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Ah, fantasy! Who doesn’t like a good fantasy? Dashing knights, greedy dragons, fair maidens, odious goblins, perilous elf women, cunning trolls… it doesn’t get any better than that! But it sure can get a lot worse. And it certainly has. From the inspiring heights of Dunsany, Howard, and Tolkien, fantasy has descended into grime and […]

The opening shot of Star Wars with its slow reveal of a truly gigantic Star Destroyer is arguably the finest single shot in science fiction movie history. It’s so powerful, it not only changed the way blockbuster movies were made from then on. It turned nearly an entire generation into science fiction fans over night! Of […]

The latest issue of Astounding Frontiers is here! Check it out and you’ll find an all new retrospective by yours truly. If you got to the end of Appendix N and just wanted more, then this (along with Cirsova issues 1 and 3) is the place to go! One of the things I did as […]

E. E. Doc Smith’s Galactic Patrol opens up with a tremendous brain dump. But what a brain dump! If you want to know what science fiction was like before it became ashamed of the superlative, this is it. Note the nature of this patrol and how it differs from practically every science fiction series since: “You […]

I am one of the least creative Game Masters I know. Look back over my session reports and you’ll find that I rarely ever ventured far outside the bounds of other peoples modules. “Keep on the Borderlands”, “The Isle of Dread”, “Steading of the Hill Giant Chief”… all of these can be run as is […]

Yes, role-playing games are the culprit. They are the root cause of why contemporary authors are largely unable to tell a complete story. (Their rpg campaigns were not designed to ever culminate into an ending, either!) They are the root cause of why contemporary authors are unable to think beyond origin stories, flashbacks, backstories, and […]

A reader with the eminently post-apocalyptic name of Taarkoth writes in with this grievous lament: So these and the last two posts got me interested in looking at 1e Gamma World, only for me to find to my immense frustration that, other than prohibitively expensive physical copies on ebay, the only Gamma World available for legal […]

Grames Barnaby writes in with what he calls “a very cancerous vid” regarding Game of Thrones: However I DO recommend watching it, for it’s a great example of just how badly modern schooling has messed up literature studies. From dismissing pulp fiction and why archetypes are too “simple” to conflating all of 19th century english lit […]

When it comes to Appendix N, let’s be honest – there’s a little bit of a pecking order. Even most mainstream, casual readers have certainly heard of the likes of Tolkien and Lovecraft, probably Burroughs, and maybe Howard. Among genre fans and older gamers (which often overlap) and the true believers of the Cult of […]

Robert E. Howard continues to shine as a better model for Lovecraftian gaming than Lovecraft himself.  In Pigeons From Hell, available in its entirety from the Australian Project Gutenberg, two New England hikers stop for the night to make camp inside an abandoned Plantation Home somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon line.  A ghostly face appears […]

The year was 1939, little more than a year since John W. Campbell took over the reins of Astounding and John B. Michel declared science fiction dead. But Argosy had not gotten the memo. No, the magazine that had been the stomping grounds of Edgar RIce Burroughs and A. Merritt was not quite ready to […]

This crowdfunding pitch I came across via Cory Doctorow managed managed to lose me at the first sentence: So Robert Heinlein is what we call one of the big three: Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein. And those are the first people to really make science fiction work… I suppose I should be happy with […]