The New Samurai Jack: A Non-Fan’s Perspective

Jack: a man of few words.

I watched a lot of cartoons as a child. I still watch them now. But I hadn’t watched Samurai Jack when it was new since the flat art style repelled me. At most, I was only vaguely aware of the main driving conflict and I had never watched an episode from beginning to end. When I heard that it was coming back, it didn’t excite me at all — I understood why it was so popular, but it just didn’t grab me. However, I happened to be with some friends one day and they chose to watch this new Samurai Jack, so I watched it with them.

Its presentation floored me.

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Castalia House Post: The Action Girl Mandate

On the Castalia House blog, I talk about an unspoken assumption in nearly all modern genre fiction — the warrior woman. Even conservative types are into it, and they would argue with you vigorously on why it is so necessary and proper.

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Castalia House Post: In Defense of Backstories

A man with a backstory.

Over at the Castalia House blog, I defend the concept of the backstory after it is sharply criticized. No less a character than John Carter of Mars has a backstory, albeit a simple one.

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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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Posted in Politics | Tagged , | 3 Comments

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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Posted in Tabletop RPG | Tagged , | 18 Comments

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.

Posted in Books | Tagged | 2 Comments