City at the Top of the World – Preview

Aeryn’s stomach turned and knotted as her room shook.  Nearly a week had passed since she had been taken by those strange pale men and placed upon the sky sail, but she still found herself unadjusted to the traumatic and unnatural sensations of flight.  No one who was taken by the slavers of the north was ever seen again…

 

“I paid no attention to gender or race in my reading”

It’s like Heina Dadabhoy realized that she wasn’t a bigot and decided that she needed to a bigot to right some cosmic wrong.

As someone who is non-male and non-white, isn’t she being xenophobic by excluding white male individuals from her reading?

I’m not astounded that there are bigots on the internet.  Nor am I astounded that there are bigots on the internet claiming to be enlightened free-thinkers.  What is astounding is how many of them are wearing their bigotry as badges of honor and pride.  “I’m boycotting people because of their skin color and gender, and you should too!”  This shit has been everywhere lately.

People aren’t saying “Broaden your horizons!” They’re challenging themselves and others to narrow their horizons.  Culture and appreciation of literature isn’t some kind of zero sum game like these people think it is.  You can read books by any damn body.

And, you know, I don’t think I would be bothered by this if these people were like “Look, I’m a fucking racist and I advocate racist things.”  Be intellectually honest about this stuff, but don’t try to pass off exclusionary rhetoric bullshit while pretending that you’re some kind of enlightened equality for all humanist.  You’re not.  You’re a bigot, so just run with it.

Most people don’t give a shit about the color of their favorite author’s skin or whether or not they have dick or a vag or whether that dick or vag was god-given or man-made.  They give a shit about entertaining stories that touch their lives in some sort of way.  And the writer’s race, biological or sociologically constructed gender don’t change that a damn bit, except to bigots.

Camille Paglia Has a New Interview Up

I’ve probably mentioned before, but Camille Paglia is one of my favorite contemporary thinkers, and she always has insightful (and sometimes provocative) things to say.

The full interview is here at America Magazine, but I wanted to share a few highlights:

In your view, what’s wrong with American feminism today, and what can it do to improve?

After the great victory won by my insurgent, pro-sex, pro-fashion wing of feminism in the 1990s, American and British feminism has amazingly collapsed backward again into whining, narcissistic victimology. As in the hoary old days of Gloria Steinem and her Stalinist cohorts, we are endlessly subjected to the hackneyed scenario of history as a toxic wasteland of vicious male oppression and gruesome female suffering. College campuses are hysterically portrayed as rape extravaganzas where women are helpless fluffs with no control over their own choices and behavior. I am an equal opportunity feminist: that is, I call for the removal of all barriers to women’s advance in the professional and political realms. However, I oppose special protections for women, which I reject as demeaning and infantilizing. My principal demand (as I have been repeating for nearly 25 years) is for colleges to confine themselves to education and to cease their tyrannical surveillance of students’ social lives. If a real crime is committed, it must be reported to the police. College officials and committees have neither the expertise nor the legal right to be conducting investigations into he said/she said campus dating fiascos. Too many of today’s young feminists seem to want hovering, paternalistic authority figures to protect and soothe them, an attitude I regard as servile, reactionary and glaringly bourgeois. The world can never be made totally safe for anyone, male or female: there will always be sociopaths and psychotics impervious to social controls. I call my system “street-smart feminism”:  there is no substitute for wary vigilance and personal responsibility.

So much of modern 3rd wave feminism that I’ve seen relies on a paradigm in which all women are constantly victims. The moment that women seize their agency and shake off their victimhood, they’re mercilessly attacked by marxist-feminist ideologues because without women being perpetual victims, the whole thing come crashing down.

Briefly put, what is post-structuralism and what is your opinion of it?

Post-structuralism is a system of literary and social analysis that flared up and vanished in France in the 1960s but that became anachronistically entrenched in British and American academe from the 1970s on. Based on the outmoded linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure and promoted by the idolized Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, and Michel Foucault, it absurdly asserts that we experience or process reality only through language and that, because language is inherently unstable, nothing can be known. By undermining meaning, history and personal will, post-structuralism has done incalculable damage to education and contemporary thought. It is a laborious, circuitously self-referential gimmick that always ends up with the same monotonous result. I spent six months writing a long attack on academic post-structuralism for the classics journal Arion in 1991, “Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders: Academe in the Hour of the Wolf” (reprinted in my first essay collection, Sex, Art, and American Culture). Post-structuralism has destroyed two generations of graduate students, who were forced to mouth its ugly jargon and empty platitudes for their foolish faculty elders. And the end result is that humanities departments everywhere, having abandoned their proper mission of defending and celebrating art, have become humiliatingly marginalized in both reputation and impact.

Post-structuralism is fun, but it’s certainly not a productive means to gain an understanding of a work. By analyzing things through the lenses of various prejudices, one ultimately reveals more about the lenses than the subject that it analyzes.

One of the biggest ironies is that it was explained to me by a professor that Lacan can’t really be understood in English since so much of his ideology, conveyed through puns and metaphors, don’t really translate well and don’t come through outside of the original French.  So I guess nothing really can be known (at least about post-structuralism).

Anyway, the whole interview is a really great read and you should check it out.

Phantasy Star

The other day my girlfriend sees me sitting on the couch, sketching on graph paper in a notebook, with several pages torn out and laying about covered in similar sketches. “What are you doing?” “Mapping,” I reply, lifting up half a dozen pages. “This is all one dungeon, so I needed to map it.”

Now, Phantasy Star II isn’t the first RPG that I’ve resorted to mapping for; that honor would go to Sword of Vermilion (which is probably one of the most awesome RPGs I’ve ever played), but it’s the first that I’ve felt that it was utterly necessary to keep one’s bearings. These dungeons are some of the most difficult of any game I’ve played, because of the combination of multiple up/down tiles in all of the dungeons, the lack of detail to quickly distinguish between dungeon levels and areas within those levels, and the overall frequency of encounters that break one’s ability to keep one’s bearings from memory.

I’d mucked about with Phantasy Star II a few times in the past, because my first impression was positive: I liked the idea of a Sword & Planet RPG and found the character art charming. But I couldn’t get past the brutal grind necessary to survive a few steps into the first dungeon, much less figure out what the hell was going on with all of the transporters, and I ultimately set it aside for other things after a handful of false starts.

I got a retro RPG bug the other day, though, and decided to play Phantasy Star IV, since it was on the same Sega collection disc and I figured that it would follow the general rule of old RPGs where Newer = Less clunky. And for the most part, I was right. PS IV was a delight, with plenty of endearing characters, heart-wrenching moments, and a delightful tear-jerker ending. I didn’t even have to grind at all to beat it!

What I don’t get is why in the localization of Phantasy Star they would change the names of various characters but leave the unintelligible and utterly mystifying spell names. I mean, sure, by the end of the game I’d figured out what worked and what didn’t through trial and error, but at what point did someone say something along the lines of “Bindwa & Tandle are perfectly fine names for abilities, but folks will be really confused by characters named Rudy and Pike, so let’s call them Chaz and Gryz instead. That’ll go over better in the west”? Seriously, localize mechanics, not character names.

But anyway, I decided to go back and give PS II a chance again. Man, is it a slog, but I’m invested enough in the setting that I’m going to see it through to the end. And if you’re the sort of person who enjoys mapping, that’s where you’re going to find the fun in it. Because you are going to need a map!

But, since I found my old world map of Sword of Vermilion, I think I’ll give that another go, too!

Shadow Over Alfheim Pt 14 – Mirror Image is a Pretty Brutal Spell

I think I may have underestimated this spell a bit in the past, but when given to an evil NPC, things turn into the last big fight from the end of the old TMNT Arcade game. Which was pretty sweet.

We had everyone all back together for the first time this year. The party started the session on the bluff looking down over the ruins of Law’s End. The ghostly procession that descends into the valley and beyond toward the mountains each night from the crossroads at dusk had passed. The goblin with low-light vision was able to see that 8 skeletons were milling about the ruins of the elven city rather purposelessly. I had the skeletons, who were specifically noted as being unarmed, there just for funzies to see what the players would do and my group did not disappoint.

Despite having two cleric types in the party who could’ve easily blasted the skeletons into oblivion, the party discussed and attempted to engage in all sorts of weird strategies, essentially making fools of themselves, using both magic and mundane lighting sources for illumination, and the fighter clumsily searching the grounds thinking that the skeletons had been looking for something, all while the skeletons formed two lines of 4 on either side of the path to the entrance of the Maze. Just waiting.

The party assumed that either something was coming out of the maze to meet them or something was going to arrive that the skeletons were welcoming. It took awhile for the party to figure out it was them the skeletons were welcoming. Finally, the cleric of St. Cuthbert tried to turn them. They immediately fell to pieces (they were 1hp monsters) in 8 nice little piles forming two lines of 4 on either side of the path to the entrance of the Maze. The thief smashed all of the skulls systematically.

Meanwhile, the Cleric was getting ready to tie some ropes to go back down into the base of the tower when he discovered that there was already a rope ladder in place. Cue the collective “uh oh”.

The party managed to get down the tower, go across the underground river, down the stairs, and to the great chamber.

A party always knows trouble is ahead when you ask for marching order. And trouble they got. The brazier in the center of the room bursts into flames, and the party is approached by an unrecognizably charred black version of their former companion. Questions were asked and answered, though the party didn’t ask anything that revealed relevant story information. On the plus side, they’re beginning to doubt that Lord Richmond’s on the level.

The encounter consisted of 8 undead giant insects, 2 “elves” (ghouls) and a quasi-undead 4th level version of their old elf companion. I knew that the insects would be turned right away, and they were there to be turned, but it also was a tie in to when the elf learned the animate vermin spell from the Necromancers of Stull module.

Really, other than making him a weird and gross looking burned up bend’em man with rubies for eyes, this baddie was just a 4th level elf. His spells for the day were Animate Vermin, Mage Armor, and 2 Mirror Images.

I don’t think the party figured out that he’d cast Mage Armor, because they thought he was nightmarishly powerful: rather than simple “misses” for their ranged attacks, he’d swat them out of the air. That bit alone made him somewhat terrifying. That and the fact that there were 4 of him. Because the players weren’t familiar with the exact text of the Mirror Image spell, they assumed incorrectly that there was a “true” version of the elf. Once they got they got him down to 1, he managed to split off again, so they ended up fighting 7 of him in total.

Before he could split the first time, the elf was hit with a spear, and he didn’t have a lot of HP to begin with, but he was still a hard to kill badass and I’m going to have to come up with a penalty for the fighter who was KOed and then healed back up by the abbey monk.

It was great when the goblin-ranger finally killed him:

“Can I have your eyes?”
“If you take the Crown from this place, make sure it does not fall into His hands…”
“That’s cool, dude, gimme your eyes.”

If You Want to Avoid Reading White, Straight, Cis Male Authors for a Year…

Cirsova:

…and I’m the child of a Cuban refugee who wrote a Choose Your Own Adventure.

Originally posted on :

Straight from Stephanie Souders at

Right Fans: Sci Fi from the Other Side

… have I got a list for you!Sarah A. Hoyt, for example, is a first generation Portuguese immigrant who grew up in an impoverished village (at least by our standards). She is also a winner of the Libertarian Futurist Society’s Prometheus Award, which honors outstanding fiction with pro-liberty themes.

Larry Correia is also a “writer of color” who grew up in disadvantaged circumstances. As he relates in a recent post, “I grew up with all that fancy Portuguese Dairy Farmer Privilege, where I got to have an alcoholic mother and a functionally illiterate father… where I got to spend my formative years knee deep in cow shit at 3:00 AM, so that I could later work my way through Utah State.” Despite starting life on the bottom rung, however, Larry persevered and is now…

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Advice for People Looking to Get Into Game Design

Wundergeek has put together a pretty good 3 part series of posts for people looking into getting into game design. While nominally she is giving advice to women looking to get into game design, the information is really useful for anyone who is thinking about putting out creative projects.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

I’ve always said that the obvious solution for people who want diversity in whatever field is for people to get involved and creating their diverse works, and the barriers for entering any creative field are lower than they’ve ever been. Mostly what you need is a little perseverance.