Eric Brighteyes

H. Rider Haggard — best known for his adventure tales set in Africa, like King Solomon’s Mines and She — wrote one of, if not the first, modern English sagas in the Icelandic model. (William Morris’ House of the Wolfings was published at about the same time, from I’ve read so far it also models itself on the Icelandic saga, though it is set in earlier times.)

Haggard wrote this shortly after a visit to Iceland, and he did his best to incorporate the best of the sagas — poetic descriptions of landscapes, seascapes, and battle, clever word-play and dialogue, and above all the muscular paganism of the Viking world — while leaving out the most tedious part (long catalogs of lineages and digressions about minor characters). So this is a lot more accessible than similar works like E.R. Eddison’s Styrbiorn the strong or Poul Anderson’s Hrolf Kraki’s saga — both of which are excellent in their ways and worth reading too!

Haggard’s hero is a fairly typical type of saga hero: brave and honorable, strong and handsome, and doomed by tragic character flaws and choices. The story has a fairly simple set-up: two half-sisters both love the hero, and his choice between them causes the scorned sister to wreak a drawn-out, perfidious revenge.

Along the way Eric fights a berserker, makes powerful enemies who have him outlawed, and sets sail on a viking expedition where he joins the court of an English king. His fights against warriors, witchcraft, and the deadly forces of nature at land and sea, and eventually returns to Iceland to face his destiny.

ericAnd128

The pacing and action are excellent, and his slightly archaic language evoke the sagas well. The plot details all feel appropriate to the genre, but are also inventive and don’t just copy the sources. The elements of magic and mysticism are also appropriate, and reminded me of the more fantastic sagas like Grettrs Saga.

I listened to a dramatic reading of this via LibriVox, and the reader’s enthusiasm for the story made it an especially good LibriVox recording, though some of the voicing, especially for the female characters, was unintentionally funny.

So the above is what I posted to Goodreads.com for my review.  But what use is this book for D&D?

If you’re looking for ideas for use in a Vikings type campaign, there’s plenty of grist, of course, in terms of interesting places and events you could incorporate into a game, as well as names — Haggard does not fall into the all-too-common trap of using only stereotypical Norse names (Thorsson, Thorssonsson, etc.).  A number of characters are Finnish, and have distinctively non-Norse names; others just have very usual sounding names like Ospakar and Gizur — which are actually names from the Edda and so forth.  Haggard manages to pack in just about every trope you could ask for in a Viking saga: revenge killings, ‘holmgang’ duels, a wrestling match, berserkers, the Allthing, a doom-ring, chases and battles at sea, snow storms, outlawry, thralldom is inflicted, oaths are taken and broken, rune-reading, names and -nymics are bestowed, barrows robbed, a hall is nearly burnt, and on and on.  It is in fact a checklist of just about every interesting plot device you find the sagas, though in many cases Haggard uses them inventively.

The magical elements of the story are confined to a few spells/potions (a love potion, a fast-acting poison, a sleep spell, and a pact with a demon that causes a shipwreck) as well as numerous visions and foretellings (the introduction dryly notes that such things would probably be interpolations by later writers/editors of the legends), the occasional appearance of a familiar or and a magic/cursed sword.  An arresting event early on involves a severed head prophesying doom to the one who slew the owner, but for the most part magic is furtive, “off-screen,” and open to interpretation, so there is really nothing you couldn’t equally well steal for a game in a purely historical setting.

I found myself wondering too whether Tolkien had read this novel, or if it is a case of both Haggard and Tolkien using similar sources, because many events and characters could have walked right out of Middle Earth.  (The more I read stuff like Haggard, William Morris, and the like, the less original Tolkien’s work seems to me…or rather what is distinctively Tolkien’s is less interesting than the common sources they share.)

Anyway Eric Brighteyes is well worth a look!

Published in: on July 21, 2014 at 4:00 pm  Comments (3)  
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300 stories

This is just a shout out for a great blog I’ve been following for a while called “300 stories.”  The author, Dieter Rogiers, is writing a story a day or thereabouts, with the idea being he’ll write 300 stories, each of 300 words or less (what the cool kids are calling “flash fiction”).  They have mostly been pretty damn good, and have covered a lot of different genres, usually with dry humor.  Anyway my point is that it is well worth your time to check it out.  Unfortunately I only started following a month or two ago and he’s pretty close to the 300 mark now, so if you follow by email you’ve got a month and half or so to look forward to.   I think there is almost certainly a book to come out of this though, and of course the stories are archived on the blog.

Published in: on May 16, 2014 at 8:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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Five things about The unicorn trade in lieu of a review

1) Some pieces by Poul, some by Karen; happily, the best stories are the collaborations.

2) Lots and lots of poetry by Karen … none of it all that good.  Odes to astronauts and various pulp science fiction authors…meh.

3) Karen really liked the ganja, it would seem, based on the many references to it in her works here.

4) The cover.  Like most covers for fantasy books in the 1980s (this was first published in 1984) it has no bearing on the contents.  But for crying out loud — they couldn’t at least get a picture of a unicorn? (Which would would be no more or less relevant to the content than the picture of a supersized fairy and a pegasus, but at least it would fit the title a little better.)

5) I didn’t think this was a very important or memorable collection but I just looked Karen Anderson up on Wikipedia and evidently the haiku in this collection are considered the first science fiction haiku.  And apparently she was the first person to use the term “filk music.”  Embarrassingly, Poul Anderson was among the pioneers of that very annoying form.

Published in: on February 12, 2014 at 5:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Two books of geek lore

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Of Dice and Men / David Ewalt

Ewalt is a writer for Forbes magazine and you might expect a detailed look at the mismanagement of TSR, its bankruptcy, and the sales of the IP to Wizards of the Coast and then Hasbro, but these are mostly mentioned rather than explained in detail.  Instead he writes a fairly personal history of the game, interspersed with far too many reports of events in the game he’s playing in.  Fortunately he italicizes most of the session reports so it is easy to skip them (you will want to skip them, trust me).  He did do some good research though.  I thought his depiction of Gygax and Arneson, warts and all, seemed fair, and he even appears to have managed to interview the elusive Lorraine Williams, who is usually cast (unfairly?) as the villain in TSR’s downfall.  The book promises that some more details regarding Ms. Williams are on the book’s web site, but as far as I can tell the web site only provides links to various retailers selling the book and a handful of reader blurbs.  I guess this book is worth reading if you have not already read much about the topic, although he did appear to get his hands on some private documents of the principals as well as speak to others, so there are few scattered details that might not be mentioned elsewhere.  Overall the book is cut above The elfish gene as history, and much more focused on D&D than Fantasy freaks and gaming geeks, but the narrator is not nearly as interesting as Barrowcliffe or Gilsdorf.421170

Literary swordsmen and sorcerers / L. Sprague De Camp

De Camp is a justly famous science fiction and fantasy writer, but some of the genre’s most rabid fans love to hate him, along with August Derleth and Lin Carter, as all three “finished” and/or “edited” many unpublished stories by HPL and REH, with generally inferior results, and moreover De Camp wrote full biographies both HPL and REH that are now considered very unfavorable to both authors.

The present book is a compilation of essays De Camp wrote on a number of the foundational writers in heroic fantasy fiction, including William Morris, Lord Dunsany, E.R. Eddison, Fletcher Pratt, Clark Ashton Smith, Tolkien, and T.H. White, as well as HPL and REH. In the context of these other bio-bibliographical sketches, De Camp’s treatment of HPL and REH does not seem quite so objectionable, as he is pretty brutal with all of them (except for Pratt, with whom De Camp collaborated on several novels).

Morris, Dunsany, Tolkien, and Pratt all come off the best in these essays; the rest get hammered for their personal failings. (Ironically, De Camp is very critical of the racist and misogynist attitudes he finds in Eddison, HPL, and REH, while later critics have found fault with De Camp for the same things; see for example the series of reviews at the Tor website titled “Advanced readings in Dungeons and Dragons”. De Camp is enlightened only in comparison to them!)

This book was very interesting for the thumbnail summaries of important novels and stories, and extensive surveys of contemporary criticism of the the authors, as well as excerpts from many of the featured writers’ letters, or De Camp’s own interviews with some of them. (Intriguingly, De Camp mentions that Tolkien said he rather enjoyed REH’s Conan stories.)

On the other hand, De Camp spends altogether too much space cataloging the writer’s scandals and psychological blemishes. How important are William Morris’ failures as a father to his writings? Even De Camp admits much of his postmortem psychoanalysis is speculation and untestable hypotheses, yet he still diagnoses several writers as “schizoid personalities.”  I get the feeling that in some cases he is just listing every fact he knows about their personal lives in lieu of giving a coherent sketch. Even so, it goes a long toward completing a picture of some of these writers who are not widely known outside of fandom.

A final chapter covers some of the minor pulp writers who worked in the “heroic fantasy” genre — C.l. Moore, Henry Kuttner, Fritz Leiber, and others. The introduction, written by the shamelessly self-promoting Lin Carter*, is also a sort of appreciation of De Camp, as well as a gentle criticism of the omissions of the book. Lin Carter tries to correct this by discussing De Camp’s work. (But I’d add: If Pratt and De Camp are fit to be covered by the book, why not a bit on Poul Anderson, Jack Vance, and other contemporaries of them?)

Despite the issues I note, I actually enjoyed the book a great deal and feel that I at least know a lot more about De Camp than I did, and I enjoyed his writing style and careful reasoning.

*I figured out that Lin Carter was the author of the introduction when I saw his Lemurian stories mentioned as co-equals of those of REH, C.L. Moore, and Fritz Leiber! Hah!

Published in: on January 29, 2014 at 8:00 am  Comments (3)  
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Christmas ghost stories

My laptop is still ‘down,’ and anyway I’ve been too busy to photograph anything I’ve painted lately, so I have not posted any photos of minis in a long time.  I’ve also been having some fun with Sculpey lately and will photograph and post some stuff eventually, I hope.

But in the meantime I do have another nice find from the intertoobs here: a very good essay on the tradition of Christmas ghost stories. I knew Dickens wasn’t the only one being to referred in the song “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,”  but I never knew much about the tradition of telling ghost stories this time of year.  Enjoy.

<update, Dec. 20>
It occurs to me that the growth of the Halloween holiday in the U.S. probably stole the thunder of “winter’s tales.”  In the U.S. at least ghost stories are mostly for Halloween.  That and for telling around the campfire any time of year, mostly in the summer or fall.

Published in: on December 16, 2013 at 4:36 pm  Comments (2)  
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The first flesh golem was not a flesh golem

I recently read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein for the first time. (OK actually I listened to it being read during my commute, but I think that counts as reading it.)  Many things about the book surprised, even though I knew the book was very different from the movie depictions and that the monster in particular was nothing like the movie monster.  What I did not know was that in the book, the monster is not actually assembled from body parts, is not brought to life by electricity or “galvanism,” and was made eight feet tall in order to make it easier to work with — Victor Frankenstein figured a larger scale would make the little details easier to manipulate. 🙂

The descriptions of the monster are mostly very vague (hideous and misshapen are the main descriptors), but the few details we get — yellow, semi-transparent skin, watery eyes, huge grinning teeth, long black hair, and his mummy-like hands — certainly seem freaky.

The details of the construction of the monster, and his aborted bride (I am not worried about spoiling a nearly 200 year old book!) are vague also, but we do learn that Victor relied on “chemical instruments” to accomplish his work.  He describes the work as horrifying and disgusting at various points in the narrative, but it seemed to be more of a moral, rather than visceral, repugnance.  I should mention that this was far from being purely a scientific undertaking; Victor alludes to an intense study of alchemy and ceremonial magic that he undertook before going off to university.  But the important point is that at no point does he mention needing body parts or digging up graves.  In fact his second attempt at creating a being takes place on an isolated island with hardly any inhabitants and no graveyard.

So the monster usually identified as the archetype of flesh golem was not really a flesh golem, in the D&D sense, at all.

Flesh Golem.JPG

This is not Frankenstein’s monster.

Fun fact: in the novel, the monster is also a fruitarian, living on nuts and berries.  When he is trying to persuade Victor to build him a wife and let them go live peacefully in the wilds, he says: “My food is not that of man; I do not destroy the lamb and the kid to glut my appetite; acorns and berries afford me sufficient nourishment.”

(For the curious, my review of Frankenstein is on Goodreads)

Published in: on October 18, 2013 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Clifford D. Simak’s fantasies

Clifford D. Simak is best known for his science fiction, but he has written several fantasy and science fantasy novels, and in the past year or so I’ve read four of them. Going chronologically they are: The goblin reservation (1968), The enchanted pilgrimage (1975), The fellowship of the talisman (1978), and Where the evil dwells (1982).

The goblin reservation is a bit of an outlier as it is more of a science fiction story than a fantasy, and transcends genre by combining elements. It is a murder mystery, a love story, and time travel tale, and involves both extraterrestrials and fairy folk like goblins and leprechauns, as well as a ghost, and comes closest to being a comedy.  There are echoes of this book though in his later fantasies, particularly in: the depiction of goblins as mischievous but basically benevolent; the use of a ghost as a character; the mixing of science fiction and fantasy; the inversion of established tropes in genre literature; and a preoccupation –either explicit or implicit– with morality.

The other three all read more like traditional “high fantasy” novels, with a party of adventurers of assorted races undertaking an epic quest into unknown and menacing lands. Some readers have dismissed them as being retreads of each other and a million similar LOTR ripoffs, but each has some interesting ideas and all can be read as meditations on morality and theology.  Tightly connected to this is the theme of otherness as expressed in the different demihuman races and their perception by, and relationship to, the human characters.  There’s probably a great term paper in that, if any students are reading this.  I’m just writing a quick review though!

The enchanted pilgrimage is the shortest and the least interested in questions of morality (which become much more central to the last two novels).  What was most interesting to me when I read this was the role of demihumans and humanoids.  For example the gnomes in this world are smiths and live underground, but they are also illiterate and have practically no sense of history.  Flipping the trope, mankind is the ‘elder’ race as far as the demihumans are concerned, for they keep books and record history, while the demihumans live in the present.  The enchanted pilgrimage has been criticized for lacking coherence and having an anti-climatic ending, which (spoiler alert) veers way off the fantasy track into science fiction with time travelers, UFOs, and aliens. However it is an interesting setting (at least in the first half of the book) and a clear precursor to the two others, which remain solidly fantasy-based.  The quest begins with a scribe who stumbles upon something of great importance and he sets out, slowly acquiring a motley band companions, for the menacing and forbidden Wasteland, home of chaos and magic.  What he finds there is not what he, or the reader, expected, but also fails to live up to the promise of the first half of the book.

The fellowship of the talisman is probably the most traditional of the novels.  The story is again centered on a quest, again revolving around a manuscript, and again we have a slowly growing party, although this time the world is much like our own, only a recurring invasion by the “Harriers” — amorphous and demonic, and barely described in any detail — has prevented mankind from developing past medieval technology and culture.  The crusades, the discovery of the new world, the renaissance, the reformation, and the enlightenment: all are stopped or interrupted irrevocably by the Harriers. But in a backwater manor in England, someone discovers a manuscript, written by a contemporary of Jesus, which may hold the key to saving mankind.  The characters are not particularly believable and there are several heavy-handed and tedious conversations where they seem very aware that mankind’s progress has been aborted.  How they could possibly recognize this, given their benighted state, strains credulity, but as exposition it is bearable. Apart from mankind and the Harriers, there is again a wide array of demihumans and supernatural creatures that are allied with neither man nor the Harriers, but which are mostly willing to aid the party, since they oppose the Harriers.  Despite the frequent aid and succor they get from them, though, the two principal characters spend the first half of the book insulting and distrusting the demihumans and other creatures.  I found the heroes very unsympathetic until it became more clear that they were slowly losing some of their prejudices.  The journey itself has some interesting encounters and environments but for so long a book (over 300 pages) not a lot actually happens.  The party here is the most diverse, with humans, a goblin, an assortment of animals, a ghost, a banshee, and a demon all working together in an unlikely fellowship.  There is some suggestion of a sci-fi element in the origin of the Harriers, but at the same time other elements go further into the folkloric and mythic than any of Simak’s other fantasy novels.  For example there is (minor spoiler) an “Isle of wailing for the world” where three Norn-like women literally wail for all the world’s sorrows.  I am totally going to throw that into my campaign world somewhere.  There are also some great minor characters, like a senile, dying wizard in a hidden, timeless castle, and a minor lord of a manor in the middle of the Forlorn Lands (the region decimated by Harrier attacks) whose band is hopelessly holding out against the Harriers.

Where the evil dwells, the last of the four fantasies, was actually the one I read first, many years ago when it first came out in paperback in the 1980s.  As a boy I read it as straightforward adventure yarn, and it certainly works as one. I reread it recently and was surprised to find a good deal more depth than I remembered.  It is set, like The fellowship, in our world, but on a different timeline, where the Roman Empire holds out a good deal longer than in ours, but the enemies that threaten it are not barbarians, they are “the Evil.”  The Evil are basically all the nonhumans and demihumans of myth and legend.  A few of the “Little People” are perhaps merely mischievous rather than Evil.  However the occasional acts of Gygaxian brutality we see in The fellowship (where fallen enemies are never spared and can at best hope for a merciful skull-smashing) are amplified and almost glorified here.  The protagonists see the bodies of crucified ogres, for example, and only one so much as feels a slight discomfort at the sight; when an outcast troll joins the party and proves himself loyal and reliable, they continue to abuse, threaten, and distrust him.  Again, a trope of fantasy –here, the white knight do-gooder party– is subverted.  Overall it is a much darker adventure than the usual fare.  There is also a section that very strongly evokes H. P. Lovecraft (or at least the “mythos” developed by his admirers) and, uniquely, no real science fiction connection.

D&D fans should find plenty to enjoy here, and while none of Simak’s works made it into the DMG’s “Appendix N” (the last two were published after the DMG anyway), they certainly provide some inspiration.

Published in: on July 17, 2013 at 4:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Venomous sheep (updated)

In the first battle three hundred of the men of Lochlann were killed, but in the next battle Eolgarg Mor did not fight fair, for he let some venomous sheep out of a tent, and these attacked the men of Ulster and killed nine hundred of them.
So vast was the slaughter made by these sheep and so great the terror they caused, that no one could stand before them, but by great good luck there was a wood at hand, and the men of Ulster, warriors and princes and charioteers, were forced to climb up the trees, and they roosted among the branches like great birds, while the venomous sheep ranged below bleating terribly and tearing up the ground.
Fiachna Finn was also sitting in a tree, very high up, and he was disconsolate.
“We are disgraced!” said he.
“It is very lucky,” said the man in the branch below, “that a sheep cannot climb a tree.”
“We are disgraced for ever,” said the King of Ulster.
“If those sheep learn how to climb, we are undone surely,” said the man below.
“I will go down and fight the sheep,” said Fiachna. But the others would not let the king go.
“It is not right,” they said, “that you should fight sheep.”
“Some one must fight them,” said Fiachna Finn, “but no more of my men shall die until I fight myself; for if I am fated to die, I will die and I cannot escape it, and if it is the sheep’s fate to die, then die they will; for there is no man can avoid destiny, and there is no sheep can dodge it either.”
“Praise be to god!” said the warrior that was higher up.
“Amen.” said the man who was higher than he, and the rest of the warriors wished good luck to the king.
He started then to climb down the tree with a heavy heart, but while he hung from the last branch and was about to let go, he noticed a tall warrior walking towards him. The king pulled himself up on the branch again and sat dangle-legged on it to see what the warrior would do.
The stranger was a very tall man, dressed in a green cloak with a silver brooch at the shoulder. He had a golden band about his hair and golden sandals on his feet, and he was laughing heartily at the plight of the men of Ireland.
–from Mongan’s frenzy, an Irish legend
full text here: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/ift/ift09.htm
If that’s not awesome, dunno what is.  And yet everyone makes fun of the “venomous sheep” entry in the bestiary of Fantasy Wargaming by Bruce Galloway.
In my Telengard game, the players rescued a halfling town besieged by ghouls and what they thought might be venomous sheep (but were just variant spidergoats).
While the venomous sheep in “Morgan’s frenzy” sound a bit like the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog, I think they should actually be bit more subtle.  Not a secret weapon to unleash on the battlefield, but creeping menace that might destroy a village or two before anyone realizes what is happening.
So while my spidergoats were venomous in the sense that they bite you (causing a deep sleep that lets them consume you without waking up), venomous sheep would actually be toxic rather than venomous — they don’t have a venomous bite, but actually release a sleep-inducing gas.  Unlike most monsters they don’t eat their victims either.  They just trample the unconscious bodies of their victims as the herd grazes around them.  Although sheep are not all that big, they have a very small footprint and the pressure their feet exert is rather huge.  My brother, a civil engineer, once mentioned that in olden times, you’d herd a flock of sheep back and forth across an area where you wanted the soil compressed (say, to build a road) and those funny-looking knobby steamroller things you see on construction sites are called sheep’s foot rollers, and used to compress the soil.
So anyone coming within a certain range, or downwind of venomous sheep will need to make a saving throw or pass out.  The murderous flock will then very slowly trample the victim to death, perhaps dealing d6 or d8 damage per turn, representing multiple stomps as sheep pass over and walk on them.  (I wouldn’t make the exact range known until a character comes close, and I’d absolutely have them prefer windy pastures with variable wind direction.)
Published in: on June 30, 2013 at 8:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Two more quick book reviews

This Is Me, Jack Vance! Or, More Properly, This Is “I” /Jack Vance

I really wanted to like this book, if only because of the alternate title, but I was expecting a totally different book. In fairness he warns you at the beginning that this will be his memoirs and that he hates talking about writing, but for such a prolific and talented writer to say almost nothing about writing or his books or where he got his ideas is kind of disappointing. Instead we have an autobiography, and while he clearly had a very sharp memory for people and places, it could just as well the autobiography of anyone who grew up in the 30s and 40s and had a bunch of jobs before becoming a full-time writer. There are very few details about his famous writer friends, very little about his own writing career, and so on.

Vance is certainly a good storyteller and I still found it interesting to read about his life. I’m sure his children and grandchildren will appreciate all the fairly intimate stuff about his family. His love of life and dry humor make the book very readable. Perhaps some day a critical biography, which also talks about his books, will be forthcoming.

On a scale of dirk to Zweihander, maybe a gladius.  (I.e., 2/5 stars.)

The wreckage of Agathon / John Gardner

I have loved Gardner’s Grendel since reading it in high school but never got around to reading anything else of his until this. This time the story is set in ancient Sparta, although the chronology is deliberately vague and we have characters from several different periods (with Lyucurgus, circa 820-730 BCE, Solon, 638-533 BCE living as contemporaries). None of this really matters though as Gardner’s point is not to relate historical events. Instead we get a vivid if anachronistic picture of life in ancient Sparta as backdrop to an intense, introspective study of several characters, none of whom are ever completely revealed, but all are more real for that very reason.  Alongside the character studies Gardner is satirizing the Spartan mindset, which is revealed to be uncomfortably similar to certain modern ideologies.  Gardner is much more sympathetic to the Helots than to the Spartans, which is a good corrective given the misrepresentations of Sparta we see in modern culture — from Frank Miller’s demented hero-worshiping caricature in 300 to Steven Pressfield’s more realistic (but still moon-eyed) representation in Gates of fire.

It’s also a fun read for the philosophical digressions — Gardner paraphrases thinkers from Epicurus to Nietzsche as well as coming up what I’m guessing are his own original theories as the characters debate and discuss life and ethics.

While any book would suffer a little by comparison to his Grendel, The wreckage of Agathon does at least confirm that Gardner was a first-rate writer.

On a scale of hatchet to bardiche, a Danish axe.  (4/5)

Published in: on June 28, 2013 at 1:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Three good reads

Now that Amazon has just bought out Goodreads.com, I’m not sure if I’ll stick with it.  Is there anything left online that isn’t owned by Amazon, Facebook, or Google?  But the past couple of weeks I’ve managed to get to a few really good books.

E pluribus unicorn by Theodore Sturgeon

Sturgeon was a very well-regarded writer of sci-fi and fantasy, as well as mysteries and “literary” fiction.  E pluribus unicorn was the second collection of his stories to be published and the stories are uniformly excellent.  Most in this collection have some element of the fantastic, and all have great characters.   “The silken-swift” and “A saucerful of loneliness” are the most memorable, but “The professor’s teddy” and “Cellmate” are great too.  Very worth reading.

Painted devils by Robert Aickman

Subtitled “strange stories,” the stories collected here all use a creeping sense of horror and doom, and Aickman apparently considered them to be “ghost stories” although not all actually have obviously paranormal events in them.  In some cases the suspense is slowly built and becomes quite disturbing, only to peter out with a dry, quick resolution that only suggests what the fuss might have been about.  These types of stories work because Aickman is a really good writer and his dialogue and characters “make sense” even when it is hard to tell exactly happened.  I have enjoyed the stories so far but it’s not a something I’m going to tear through and I’m just reading one or two selections at a time between other books.

I picked up this collection at a library book sale, sadly without the dust jacket with I understand was done by Edward Gorey, and I understand Aickman’s books are not terribly common on the used book market for some reason.

Gods & golems by Lester Del Rey

I just started this collection of five novellas by Lester Del Rey.  Del Rey is a very recognizable name because of his editing and publishing but I’d been reading raves about him by Avram Davidson and other writers and finally found a collection of Del Rey’s own work.  So far it is staggeringly good.  I’m partway through the first, “Vengeance is mine,” which began as a fairly tender story about an intelligent if naive robot on the Moon who is awaiting the return of his human masters, who have apparently been destroyed by war.

Published in: on April 1, 2013 at 11:15 am  Leave a Comment  
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Rolling the dice. Writing the words. Pushing the buttons. Eating the bacon. Smiling and waving.

Dagger and Brush, Daggerandbrush, dagger brush

Miniature painting, wargaming terrain tutorials, reviews, interviews and painting guides

Fractalbat

A lair for gaming, sci-fi, comics, and other geekish pursuits.

tenfootpole.org

I bought this stuff and read it so you don't have to.

Role Play Craft

Crafting ideas, options, and modules for your role playing campaign.

The Rambling Roleplayer

A collection of advice, essays, and rambling rants about tabletop gaming and other geekiness. Often updated Monday-ishly.

Sheppard's Crook

The occasional blog of a closet would -be wargamer and modeller

10 Bad Habits

Probably not the Justin Howe you were looking for

The Weekly Sift

making sense of the news one week at a time

inthecitiesdotcom

Just another WordPress.com site

Lost in Time

"What happened to Claw Carver?"

chieflyill

gaming, graphics, and genrefication

Stuffed Crocodile

Mazes, Martians, Mead

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