New Interview with Matthew D. Ryan

It’s up here on a blog called Farish’s Freehold.  Check it out.

The wait until Christmas 2017 for The Citadel is gonna kill me!  Sceptre ended on quite the cliffhanger and left me screaming for more.

Lineup for issue 2 is more or less done, and I will be announcing it soon.  I can’t say anything about issues 3 or 4 for awhile; I’ve got some amazing stories but at this point, I really can’t say what I’ll be going with until the submission period closes.  Will I end up buying 4 issues worth of content?  I don’t know, but I’m hoping that May 1st won’t be all Sophie’s Choice here at Cirsova…

Some Thoughts and Analysis of the New Alt-Right, Why it Emerged, and Why it is so Different from the Old Alt-Right

Update: This morning I found this article by Allum Bokhari & Milo Yiannopoulos that correlates a number of the points I make but goes much further in depth as to the breakdown of who comprises the New Alt-Right and why.

Trigger Warning: What follows is political analysis; it should not be construed as an endorsement of any tactics or ideologies – it’s just my speculation on why things are the way they are and how we got where we did.

As I watch what our current political contest has turned into, I can’t help but remember how several years back I had theorized that much of the name-calling against conservatives and middle America and provocateurism of certain segments of the progressive left were part of a concerted effort to troll average folks into reacting violently to extended provocation so that they might have a “see? we told you so” moment.

That moment would prove once and for all that conservatives and average Americans were violent and dangerous and irresponsible and should probably have more rights than just their guns taken away because they could not be trusted with them. While they may be hoping for more old-timey Cliven Bundy style ‘standin’ against the man’, what they’ll probably get are more hired protesters getting pepper-sprayed to wildly cheering throngs.  People who have seen incidents like this  or this  will have no sympathy when it comes to incidents like this .

While a large subsection of millennial culture is content to shriek in faces to demand silence of their political opponents before retreating to some safe-space, an equally large subsection that grew up in the stew of a liberal mixture of Pandemonium and Shangri La of the internet is ready to meet their fellows head on.  While older Americans of a more traditional bent may still cling on to notions of decency and being the bigger person, millennials are not afraid to hit back when they are under attack.  The violently competitive and meritocratic nature of a segment of the population that has grown up on competitive gaming and truly anything goes realms of free speech will not be as easily cowed and shamed by the media and political opposition as older generations – it’s simply not in their nature.  What is in their nature is to fight back, fight back hard and then revel in their victory.

Which is why it was a very dangerous game that the media and organized progressive left has been playing for the last several years.  Now when they troll for violent responses, not only may they get them, they will get them from people who are unapologetic and unafraid of the consequences for standing up for what they believe in – even if it means kicking the crap out of a paid protester.  A lot of folks are itching to be the political activist version of Bronson in Deathwish.

Young folks these days have been lied to by a media that positioned itself as their better for so long, that for those who want to take a stand against them, they simply don’t give a damn and won’t be shamed by some talking head prattling on about how outrageous and uncivil the political discussion has become.  What’s being called ‘the rise of alt-right’ is largely due to this rift between a generational group that is willing to stand up for their belief (whatever that may be) and are completely unable to be shamed or fingerwagged into silence and a generational group that has convinced itself that by grinning and bearing anything and everything for long enough, they will somehow triumph because of the rightness of their ideology.  The former hates the latter because they see them as weak and ineffective (and are by and large right in this respect, in many ways) while the latter hates the former because they’re worried that all of that progress they’ve made sitting and singing “we shall overcome” while the media and politicians in both parties piss in their faces will go down the drain because of a bunch of really crude (and often really funny) memes about BLM, feminists and Sanders supporters.

Why do I say that this is a dangerous environment that the progressive left and media are in part responsible for? There are only so many people you can do the “I’m not touching you”/”Stop hitting yourself” bit to until someone kicks you in the balls, and if you’ve been doing it long enough, chances are there will be plenty of people who’d laugh at you rather than say “He shouldn’t have kicked that guy in the balls”, and once one person kicks you in the balls, people will start to see “Hey, I could kick this person in the balls too!” and the next thing you know, everyone is lining up to kick you in the balls, and no one will feel sorry enough for you to do anything about it.

The tactics that had been employed to cow and troll Boomers that even worked on a lot of Gen X-ers are both simultaneously failing to shame-silence while spectacularly succeeding in provoking reaction when employed against a millennial population that revels in its invincible attitude.  When media and political peers say “shame on you”, they say screw off; they are the boxing glove jack-in-the-box just waiting for someone turn the crank.

The new alt-right isn’t like the old alt-right; they are the not, as some think, some new generation of neo-nazis, klansmen or dixiecrats taking up the torch of an old backwards ideology – they were created by decades of Alinsky, student protest, and an agenda pushing 5th estate, rising up to meet the challenge that had been posed using the same tactics as their political enemies.  Pat Buchannan & Barry Goldwater didn’t make these kids – the institutional left did.  Face it: dank Hitler memes are the alt-right’s answer to idiot hipsters wearing Che T-shirts.  The Radical Left could only have its field day for so long until some equal and opposite force of nature would fill the vacuum to become the Yang to its Yin.  God help us all, but this is what all of that Progress has built toward.

Notes on Submissions

Cirsova is making the first round of purchases this week.  Our picks for issue #2 are locked in, but as alluded to previously, we intend on buying multiple issues worth of content during this submission period.

If you have not heard from us yet, it is because we just received your story in the last week or because you are still under consideration for inclusion in issue #3 or #4.

We’ve gotten a number of amazing submissions – several dozen, in fact – and I anticipate receiving many more through the second half of our open submission period.  Even buying up content for three issue, we will regrettably not be able to make offers on everything that we’d like to.  To those still considering submitting pieces to us, our best recommendation to improve your chances is to thoroughly read our guidelines and familiarize yourself, if you have not already, with the works of the authors we mention by name.

We will be ready to make announcements on the line-up for issue #2 in the coming weeks.

Castles of Mad King Ludwig

Normally, I hate those sorts of Eurogames in which there is either extremely limited or virtually no direct player vs. player interaction.  Then why is it that I love Castles of Mad King Ludwig – a game that has no direct and almost no indirect player interaction – and recommend it as a tool in the arsenal of any DM?

Because Castles of Mad King Ludwig is essentially competitive dungeon building – the player who builds the best dungeon wins.

The game is devilishly simple: players take turns being the “master builder”, assigning rooms (which are essentially dungeon geomorphs) a price, then players pay the builder that price and stick the room somewhere on their castle.  There are different rewards for “finishing” rooms (connecting all doors to other rooms or halls) based on the type of the room; points are awarded for connecting certain types of rooms to certain other types of rooms, and various “goals” (cards you can earn by completing one kind of room) give you extra points for fulfilling certain criteria.

I’ve gotten to where I’m pretty good at it; I don’t know that I could say that I have a solid strategy, but avoiding wasting time on hallways and underground rooms (cool as many of them seem) and instead going for goal cards and just all around finishing rooms in ways that earn the most points seems to work.

So, why do I recommend it as a tool for DMs?  Well, remember how I was talking about Thiefy stuff yesterday and how one of the problems a DM faces is having to come up with rich people’s houses to rob when the Thief is all “I want to rob a rich person’s house”?

A DM need only take a handful of pieces from a set of Castles, arrange them semi-slapdash, and in a matter of moments has a mansion micro-dungeon, complete with dimensions to grid.cast2a-1140x891

Yet Another Submission Update

We’re good on Fantasy stories!  We have more than enough fantasy stories to fill several issues, so even if you send a really good fantasy story, chances are getting slimmer and slimmer that we’ll be able to buy it.

So what should you send?  Raygun Romances!

Spacemen and Spacecops on Mars or Venus or Mercury, investigating unrest among the natives, corruption in the colonial monopolies, intrigues in the native royal courts, planning revolts to reclaim the ancient cities from the Earth Man, freeing enslaved earth from alien monsters or even hunting Nazis on hidden jungle moons.

Examples of the kinds of stories which will be top priority going forward:

The Spider-Men of Gharr by Wilbur Peacock

Raiders of the Second Moon by Basil Wells

Red Witch of Mercury by Emmett McDowell

Lorelei of the Red Mist by Leigh Brackett & Ray Bradbury

The Martian Circe by Raymond F Jones

Moon of Danger by Albert de Pina

Thiefy Stuff

Playing DCC, thieves have become one of my favorite classes, particularly since DCC’s weird, wild and woolly system of magic kind of puts me off of playing any caster classes.  Though DCC works on the d8 Hit Die rather than the d6 Hit Die, meaning Thieves are d6, my character – with all of my really lousy HD rolls and negative modifier to Stamina/Constitution – feels like a d4 Thief!

Naturally, the thing that makes Thieves fun to play is the opportunity to do Thiefy stuff.  The problem is, for both players of Thieves, DMs and the rest of the group, that Thiefy stuff is typically best done without half a dozen guys with swords, chainmail and magic wands derping around and making noise.  Sometimes dungeons provide opportunities to flex those Thief muscles, disarming traps, opening locks and chest, but what you really want to do sometimes as the Thief is some truly daring late-night breaking and entering back in town.  Who hasn’t wanted to relive the thrill of Bafford Manor heist in their D&D game?

The problem is multipart: the Thief usually wants to run this sort of job solo – no sense in having half a dozen guys banging clanking and wisecracking while you’re trying to sneak through a temple or a mansion – which means that most players will have nothing to do while the Thief does his thing.  At most, some members of the party may be wrangled into being look-outs.  The best time to do Thiefy stuff is when only a small group has shown up, if you can’t wrangle your DM into some solo time.  The other issue is that the DM is now obliged to actually map whatever temple or manor you’re hoping to rob.

Where am I going with this?  You’ll find out tomorrow when I post my review of Castles of Mad King Ludwig!

Slowly Emerging From the Submission Swamp

What’s this?  Only a handful of stories left in my submission pile?  I’ll have to celebrate!

Maybe I’ll play some more Majora’s Mask tonight.  I need to read more Planet Stories to stay on top of Short Reviews, but I’ve read nearly 50 sci-fi short stories in the last three weeks, so I think I’ll take the night off.  I have decided with certainty that I will be buying for at least two issues.  Three?  We’ll have to see…  The outpouring from the community, the quantity and the quality of submissions I’ve received have been really something!  I’m also happy to find that, even though I’ve received a LOT of stories, I haven’t been overwhelmed, nor have I felt like I’m in any danger of burning out.

I’m toying with the notion of buying up multiple issues worth of content in a single go so that I’m only spending a couple months out of the year reading submissions and the rest of the year I can work on my stack of pulps and old SF books.  I’ll have a system down eventually…

Help me pull this off by buying a copy of issue 1.  If you’ve already bought an issue, leave a review on Amazon.  Let’s make this thing meteoric!

Submissions ARE still open.  Your best bet, if you want me to buy your story, is to hunker down, spend a weekend reading Brackett & Bradbury’s Lorelei of the Red Mist, Vance’s Galactic Effectuator, and Gallagher’s Torchship then regurgitate the ideas those give you in 5000-7500 words.

I’ve got some really cool stuff lined up over at Castalia House for the next few weeks, including a two part look at Conflict Games’ Imperium (a boardgame that was retroactively incorporated into the Traveller universe as its default setting), another Short Review, this time Peacock’s Spidermen of Gharr, and maybe a sweet interview.

For now, you can check out part two of my review of Musket & Pike.

More Reviews of Cirsova’s Contents

JD Cowan at And Between the Wasteland and Sky has finished his three part review of Cirsova Issue #1.

Here, he covers Late Bloom, The Hour of the Rat, A Hill of Stars and Jeffro’s essay on Toyman.

The Hour of the Rat really is a standout piece (a lot of people I’ve talked to have said the same)—even though it seems out of left-field in some regards and is different from several of the other pieces in issue 1 on a lot of counts, it really underscores a lot of what makes a good and exciting heroic fantasy story.  Perhaps moreso because the components used to tell it—the characters and period/setting—are atypical.  It’s really the sort of thing I would give out to a creative writing class and say “Look what this writer did!”