Sunday, September 17, 2017

On the lineup for a new comics company

Yeah, I'm going to continue from yesterday's post. Because a lot of people want to get things moving, and more of them want to write or perhaps draw, everyone wants to read, but very few want to build a whole picture.(Not that I have the funding to manage this).

Yes, the bulk of your books are going to be hero titles. Because that is the type of story that comics tells better than anything else. It's also the most expected thing. But take care to make unique characters, and not just ripoffs, though one or two will of necessity be derivative. Yeah, I don't care about your archer or gadget guy or martial artist. Shoot, use something like Mutants and Masterminds to create characters, so you've got real limits of power, and know how everything works.

But, you need some other books. In fact, I'd say close to half should not be hero titles.

Let's say you start with 10 titles. Yeah, that's a lot to manage right off. Shops won't take you very seriously without a variety. So, four or five at launch should be hero books. Perhaps 3 solo titles, one team book, and maybe an anthology for widening your world.

So you've got 5 books less. Sff/horror should be likely three of them, maybe even four. But you might want to make one for each of  the  marketing genres(yes, it's ok to play that game initially, we know it's a lie). And if you have an author that can tell a good story in it, have a western, it can be straight or weird. If you can, try for a sword and sorcery book, Robert E. Howard is still having adaptations done that move well enough, same with Edgar Rice Burroughs.

There's your 10 book start, if you can get all that. Three months after launch, you add another hero title, and maybe another sff book.Or you can add something like a spy story or a crime book. It's not like there's any restrictions on what you publish unless you want there to be.

Another note: There need to be very clear terms for writers and artists on what they're paid for, and their royalty returns for any creations they add(which would be subject to approval). This shouldn't need to be said, but as most comics guys are lousy businessmen, I'm saying it.

Yes, finding all the talent needed would be a big challenge. That's not to mention getting listed in a distributor(Daiamond right now, by default, but I know there's something in the works). And you have to build word of mouth. This in fact will require a good bit of startup money, because you want about 3 months ready to go BEFORE launch. So you can hit up a few small cons, talk to stores and readers, and show them what you're doing. Have an issue or two pre printed(not final, maybe just pencilled and lettered) to give a shop owner, so they can talk to their customers. Build Buzz.

Yeah, I put all this rant out there in the lame hopes that somebody might be paying attention and do it. Maybe even offer me a job to help keep things in line, because comics would be cool to work in. I'm not going to hold my breath, but 4 color dreams are nice.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

On the Comics Collapse. Oh, and there's going to be a giveaway.

Now, I know I haven't written about the problems within the comics industry before, despite my posts mentioning and reviewing some books, and trying to boost comics that I think are worth a look. Partly this was because I still have part of the industry that tells good stories: non-hero books are a bit less converged than hero books in general. That's not to say there isn't a lot, but I can still find stories that are well written and drawn and don't play politics all the time, or at all. There are still good stories in sff comics, and I still get an occasional action or horror book. Hero books are rare reads for me now.

But, JD Cowan, Brian Niemeier, Jon Del Arroz, and others, notably the Diversity & Comics you tube channel have laid enough groundwork that I think I should chime in with some thoughts. Unlike most of these guys, I'm more into the DC universe for my heroes, so my references will be that direction.

It's not a recent event that comics have gone downhill. This is only the most recent in many events that have hurt the industry. And sales have historically shown every bad move, not immediately in every case(variant cover fever)(death of superman). But eventually there's a sales collapse after each one of these chases of fashion that comics has done. Collectablility was a terrible thing to pursue; comics are not MTG cards, nor should they be.

Each reboot of comics universe seen changes to the world and characters. Sometimes this has strictly been to create a history that made sense. But a lot of times it's been to create "jump on" points, in the belief that people that don't read comics will magically come in if it's now issue one, and you don't need to know the character. BS! I have friends that don't read comics that think if they want to, they have to start with Action Comics #1 and read ALL OF IT. So part of it is perception; whether or not it matters now, a character's history intimidates some people.

What do they do wrong in most every reboot? They change some characters. Not refine, like add details that fit established traits and history, but change. Let's make such character GAY! When they've a long history that says nothing of the sort. You want to play that game? How about a Green Lantern that's a family man? They did it in the animated series, and the character was cool. Or a celibate Green Arrow? Oh, wait, Connor Hawke was when written by CHUCK DIXON. Too bad Connor doesn't exist anymore that I know of. My last DC title I read was All Star Western(Jonah Hex), and I quit after Booster Gold pulled him into the present.

Now, a lot of characters are being replaced by "new, relevant" versions that have NOTHING whatsoever to do with the originals. Thia has gone back to the New 52 for DC, and Marvel has been doing the same thing more recently. But when they make Superman not relate to people, they lose readers. When Martian Manhunter isn't THE common part of Justice League of America, it doesn't work, especially when they've made him untrustworthy and shifty. This is not to mention stuff like the Chinese Superman and co. they've added recently(which I have no real opinion of), especially when they had heroes everywhere in the world. But let's toss them and igonre history for lowest common denominator bs.

How hard will it be to setup an alternative distributor at this point? I have no clue, but I will say stores don't want to order from EVERY worthwhile small writer and artist self publishing. So, if comics are going to be rescued from the death SJWs are engineering, a distributor is necessary as all get out. And don't talk to me about digital and web comics. I don't have a giant screen needed to read them well, and the files are huge. Webcomics can be okay, but I prefer my books physically.  Manga isn't something I'm for or against, and I'll likely grab My Hero Academia as the anime has been good, and Mr. Cowan recommends it.

Now, to the giveaway:

I found this day at my local library's friendshop both volumes of Rocketo, which I have discussed  before. As I don't need another set, I'm going to give them away together. These are library discards, and have some wear and use.Comment  below for the giveaway, which will be drawn at random on 9/23/2017.



When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Alt Culture, or not.

Vox Day put up a post responding to yet another article on building another culture. Seriously. I hear about or find another article every few months.  Vox mentions the fact that conservative media has never talked about a Castalia House book. I've seen an interview in a Catholic online mag with John C. Wright that only talked about his Tor books, and this was recent. The fact is, the so called media organs of conservatism and Christianity don't benefit from helping relevant material grow. They benefit from being able to whine that the establishment is leftist and dishonest.

Music has largely been hostile to faith and conservatism for decades. Yes, there are exceptions for faith, notably country music, but that's been getting sidelined even there. But you look outside it, on FM stations? Lust filled lefty music is what you find. Oh, you want to go with classical?  You really don't know how left most of the performers are, do you? Oh yes, there are exceptions, and most of them focus on being a better musician. Look at what they do with "reimagings" of great opera: they change the setting, change character sexes, etc., and then, while you still have the story, it's being told in a manner against the original. That's ignoring the garbage pieces that get foundation and government grants. Not going into the Christian music scene.
 
Movies? There's plenty of lower budget stuff out there. Kevin Sorbo's done a ton when he should have been one of the current big stars. A lot of actors even just keep mostly quiet, but have their own rules which have hurt their careers. Neal McDonough is a Catholic who won't do some scenes, and it's moved his career more to supporting roles or antagonists.  But, foreign ventures like the movie Guardians prove that you don't need Hollywood itself to do good looking action films.

Books? Well, just another place where the movers and shakers mostly prefer to stay ignorant. This case, unlike music, I'm glad about. Why? Because their willful ignorance leaves a place for people like me. If those media were actually paying attention to small press and independent  authors, I'd have a much harder time with audience growth. They want to ignore anything but big NY publishing, I'll gladly fill part of that huge gap.

Now, as to other reasons aside from selling the "can we build an alternative culture" article again. Most of it comes down to the fact that people are largely lazy. I've seen it like crazy with people at church that will go to a concert of the youth pastor's cover band, but won't bother with their musician friend's group that's been working for years and building hours of music.  A lot of folks also want to be able to talk about the same entertainment as everyone else. This view of culture is the real culprit.

I won't drift very far into this, but there's a real purpose to culture, which is part of why Andrew Breitbart's statement "Politics is downstream from culture." rings true. The Thomist philosopher Josef Pieper covers it very well in his Leisure: the Basis of Culture.  And the core idea is this: Culture is a part of our worship. The town festivals and celebrations all started as HOLY DAYS, on a very local level. For centuries, the Church funded the creation of a great amount of music, architecture, sculpture, and other art, funding artists both internally and externally of Church hierarchy. Now? Most of that is done by people in "ministry" on the Protestant side, or by clergy who may or may not actually be good at the art on the Catholic side(look at modern Catholic hymnody).  While I could go further, I'm not ready for it to devolve into a rant or grow into a full fledged post on its own.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Injustic Magazine Review: Phantaxis #6

Cower not, fierce reader! This day we look at magazine that isn't looking to be pulp, but rather a normal sff magazine. That said, this read proved far more worthwhile than the last time I picked up Fantasy and Science Fiction, Analog, or Asimov's. Let's take a look at the contents.

Stories:

For Hannah by Mark Bilsborough- The story is a big exercise in unrequited love. There's also a lot against male fantasizing, of the incel(involuntary celibate) type, because those guys really need to be picked on a bit more. Well, ok, it's more like the Zuckerberg type that has money, but no social skills. Kinda meh, as there's no action, but is more a drama piece, with no real conflict.

Playmates by Arlen Feldman- For the most part, this is a tender and amusing tale. There's a lot here on the moral hazard of cloning, and making the creation of life simple. The ending is a bit gut wrenching, as while the father might know who can make his life more miserable, he doesn't seem to know the joy his daughter can bring him. Again, there's no real sense of conflict, though this flows pretty well without.

Evens and Odds by Vanessa Kittle- Another cloning story, though this one is far more straightforward, and there is definitely a bit of conflict, though no action. There's another moral hazard aspect here, as well as unscrupulous businessmen.

The Ship of Theseus by Phillip Brian Hall- This was a great read. It's a detective story in a time when lifespan has been extended indefinitely, and nobody retires. This follows a detective assigned to a missing persons case, revolving around a secretive group they call pro-deathers for their rejection of immortality. We also see some philosophical discussion of the humanity of "human androids", people uploaded into android bodies.

An Infernal Malady by Michael Haynes- This story is dark. There's no conflict, action or hope. In fact, it's more a glimpse into a malevolent mystical existence.

The Home Secretary is Safe by C. R. Berry- This vignette features small scale time travel, treating it more like a puzzle. There's a small amount  of action, but again, no conflict. In many ways the story is cynical.

Daughter of the Western Winds by Jenni Wood- Hey, a story with real action and conflict, internal and external! In some ways, this feels like watching anime set in medieval Japan, perhaps earlier. The elements all seem to fit together well, and there's an interesting dichotomy between the fantastic powers in the story and the false humility of the tiered nature of the society.

The Wheel of Fortune by Matencera Wolf- Joy. A dystopian world where the lower classes have everything rationed, and our main character is seen as a worthy sacrifice for societal reform by one of the upper echelon. At least there's a minimum of action here.

F-Bombs by Allen Kuzara- While this once again has no conflict, and no real action, this does have a feel like one of the moderately interesting entries from Forbidden Thoughts.(Superversive, you guys might get in touch.) We do have a good glimpse of a father trying desperately to keep his partial custody of his daughter.

Urgent Care by Dale T. Phillips- This is the aftermath of a story. The world is very distopian, as people get violent over everything, apparently, and health care is rationed unless you can pay right now. It's an interesting glimpse.

A Guy Walks into a Bar by Russ Wartrous and Mike McHone- A fantasy story recounted in a fantasy tavern. The storyteller and listener(his friend) are not part of the story, but merely scenery of some interest in a recounting, allowing for the storyteller's embellishments.

Flash Fiction:
Honestly, this stuff is entertaining, but completely forgettable. Mostly they move you between stories a bit easier, by taking you out of setting like an ad, but without the purchase compulsion.

Final thoughts:
Phantaxis looks to sit in a very odd place in sff right now. It's an actual middle ground publication, with some material that seems to fit the establishment crowd and some that fits the puppy/castalia house/pulprev/superversive crowds. Most of the writing was pretty decent. I'll likely give it another try in the future. Even the stuff I didn't like did not drag. An actually diverse magazine. 7 of 10 fell deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Game Mechanics: Worker Placement

This time, I'm going to go over a game mechanic that is both very standardized, and yet very diverse at the same time. There are a lot of games that use worker placement, and many of them do it in similar fashion, but now and then really unique implementations come up. Images come from BoardGame Geek.

So firstly, let's define worker placement. Boardgame Geek has a great page on it, and states that it is more properly termed "action drafting", as players are taking turns drafting actions from a commonly available pool. Most typically, this is done with meeples on actions spaces.






The image above is from Lords of Waterdeep, a Dungeons and Dragons themed Worker placement game. This game has a very simple implementation overall, where placements get resources, build buildings(add spaces), get contracts, or fill contracts(for the most part). The players are thematically the town's lords who organize groups of adventurers and send them on quests. Worker spaces are exclusive (one person gets to take the action). In addition to the physical version(with an expansion), there's now a digital implementation, available through Steam, and soon app stores(if not already).

Now, if you want something that is a bit gentler themed, how about winemaking? Viticulture plays with 6, and has variable numbers of  action spaces dependent on player count. There's also more steps to the process here, as players have to plant vines, harvest grapes, and the crush them into wine, not to mention building up your vineyard. Then you have to have the right wine(s) to fill the orders you've obtained. The game is divided into years and seasons, with certain actions being available only in season, and each worker being only available once a year.



If you're wanting a game that feels more like you're always scrambling to get it all done, Agricola is a great choice(though I think it was better with its former publisher). As medieval farmers, you have to plow fields, sow vegetables and grain, raise sheep, pigs, and cows, build fences, build your house, have kids, get occupations, and make sure everyone is fed(sometimes those animals just don't last). Agricola has a point salad method of scoring, so you want to get as much done as you can, and you can't focus on any of it, as you lose points for not getting some of these.














Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia is one of a handful of games that use dice instead of meeples for your workers. The value rolled usually has some effect on its useability or usefulness. In this game, your workers also may become aware they're in a dystopia and walk off. But, as far as worker spaces, we have three types here, exclusive, replacement, and additive. Players can hinder others' progress in this game through construction of distopian buildings.





Stone Age uses dice and workers a bit differently. Each resource has a number of spaces available, and other actions have one each(two needed for reproduction). Each turn a player places worker(s) in one area. When all have been placed, each worker in a resource area grants a die to be rolled for that resource, with multiples of a number generating more(total, not on the die). You also want to build huts and collect artifacts with those resources. Below, green will roll 3 dice, blue will roll 2, and red and yellow each one die to get wood.



And for unique implementations, none have yet had the cool factor of Tzollk'in: The Mayan Calendar. This game has clock motion determining when you get things based on rotations. I can't really say more, as this is the one here I haven't played.




And last, I'm going to mention Keyflower, as it is also a worker placement game, in addition to an auction game. Only one color can be used for placement on a tile(determined by the first placement); later placements have to increase; and each tile can only hold 6 meeples. Better buildings from the auctions will encourage others to use your tiles, which will give you more meeples on later turns to use.


There's a lot out there, and many are variants of contract fulfillment or engine building, or both. But the way they do it makes for some decent choices of play, and different opportunity cost calculations.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Injustice Film Review: Batman and Harley Quinn

Now, I had read John C. Wright's half review and was very much down about this response. Then I had seen later responses on Twitter that said it was ok. I needed to watch it for myself. Thus, now you will be presented with my response to the film and JCW's half review. This will be a bit spoiler heavy, as I'm partly responding to a JCW review.

First things first, as you encounter it in the disc menu: the music is just not quite right. Also, the opening sequence has the Floronic Man killing a man, with blood shown. Not right for this story for reasons I'll hit up later(same reasons apply to music).

Now, to some of JCW's points and summary:

First, Batman blackmailing Sarge Steel over his S+M habits: I don't really mind that, but why did Sarge Steel try to banter with Batman? That's lame, this isn't a comedy presentation of Batman.

Bats criticizing cops missing evidence(no big), and Nightwing finding Harley somewhat on accident(again, no big). Though Batman usually doesn't come off as arrogant, merely assured and competent.

Mr. Wright has some issue with Nightwing fighting Harley when she started the fight. He failed to note that in the comics, Nightwing is usually pulling his punches in that type of situation. Women are a major weakness for him, and that's WHY Harley lasted long enough to hit him with the diluted Joker venom.

Umm, then there's the bondage and costume sex setup. I have issue with that, as Nightwing is a moral character for the most part. But JCW has issue with Nightwing not being able to escape, ignoring that if Harley has ever been part of a bondage scene(likely with her relations, and this presentation), she would be able to keep any escape artist tied up.

Batman walking in on them tickling each other: LAME.

Harley's gas in the Batmobile and the ex she tracks and beats up: also lame.

The barfight with the big words over the bar is a throwback to the Adam West show, which feels way off here.


And there ends JCW's comments, as he stopped watching.

He missed a great lying diatribe on global warming and deforestation. When the USA has more trees now than at its founding, they're playing crappy agenda games. And, being plant related villians that can actually talk with plants, they should know better. And focus their activities in areas that are the real polluters and destroyers of the wild.

Harley and Ivy had a ridiculous girl friendship scene after Harley had triple crossed her to try to save folks. I don't know if that's anywhere near realistic, but I don't care.

He also missed the really bad presentation of Swamp Thing. It's worshipful, he's a huge physical character and part of the Parlaiment of Trees. This was so bad. Batman would never be in awe, but understanding. Nightwing would perhaps be in awe for awhile, but he'd likely not be at this time. Floronic Man and Poison Ivy? Sure. That makes sense, but Batman and Nightwing would not worship what has been turned into a eco-Buddha.

Then there's the bit with setting the Floronic Man afire, and Harley's new show, Ask Dr. Quinn (actually a bit funny), which somehow misses the point that she did have a Psych liscence, and became Harley because she fell in love while treating the Joker.

This film had a freaking huge case of not knowing what it was. Too much was played for laughs, and I mean obvious comedy setups, not dry humor like was seen in B:TAS. There are reasons I bring this up. With casting, they harken back to that show(both Batman and Nighwing played by the same guys). Costuming and character design match pretty closely to that as well. But the rest?

The music has moments. Those moments come only when they're borrowing from the old Bruce Timm series(they borrow from Batman Beyond, even). But only moments.

The scripting and even the action feel off. In part because they're pushing a weird mixture of Adam West and TAS Batman versions, with S+M humor added. This of course ignores that the mixture, minus the S+M has already been done, and done very well with Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Fun, and funny, yet Batman takes crimefighting seriously, and is largely a serious character.

Now, part of the reasons for this terrible comprehension can be found in the special features. They seem to think Batman: The Animated Series was grim and dark. And that the Adam West Batman was pure humor and fun. To which I say, they've got it backwards. and their misunderstanding of both shows is exactly why they got it wrong.

Adam West Batman may have been a comedy, but they were dead serious about their point. The show was in many ways poking fun at the idea of Law and Order, and showing those for it to be "square". It was a show for the condescending "smart set" of its time, who thought comics were for morons, and ideas of Good and Evil likewise. This awareness does not diminish my appreciation for the show, but I was born over a decade later, and love the cheesiness of it anyway.

Batman: The Animated Series on the other hand, was a straight depiction of Good vs. Evil, and showed greatly the impact. Sure, the color palette was dark: how better to show his actions as those of light than for those to outshine him?  This Batman is clearly in some ways the same character that would run with the bomb on the docks from the Adam West film. But he doesn't bumble around, he isn't played for laughs. He's a warrior, a knight in dark armor(it's camoflage), and those make for someone people want to BE. Who wants to be the truly dark version, a corruptible vigilante for hire? No, as a kid one wants to be the shining symbol of light.

In fact if anything is dark about the show, it's the way Bruce Wayne manipulates himself for the sake of Batman's cases. And even that is played as part of the cost of being Batman. In order to be the incorruptible symbol feared by criminals, he must be a bit of a fop and a fool. At least until someone looks really closely. Is he ever really the playboy? Unlikely, but he plays it. The corrupt businessman? Nope, but you have to look at his dealings first.

Of course, this complete misunderstanding of their creations causes me a bit of concern for the next film, Gotham by Gaslight. The preview says they're adding material, which if it was Master of the World, I wouldn't care, but there's a bit of other stories that looks like they added. Catwoman from Batman: Two Faces doesn't belong here. Why must they keep playing. As Hitchcock said, "Just shoot the play."

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Star Trek: Ascendancy with five players

This past Monday, I had the opportunity to play the game with both available expansions, being the only the second chance I've had to play with more than the base box 3(the other being last year at the GenCon release, where they had early versions of the Cardassians). Not having played the game for a good while, we missed a few rules(the rulebook is well organized, but dense), but had a lot of fun regardless.

We did play with randomized turn order throughout, rather than bidding once we met up, to save time(5 players, most effectively new= long version of a long game).

The Good:

The new races have rules and technology decks that suit them perfectly. The Cardassians have to have a ship in orbit for a planet to produce for them, and the Ferengi can't build culture nodes, but can buy the resource. The ships and control nodes are unique sculpts for each race, and the player boards also are designed after the races ship consoles.

The game definitely feels richer with more players overall, though they all need to meet up to make that happen(one didn't make that happen until the end). There's a bit of desperation once the other players realize one is closing on victory, and a newfound willingness to cooperate, in the hopes of getting another turn or two to win yourself.

The Bad:

When the base box was released, Gale Force 9 had advertised September and December release dates for these faction expansions, and only released them finally at GenCon this year(9 and 6 months late). I can understand not meeting those, and the game community is pretty forgiving about that, but this hurt the game visibly in its first year. I don't know of many game groups that are three players, most sit at four to six, and that's private groups.

How did it hurt the game? If expanded, it would have reached more ratings on BoardGameGeek. Yes, a lot of people base game buying decisions just on game ratings and rankings. Its play time already keeps people away(advertised hour/player), and it doesn't need more. From the turn order cards, it looks like the plan is to eventually hit 10 factions, but I have no further evidence as the next expansion isn't a player one, but a universal foe: the Borg.

Overall:

 This was a lot of fun, and I hope to get back to it sooner next time. GF9 really needs to get off their butts and meet deadlines. The longer they wait and delay, the smaller the audience for each expansion will be, and they need to strike while gamers have their wallets open.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Injustice Book Review: A Killing in Comics by Max Allan Collins

Cower not, fierce reader! This day, we look at a work a little outside our normal purview of sff and venture into a murder mystery that takes place in the early days of comics. This book  even predates a subversive praised mainstream novel that won the Pulitzer, Chabon's Adventures of Cavalier and Klay.

The first crime this book makes is the fact that the original publisher already let it go back to the author, who has enough credibility that Dover was willing to pick it up. Now, this is both a negative and positive for my view of the original publisher, as Berkley was good enough to let him have it back. But they didn't know what to do with it, or I'd have gotten and read it much sooner.

The next crime is simply from that fact. Yes, I can call it a fact when less than a yer after this history based mystery was published, litfic love Michael Chabon got a HUGE push for his Cavalier and Klay novel, which was well researched, but focused extensively on the degeneracy of the characters instead of really telling a story. Collins, on the other hand, with a history in comics(strips and book), as well as research and connections, tells a story that has characters, but not  just the characters. There's an amount of proper action, as well as amounts of romance.

The thing that gets me is that Berkley should have been playing up this book as soon as Chabon's hit. It's far more of a love letter to comics, with its flaws and all, encased in a mystery story. People of varying repute moving into a family industry and having ties to the mob with their business? And with the comics panels at chapter breaks by his longtime comics collaborator Terry Beatty, there's a lot more classic comics feel than the "realism" offered by Chabon. Collins admits the his heroes are flawed, and loves them. Chabon twists his into nothing but flaws and thinks you're a bigot if you don't like them.

Collins even writes about some of the causes of comics' decline in here, though with the belief that one could write for adults and still appeal to kids, or vice versa. But, the other thing that this offers is another argument against entryism in ANY field.

8 of 10 fell deeds

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Injustice Magazine Review: Astounding Frontiers issue 2

Cower not, fierce reader! Today we look at the second excursion into the pulp magazine field from Superversive Press. Yes, I have a couple of others I will get to soon, including Cirsova, but right now let's look at the stories here and their qualities.

Short Stories:


Dead Man Walking by Scot Washam- We've got a zombie story. But, our sole human's object is unusual, though his motive is not. I'm not sure how pulpy it is, but it is tense.

The Long Freeze(part 1) by Karl Gallagher- Hmm. Postapocalyptic adventure with two cryosleep inhabitants? Yeah, this is a bit pulpy.

The Robber Council(part 1) by Brian Niemeier- Ok, I'm not sure this is pulp, because it's a bit long in its pacing. This is also more of a historical adventure, so maybe towards the Conan/Kull type tale, but right now, we've got one very good scene, that will draw you back for more.

The Last Lesson(part1) by Russell May- Time travel stories and causality. I'm hoping it will become more of a conflict later on, but right now, it seems very one sided.

Serials

In the Seraglio of the Shiek of Mars by Ben Wheeler- We've still got a great romance here, and the pacing is poised to pick up a lot with the next installment. For now, there's the stirrings of conflict, and very much the awareness of threats.

Daughter of Sol by Cory McCleery- Well, THIS is definitely pulp. While there's no "genre mixing" (genre doesn't exist, it's marketing for people that like little boxes) yet, I wouldn't be surprised by a serious input of romance and the fantastic in addition to the already amazing space opera elements present.

Nowither by John C. Wright- Look, I read it, it was really good, but I know I'll reread when the novel gets its full release. Yeah, cool stuff here.

Galactic Outlaws by Nick Cole and Jason Anspach- More from the second of the Galaxy's Edge books. If you haven't read it, worth your while.

Vintage

The Stolen Mind by M. L. Staley- Hmm. This  is intriguing, and while there is conflict, it's mostly one sided for a large chunk of the story. Also, this seems far more toward the SciPhi crowd, or the equivalent of its time. But there's still plenty of subterfuge and misdirection and desperation to save the world.

Into Space by sterner St. Paul- No real action, nevermind an active conflict, this has a lot of nice touches nonetheless. A secretive scientist and a reporter he has been friends with see the start of a new but miscalculated great experiment.


Compared to issue one, there's a great improvement in the story choices toward pulp aesthetics, especially with McCleery's entry, and all the entries are good reading. Even the cover is a better fit to the idea of pulp storytelling. I question the number of stories that ran unfinished outside the serials; mostly due to the fact that they all start this issue. The vintage stories are a good addition, though I'm a bit at a loss as to these choices (I know they're likely public domain, but a LOT should be). I'd prefer to see perhaps one action oriented story versus two that are much more "men with screwdrivers" tales.

8 of 10 fell deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.


Monday, September 4, 2017

Thoughts on this year's Dragon Awards(2017)

Well, I can't say I'm incredibly surprised. They did report voting numbers over twice that of the Hugos, so I'd say that makes them at least twice as representative of fandom. Now if only they'd add some categories(I'll come back to that).

As to the winners, I have only a few of real complaints. Daniel Humphreys wrote a masterpiece, and the Doctorow books I've read say there's no way he could write something that compelling.  It's a straight popularity contest, and Humphries only has two novels out so far. I get it. Swan Knight's Son is SOO GOOD, but again popularity contest, and JCW doesn't do any social media.

Now, to my big complaint: HOW ON EARTH DID THE SJW EXPANSION FOR BETRAYAL WIN? Well, I've got a couple of ideas here. As a new award, boardgamers don't care about it. In fact, I don't know that boardgamers will ever care about it as a relevant award, they care far more about reviews. Why? There's a LOT of noise in boardgames; you can find people that like anything, so you look for reviewers that like things you like. And yes, they influence the market, sometimes greatly. Hopefully, I'm starting to fill some of that niche for folks in books.

Now, as to what changes should be made?

Pull paranormal and urban out of the sff categories, possibly as a single category, maybe not. Add a best sff magazine/anthology category(it can split to two later; it's progress). Add a fan writer category, and maybe a cover category(this would be for all covers of eligible material).  Avoid editor/publisher categories. For the tabletop categories, don't allow expansions in the main category, but perhaps make an expansion category(this would include CCG sets). And if somebody wants to pull their nomination, say no; it's not about them.

Overall, I'd say things still look pretty good for the Dragon Award. Here's hoping they learned from their mistakes this year, and will refine things for next.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Quick Reviews 2.13

Cower not, fierce reader! This day we have a fine collection of tales to cause the SocJus crowd to flee in terror. We've got milsf, fantasy, unspeakable horror, and more to look at. To the guilty!

Peacemaker by Keven Ikenberry- This is a continuation of his short from For a Fistful of  Credits, though you needn't read that first to follow the novel. Yep, another Horsemen universe book, with more to come before year's end. So when do these guys start taking meetings?  Major crime: Redemption can be costly. 8 of 10 fell deeds.

King's Champion by Peter Grant- Well, we have an acient evil trying to rise again, and the champion of good isn't anywhere near his peak. Why? He's OLD, and has gotten slower. But he still holds the title of King's Champion, and all its authority. Major crime: Self sacrifice for what one loves. 9 of 10 fell deeds.

Good to the Last Drop by Declan Finn-  This is the last story for this arc, and the action is bigger than anything yet. We've got more ninjas, vampires, werewolves, cops and gangsters in the mix, and a volatile mix it is. Great place to end the set. Major crime: How Catholic does it have to be? 8 of 10 fell deeds.

Cannibal Hearts by Misha Burnett- Second of his Book of Lost Doors, this has a lot of weird. Make no mistake, there's action here as well, this is no HPL book full of academics. There's action and violence aplenty. The weird content and sexual content definitely keep this from being for everyone. Major crime: Struggling to be human and normal. 7 of 10 fell deeds

Six Gun Seranade by David J. West-  There's two stories here. The first is a Porter Rockwell tale, that follows an innocent swept up in events he can't control. The next is a tale of gambling, murder, betrayal and greed in the Weird West.  Major crime: Don't let greed get the better of you. 8 of 10 fell deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

SocJus and Boardgame Podcasts

Our New Friend over at the R&G for Justice blog has a post that's at least partly right. I've spent a bit of timee listening to boardgame podcasts, and well, I got better.

I can tell some of you are already thinking, "Why would the Injustice Gamer even jokingly disparage boardgame podcasts? Aren't boardgames his thing in gaming?". Yes, they are. Podcasts, on the other hand, are much less so, and I have trouble finding the time to listen even to the podcasts I would like to(Geek Gab, Catholic Geek, JimFear138, Kennings and Cantrips, Superversive). And those are people I LIKE.

But, with regards to boardgame podcasts, they tend to break down into boardgame news, what's being played, reviews, and maybe a guest. And there's nothing wrong with that. But there's a ton of podcasts, and a lot of them follow this exact set of discussion points.

And, due to the "Cult of the New" nature the hobby's culture has, many of the podcasts will discuss the same game or games in the same week. Now, we do have a chunk here where Our New Friend goes wrong. He seems to think that "similar and redundant" content(reviews) are unoriginal. Now, I will say that most game reviews follow a few standard formats, and few try to inject real personality to differentiate themselves.

That's FINE. They're reviewing boardgames. He wants more "diverse" content, and by that he states he wants diverse opinions and perspectives(which would be good), from more "diverse" people with different lived experiences. Maybe he should find some guys that like heavier games, or some blue collar gamers(I'm one). But no, by diverse, he means minorities.

Then he discusses some podcasts he listens to. And by some, I mean the five left after culling from 15 to 20. Now, I'm guessing somebody spends office hours to listen to some of these, because otherwise I have no clue how anyone listens to that many podcasts.

Here's another idea if you want actual diversity: listen to podcasts about different things, if you want that to be your media consumption. Fiction, philosophy, politics, hiking, fitness, specific games, etc. There's a whole lot of ideas out there, and if you limit yourself to one field, you limit yourself. If you're going to be a SocJus idjit, at least be a well rounded one. You might become aware of things like what Christians actually believe(including differences between denominations/sects).

But you want to focus on diversity within the hobby. Go listen to the Dice Tower, instead of your friends with the cats. What? You don't want to listen to a guy who was a missionary in Far East, and had to come back because his wife got pregnant again? So much for diversity.


When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Game Mechanics: Auctions

Yep. Because there's more to auctions than the disorderly bidding mess that are normal for auctions in the USA. And, games present and distill them well as mechanics. So, I'm going to go through the type of auction and how it works in a game, and give at least one example of this in a game.

Open Auction: The most easily recognized type of auction. Most games implement them with turn order for bidding, though a few do not. Power Grid uses this with turn order for new power plants. Indonesia uses them without turn order for mergers. Keyflower uses them for tiles to add to your village, with meeples being the bidding currency, and only one color(of four) being used per tile.



Sealed bid: Typically what is used for sheriff's auctions for property. In games, everyone chooses their bid and presents it concealed, when all are ready, revealed simultaneously. Sometimes combined with the all pay auction, discussed later.  O Zoo Le Mio uses this for its tile auctions, and Money uses it to determine order for choosing groupings to obtain. Scoville utilizes the sealed bid in an all pay format for the order of choice of turn order(which has different benefits per phase of the turn).


All pay auction: This is the least popular type of auction in gaming, because it punishes those that lose their bids heavily. This is a specific segment of sealed bid auction, not much applicable outside of gaming. Revolution! uses these to determine who wins each role for the turn. Dune uses a two player version to determine victory in battles.


Fixed price auctions: These can go two ways, either a fully fixed price, or fixed increments. Modern Art uses fully fixed price auctions as one of its types. Vegas Showdown uses fixed increments for tile types.



 Once around auctions: Exactly what they sound like. Modern art implements these as another type, where the each bidder in turn only gets one chance.

Reverse auction: This is pretty much another game only thing. No Thanks! gives players penalty points for taking cards, with a sequence being only the lowest number penalty. On their turn, players either take the card turned up(adding it to their negative points and taking all chips on it), or place a chip on it(reducing their positive points.




That's just a glimpse at auction games. There's a lot more great games with auctions, including Metropolys and Ra.



When you play Social Justice, the world loses.


Friday, August 25, 2017

Injustice Magazine Review: Broadswords and Blasters issue 1

Cower not, fierce reader! Today we examine another entry into the attempts to revive pulp sff magazines. And while this magazine does get some things right, I'd say it misses a big point, at least as far as the pulprev crowd is concerned. And while I can't speak for them, I think I've read enough of several members' thoughts and fictions to know where most of them sit on some of these things. Let's look at these stories

Skin Deep by Nicholas Ozment- This is a really strong opening of two friends traveling with other swordsman to see creatures of legend.  Our protagonist goes to see beauty, his friend goes out of friendship; the others go for less noble reasons. There is a falling out, and we see heroism, and what is the most noble piece here.

Dead Men Tell Tales  by Dave D'Alessio- We've got an SF detective story, or maybe it's more along the lines of a crime story, as there's no mystery to be solved. There's a body, a beating, some nice subterfuge, and little bits of tech extrapolation and orbital mechanics. I don't know that I'd really say there's conflict here, but I like the mix of things in here.

The Executioner's Daughter- by R. A. Goli- While well written, this didn't feel pulp at ALL. If anything, it's almost a historical story, and that's fine, but it's a puzzle piece. There's a burden of family, and it feels like it was written as a jab at patriarchy and monarchy. But, there's literally no conflict, merely a challenge to overcome, and it is no ennobling thing.

Pension Plan by Dusty Wallace- Another piece that feels at least close to a proper pulp story.  We've got a heist on a mob vault, aliens, prospectors, and a dying boomtown. Are they heroes? Nope, just against bigger bad guys than them.

Saturday Night Science by Michael M. Jones- Well, it's fast writing, and there is at least perceived conflict. And we have a mad scientist, so there's some entertaining goings on there. There's even a bit of modernist romance, though I care not for it in this tale.

Island of Skulls (part one of two) by Matt Spencer- This has a lot of the elements I'm looking for in a sword and sorcery tale. There's clear evil, and people opposed to it, as well as those actively serving it, and others following out of fear. There's a bit of magic, and a sense of local enmities, but not much action as yet. Perhaps in part two.

The Waters so Dark by Josh Reynolds- This comes SO close to being the story I want to read. It has notes of Unspeakable Horror, a figure that has a little in common with Solomon Kane, and  an unfortunate final take of hopelessness. Our protagonist is a man of faith who has been though horrors, with a blessed sword, but not skill to use it well. This I would be OK with, if his faith had proven to be a proper weapon, but unfortunately, the author saw fit to be subversive instead.

Thicker than Water by Rob Francis- This is another piece that may be more a historical fiction than fantasy or such. Our main character, while far from a good man, has qualities that look to eventually redeem him. Unfortunately, his companion in this story has learned another lesson, and the conflict of lessons leads to an abrupt end.

Now, what is missing from most of these stories? Well, with the pulprev crew, there is an understanding of the import of Christendom, even among at least some of the atheists. There's no such thing here; in fact, I'm reminded of other authors who were the hangers on of Lovecraft who missed the whole reason the horrors worked. Without a cultural foundation, there's no core morality, and most of the stories fall flat here, as there's little heroism to be found.

Does it fit the pulp ethos outside of this? Well, mostly yes. The stories move, there's no genre boundaries, though only a few have real conflict.

Story quality: 6 of 10 fell deeds 
Pulp feel: 7 of 10 fell deeds

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

I think I found a new friend to play with...

While doing some searches during GenCon for what the buzz was, I came across a blog titled *ahem* Reading and Gaming for Justice. Go ahead, take a moment to recover, I fully understand.


On the about page, Our New Friend tells of how in 2014, he was struck by the fact that most of his reading was "white male authors", and that he has made efforts since then to correct that "diversify his reading". That year was also the year he began playing boardgames, where he has also been struck by the implications of the market in designers, themes, and specific games.

And so Our New Friend decided to start blogging to answer these questions with his stunning bravery. "Social justice is not an individual journey; we must all take it together." Our New Friend also works with Youth of Diverse Backgrounds in higher education in a non-academic setting. And has "learned about and experienced extensively the impact of systemic privilege and oppression".

Whew, lad. I'm going to start unpacking what you're doing wrong.

First, why care about the race and sex about the authors you read? Instead, consider: are you entertained; are you informed; are you sanctified; are you counseled; are you improved by the content of the works you read? I don't care about race and sex of my authors with regard to their writing.

Second, you want to apply those same ridiculous standards to boardgames? You must really hate the fact that Reiner Knizia, Stefan Feld, Friedman Friese, Martin Wallace, Vlaada Chvatil, and Uwe Rosenberg design and sell a lot of games compared to pretty much everybody else. And many of their designs are far better than what most folks accomplish.

There's also the matter of who does most of the reading and gaming in the world. The answer might surprise you, New Friend, but it's not a minority group. So yes, I'd say it's reasonable for whites to do most of the writing and game design if they're the ones doing most of the reading and gameplay.

As to your education and work, I'm glad you were able to get a job with your degree. I haven't been, so I have no clue what you mean by systemic privilege. And yep, your idea of Social Justice requiring everybody is dead on, and also exactly why it won't work. People are disagreeable and contrary in the USA, and ignoring the fact that sometimes folk just don't get along is just a terrible idea. Quit being a commie.

I'll come back and visit soon, New Friend. We have a lot to discuss, because you're clearly more concerned with what you think is justice than what is actually good and just. I hope that someday you'll learn:

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Injustice Quick Reviews 2.12

Cower not, fierce reader! This fine day, we have special sf ops, an apocalyptic endgame, pyramid puzzles, and laughter from both deepest, dumbest Africa and space truckers. Let's get looking at our library and what demerits they have.

The Lawdog Files: African Adventures by Lawdog- I will say that not all the stories in here are from Africa. The Africa stories are from his youth, and about half are from his time since coming to the USA. I thought this was a much funnier collection than the earlier one, though . Major crime: Corruption and stupidity in the Dark Continent. 8 of 10 fell deeds.

Smith's Monthly #40 by Dean Wesley Smith-  He's one I've heard mentioned by writers referring to pulp speed a lot, and thought I'd try one of his volumes. There's four stories in here, a novel(The Adventures of Hawk), and a section on  killing the sacred cows of indie publishing. I think the indie publishing part was valuable. The fiction in here is alright, though only the Hidden Canyon story and The Adventures of Hawk gave me any sense of wonder and adventure. Major crime: Playing against the rules. 6 of 10 fell deeds.

Galaxy's Edge: Kill Team by Jason Anspach and Nick Cole- Yep, this is the third NotStarWars book from them. Interestingly, it fills a part of the gap between the first two books. This has some new story, including a look at the "intelligence" community making things worse for everyone. Major crime: Spy agencies aren't trustworthy. 8 of 10 fell deeds

Days of Future Past: Future Tense by John Van Stry- This is the finale of the far future apocalyptic fantasy. We see glimpses of the future space program, orc torture methods, and revolutionary madness. If you've followed the story so far, carry on. It's worth the end of the ride. Major crime: The path needed is sometimes very painful. 7 of 10 fell deeds.

 Galaxy Trucker: Rocky Road by Jason A. Holt- Why? Because it's a fun boardgame. The novel plays up the game's silliness to the right spots, and we've got interludes with pirates, semi-paradise planets, meteors, brown aliens, and trucker bands. Oh, and a good heft of corporate bureaucracy and de facto slavery. Major crime: Companies want your money. Especially if you work for them. 7 of 10 fell deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

So, about SAC 2nd gig

I'm referring to the second season of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex(not done yet, just a rant from what I've seen). And while it's entertaining, and has emotional rewards for the viewer, part of the overacing story is just driving me nuts. This will have spoilers, but it's been out for awhile, so too bad.

The big bad group set up as movers in the series is called the Individual 11. A bit odd, but whatever. Theyr'e supposedly a bunch of individualist, with no command structure. Stretching credibility a bit here, individualists usually want to be left alone. Here's the kicker: they're socialists bent on redeeming the massive number of refugees, or rather, pushing them toward redeeming themselves.

NO. Individualists are not socialists. Pretty much ever. Socialism requires a rigid authority structure, and ignores the individual. This requires a great misunderstanding of individualism, socialism, or both.

So yeah, I found the moment that was discussed a bit immersion breaking. In other respects, however, the series is somewhat prescient. Massive numbers of refugees have been brought into Japan at this time, and they're on the dole, and also competing for jobs with citizens. Meanwhile, the veterans of the last war get bad jobs and bad care from the government, being seen as a suspect class by some in fact.

Now, the show so far doesn't make a big political statement. It's largely a police procedural with some cyberpunk elements, though there are moments where the characters are trying to understand the some of the conflict motivations, and somewhat sympathize with each side.

It is refreshing to see entertainment even address the issues, and see them as real problems with the unpalatable solutions. Also seeing the government/commercial cooperation in corruption and actively acting against the people is far removed from most Western entertainment. Usually, when such things are even broached, it's one ore two individuals in government involved, not the much more likely high concentration of corruption in government at all levels.

Thanks for reading my mild rant.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Music blog: Missa Assumpta est Maria by Palestrina

Since yesterday was the feast of the Assumption of Mary, AND I love counterpoint, here's a timely mass setting.


And whether or not you agree with the teaching, it's magnificent music.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Injustice Book Review: Star Legions(books 1 and 2) by Michael G. Thomas

Cower not, fierce reader! This day, we take a look at a novel by one of the downplayed big indie authors. I just took a chance on this collection, and after reading the first two novels, I can see why he might be pulling down the large numbers Nick Cole has mentioned a few times, as he's got 30 plus books already and puts out more regularly. Anyway, I'm reviewing what I've read of Star Legions, which is currently the first two books. Let's take a look at what charges we can find against the Narrative.

Well, here's a pretty big one: it's a trasplant of a historical story, that of the warrior Xenophon. Yeah, we have glimpses of real history and legends that were foundational to Western Civilization. Greeks, Persians, and more fill the story. The cities and empires have been transplanted to planets, bases, and galactic empire, with the technology being appropriately upgraded.

Another big crime is the portrayal of direct democracy. I know that Vox is an advocate of such, but some of the Greeks had it too, and it resulted in wars that were beyond pointless, destroying both the military and the trust the society had prior. Due to basically mob rule, taxation is apparently high, the military disciplines weakened, and war declared that cannot be won.

There''s an awful lot going on here, and I'm not going to detail the differences between the Terrans(Greeks) and Medians(Persians), never mind the other races and cultures that appear peripherally. The military structure of the historical Greeks is maintained to good effect, emphasizing relationships with command, not just the ability to lead. The weapons used vary from pulse cannon to carbines, to cut down carbines with blades.

The Legions are from the various planets of Terrans, hired by Cyrus the Mede, brother to the Emperor. If you know the history, I don't have to tell you that's a cover. If you don't well, the war's been over for over two thousand years, spoilers need not apply.

If you like history and milsf, I definitely recommend these books. If you don't know, well, the whole series is cheap, but you can get book one for free currently.

History, political theory, mercenaries, and subterfuge. 7 of 10 fell deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Terraforming Mars after one play

I finally had the chance to play Terraforming Mars last night. I'd seen bits of it before, but didn't know how the game actually worked before then. Pictures are from BoardGameGeek, not my play of the game.

This game is a mix of cooperative and competitive, in that the game lasts until Mars is sufficiently terraformed, that is, with 8% atmospheric oxygen, 8 degrees Centigrade, and 9 water tiles placed. I use the term tiles, as they would be giant glaciers for much of the game, before the melting point is reached, and the planet gets water, mine, city, and greenery tiles placed on it.


Some of you are already asking about the cubes, I can hear it. Each player has a color of cube, and for non-water tiles, it matters who placed them at the endgame for scoring.

The game is divided into generations and turns, with a generation being the turns taken until everyone passes. At the start of game, and each generation, starting with first player, each draws cards and pays for those they wish to keep. On a turn a player takes one or two actions. Many of these come from cards, but there are standard projects that just need paying for: building a city, adding water, and increasing production. Milestones can also be claimed, awards funded, and some cards grant actions as well.

Card play: cards have a cost and prerequisites in the left top corner, and give icons(for milestones and prereqs) in the top right. These stay in tableau once played, and some grant endgame points as well.





Just to the right of that huge tableau is the player board, which keeps track of income levels and current stocks of money/commodities. The player board is my biggest complaint, as it is very easy to knock cubes around and lose track of where they are if you're not careful(I am, but that's not the point).

Before I had played, I was concerned about the solvability of the game, and I think it might still be somewhat, but the cards go a very long way to fight that. If you like brain burners, this might fit your wheelhouse, but it's not that heavy compared to others. It's a nice mid complexity game.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Pulp Comics: Tazan/Carson of Venus

First things first: this is not a story ERB wrote. Or rather, stories, as it also collects the book Tarzan: A Tale of Mugambi. That said, it's well worth a look, and I haven't done one of these for awhile.






Yep. It looks awesome. And the start of the book feels that awesome. Carson is, as is his norm, captured by some people And of course, I mean one of Amtor's myriad races that are hostile to each other. Anyway, his escape occurs at the attack of a great beast, thwarted by someone who surprisingly speaks English: Tarzan. Like I said, ERB never wrote this, but given the interactions, the hostile aliens, and overlapping plot/peril/escape plan, this is very much like one of the Carson Napier books.

The various friends and enemies to be made in Amtor is easily added to, and we are introduced to water people and their giant turtles. We also meet a tribe known as the Timal, who live in the giant trees of the planet. Tarzan and Carson are separated, and we see more individual adventure. Carson's wife has been captured, and, as usual, Carson and Duare end up rescuing each other.

Here's from just before the first escape:

And yes, the artwork is largely very good, with some issues here and there. The inking and coloring is excellent.

The other story is also well done, but is largely a secondary consideration, as it is not even an apocryphal Tarzan adventure, but rather, a take on a creation myth that involves Tarzan.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

What the Dragon Awards just got VERY WRONG

So, some liberal authors(and some of their crowds) have raised a ruckus over the Dragon Award nominations. Three authors, John Scalzi, N.K. Jemisin, and Allison Littlewood, asked to withdraw from the ballots, either because they didn't want to face a popular campaign with no gatekeeping entry fee, or for virtue signalling points with the tradpub/SJW crowd.

What was the response? DragonCon decided to allow Jemisin and Littlewood to withdraw, and talked Scalzi into staying(I'll let others give commentary on that). Giving in to demands of this nature is a very "conservative" play, by which I mean it loses nobly and accomplishes nothing. To their credit, they are going to reissue ballots for those whose votes are affected by these.  Here's DragonCon's official statement .

There are good reasons to not give in, and I'm going to talk about them first. But then, I'm going to discuss a PROPER response that would have allowed withdrawals as well. This is important, because giving the opponent a way out that doesn't damage you changes perceptions. But, the way they went does damage the perception, and plays to the Narrative against the awards.

So, first, why would you not allow withdrawals? Because though the award is for the work of authors and other content producers, IT'S NOT ABOUT THEM. Even in this press release, DragonCon states that the award is about the fans. DragonCon has a history of caring far more about the fans than the celebrities, and not inviting back ones that ignore fans, panels, etc.

Also, the biggest part of the complaining on Littlewood's part is that a bloc voted for her. Last year, Larry Correia was actively encouraged to campaign for the award, and this is after his time running Sad Puppy campaigns. So, because these fans are voting together, their voice doesn't matter? That's ridiculous. George R.R. Martin even finally had to admit that campaigning had ALWAYS existed in the Hugos awards, of course, downplaying it because it was behind closed doors.

Now, I can understand concern over voter fraud. But that's not what they're talking about here. How would I combat fraud?  First, check things by IP. Second, I would, at a later date determined randomly, send a confirmation email that REQUIRES a reply. Yes, I'm saying people need to watch their inbox and junk email. If no reply occurs within a specified time period, delete their nominations.


Now, as to how I would allow for withdrawal if I were them. Make it permanent. Yes, if you're going to allow for withdrawal from a fan award with a reputation for favoring fans over celebrities, deny them forever. Why? Right now, they're also playing a game of the Dragons not being real, legitimate awards. The next step, to take it the rest of the way, is to deny them a professional presence at DragonCon in perpetuity, for denying the fans.

DragonCon, play the role of a proper good dragon, protecting something precious. If you don't, they will corrupt you, and then, you will have to face St. George someday.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Kickstarter Glimpses, August 2017

Now, some of you already know that this month and next are just about the worst time of the year to launch projects. GenCon eats up GOBS of budget for a lot of people, between travel, hotel, events, food, and all the new releases. Doesn't mean people don't try. So here's a look at some interesting ones.

Kingdoms Lawn Game- Yeah, I know it's not a boardgame. It's an outdoor game for boardgamers. Yes, it's pricey, but as the publisher has mentioned in the comments, it's in line with pricing for similar lawn games. Part Bocce, part last man standing.

The Exiled:Siege - Tactics expansion- There's also pledge levels for those that don't have the original game, as I don't think this has reached wide distribution yet. But, it's an interesting coop game of being under siege, building and reinforcing defenses. There's even an add on for plastic siege engine minis.

Paladin: Warriors of Charlemange- If you like some of the ideas of King Arthur Pendragon, but want a bit more historical basis, this might be the RPG for you. Of course, you still have to deal with lots of legend, and the generational aspects are likely tweaked a little.

Total Recall: The Official Tabletop Game- Well, that's a mouthful; at least it's based on the older movie. This looks to be part resistance, part resource and hand management game, with a chance to win even if you get killed.

Reaper Miniatures Bones 4- If you like minis for your RPGs, or just painting them, this is a good way to get a lot of stuff relatively cheaply. The sculpts are pretty good, and some of them look AMAZING for REH style fantasy games, both in heroes and monsters. Now is they would reissue some of the older ones...

Nexus: Scrapyard- A scifi shipbuilding game with interesting action rules/fluff, and some interesting ideas with regard to opportunity cost. This is also apparently the first in a set of games telling a story.



ok, that's some cool game stuff, now for other things!

Amazing Tales of the Wasted Lands- Now this might, just might draw some of the PulpRev crowd. I remember some of the art, and I think one of the graphic novels from this world, and it's cool. It appears to be physical only, but it's not too pricey, either. Hopefully, it's at least as good as my recollection.

Shadow of the West: Legend of the Nightranger- This graphic novel is from someone that's worked on TMNT, the Tick, and a few other things. He's gotten the whole thing written, drawn, and inked, and this looks like fun, just from what I'm seeing. Weird West type fun.

700 Knights- This is actually for the fourth issue, but the previous three are available. This is the story of the Knight of Malta defending the island from the siege of the Ottoman Empire.

Escape from North Korea- Yes, it is an homage to that amazing movie. And The Game of Death. And look, just watch the video there, it's going to be the most awesomely 80's thing since Kung Fury. Plus, supporting an independent filmmaker.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Injustice Anthology Review: Astounding Frontiers #1

Cower not, fierce reader! This day, we examine the first volume of what Superversive Press, and the movement are touting as a modern Pulp magazine. I'm going to go through the stories and serials, and look at them as I find them. And then I'll discus the magazine as a whole.

STORIES
The Death Ride of Suns Joyeuse by Patrick S. Baker- This is a space milsf story. It's good, but I didn't feel like I was reading a pulp story. There's a bit much focused on minutiae here,  and that's not bad, but it slows down what should be a faster paced story. MilSF. Descended from pulp, but not pulp.

Riders of the Red Shift by Lou Antonelli- This is really intriguing. I dig it as a piece of future historical investigation. It almost feels like a glimpse at a pulp story, within something that approaches pulp. I might need to read more of his shorts, especially if he puts out a collection. Pulp like, with glimpses of pulp action, but none present.

According to Culture by Declan Finn- Declan gives us an sf story following a Ranger named Sean Patrick Ryan. Perhaps some distant descendant of Sean A. P. Ryan? Anyway, there's an explosion to start, and a good long fight for the climax, including a dragon. Pretty pulpy. The story moves.

Stopover on Monta Colony by Erin Lale- I'm not sure about this one. The flow is pretty fast, and there's plenty happening, but there's a problem, not a conflict. And the nature of how things are resolved feels off. I almost think this would fit SciPhi Journal better, with the food for thought section at the end of their stories. Kinda pulpy. 

Watson's Demon by Sarah Salviander- Ok, this story is really good. But, it isn't pulp. There's no action, no advancement of conflict, just some rather intriguing ideas. I think this would have been amazing for SciPhi Journal, talking about hubris and humility at the high levels of disciplines, and the nature of humor as a sign of intelligence. Not pulp, but very interesting.

 SERIALS
 Nowhither by John C. Wright- First, I applaud the cooperation with Castalia House to basically prepublish the first half of the book(at least that's the percent I've been led to believe).  I know there are folks that found Somewhither very long; I didn't.  Anyway, there's a lengthy prologue that is a quick summary of book one, and the first chapter.  There's a lot of description, and a lot happening here, so I've no complaints. Pulpy. Of the longer nature.

In the Seraglio of the Sheik of Mars by Ben Wheeler- I hadn't read anything by Mr. Wheeler before, so this was a really nice surprise. There's romance, and an investigation into the truth of someone, but not as yet conflict. I suspect that shall begin soon, given some of the pieces in play. Pretty sure it's pulp.

Galactic Outlaws by Nick Cole and Jason Anspach- This is a selection from their second book in the series. I've already reviewed it, and if you haven't read the book, it's not out of place. Pulp or pulp descended, it might be a bit too milsf for some.

The Whole Magazine
Ok, I think it's clear I don't think this is yet really a pulp magazine. There's nothing that lines up with pulp fantasy at all here, and a couple pieces just didn't feel like they fit what was put forward as the focus of the book. As a collection, I find this to be a much better effort than Forbidden Thoughts was, even without having it's full focus yet.

Story selection: Why didn't the PulpRev guys get asked for anything, even just one or two of them? Some of these guys have a good number of short stories sitting around, and it's apparent they know pulp methods and stylings better than most of the Superversive crowd.

Serials: I am very much torn on this, given that I've read one already and had planned on reading another since I finished Somewhither over a year ago. I'd prefer seeing Mr. Wright's Superluminary get a broader audience than his Patreon, especially as I've heard of no further plans for it. There could even be three entries interspersed through the magazine, and you'd still have enough for twenty issues.  As to Galactic Outlaws, it's a loss for me, having read it previously. And given it's high sales, I don't see the benefit for them or this with its inclusion. Mr. Wheeler's serial is the one that intrigues me most, as I hadn't read him yet, and it's a very different in nature to the rest.

As an anthology: 8 of 10 fell deeds.
As a pulp anthology: 7 of 10 fell deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Injustice Book Review: The Golden Horde by Chris Kennedy

Cower not, fierce reader! This day we look at the latest book of the Revelations cycle, or the Four Horsemen universe. I can hear someone say, "But that came out last week!" .  What can I say? I fell behind in my reading. Anyway, enough about my slacking. To the review!

After his first entry, Asbaran Solutions, I had thought that perhaps Chris was the weaker writer of the pair, though still quite competent. This book proves that he just needed to find his ground. With this, he most definitely does. Perhaps it was the characters of the first book that kept me more distant, but this drew me in.

One treat with this story is that it isn't just centered on one character, we see a return from one featured in the anthology as well. And while you don't need to have read that story for this one, it's a nice treat to see some aftermath from a determined and tough character.

That's not to say there isn't plenty to like about the characters created for this book. There's an interesting dynamic, of family, redemption of sorts, and paranoia. The Enkh family runs and makes up a large portion of the Horde, based in Uzbekistan. They make a big deal about having and using information faster and better than anyone else. To kill aliens on strange planets.

We even see a return of our favorite failed logistics officer, Sommerkorn. This time, well, let's say he stays employed and even redeems himself for his mistakes.  A bit of a tragic character this, and in this volume, there's no comedy.

Oh, you want to know about the book's crimes? Right. It encourages paranoia, more than suggests government complicity in undermining its people, decisions of great import made without approval of authorities, and well, would be characterized as xenophobic by the SocJus crowd. But I don't believe in making friends with Tortantulas and MinSha for the most part, that's just a bad idea. As Nick Cole and Jason Anspach have written, KTF.

8 of 10 fell deeds.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Clarifying my posts on Superversive

Given the amount of traffic, and some of the comments, my posts this week on the Superversive Press/movement issues, I figured I should clear a few things up.

First and most important,  I don't consider this a fight. I'm seeing problems I would like fixed. This is not to say I don't see issues with Castalia House, or the PulpRev, I do. If, as many authors(Mr. John C. Wright included) state, readers are the bosses of authors, then we need to know things.

The biggest thing we need to know is WHEN STUFF COMES OUT. I literally only knew about Astounding Frontiers launching because Lou Antonelli posted on his Facebook account, I didn't see it in my Twitter feed or on any author blogs at the time. There was no launch announcement on either Superversive page.  If your boss doesn't know you completed a job, don't expect to hold that job for a long time.

Brandon Sanderson is an excellent example here. Now, I haven't read him much since the Torcott began, but take a look at the top left corner of his blog. Right there. Progress bars for multiple projects. I'm not saying the Press or sf page need to do this, it's just cool to see, and it does build a measure of both trust and anticipation. Then, on the right side of the first blog entry, he has a module for buying his last release, whatever it happens to be at the time. You can select country, format, and vendor. Again, it's a lot, but it is cool.

Another huge issue is that the Superversive Press page is pretty much a waste of space as it currently exists. Sure, the scrolling slideshow has links to project pages, but that's honestly distracting, and timing could send someone to the wrong volume. There's no other way to get to the books, either. Author pages? What are those? Nobody needs to know about our authors.(Yes, I'm being a bit snarky.)  Now, I have been informed reliably that this will be changing, hopefully the website management gets passed sooner than later.

And, since so much of what the movement is working on is for the Press, where are the announcements for any of those anthologies? I know there's a series of planetary anthologies, some of which still need submissions, and some are still a ways out. Where are those requests, and what about for future Astounding Frontiers(more on that in another post)?  If it's for pulp style stories, I'd think Jason would want the PulpRev guys sending in some stuff.

Now, if they want to keep submissions to a closed group, that's their prerogative. But that seems to run counter to the welcoming attitude they state they have.

But my biggest issue is the still near total lack of outside communication they have. If they're going to get on more social media and interact, spend a little less on Facebook, and converse on Twitter or Gab. TODAY. This doesn't take a group decision, get off your cat pictures and talk crap about stupid stuff with me in front of everyone. It'll be fun. Keep in mind, a week is very long on the internet.

When you play Social  Justice, the world loses.


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Dragon Short List, and the recommendations of Injustice

As most of my readers are likely aware by now, the shortlist for the Dragon Awards was announced a couple of days ago. So, I'm going to go through each category and discuss what I've read/played, and my recommendations. My selections are strictly based on what I've read, and believe to be the best book of those, not my relationship with the authors.

Best SF Novel- I have read Escaping Infinity, The Secret Kings, and The Collapsing Empire. I have literally NO idea how people thought Scalzi's book was worth nominating. Of the two others, I prefer Brian's The Secret Kings, though Richard's book might be a touch more accesible. My vote: The Secret Kings.

Best Fantasy: I've only read Vox's book. And I haven't read anyone outside of him, Corriea, and Ringo in the shortlist here. So, I have to say: A Sea of Skulls.

Best YA: The only one here I've read is Swan Knight's Son, and that was the BEST book I read last year. Period.

Best MilSF: I've read Rescue Run, Starship Liberator, Cartwright's Cavaliers, and have also read a couple of Richard Fox's other novels. I actually doubt there's a BAD book in the category, though I did find Starship Liberator a bit weak. The Eric Flint book will likely win, but my vote is going to Cartwright's Cavaliers.

Best AltHistory: My only read from the category shortlist to date is No Gods, Only Daimons. My vote is there, and I would not be surprised if he, Turtledove, or Flint won.

Best Apocalyptic: I've read Codename: Unsub, and A Place Outside the Wild. Both are good, but A Place Outside the Wild was WOW.

Best Horror: I've only read Live and Let Bite, though a lot of my friends like Blood of Invidia. Outside those, I've little likelihood of reading them.

Best Comic Book: Saga converged hard over the last two years. I'm actually surprised there's only one hero book.

Best Graphic Novel: Look, I don't care for Butcher's work(don't read it), but good grief, the rest is so SJW that I want to puke.  Girl Genius? What is this, the Hugos? Lousy writing and art that is entertaining in a magazine strip.

Best SFF show: I DON'T CARE

Best SFF movie: I saw Wonder Woman. That's it. It was pretty good.

Best PC/Mobile categories: No opinion, aside from Mass Effect: Andromeda closing the studio and being in GOODWILL inside a year should disqualify it.

Best Boardgame: My vote is going to Scythe, though I think the only bad choice is the Betrayal expansion.

Best "other" tabletop game: I haven't played any, though I'll be happy with anything but Magic.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

Injustice Quick Reviews 2.11

Cower not, fierce reader! This day we run the gamut from true comedy to space opera to thriller and more. Let us take a look at our docket!

Noble Vengeance by William Miller- This is a second story, continuing months later. We've got a lot of internal intrigue within the intelligence community, the Mexican drug cartels, and a very on the nose political campaign. Major crime: Let's just say there's a LOT of mirroring and speculation on the last election. 8 of 10 fell deeds.

The Lawdog Files by Lawdog-  There's a lot for people to like in this collection of nonfiction humor. Some of the stories, I didn't see were that big a deal, but this book is both humorous and tender in turn. Major crime: There's a few crimes in here, but to the narrative? That cops are human. 7 of 10 fell deeds.

Adventure Constant by Jon Mollison- Jon's first novel shows a lot of his growth process as a writer coming to fruition. This book is outstanding, unbelievable fun, and feels like an older book, but one that is a slight bit self aware. It claims to be Jack Dashing book 1, and as it establishes a multiverse, I'm wondering which approach it will take: following the same one, Jacks of multiple earths, or a combination? Will there be a Dashing Adventure League? Pulp Readers must know. My ONE complaint: get a copyeditor, please Jon, there's enough mistakes it was a bit jarring at a few points. Major crime: Big adventure, big heroism, big virtue. 8 of 10 fell deeds.

Young Man's War by Rod Walker- Mr. Walker continues to write the finest Heinlein works RAH never wrote. There's aliens, conspiracy, and encouragement of the best in mankind. With this being the first official book in The Thousand Worlds, it appears he might be preparing to enter the grand stage of such works as Known Space and the Alliance Union universe. Major crime: Government ignoring real threats and instead pushing personal agendas for their legacies. 9 of 10 fell deeds.

The Long March by Richard Fox - This is the second in The Exiled Fleet series. There's a lot more in the way of cool space battles, we've got pirates and a free city, sabotage, and a whole lot more. The bad guys get badder, and the good guys well, more real. Major crime: Struggling with nobility and doing right by an enemy. 8 of 10 fell deeds.


When you play Social Justice, the world loses.