, we have progressed.  

Once upon a time, there was a big stigma towards people who admittedly loved fantasy and sci-fi, now the world is obsessed with Game of Thrones and the Marvel films have broken all kinds of records in every country.

I remember middle school and being teased for liking books with dragons at age 13. I remember bringing books on class trips and getting eye rolls when I explained that yes, there’s magic in this one too. So after a while, I started becoming super secretive about my passions. Not that I ever denied them, but I created a different Facebook account to discuss “nerd things only.” It was the age of Facebook groups and pages.

Then one day I discovered fanfiction. I was reading theories about the upcoming Eragon book, and I stumbled upon a fanfiction site. I was completely sucked in. I’m positive that the number of hours I’ve spent reading fanfictions up to now amounts to several months, if not years. Soon I found myself writing fanfiction. I realized it was something I’d always done, in my own way: even as a child, when sometimes I didn’t like how a certain scene played out or a certain book’s ending, I would rewrite it – albeit in my childish way – and pretend my version could replace canon. I can’t say that I ever became notorious for my fics, but I had a decent following. People would email me asking for updates and send me reviews or comments.

I signed up for Twitter long before it was cool, and I was told by a peer fic writer to use my fanfiction username. I discovered fandom Twitter in its early days when it was merely a safe space for us to freely discuss without being judged before it became the problematic and toxic place it is now. Then I signed up for Tumblr. All of this undercover. Never once did I ever mention my name on these platforms, and it wasn’t because I was afraid the “creepy people from the internet” would see me; on the contrary, I lived in fear that somebody I knew IRL would find out I blogged about fantasy books at night.

As the years passed and fandoms grew on social media, I became ““popular”” (note the double quotes) and respected in several fandoms. This gave me the confidence to stop being so secretive about what I did online – it was nothing bad, after all – and I started opening up to my closest friends about it.

Popular culture also underwent a huge shift: thanks to many successful franchises in the 2000s like Harry Potter, Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, etc., fantasy became more and more normalized. By 2011, when the last Harry Potter movie came out, nobody used “nerd” as an insult for fantasy-loving people anymore, because you had children, teenagers and adults alike crying in theaters about the end of an era. An entire generation wasn’t afraid to show their emotions because we all grew up with these films and books, and it was the case that the rest of pop culture kept up. In the 2010s there have been hundreds of fantasy films and television shows that were blockbusters. You didn’t have to be a nerd to like them, you simply had to go see them.

Six years ago, Game of Thrones was “that show with swords, sex, incest and dragons” to most of my friends. Now I can’t name more than five people who don’t watch it. In the same way, the Marvel Cinematic Universe normalized comics and superheroes, a genre that had always belonged to the underdogs.

Recently I came out of hiding. My Twitter and Tumblr handles are easily attainable. They’re connected to my writing profiles, thus linked to my full name, and I feel comfortable sharing every aspect of me to my friends and the world.

I completely came out of the nerd closet when I founded a Fandom Club at my university, a place for nerds to meet and discuss our favorite books, shows, films, video games, etc., and only then did I realize how many undercover nerds like me there are out there.

There is still a stigma directed at fantasy, that’s undeniable. Being obsessed with a sports team is still more socially acceptable than being a fangirl, even if the former entails staring at dudes running after a ball and the latter includes reading and analyzing pieces of literature, reviewing, theorizing, and often producing your own content. But for millennials, being a nerd is more than acceptable now. It has become cool.

Science Now + Beyond

Afrofuturism helped me deal with the mental health issues that come with activism

The world is not the friendliest place for a black girl like me.

No matter where I go I am subject to discrimination. I am hated for my skin color, for being a woman, for being fat, literally just for being alive. I always have to be cautious of how late I stay out, where I can vacation, or what activities I can participate in. If I don’t, I have to be sure that I’m fully prepared to be treated awfully or maybe even killed.

There are no breaks for a black girl like me and it’s disheartening to know that there isn’t one corner of this earth where I can go and be fully embraced for who I am. Colorism and sexism are so extremely pervasive, but I try my best to stay strong and fight to create a better world for the black girls who will come after me.

A lot of black people felt this same way and since we couldn’t completely wash our hands with the injustices of the earth for the sake of our future, we tried to imagine a new one. In this new figment world and genre, we could address the complexities of our existence as well as escape it, and that place was in Afrofuturism.

Afrofuturism has been defined in a myriad of ways. The Washington Post defines it as the combination of science fiction, fantasy, and magical realism with African and diaspora cultures, religious practices and history. It’s also been defined as a social, political, and cultural genre that projects black space voyagers, warriors and their heroic like into a fantasy landscape, one that has long been the province of their mostly white counterparts by the New York Times. I personally can’t even begin to define all the wonderful things that Afrofuturism is and does for the black community.

When I first heard about Afrofuturism, I was taking a communications course one summer and we had to analyze a piece afrofuturistic art. I’ve always been a lover art but this was something otherworldly. The art was strong but vulnerable, powerful and unapologetic mixed with everything from my nerdy dreams. I saw women with technological advancements that didn’t erase their blackness but embraced and enhanced it.

Graphic Artist Tim Fielder described how I felt perfectly stating that “Afrofuturism’s epic imagery offers youth a mirror. Kids are now able to see themselves in environments that are expansive, both technologically and in terms of social mores and gender.”  As I began to research more about Afrofuturism, it truly did aid in expanding my outlook on the world and space and start seeing more of myself in it.

Afrofuturism became a way for me to understand the injustices I faced in the real world while also escaping my own realities to imagine a better world for myself. A world where I could be free to express myself and just live. A world that didn’t erase my history but instead rectified it and worked towards a solution because it actually cared about me. I could discuss police brutality without the backlashing mental health effects that come with such gross imagery that circles the internet of black bodies being abused or the fear of it happening to me.

I could be the superhero who could avenge the fallen and change our world.

When looking at afrofuturism, it seems like the most dominant places where it thrives are in fields like art, media, writing, and music. My passions lied in science so it didn’t seem like the best fit for me. However, with time, Afrofuturism helped me see my career from a completely different angle. I want to be a part of this world and help it achieve the dystopian utopia we all imagine, but I have to make sure that black people are a part of this. Afrofuturism allowed me the escape I needed from this dismal reality while simultaneously helping me to focus my vision and change it.

At the end of the day, as much as we need escapism in this world, I have to do all in my power to make my afrofuturistic dream a reality.

I think everyone, especially activists, should take a dip into the afrofuturistic atmosphere. Explore the cosmos and address the problems of our real world in an imaginary one. The solutions you come up with could turn out completely outrageous, but it could also foster a completely realistic one. If not, it would at least spark creativity and lead to more representation.  It starts with something as seemingly small as Black Panther and ends with equality.

Tech Now + Beyond

My Playstation 3 saw me through love and heartbreak – and it healed my life

Dear Playstation 3,

Hello, it’s me. I know this is kind of awkward considering how long it’s been, but I want you to know that I’m still here thinking about you. There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t remember the fun times we’ve had together and how much they meant to me.

I wanted to write to you to tell you how much I appreciate everything we’ve been through. You’ve given me so much and I never really took the time to tell you that I am grateful.

I know we got off to a rocky start. I didn’t want you at first, I would have rather received an iPhone that Christmas. It was selfish, really. My mom was just trying to give us all a good year, a different year. We’d been struggling for so long and all she wanted was to see us happy.

But when I opened you I felt hesitant. How could I, a quiet Indian girl, ever be comfortable with something like you?

So I gave it a few days, you remember. We glared at each other across the room, knowing that the time had to come where I’d plug you in and discover what you had to offer. Do you remember the first game we played? It was God of War III, right? Damn, that feels like so long ago. Do you remember how I couldn’t get past the first boss? I’m sure you were cringing, wondering exactly what you were in for.

You know, it took us a while but I think I got the hang of it pretty fast. I’d never even played a Playstation before that, but there was something about it that felt so natural. I remember leaning back and forth on the couch, moving my head in the direction of the camera. I must have looked so ridiculous; not much has changed.

I remember the first time I introduced you to Wade.

You remember him, right? Well, we’re getting married now and it’s pretty surreal. I’m only 21 years old, Playstation 3, but I know I’ve found the right person for me. They’re beautiful in every way possible, and I think I owe a lot of our relationship to you.

I never told you but the first presents we ever bought one another were Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time. It’s six years later and we still talk about how much that game meant to us. In between turns, we’d sneak kisses (sorry), hoping it would lead to something more (sorry, again).

And you were there when things weren’t so perfect.

I remember crying, putting you on and watching the blue screen flicker on the wall. I was just coming to terms with my sexuality at the same time that I thought I would lose Wade forever. We were both so young, I don’t think we knew what we were doing.

And you remember her, don’t you? The girl I fell in love with. She was everything to me and when it was over I felt broken. I’d only introduced you to her once or twice, but I know you liked her just as much as I did.

But through all the confusion and heartbreak you were always there. It sounds so dramatic but when I had no one I always knew that I could come home to you. There were days when I would sit in a bathroom stall in school and cry till my eyes felt raw, but I kept the thought of you in mind. I knew that when I got home we could laugh together. I knew you could take me somewhere other than here.

Then university came and, well, so did the Playstation 4.

I know we don’t talk anymore. We don’t go on adventures like we used to. I know you might feel like I just tossed you out but I never forgot what it was like when it was just you and me.

I remember the way it felt playing my first game. I remember showing my mom and dad how to play The Last of Us. I remember looking up articles written by white, cis-heterosexual men and smiling because I knew they could never understand what it was like to be someone like me with something like you.

The truth is you taught me how to love myself. You gave me that sweet childlike innocence and fun that I can only remember experiencing before that man touched me.

You taught me to forget about the world and just be me.

I’ll always appreciate you, Playstation 3. Thank you for showing me that a girl like me with skin like mine and experiences like those can still be happy.



Science Now + Beyond

Here’s the big way Pokémon Go is changing us

Over two decades ago, we were all set out on a quest to catch ’em all. On July 5, the newest edition to the Pokémon franchise was released: Pokémon Go, an augmented reality game that allows you to catch ’em all in this world rather than a virtual one.

The game has quite literally taken the world by storm. It is now the biggest mobile game in U.S. history according to Survey Monkey, beating out Candy Crush Saga and Draw Something. It has more users than Twitter on Android and is quickly gaining on Snapchat and Google Maps. Pokémon Go is practically a revolution, skyrocketing Nintendo’s previously low stock, and becoming a virtual success everywhere.

And it does seem like it’s everywhere. On my Facebook and Twitter, I’ve seen dozens of people posting about it. My coworkers are playing it at work. Even my mom is asking about it. What makes Pokémon Go so different is its augmented reality function, which takes you on a journey through your own neighborhoods and cities. From catching rare Pokémon to battling enemies to conquering gyms, Pokémon Go has it all and more.

Video games are nothing new, but the medium is growing. No longer considered an outlet for young boys, the most popular age bracket of video game users is 25–34 with 40 percent of them identifying as women. Video games’ demographic is diverse and Pokémon Go caters to that. It’s readily available and free to download.

While people would have previously set time aside to play video games, Pokémon Go integrates the game into our real world, even forcing us to go outside. This has unexpectedly come to benefit many with mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.

Shortly after the game was released, many took to Twitter, citing Pokémon Go as better treatment for their anxiety and depression than a doctor would be able to provide. This is all from just going outside and exploring. 

However, Pokémon Go does get inside our head in more ways than one. The game itself is rife with psychological conditioning, as most games are. Rewards are one of the many ways that games get us hooked, and Pokémon Go has quite the plethora of rewards from training and level up.

There are many other ways video games entice us. Quantic Foundry, a group that studies video games, lays out six major motivations for why people play: action, social, mastery, achievement, immersion, and creativity. Pokémon Go attracts many of its players with those motivations, along with its nuanced augmented reality function and its dedicated fan base.

It’s important to be aware of how games suck us in because they can have quite the power over us. They can affect our social behavior, perceptions of reality, learning, and health. Few studies have been conducted on augmented reality, however, because of its newness. While there have been games in the past, Pokémon Go’s unprecedented popularity brings the question of augmented reality’s psychological effects to the table.

While video game playing and addiction have been linked to feelings of escapism, augmented reality bears the question: Are you escaping reality if you’re in it?

When you play Pokémon Go, you are experiencing the world, just with a few virtual upgrades that make everything just a bit more interesting. But does relying on a virtual game for excitement in reality lose purpose for reality itself? This is, needless to say, a quite difficult question to answer. Furthermore, this curiosity and slight skepticism of augmented reality comes from not Pokémon Go today, but the future of all technology.

As our world becomes increasingly integrated with technology, the amount that we rely on our devices is worrisome. We would like to think that we don’t “need” our phones, but technology is, in fact addictive. When augmented reality becomes so commonplace that we cannot imagine a world without it, how can we classify that as addiction?

Pokémon Go is a great, interesting thing. It gets us out of the house when we’re always stuck inside, and invites us to engage in the world in a way that we haven’t before. For die-hard Pokémon fans, it somewhat lets the age-old question live: What if Pokémon existed in our world? Pokémon Go has helped thousands of people get outside when faced with depression and anxiety.

It has so many benefits. But I think we must remember, this is all not as natural as it seems.