SENSOR SWEEP: Lovecraft’s Imitators, Byproducts of Modernization, Globalizing Genres, and Subverted Stereotypes

Wednesday , 11, May 2016 8 Comments

Appendix N (Zak S.) Lovecraft, Nerds And The Uses of Ick — “These sheltered, life-phobic souls: shy, nervous, fragile, conflict-averse, fastidious, introverted bookworms, whose main social outlet is nerd conventions, with their small circle of gentle hobbyist correspondents are, ironically, imitating Lovecraft because they haven’t read Lovecraft, or haven’t learned anything from reading him. They aren’t recognizing the disgust they’re feeling for what it is despite having its consequences cleanly personified in the historical record.”

Appendix N (Where the Dog Star rages) Finding Fellowship — “I couldn’t believe that someone took this book seriously enough to do that, and it gave me so much hope. Because The Lord of the Rings was the book that made me fall in love with fantasy, irrevocably. I had read Harry Potter, of course, and was up to speed with the books, but Harry Potter was still, for me, a school story, with the added bonus of magic. It was only in Book 4 or 5 that Rowling dramatically upped the stakes and it became a Hero’s Journey/Epic Quest/Fantasy novel. But LOTR, right from the get go, from that first map and that intro to Hobbits, I knew this was a serious look into another world.”

Appendix N (Feminist Fiction) How The Lord of the Rings Broke My Heart — “And I have to wonder — why did I miss these things at 13, or 15? Had I just been trained to see these things as normal? Or was I so desperate to see fantasy and adventure stories with any female characters that I was more than willing to overlook the problems in what I was seeing? These women were warriors and elf princesses, with pretty fantasy dresses and awesome horseriding skills and swords. It was great to imagine being them, and to skim over the details in the books themselves that suggested the characters had never been who I hoped and pictured them to be. And so finding out that I had misread the characters, that Eowyn and Arwen were never intended to be heroines in that way, that in fact their ‘heroine’ status was taken away by the end of the story? That was a heartbreaking moment.”

Role-Playing Games (KALW) Meet the game maven behind Call of Cthulhu — “Hill is unusual, and not just because of the longevity of her game. When she started, women just didn’t play these games, let alone rule them. Back then, ‘It was all about killing monsters and getting loot, saving the princesses,’ she says. ‘And women were extremely rare.'”

D&D (Cirsova) B4: The Lost City – Part 3 — “The group was a bit happier with the XP haul this time around. We had enough players that I restricted everyone to a single character, so the XP split ended up with around 600+ XP per character. I pointed out that this was also the party’s first real delve outside of ‘friendly’ territory; nevermind that the friendly territory was pretty deadly, too. Thieves and clerics who have been around for all sessions should hit level 2 after next adventure, while fighty-men should be level 2 after maybe two or three more. Elves will never level up, but that’s another story.”

Books (Dyvers) Picking Books was Never All that Complicated — “I realize that you think that by telling me to not read people unless they meet an approved standard that you’re making the world better, but you’re not. Your approved reading lists are the sort of group thinking that stifled creativity and intellectual freedom throughout our history and I will have no part of it. Instead I’m going to do like good readers have been taught to do for generations: I’m going to read the summary on the back of the book and decide if it sounds like something I might like to read. Then, if it does, I’m going to buy it and read it. And if the author is really good and the book is fun I’m going to find more books by that author and read them too.”

Books (Malcolm the Cynic) For People Who Wonder Why I Associate With John C. Wright — “Science fiction and fantasy fans, boys who read of John Carter on Barsoom and feel more at home there than here, we all know this feeling. Every boy knows he is secretly a magical wizard raised by evil mortals in this mortal world, and belongs at Hogwarts, or in fairyland. I am not even sure we SFF folk feel this alienation more keenly than muggles do. Some folk talk as if it is a byproduct of modernization, and that farmboys felt right at home living their whole lives within 25 miles of their place of birth. I doubt it.”

Social Media (Russel Newquist) An Interview with Brian Niemeier – Part 2 — “Because I started from scratch with no advertising budget, I couldn’t build a highly effective platform right out of the gate. To compensate for my lack of resources, I got more prominent folks to lend me their platforms. To be clear, this doesn’t mean sponging off of others. I always make a good faith effort to offer people something of value, however small, before asking them for help. If you want an author higher on the totem pole to promote your book, promote one of his first. Before seeking a guest spot on a podcast, review one of their episodes.”

GURPS (Let’s GURPS) Review: Dungeon Fantasy 9: Summoners — “I’ve mentioned this before, but the templates in this book are not very beginner friendly, and I wouldn’t want a player to choose one unless they a) they already played a few adventures or campaigns with a magic user or b) I could trust the player to enthusiastically read through huge lists of spells, and have a thorough understanding of the vanilla magic mechanics, and the Summoners book. The second chapter includes a lot of fodder for creating interesting monsters, and the elementals has a really nice approach to creating purpose built elementals. I’ve used it in that very capacity in a Dungeon Fantasy campaign when players found a treasure that could summon air elementals.”

Cutting Edge Sci-Fi () From Dante to Battlestar Galactica: Analyzing ‘World’ Science Fiction — “Science fiction has been described as many things, from the literature of ‘what if,’ to simply ‘anything published as science fiction.’ The British writer Arthur C. Clarke, who among many great works, wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey and collaborated with Stanley Kubrick on his 1968 film of the same name, said ‘Science fiction is something that could happen – but you usually wouldn’t want it to. Where fantasy is something that couldn’t happen – though you often wish that it could.’ It is all of those things (and much more); it is also a global, globalized, and globalizing genre.”

A Plate of Macaroons (SF Signal) The Omniscient Breasts by Kate Elliott — “Imagine a female pov character is going along about her protagonist adventure, seeing things from her perspective of the world as written in third person. She hears, sees, considers, and makes decisions and reacts based on her view of the world and what she is aware of and encounters. Abruptly, a description is dropped into the text of her secondary sexual characteristics usually in the form of soft-focus Playboy-Magazine-style sexualized kitten-bunny-I-would-****-her-in-a-heartbeat lustrous-eyes-and-nipples phrases. Her breasts have just become omniscient breasts. This is what I mean when I speak of the male gaze.”

Movies (Lady Business) The World is Not Enough: The Transgressive Villainesses of James Bond — “After she and Bond sleep together, Bond tries to dismiss and humiliate her by telling her that what he ‘did this evening was for Queen and country. You don’t think it gave me any pleasure, do you?’ Fiona snarls back, ‘But of course, I forgot your ego, Mr. Bond. James Bond, the one where he has to make love to a woman, and she starts to hear heavenly choirs singing. She repents, and turns to the side of right and virtue…’ With a flourish, she stomps on Bond’s foot and declares, ‘But not this one! What a blow it must have been, you having a failure…’ Of course, James Bond can’t suffer such a woman to live. Fiona is quickly dispatched. While the two dance, Bond spots a sniper (Volpe’s own) and maneuvers her into the path of the oncoming bullet. by Bond by a shot meant for him. Her corpse is abandoned, left in a chair at a party with an airy ‘Do you mind if my friend sits this one out? She’s just dead.'”

Role-Playing Games (Mind Shift) Books-to-Games: Transforming Classic Novels Into Role Playing Adventures — “It’s still relatively rare to see role-playing games in the classroom, in part because of perceived social stigma, but Glazer says her high school students don’t see it that way. ‘That has not been a challenge for me at all,’ Glazer says of any reluctance to play RPGs in class. ‘That shows they’re really tired of their typical English class. As soon as I say, ‘We’re going to create an RPG for this unit,’ they say, ‘As long as you’re not reading to me, I’m totally cool with it.’ ‘”

Movies (Deadline Hollywood) Kevin Feige On ‘Captain America: Civil War’ And All Things Marvel – Deadline Q&A — “The truth is, the conversation that’s taking place around this is super-important. It’s something we are incredibly mindful of. We cast Tilda out of a desire to subvert stereotypes, not feed into them.”

Game Design (Pulsipher Games) Consequences in Games — “Tabletop games used to have a tradition of open games, where you could play in whatever playstyle you wanted. That’s been undermined by puzzles, where you have to conform to the always-correct solution. I call the puzzle-games, epitomized by very many Euro games, and most single-player videos, ‘closed games’. Spector is recommending that developers make open games, not closed ones.”

  • Thank you for the link love, sir!

  • I agree that many Euro games have puzzle elements. Part of the issue is that so many Euros are avoiding conflict, even indirectly. The more points of conflict there are, the more consequence each decision point gains, and the less solvable the game is.

    There are many very good non-solvable Euros, but those have a tendency to be glossed over.

    • Alex says:

      Every Euro I’ve played could be substantially improved with Chevauchee mechanics. Why have Knights in Catan if they can’t rampage across the countryside, trampling your opponents’ fields?

      Black Fleet is my favorite commerce game because it’s one of the only ones I’ve played where I can stop opponents’ goods from reaching market by violent means.

  • Hooc Ott says:

    “The Omniscient Breasts by Kate Elliott”

    That comment section is more of a catastrophe then a 2015 770 sad puppy thread.

    There is even a scolding link to a Scalzi article that outlines the “correct” way to comment.

  • Don says:

    There should be yellow warning tape around the ‘feminist’ links. I lost san and iq points just going there.

    You’re a braver man than I to venture into those fever swamps.

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