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Sensor Sweep: Morgan’s Fort, Philip Wylie, Turin, Against the Giants –

Sensor Sweep: Morgan’s Fort, Philip Wylie, Turin, Against the Giants

Monday , 7, August 2023 Leave a comment

Gaming (Rageaholic): How the industry ruined itself by giving us what we want.

Tolkien (Black Gate): I have decided to take “Discovering Tolkien,” the title of this series, as my means of entry into the subject. By doing so, I can only hope that I happen to make (if not “new”) interesting or sideways observations about Tolkien’s awe-inspiring achievement.

Tolkien (Tolkien Untangled): The childhood of Túrin. The dominion of Morgoth. The tragedy that began it all…

Science Fiction (Dark Worlds Quarterly): The Castaways of Space is a common theme in Science Fiction. With the vastness of space being traversed by ships, it is an easy jump to voyagers being shipwreck and castaway on far planets and moons. The trope is as old as Daniel De Foe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719) and later the German novel Swiss Family Robinson (1812) by Johann David Wyss.

Gaming (Black Gate): Against the Giants (G1-2-3) is an absolute classic by the legend, Gary Gygax.

These three strung-together adventures are some of the finest he wrote, IMO. I enjoyed this series first as a player when I was in the 5th or 6th grade, and then running it myself as DM years later. Hill giants, frost giants, fire giants, and drow! Oh, how I enjoyed recurrent use of the drow as a diabolical, super-intelligent, evil menace.

Fiction (The Obelisk): Philip Wylie never minced words. Whether in his fiction or essays, Wylie always provided the blunt truth, or at least the blunt truth as he perceived it. A writer, critic, and something of a prophet, Philip Wylie lived a life of an unchained mind, and for that he continues to be punished by the select few who know his name.

Robert E. Howard (Ken Lizzi): I enjoyed an eventful Saturday: I finished reading Robert E. Howard’s A Gent From Bear Creek and hosted the first pool party of the season here at Casa Lizzi. If any of you who attended are reading, thanks for coming. That was fun.

Military History (The History Squad): In this video, Kevin Hicks explores the legendary bowmen of Wales and the hobelars, giving an insight into where these brave men were from and where they fought.

History (Frontier Partisans): Christian Parkinson of has unleashed a barrage of videos relating to the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. The occasion is the Clash of Empires Exposition in London this month. Oh, for a magic carpet…

Writers (DMR Books): This past July 31 marked the ninetieth birthday of Robert Adams. While mostly forgotten today, Adams was a towering figure in the SFF Adventure genre during the Eighties. He sold millions of books while also editing numerous worthy anthologies. Robert Adams shouldn’t be forgotten and I hope this—belated—birthday post will make him known to a new potential audience.

Crime Fiction (Comics Radio): Doc Egg is a great character. Created by Day Keene (real name Gunard Hjertstedt), Doc’s real name is Egbert Thistlewaite. He owns a pharmacy on Times Square, having funded his way through pharmacist school by boxing in the feather-weight division. His store is also a “mecca for the sporting and theatrical crowd, and for the underworld as well. He never forgot a favor or forgave a slight.”

Fiction (Black Gate): So begins The Colour of Magic (1983), the first volume of the eventually forty-one-book-long Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. I was lent this book (along with another Pratchett book, Strata (1981), which I’ve still never read — or returned, possibly) back in 1985 when it first hit US shores. He said it was funny and it was.

Louis L’Amour (Paperback Warrior): When I browse “best of” lists associated with the literary work of Louis L’Amour, a few books seem to always make the list – Hondo, Flint, The Sacket Brand, The Haunted Mesa, and Last of the Breed. Aside from those, every third or fourth list seems to incorporate his 1954 western novel Crossfire Trail (Ace).

Comic Books (Comics Radio): I liked the original What If? series. It’s a fun idea and was generally well-executed, though I do think the writers used it to channel a perhaps-subconscious desire for tragic alternate endings a little too often. I reviewed the second issue in the series some time ago. Today, we’ll jump back to look at What If? #1 (February 1977). The script is by Roy Thomas and the art by Jim Craig. 

D&D (Black Gate): I would like to round out my posts on tabletop RPG city supplements with my personal favorite: Lankhmar, City of Adventure, which is the home of Fritz Lieber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Published in 1985 by TSR for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, this book was written by Bruce Nesmith, Doug Niles, and Ken Rolston. The cover art is by the legend, Keith Parkinson, and the interior art is by the great Jeff Easley. Cartography by Geoff Valley, Curtis Smith, and Tracy Hickman.

Pulp (Dark Worlds Quarterly): Our history of the Science Fiction Pulps is often as shaky as our knowledge of the dinosaurs. We know much more about the giants of the Jurassic where bones and fossils abound but the rest… SF Pulp history has the same patchy nature. There is plenty on Robert A. Heinlein or Isaac Asimov but for every Murray Leinster there are a dozen ghosts. What do we really know of Edwin K. Sloat, R. R. Winterbothm or Anthony Pelcher? This doesn’t even approach the wall of static that is the anonymous scribes who wrote under the house names Alexander Blade or S. M. Tenneshaw.

History (The Past): Banna – or, to use its modern name, Birdoswald – is one of the most intensively investigated forts on Hadrian’s Wall: some 21% of its interior has been excavated to-date, and Tony Wilmott, a Senior Archaeologist for Historic England, has been heading research on the site for more than 30 years. Rather less well-understood, however, is the Roman settlement that grew up outside the fort and which, at its peak, was twice the size of the military construction.

Survival Skills (Art of Manliness): Typically found in freshwater environments, leeches are tiny monsters come to life from a science fiction movie. Shaped like worms but equipped with suckers and teeth, they attach to your skin with one goal in mind: sucking your blood. The danger in removing one of these little blood lovers comes from the bacteria that’s housed in their stomach. Rip them off carelessly and you risk pushing that bacteria into your open wound, causing a dangerous infection.

Sailing (Gotheborg): Imagine losing your rudder out at sea and sending out a distress call. And then the largest ocean-going wooden sailing ship in the world comes to your rescue. Or in the words of the sailors on the sailing boat: “This moment was very strange, and we wondered if we were dreaming. Where were we? What time period was it?”

Fiction (Paperback Warrior): James A. Michener (1907-1997) was a bestselling author who never knew the identity of his biological parents, or when and where he was born. He attended Swarthmore College and University of Northern Colorado, earning degrees in English, Education, and History. He was employed as a teacher, served in the U.S. Navy during WW2, worked as a campaign manager for U.S. Senator Joseph S. Clark, and as an editor for Macmillan Publishers.

Fiction (The Silver Key): I’m feeling a little bloated myself. I’ve recently read A Book of Blades, New Edge #0, Worlds Beyond Worlds, a handful of issues of Tales from the Magician’s Skull, and Sometime Lofty Towers. Not all brand new, but new enough. But I haven’t made a dent, and the titles just keep coming. Sitting unread in my office are: Die by the Sword. Multiple additional copies of Tales from the Magician’s Skull Lord of a Shattered Land War on Rome.

Games (Goodman Games): In Nyumbani Tales (MV Media 2017), sword-and-sorcery great Charles Saunders collects 13 short stories spanning his early career, work that had previously appeared in a variety of publications, from small press ‘zines like Weirdbook and Black Lite, to mass market anthologies such as Beyond the Fields We Know and Hecate’s Cauldron. Fans of Saunders’ Imaro series will already be somewhat familiar with his short fiction.

Forthcoming (DMR Books): This fall fans of heroic fantasy will be treated to two new outstanding novels: Germanicus, Lord of Eagles by Adrian Cole and Vran the Chaos-Warped by D.M. Ritzlin.

RPG (Matthew J. Constantine): Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game is one of the many OSR games out there.  It is meant to recreate and modernize the so-called B/X version of Dungeons & Dragons.  As I’ve rambled about at length, D&D in all its forms is not my bag.  However, I’m finding compatible modules to be a handy addition to my Dungeon Crawl Classics arsenal.  Morgansfort: The Western Lands Campaign is essentially the BFRP version of the venerable Keep on the Borderlands module for D&D, much like Monkey Isle was a reimagining of Isle of Dread.

Science Fiction (Fantasy Literature): Toward the end of 2015, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the so-called “Queen of Space Opera,” Leigh Brackett, I decided to read (and, in several cases, reread) 10 of this great author’s works, both novels and short-story collections. One of Brackett’s books that I did not read at the time, for the simple reason that a reader’s copy was not then in my possession, was her fourth novel out of an eventual 10, an oversight that I was happy to rectify just this week. And I am so glad that I did, as the book in question, The Big Jump, has just revealed itself to me to be still another wonderful creation from this beloved writer.

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