Sensor Sweep: Haggard Art, Paperbacks, David Drake, Lankhmar RPG

Monday , 13, April 2020 2 Comments

Books (Wasteland & Sky): The common Joe was abandoned for fandom. Unfortunately for them, pocket paperbacks is the key to reaching the largest possible audience. This was part of the secret to the form’s success. Pocket paperbacks were meant for normal people. Abandoning the masses is never a smart idea.

D&D (Jeffro’s Space Gaming Blog): New school games typically give the players latitude to play whatever type of character they want. This ranges from GURPS where classes and levels are dispensed with and every conceivable character ability is broken down into point values all the way up to recent editions of D&D where there are a bewildering range of races, classes, feats, and so on. The newest of new school games emphasize elaborate player character backstories that the Dungeon Master is expected to somehow tap into in his campaign story.

Art (DMR Books): “The collector who commissioned it was a Haggard fan with a Haggard room. He had several well-known illustrators do paintings for his room, i.e. Jeff Jones, Michael Whelan, etc. A few years ago he decided to give it all up and sold all of his books and paintings.”

Guides (Pulp Net): A pulp magazine price guide? Yup. Bookery’s Guide to Pulps & Related Magazines by Tim Cottrill is the second edition of this work and came out in 2020 from Heritage Auctions via Ivy Press. The first edition came out in 2005, which was actually an update of The Ultimate Guide to the Pulps from 2001. Tim Cottrill owns a book/collectibles store called Bookery Fantasy in Ohio, hence the name.

Pulps (Michael May): So was Planet Stories all that bad? Certainly it featured plenty of space opera and sword-and-planet action. Many of the best of Leigh Brackett’s stories appeared in Planet Stories, including her classic Eric John Stark tales of Mars. In fact, she was instrumental in carrying on the vision of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars as a world of strange wonders. This in turn gave Ray Bradbury a place to grow his Martian Chronicles with stories like “The Million Year Picnic,” “Rocket Summer,” and “Mars is Heaven,” standard texts in classrooms and libraries as serious literature.

Book Review (Scifi Movie Page): When the first Assassin’s Creed game was released back in 2007 it became one of those landmark games that you purchased a game system (in this case the Playstation 3 or Xbox 360) just to play. This massive, oversized, 256 page hard cover book covers the complex history, storylines, and characters that have made Assassins Creed one of the most successful videogame franchises of all-time.

RPG (Matthew J. Constantine): Lankhmar is one of the definitive cities of the Fantasy genre.  Created as a backdrop to match leading characters Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser, Fritz Leiber gave us a marvelous playground for the imagination.  Like Leiber’s stories, the city has inspired many in the tabletop RPG hobby over the years. From the City State of the Invincible Overlord to Waterdeep and beyond, it is the proto-urban setting for Fantasy games, and it’s been made and remade by various companies over the years.  The latest is Goodman Games, who’ve produced an impressive set of resources to help guide characters into the world of Nehwon and the city of Lankhmar.

Culture Wars (Kairos): You probably have a favorite movie franchise, TV show, or comic book series that hooked you as a kid. It’s a good bet that many of your fondest childhood memories are associated with that franchise. Compared to the fun, uplifting IPs of yesteryear, the new versions run the gamut from pale imitations to brazen impostors. The magic is missing, but you can’t put your finger on what happened to it. Is something wrong with the product itself, or is it just you getting older? It’s not just you.

Science fiction (M Porcius): If you type “Barry Malzberg” into the search field at the indispensable internet archive one of the things that comes up is The Mammoth Book of Erotica, edited by Maxim Jakubowski and published in 1994. There are also offerings from Anne Rice and Clive Barker, in whom I have little interest, and Robert Silverberg, Ramsey Campbell, and Samuel R. Delany, writers whose work does interest me and about which I have written several times at this little old website of mine.

Cinema (Red Planet on Film): Devil Girl From Mars (1954). I love this movie. If I had to choose a dozen movies to take to a desert island for the rest of my life, this would be one of them. Many will find this a disturbing admission. “How,” some people would wonder, “could a sane man, a competent author, say such a thing about this movie … in public even?” Those who are familiar with this film will remember that the story seems to revolve around the kidnapping of earthmen to take to Mars for breeding purposes—which nearly all the summaries of the film focus on right from the outset.

Fantasy (Sorcerers Skull): What would Middle-earth be if presented in a more pulp fantasy (not just Robert E. Howard) sort of way? You could do a really comprehensive overall, sure, where maybe only the names remain the same, but I think a few tweaks here and there would make a big difference. Just take a look at things that are already pretty pulpy: 1) a fallen age following the sinking of a “Atlantis”; (2) Orders of beings with some more advanced and others more degenerate than others; (3) a lot of ruins strewn about.

D&D (CBR.com): Dungeons & Dragons is one the oldest, most beloved traditional gaming series in history. For over forty years, gamers have taken on the roles of human barbarians, elven druids, dwarf paladins and half-orc bards — or whatever other brilliant mix of races, classes and personality traits they could conceive. It is a game perpetually limited only by the players’ and dungeon master’s imaginations. However, when Gary Gygax created the game, he didn’t come up with everything from scratch. Rather, he read the most popular books in the fantasy genre at the time — and many underrated books that have since faded into obscurity — and picked the elements of fantasy best suited to springboard off of.

Art (DMR Books): Artist Tom Gianni died on March 30, aged sixty years old, from cancer. His day job was working as the top courtroom sketch artist for several Chicago TV stations. However, what he did off the clock falls squarely in DMR Blog territory. First, though, let’s look at that courtroom job–believe me, it has relevance. This is what Tom’s own website says: “He has drawn Mafiosos, corrupt politicians and serial killers. He recently covered three high profile trials: the trial of Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich, the Jennifer Hudson family murder trial, and the trial of the notorious Drew Petersen.”

Science Fiction (Free Beacon): David Drake’s books always seem to carry a blurb from the Chicago Sun-Times—a line extracted from an old review that claims Drake has a “prose as cold and hard as the metal alloy of a tank.” He “rivals Crane and Remarque” as a writer of military fiction. And there you have it: The Red Badge of Courage (1895) and All Quiet on the Western Front (1928) are joined by Drake’s tale of intergalactic mercenaries, Hammer’s Slammers (1979).

D&D (Skulls in the Stars): The Dragonlance Game (1988), by Michael S. Dobson, Scott Haring and Warren Spector.  Here’s a boardgame that was a huuuuge deal when it came out, but I was somehow unaware of until I saw a used copy come by recently! It probably wasn’t on my mind when I was a teen, as I was into RPGs, not board games. The board game is based on the hugely successful Dragonlance novels and D&D modules that started in 1984 with the released of Dragons of Despair, by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.

Weird Western (David J. West): I’ve got a short weird western tale in the newly released A Mighty Fortress anthology. It is a Porter Rockwell short titled, The Tears of Nephi. Its a little light on steampunk, but I put in a little – the collection as a whole has the unexpected grouping of being Mormon Steampunk tales, and was initially inspired by the incredibly awesome Dave Butler.

2 Comments
  • TD says:

    Don’t know if my comment was refused last time due to my device or if the content was unworthy, but I asked if the compiler had come across Tanabe Gou’s manga adaptations of HP Lovecraft. They were translated by Dark Horse:

    At the Mountains of Madness (2 volumes):
    https://tinyurl.com/yba3uk8b
    https://tinyurl.com/ycc77xmy

    The Hound & Other Stories:
    https://tinyurl.com/yahbm5yr

  • deuce says:

    Good stuff from Cowan, Jeffro and Niemeier–as usual.

    That porn novel by Delany sounds just about as degenerate and depraved as I would expect.

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