SENSOR SWEEP: Sexist Undertones, Novel Twists, H. P. Hatecraft, and Sitting Bull’s Crucifix

Wednesday , 27, April 2016 1 Comment

Appendix N (MPRNews) Frodo, Bilbo, Kullervo: Tolkien’s Finnish adventure — “Those expecting a typical Tolkien story will be unsettled by Kullervo: He is physically ugly, angry, destructive and uncontrollable. Raised as a prisoner of his father’s murderer, Kullervo survives all attempts to kill him and ruins every task he is given. Sold into slavery and mistreated by his master’s wife, Kullervo arranges for her to be eaten alive by wolves and bears. On his way home, he meets a girl and abducts her; they live together for a time, but she drowns herself when they discover they are brother and sister.”

Cutting Edge Education (Campus Reform) Stanford students reject Western Civilization course initiative — “Western Civilization courses have been absent from Stanford’s curriculum since the 1980’s when Rev. Jesse Jackson marched with students on campus demanding the courses be removed because of their allegedly racist and sexist undertones. Protesters complained that Western Civilization courses perpetuated ‘European-Western and male bias’ and ‘sexist and racist stereotypes.'”

Movies (A Pius Geek) Strong Female Character Problems — “Seriously, at the end of the day, can we have a collection of characters and actresses who look, well, healthy? I’m tired of the cliche. It’s getting problematic, and the execution is getting more and more lazy as things go on. At least in the Thor films, Alexander’s Lady Sif is covered in body armor to bulk her up. But in general, the actresses seem to be getting smaller and shorter, and becoming more like empty-handed, bare-knuckle brawlers. And it really needs to stop.”

GURPS (Gaming Ballistic) GURPSDay – Broad and narrow perspective — “One of the neat things about the GURPS blogs is that we’d often cross-pollinate anyway. Whether it was just someone riffing off of a post, or a purposeful collaboration or coincidence (like Melee Academy and GURPS 101), we were pretty good about sharing ideas. That only got better with GURPSDay, as ‘I had no idea there were so many GURPS blogs’ was pretty common. So there’s always something worth reading, which leads to always something worth writing about. And I know that GURPSDay actually started a few people blogging – some of our most prolific writers are newbies, relatively, to at least the blogging scene, and it’s great to see things expand.”

Movies (SuperversiveSF) I Didn’t Think I Could be More Excited About “Civil War” — “The general impression I’m getting is this: DC really wanted to make a movie exactly like this one, but they overshot their mark. We had no relationship with either of their heroes, whereas we have a long one with our two leads and most of the bit parts. So as a result Marvel’s movie hinges on character interactions and history that DC just didn’t have. So DC’s movie was a failure, where Marvel attempted the same thing with massive success.”

Lovecraft (Whisky Prajer) Lovecraft Country, Matt Ruff — “Matt Ruff’s theme becomes clear very quickly in this novel twist on Lovecraftian motifs — when it comes to existential peril, Americans of colour face direr consequences when confronted by their country’s white citizens than by any encounter with the Ancient Ones and their various ephemera.”

D&D (Swords & Stitchery) Revisiting The OSR Resource & Campaign Setting Book Dark Albion by By Dominique Crouzet & RPGPundit For Your Old School Campaigns — “Dark Albion breaks two very old conventions of old school role playing, one is the domain as retirement or end game of adventurers and two is that lower level PC’s can make a difference to the larger campaign world…. Right from day one in Dark Albion the PC’s are going to be wheelers and dealers in the politics of the dark fantasy setting influencing their liege or expanding his influence. This gives you have something with immediate benefit to the game’s background goings on and this is an on going issue that will haunt or help your PC’s as they try to navigate the events and weirdness of the War of the Roses as it unfolds.”

Cutting Edge Education (Independent) University students are struggling to read entire books — “Students might be more inclined to read what academics want them to if our curricula weren’t overwhelmingly white, male and indicative of a society and structures we fundamentally disagree with because they don’t work for us.”

The Kitchen Sink (Zak S.) Casablanca Orphan — “Casablanca, like any given night of a role-playing game with your friends, defies any one genre. It’s a war-time romantic barbarian musical comedy propaganda action spy flick with some shout-outs to film noir. (Note: This is exactly what happens in a good game of D&D) And the way to the end isn’t clear at all. The path to victory is any way you want to go, and the small choices your player characters make, change the conditions of victory as you make them.”

Cutting Edge Sci-Fi (Former People) New Worlds: An Interview With M. John Harrison — “There was an immediate reaction against the New Wave in the shape of a Reaganistic ‘back to the future’ movement, but that was soon swamped by the concomitant emergence of left wing, feminist and identity-political sf. Now we see an interesting transition into post-colonialism, intersectionality, and–at last–the recognition by western sf that rest of the world writes science fiction too. These are, like the New Wave, responses to changes in the general cultural context.”

Lovecraft (The Lovecraft E-Zine) The Crystal Cove Horror: H. P. Lovecraft, Cosmic Terror, and Scooby-Doo — “Readers of this website will be glad to know that H.P. Lovecraft, the twentieth century’s foremost practitioner and proselytizer of the weird tale, is included as well. Indeed, a character named Professor H.P. Hatecraft, a reclusive author of horror novels who teaches at Crystal Cove’s Darrow University, is Lovecraft’s stand-in. Voiced by actor Jeffrey Combs, who is best known for portraying Herbert West in 1985’s Re-Animator, Hatecraft appears in two episodes—’The Shrieking Madness’ and ‘Pawn of Shadows.’ Of the two, ‘The Shrieking Madness’ is the loving homage to Providence’s greatest export.”

Lovecraft (The Spooky Isles) Was Conan Doyle’s The Horror Of The Heights the first Lovecraft horror? — “Not only does Conan Doyle invent Lovecraftian horror (though one could claim they were both inspired by the more macabre of Arthur Machen’s works), he also decides to play with the tropes of the found footage genre. For this tale is told in the excerpts of a blood-stained diary (I love that, not only is the diary found, it’s blood-stained!) found torn and lost in a field in the middle of nowhere, England.”

The Generation Gap (L. Jagi Lamplighter) Three Arguments Against Political Correctness — “Whenever a new word is chosen as the ‘right’ word for any group or cause, the old word becomes a swearword. (You can’t get anyone to change to the new one, unless you insist that the old one is bad.) Words that were perfectly polite at the time the book was written become rude. So books are banned for things that were not ever meant to be offensive. Worse, once the new words take hold, the new generation doesn’t even get taught what the old terms meant. So, they cannot even understand the older works if they try.”

The Feeling’s Mutual, Japan (Screen Rant) ‘Unforgiven’ Being Remade as Samurai Film Starring Ken Watanabe — “The relationship between the samurai film and the gun-slinging western is undeniably deep – stretching back as far as the ’50s – but typically that relationship focused heavily on American audiences being treated to western genre adaptations of popular Japanese samurai films. Most notable among those adaptations would be The Magnificent Seven, a retelling of Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, only with prototypical cowboys replacing the titular katana-wielding protagonists. Now, we have news of a similar remake situation occurring, only this time it’s headed in the opposite direction across the Pacific Ocean.”

Star Wars (Just The Caffeine Talking) Thoughts on Star Wars: The Force Awakens — “The original Star Wars drew on samurai movies, Westerns, Flash Gordon serials, the Wizard of Oz, war movies, Robin Hood — essentially the whole canon of adventure films from Melies to whatever George Lucas watched in 1976 before going off to start filming in Tunisia. I recently watched a video called ‘Star Wars Minus Star Wars’ which retells the story of the original Star Wars by replacing all the shots in it with shots from the movies that inspired it. The Empire Strikes Back drew from a different well. With seasoned pulp writer Leigh Brackett crafting the first draft of the script, it incorporated a lot of tropes from the science fiction magazines of the prewar era. If Star Wars was a condensed history of adventure cinema, Empirewas a distillation of pulp fiction — including scary monsters, a villainous mastermind, a scrappy dame, and a hero with a dark side of his own. But subsequent movies abandoned that approach.”

The Bucket List (The Zwyckyverse) Meeting up with the Mountain Who Writes! — “He was already well aware of Sci Phi Journal and, and I took a few messages from the rest of the SuperversiveSF crew, so he was happy to see me and I had a nice chat with him and his good lady about Prague, their experiences on their tour, family life, writing and a little about this year’s Sad Puppies campaign. It was a fun time and I look forward to hearing what Larry thinks of my little book, since many of us know how much weight a recommendation from him can carry.”

Appendix N (Don’t Split The Party) Adding to Appendix N: C.J. Cherryh — “I first encountered Cherryh’s works in 1981 when my father got me a copy of Downbelow Station, which I read twice in one month. Downbelow Station was the beginning of her Alliance-Union Universe books, a set of (technically) about 20 books with about half of those in the ‘main storyline’ of the Alliance and the Union conflicts. The series is interesting for the nature of hyperspace travel (the overwhelming majority of people need to be drugged to psychologically survive jump) and for her analysis of the interplay between different human cultures.”

Narrative Watch (Taylor Marshall) Photo: Sitting Bull Wore a Crucifix — “I think the photo reveals that this story is more than a legend. Sitting Bull wore the emblem of the Crucified Son of God from his neck. It’s a pity that the image is usually cropped in magazines and textbooks so as to hide the crucifix. This just reveals that American political correctness has led to the revision of history. The photo has been cropped for so long that virtually no one knows that Sitting Bull wore a crucifix!”

D&D (Cirsova) B4: The Lost City – Part 2 — “There’s also some—I don’t really know what to call it; it’s not exactly griping—comments/feelings about XP and leveling up among the players, especially those relatively new to RPGs. Someone pointed out that we averaged about 36 XP per hour that we played (it was actually 288 XP per hour split 8 ways), and at that rate it would take forever to reach level 2. Once upon a time, I would’ve felt the same way, and even told someone once that if characters were still level 1 after the first few sessions, something was wrong. I know now that I was wrong then, but I don’t know how to show this to my players.”

Madonna-whore Complex (Asking The Wrong Questions) Ex Machina — “The conclusion that Ex Machina reaches about this assumption is that it is both true, and horrifying. Forced into the form of a woman, and left with only the traditional weapons of women–emotional and sexual manipulation–Ava becomes a figure out of male nightmares, a femme fatale who seduces and destroys.”

Magazines (Black Gate) Cirsova and Pulp Literature — “The longest work is Misha Burnett’s fantastic, Lovecraft-inspired ‘A Hill of Stars.’ HP Lovecraft was as much a science fiction writer as a horror writer. Even his greatest creation, Cthulhu, is not really a god, but an alien being of tremendous power. At the heart of his novella ‘At the Mountains of Madness’ is a history of the settlement of ancient Earth by various extraterrestrial species and the creation of humans by the Old Ones. Drawing on these specific elements of Lovecraft’s writing, Burnett posits a time between the fading of the Old Ones and the rise of humanity. Kuush Vorbus is the last human slave of Vorbus the Clement, a Great One preparing to die.”

Wargames (Board Game Geek) Is Schilling still a part owner? — “Given Curt Schilling’s recent transphobic outburst (which cost him his job at ESPN), I’m wondering if I should still support him financially by ordering from a company he might still be a part owner of. So, is Curt still a part owner of MMP? Has he withdrawn? Or are the other owners willing to stand up and say that what he did was not okay and they don’t support it?”

Fandom’s Divorce (Twitter) Carrie Cuinn — “It says something about the state of fandom that we’re congratulating dead people.”

Lovecraft (Damien Walter) THOUGHTS ON THE 2016 #HUGOAWARDS — “H P Lovecraft somehow managed to get nominated for a 1941 Retro Hugo, despite having died in 1937. Clearly some supernatural forces were at work…or some petty racists voting in revenge after Lovecraft’s erasure as the face of the World Fantasy Awards for being…a petty racist.”

The Conversation (The Guardian) The Hugo Awards: George RR Martin, Vox Day and Alastair Reynolds on the prize’s future — “Throughout the history of SF there has always been a dialogue that’s been expressed through stories. If you take Robert Heinlein’s book Starship Troopers, that’s a very conservative novel. Harry Harrison wrote Bill the Galactic Hero as a direct response to Heinlein’s views. And later, Joe Haldeman wrote his own response in The Forever War … but Heinlein loved it. That’s how the science fiction community should tackle its differences, not through name-calling and personal attacks – through writing.”

Cutting Edge Education (Acculturated) Why Are Schools Abandoning Literature? — “In a recent article in The Atlantic, Andrew Simmons, a teacher of 10th and 11th grade English, notes that teenagers today, who are ‘inundated with video games, movies, and memes’ can ‘often seem hard to shake up’ with literature. He argues for more focus on students’ emotional responses to literature…. ‘Othello allows my class to review high-school courtship patterns and the insecurities on which they thrive,’ Simmons says. ‘There’s a pretty clear line to draw between Lord of the Flies and the boorish pack mentality of teenage boys.'”

Appendix N (John C. Wright) Reviewer Praise from the Informed Reviewer — “Rarely, very rarely, in the life of a writer, does he come across a book review by a critic who actually ‘gets’ the point of the book he wrote.”

One Comment
  • Craig N. says:

    It’s not just Sitting Bull: Black Elk had been a Catholic and a lay catechist for almost 30 years by the time _Black Elk Speaks_ was published.

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