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 novelette about a Japanese pop star and an English Puritan teaming up to fight a demon.

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

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Sword & Flower Free for Five Days

Good news, everyone! My novelette Sword & Flower will be free for the next five days, from February 12 to February 17 inclusive. Come and read a story about a Japanese pop star and an English Puritan who team up to defeat a most vile fiend. Castalia House author Rod Walker has praised it, so you know this novelette has something going for it. Be sure to leave a review when you’re done.

You can get the novelette here.

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Castalia House Post: Mai-Otome and Feminine Heroism

Over on the Castalia House blog, I discuss Mai-Otome and its treatment of heroism as a feminine role.

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Not Feeling the Trump Immigration Plan

President Donald J. Trump

“Hey, what’s up with that title?” I hear you saying. “I thought you hated political correctness! Now here you are, criticizing the most politically incorrect President since Andrew Jackson for one of the most politically incorrect policy initiatives ever done!”

First off, relax. I have made my position on political correctness abundantly clear, right here on this blog. I will not attack creative works for alleged “racism” or “sexism” simply because it gave Polygon or Kotaku or some other progressive outfit the heebie-jeebies. I will not treat whites like some kind of demonic entity. And I definitely feel that countries have a right to police their borders and set immigration policy.

However, this set my teeth on edge:

Some 6 million to 8 million people in the country illegally could be considered priorities for deportation, according to calculations by the Los Angeles Times. They were based on interviews with experts who studied the order and two internal documents that signal immigration officials are taking an expansive view of Trump’s directive.

Far from targeting only “bad hombres,” as Trump has said repeatedly, his new order allows immigration agents to detain nearly anyone they come in contact with who has crossed the border illegally. People could be booked into custody for using food stamps or if their child receives free school lunches.

The deportation targets are a much larger group than those swept up in the travel bans that sowed chaos at airports and seized public attention over the past week. Fewer than 1 million people came to the U.S. over the past decade from the seven countries from which most visitors are temporarily blocked.

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The Guidebook Rules

Monica Valentinelli

UPDATE: I’ve been informed that Monica Valentinelli, not Jim C. Hines, wrote the article; Hines merely hosted it on his blog.

I was cruising the internet one day when I came across an article by author Monica Valetinelli about the importance of progressive inclusion in tabletop RPGs. The article itself was nothing unusual, and she and her group don’t need anyone’s permission to play how they want. However, she unknowingly highlighted something that speaks not only to RPGs, but to a wider issue in our culture, an issue more foundational than she realizes.

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Sword & Flower is Available Now!

Today is an auspicious day.

The first of my entries into the ongoing Pulp Revival is now available to buy. I drafted this novelette in November and revised it earlier in this month. It’s finally complete and it’s ready to take the world by storm.

I present to you: Sword & Flower!

Japanese entertainer Chiyo Aragaki — known to her fans as Dimity Red — is on the road to international success. Her music is in all the trendiest anime, and her fanbase’s enthusiasm fuels her passion to perform. Adept at gymnastics and manipulating ki energy, Dimity uses her skills to entertain the enraptured crowds.

However, she has caught the attention of a demonic evil. This dark adversary rips Dimity from the glamour and glitz of stardom and sends her to the beautiful yet ethereal realm of the Lesser Heaven.

A swordsman named Mash Marston resides in the Lesser Heaven which, despite the name, is not free from danger and death. Heroically defending his town against vile abominations, he is nearly killed but is saved by one who uses her powers to repel evil and heal wounds. Unfortunately, the powers that saved Mash and the town are also powers strictly forbidden among his people.

And Dimity will soon discover what this means when she shows up blasting ki.

Reflecting the best qualities of old school pulp fiction, Sword & Flower is one part Poul Anderson, one part Edgar Rice Burroughs, and one part Akira Toriyama.

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Castalia House Post of Gor

Over at the Castalia House blog, I briefly discuss the Gorean Saga’s publication history — and how shaming campaigns brought that series down.

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A Request for Superversive Books

The folks at Superversive SF have put out a request for published work that reflects a spirit of hope even in dark times, free of nihilism. The aim is to create a list of stories that is easy to share, so that when someone asks, “what stories are Superversive?”, we can answer easily.

Check out the list here, and add your own suggestions.

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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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