Welcome

Nice of you to come! Welcome to my permanent home on the web. Feel free to read my posts, and I’ve got a game here if you’re interested. I’ve also got a short story which has been accepted by the Sci Phi Journal; my story says that full automation will lead to legalized murder.

My social media followers are listed here, with their blogs. I also have a permanent open thread.

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Fear of a Pulp Planet

Swinging in.

Bloggers Jeffro Johnson — whose Appendix N book I spotlighted here — and Jon Mollison, both of whom I’m acquainted with online, have made much of the “Pulp Revolution,” a nascent literary movement intended to turn modern sci-fi and fantasy away from a perceived focus on deconstruction and embrace its heritage as a literature of the heroic and wondrous. It also seeks to bring the works of long ignored pulp authors back into the limelight. Through my Appendix N review series, I have played a small role in this grand project, but beyond seeing high Amazon sales of certain books by Pulp Revolution-affiliated authors like Brian Niemeier and the aforementioned Jeffro, I didn’t think our efforts would reach wider attention.

Until now.

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Jeffro’s Writings on Appendix N Are Now on Amazon

DISCLOSURE: I blog at Castalia House, where Jeffro Johnson is the current webmaster.

As the readers of this blog are no doubt aware, I have been reading and reviewing the works of “Appendix N,” the list of books that inspired the late Gary Gygax when he first created the Dungeons and Dragons tabletop role-playing game back in the 70s. The reads have been enlightening and enjoyable, showing me a world of fantasy rich in imagination, a world of classics unfairly maligned as retrograde and “problematic.”

However, the one who started me on this literary journey was none other than Jeffro Johnson, the current webmaster of the Castalia House blog. His contagious interest in classic fantasy works, along with his concern that the classics were being deleted from the collective consciousness of geekdom, inspired me to begin reading the classic authors and come to my own conclusions about their books. I couldn’t believe I missed out on so much good stuff growing up, but better late than never.

Now, however, Jeffro has written Appendix N: The Literary History of Dungeons and Dragons, a book that analyzes the works of Appendix N on a much deeper level than my spoiler-free reviews do. He goes into details about not only their relevance to D&D, but their wider themes as well, themes that he says are now foreign to modern works and modern writers. I have read the chapters that covered works that I already reviewed, and they really do unpack the sheer depth contained in those old works. For the full effect, however, it is better to read the actual works, all of which are available on Amazon in many formats.

If you’re a fan of classic fantasy, you cannot go wrong with this book. Get it on Amazon and be blown away.

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Artist Spotlight: Frenone

Edited to mention Frenone’s correct nationality. She is Dutch, not American.

While traveling through Twitter, I see many pictures. Most merit a simple reply or retweet, but the picture above really caught my eye the way it looked hand-drawn and painted, like something the artists of old would do. I clicked on to the artist’s profile and found that it was done by Frenone (Twitter, personal site), an artist from the Netherlands.

Frenone’s art has a beautiful, almost classical-looking aesthetic, which extends to her chibi drawings as well. I could easily see such art on the covers of books; these pictures are no slapdash job. Due to how professional her art looks, a Twitterer asked her if she planned to work for Blizzard; Frenone answered that she preferred to be freelance. Valuing one’s independence — not a bad sentiment to have. Support her on Patreon if you can.

Below the fold are my personal favorites from her portfolio.

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Castalia House post: OVA, the Anime Role-Playing Game

Today is a great day, for I have made my first post over at the Castalia House blog. It goes into detail about the strengths and weaknesses of OVA: The Anime Role-Playing Game, a game I backed on Kickstarter and have run as a Game Master for two years and counting. Go over there and have a read.

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A Princess of Mars (Appendix N Review)

A Princess of Mars
by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Originally published A. C. McClurg (1917)
Republished by Wilder Publications (2015)
$1.99 (Kindle)
$7.95 (Paperback)

Meet John Carter, clean-limbed fighting man of Virginia. A veteran of the War Between the States, he decided to go prospecting since the Confederate cause was well and truly lost, and the money he had was rendered worthless. While on a sojourn in Arizona, he is waylaid by Indians and is forced to hide in a cave — but the cave transports him to planet Mars — or “Barsoom” as it is called by the inhabitants — where he meets and falls in love with the lovely red-skinned princess Dejah Thoris. However, Dejah Thoris is captured by an implacable enemy, and is forced into a marriage with a local lord. John Carter decides that he will fight valiantly to rescue his dear Dejah Thoris, come what may.

Thus is the story of John Carter and his beautiful princess of Mars.

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Rogues! (review)

Rogues! (Vol. 1-6)
by El Torres, Juan José Ryp, and Rubén Rojas
Published by Amigo Comics (2013-2014)
$11.94 (total)

Hey, comic fans. Tired of this?

Yeah, that and more is what’s on offer from Marvel. Fortunately, my wanderings through the Internet have shown me a comic far easier on the eyes. Instead of holier-than-thou “heroes,” we have a pair of thieves who go on lighthearted adventures and do battle with self-absorbed villains who think they’re all that and a bag of oats.

Say hello to Rogues!

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Forbidden Thoughts (review)

Forbidden Thoughts
Edited by Jason Rennie
Published by Superversive Press (2017)
$4.99

DISCLOSURE: I know the editor and most of the authors in this anthology through social media, e-mail, and blogging. I was also given a free review copy by Josh Young, one of the authors. Finally, Jason Rennie edited and published my short story, The Teenage Girl’s Robot Army, on The Sci Phi Journal.

Mainstream American pop culture is under assault by extreme leftist authoritarians. Every part of it, from the commanding heights of Hollywood to the geeky pursuits of gaming and sci-fi literature, is harangued to follow in lockstep with whatever political crusade the thought controllers dream up. Not enough women portrayed in the approved feminist way? You’re “sexist.” Too many white people in your work? You’re “racist.” The only way to be declared innocent is to submit to them in total — even the smallest deviation from approved thinking will get you branded as a hater and a bigot.

Against this spate of thought control comes Forbidden Thoughts, an anthology of science fiction deliberately written to offend the oversensitive and pillory the politically correct. Containing stories from a variety of non-SJW authors, it dares to smash the shibboleths of our age and break the intellectual chains holding sci-fi back.

Unfortunately, it utterly fails to entertain.

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Modern Action’s Fundamental Problem

LEFT: Agents of SHIELD. RIGHT: Sleepy Hollow. Both start as type (1), but see below.

It does not take any sort of deep analysis to see that action stories set in modern times are popular, whether we’re talking about film, TV, or books. Superheroes fighting evil overlords, rebels toppling oppressive empires, and ordinary folks unloading hot lead into zombies and werewolves capture the imagination and speak to the reader in the primal language of survival or death, freedom or submission, truth or lies.

However, we do not live in primal times.

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The Current Year Is Now 2017

2017: The New Current Year.

A new Current Year is upon us, and with it will come new opportunities, new challenges, and new surprises. As our corner of geekdom grows, we will change the face of sci-fi and fantasy, and be changed by the events that transpire around us, geek-related or not. The way forward is an open road, and it’s time to put the pedal to the metal.

Below, here are some important updates.

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The Secret Kings is Out!

My Twitter buddy — and Dragon Award-winning author — Brian Niemeier (Twitter, Gab) has a new book out: The Secret Kings, the third book in his Soul Cycle series. If you’re looking for good space opera from a writer who only cares about entertaining his audience, Niemeier’s your man.

From the blurb:

Campbell Award finalist Brian Niemeier’s highly acclaimed Soul Cycle speeds toward its climax in the thrilling sequel to Dragon Award winner Souldancer, The Secret Kings.

The god of the Void is free. Aided by a Night Gen fleet, Shaiel’s fanatical Lawbringers spread his Will throughout the Middle Stratum and beyond.

Teg Cross, whose mercenary career took him to hell and back, finds the old world replaced by a new order on the brink of total war. A fateful meeting with a friend from his past sets him on a crusade to defy Shaiel’s rule.

Meanwhile, Nakvin strives to muster a last-ditch resistance in Avalon. But can worldly kings and queens stand against divine wrath?

Hope you enjoy the work.

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