Sensor Sweep: Firefly, Black Mask, Original Adventures Reincarnated

Monday , 16, March 2020 2 Comments

Anime (RMWC Reviews): By 1969, Japan had advanced quite far in terms of animation. Especially when a studio would put real effort behind a project, such as when Toei Animation released Sora Tobu Yuureisen in July of that year. Known in English as The Flying Phantom Ship or The Flying Ghost Ship, the film is a 60 minute full-color adventure into suspense, conspiracies, and super science with a few important creators involved.

T.V. (John C. Wright): We were discussing Joss Whedan’s late and lamented outer space horse opera FIREFLY. A reader named Sophia’s Favorite holds forth sharp criticism for the show: In my opinion Firefly is the JFK of TV shows: a mediocrity at best that gets ludicrously overrated solely because it was taken “too soon”. He goes on to list several reasons for saying so.

T.V. (Jon Mollison): If you’re into network action/dramedy shows, you’ll want to give tonight’s episode of Hawaii Five-O a look.  For one thing, the show has not been renewed for an eleventh season.  Ten years is a pretty good run for any show, and this revival is one of the few to come close to matching the original.

Writing (Pulprev): Conventional wisdom states that characters should be flawed. Nobody can relate to perfect people. Flawed characters are more believable, more likely to gain the reader’s sympathies. But the conventional wisdom doesn’t teach how. In the hands of lesser writers, this usually manifests as a grab bag of random negative traits. Alcoholism, smoking, minor but not debilitating mental illness, snarkiness, cynicism. Poorly handled, these traits add flavor to the story but they do not significantly influence the characters, and therefore do not influence the plot. The result is a patchwork person, a collection of traits and behaviors sewn together and little else.

RPG (RPG Pundit): “Adventure Paths” Aren’t Deep-Roleplay, They’re D&D for the Special Bus Today: “Adventure Paths” and story-mechanics are not ‘deep roleplaying’. For that, you need the freeform style of the OSR. Take off the D&D training wheels!

Horror Fiction (Wasteland & Sky): Today I would like to talk a bit about horror fiction. It isn’t brought up much on this blog because my knowledge on the subject isn’t too vast, but I have been reading a bit about it recently and would like to share some observations. This is because horror, like just about everything else, isn’t doing so hot these days. Though I suppose that isn’t much of a surprise.

Science Fiction (Washington Post): In “The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom — Volume One: The 1930s,” David and Daniel Ritter — a ­father-and-son team — show us, through words and pictures, how a passion for science fiction evolved into a way of life for young people who couldn’t get enough of that crazy Buck Rogers stuff. The result is a sumptuous scrapbook of photographs, magazine covers, artwork and hundreds of articles, letters and typescripts, everything beautifully held together by the Ritters’ concise but enthralling text.

Cinema & H. P. Lovecraft (DMR Books): Entertaining adaptations of H. P. Lovecraft’s work are, in my estimation, few and very far between. While I’ve been pleasantly surprised by a few films over the years, for the most part movies tapping into Lovecraft’s work tend to feel like they’re miles away from the cosmic horror themes that saturate most of the author’s stories. Five years of working at a video store and taking home anything that promised to delve into the Cthulhu Mythos have, I confess, made my approach to these kinds of films rather antagonistic. They have to prove themselves to me.

Anime (Walker’s Retreat): Given the point-and-shriek swarming attacks done on other targets, this was inevitable. Amazon is vulnerable due to having SJWs in junior positions who are amenable to SJW swarm attacks, and one can likely assume that Ebay and other Western-controlled outlets will feel the swarm in the days to follow once Amazon’s seen to bend the knee. As usual, the SJWs in the media will reliably inform you that this is the play by making a big deal out of it once such swarming gets sufficient momentum to amplify in their outlets.

RPG (Karavansara): Fantasy AGE does not walk any extraordinarily original terrain – it’s basically a sword & sorcery engine, very similar in tone to the old classic D&D, but running on a system that’s both lightweight and cool, allowing for the creation of original, detailed characters rather swiftly. Clocking at a little over 140 pages, the Basic Handbook is beautifully illustrated, rationally arranged, and covers all the bases: the races and classes we expect from a fantasy game, combat and magic, and all the basic perks.

Pulp Magazine Fiction (Pulp Fest): Although a trailblazer as a specialty magazine, DETECTIVE STORY did little to further the development of the detective or crime story. That task would be left to its highly prized successors: BLACK MASK  — the pulp where the hardboiled detective story began to take shape — and DIME DETECTIVE MAGAZINE — where the tough guy detective became extremely popular. Call them what you will — flatfoots, gumshoes, dime detectives, or private eyes  — it was these hardboiled dicks that transformed the traditional mystery story into the tough guy (and gal) crime fiction that remains popular to this very day.

Fantasy (Dark Worlds Quarterly): What I do like about Rabkin’s scale is it helps me to identify or codify some types of fiction that don’t fall neatly into genres (which we must remember were invented by publishers as a marketing tool, not academics). For example Doc Savage is a genre-crosser, with some Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror and Mystery elements, and yet none of the above. But ol’ Doc can be placed on the scale, outside of genre considerations.

Men’s Adventure Magazines (Paperback Warrior): During the 1950s and 1960s, Men’s Adventure Magazines like “Stag” and “For Men Only” told salacious stories – often masquerading as non-fiction journalism – of daring deeds and lusty ladies around the world. The magazines were illustrated with vivid action drawings by many of the same artists who created the cover art for the vintage action and crime paperbacks we adore. Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle have preserved many of the great stories and art from these magazines in a series of anthology books called Men’s Adventure Library published by New Texture.

RPG (Goodman Games): You’ve speculated. You’ve wondered. You’ve waited. Now you get an answer. Coming this September, Goodman Games will release Original Adventures Reincarnated #5: Castle Amber. Intended for levels 3 through 7, Castle Amber was the adventure that launched the Mystara campaign setting, and was the second adventure for the D&D Expert Set. Here’s some text from the back cover:

Music & Comic Books (Far out Magazine): We dive straight back into the Far Out Magazine Vault to find Marc Bolan, the musician, guitarist and poet who is arguably best known for being the lead singer of the glam rock band T. Rex, who was seemingly obsessed with comic books. Now this tale seemingly twists and turns into areas that even we weren’t sure where it would take us next. This story is going to depict how three extremely popular figures of popular culture all interviewed each other, at different times and in different circumstances but all with aiming for the same end result.

History (Peter Grant): The so-called Shangani Patrol was a legendary encounter in 1893 between colonial forces and the Matabele tribe of Lobengula in what is today Zimbabwe.  The entire patrol was annihilated, after having killed more than ten times its own number in an epic fight through the bush.  In colonial Rhodesia, it was regarded in the same light as the fall of the Alamo in Texas, or the doomed fight of the three hundred Spartans at Thermopylae.

Gaming (News Hump): Nation turns to Warhammer players for advice on how to stay at home for two weeks. Pungent men with severe vitamin D deficiency and a large collection of overpriced figurines are suddenly very much in demand as they are deemed the nation’s greatest experts at staying indoors for weeks on end while they paint space goblins.

Comic Books and D&D (Goodman Games): Thus begins the Crypt-Keeper’s Corner, the letters page in the June-July 1950 edition of E.C. Comics Crypt of Terror. You could be forgiven if you mistook that dramatic introduction as the opening salvo from any game master at any table-top role-playing game. In fact, it’s also fairly easy to see how Gary Gygax, the main co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons (and an entire gaming industry) would fess up to being influenced by the art and storytelling found within the comic books of his formative years.

2 Comments
  • deuce says:

    That’s an interesting link about Stan Lee, T. Rex and the Pet Shop Boys. Who knew?

  • deuce says:

    As far as JCW and Firefly… He makes some good points, but so does the other guy. FIREFLY was fun–and it gave us Nathan Fillion, who’s a pretty cool guy–but it was also very flawed.

    Another good post from Cheah.

    Always good to see CASTLE AMBER back on the racks. “Averoigne meets Zelazny’s Amber”. What’s not to love?

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