Horror (Skulls in the Stars): I would draw some attention to my friends at Valancourt Books, who have been doing such an amazing job reprinting classic works of horror. In particular, I thought I would mention the great job they’ve done in bringing some of the best haunted house books back into circulation! When I first started blogging about horror, I wondered why there seemed to be so few “classic” haunted house books around.
RPG (Walker’s Retreat): Wizards of the Coast wants to turn D&D–and, by extension, all tabletop RPGs–into lifestyle brand extensions. To that end, they have to change how D&D is perceived, and that’s what all the changes with 5th Edition is about. The rule changes correspond to changes in the game’s brand narrative; Critical Role and other well-publicized Let’s Play series such as every single one on the Official D&D Channel are as much a part of this scheme as the rules changes themselves.
RPG (Empire Must Fall): This small corporation has had an outsized influence on both gaming and fantasy fiction since it acquired TSR Inc. in the late 1990s. Because its fiction publishing and its games publishing, Wizards of the Coast has had a massive influence on what is considered “fantasy” in most of the world- and especially so in gaming. Tropes that it, or TSR, originated are memes that both employees and customers spread globally and are now prominent in properties such as World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy.
Fiction (Pulp Rev): There was nothing routine about Goshawks over Babylon. Fast, stealthy, armored, each dropship could ferry a platoon of troops. It was the military’s heavy-lift aircraft of choice. The STS used them for long-range deployments, or to transport vehicles and armor. BPD most assuredly did not have any in their inventory. These specimens had to be here for the Black Watch. The only question was which organization they belonged to: the military, the STS, or the New Gods. Regardless of the answer, Fox did not want to fight them.
Games (Niche Gamer): Following the pro-Hong Kong protest statements from professional Hearthstone player Chung “blitzchung” Ng Wai and Blizzard Entertainment’s suspension of the player, many have wondered how much influence Chinese investors or profits from the region have influenced such a decision. The truth is, very little. According to both The Daily Beast and PC Gamer cite that Chinese tech giant Tencent own a mere 5% of shares. As stated on PC Gamer.
Games (Jon Mollison): The game so nice, it’s already been banned by OrcaCon despite not being funded, printed, or on the market. Thus proving the point of the game in the first place. What can I say? As I type this, the campaign is just over $30K at the post. The world is hangry for this kind of satirical take at the scolds and schoolmarms who patrol our thought places for badthink. My guess is that the “Alt Right” expansion set will be received by its targets with the opposite reaction as the core game.
Pulp (DMR Books): Such tales are characterized by sword-swinging action
focused on personal battles rather than world-shaking events, with an element of magic or the supernatural and sometimes one of romance as well. Tros of Samothrace has all those ingredients and was serialized a number of years before REH’s work; doesn’t that mean that it is Sword & Sorcery too? Well, not quite but the distance that separates the two is much shorter that you might think.
Horror (Thomas McNulty): Joseph Payne Brennan fans will be pleased to learn that Dover Publications have reprinted Brennan’s quintessential anthology, The Shapes of Midnight, originally published by Berkley in October 1980. That Berkley paperback, with Stephen King’s introduction, is a now a highly sought-after collector’s item. However, there is a caveat to this Dover edition. This edition does not faithfully reproduce all of the stories from the Berkley edition.
Fiction (Karavansara): In the recent evenings, I’ve had a lot of fun with Heroes of Atlantis & Lemuria, recently published by DMR Books. The volume collects the five stories of Kardios of Atlantis, originally written by Manly Wade Wellman in the 1970s, and that we meet at the opening of the book as he’s washed ashore after Atlantis sank. Kardios, lone (maybe) survivor of the lost continent, is actually the one that caused the sinking of Atlantis (or so he says), and he takes it from there, exploring the world beyond and generally getting into a whole lot of trouble.
Science Fiction (DMR Books): Earl Dumarest is one, grim, deadly space-traveller. He’s seen a lot of hard light-years as he’s followed the star-roads and he’s been burned by many an outworld sun. According to Michael Moorcock—who knew Tubb and described the Dumarest series as “excellent”—Earl Dumarest was a “conscious and acknowledged imitation” of Leigh Brackett’s Eric John Stark.
Sword & Sorcery (Adventures Fantastic): Wagner considered himself more of a horror writer than a writer of fantasy or sword-and-sorcery (a term he hated). As a fiction writer, he was all of that and more. His work, if you can find it, and if you can afford it, is worth reading. He’s out of print and getting harder to find (and more expensive) all the time. He was also an editor to the top rank. He edited DAW’s Year’s Best Horror anthologies for years. They are worth seeking out for the introductions and essays alone, never mind the great stories.
Comic Books (Tentaclii): I’m pleased to see that Marvel are producing beautiful crisp reprint print-books of their black-and-white Savage Sword of Conan magazines and its precursors. The first 1000-page volume is out now, with Vol. 2 due in mid November, and Vol. 3 in January 2020. According to the reviews Marvel have done an excellent job here, apparently marred only by some copyright trolls who are preventing the reprinting of stories featuring certain of R.E. Howard’s supporting characters.
H. P. Lovecraft (The Westerly Sun): The life and work of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, Providence’s best-known fantasy and horror author, will again be at the center of a popular walking tour and film series conducted by the Rhode Island Historical Society and presented as part of the Flickers’ Vortex Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror Film Festival known as “Vortex.” The festival continues this year from October 19-27, with the Lovecraft Tour returning for four very special days.
Arthur Machen (Wormwoodiana): In Arthur Machen’s 1915 wonder-tale “The Great Return” we hear of marvelous lights, odors, bell-sounds, Welsh saints, the Rich Fisherman, and healings, as the Holy Graal is manifest, briefly, in Wales in the 20th century. The story needs no detection of “sources” to be reasonably well understood and enjoyed. However, our enjoyment of it may be enhanced if we see it – or recognize it – as a “sequel” to one of the great medieval Arthurian works.
Comic Books (Broadswords and Blasters): I first encountered the works of Bernie Wrightson as a kid decades ago in the 1980’s. Back in those days, before I had access to a proper comic shop, my local supermarket carried shrink wrapped bundles of comics, usually (if I remember correctly) four to a pack. There was no rhyme or reason to the packaging of these bundles, it was purely luck of the draw; you could just as easily land an issue of Simonson’s Thor as you could Moench’s Aztec Ace.
History (The Lost Fort): Archbishopric, seat of the Teutonic Knighs, and
member of the Hanseatic League – Riga’s Old Town has plenty of churches, a castle, and lanes and squares with pretty old houses. I spent a day there and managed to snatch a nice collection of photos to go with a post about Riga’s Mediaeval history. Settlement at a natural harbour 15 kilometres upriver from the mouth of the Daugava river (also known as Dvina; in Old Norse as Dúna ) dates back to the 2nd century AD.
Science Fiction (M. Porcius): In his essay in praise of Leigh Brackett, “Queen of the Martian Mysteries,” Michael Moorcock tells us that E.C. Tubb’s Dumarest books are “excellent,” and were inspired by Brackett’s own planetary romances about Eric John Stark. So when I saw Tubb’s Derai at a used bookstore (the 1968 Ace Double, combined with Juanita Coulson’s The Singing Stones) I picked it up.
Science Fiction (Matthew Constantine): Way, way, way back when I was first scoping out tabletop role-playing games at a local shop, I remember flipping through some Tekumel book or another. Along with Skyrealms of Jorune and a few others, it really stuck in the back of my brain. As I went on to create my Conquest of the Sphere setting, elements of those games (mixed with countless other things) informed me.
Westerns (Paul Bishop): The Professionals is second only to The Magnificent Seven as my favorite Western film. Watching Lee Marvin and Burt Lancaster relish chewing the scenery together while trying to out macho each other in The Professionals is sheer late night viewing entertainment. The movie led me to the book, and to the discovery of the sheer Western storytelling power of Frank O’Rourke.