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Humor is an often neglected aspect of science fiction and fantasy.  Not only does it significantly improve less serious works, but it can make deep, thoughtful stories more memorable and engaging.  However, if it were so simple, then every book in those genres would be a barrel of laughs, right?  Not only is there the […]

It’s easy to forget nowadays, given the legion of predictable, played-out, repetitive, and boring works, but the mystery genre is relatively young.  The earliest notable entries were several Poe short stories featuring C. Auguste Dupin (1841-1844), Collins’ The Moonstone (1868), and Dickens’ unfinished The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870). The Dupin stories were the earliest and most influential, […]

There was a stage when I thought I was interested in politics, so I picked up a copy of Mein Kampf. Despite wanting to explore the enigma of how an Austrian corporal wound up as the dictator of Germany, I could never read more than a chapter or two before losing interest. Based on that […]

Mary Shelley gets a lot of credit these days. It’s been increasingly said that her seminal work Frankenstein birthed the science fiction genre. I personally find the arguments unconvincing, as do some of my esteemed colleagues. Make no mistake – Frankenstein was a great tale, and I certainly enjoyed my read-through of it last year. But […]

Contrary to the genre’s title, most authors writing science fiction know less about science than a curious twelve year-old. Even more surprisingly, one can still write good, even great SF with this impediment!  And I note this as a professional scientist who loves “hard science” works.  While this might seem like great news for the […]

To celebrate the life and work of Jerry Pournelle, we will be giving away volumes of his classic military science fiction series, THERE WILL BE WAR, all week. Today and tomorrow, you can download THERE WILL BE WAR Vol. I for free. If you have never read Dr. Pournelle before, this is an excellent opportunity to acquaint yourself […]

Many people mourned the passing of SF writer Jerry Pournelle. But Dr. Pournelle was more than a writer. He affected many fields and was a significant influence on me. His book that spoke to me the most was A Step Farther Out, a collection of technical essays he’d written. It focused me on how many […]

A frequent criticism of older stories, pulp or otherwise, is that they feature a “damsel in distress”.  That the woman in question is nothing more than a prize to be won.  This is considered bad, and earnest leftist writers of today seek to correct this horrible injustice by creating “strong female protagonists”. Right away, one […]

In science fiction and fantasy, whether employing images or words, creators are always looking for big ideas.  A killer premise, a brilliant spin on a standard story, or something wholly fresh and unique.  And while there are no shortage of movies and books that possess those, it’s not nearly as necessary as one initially believes. […]

When I mention bold fighting heroes laughing at death and their enemies, odious and powerful villains, non-stop action and adventure in picturesque settings, and brave, beautiful, worthy women, what writer comes to mind?  For most readers of this blog, it would be Robert E. Howard.  But another name fits equally well, that of the great […]

Operation Barbarossa: the Complete Organisational and Statistical Analysis, and Military Simulation is destined to become the essential reference and with Volume VI the most historically accurate game on the 1941 invasion of Russia. Historians, students, scenario and game designers will find the extensive data and the methodology to study modern conflict useful. For the lay […]

Not too long ago I finally got through Sterling Lanier’s Hiero’s Journey. Although it undeniably put forth some creative and inspiring ideas, I wasn’t overly impressed. Jeffro’s noted that the book was one of the primary influences of Gamma World, and though I’ve never played it, reading the basic description of the game’s setting is indeed evocative […]