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February – 2015 –

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In this series, we’ve looked at the goals, the challenges, and techniques of book-to-film adaptations.  Now, to avoid tediousness, the marquee showdown:  as a medium, are books inherently better than movies? Many of the arguments against films are akin to the gnostic condemnations of the incarnation, favoring the immaterial over the material flesh-and-blood image.  Thus, I will mostly argue in […]

REVIEW: The Visualization of Quantitative Data, 2nd Edition, Graphics Press, 2001 Edward R. Tufte, Author. People ask me, after I explain the layers of thought that went into the play aids I design, what kind of books I’d recommend.  The first book is this one, by Edward R. Tufte. It concerns itself with the accurate display of statistical […]

“All my life I have been what is called a square. A very serious type of person. A slow thinker. I am one of those odd types who, lacking natural talent and having no natural intiuation – these are probably related phenomena – had to think my way through life.” — A.E. Van Vogt (from […]

Compared to Gardener Fox’s other Conan knockoff,¹ this one is actually pretty good. Instead of a collection of episodic stories, this book serves up a complete short novel. Instead of taking place in the far future on a distant world, this tale is set in a mythical past. Instead of a goof bumbling around with a magic sword […]

Rogues is the latest of the George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois edited cross genre anthologies. Bantam Books is the publisher now instead of Tor. Hardcover, 806 pages, $30.00, twenty stories and an introduction by Martin. The cover is the same sort of minimalist style with the title in big letters as with Warriors. […]

When it comes to adaptation, filmmakers are literary cannibals—that is to say, they often cannibalize the source material with a kind of savage artistry—first, hacking off large chunks of back-story; then, skinning off most of the exposition; next, roasting and ingesting only the choicest cuts of scenes, and the best lines of dialogue; and then, […]

Redmond Simonsen was an under-appreciated genius; he was cantankerous and was half of SPI when it founded, and one of the handful of people desperately trying to patch the financial holes when the iceberg of changing market conditions rent it asunder. Red worked as the marketing director, editor and in-house graphic designer for most of SPI’s […]

In the 1950s, Mad Magazine did a fairly gentle parody of Archie Comics (as “Starchie”) which transformed the safe and friendly confines of Riverdale High into a rough urban school as portrayed in the then popular Glenn Ford movie The Blackboard Jungle. It was fairly successful humor because the object of parody had a value […]

I’ve long been mystified at the incredible range and diversity of literature that roleplaying game designers of the seventies seemed to take for granted as being common knowledge. How is it that they seemed fluent in so many obscure authors, many of which were writing more than half a century before…? Compared with my experience growing […]

A few years back, I was excited when I heard there was an anthology entitled Warriors edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. It came out in March 2010 from Tor, hardback, 736 pages, $27.99. In the introduction, George R. R. Martin wrote about his youth in New Jersey and buying paperback books […]

Making a movie, a good movie, is an achievement just shy of a miracle. Unlike writing a novel–which (if you have the talent) requires nothing but determination, a pen, and a passable vocabulary–financing and producing a feature film often requires the cooperation of hundreds of people, many of whom could care less about the artistic […]

I get asked the game designer equivalent of “Wow, how do I get your job?” about twice a month, and more frequently during convention season.  I usually end up trying to dissuade them.  Writing games is a really bizarre form of technical writing. It’s somewhere on the Venn diagram of writing legal briefs, computer programming […]