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Sensor Sweep: Bioshock, Black Infinity, Pulp Adventures, Black Mask –

Sensor Sweep: Bioshock, Black Infinity, Pulp Adventures, Black Mask

Monday , 19, June 2023 Leave a comment

Pulp (Pulp Flakes): Last week we saw how the competition was hurting Black Mask during Fanny Ellsworth’s editorial reign. And hinted that it might need a bigger backer. That backer was Popular Publications, a phenomenon created by Harry Steeger and Harold Goldsmith, who had started with four titles and a combined print run of 400,000 copies.

Authors (Sprague de Camp Fan): The FBI rightly decided to interview de Camp because of this quote. A 2017 TV series called Manhunt: Unabomber includes a somewhat fictionalized version of de Camp in one of the episodes. In the scene depicting this meeting, de Camp’s name appears on a placard stating, “L. Sprague de Camp, S.A.G.A. Author, The Ancient Engineers.”

Authors (North Texas Apocalypse Bunker): Not even his Texas-ness could overcome my utter bafflement at the level of his success. I tried to read him at several points in his career and was dumbfounded by his ability to sell his one trick as a complete magic show. For those of you who are grieving, my condolences, sincerely. Myself, I’m going to head out, as all of the oxygen that has suddenly been freed up in the tent of Texas literature is making me a little dizzy.

Art (Mens Pulp Mags):  didn’t plan it this way, but two books I co-edited were recently released at the same time on Amazon worldwide: THE ART OF RON LESSER, VOL. 1: DEADLY DAMES AND SEXY SIRENS and THE NAKED AND THE DEADLY: LAWRENCE BLOCK IN MEN’S ADVENTURE MAGAZINES. I’ll be doing posts about both of them here in the weeks ahead.

In this post, I’ll provide a look at THE ART OF RON LESSER, VOL. 1, the first book to focus on the classic artwork Lesser created for paperbacks, magazines, movie posters, ads and galleries.

Pulp (Pulp Superfan): The fifth issue of the pulp fanzine The Shadowed Circle arrived recently. The focus is on The Shadow, and I subscribed for issues #4-6. So to help promote this new fanzine, I’ll be doing individual issue reviews.

Weird Tales (Murray Ewing): Earlier this year, an idle whim made me wonder what sort of fiction Farnsworth Wright produced. As editor of Weird Tales from 1924 to 1940, he presided over its Golden Age, publishing key works of weird fiction and sword & sorcery, and establishing the careers of writers such as H P Lovecraft and Robert E Howard — as well as, it has to be said, rejecting some of their best works, including At the Mountains of Madness. So what about the products of his own imagination?

Cinema (George Kelley): In the first minute of John Wick, Chapter Four John Wick kills four guys. Symbolic? John Wick has killed 299 Bad Guys in the first three John Wick movies. I stopped counting the bodies in this latest movie when I hit 100. And the movie had an hour more to go!

Review (Frank Ormond): I have no idea where to start with this book. It’s horrible, cruel, mean and twisted and may be the best novel I’ve ever read. Blood Meridian is considered the magnum opus of Cormac McCarthy, the prolific novelist behind No Country for Old Men. McCarthy doesn’t use much punctuation, so his book reads like a folk tale told by a campfire, but the imagery and harrowing scenes control the reader on a level I’ve never experienced before.

Tolkien (Alas Not Me): Yesterday, a friend sent me something he was working on about The Lord of the Rings, and what he had to say about Hobbits and the Shire in it immediately made me think of the passage I have quoted below. I couldn’t remember where I had read these comments before, though. I was pretty sure it wasn’t in anything Tolkien wrote, and I thought it was in Lewis. As it turned out, I was right. It just took me a while to track it down. So to prevent me from forgetting the location of the comments again, I am sharing it with all of you.

Games (Boggs Wood): The original Blackmoor game as Dave Arneson ran it between 1971 and 1975 may be described as a living world campaign. – meaning that the world moves through time regardless of play. In his grand Napoleonic campaign Arneson had scores of players, including many play-by-post participants such as Gary Gygax, and time in the game had to advance on a regular schedule for the game to work.

RPG (Grognardia): While I unqualifiedly count myself as a fan of the articles Ed Greenwood wrote about his home campaign, the Forgotten Realms, in the pages of Dragon, my feelings about TSR’s version of it are decidedly more mixed. For the most part, the original boxed campaign setting developed by Jeff Grubb and published in 1987 is quite good, retaining most of the elements that, I think, made the Realms unique, or at least distinct from previous TSR AD&D settings, like The World of Greyhawk or Krynn.

Writing (Kairos): We all know fledgling writers who’ve spent months or even years engaged in meticulous world building. But when it comes time to tell a story in their lush secondary worlds, the plot spins its wheels. How can a writer have planned every detail of his fantasy world down to the architecture and coinage but get stuck on the plot? Let’s take a look at the problem to get the answer.

Pulp (Pulp Superfan): After too long, Pulp Adventures #41 is out from Bold Venture Press, dated Fall 2022. As always, we get a selection of new and classic pulp stories, with some non-fiction pieces. This time the issue clocks in at 180 pages, longer than previous ones.

Review (Goodman Games): Tales From the Magician’s Skull’s explosive 10th issue is here!

Now available for purchase in stores and online, the tenth issue of TFTMS marks a mighty milestone in the annals of modern sword-and-sorcery! From regular favorites to new talents, from worlds of adventure and horror and strange speculation, from art and design that harkens to the classic Weird Tales aesthetic while showcasing the best in contemporary vision, comes a magazine that is proud to bear the standard of sword-and-sorcery into the future — Tales From the Magician’s Skull!

Join us in celebrating our landmark tenth issue all month long!

Games (Player None): While  BioShock could be chalked as just another FPS game, that would be doing it a disservice. It was among the first in the genre to bring a truly great story to the mix, accompanied by light RPG elements in the gameplay. Sure, there had been serious FPS games with plots before, but BioShock rises the bar by tying one story and gameplay mechanic into a morality question. This is, of course, the Little Sisters, whom you can either save or destroy: for faster progress, you can consume the ADAM from the little girls, thus killing them or you can choose to take the minimum, leaving them alive.

Magazines (Horror Delve): The new issue of Black Infinity Magazine, edited by the great Tom English (whose insightful Please Stand By columns are not-to-be-missed, by the way), is now available for purchase. The theme this time around is Rocketships and Spacesuits. This issue is filled-to-bursting with classic short fiction by the likes of Ray Bradbury, Robert Silverberg and Poul Anderson, as well as newer stories by Gregory Norris, Vinny Winslow Crist, Kurt Newton and more. There are two comics included this time. One is an original The Last Star Warden comic by Jason J. McCuiston and the other is a vintage reprint by Alex Toth.

Science Fiction (M Porcius): F&SF Jan. ’57: Arthur C. Clarke & Poul Anderson In the last episode of MPorcius Fiction Log we read the first two stories of Arthur C. Clarke’s series “Venture to the Moon” in the December 1956 issue of F&SF.  I decided to check out the rest of the series while the first two were still fresh in my mind, so I rustled up the January 1957 number of F&SF, in which the third and fourth components of “Venture to the Moon” appear. 

Science Fiction (Future War Stories): In the pantheon of combat starships, naval ships, and ancient sailing vessels, the bulk of attention has been paid more on the combat vessels in both the real world and the fictional one. However, one of the most important vessels in any navy, either in on the ocean or in space, is the ones that bring the troops, the coffee, the bullets, the mail, and the fuel. In one of the final installments of The Ships of the Line articles, we will be focusing on the troop transports, medical ships, and the assault ships of the logistical end of most navies and fleets.

Science Fiction (Tor): When the early writers of American science fiction were looking for a setting for grand adventures, the type of science fiction we now generally call “space opera,” they looked to the past for inspiration, to the centuries where sailing ships carried explorers, merchants, and warriors across the globe; discovering, trading, conquering, plundering and colonizing. When writers looked to the future, it’s not surprising that many of them imagined ships sailing through the vastness of space being like ships of the sea in many ways.

Actors (Inverse): Ray Stevenson has established himself as the most effortlessly forceful guy in Hollywood: He played Titus Pullo in Rome, Arthur’s swaggering pal Dagonet in King Arthur, a member of Thor’s posse in Thor, and a gangster who gave a serial killer a run for his money in Dexter. He even manages to be intimidating in comedies. Nobody has a naturally powerful screen presence quite like his — or a talent for conveying hidden depth in otherwise hardcore characters. So of course, the gloves-off pirate drama Black Sails cast him as their Blackbeard. There really was no other choice.

Popular Culture (George Kelley): I like the Beatles and James Bond so I dove into John Higgs’s new book on how the group and the spy impacted the British Psyche (and the rest of the world’s psyche, too!). Higgs delivers some facts I was not aware of. I knew Ian Fleming was a “difficult” man but apparently that didn’t scare some women off. Fleming had an affair with Lady O’Neill who wrote him after a liaison in Dublin in 1947.

Crime Fiction (Rough Edges): I’ve read and enjoyed many books by Gil Brewer over the years, but for some reason, two of his earliest and most successful novels have sat unread on my shelves for quite some time now. So I took the arrival of Stark House’s latest Gil Brewer double volume to be an omen that I ought to go ahead and read them. I’m going to start with SATAN IS A WOMAN, which was Brewer’s second published novel.

Actors (Rageaholic): An ’80s action classic that had the misfortune of being filmed in 2008! R.I.P. Ray Stevenson.

Chuck Dixon (Pulp Superfan): A new thriller series I discovered is Chuck Dixon‘s Levon Cade series. At this time there are almost a dozen novels in it. For those not aware, Chuck Dixon is a long-time comicbook writer who has worked on a variety of characters at several publishers. I’ve read his stuff on Eclipse Comics’ Airboy series, but he has worked on The Punisher, Batman, and other characters and titles.

Games (Player None): Red Dead Redemption 2 (2018) developed by Rockstar Studios and published by Rockstar Games. A ragtag group of men and women waddle their way through a snowstorm deep in the mountains. They are on the run from the law, as the robbery Dutch Van der Linde committed at the city of Blackwater went sour and they were forced to abandon their previous plans. Now all they can do is try and get through the storm, but it seems nature wants them to sit the harsh winter out huddled in an old mining site.

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