Friday, May 31, 2013

Brothers In Blood 2 - Mercedes Lackey and Dennis Lee

Bull tells Vickie to woman up, be less emo and organise a rescue properly. In a deep voice. 4 out of 5

Brothers in Blood 1 - Mercedes Lackey and Dennis Lee

"With Bulwark back, Djinni is forced to find new ways to amuse himself… aside from taking cheap shots at the big guy." 3 out of 5

The Black Abacus - Yoon Ha Lee

The Black Abacus - Yoon Ha Lee
Quantum war captain's legend. 4 out of 5

Bedlam Ballroom 1 - Mercedes Lackey and Cody Martin

A bored Red Saviour wants Thulian heads to kick and Marconi provides some intel. 3.5 out of 5

Permitted 2 - Mercedes Lackey and Dennis Lee

"Two women walk out on the Djinni, but one woman gives him the opportunity to choose his future." 4 out of 5

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Permitted 1 - Mercedes Lackey and Dennis Lee

Seems everybody likes bad boy Red. But they still run away. 4 out of 5

Smoke and Mirrors 3 - Mercedes Lackey and Dennis Lee

Rather toasted, Vickie and the Djinni give a kid a choice, no murder. 4 out of 5

Smoke and Mirrors 2 - Mercedes Lackey and Dennis Lee

"Negotiation and rescue don’t go as planned for Victrix and Djinni. Less Butch and Sundance, more Reservoir Dogs." With flamethrowers and a kid to rescue. 4 out of 5

Smoke and Mirrors 1 - Mercedes Lackey and Dennis Lee

"Vickie and Djinni swap stories about their respective run-ins with magic, fire, and loss as they wait for Blacksnake to begin a deadly trade with the Rebs." 4 out of 5

In One Ear - Mercedes Lackey

A secure magic Overwatch has group buyin on a big Verdigris con. 4 out of 5

The Seven Deadly Virtues - Mercedes Lackey and Cody Martin

Verdigris muses at a party. 3.5 out of 5

Leap of Faith - Mercedes Lackey and Cody Martin

"Neither John Murdock nor the Seraphym were accustomed to second-guessing decisions. At least, until that afternoon on the roof." 3.5 out of 5

Obsessions - Mercedes Lackey and Cody Martin

Dominic Verdigris recruits a precog but now has a burnout problem. 4 out of 5

Run Through the Jungle 2 - Mercedes Lackey and Cody Martin

More program and running away background and new things with an Angel. 3.5 out of 5

Run Through the Jungle 1 - Mercedes Lackey and Cody Martin

"John Murdock shares a sample of Atlanta’s finest takeout with the Seraphym, and winds up telling her about the Program." 3.5 out of 5

Heartsong Creative Interview - Jarad Henry

"Jarad Henry is a Melbourne crime writer who has worked in the criminal justice system for the past 10 years. He has a degree in Criminology, is a proficient public speaker and is a regular presenter at many conferences. Last year his third book, ‘Pink Tide’, starring the anti hero Detective Sergent Ruebens McCauley was released. Set in the south-west of Victoria, close to where I live, this was the novel I most wanted to talk to him about." 3.5 out of 5

Indie+ Interview - Rob Donoghue

A hangout recording, ranging over various magic system issues and methodologies. 4.5 out of 5

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Clean Sweep 3 1 - Ilona Andrews

"Beast raised her head and growled. I opened my eyes. I was sitting in an oversized soft chair, trying to cure my headache with a cup of coffee. Dealing with intruders was the next to last thing on my want-to-do list this morning, the last thing being anything that involved werewolves." 3.5 out of 5

Chinaman's Bluff - Cat Sparks

A woman and child get some outback alien help. 3.5 out of 5

Forbeck: The Interview - Matt Forbeck

Fiction Depot: My favorite event was the Live-Action and Life-Size version of Robo Rally. I played many a rounds when I attended. Do you have a favorite game or event that you always try to play? What about your kids, do they have favorites? Matt Forbeck: My schedule's too jammed for regular games, but my favorite event these days is the True Dungeon. It's a live-action version of Dungeons & Dragons that's played in a series of chambers built into a gigantic hall at the convention, and it's amazing fun. I last played two years ago in a VIP session with Monte Cook, Mike Selinker, Colin McComb, and a slew of other great gamers. My eldest son Marty also joined us. We got slaughtered but had a ball. 4 out of 5

The Deeps of the Sky - Elizabeth Bear

Mother memories leave me with a scar. 3.5 out of 5

The Stars Do Not Lie - Jay Lake

Increate found us a spaceship. 3.5 out of 5

The Button Man and the Murder Tree - Cherie Priest

Mushroom jokers and dead snakes. 2.5 out of 5

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Eyes In the Vastness of Forever - Gustavo Bondoni

Demons at the end of the world. 3.5 out of 5

Friday, May 17, 2013

First Fire - Terry Bisson

First Fire - Terry Bisson Time gun Flame of Zoroaster check. 3.5 out of 5

Return Of The Mutant Worms - Peter F. Hamilton

Stupid embarassment SF standover. 2.5 out of 5

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Red Goat Black Goat - Nadia Bulkin

Nurse and Princess and danger. 3.5 out of 5

Quoth the Cultist - Mari Ness

Cthulhu Poe. 4 out of 5

Innsmouth Magazine 03 - Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles

A solid issue. Innsmouth Magazine 03 : The Swelling - David Conyers Innsmouth Magazine 03 : The Black Ship - Rebecca Nazar Innsmouth Magazine 03 : Nature vs Nurture - Orrin Grey Innsmouth Magazine 03 : One Dead Eye - Avery Cahill Innsmouth Magazine 03 : If You Want to Leave a Message - G. W. Thomas Innsmouth Magazine 03 : Mary Mary - Danielle Eriksen Dead ship to Carcosa. 3.5 out of 5 Call of Cthulhu problem, dad. 3.5 out of 5 Ghouls grow up big is the problem. 3.5 out of 5 To see horrors and homonculi. 3.5 out of 5 Gibberish machine. 3 out of 5 Time to leave. 3 out of 5 3.5 out of 5

Mary Mary - Danielle Eriksen

Time to leave. 3 out of 5

If You Want To Leave A Message - G. W. Thomas

Gibberish machine. 3 out of 5

One Dead Eye - Avery Cahill

To see horrors and homonculi. 3.5 out of 5

Nature vs Nurture - Orrin Grey

Ghouls grow up big is the problem. 3.5 out of 5

The Black Ship - Rebecca Nazar

Call of Cthulhu problem, dad. 3.5 out of 5

The Swelling - David Conyers

Dead ship to Carcosa. 3.5 out of 5

A Soldier and a Gentleman - Talbot Mundy

Yasmini, outlaw loot, Dost Mohammed and a not so bright captain. 3 out of 5

Chasing Shadows - Mercedes Lackey and Cody Martin

Verdigris sends the General on an errand, to find the old deadly Shadowstorm. 4 out of 5

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Rataan Mirrors - Geetanjali Dighe

Other universes, goddess? Maybe? 3 out of 5

Generic Fuzion - R. Talsorian

Being a combo of the Hero System and Interlock, universal style. 3 out of 5

Assault and Battery - Jason E. Thummel

Chief Gunner Clap solves mage, dandy. 3.5 out of 5

The Iron Man - Robert E. Howard

A boxer who keeps on taking it. 3.5 out of 5

Gods of the North - Robert E. Howard

Cold Conan trouble. 4 out of 5

Insufferable - 16

Dad killed mum, so I'm drunk. 3 out of 5

In The House Of Aryaman A Lonely Signal Burns - Elizabeth Bear

Dexter Coffin murder galaxy message. 3.5 out of 5

Behind the Mask - Samantha Sommersby

Shagging caper. 3.5 out of 5

Skin - Samantha Sommersby

Neighbour distraction. 3 out of 5

nterview: on Kickstarting LADY SABRE - Greg Rucka and Rick Burchett and Eric Newsom

"MSG: That’s a great lead-in to the big question: Why Kickstarter? Why not go to an indie publisher? GR: There were for me two really crucial things. First, web comics are very community driven. We live and die on the basis of having a readership that will visit us twice a week or once a month, or once every three months. But whatever it is, they’ll come to us and participate. Part of what we’ve all enjoyed and what’s mattered to us is working with that community, so when we began discussing the trade, it was very organic for us to say that this would be a community project. The community should be able to be involved, and if at all possible, it would be a great way to grow that community. So that was one. And then, for me speaking personally, I’ve been writing comics for fifteen years now. I’ve remained deliberately ignorant of what goes on beyond a certain point in the production of the book. The printing distribution aspects of the profession are ones I know very little about. This was an extraordinary opportunity for me to learn just how the sausage is made. In so doing, hopefully it will make me a better writer — understanding what is required once you have your story and art, and everything has been edited, and you have your pages — how you go from that to something you get to hold in your hand. I knew it was through a printer, but I didn’t really know what that really entailed. Part of the reason that it took so very long to launch the Kickstarter is that there was a huge education that I personally had to undergo and that we collectively had to understand what the paper stocks were, what the bindings were, how the covers work, how the end papers work. All of this — how the book was going to be put together, what the differences are in various types of production, what the options are. I know more now than I did six months ago!" 4 out of 5

Crowdfunding Fiction River: An Interview with - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

"ASM: Why did you decide to use crowdfunding on this project? Kris: We wanted to gauge the interest. If the Kickstarter project failed, we wouldn’t have done Fiction River. It was that simple. If no one wanted to buy it, then we weren’t going to do it. We funded so fast that we were stunned, and then we were excited, and now we’re just plain thrilled to hold the first volume in our hands." 4 out of 5

Smokin' - Samantha Sommersby

Cigarette housemate. 3 out of 5

Under the Influence - Dana Stabenow

Fine liquor motive. 3 out of 5

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Residuals - Paul J. McAuley and Kim Newman

Little evil aliens, bad movies. 3 out of 5

Eight O'Clock In the Morning - Ray Nelson

George's lizardmen Fascinator wakeup war. 4 out of 5

A Day In the Life Introduction - Gardner Dozois

"They are stories that we intuit as life, that somehow fool us into thinking—while we are reading them—that they are something more than words on paper, that the events in the story are actually occurring in some dimension congruent with our own, viewed through the window of fiction. Most of them do this by keeping the focus tight, intense, personal, by concentrating on the people involved and letting them live the story from the inside out, so that their viewpoints and values become ours, and we care about the solution of their problems because they have become our own. They show us, with conviction, something we would otherwise never know on this earth: what everyday, day-to-day life would be like in a different society, an alien culture, another world. " 3.5 out of 5

It Was Always You - Samantha Sommersby

Sweet Wyatt. 3 out of 5

It's Magic - Samantha Sommersby

Hairy and fangy. 2.5 out of 5

Breathe - Samantha Sommersby

You are pretty young, college boy. 2.5 out of 5

Friday, May 10, 2013

Devotion - Robert Rhodes

No, not the witch. 3.5 out of 5

Beyond the Black River 3 The Crawlers in the Dark - Robert E. Howard

Third of an audio serial. 5 out of 5

The Pinocchio Complex - Sarina Dorie

Realistic boy simulation. 3 out of 5

Can Science Fiction Writers Inspire the World to Save Itself? - Ariel Schwartz

"If science fiction inspires scientists and engineers to create new things--Stephenson believes it can--then more visionary, realistic sci-fi stories can help create a better future. Hence the Hieroglyph experiment, launched this month as a collaborative website for researchers and writers. Many of the stories created on the platform will go into a HarperCollins anthology of fiction and non-fiction, set to be published in 2014." 3 out of 5

Our Favorite Cliche: A World Filled With Idiots - David Brin

" Hence the Iron Rule. Society never works. Along with its corollary. Everyone is stupid. By making these twin assumptions, you can prevent your hero from getting any of the help that would dry-up all the drama. You can blithely and easily keep your protagonist in danger until that final satisfying explosion sets the credits rolling. — # — Want the simplest example? We’ve all seen it in Grade B movies. A dozen spoiled, giggling teenagers enter a haunted house. The lights go out. Someone screams. Then we hear the famous line. “Hey, gang. Let’s split up!” Why? Why do kids in these films deliberately choose to do the stupidest thing imaginable? Because if they don’t split up — if they behave like intelligent people who pool their resources and march out of there with linked arms — the author might actually have to exercise some imagination in order to keep up that precious jeopardy for 90 minutes. But if you start with an assumption of stupidity, the script almost writes itself, hurtling from one gruesome decapitation to the next. " 4 out of 5

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Beyond the Black River 2 The Wizard of Gwawela - Robert E. Howard

Second of an audio serial. 5 out of 5

Hole-Hearted Part 3 - Mercedes Lackey and Dennis Lee

Vicki and Djinni try and fix Bull...bit of a hanging by a dodgy rope thing. 4 out of 5

Geekerati Radio Ray Harryhausen: Memories and Magic - Christian Lindke

"Are you a fan of Star Wars and Jurassic Park? Without the groundbreaking work of Ray Harryhausen, the modern film industry would be very different from what you see today. Harryhausen's work in special effects helped to transform Science Fiction and Fantasy from low budget camp into impressive tales that sparked the imagination. In this episode of Geekerati, Christian Lindke, Bill Cunningham, and Shawna Benson discuss Harryhausen's enduring legacy." 4.5 out of 5

Intro part 2 Starships in Science Fiction - Gregory Benford

"Today, writers like Geoffrey Landis and Stephen Baxter both believe that pop sf such as Star Trek , Star Wars and the like has distorted the difficulties of space. “Exploring space is so very easy,” Landis says. “You just jump in your ship and go, and nobody every questions why or asks ‘Who’s funding this?’ or even ‘What’s the energy source here?’ In the real world, there’s little margin for error. That guy who says ‘It’s a crazy idea, but it just might work!’– well, in the real world, 99 times out of a hundred, it doesn’t work.”" 3.5 out of 5

Guide to Classic Traveller - Marc Miller

Comprehensive annotated bibliography, with cover graphics of all the products - that you can actually get on compiled CDs/DVDs that would appear to be great value. A really well done guide. 5 out of 5

Hole-Hearted Part 2 - Mercedes Lackey and Dennis Lee

Some sadness and reminiscing and maybe more mage control needed. 3.5 out of 5

Hole-Hearted Part 1 - Mercedes Lackey and Dennis Lee

In which Blue admits she likes Bulwark and that he has a Harmony energy drain problem. 4 out of 5

Dare To Be Stupid - Mercedes Lackey and Cody Martin

In which on a cross-country mission it is important to have enough cases of ravioli. 4 out of 5

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Fate Points Episode 8: The Man Himself - Leonard Balsera

5 out of 5

Old School Dungeons & Dragons: Wizards of the Coast's Problem Child - Peter Bebergal

"What Wizards of the Coast did was take an experience so open as to allow group improvisation, and turn it into a tabletop game where the players merely pretend that they are the miniature figurines pushed around on a combat grid. Playing D&D began to mean buying all kinds of other stuff. Where figurines were once optional, the new rules made them essential, along with cardboard tiles and an enormous number of supplements. (The newest version of D&D has three different Players Handbooks).1" 4 out of 5

Random Wizard Interview - Douglas Niles

"RW: You designed BATTLESYSTEM, you worked on the Companion Set Warmachine rules, you wrote (with Steve Winter) the Star Frontiers Knight Hawks game (spaceship combat). It seemed like, in the mid 80s, that TSR made a push to offer a lot of wargame like material for its role playing games. Was there a deliberate effort to combine wargame elements with RPGs by TSR, or did it just occur by happenstance? Do you have a personal favourite set of wargame rules? Do you feel that today's market has changed, and trying to combine roleplaying games with a wargame system is a think of the past? DN: I think part of it was that a lot of us RPG designers at TSR were war gamers at heart. I think SPI at its height represent the golden age of board wargaming, and was proud to be able to do some design work for SPI after TSR acquired it. My favorite tactical war-game rules are the brilliant Napoleonic rules for WELLINGTON'S VICTORY, followed closely by the TERRIBLE SWIFT SWORD and other American Civil War Battles rules. May I immodestly claim that my favorite strategic war game rules are my own design, WORLD WAR TWO ETO, that I still play occasionally today. I was able to design WW2-ETO to be the exact kind of game I liked to play myself, and I think it turned out pretty good--though it needed the second edition to really bring it home." 4 out of 5

Intro part 1 Starships: Reaching for the Highest Bar - Gregory Benford

"As this book was being created, word came that an Earth-sized planet had been discovered circling Alpha Centauri B, one member of the three-star system closest to us. Alpha Centauri Bb is locked facing the star, a hellish half-world indeed, with a frigid, dark shadowed hemisphere. This rocky planet around our nearest neighbor has ignited interest in sending probes there, as a first venture into interstellar space. Moreover, based on results from NASA’s Kepler spacecraft –looking for planets around stars in a segment of the sky–we now know that multiple-planet systems are common, especially when small rocky planets are found close to the central star." 4 out of 5

Conversing On Comics: Chris Arrant Talking With - Chris Roberson

"The original incarnation of Monkeybrain was as a sci-fi prose novel publisher, and Reign sees you returning to those sci-fi roots – albeit at Image. How do you feel about the state of science fiction in comics today? It’s good, could be better? I think that science fiction and fantasy are arguably healthier in American comics than they’ve been in some time, with the success of things like Saga, Prophet, Multiple Warheads, and if you extend the definitions a bit, even things like Atomic Robo and Sixth Gun. Of course, I think that there could always be more variety and diversity, so I’m always hoping that more cool sci-fi/fantasy comics come along. Probably for the same reason that mysteries or romance or epic fantasy haven’t done better. Science fiction comics used to be much more common, coincidentally at the same periods in which mysteries and romance and fantasy were more common. But for much of the last few decade, superheroes have dominated the American comics market. Of course, there were lots of superhero comics with science-fictional elements (as well as elements of mystery, romance, etc.). I think what we’re seeing now is those genre boundaries eroding even more than they ever have in the past, for a large number of reasons, and as a result we’re seeing a lot more variety when it comes to the kinds of comics people are making." 4 out of 5

Grim Tides 12 Brotherly Love - Tim Pratt

"She waggled her finger at him. “Assumptions get you in trouble, Mr. Mason. Marla didn’t send me. I represent a group of people whose interests may align with your own.” He lunged for the drawer, and she started laughing. When he pulled it open, dozens of pale white moths fluttered out, and flew straight for his closet. “I know what you’re thinking – I turned the gun into moths. But not at all! I conjured moths who eat guns. Nice, huh? Of course they eat cloth, too. They’re going to ruin your suits. But a bullet hole would have ruined this nice blouse, so it’s only fair. Listen, sit, and tell me – why did you try to kill Marla?” Jason knew when he was outgunned, even if his enemy didn’t use guns. Better to play along and wait for an opportunity, maybe. He returned to his chair, got comfortable, picked up his tumbler of Jack and Coke, and shrugged. “It was nothing personal. Just business. Her dying would have made me some money.”" 4 out of 5

Stone Cold - Mercedes Lackey and Cody Martin

The General wants to make a deal. 3.5 out of 5

The Tempting: A Love Story - James Alan Gardner

Slave, old school Blood-Pump. 3.5 out of 5

Killing Time - Dennis Lee

Time for the teamup with an old enemy trick for Bruno and Scope. 3.5 out of 5

Beyond the Black River 1 Conan Loses His Ax - Robert E. Howard

First of an audio serial. 5 out of 5

The Willows - Algernon Blackwood

Audio version by Wayne June. 4.5 out of 5

Monday, May 06, 2013

Sing - Karin Tidbeck

Goat hosts. And bids. 3 out of 5

Looking the Lopai in the Eyes - Indrapramit Das

Ambassador trip shake. 3 out of 5 4 out of 5

Queen of the Black Coast 5 The Funeral Pyre - Robert E. Howard

Final of an audio serial. 5 out of 5

Clash of the Titans - Mark Evanier

"For someone like Infantino when an artist was all he was, it was not a question of, "Gee, maybe if I do my job better, I can get rich." Oh, if only it had been that. All the comic artists I’m mentioning here were men who did their job about as well as anyone could. Doing it better, if that was even possible, would not lead to better paychecks or more security. Harvey Kurtzman, speaking once about his superlative work creating MAD said, "I know what I did had a value far beyond what I was paid at the time. What I don’t know is how to get my reward." It’s a problem they all faced. Jack Kirby used to say that the guys who didn’t do great, profitable work in comics were probably happier in their jobs than those that did. It wasn’t that difficult for even a mediocre artist in comics to get the meager top pay. It was impossible for the best guys to get much more than that…or the kind of financial security you get when you’re among the best guys in almost any other field." 3.5 out of 5

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Dreams In The Witch-House - H.P. Lovecraft

"Dreams In The Witch-House by H.P. Lovecraft (reading) read by Julie Hoverson music from The Brotherhood" 4.5 out of 5

Neil Gaiman: The Early Years Black Orchid’s Passive and Impassive Universe Part 1 - Hannah Means-Shannon

"Neil Gaiman, like Alan Moore, is someone working in comics who seems to need no introduction. Their influence and impact is so pervasive that they’ve practically become a household name. But there’s a danger to the hype that results in a kind of stereotyping of their work and career that leaves little room for the changes they’ve made along the way to their styles and subject matter. When an author becomes known most widely for a single work, the rest are interpreted in the light of that work, a perspective that may skew both where they have come from, and to some extent, where they are going. That’s not to say that works like Watchmen and Sandman should be left out of the account of their prolific writing careers; that would be a disservice, but any Gaiman fan who reads only Sandman is missing out on a universe of interesting comics and prose that they would, most likely, find equally appealing. Each work should be taken on its own terms, and examined in the context that produced it. Black Orchid is one of those works. Of Gaiman’s earlier works, it is comparatively well known since it was published by a major comics company, DC, and has never been out of print since its original printing in 1988 and 1989. Black Orchid’s position in Gaiman’s career is seminal from a historian’s perspective, and from a literary standpoint, it’s a gold mine of material that shaped the future of Vertigo and reveals a great deal of Gaiman’s developing concerns in his work. It also stands as a major collaboration with the comics art giant Dave McKean, whose recurring work on many Gaiman books set the tone for reader expectations for years to come." 3.5 out of 5

Mansfield Park and Mummies 1-3 - Vera Nazarian

"The subtle influence of the Mummy grew and grew. With time, as it dreamed of its ancient beloved land, and the house came to be filled with the very items that surrounded him three thousand years ago, it began to call upon others of its kind, and hence, more crates, more deliveries, more other mummies. A certain other minor amulet liberated from its supernaturally protected case unleashed a rather unrelated local beast spirit—local to Britain and of the lupine variety—which immediately took possession of the first unoccupied human being who happened to be Mrs. Norris, creeping up the stairs to the attic where Lady Bertram (occupied by the Mummy’s powerful influence and therefore not an option herself) stood mesmerized, opening and activating items at random, including that fateful amulet." 3.5 out of 5

They mocked her "science fantasy" Then she wrote Empire Strikes Back - Charlie Jane Anders

"Also, in her introduction to The Best of Planet Stories #1 in 1976, Brackett describes "space opera" as "a pejorative term often applied to a story that has an element of adventure." And she offers a defense of space opera as "the folk-tale, the hero-tale, of our particular niche in history." Sputnik, she writes, startled the wits out of all the high-minded, important people who hadn't wanted to talk about space. But she adds: But the space opera has been telling us tales of spaceflight, of journeys to other worlds in this solar system... These stories served to stretch our little minds, to draw us out beyond our narrow skies into the vast glooms of interstellar space, where the great suns ride in splendor and the bright nebulae fling their veils of fire parsecs-long across the universe; where the Coal-Sack and the Horsehead make patterns of black mystery; where the Cepheid variables blink their evil eyes and a billion nameless planets may harbor life-forms infinitely numerous and strange. Escape fiction? Yes, indeed! But in its own ironic way, as we see now, it was an escape into a reality which some people are even now trying to fight off." 5 out of 5

An Interview With - Kenneth Hite

"How do you see the RPG industry today? There’s an increasingly stark divide between the states of the industry and the art form of the RPG. I don’t think it’s any secret that sales, player numbers, and any other metrics you want to use show that the RPG “industry” is a shadow of its former self. The CCG boom shoved RPG books out of their previous privileged position in distribution, and the collapse of the d20 bubble destroyed any pretense of strength left in the RPG segment of the hobby. That said, the art form of the RPG is in a fairly robust Golden Age of design: Vincent Baker, Jared Sorensen, Luke Crane, Jason Morningstar, Ron Edwards, Paul Czege, and Emily Care Boss (to name just a few) have been breaking new ground in design; Shane Hensley’s Savage Worlds, the Evil Hat team’s work on FATE, and yes, Robin’s creation of GUMSHOE, have proven that “traditional” RPGs can still be innovative and successful; D&D 4e and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3e are folding new systems and techniques into RPGs from the best-of-breed boardgame designs. In terms of choice, accessibility, and sheer quality available, here’s never been a better time to be a dice-and-pencils tabletop roleplayer." 4 out of 5

Friday, May 03, 2013

Gameplay - Christos Callow

Clothes save error. 3.5 out of 5

From King Kull to King Conan: The Resurrection of the Hero-King - Mark Finn

"“The Phoenix on the Sword” was just another story on the table of contents page of the December 1932 issue of Weird Tales magazine. It didn’t rate the cover. That honor went to Otis Adelbert Kline’s sword and planet adventure, “Buccaneers of Venus,” beautifully rendered by J. Allen St. John. If you were an avid reader, you no doubt looked forward to the final installment of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, and perhaps also the newest Seabury Quinn Jules de Grandin story. Of course, you knew who Robert E. Howard was; he was one of the best writers in the magazine, and even though you’d never heard of this King Conan before, you could bet it was going to be a cracking good story." 4.5 out of 5

Young Blood 1 - Silvia Moreno-Garcia

"Domingo was always looking for garbage and he was always looking at people. It was his hobby. The people, not the garbage. He walked around Mexico City in his blue plastic jacket, head bobbed down, and while he tossed a bottle into a plastic bag he paused to observe the people eating at a restaurant. He looked at the maids as they got up early and purchased bread at the bakery. He saw the people in shiny cars zoom by and the people without any cash jump onto the back of the bus, hanging with their nails and their grit to the metallic shell of the moving vehicle." 3.5 out of 5

1986: The British Invasion Part 2: Grant Morrison in 1986: Superman and Captain Britain - Peter Sanderson

The last installment examined Grant Morrison’s early, partly comedic Batman prose story, “The Stalking,” which was published in the United Kingdom in 1986. In the 1986 British Superman Annual Grant Morrison did another text story, “Osgood Kennedy’s Big Green Dream Machine,” this one illustrated by Barry Kitson and Jeff Anderson. As the title may suggest, this is ultimately another comedy. A scientist named Osgood Kennedy meets with a group of criminals and tells them that his new invention is the key to defeating Superman. His “dream machine” will allow them to look into Superman’s dreams and thereby discover how to destroy him. Kennedy may be brilliant, but he is hardly as sinister a figure as Luthor or Brainiac. Morrison depicts him as a somewhat comical nerd: for one thing, he has a nervous stammer. In order to get his dream machine to work on Superman, Kennedy explains he had to surreptitiously plant a microtransmitter on Superman’s cape. (As in “The Stalking,” Morrison’s Superman makes lots of public appearances, it seems.) One criminal, outraged, asks, “’And what makes you think Superman sleeps in his costume? Do you sleep in your lab coat?’" 3.5 out of 5

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Queen of the Black Coast 4 The Attack From the Air - Robert E. Howard

Fourth of an audio serial. 5 out of 5

TableTop Season 2 Episode 2 Resistance - Wil Wheaton

4.5 out of 5

TableTop Episode 11: Elder Sign - Wil Wheaton

4 out of 5

Interview with Co-President of Evil Hat Productions LLC - Fred Hicks

"Well, let’s just jump right in, I suppose—how did you and Jim meet and how was the DFRPG born? I met Jim online many, many years ago on a text-only RPG server, called AmberMUSH, based on the Amber novels by Roger Zelazny. Honestly, I met most of my good, long-term adult friends by MUSHing my way through my college years. It’s no coincidence a number of them are authors (including novelist C.E. Murphy, and game designers Rob Donoghue and Cam Banks). Through some semi-related circumstances, I found myself living in Oklahoma in the mid-90′s pursuing (then abandoning) a graduate degree. Turned out Jim was living only about an hour’s drive south of where I was, and he invited me down for weekend geekery and gamery. Right around then, he had a draft for a novel about a wizard that he was working on for his novel-writing coursework at Oklahoma University. I still remember the sound of the dot-matrix printer grinding that one out…" 4 out of 5

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Insufferable - 15

Galahad finds a 'napped ex-gf and gets punched by same. 4 out of 5

On the Merchant Princes Series: How I Built A World - Charles Stross

"Finally: I’m lazy and cynical, I get bored easily, and I have a warped sense of humour. Which is how I came up with this series. I grabbed hold of a bunch of clichés and rammed them together until I achieved fusion. And that’s how The Bloodline Feud starts." 3.5 out of 5

TableTop Episode 12 - Dixit

4.5 out of 5

TableTop Episode 7: Gloom - Wil Wheaton

4.5 out of 5

Tabletop Episode 6: Castle Panic - Wil Wheaton

3.5 out of 5

Tabletop Episode 5: Munchkin - Wil Wheaton

4 out of 5

Ghost Spin The Crucible - Chris Moriarty

" The Age of Man is ending. The UN’s sprawling interstellar empire is failing as its quantum teleportation network collapses, turning once-viable colonies into doomed island outposts. Humanity’s only hope of survival is the Drift: a mysterious region of space where faster-than-light travel—or something far stranger—seems possible. As mercenaries and pirates flock to the Drift, the cold war between the human-led UN and the clone-dominated Syndicates heats up. Whoever controls the Drift will chart the future course of human evolution—and no one wants to be left behind in a universe where the price of failure is extinction. When the AI called Cohen ventures into the Drift, he dies—allegedly by his own hand—and his consciousness is scattered across the cosmos. Some of his ghosts are still self-aware. Some are insane. And one of them hides a secret worth killing for. Enter Major Catherine Li, Cohen’s human (well, partly human) lover, who embarks on a desperate search to solve the mystery of Cohen’s death—and put him back together. But Li isn’t the only one interested in Cohen’s ghosts. Astrid Avery, a by-the-book UN navy captain, is on the hunt. So is William Llewellyn, a pirate who has one of the ghosts in his head, which is slowly eating him alive. Even the ghosts have their own agendas. And lurking behind them all is a pitiless enemy who will stop at nothing to make sure the dead don’t walk again." 4 out of 5

Tabletop 4: Ticket To Ride - Wil Wheaton

4.5 out of 5

TableTop Episode 2: Settlers of Catan - Wil Wheaton

3.5 out of 5

Grim Tides 11 The Dead Walking on the Beach - Tim Pratt

"As Marla approached, she let her goddess-vision rise, dispelling all illusions… but the woman by the water’s edge didn’t change at all. “You’re not a ghost,” Marla said, stepping beside Susan. “You’re not wearing a glamour of bent light and twisted perception, either. So what the fuck are you? Evil twin? Or, ha, good twin? A clone? Did Susan make herself a backup body and download her consciousness?” The couldn’t-be-Susan looked at Marla, her gaze disconcerting as always because of her heterochromia: one eye was green, the other blue. “You’re going to die,” she said. “Your past is catching up with you – and your future is catching up with you, too, and isn’t that so much scarier? I don’t know why I’m not dead anymore – I was, they tell me I was – but I’m glad to be back, so I can see your suffering, followed by your end.” “Threatening me never worked out that well for you when you were alive,” Marla said." 4 out of 5

Two Fantasies - C. L. Moore

Yellow Brian Doom ends up in Hell. 3.5 out of 5

TableTop Episode 1: Small World - Wil Wheaton

3.5 out of 5

Semira - C. L. Moore

Beautiful, with king killing and death. 3.5 out of 5

In Conversation - Paolo Bacigalupi and Lauren Beukes

A Google hangout round robin interview. 3.5 out of 5

Three Vignettes - Alastair Reynolds

Spearpoint wing removal and descent. 3.5 out of 5

Queen of the Black Coast 3 The Horror In the Jungle - Robert E. Howard

Third of an audio serial. 5 out of 5

Drums of the Ogbanje - Mel Odom

Pirates, zombies, tentacles. 3.5 out of 5

The Destruction of a Goddess - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Specialist dancer murder. 3 out of 5

HELLBOY Expands With Mignola's ABE SAPIEN Ongoing - Chris Arrant

"Scott Allie: Abe splits from the B.P.R.D. in part because of questions of what he has to do with these end of the world shenanigans. Some people see the transformation he's gone through as connected to the changes the world is experiencing, and Abe knows the B.P.R.D. and the government have a some what absolutist approach to solving that sort of problem. He is convinced he doesn't have anything to do with it, and wants to prove that. What's real interesting to me is that he's going to give the reader a much different experience of the end of the Mignola world than the B.P.R.D. can. The B.P.R.D. is a big paramilitary organization, and they experience this sort of disaster from that perspective, which John Arcudi is amazing at delivering. Abe is going to experience it much differently—at once, sort of on the ground from a regular person's point of view, trying to find food and dodge Lovecraft monsters—but also questioning his own role in all of it. So his book will be very different from all the other books we're doing, and it'll give Abe a chance to be front and center for a good long time, in his own series. " 4 out of 5

Spree 2 - Kristine Kathryn Rusch

"Jenny didn’t do breakfast. Jenny didn’t do much of anything." 3.5 out of 5