Sensor Sweep: U.K Modules, Chernobyl game, Max Brand

Monday , 16, September 2019 1 Comment

Comic Books (Paint Monk): Nothing could be as close to garbage as the fare served up by the creative team on Age of Conan: Belit, so it was with some trepidation that I purchased the first issue of Age of Conan: Valeria, hoping that Marvel’s next outing might be worth reading. It wasn’t. Just like Tini Howard and Kate Niemczyk massacred the beloved She-Pirate Belit in their five-issue debacle, it looks as if the team of Meredith Finch and Aneke have sharpened the butcher knives and prepped the industrial freezer for another helping of a chopped up and bloodied Hyborian heroine.

D&D (Skulls in the Stars):  We start today with another of the UK-produced modules, which tend to have a very different flavor and welcome quirkiness when compared to their US counterparts. The fact that this module is written by Graeme Morris is a good sign: Morris was an author or co-author of many excellent modules from the TSR UK office, including Beyond the Crystal Cave, which I’ve written about before!

Fiction (Walker’s Retreat): And if you don’t think there’s something to it, go to Amazon and search for “Deus Vult In Space”. Jon’s book isn’t the only one that comes up. Mine does also. This is not just the return of the Pulps, but their full restoration. Read the old stuff and you’ll see the very Christianity on display, but not explicit as having a Templar as the hero. All of the morality, the conflict, the temptations, and so on are built off of a robust and thriving Christianity assumed as the norm for Civilization.

Gaming (Niche Gamer): Here’s a rundown on the game:

April 26th, 1:23 a.m. Ukrainian time, 1986. The day on which the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe happened and the lives of 350,000 people changed forever. At the time you were just a young, passionate, naive physicist working at the facility. And like many, you’ve lost what was most dear to you—a loved one. 30 years later you’re still struggling with the demons of the past. So, to finally put them to rest, you return to what’s now called the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

Science Fiction (Jeffro’s Space Gaming Blog): The SF Reconquista– “While I could see how Burroughs would come up with some of the Red Martians technology, their airships seem like a logical leap from the airplanes and blimps of 1912, I was blown away by the fact that Mars had a factory to produce its oxygen.”

Cinema (Rawle Nyanzi): We often hear about how video games are an art form and about how its revenues exceed Hollywood’s, yet film and television remain the undisputed king and queen of the entertainment landscape. Video games get attention, but not the kind of broad mainstream attention that films get. “Making a video game about something” does not have the same cultural shine as “making a film about something.”

Fiction (Jon Mollison): Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good practical tale of near-future speculation as much as the next guy.  It’s a fine niche of fantasy and one everyone should soak in from time to time.  For all his giftsas a story-teller, Campbell’s true strength – like Hugo Gernsback – was in marketing.  He sold the line that probable tech and engineering spec and the men who deal in both are smarter than the average bear, and technically smart science-fiction was a step up, and that you were a smart fella, you’d prefer the smart stories.

Pulp Fiction (Wasteland and Sky): However, since learning about how the

Max Brand’s Western Magazine Vol. 7, No. 4 (Sept., 1953). Cover by H. W. Scott

pulps were buried and hidden from those who might want to read them I have gone the gamut with adventure fiction. From the fantastic such as Doc Smith and Robert E. Howard to detective fiction such as Carroll John Daly and Mickey Spillane to now westerns with ol’ Louis and a firebrand known as Frederick Faust, also known as Max Brand, I have tried whatever I could get my hands on. And they have more in common than you think!

Writing (Amatopia): Motivation. Passion. Feeling like it. “I’m not in the mood.”

No, I’m not talking about sex. I’m talking about writing.

Lately, I’ve been knocked out of my typical writing schedule and have had difficulty getting back into it. I chalked it up to being tired or stressed out or needing sleep.

All of those things are true. But if you want something enough, you get after it.

Fiction (Pulp Archivist): After their harrowing escape from the giants and First Born of Jotunheim, Joash and the Elonite warriors wait off-shore for a message from the wandering Lod, whose visions may hold the key to understanding the sudden moves of the Nephilim and their children. But the First Born are still hunting for the Elonites with all their servants. Now Joash must evade the roving patrols of giant pterodactyls, vampiric Gibborim, and even fleets of pirates as the Lord of the Elonites waits for a message that may never come.

Gaming (Gaming While Conservative): A not-so-wise man once said, “Meta-gaming is not just an easier way to play, it’s the smart way to play,” and he’s not just fat and stupid and ugly and has an enormous penis, he’s also me. I said that. Being the contemplative and intelligent sort of guy who prefers Real D&D to today’s Ersatz D&D, something about that line stuck in my old man turkey gizzard craw, and I think I know what it is.

Poul Anderson (DMR Books): Lin Carter once described Poul Anderson as being obsessed with the “Northern Thing”.  A well known and loved author of fantasy and science fiction, the American author had an amazing knack for crafting epic stories that often pulled much from Norse legends and mythology.
In this article, I will focus on discussing one of Anderson’s Norse tales that I have found to be most inspiring, namely, The Broken Sword. (The second part of this article will cover Hrolf Kraki’s Saga and “The Tale of Hauk.”)

Horror Fiction (Too Much Horror Fiction): You asked for it, you got it! Beginning later in 2019, Valancourt Books will be releasing another five titles in their mind-blowing reprint series of vintage paperback horror novels, featured in my and Grady Hendrix‘s Stoker-winning Paperbacks from Hell (Quirk Books, 2017). For complete info, read Valancourt’s blogpost about it. Of course, Grady and I will be doing intros again, and we will keep original art as much as possible. You can see the list of titles there features some true horror rarities… and now they can be yours!

Fiction (Glorious Trash): This time an American journalist who moonlights for the CIA is captured in Moscow. His name is Lee Daniels and the authors pad some of the pages with cutovers to his plight; this is another hallmark of previous volumes but Daniels seems to get a lot more attention. Unfortunately I found his story, which has him shuffled around this or that Russian sanitarium and grilled by this or that Russian flunkie, to be a bit tiresome.

Fiction (Tellers of Weird Tales): You don’t ordinarily see the names Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) and H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937) together in one place, but they’re in Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural (1944), Hemingway near the end of the section called “Tales of Terror,” Lovecraft at the very end of “Tales of the Supernatural.” They’re also in Love and Death in the American Novel by Leslie A. Fiedler (1960, 1966). Lovecraft is barely mentioned in that book. Hemingway gets a little more space. If Fiedler was right, both fit within the mainstream of American literature.

One Comment
  • deuce says:

    Great post on Max Brand. Not only was he the “King of the Pulps”, he was also buds with A. Merritt and wrote a good Lost Race novel (THE SMOKING LAND).

    That Valeria comic being a trainwreck is no surprise.

    Another good old-school RPG post from Doc Skyskull.

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