Writing (Sacnoth’s Scriptorium): So, while revising to my Eddison piece I came across a striking passage that I’d either overlooked before or, more likely, read when the book in question (Paul Thomas’s edition of ERE’s ZIMIAMVIA) came out (in 1992) and since forgot.

In a passage discussing the composition of THE MEZENIAN GATE, Paul describes how Eddison wrote slowly but persistently, writing and rewriting a passage until he was satisfied with it.* By Paul’s estimation,  at times, when working on particularly important passages, Eddison wrote an average of about twenty-five words a day.

 

Art (Adventures Fantastic): Today, December 9, is Margaret Brundage’s birthday.  She was born in 1900 and passed away in 1976.  Since I have a few minutes before I have to start giving final exams (rescheduled due to snow), here are a few of her covers forWeird Tales.

 

Writers (Howard History): One of the reasons I was so gung-ho about going to WorldCon this year was because it was in San Antonio. Readers of this blog may have noticed that I’m a tad obsessed with visiting county courthouses in Texas, and, up to this point, I hadn’t been to the Bexar County facility. There are reasons for this: I have generally found that the larger the courthouse, the less helpful they are; also, my usual traveling companion (my dad) disdains to drive in populated areas. But, since the Howards had lived briefly in San Antonio and visited on occasion, a stop at the courthouse was required. So, since I’d be traveling solo this time, I figured I’d brave the traffic and see what treasures I could uncover. Read More

Scenario at start in the NE corner of the map. The 293rd and 294th Volksgrenadier Regiments prepare to advance.

On the anniversary of the battle I’ll slip in a Wargame Wednesday post on a Sunday.

Over the past year I have been helping to play test a massive scenario which covers the area of operations of the 5th Panzer Army (roughly the center of the German advance with St. Vith on the northern side of 5th Army’s sector and the race to Bastogne in the south-west).  The scenario has been designed to be a team game, with three players to a side the optimal choice.  The map is split into three easily identified sectors with an artificial line of black hexes splitting the map into three sections.  The only movement possible in the black hexes are via the roads, which allows players to transfer forces throughout the game but also serves to force players into staying within their assigned areas.  Assigning unit boundaries and areas of operations are not only important for planning offensive and defensive sectors but vital in trying to prevent friendly fire and use of vital supply routes. During the Bulge both sides had to contend with massive traffic jams as the road and bridge network was barely adequate to support modern, mechanized warfare, and that is not taking into account the snow, mud and limited visibility.

The original versions of this scenario made for a difficult German game as along most of the line the Germans face a climb.  Advancing uphill, with snow and mud conditions and visibility less than 250 meters, the Germans are only able to advance one hex at a time, even in a hex with a muddy dirt road (actually, in many places it was faster to move through the woods).  Even on flat terrain mobility was limited and the game became a never ending ordeal (for the German player) of advancing into American opportunity fire, then American artillery, and if troops were left on the front line they received direct fire only to watch the defenders retreat back a hex. Once the Germans recovered morale they faced the same situation, again and again.  I was able to find a report of weather and visibility during the battle and this was used to change the conditions, allowing the Germans better mobility and visibility but also allowing American air power to play a role.

This will be an ongoing series with a new post every few weeks.  I still haven’t finalized on how I will present the data but it will be a lot more than a war game after action report. For this initial post I wanted to start on the anniversary date and give the reader an idea of scope of the game map.

I’ll be using William C.C. Cavanagh’s A Tour of the Bulge Battlefield throughout this series along with other material.

Follow this link for screen shots of the map.  You may not be a fan of this type of wargame but the work put into the map alone by the scenario designer is phenomenal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am always up for a good book on cryptozoology. I read one of Willy Ley’s books from the library on exotic zoology as a lad with great relish.  The idea of the Loch Ness monster, a dwarf brontosaur in the Congo, and other unknown animals is always appealing. Even later, I would watch some of the shows on the Discovery Channel with explorers looking for things like the tree climbing crocodile of New Guinea.

New Texture produces reprint book of material from the men’s adventure magazines. One beauty they have produced is Cryptozoology Anthology. This very well done hardback reprints 15 pieces from men’s adventure magazines from 1948 to the early 1970s. Some are articles, there are a couple of stories including one by Arthur C. Clarke, others are that gray territory known as the “true” story.

Cryptozoologist David Coleman has an entertaining article on searching out articles in men’s adventure magazines in the 1960s. He makes the case that cryptozoology did get a boost from these magazines as they contained articles from Ivan T. Sanderson and John Keel. Read More

Like many, I too thought that the French adaption of Michael Moorcock’s Elric would not fulfill the promised four book run. And although I found the first volume too disturbing for my comfort yet still among the best comics I have had the privilege to review, I am glad to see the wintry third volume finally hit shelves in time for Christmas.

Of course that means that comics and metal fan Razorfist weighs in on the project that combines several of his passions, Elric and bandes dessinees (BD). And he does so with such passion that I’m considering giving the series–and Elric in general–a second chance. For most of Elric’s adventures are as a sellsword, not as the king of a decadent and hellish empire fit only to be destroyed, and it is in The White Wolf that Elric becomes the vicious peregrine found in the majority of his adventures.

Along the way, Razorfist explains how BD comics are mainstream in France in ways that comics and manga can only hope to achieve, as well as breaks news that this first Elric BD run will have a sequel, expanding the series from four to eight books in total.

Appendix N fans should check out his foul-mouthed review.

Jeffro examines Razorfist’s earlier overview of the Elric series here.

Starship mages, internet trolls-turned-litRPG trolls, mecha mercenaries, and reprints of two science fiction masters feature in this week’s roundup of the newest releases in science fiction.


After the Galaxy: The Unsung – Scott Bartlett 

We colonized the galaxy – then abandoned it. He defends what’s left.

Joe is nearing the end of a long deployment, and he’s looking forward to some home leave so he can visit his daughter. Protecting digital people pays the bills, but Joe is one of the few who still prefer to spend time with those made of flesh and blood.

His last assignment takes him to Earth, humanity’s deserted homeworld, to learn why all contact has been lost with Sol’s Subverse – the digital utopia where most of humanity now lives. He’s expecting the answer to be boring. Probably, rats chewed their way into the server room again.

He couldn’t be more wrong.

First, he finds a pirate impersonating the corporal responsible for guarding the Subverse terminal. Then he visits Earth’s last settlement to find everyone dead…except the children, who have all been taken.

These are the first clues that lead Joe on an epic journey across a dying galaxy, with only his training and skill to rely on. A mysterious enemy seeks to make slaves of the last real people left, and if Joe can’t put a stop to it, the human dream will die.


Augmented (The Transcended #1) – Anthony James 

Lieutenant Becky Keller’s brain is fitted with a processing core which can outthink and outfly the most advanced battle computers in the Space Corps. Not only that, she’s blessed with the gift of the psi and her intuition is unparalleled in the military.

Keller finds herself partnered with another one from the labs. Joe Nation is packed with so many augmentations, he can’t remember which parts of his body are real anymore. All he knows is covert ops, and with his stealth and assault modules, there’s no one better at it than Nation.

The pair of them are given a mission – take the Retaliator class SC Gundar, infiltrate the Isob-2 processing facility of a semi-hostile alien species known as Estral, and find out if they’re breaking the terms of a peace treaty.

It’s easier said than done. The Estral are spoiling for war and they don’t want human agents poking around in their business. Deep within the Isob-2 facility, something hostile awaits and no one in the Space Corps is prepared for it.

The first of the Transcended have come and they aren’t looking for peace.


The Beast of Eridu (Terran Strike Marines #4) – Richard Fox and Scott Moon 

An ancient Beast awakens, and only Lieutenant Hoffman and his Strike Marines can put it down.

On the sweltering jungle world of Eridu, hidden in an ancient vault is an artefact which will change the course of the war against the ever-encroaching Kesaht armada. But guarding it is a deadly creature, a Beast with the ability to destroy any technology it encounters.

When modern equipment fails the Strike Marines, and with the fledgling human colony on Eridu under threat, they must turn to a hero of the Ember wars and a tracker without peer.

Stueben, the Karigole warrior.

But The Beast isn’t the only threat the Terran Strike Marines still face. Another enemy lurks in the shadows of Eridu. One bent on revenge against Hoffman.


Desperation (Forgotten Colony #3) – M.R. Forbes 

The Deliverance has arrived.

The planet is beautiful, lush, teeming with life and perfectly suited to the colony’s needs. It’s supposed to be everything they ever dreamed of.

Instead, it’s a nightmare.

Caleb knows the truth. The ship’s real mission has nothing to do with settlement. The plan is much more sinister than that.

Now the race is on to prepare for the coming storm, to secure the colony and find the enemy before the enemy finds them.

But when fear leads to a desperate betrayal, will it be the innocent who pay the ultimate price? Read More

Split Personality by William Morrison appeared in the Winter 1954 issue of Fantastic Story Magazine. It can be read here at archive.org. 

This is one heck of a weird story! Chut-chut, a humanoid alien (a bihumanoid) with a bifurcated head is brought to a shrink to analyze why he’s suffering from headaches and horrible visions in one of his heads. The government needs Chut-chut in tip-top shape for the job that they’re having him perform, but there are no specialists in bihumanoid psychology or psychiatry to get to the bottom of what’s wrong with the poor creature.

Bihumanoids are as bizarre as you’d expect from two-headed creatures. While they look more or less human, aside from the two heads, they are born in thousands from eggs, without knowledge of their father or mother, and their heads eventually bifurcate after a series of moltings, following which certain vision and cognitive abilities either develop or decay in each head as the bihumanoid

Needless to say, standard practices of human psychology and application of Freud don’t yield any results on the alien being, and Split Personality ends up being a clever spoof on the pseudo-science of analytic psychology.

Read More

It turns out there was a second E. E. Smith working in the field of speculative science-fiction back in the day. In addition to Doc EE Smith, one of the original Big Three of science fiction, a woman by the name of Evelyn E. Smith made frequent contributions to Galaxy Magazine.  A crossword puzzle compiler by trade, Evelyn published several gothic romances under the pen name Delphine C. Lyons, and wasn’t above scoring a little extra money on the side by adding a splash of lighter fare to the heavy hearted hard science-fiction periodicals.  Perhaps helped along the way by her husband, H.L. Gold, the editor of Galaxy Magazine throughout the fifties, her work nonetheless stands on its own merits and continues to please readers to this day.

Her best known work, The Perfect Planet, centers on a planetary health spa run by women who allow their men to think they call the shots.  After 200 years of isolation, the planet is rediscovered by equalist Terran explorers shocked by the inegalitarian society they find.  For their part, the locals are as appalled by the fat and unattractive Terrans as they are by their egalitarian ways.  Played for laughs with black market sweet shops, sitcom level humor, and a bit of slapstick, Evelyn used the speculative nature of the work to poke fun at the fitness culture of her day with an easy going attitude rather than a purely malicious and resentful one.

Read More

 

Banner of the House of Liechtenstein and for the Principality of Liechtenstein from 1719-1852

Part I had a section with tourism advice then discussed the Swabian War in 1499. This post discusses how Liechtenstein came into being then covers the wars against revolutionary France.

Modern day Liechtenstein was part of region known as the Voralberg of which a portion remains as a modern Austrian state.  

The principality came into being for the benefit of the influential Liechtenstein family. Despite their influence they lacked power and embarked on a process to enter the Reichstag, which required land ownership in direct subordination to the Holy Roman Empire and not in fief to another noble (unmittelbar (“unintermediated”). Two adjoining unmittelbar domains were purchased in 1699 and 1712 and in 1719 Charles VI created the Principality of Liechtenstein.

Of note, it wasn’t until at least 1806 that a Prince of Liechtenstein visited the principality as their most productive lands were closer to the center of power in Vienna. The family moved from their lands in the old Austrian Hungarian Empire to Liechtenstein in 1938. 

Read More

Arkhaven Comics is very pleased to announce its first completed collection, Right Ho, Jeeves, adapted by Chuck Dixon from the P.G. Wodehouse novel, illustrated by Gary Kwapisz and edited by Vox Day.

The omnibus paperback is without question the most beautiful book we have produced to date, as it features 152 full-color pages on high-quality paper and a glossy full-duplex cover containing all six digital editions. Right Ho, Jeeves is now available for $19.99 at Arkhaven Direct.

We expect it will be available from Amazon for $24.99 in about a week or so. It will make for a lovely Christmas gift for the young reader or Wodehouse fan in your family. For those collecting the individual issues, we will be producing gold logo editions of issues #4-6 in the new year.

RIGHT HO, JEEVES tells of the travails of the inimitable Bertie Wooster, summoned from the comforts of #3A Berkeley Mansions, London, to Brinkley Manor by his imperious Aunt Dahlia. Love is in the air and Wodehousian shenanigans are afoot, as Wooster is not the sole guest at the manor, which is also playing host to the fairy-gazing Madeline Basset as well as the famous newt-fancier Augustus Fink-Nottle. But, as always, the inimitable Jeeves is there to set things right and save the day!

UPDATE: if you are in the USA and you see a backorder notice when placing an order, just ignore it. It’s an artifact of their old distribution system that has no relevance to our current process. Please notice that we cannot sell this book outside the USA because the novel upon which it is based is not in the public domain in other publishing jurisdictions.

Fiction (Bleeding Fool): ‘Red Nails’ is a novella first serialized in 1936 in the July through October issues of Weird Tales, and the last of the tales of Conan the Barbarian penned by Robert E Howard, as well as one of the best.

Some of the appeal of this yarn may be lost on any modern reader who has encountered Howard’s many imitators, because this story contains all the elements of the quintessential Conan adventure: from a feisty yet desirable swordswoman, to prehistoric monsters raised by eldritch powers, to lost races (at least two) swimming in their own sadistic corruption and occultism, adepts of black magic (at least three), murder, torture, betrayal, death, and at least one mystic wand issuing a death-ray.

 

Writing (Emperor Ponders): My recent (a few hours ago, in fact) entry into an online group where the business side of writing is discussed has put me into an accounting mood. So I have been playing and running some numbers to come up with my (or yours) expected return as a short story writer. That’s the key concept here since novelists or self-published authors will have to come up with their own numeromantic equations to see how much they need to sell to not be ashamed of saying that they are writers.

Fiction (Paperback Warrior): Fredric Brown was an interesting figure in the world of pulp fiction because he had equivalent success in both the mystery science fiction genres. As a teenager, I was a huge fan of his SF work. As I grew into classic crime fiction, I was pleased to rediscover one of my favorite authors as a hardboiled noir master.

“The Wench is Dead” began its life as a short story and was later expanded into a full novel for a 1955 Bantam Books paperback release.

 

 

 

 

Fiction (DMR Books): I greatly enjoyed F. van Wyck Mason’s historical novels The Barbarians (reviewed here) and Lysander (reviewed here). Historical adventure was his specialty. Until recently, I was unaware he had written a “lost world” novel in the style of Haggard. Phalanxes of Atlans originally appeared in the February and March issues of Astounding Stories in 1931, and was recently reprinted by Armchair Fiction in their “Lost World-Lost Race Classics” series. Read More

“If a man smites you on one cheek, smash him on the other.”- Ragnar Redbeard

            Darwin’s theory of evolution caused a revolution of thinking including forays into popular culture. Evolution caused a some to rethink European man’s position in the world. The grip of the alien religion of Christianity began to slip some. One book that took direct aim was Might is Right by “Ragnar Redbeard.” First editions are listed as from the year 1896 though these might have been vanity press or typewritten copies for sale. The book was advertised in 1905 which is where it probably began to reach a wider audience.

The book reads as an everyday man’s Nietzsche and Darwin adapted for politics. It reads more as a bunch of individual quotes and sayings cobbled together than as a coherent text.

The book starts out with:

“A man’s opportunities are never exhausted so long as other men (who are not his friends) possess millions of acres and thousands of tons of gold.”

“The Natural world is a world of war; the natural man is a warrior; the natural law is tooth and claw. A condition of combat everywhere exists.”

“The victor gets the gold and the land every time…Why should it be otherwise?”

The themes of physical superiority and a rejection of Christianity run through the book.

            “Behold the crucifix, what does it symbolize? Pallid incompetence hanging on a tree.”

“I gave into the eye of your fearsome Jehovah, and pluck him by the beard–I uplift a broad-axe and split open his worm eaten skull.”

Read More

In this episode of the Arkstream, editor Vox Day discusses the reborn Alt-Hero: Q backers’ campaign, previews artwork from Alt-Hero: Q and Alt-Hero #6, and hints at upcoming possibilities for Arkhaven film projects.

To support Alt-Hero: Q, check out the crowdfunding link at our sister site, ArkhavenComics.com.