Weekend Haul & Other Stuff

Because I can’t help myself, despite having more stuff than i can reasonably read, I managed to expand my collection on a number of impressive fronts. I got several Jack Vance books, another Andrew J Offutt, and a few Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser books, some I didn’t have and one that was a first edition paperback of the one I already had (so I can pass along my reprint to a deserving person who needs it). What’s really cool, though, is that I got the serialized form of the High Crusade as well as a couple issues of digest sized pulps with Vance pieces as the feature stories.

Cirsova has been receiving a good bit of attention lately. As a review resource for MYFAROG, the new Basic edition has sent a good bit of unusual traffic my way. I’ve said before that Jeffro’s G+ feed is like Drudge Report for gamers, and some of the stuff of mine he’s reshared has ended up in cool strange places, like Conan message boards. Not only was I one of the Dyvers best reads of the week, I was in the top 10 of the month! What’s terrifying though, is that in a world where Wikipedia does not consider Breitbart and several other well known conservative/libertarian outlets reputable sources, Cirsova has been cited as a representative member of Gamergate and evidence that Agness Kaku doesn’t “blame” Gamergate for the harassment she has received on the Kickstarter Wikipedia page. Also, with the latest slippery slope flap over at Onebookshelf, I’m sure that at least one those “Unknown Search Terms” that has been giving me traffic is “Steve Wieck Hypocrite”.

I think the part about the 1488 ballots being thrown out might come from a misreading of this second paragraph, but this was a pretty good post-Hugos stream.

And yeah, Gamergate was not all that involved in the Hugos this year: case-in-point, I am probably in the top 10 ten most influential members of Gamergate actively involved in the worldcon debacle this year.

Later this week, I’ll talk about Thomas Burnett Swann and force myself to write a bit about Joseph Green’s A Star Is Born.

Short Reviews – Moon of Danger, by Albert de Pina

Moon of Danger by Albert de Pina appeared in the Summer 1947 issue of Planet Stories (Vol 3. No 7).  Note that I incorrectly labelled Mo-Sanshon! as being in the Spring issue.  To avoid further confusion, I will be including the specific volume and issue numbers for future Planet Stories short reviews.

Albert de Pina’s novelette is by far the best written of the stories I’ve read in this issue so far; though some of the hallmarks of deadline writing can be seen in “Moon of Danger” (accidental or intentional repetition of adjectives close to one another, rushes through certain sections and flat characterizations), overall it’s a tightly written and evenly-paced story.  Frankly, I’m surprised Fox’s story was on the cover and not this one.

Moon of Danger has all of the hallmarks of classic early post-war space-opera: chemical and atomic weapons, dangerous radioactive materials and threats of large-scale devastation wrought by high-tech warfare.  Mars has been ravaged by a radio-active biological agent that can quickly corrode metal; the last of the Martians have decided to pack it in, hop on the refugee ship and head for Earth before the last “Ionization Towers” give out.  The Martian effort is threatened by an Earth faction, including a mutinous Fleet Commander, who’d rather blow the Martians out of space than risk letting the spore plague reach Earth.  In an early twist, it’s revealed that the plague was unleashed on Mars by the denizens of Phobos, thought long dead for hundreds of years, in retaliation for the genocidal wars between the planet and its moon.  The ruler of the Phobians doesn’t care that those wars happened centuries before he or the current Martian Queen were born, he will use the looming Earth civil war over the Martian refugee crisis to force full recognition of Phobos as a prime federation world or else unleash his plague on all the other worlds.

Phobos has been hollowed out, and a powerful reverse-gravity generator has been installed at its core.  So, in one of the coolest “George Lucas almost certainly read this” moments in sci-fi I’ve come across, the heroes end up flying two linked ships towards the core of Phobos, delink from the ship full of atomic bombs, and before the bomb-ship hits the grav generator, ride the gravity wave toward the moon’s surface before the plant, Phobos and all the Phobians are blown to hell.  That part was even better than when the hero had to keep killing drug-addict Phobians with his bare hands while working in the slave fields cultivating bio-weapon spores!

It’s crazy just how little I can find out about de Pina; there are only about a dozen stories to his name.  I’m hoping that out of the dozen issues of Planet Stories I now have that there are a few more by him.  If anyone has any info on this guy, let me know!  Sorry, I tried my best to find either a scan or transcript of this one, but it looks like you’re going to actually find a copy of the 1947 March-May issue if you want to read it.  The awesome page & a half illustration showing Ric (the hero), Tal (a Martian scientist) and Praana (Queen of Mars) fighting their way through a crowd of Phobian slave-workers who are rioting because the rulers have been sitting on a huge stockpile of drugs sadly is also unavailable online.

batman diversity

In other news, in the last 24 hours, I may have convinced at least two people to check out Leigh Brackett!

I Never Really Got Into a Lot of These Games

For the reasons that you couldn’t really find them.  So this is awesome news:

How GOG Rescued 13 Forgotten Realms Games From Licensing Hell

One of my all time favorite games, Sword of Aragon, is an old SSI title, and while it’s not a D&D licensed game, it probably delivers one of the best old-school fantasy miniatures + RPG experiences of any game I’ve ever played, so I may have to check out some of these other SSI games.

One of the things I’m remembering about RTS games, having dusted off AoE 2, is how anti-climactic victories are in that genre.  The most intense and exciting portion of nearly any game is the early phase of establishing and protecting a base.  Mid-game might have some action once you start getting interesting advanced units and buildings and have to fend off an enemy foray or five.  But late game, the excitement of delivering the crushing blow just isn’t there; typically, attrition and resource exploitation has taken its toll, and you’ve repeatedly massed a group of top tier cavalry and a few archers to guard siege engines and whittled away at enemy towns.  By the last assault, you realize there’s nothing to not much left, enemy villagers seeking the few resources wander into your defenses to be killed, the last town center goes down much quicker than you anticipated and suddenly hours of grueling effort are over in an instant.  I guess what I hate about RTS is that the S aspect usually comes down to moving one mass of troops to throw at a target, rinse, repeat, until the target goes down.  I just never feel like there’s some great master strategy at work in which I can co-ordinate attacks from various directions and strike a killing blow.  No, it’s pretty much the Persian strategy over and over again.  There’s never any point in your “hero” characters, because most of the time you lose if they die, so they have to stay hidden in a remote corner of your base unless you want hours of effort to go to waste.  I’ve never had this problem or felt this way with turn-based war-games.  AoE 2 is scratching an itch I have right now, but I doubt it will send me on an RTS bender the way that Kingdom Rush had me briefly obsessed with Tower Defense games.

Media’s Go-Tos for Horrific Crimes: Gun Owners and now #Gamergate

“This was not a war zone. Journalists were doing a perfectly safe story all local TV stations do. Yet they get shot, on air. This is America.” – Ram Ramgopal, CNN Editor.

“Why did I do it? I put down a deposit for a gun on 6/19/15. The Church shooting in Charleston happened on 6/17/15… What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them… Alison made racist comments… I filmed the shooting see Facebook.” – Vester Flanagan, Murderer

Yep, this is America. Already we’re seeing this terrifying and tragic story being turned into part of the existing anti-gun narrative. No, it has absolutely nothing to do with a perfect storm of crazy and a race obsessed media.  But that’s not the only angle now.

Look out, Puppies, I know you’ve been accused of some bad stuff, but apparently you’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg.

Nevermind that the murderer gave us his exact reasons, it’s already being blamed on #gamergate.

In a virulent reaction to powerful, strong women who have gained opportunities following the emergence of the Feminist Movement in America, it has become common for failed men to turn their anger, fear, and vitriol at themselves onto women. Often, like Bryce Williams, onto women who are more successful and competent than they are.

Women working in the video gaming industry who had the nerve to speak out against the macho culture and over-sexualization of women in the gaming industry were met with threats of rape and murder. The trolls of #gamergate pounced with threats of rape and murder trying to intimidate these women into shutting up. (emphasis mine)

Fuck. Me.

Minor update: Comment section has been repeatedly scrubbed down to one “herp derp, you’re so right!” comment. Archived comments can be seen here: https://archive.is/qrQ6N  https://archive.is/kGi2M

Random News, MYFAROG, and New Drasmyr!

Between the nightmarish last week and a half I’ve had, I haven’t got nearly as much reading done as I would’ve liked.  Nor have I had much new gaming insights, because I’ve mostly been vegging out on Morrowind and Age of Empires 2.  But that’s not to say that there isn’t some cool news.

First of all, we’re getting some more details on the new Basic edition of MYFAROG:

Yeah, the new edition looks nice, and hopefully will cost less to ship overseas.  I’m also glad to know that I’m not alone in some of the issues I experienced with 1e and those look like they’ve been addressed.  The real question is if once I get a copy of Basic if I’ll be able to use it to run this.  If that doesn’t work, a new sample adventure has been made available here for free download.

Matthew D. Ryan is looking for reviewers for the next book in his Drasmyr series.  Which means that pretty soon there’ll be new Drasmyr!  As tempting as it is, I’m just so bad about reading long-form anything in ebook format that I don’t think I’d be the best person to volunteer my services for this.  I’m content to actually shell out for the hardback for this. But maybe when it’s closer to release, I can get Ryan back to talk more about his series or do a guest post.

Cirsova got a nod from Dyvers’ Best Reads of the Week, which is always an awesome honor.

Mike Monaco has some awesome cave pictures.

At the Feet of Neptune’s Queen is finally almost done; thanks to all of my beta readers, all of whom have been a tremendous help.  I’ve made a list of a few likely candidates for submission.  Plans for launching my own zine will be on hold until I can resolve three particular issues in my life, at least one of them involving a car payment/accident settlement, but that won’t stop me from writing.  I’m working on another piece as decompression more than anything, which may or may not get a short epub treatment if I finish it.  Once I get a few more Planet Stories under my belt, I’ll consider writing more Abraham Strongjohn stuff.

Battlefields and Broadswords?  It’s still sitting about 1/3 of the way done.  Did rules for cannon fire really stump me so bad that it derailed the entire project?  No, but I did get distracted by a million things.  I keep telling myself that I’m going to crack open BattleSystem and see if it has something I can use in place of painted dowel rods, but I guess I just haven’t been in game designer mode lately.  I feel like maybe it’s one or the other, fiction or game design.

Vox Day’s Xanatos Gambit a Confirmed Win (at Least for Vox Day)

Just as planned

“JUST AS PLANNED!”

“…I told everyone that this year was about the nominations and the best we could reasonably hope for was to provoke them into voting No Award… which they dutifully did.

Our execution wasn’t flawless. I made two mistakes, one which was fortuitous as it permitted Three Body Problem to make the shortlist and win, and one which was stupid as it cost us a 6th category in novelette. Our discipline could also have been better, although I don’t see that it would have made any difference at all with regards to either the nominations or the awards. But I trust the moderate approach is now sufficiently discredited in everyone’s eyes.” – Vox Day

“The real winner this year was Vox Day and the Rabid Puppies. Yep. You CHORFing idiots don’t seem to realize that Brad, Sarah, and I were the reasonable ones who spent most of the summer talking Vox out of having his people No Award the whole thing to burn it down, but then you did it for him. He got the best of both worlds. Oh, but now you’re going to say that Three Body Problem won, and that’s a victory for diversity! You poor deluded fools… That was Vox’s pick for best novel. That’s the one most of the Rabid Puppies voted for too.” – Larry Correia.