Comics (Razorfist) –
Sword and Sorcery (Adventures Fantastic) – I have long felt a growing angst about the ongoing disputes of the definition of Sword & Sorcery – a definition that to me has grown far too convoluted and frankly cumbersome. Once, decades ago, I was of the restrictive mindset that S&S had to be a particular this or that, more in the mold of Conan than not. Yet even then, I did not recognize several prominent characters as truly S&S protagonists despite popular belief to the contrary. I felt right in my convictions yet also felt it somehow inconclusive, felt that something was absent, a missing link scratching at my thoughts for years.
Hero of the Imperium (Warhammer Community) – “In all honesty, I thought the idea of a self-serving Commissar, playing against the archetype, was a one-joke concept, good for a single short story,” Sandy Mitchell told Warhammer Community. “Luckily the readers, and the editorial team at Inferno,* thought otherwise, and demanded to see more of him – which just goes to show how much more they knew than I did. If I’d realised just how popular Cain was going to become, I’d probably have been too intimidated to write a single word!
Gaming (Sean Malstrom) – “The problem with Final Fantasy XVI,” he says, “is that the game modeled itself after Western Civilization.”
I looked at him and asked, “But WHICH Western Civilization?”
At this, his jaw dropped and was speechless. He didn’t know how to respond.
“You mean there is more than one?”
Science Fiction? (The Obelisk) – “… Martian Chronicles is not science fiction, it’s fantasy. It couldn’t happen, you see? That’s the reason it’s going to be around a long time—because it’s a Greek myth, and myths have staying power.”
Sword and Sorcery (DMR Books) – Vran the Chaos-Warped is a man who will never break an oath or drop a grudge. When he discovers the despicable wizard Foad Misjak has committed the most foul of crimes against the population of Nilztiria, he swears to slay the evildoer or die trying. Vran confronts Misjak, who learns how the cursed swordsman earned the name “Chaos-Warped” when he casts a spell which has drastically different effects than intended. As a result of the uncontrollable magic, the pair of nemeses are swept away from Nilztiria to another dimension: a far-flung primitive world of ice!
RPGs (Walker’s Retreat) – Let us pretend that, despite all the product on the shelves, there is nothing that you find to your liking. Yet you want to play such a game. Therefore you resolve to make your own.
Fine, let’s do this.
Adventure Fiction (Fantasy Literature) – Now, just as there is a world of difference between the African novels of H. Rider Haggard – an author who had actually lived in and worked on the continent – and those of Edgar Rice Burroughs – who never set foot in Africa and made his tales up out of whole cloth (“not that there’s anything wrong with that”) – so too is there a heightened degree of earned verisimilitude in Oliver’s work here. During his months spent in Kenya, Oliver was immersed in both the land and its people … and it shows. Thus, the book’s many words in both Kamba and Swahili (fortunately, translated for the reader); the references to duka markets and shamba (gardener) boys; the ubiquitous Tusker beer; the accurate descriptions of baobab trees and euphorbia plants, the kudu and the oryx and the marabou storks; the mention of men’s kanzu garments, the East African god Mulungu, and the Kipsigi tribe. The book feels utterly authentic and credible, as regards its flora, fauna, African characters and general environment.
Comics and Manga (The Animation Scoop) – Araki devotes most of the book to story and structure, which he organizes into a five-part system he call “The Royal Road” Themes, Characters, Setting, Story and Art. Manga, he argues, is “the most powerful multidisciplinary art form…A creative person without the ability to draw can become an author or scriptwriter, and one without the ability to write can become a painter. But a mangaka must be able to do everything.”
Independent Fiction (TJ Marquis) – I’m doing the legwork to shout out the latest indie, pulp and Iron Age news from week to week.
The Art of Science Fiction (Black Gate) – Perry Rhodan leads us in the millennia ahead of us beyond the voids to galactic empires which have been waiting for us for millions of years. It leads us to a time in which the descendants of humanity talk about Earth like a myth, and a lonely planet revolves around the long gone sun.
This vision gave rise to an epochal pulp series with amazing covers and illustrations for more than 60 years.
Fantasy (Monsters and Manuals) – Our children do not really have an experience of scarcity of entertainment in the way we did, unless it is forced upon them by their parents. A lot of parents don’t enforce any such scarcity (just look at how many quite happily let their toddlers zone out in front of an iPad while at a restaurant or out in the pram), and we are as a result going to see something of a social experiment unfold as the current generation ages: some kids will be brought up in something like a traditional way; others will be brought up without even a concept of how to process boredom. Something to think about.
Sci Fi in Movies (The Wertzone) -The main appeal of The Road Home is nostalgia: the animated film is so steeped in deep cut lore references to the original show that I’m not sure how much newcomers will get out of it, let alone the massive spoilers it contains for the events of the series. For a B5 veteran, it is tremendous fun to once again see Bruce Boxleitner, Claudia Christian, Patricia Tallman, Tracy Scoggins, Bill Mumy and Peter Jurasik reprise their roles as Sheridan, Ivanova, Lyta, Lochley, Lennier and Londo respectively. Peter Jurasik in particular slips back into his role as if zero time has passed, and his vocal delivery is spot-on
Pulp (Rough Edges) – I really enjoyed the first two collections of Will Murray’s Sherlock Holmes stories. He pulls out all the stops in THE WILD ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, VOLUME THREE, which reprints (with one exception) stories that were published originally in various Holmes anthologies.
That exception is the centerpiece of the book, a never-before-published novella that finds Holmes, his brother Mycroft, and Dr. Watson battling H.G. Wells’ Martian invaders in a second war of the worlds. This is a great yarn that also features a cameo appearance, of sorts, of a Jules Verne character.
Independent Fiction (DMR Books) – J. Manfred Weichsel is an author that I was wholly unfamiliar with before reading this collection. He has numerous titles available from Amazon and he is a regular contributor to Cirsova Magazine. I believe his bio on Amazon sums up his writing perfectly: J. Manfred Weichsel writes extravaganzas that fuse adventure, horror, science fiction, and fantasy into some of the most original subversive literature being published today.
Independent Fiction (Yakov Merkin) – Amaranth Angels is my contribution to the military moe genre we all enjoy; it’s a ton of fun, and if Girls Und Panzer is your jam, or if you just love exciting, Star Wars-style space battles, you’ll love Amaranth Angels too.