Sunday, March 31, 2013

Leigh Brackett's Planetary Romances - Andrew Liptak

"Brackett was born on December 7th, 1915 in Los Angeles, California to a family of declining fortune. Her early life was met with hardship early on in 1918 when her father passed away, one of the many casualties of the global flu epidemic. After that, her family moved quite a bit, and Brackett later recalled that she had a haphazard education as they travelled the country before settling down. Her love of science fiction came when she was 8 years old, after picking up a copy of Edgar Rice Burrough's second Barsoom novel, The Gods of Mars. She later said that she knew from that point what she wanted to do: "I was never the same after that. Suddenly, I became aware of other world out there and then, from that time on, I was destined to be a science fiction writer."" 4 out of 5

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sinister Seven: on Arthur Machen - Laird Barron

How did you first encounter Machen? My family possessed a substantial book collection stored in several trunks over a period of generations. As a child, opening them was like opening a treasure chest – I had no idea what to expect. Our tastes were eclectic, to say the least. Somewhere beneath the Barbara Cartland, Louis L’Amour and Andre Norton novels lurked Lovecraft, Blackwood and Machen. The unholy trinity. 3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Remembering Cordwainer Smith: Full-Time Sci-Fi Author Part-Time Earthling - Ted Gioia

"One could spend many pages considering these sociological and political themes, but the main attraction of Cordwainer Smith is not the theoretical implications, but the extravagant and often disturbing plot elements that make his stories stand out from the pack. When Smith submitted his first sci-fi story "Scanners Live in Vain" to John Campbell, Jr., the mastermind behind the influential Astounding magazine, the seasoned editor turned it down because it was, in his words, "too extreme."" 3.5 out of 5

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fate Points Episode 3:Fight Fire - Jason Morningstar

Plus some of the other games he is working on. 4.5 out of 5

Fate Points Episode 2: White Picket Witches - Filamena Young

How WB are you? Or Alice Hoffman? 4.5 out of 5

Fate Points Episode 1: Big Stompy Robots! - Rob Wieland

On Camelot Trigger, etc. 4.5 out of 5

Fate Points Episode 4: Timeworks and Wicked Fate - Mark Diaz Truman

Talking about the games. 4.5 out of 5

Saturday, March 09, 2013

The Rules of the Game The Evolution of Rollerball - J. P. Trostle

"Let's face it -- most fictional sports created for the screen or page tend to come across as contrived, silly and, well, fictional. "Rollerball" is not one of them. The futuristic game of "Rollerball" has achieved a rare state among fictional creations. In the 1975 movie starring James Caan, the filmmakers were effectively able to convince an audience they are somehow watching a real sport. (In fact, some of the stuntmen and athletes who appeared in the original film actually looked into starting a league and playing for real after the movie was a hit.)" 4 out of 5

Friday, March 08, 2013

Call of Cthulhu Gone Hunting Part 2 - Dice Storm

Where perhaps staying in and drinking after a long breakfast might have been better. 3.5 out of 5

Call of Cthulhu Gone Hunting Part 1 - Dice Storm

Rusticness is equivalent to more shootingness. 4 out of 5

Maelstrom Part 2 - Dice Storm

In which there is a critical overload after a trial by combat is rudely interrupted by an average Viking day at the office. 4.5 out of 5

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Maelstrom Part 1 - Dice Storm

In which Vikings eventually get around to fighting after the drinking. With many 90s rolled. 4 out of 5

All Flesh Must Be Eaten Part 2 - Dice Storm

In which some zombies are finally killed. 3.5 out of 5

All Flesh Must Be Eaten Part 1 - Dice Storm

In which the stilettoing, punching and pencilling of zombies proves more efficacious than a shottie. 4.5 out of 5

The Hounds of Tindalos - Frank Belknap Long

The Hounds of Tindalos - Frank Belknap Long
Author's drug doom by dimension dogs. 4 out of 5

Under the Gods Part 3 - Dice Storm

Beware of the leopard. And decapitation. 4 out of 5

Jewels of Gwahlur - Robert E. Howard

"Conan the Cimmerian, late of the Baracha Isles, of the Black Coast, and of many other climes where life ran wild, had come to the kingdom of Keshan following the lure of a fabled treasure that outshone the hoard of the Turanian kings. Keshan was a barbaric kingdom lying in the eastern hinterlands of Kush where the broad grasslands merge with the forests that roll up from the south. The people were a mixed race, a dusky nobility ruling a population that was largely pure negro. The rulers—princes and high priests—claimed descent from a white race which, in a mythical age, had ruled a kingdom whose capital city was Alkmeenon. Conflicting legends sought to explain the reason for that race's eventual downfall, and the abandonment of the city by the survivors. Equally nebulous were the tales of the Teeth of Gwahlur, the treasure of Alkmeenon. But these misty legends had been enough to bring Conan to Keshan, over vast distances of plain, river-laced jungle, and mountains. He had found Keshan, which in itself was considered mythical by many northern and western nations, and he had heard enough to confirm the rumors of the treasure that men called the Teeth of Gwahlur. But its hiding-place he could not learn, and he was confronted with the necessity of explaining his presence in Keshan. Unattached strangers were not welcome there. But he was not nonplussed. With cool assurance he made his offer to the stately plumed, suspicious grandees of the barbarically magnificent court. He was a professional fighting-man. In search of employment (he said) he had come to Keshan. For a price he would train the armies of Keshan and lead them against Punt, their hereditary enemy, whose recent successes in the field had aroused the fury of Keshan's irascible king. This proposition was not so audacious as it might seem. Conan's fame had preceded him, even into distant Keshan; his exploits as a chief of the black corsairs, those wolves of the southern coasts, had made his name known, admired and feared throughout the black kingdoms. He did not refuse tests devised by the dusky lords. Skirmishes along the borders were incessant, affording the Cimmerian plenty of opportunities to demonstrate his ability at hand-to-hand fighting. His reckless ferocity impressed the lords of Keshan, already aware of his reputation as a leader of men, and the prospects seemed favorable. All Conan secretly desired was employment to give him legitimate excuse for remaining in Keshan long enough to locate the hiding-place of the Teeth of Gwahlur. Then there came an interruption. Thutmekri came to Keshan at the head of an embassy from Zembabwei. Thutmekri was a Stygian, an adventurer and a rogue whose wits had recommended him to the twin kings of the great hybrid trading kingdom which lay many days' march to the east. He and the Cimmerian knew each other of old, and without love. Thutmekri likewise had a proposition to make to the king of Keshan, and it also concerned the conquest of Punt—which kingdom, incidentally, lying east of Keshan, had recently expelled the Zembabwan traders and burned their fortresses. His offer outweighed even the prestige of Conan. He pledged himself to invade Punt from the east with a host of black spearmen, Shemitish archers, and mercenary swordsmen, and to aid the king of Keshan to annex the hostile kingdom. The benevolent kings of Zembabwei desired only a monopoly of the trade of Keshan and her tributaries—and, as a pledge of good faith, some of the Teeth of Gwahlur. These would be put to no base usage. Thutmekri hastened to explain to the suspicious chieftains; they would be placed in the temple of Zembabwei beside the squat gold idols of Dagon and Derketo, sacred guests in the holy shrine of the kingdom, to seal the covenant between Keshan and Zembabwei. This statement brought a savage grin to Conan's hard lips." 4.5 out of 5

Under the Gods Part 2 - Dice Storm

Slicing and dicing. And numerical workings out. 3.5 out of 5

The Age Atomic Excerpt - Adam Christopher

" The man standing next to the chair was less pretty. His name was Cliff and he had a face to match, and he was holding a gun that was pointed at Rad in a way that made the detective nervous. The thug was wearing a trench coat, and beneath the coat were muscles, hard, solid; muscles that spoke of bar room brawls and violence in the small hours. Rad Bradley was a detective now and had been a boxer before, but Cliff’s frame made him decide that, when it came down to it, he didn’t want to go one-on-one with Cliff, even if he could get that damn gun out of the way. But, then again, a job like his on a night like this, punching someone you didn’t want to was likely to be in the cards. The gun in Cliff’s giant fist was a revolver, and the hammer was back. The back of Rad’s throat tickled. He needed a drink, and soon, assuming his stomach wasn’t going to be perforated in the next few minutes." 3.5 out of 5

Discuss The Evolution of BOOM! - Robert Richie and Filip Sablik

"One thing we didn't really unpack at the panel was the notion that when we do original content with creators at the company, we partner. That came from Keith Giffen. When he was talking me into starting this company, he wanted a home for his original projects. He was one of my heroes, and he said, "Ross, I'm going to have 50% ownership, and you're going to have 50% ownership. You've got to care about whether this succeeds or doesn't. You have to be invested with me. If there's a day when one of these things gets turned into a movie, we get to walk down the red carpet together." Now for me with Steven Grant and "2 Guns," when the option was bought by the studio financiers and greenlit, I went to the agency and sat in the lobby and waited for Steven's check. I had my assistant call up Steven where he lives in Vegas, and I had her tell a little white lie. I said, "Tell him I'm in Vegas at one of the casinos for a few days if he wants to have dinner." He agreed, and I got the plane ticket that day, flew to Vegas and had that dinner. That's when I gave him the check. When you're partners you can do that instead of it being "A company got over on the creator." I'm a huge Jack Kirby fan. I own Jack Kirby original art. I have Jack Kirby's autograph on many things that I have. And the way that fandom feels about him not seeing the fruits of his labor, I don't want to be that guy screwing creators from participating in the success of their original creations. It's the partnership that does that." 4 out of 5

Under the Gods Part 1 - Dice Storm

In which a virgin GM exposes long lich wars and lots of alcohol. 3.5 out of 5

Out of Print Outtake: The Justice League International - J. M. DeMatteis

3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Shadowrun 4th ed RPG Twists and Turns Part 3 - Dice Storm

In which a cool 20 grand is cleared. Each. 3 out of 5

Shadowrun 4th ed RPG Twists and Turns Part 2 - Dice Storm

Necks, guns and megacorps. 3 out of 5

Mysterious Ways 4 - Michael A. Stackpole

"An edge entered Bloodstone’s voice, cutting through Thickett’s ridicule. “More on point, Reverend, would be Deuteronomy 13:5. Sara Piper might not be of a size to fight back, but I am. A reasonable compromise can be to your benefit, but a war with me will end very badly for you.”" 3.5 out of 5

Shadowrun 4th ed RPG Twists and Turns Part 1 - Dice Storm

In which there are enough PIs but not enough guns for sale. 3 out of 5

Clean Sweep 02 2 - Ilona Andrews

"The lawn under the body opened and the corpse fell through. The dirt and grass closed behind it and smoothed themselves out." 4 out of 5

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Carrion Crown Session 3 Part 3 - Dice Storm

Vortex sucking, with no scathing. 3 out of 5

Carrion Crown Session 3 Part 2 - Dice Storm

To tavern or not to tavern? And what is the etiquette for hitlists and professors? 3 out of 5

Carrion Crown Session 3 Part 1 - Dice Storm

In which flying shirts prove to be mighty foes. 4 out of 5

Carrion Crown Session 2 Part 2 - Dice Storm

In which giant spiders jump on heads. Even of halflings. 4 out of 5

SFFWRTCHT: A Chat With Hugo/Nebula-Winning Author - Nancy Kress

"SFFWRTCHT: Your career was launched with the success of Beggars In Spain, which won you a Hugo. You later converted it to a novel. It’s the story of a genemod a woman named Leisha Camden who’s sleepless and is stuck between two competing worlds. Where’d that idea come from? NK: This one I know where it came from: envy. I invented the Sleepless because I need a lot of sleep and resent that." 3.5 out of 5

Carrion Crown Session 2 Part 1 - Dice Storm

In which toilets may be deadly, so beware. 3.5 out of 5

On Homeland printed guns and heart hacking Boing Boing's - Cory Doctorow

"Malda: You make a concerted effort in Homeland to tell people how to do certain things. You will have a character talk about securing an Android Phone for a page or more. That’s an article I read on the internet two years ago, maybe the same time you did. Doctorow: It’s a tradition in techno thrillers to have have spycraft excerpts. James Bond explains his cypher wheel. On one hand, this is in that tradition. I grew up with books like “Steal this Book” and “The Whole Earth Catalog” — books that were filled with recipes or instructions for doing stuff. That was back when facts were expensive. How do you cheat a pay phone to give you a dial tone without a quarter? ... If you know something is possible, you can type it into a search engine and find out how to do it, so the challenge today is to convey that things are possible, and that they are worth doing. And that’s what the book is doing. It’s not recipes like Make Magazine. It’s the pitch that you would make to Make Magazine to get the editor to buy your article. My hope is that kids will follow from this and type it into a search engine." 4 out of 5

Carrion Crown Session 1 Part 3 - Dice Storm

In which 18 fails to beat 45, repeatedly. 4 out of 5

The Devil In Iron - Robert E. Howard

Ghaznavi tugged his gray-shot beard in meditation. Yezdigerd, king of Turan, was the mightiest monarch in the world. In his palace in the great port city of Aghrapur was heaped the plunder of empires. His fleets of purple-sailed war galleys had made Vilayet an Hyrkanian lake. The dark-skinned people of Zamora paid him tribute, as did the eastern provinces of Koth. The Shemites bowed to his rule as far west as Shushan. His armies ravaged the borders of Stygia in the south and the snowy lands of the Hyperboreans in the north. His riders bore torch and sword westward into Brythunia and Ophir and Corinthia, even to the borders of Nemedia. His gilt-helmeted swordsmen had trampled hosts under their horses' hoofs, and walled cities went up in flames at his command. In the glutted slave markets of Aghrapur, Sultanapur, Khawarizm, Shahpur and Khorusun, women were sold for three small silver coins—blond Brythunians, tawny Stygians, dark-haired Zamorians, ebon Kushites, olive-skinned Shemites. Yet, while his swift horsemen overthrew armies far from his frontiers, at his very borders an audacious foe plucked his beard with a red-dripping and smoke-stained hand. On the broad steppes between the Sea of Vilayet and the borders of the easternmost Hyborian kingdoms, a new race had sprung up in the past half-century, formed originally of fleeing criminals, broken men, escaped slaves, and deserting soldiers. They were men of many crimes and countries, some born on the steppes, some fleeing from the kingdoms in the west. They were called kozak, which means wastrel. Dwelling on the wild, open steppes, owning no law but their own peculiar code, they had become a people capable of defying the Grand Monarch. Ceaselessly they raided the Turanian frontier, retiring in the steppes when defeated; with the pirates of Vilayet, men of much the same breed, they harried the coast, preying off the merchant ships which plied between the Hyrkanian ports. 'How am I to crush these wolves?' demanded Jehungir. 'If I follow them into the steppes, I run the risk either of being cut off and destroyed, or having them elude me entirely and burn the city in my absence. Of late they have been more daring than ever.' 'That is because of the new chief who has risen among them,' answered Ghaznavi. 'You know whom I mean.' 'Aye!' replied Jehungir feelingly. 'It is that devil Conan; he is even wilder than the kozaks, yet he is crafty as a mountain lion.' 4 oout of 5

Carrion Crown Session 1 Part 2 - Dice Storm

In which heads are removed by an axe, with one blow. 3.5 out of 5

Carrion Crown Session 1 Part 1 - Dice Storm

Going all Pathfinder. 3.5 out of 5

Monday, March 04, 2013

I rolled all 18s - Dice Storm

On probability and fibbing. 4 out of 5

Star Wars RPG Session 2 - Dice Storm

In which a complete failure to plan super ventriloquism happens, but ship flying works. 3.5 out of 5

At 14 Henrietta St a Memoir and a Celebration - Phillip Mann

"I didn’t get much sleep that night, I can tell you. But I did one thing. I rang my mother. “Mam. Mam. “ “Oh hello Pip. What’s up?” “Mam. I’ve just had a man called John Bush on the line from Victor Gollancz. They want to do my book.’ “Oh, that’s nice.” “Yes but he said he’d rung you, and you’d told him you didn’t know where I was. What the hell were you playing at?” “Oh, it was him was it? I thought it was the police, so I wasn’t going to give you away, son.”" 4 out of 5

Clean Sweep: Chapter 02, Part 1 - Ilona Andrews

"I needed a weapon. Something with a reach. I concentrated. The broom flowed in my hand, its plastic turning into dark metal shot through with hairline fractures of glowing brilliant blue. A razor-sharp blade formed on one end, while the shaft of the broom elongated to seven feet. An old line from an Italian martial arts manual popped into my head: the longer the spear, the less deceiving it is. Seven feet would do." 4 out of 5

On the Profoundly Rational Doctor Stephen Strange - Colin Smith

"Yet, Strange was similarly out of step when he first appeared. Marvel’s early years had seen a host of supposedly adult authority figures introduced, but Strange was the only one who could legitimately be considered a grown-up. Reed Richards, with his lunatic scheme to reach orbit using a stolen, untested spaceship and a motley crew of friends, acquaintances and lovers, was disturbingly impulsive, careless and obsessional. The narcissitically callous Charles Xavier should have been locked away forever on multiple counts of reckless child endangerment. Tony Stark was a Red-loathing warmonger so irresponsible that he could party in Egyptian night-clubs and burn around American race-tracks without even bothering to ensure that his life-prolonging chest-plate was charged. Thor effectively nuked China when he deliberately hurled the exploding Radioactive Man homewards without the slightest expression of concern or sorrow. Hank Pym experimented upon the vulnerable, traumatised Janet Van Dyne before pressing her into service as his sidekick. Bruce Banner kept turning up for work at a nuclear weapons testing facility despite knowing that he was capable of transforming into the Hulk. These were not well-balanced, socially responsible individuals. But Doctor Strange, alone amongst his strip-headlining fellows, undeniably was." 4.5 out of 5

ECCC: A Conversation with - Mike Mignola

""Not a lot of thought went into that one," joked Mignola. "He's gotta be naked but you can't make him really naked -- how 'bout a 2x4? If there's gonna be a 2x4 there, let's put a big metal ring on it so you can tie him to a post! I don't know what that says about me...The one gag I did give John when he took over 'B.P.R.D.' was 'I want a scene where they try to make him wear pants. That worked out better than I could have ever imagined."" 4 out of 5

Star Wars RPG Session 1 - Dice Storm

In which sugar cube ships with kombi steering are mocked. 4 out of 5

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Mysterious Ways 3 - Michael A. Stackpole

"The studio wasn’t bad, if you didn’t mind set-dressing ornate enough to be an embarrassing marriage of cathedral and whorehouse. All the furniture had baroque flourishes, and most were upholstered in satiny cloth. An embroiderer had worked the Trinity Salvation Network logo in gold into the fabric. It didn’t actually scream bad taste as much as it moaned it pretty loud. Bloodstone winced, but didn’t faint. He did, however, put his sunglasses back on." 4 out of 5

Friday, March 01, 2013

A Helping Hand - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

A blowup robot find. 3.5 out of 5

Mysterious Ways 2 - Michael A. Stackpole

"“Bloodstone prefers the term ‘epicure,’ and goes through a lot of kitchen staff. There have been guys who put a pot of water on the stove to boil and get replaced before there’s steam. The chef de jour, well…” I couldn’t help myself. I shivered. “I ask you, how likely is it that the right mix of soy protein and kelp is God’s perfect food?” Julia shook her head. “Dethrone chocolate? Not possible.”" 3.5 out of 5

Diamonds and Pearls - Kristina Wright

Screw ugly plates. 3.5 out of 5