Fiction (Books of Brilliance): The novels are filled with violence, crime, and a lot of blood. And that is not everyone’s cup of tea. The protagonist is usually a detective that takes on a case that is a lot more complicated than when it first appears. Under the tutelage of the right author, the story is hard to put down. You can see the top five books below.
Pulp (Pulp Flakes): Last week, we read about the changes in the magazine’s staff when Florence M. Osborne, the first editor, left. This is an exciting moment.I’m reading an issue from George W. Sutton Jr.’s time at Black Mask. Never thought I’d find one. But when you have the right friends, amazing things can happen. And they do, in this issue of Black Mask. Let’s turn the pages of the October 1, 1923, issue and see what wonders await us.
Science fiction (Sprague de Camp Fan): As you can see from the ad, Sprague de Camp and Isaac Asimov were on different sides of the issue. This was the not first time that they disagreed about the war. Sprague wrote a letter to The New York Times that was published on February 10, 1968.
Firearms (Spec-Ops): China has made significant strides in firearms development over the years, and the QBZ-95 or Type 95 assault rifle is a testament to this fact. It is a modern weapon family that utilizes indigenous Chinese ammunition to replace the aging Type 81. Elite units of the PLA initially adopted the QBZ-95, but it eventually became the standard-issue infantry rifle for the Chinese army, armed police, and law enforcement forces. This article provides an in-depth overview of the QBZ-95, covering its design, features, capabilities, and limitations.
Conan (Paperback Warrior): Prolific science-fiction and fantasy author Poul Anderson (1926-2001) wrote one Conan novel, 1980’s Conan the Rebel. It was originally published by Bantam in 1980, then reprinted by the publisher again in 1981. Ace Books reprinted the novel twice, 1988 and 1991. England’s Sphere Books also reprinted the novel in 1988. Tor Books published the novel as a hardcover in 2001 and a softcover in 2003.
Biology (Isegoria): Benenson catalogues numerous differences in temperament and behavior between males and females. These include:
Westerns (True West Magazine): Tom Mix was the first superstar. Post WWI audiences wanted to forget problems and escape to fantasy. His movies were pure frolic and delight. He was the man in the white hat who rode into town and battled the bad guys. They were loaded with fist fights, slapstick stunts, pretty ladies, and to the relief of his adolescent fans, he seldom rode off into the sunset with any of them. Mix led the “Shooting Stars” in marriages with five.
Comic Books (Dark Worlds Quarterly): Sword & Sorcery at Warren in 1978 shows marks of change. Competition with the Warren Black & Whites made its mark. Heavy Metal magazine began the year before, and unlike the Marvel B&W line the publishers of HM didn’t model their publications on Warren. (Of the Marvel bunch, only Savage Sword of Conan was regular by 1978.) Heavy Metal took the French comic Metal Hurlant as its inspiration, bringing a mix of SF, sex and European cool to America. Artists like Moebius (Jean Girard), Philippe Druillet and Enki Bilal of France as well as Brits like Angus McKie set a new vibe.
Weird Tales (Grognardia): Of Clark Ashton Smith’s three main cycles of fiction – Zothique, Hyperborea, and Averoigne – I encountered Averoigne first, thanks to the Dungeons & Dragons module, Castle Amber. Consequently, I’ve retained a great affection for that “sorcery-ridden province” of pre-modern France, even though my estimation of Zothique has since eclipsed it. Averoigne is a place of sinful passions run amok, where pride, envy, wrath, and, above all, lust are given full vent, with frequently horrific results.
Comic Books (Games Radar): Oil those muscles and unsheath your sword – a new Conan series is on the way from Titan Comics and Heroic Signatures. Written by Jim Zub, with art from Roberto De La Torre and Jose Villarrubia, the new comic sees Robert E Howard’s chivalrous Cimmerian warrior embark on a new adventure. We’ve got an exclusive first look at two of the variant covers for Conan The Barbarian #1 below, but first, here’s the official blurb for the issue:
Robert E. Howard (Paperback Warrior): Many of Robert E. Howard’s stories weren’t published during his lifetime. His Conan the Cimmerian original short “The Vale of Lost Women”, estimated to have been written in 1933, was published in Magazine of Horror in the Spring, 1967 issue. Glenn Lord discovered two versions of the story, one as a 17 page draft and another finished version at 21 pages. According to the Deep Cuts blog, there was never any indication that the story was submitted to the pulps. Aside from its original publication, it was featured in Conan of Cimmeria (Lancer 1967), The Conan Chronicles Vol. 1: The People of the Black Circle (Gollancz 2000) and Conan of Cimmeria: Volume One (Del Rey 2003).
Fiction (DMR Books): Swordsmen in the Sky was published by Ace Books in 1964. Donald Wollheim put together five stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs-influenced Sword and Planet. It’s a small anthology, the original paperback has a Frank Frazetta cover with some heroic swordplay. Each story has a small apposite illustration, a pen and ink drawing, which takes up the top quarter of the opening page. It’s a small thing, but adds to the reader’s pleasure. Reading the book now reminds me of how different SF publishing used to be.
D&D (Loren Rosson): Having ranked the Best Dungeons & Dragons Modules, I’ve now done the same for encounter areas. For purposes of this exercise, “encounter area” is an elastic term. It can be a single room, a series of rooms, an entire dungeon level, a building, a wilderness space, sometimes even an entire city. It depends on the module’s focus and often how much is left for the DM to flesh out. Dungeon crawls where every room is made to count (like Tomb of Horrors and Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan) are obviously designed differently than underground cities that have many architectures (like The Lost City and Vault of the Drow).
New (Wasteland & Sky): A bunch of the authors involved in the exciting Swords & Maidens anthology were recently on the Indie April Author Livestream run by Periapsis Press to talk about the new book. The PP channel contain an author livestream where writers get together to talk about their tales with the audience, and this one was rather stacked! For two hours you can hear them discuss the creation of their stories in the anthology and the process behind what drove them to write.
D&D (Walker’s Retreat): This is crystal clear when you play Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition as it is written. You will find this to be true with B/X D&D, BECMI D&D, and OD&D as-written also. (You will also find that each of these games plays different from each other when played as-written.) Observers that are honest with themselves will admit this also when they (a) read the manuals, (b) read the session reports, or (c) observe actual play done competently.
Star Wars (Arkhaven Comics): This may be the last season of The Mandalorian. The season finale could certainly function as a series finale as well. Honestly, I hope they call it a day. It certainly can’t come back from this incredibly weak season. And the ratings for the first three episodes can’t justify a renewal for a fourth season given the expense of producing a Star Wars show. There is absolutely no Return of Luke scene this year. At the end of the day if you are a streaming service which Disney+ at least claims to be, you have to be able to answer the question, did this show do anything to generate new subscriptions?
Fans (Monster Hunter Nation): Listen, epic fantasy readers, real talk time. I know you had a good thing going with George. At the beginning of your relationship there seemed like there was so much potential there, like he really cared, and he’d provide a satisfactory end to your relationship. Only George is fat and lazy, and once he got that sweet sweet HBO money, he didn’t need you anymore. So then you turned to Pat, only he was even sleazier, gas lighting you, promising you a new chapter if you paid his rent, stringing you along for a decade.
Conan (Man’s World): Why does Conan punch so far above his apparent weight? Perhaps because our scales aren’t calibrated. Conan never really caught the interest of the Academy. Even today, Howard’s work is often overlooked by the serious critics attempting to digest other early pulp or weird writers like Lovecraft, Ashton-Smith, Blackwood, and Machen. Many readers fall into the trap of shallow reading, coming to think of Conan as a simple amalgamation of muscles, swords, sorcerers, wenches, and monsters.
Fantasy (Cirsova): I’ve been reading Footfall by Niven and Pournelle lately. It’s the second joint of theirs that I’ve read, the other being Mote in God’s Eye. The conclusion I’ve come to is that they’re basically writing epic fantasy where they namecheck Carl Sagan. >multiple POV
>epic fate of the world stuff
>monsters and magic
One of the places where these works are different from most l’epic fantasies is that they’re self-contained works. You get all of your heroes, villains, factions and whatnot, and you get your complete story, beginning, middle, and end in one go.
Gaming (Hack & Slash): Are modern gamers objectively less creative than old-school gamers?
Here over at Monsters and Manuals, Noisms discusses some of the agency-sucking, mind-reading, poorly presented, ‘Gotcha!’ ideals that make up some of the 4thcore adventures. Noisms postulated a problem that could be solved creatively in a variety of different ways. A treasure hoard is on the other side of the room, with a channel in the middle filled with crocodiles.
Warhammer (Jon Mollison): Dipping into Warhammer Fantasy Battles has given me a newfound appreciation for the joys of army list tinkering. It is a fiddly business in Warhammer, building an army list. Even at the warband scale that is my chosen order of magnitude – a scant 500 and perhaps forty to sixty figures per side. With line troops costing in the 10 point range and each with for or five ‘upgrades’ of one or two points, it can be easy to get bogged down in the accounting. As well, the desire to maximize performance on the field of battle, or to squeeze every last drop of purchasing power out of those 500 points, tempts any would be general down the path of min-maxing.
Cartoons (DMR Books): When Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal premiered on Cartoon Network it was a breath of fresh air. Here was an animated series that was aimed at adults that was not a raunchy comedy. It was dark and violent but still had a heart. It was also beautifully drawn. It was also heavily influenced by the works of Robert E. Howard. The shows creator has talked about Howard’s influence on the show in a variety of interviews. He talks about his inspirations at Thrillist.
Fantasy (Silver Key): Some corners of the internet are speculating whether we’re in a third sword-and-sorcery wave. This assumes a first, unnamed wave in which S&S was invented (roughly 1929-36—thanks REH), and a second in which it rose to commercial prominence (roughly 1965-75).
Following a collapse in the early 1980s S&S lay moribund for decades.