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Swinging a sword at an orc is all well and good, but if your friend needs help, you have to be able to reach him. Moving to (or fleeing from) a foe, or seeking a position that gives tactical advantage, is part and parcel of fighting. In fact, an emphasis on footwork, distancing, and movement […]

Fantasy did in fact exist before the advent of the watered down Tolkien pastiche. To someone that didn’t grow up with older books, they’re almost impossible to imagine. So it was for me when I first heard that Michael Moorcock was, in effect, the Anti-Tolkien¹. I mean… how could such a thing even be when for all […]

Sword and planet fiction is a form generally associated with Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom/John Carter, Amtor/Carson Napier, Moon Maid/Moon Men series. In the pulp era there were imitations, the most famous probably Otis Adelbert Kline. The form did exist through the 1940s evolving into a more hard boiled fiction in the hands of Leigh Brackett. […]

“Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.”- Salvor Hardin, Foundation, Isaac Asimov As the Galactic Empire collapses, the best and earliest seed planted for re-establishment of civilization is religion. Specifically, a religion that is based on science (such as atomic power) so that its miracles and promises are immediate […]

In a previous article, Violent Resolution looked at the skills used for ranged weaponry. In this column, I look at the weapons themselves. Similar to differentiation found in hand-to-hand weapons, differentiation in ranged weapons, including the titular guns, provide a way of showing strengths and weaknesses, and providing different dramatic opportunities, within games. Most games (but […]

Stanley G. Weinbaum is another of those names whose cachet depends a great deal on the age of the person you’re talking to. In one generation, he would have immediately been recognizable as a major literary figure, on par with someone like Edgar Rice Burroughs in terms of his raw influence. In the next… the […]

Ace Books had its part in the history of sword and sorcery fiction. The company had published Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories as collections starting in the late 1960s.  In the late 1970s, Ace jumped on putting out the twelve volume Conan paperback set. Ace was not a big publisher for lone […]

I consulted the I Ching before writing this starter’s guide to The Man in the High Castle. It presented me with Hexagram 14. All things come to the man…in a high position. – From Hexagram 14, I Ching Never let it be said that the ancients have no sense of humor.

“In war, three-quarters turns on personal character and relations; the balance of manpower and materials counts only for the remaining quarter.”                                                                     […]

This book is just plain good. As far as I’m concerned, Leigh Brackett’s work can sit on my shelf in a place of honor right beside the work of A. Merritt and Edgar Rice Burroughs. And I’m not the only person that’s had that reaction. Ace actually thought this novel was good enough to run opposite […]

Baen Books has a brand new trade paperback anthology entitled The Year’s Best Military SF & Space Opera. David Drake has an introduction wherein he cites C. L. Moore & Henry Kuttner’s “Clash by Night” (Astounding Science Fiction, March 1943) and Paul Carter’s “The Last Objective” (Astounding Science Fiction, August 1946) as early examples of […]

The Lord of the Rings has Sauron. Thomas Covenant has Lord Foul. Taran has Arawn. Every fantasy has a particular villain; even the more muddled “realistic” fantasies (which are, in fact, merely a different kind of fantasy – one in which suffering is more common, and joy less common, than in regular life) of Joe […]