SENSOR SWEEP: Lax Pacing, Dwindling Fossils, Massive Buy-In, and Chattering Hordes

Monday , 21, August 2017 13 Comments

Pulp Revolution (Wasteland and Sky) To Pulp or Not to Pulp ~ A Review of Astounding Frontiers #1 and a Bonus! — “Keep in mind that there are no bad stories here. They’re all well written and do what they do well, but they are not Pulp stories aside from According to Culture. The reason they’re not Pulp is not just because of lax pacing (the first story in particular is rather quick and it is not very Pulp either) but that there isn’t much mystery or wonder at the world outside of the characters. There’s no genre bending (though again Finn’s comes close), and there are no moral conflicts that tie in to the exterior battles– if there are exterior battles at all.”

Ideological Conquest (Kairos) Orwell Was 4 Years off — “Print science fiction–once a dominant form of mass entertainment–was hijacked after WWII by screwdriver-wielding Modernists and outright Communists who wanted to make SF more literary in the former case and a propaganda tool in the latter. Arising during this takeover of the genre, the Hugos were compromised from the beginning. Their current sorry state: a participation award given to authors from the most victimized groups by a small clique of dwindling fossils, was their inevitable intended end.”

Video Games (Amatopia) Retro Inspiration — “From the plots to the aesthetics to the mechanics, these old games captured my thoughts when I was a kid, and they still do now. The imagination that went into them, before the days of massive budgets and mainstream acceptance, is truly remarkable. Perhaps it was this lack of expectation that allowed the makers to take risks, tinkering with mechanics, storytelling, and puzzle design? Or perhaps they just wanted to make the games that they would play, hoping that the audience would be willing to come along for the ride.”

D&D (Gaming While Conservative) Well, Well, Well. What Have We Here? — “The descent into the depths of The Dungeon was uneventful. Forty feet down, the first room was only knee deep in water. They did some exploration, killed some flying wolf fish, played with a statue that hid a small treasure, triggered a trap or two, and fought some more fish-dudes. They also found a number of submerged passages that are beyond their capabilities right now. They lost a PC, lost an NPC, and retreated under duress. The rope up the well was still there, so the fighting withdrawal went better than anyone expected. The magic-user cast levitate on the last fighter at the bottom of the well and snatched him out of the claws and jaws of three fish-dudes. While he was doing that, the dwarf had run outside, grabbed a rock the size of his head, and returned. With the last fighter ‘safe’ in the well room, they hucked the Big Rock down the well and cleared it off pursuing fish-dudes.”

Appendix N (RMWC Reviews) Pulp Review: Black God’s Kiss — “Less action-packed and more weirdness & wonder, Black God’s Kiss is an incredible introduction to an incredible character written by a Grandmaster of the genre who is leagues better than the modern SF/F writers (male or female) who’ve forgotten her legacy. She stands shoulder to shoulder with Burroughs, Merritt and Howard and deserves to be a household name.”

Literature (Vintage Novels) Henry V by William Shakespeare — “One thing that began to bug me the second or third time I saw the film, and that became very clear as I read the play, was how constantly Henry shifts the blame for the war onto others. He clearly understands the cost in human lives, suffering, and resources that war exacts. In fact, he’s constantly talking about it, sometimes in uncomfortably graphic terms. He warns the church officials not to sanction his invasion of France unless they’re willing to bear the guilt for this. Later in the very same scene he blames the war on the Dauphin for insulting him. At Harfleur he intimidates the garrison into surrender by threatening a ghastly sack of the town, which he has the nerve to say will be their fault. Henry seems to be roughly on the same moral level as the schoolyard bully who (slap) wants you (slap) to stop hitting yourself (slap).”

RPGs (Ron Edwards) Where are you going, where have you been — “I have no trouble citing the single most profound detail of 1974-1977 Dungeons & Dragonsthat the levels one could gain were named. A first-level magic-user was an apprentice. A tenth-level fighter was a lord. There was absolutely no context given for this, no rules, no process, no examples, not one single indicator except for an illustration or two). However, in practice, that one little thing generated massive buy-in and elaborate creative input. You didn’t just gain tenth level after ninth. You became a lord. It must mean something, something obviously cool, and thus, at the tables across the land, it did.”

Moving Out (Jon Mollison) Welcome to the New Digs — “It’s time to build a better site and get off blogger while the getting is good. With recent changes in the way major corporations do business, this feels like a retreat, but I will sleep better knowing that I’ve burned my crops behind me.  Every click this new site gets is one less data point going into Google’s servers.  Every email that I get to my new account is one less data point going into Google’s servers.”

Meanwhile… ( N. K. Jemisin’s New Contemporary Fantasy Trilogy Will “Mess with the Lovecraft Legacy” — “This is deliberately a chance for me to kind of mess with the Lovecraft legacy. He was a notorious racist and horrible human being. So this is a chance for me to have the ‘chattering’ hordes—that’s what he called the horrifying brown people of New York that terrified him. This is a chance for me to basically have them kick the ass of his creation. So I’m looking forward to having some fun with that.”

Appendix N ( Writing Your Protagonist: The Fighting-Man — “There’s something about a classic fighting-man as the protagonist that never fails to deliver. From Burroughs’ John Carter to Howard’s Conan and beyond to the present day, you cannot move two steps in a bookstore without finding someone using a fighting-man as a protagonist in genre fiction.”

Video Games (Cirsova) Review: Frayed Knights, Skull of S’makh-Daon — “On the surface, Frayed Knights is an exploration-focused first person RPG with a fair share of hack-and-slash, but there’s a great deal of nuance to it that really scratches a lot of itches that someone who has played a lot of CRPGs and maybe burned out on them because of that ‘seen it all before’ feeling will end up still getting a kick out of it and find it highly engaging.”

RPGs (Just the Caffeine Talking) Island of Lost Games: Dream Park — “The 1981 novel Dream Park, by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes, was a fun science fiction/fantasy/mystery set in a futuristic amusement park (called Dream Park, duh) which combines advanced hologram technology (i.e. magic) with elaborate big-budget live-action roleplaying games. In the Dream Park future, game creators are rock star celebrities — well, at least indie rock star level — especially since high-powered computer technology takes the place of the enormous design and programming teams required for real-life games. The novel focuses on a Dream Park company policeman who has to go undercover in an ongoing game in order to solve a murder. The game itself is a wild World War II Cargo Cult fantasy adventure, so the reader can enjoy three simultaneous plot arcs: the mystery, the fantasy game storyline, and the interactions among the players in the game. The authors scored two direct predictive hits: first that games would become an industry rivaling film in scale, and that large audiences would enjoy watching other people play a game.”

Appendix N (The Pulp Archivist) The Chinoiserie Genre — “Chinoiserie’s fascination with exotic China found a home in the pulps. The Shadow’s first adventure, The Living Shadow, found the Knight of Darkness playing master of disguise in Chinatown to root out a hidden killer. Counter to convention, this killer, Diamond Bert, only posed as a Chinese mastermind. Among the imitators of the Shadow, the Green Lama featured an American student of the Tibetan Lamas using Eastern secrets to defeat Western criminals. Sidney Herschel Small wrote adventures of Asia and American Chinatowns. E. Hoffman Price led the parade of writers of Weird Tales who would use chinoserie, many of which would claim that their stories had been discovered in the markets of China and Istanbul. Clark Aston Smith wrote a prose poem describing two lovers separated by centuries in his “Chinoiserie.” Manly Wade Wellman’s occult investigator, John Thunstone, would test his metal and that of a holy blade against a cursed Gurka honor sword in ‘The Dai Sword.'”

  • Xavier Basora says:


    So NK wants to subvert Lovecraft? Riiiight. Sounds like a case study of bad writing based on animus. I’m not a fan of Lovecraft but Igreatly respect what he did and fos erudition. Something that NK lacks but doesn’t care about


  • Nicholas Archer says:

    Meanwhile…N. K. Jemisin is a chick! I thought she was a dude! That does explain the Pink Sci-fi…I hate it when Author’s use their initials, unless told otherwise you always assume their your gender.

    1) Is Jemisin well known? I never heard of her until I saw a post (I think it was on CH) reviewing her Short Story “The City Born Great” and now she’s getting a Three Book Contract. Btw based on the summary it sounded like that story sucked.
    2) Why do Progressives hate Lovecraft so much and want to re-invent him? First it was that Novella with the Unicorn Rapist and now they want to beat up Tulu. At least it’s not the “His Dark Material” Trilogy.
    3)I don’t know if Lovecraft was racialist but based on a few articles I’ve read by Jason Colavito: Lovecraft believed religion was primitive and savage thus he portrayed the Worshipers of the Old Ones as being primitive and savage. Correct?
    4)AAAAAAAHHHHHH *faints from a lack of air*

    • Carrington Dixon says:

      To paraphrase Damon Runyon, not all author who use only their initials are female, but that’s the way to bet.

  • Anthony says:

    Everyone knwos that contempt for your forebears always makes foe good writing! And that the story we’ve all been waiting for is brown people beating back Lovecraftian abominations!

    Which, come on, BTW.

  • Jasyn Jones says:

    I’m comfortable knowing Jemisin’s novel will be a disaster, and thus Lovecraft’s legacy will remain intact.

  • Vlad James says:

    As I wrote elsewhere, it appears that “half-savage” was too kind a description of NK Jemisin. She’s more of a subhuman beast, fangs bared, snorting wildly, with a searing hatred of what the old masters of science fiction created, and which she, the savage vermin, wishes to defile and destroy.

    Truly, Innsmouth doesn’t sound nearly as terrible of a town as one that spawns Jemisins.

  • Nicholas Archer says:

    So, why do Progressives hate Lovecraft so much and want to re-invent him?

    I’ll be honest I did write a kind of Christian Response to Lovecraft’s Nihilism; A Story I called “Tulu’s Evil Brother”. However, I expanded on the Cosmicism in his Literature by adding a Cosmic Evil and Cosmic Good. I didn’t re-invent it nor did I have the Hero beat up Lovecraft or one of his creations.

    • TPC says:

      It’s reaction formation.

    • Vlad James says:

      They hate any great, enduring, and influential works by white males. Especially ones with a very anti-PC viewpoint.

      For normal folks, Lovecraft’s theme of bloodline degradation and the importance of racial purity, which I’ve written about, gives his work a zest and unique perspective, regardless if one agrees.

      For civilization-hating and smashing SJWs, however, it’s art that needs to be purged and destroyed.

      Unfortunately for them, their ISIS tactics are more difficult to realize with books!

      • TPC says:

        No, it’s reaction formation with Lovecraft. He’s not that great, but he does present a world in which sjw-like and swpl-like people suffer horrible consequences from getting attached/obsessed with freakish alien beings.

        This is terrifying to the sjw, so it has to be ‘queered’ or whatever, as opposed to reconsidering their attachment to freakish alien ideologies.

        • Vlad James says:

          You’re over-intellectualizing it. SJWs have a similar hostility for many other writers to whom that doesn’t apply. For instance, Heinlein or F Scott Fitzgerald.

  • JD Cowan says:

    Thanks for the link!

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