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Showing posts from April, 2016

Gaming Shenanigans

The above pretty much describes what little free time I have these days, be it active involvement, planning, or ideas bouncing around in my head.

I've been running a Dungeons & Dragons game for a few months now, with a bit of an unintended break thanks to crazy schedules.  Also, I'm still new enough at running games that I'm not at all confident in my ability to create a solid world and plot.  But folks seem to be having fun, so I must be doing something right.

Also on the table top/RPG front, I joined Chaosium's Cult of Chaos, which is a fancy way of saying I now run organized play Call of C'thulhu games.  Also, it means I get to GM without having to write the scenarios.  Yay.  First up for that is their A Time for Harvest campaign, which I'll be running at Modern Myths.  Game one takes place this Saturday from 3-7 (part of International TableTop Day activities), and then will continue through on the last Sunday of the month until we've finished all 6 …

Lord of the Rings : Fellowship of the Read - Book 2, Chapter 3

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Elrond's middle name is 'Deliberation.'

Not that it's a bad thing in this case or anything.

At the start of the chapter nothing is decided beyond that Frodo must take the ring to Mount Doom, and that Samwise will accompany him.  Merry and Pippin are a bit put out that Sam is "rewarded" for snooping on a private meeting, though they wisely hold no envy for Frodo.  The best news out of this all is that Gandalf says he will likely go along.  As if he wouldn't.  I mean, even without my familiarity with the rest of the story, does anyone seriously think this meddler wouldn't do everything in his power to see the story to the end?

And then come two months of waiting while scouts go far and wide to, well, scout.  The good news is none find any sign of the Riders or of Gollum.  Also, Elrond gets lots of time to think about who should go along with Frodo.

As for the final party we get a company of nine, a balance against the nine Riders, with representatives o…

[Book Review] Paper Girls, Volume 1

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Paper Girls (Volume 1) / Brian K. Vaughan

Pre-dawn, November 1, 1988.  The hour of the paper boys.  Or in the case of this small town, the paper girls who have stood up and grabbed a place for themselves.  November 1st carries its risks, the tricksters and vandals still running amok from their Halloween revels, bringing the four paper carries together for strength in numbers.

Then things start getting strange as the girls are caught up in a time-traveling, inter-generational conflict from a surrealist future.


A brilliant and inventive, with gorgeous color, fast pacing, and a dash of Sci-Fi.

Advance Reader Copy courtesy of Image Comics in exchange for an honest review; changes may exist between galley and the final edition.

[Book Review] Manties in a Twist (The Sub's Club)

Manties in a Twist(The Subs Club #3) / J. A. Rock

Disclaimer: This is a review of an erotic novella about people who get off on what some readers may consider rather horrible things being done to them in consensual situations.

The books in this series portrays kink in a manner that you are not likely to have encountered in popular erotic romance (Fifty Shades of Grey, Bared to You, etc).  Depending on your general stance, you'll end up either shocked or thrilled at the kink play within.


The Subs Club series follows a group of four men still mourning the loss of their friend due to carelessness during an edge-play scene at a BDSM club over a year ago.  These are the stories of them reconciling their loss, developing relationships, growth, and hot and heavy sexy times.


Previously reviewed: The Subs Club and Pain Slut

Kamen is the joker, the one who says awkward things and never seems to take anything seriously.  Hal was his friend, but the Sub's Club has never been an av…

[Book Review] 30 Nights

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30 Nights / Christine d'Abo (Powell's Books)

All work leaves little time for play, and with a demanding, opportunistic boss, Glenna O'Donald always has less time than the various abortive relationships want.  The high points?  Sharing an office with her best friend, her boss' current sabbatical, and drooling over Professor Morris.

Reeling from the death of her beloved great-grandmother, and wondering how to best fulfill Great Glenna's good bye encouragement to step out of her comfort zone, Glenna finds a deck of index cards in the cemetery.  Index cards lovingly written out for a woman, and encouraging her to explore her own sexual horizons.  Cards that Eric Morris seems quite interested in exploring with Glenna.

Glenna and Eric embark on a sexual exploration together, filled with explosive sex and a growing affection that they try to ignore.  Will they find what they need beyond their 30 nights?


30 Nights cleverly continues the story started in 30 Days, but through …

[Book Review] A Study in Sable

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A Study in Sable (Elemental Masters) / Mercedes Lackey (Powell's Books)

A Study in Sable takes us to cusp-of-the-century London and into the world of Sherlock Holmes.  Our protagonists are the increasingly favored Nan and Sarah, not magicians/elemental masters, but with powers in their own right that prove invaluable.  As one would expect, Sherlock is not inclined to believe in magic, but would be a fool to turn his nose up at clear results.  Watson, on the other hand, is written as a Water Master, with his wife Mary as an Air Master.  The pivotal case for all parties revolves around a hugely successful opera singer, and her oddly missing sister.

I have a sneaking suspicion that devout fans of Sherlock Holmes will not appreciate this interpretation of the famous detective.  I've never actually read any of the stories, not being one with a significant interest in mysteries as a genre.

My personal preference with the Elemental Masters series are the novels that reinterpret fables…

Lord of the Rings : Fellowship of the Read - Book 2, Chapter 2

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Herein lies possibly one of the most remembered, at least in part, chapters of The Fellowship of the Ring.  The council of Elrond and deciding the fate of the ring.

I'm going to hazard a guess and say that casual reads likely skim over the histories revealed as they go, or at least retain a little less of it.  There's a lot of fill-in here that is totally relevant but easy to skip over.  I totally did when I first read this at 10.  On the other hand, that might also be why the whole story got super confusing to me later on...

The council itself is full of familiar faces from this book and from The Hobbit.  I do have to thank Steve Jackson for one thing here though, this is the first time I've actually noticed Thranduil.  In my defense, I'm really bad at names.  Like I have to make a concerted effort to keep Les Paul and Les Claypool straight (as for Ice Cube and Ice T, I feel like if I ever get to meet one of them I should apologize).  As for non-familiar faces, we hav…

[Book Review] Blood Stain Volume 1

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Blood Stain Volume 1 / Linda Sejic
Mad science at its finest. Chemistry major Elliot Torres has been unable to keep a steady job and eventually accepts a job by a rumored mad scientist Dr. Vlad Stein. Humorous hijinks ensue as their collaboration becomes epic. Ok, where has this comic been in my life?  Why am I just finding it now?  Did you know she's been publishing it all along as a webcomic on DeviantArt?

Volume One doesn't quite get to the Vlad and Elliot's collaborative hijinks, ending as they finally meet in person, but the trip (and story) to that point is definitely worth it.

Blood Stain has a fantastic blend of light and dark.  The humor runs rampant through the pages, yet providing deeply relateable experiences of depression and the at times frustrating futility of job searching.

Linda's artwork is and storytelling is delightful, and yes, I am using delightful in a conjunction with a comic book where from what I can tell every time we see Dr. Stein his hands a…

[Book Review] The Wicked + The Divine Book One HC

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The Wicked + The Divine Book One HC / Kieron Gillen, Matthew Wilson, Jamie McKelvie, Clayton Cowles

Now, usually I do try to write my own synopsis.  But really in this case Image nailed it.
Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critically thermonuclear floor-fillers Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to start a new ongoing superhero fantasy. Welcome to THE WICKED + THE DIVINE, where gods are the ultimate pop stars. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever. I don't know why I waited so long to read The Wicked + The Divine, and there's really no excuse, my library owns the first two volumes and even if we didn't I could have requested them through inter-library loan.

The Wicked + The Divine is a vibrant and engaging rock and roll journey through dreams, aspirations, lust, murder, and celebrity.  Whether you believe they are gods or not, wh…

Lord of the Rings : Fellowship of the Read - Book 2, Chapter 1

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ELVES!  ELVES EVERYWHERE!

In other words, Frodo comes to in Rivendell.  Even better, Gandalf is there.  Gandalf remains reticent about what delayed him, but says that the interfering events may be to their benefit overall.  Now, within the sanctuary of Rivendell, comes the time to discuss exactly what happened to Frodo... and how close all was to being lost.  The Riders are not vanquished, but temporarily stymied.  The rising of the river itself was in response to Elrond's power (not Frodo's invocation of Elbereth and Luthien), with flourishes provided by Gandalf.  But there's something underneath the surface, with Frodo experiencing a sensation of drowning when the riders were swept away.

Frodo also learns a little bit about assumptions and prejudice. Needless to say, let us hope Frodo learns from his assumptions about Butterbur and Strider.

Of particular value here to me is the further naming/explanation of "the Last Homely House."  Specifically that it is &qu…

[Book Review] Midnight Robber

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Midnight Robber / Nalo Hopkinson (Powell's Books)

It's Carnival on the planet of Toussaint, and young Tan-Tan dons her favorite guise, that of the Robber Queen.  But bigger games are afoot, and Tan-Tan is inadvertently caught up with her father's trespass and taken into exile as he escapes to New Half-Way Tree.  From a world where manual labor is a lifestyle choice to one where it is a necessity in ever aspect of life, Tan-Tan's world is forever changed.  Challenges never imagined now become a reality, and Tan-Tan must become the Robber Queen in truth to meet them.

A good article over at Strange Horizons here.

This year I included a few outside suggestions for the Virtual Speculation reading list, and our March read was one such suggestions.  I'm really glad of it, as I was only peripherally aware of Nalo Hopkinson before this (it appears I had an opportunity to review a new collection of short stories a few months back, but I didn't yet recognize the name so I …

Catching up around town

Game four was pretty low key, with our party being made up of neophyte gamers, one of the more experienced (and troublemaking) players absent, and of course it being a town game.

I know that town games can get quite complicated when players go looking for trouble.  These did not seek out trouble... though thanks to a player joke given the right situation they may have to make saving throws against carousing in the future.

Largely they went to their various guild halls or appropriate related place of learning and studied.  In the fighter's case this was to take part in the local (sanctioned) fight club run by a healing temple.  Yes, I totally cribbed that from Critical Role.  Deal with it.  I like the idea and I was pretty sure at least one of my players would chose to interact with it.  I did use the player supplied name suggestion of "Jabrony" for the fighting partner, and I now know there is such a term as "jabrony," and that it has nothing to do with My Litt…

[Book Review] Nameless

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Nameless / Grant Morrison & Chris Burnham

A story of shifting present and overlapping realities.  Nameless could be labeled "Lovecraftian" as a matter of simplicity in summarizing it's body horror, alien threat, and embedded psychosis, but perhaps is best considered "Pre-Lovecraft" pulling directly on the Polynesian and Mayan mythos that Lovecraft also borrowed from.

Graphic horror and so told in a way that's well suited to the still frame nature of sequential art rather than a narrative of text.  Brutal and multi-layered, without revealing a single truth over another.

Advance Reader Copy courtesy of Image Comics in exchange for an honest review; changes may exist between galley and the final edition.

Lord of the Rings : Fellowship of the Read - Book 1, Chapter 12

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It's a trap!

Sam is suspicious... and rightly so.  I think that Strider appreciates the suspicion, even if it means repeated defending of his intentions.  Perhaps that is in part what leads Strider to confide the seriousness of Frodo's wound to Sam?
"I fear, Sam, that they believe your master has a deadly wound that will subdue him to their will." Yeah... that fear is pretty spot on.

But more specifically, we're diving into the unnatural state of the Black Riders.  Mortal weapons are of little use against the Riders, but the name of Elbereth strikes like a blade.  The blade used to wound Frodo is found, only to melt away to just the hilt once Strider picks it up.  Weathertop itself appears as an ambush point from the start, and now their relative peace merely the Riders confidence that there quarry is not long a free living agent.  The wound that the Riders left is such that neither special herbs left from the days of the Men of the West nor elven magic are enou…

Link Smorgasbord, February & March 2016

Cause I had 3 links total for February.  Various side projects are keeping me a bit busy.

179. Goblins, Magical Librarians, and Fantasy Writing: An Interview with Jim C. Hines
Fun interview with an awesome author.

Zoe Quinn: Why I Just Dropped The Harassment Charges The Man Who Started GamerGate.
Her reasons are completely understandable, but it's still heartbreaking.  The whole situation is heartbreaking.  Of course, even if she didn't drop the charges and ended up with a win I think people would still see to it that it was a loss.

The Big Idea: Victor LaValle
I'm dying to read The Ballad of Black Tom, everything I hear about it sounds amazing.  For some reason no library in my consortium of 155 libraries has it.  I have recommended it as a purchase at my library to fix this.  Here LaValle talks about dealing with the realization that a literary idol is problematic.

Towards a taxonomy of cliches in Space Opera
Charles Stross talking about Space Opera.

E-book seller Nook pulls …