Samsung S7 Edge First Impressions

On Monday my old phone, a Droid Turbo, met up with an accident, and it became incumbent upon me to replace it. Fortunately, life had prepared me for this because I spend a lot of time looking at reviews of new phones just in case my current phone should be carelessly dropped, or hurled, or whatever, so when I walked into my local store to get another I had a pretty good idea of what my top candidates were. For the past few phones I’d been using the Motorola Droid line, and if the new Droid Z had been available yet, there’s a pretty good chance I’d’ve picked it up.

But it’s not, so instead I decided to pick up a Samsung S7 Edge, which aside from various good reviews, also came with a deal that threw in one of their VR goggle sets (I have to mail away for it, so I don’t have it yet). So I figured, what the heck. I’ve had it now for four days, which is enough time for some first impressions.

Briefly: So far, so good. There’s no doubt that it is the prettiest cell phone I’ve ever owned, although I will be first to note this is not a difficult competition to win — I’ve been going with the Droids these many years for their massive batteries and Motorola’s better-than-any-other-manufacturer take on Android skinning, not their esthetics, which can be summed up as “look chunky and don’t give a shit about it.” The S7 Edge, on the other hand, has a gorgeous, curving screen that falls away in a lovely fashion, and feels (especially coming from the Droids) deceptively thin and light. It’s a phone that you can pet and call your precious, basically.

But the good news, for me, anyway, is that there is more there than just the pretty screen — notably the 3,600 mAh battery, which means that like the Droids this is a phone that can actually go an entire day without needing to be recharged (this is where iPhones, also pettable, fall down in my opinion), which for someone like me who travels a stupid amount, is actually a critical thing. It’s also got the other hardware bells and whistles — better than retina-level screen, decent camera, fast processor and ample RAM — which make me happy. So it’s pretty and practical, which is nice. The phone also allows for expandable storage, which is great.

With that said, there are a couple of things anyone thinking of picking it up should know about. Specifically, if you pick up the “Edge” iteration of the S7, you should be aware that the fact the (yes) edges of the phone are now touch-sensitive may require you to retrain yourself in terms of how you hold the thing, lest your beefy mitts cause your phone to register touches where you do not intend, just by how you hold the thing. I’ve had this happen to me more than a few times already. It’s a small annoyance and definitely not a deal-breaker, but it’s something to be aware of. Also annoying and possibly more so: the positioning of the speaker at the bottom of the phone is in a place where it gets covered a lot by my hand, which means that as I’m listening to things, the sound would seemingly drop out for several seconds, just because I moved the phone in my hand. This is not pleasing to me.

My other complaints (mostly about the layout of buttons, both physical and capacitive) are less about Samsung’s choices and more about the fact that they’re not laid out like Motorola’s Droid phones, which were my last several phones, and thus are not where my memory tells me they are. This is a personal issue, and I suspect I will get over it.

So overall I’m happy with my purchase, although I am still getting used to Samsung’s interface not being Motorola’s. For anyone looking at the Edge as a possible next phone, be aware the edge aspect, while cool-looking, also requires getting used to. But if you can do that, it’s a lovely phone so far.

The Big Idea: Christopher Husberg

Don’t let Christopher Husberg near a wood chipper. Or, as he explains regarding his novel Duskfall, maybe… do?

CHRISTOPHER HUSBERG:

In some ways, I’ve been writing Duskfall my entire life.

Wait, that sounds too grandiose. It’s not like Duskfall is my darling or anything.

…okay, it is in a way, but more like a Frankenstein-y conglomeration of a bunch of little darlings I’ve killed, put through a wood chipper, and stitched back together. Gruesome, but true.

That fact has actually made it tough for me to choose a “big idea” to talk about. I’ve thrown dozens of them into Duskfall over the years, and the book itself seems to outgrow each one as I’ve revised and edited the thing. One idea does stand out, though, and that’s the magic system of Duskfall: psimancy.

There’s a lot to talk about in regards to psimancy—like the fact that it is psionic in nature, has three distinct branches (a telekinetic branch, a telepathic branch, and a prescient branch), and the roots of the magic system are actually based in Quantum Electrodynamics. But the big idea behind the magic system that I’ll focus on today is a bit more personal in nature.

Many of the characters who use psimancy in the Chaos Queen ‘verse require the ingestion of a narcotic to access that power. The narcotic is highly addictive—one of the major costs of using psimancy. The central character of Duskfall, a young woman named Winter, discovers she can access psimancy through the drug. A large part of the plot then revolves around her attempting—and usually failing—to deal with the addiction that threatens to destroy her and her connection to reality. As is the case with just about every addiction, I try to show how Winter’s dependency on faltira not only destroys herself, but her relationships with all of the people she cares about as well.

I’ll get back to the addiction stuff momentarily, but let me switch gears for a sec. There’s a saying in writerdom to “write what you know.” As someone who writes speculative fiction, I’ve always taken this advice with a grain of salt. It can certainly be helpful, and potentially very powerful, to draw from personal experience and emotion when writing, but I also don’t think it’s entirely necessary. And the strange truth is, it seems readers often connect with the things I simply research or conjure out of my own imagination far more than the things I’ve actually experienced.

Being honest, I didn’t even know I was writing a story about addiction until I was partway through the novel. It was one of those things that crept subconsciously into the storytelling, and into Winter’s character in particular. I realized some time later how much all of the addiction stuff I was trying to express in the novel reflected what I and some people very close to me have experienced. Addiction and its consequences have threatened to destroy my own life as well as the lives of a number of loved ones and close friends, and once I realized how much it affected my writing, addiction seemed almost an inevitable, and certainly an integral, part of Duskfall.

You can imagine my surprise when my agent’s first notes about Duskfall focused heavily on how the addiction sequences in the novel didn’t feel genuine or real at all!

I was shocked and a bit bewildered at first, but listening to how my agent described things, I knew he was right. The addiction sequences weren’t working. They were disjointed and shallow. I’d let my subconscious include them without thinking deeply about how they should all work together in the story, and that was a mistake. So, I went to work.

One of the most difficult aspects to handle was the resolution of Winter’s addiction storyline at the end of the novel. It was problematic for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that I wanted some kind of denouement for Duskfall while at the same time leaving the addiction storyline some room to expand into later books—quite a bit of room, actually. But the more immediate problem was how I wanted Winter to feel about choosing to take the drug to access psimancy—given the choice between the immense power she could access in taking the drug, and keeping her relationships with her loved ones and her grip on reality intact, what would she choose? Could she find a balance? And what if choosing the drug was the only way to protect those close to her, but made her lose them in the process?

I won’t spoil it, of course, but I think I found a satisfying conclusion.

Writing about personal experiences—especially difficult, profound, and/or emotional ones—is one of the bigger challenges I’ve faced as a writer. Taking specific, personal experiences, and trying to tell them in such a way that they can be universally applied while still feeling uniquely personal…that’s a tough balancing act, but when it works out, the results are pretty incredible.

So I actually do stand by what I said in the beginning. I’ve been writing DF my entire life— but I think that’s pretty normal. The stories we tell, the things we write for others to read and hear, incubate inside us for a lot longer than perhaps we realize. I think that’s really what all stories are, anyway—conglomerations of emotions, experiences, knowledge, imagination, and little darlings we’ve thrown in the wood chipper.

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Duskfall: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

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