Thursday, January 21, 2021

I Read Stories: Too Far by Kristen Loesch


Too Far
by Kristen Loesch

A woman goes to the walled city of Kowloon, seeking Mabel, who might be able to bring back a man. But such things have a cost, cost that is too high, and they will never return what is truly important.
But she may ask to bring him back in a way that it doesn’t matter.

Read This: For an atmospheric, weird trip to see a magician
Don’t Read This: If you want to know who is doing all this and why

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

I Watch Films: The Hound Of The Baskervilles (1959)


The Hound Of The Baskervilles

I turned this on without checking the details and was pleasantly surprised to discover it was the 1959 Hammer version with Peter Cushing as Holmes. There’s a bit of blood and sex, especially in the period prologue. Sir Henry Baskerville is played by Christopher Lee.

It’s fairly true to the original, and in particular has some lesser Holmes details – him keeping his correspondence pinned to the mantelpiece by a jackknife. Watson is not the buffoon of the Bruce incarnation, but formidable in his own right, especially when it comes to medical details. As ever the Baskerville family is haunted by a spectral hound. However the solution requires Holmes to uncover a number of secrets out on the moor and in the history.

Watch This: For an excellent period Hammer thriller and a solid Holmes adaption
Don’t Watch This: If a detective chasing after a demon dog sounds ridiculous.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Monster of the Week 57: TwoUnequalPieces

 

Monster of the Week 57 is TwoUnequalPieces, I realise this looks like two, but it's one monster, if it were two equal pieces that would be fair, but it isn't which is monstrous, a very good neighbour, though a little nosy.

Monster of the Week is supported by my Patreon.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Come Dice With Me

Come Dice With Me

Comics writer Keiron Gillian appears to have spent some of lockdown watching the TV show Come Dine With Me in which four disparate strangers go to each other’s houses and have dinner, also weirdness ensues. He then wrote this roleplaying game to simulate the show.

There are a handful of tables to get you started on your character and quirks, but it does require a certain amount of set up and imagination. At least one person, the director, needs to be very familiar with the rules, to move things along and encourage people to use their best ideas. It probably helps if you’ve seen and enjoyed the show.

Play This: It's free at the link! See the video in which they demonstrate the game to see if it’s for you
Don’t Play This: If a silly game about a silly TV show is not for you



Sunday, January 17, 2021

I Watch TV: Lovecraft Country

Lovecraft Country

Despite what the continuity announcer and various promotional materials suggest Lovecraft Country is not cosmic horror, nor is it particularly Lovecraftian in the sense that we usually understand the phrase. Which is not to say that Lovecraft’s more pulpy stories are not a big influence here. What the TV show is, is a dark fantasy adventure that slides on the scale from Indiana Jones to Horror, and delves into a slightly different sub-genre very week. And because our protagonists are black people in 1950s America, the true villains are racism and white supremacy, both specific and structural.

Atticus (Tic) Freeman comes home to Chicago thanks to a mysterious letter from his father, to find him missing. He enlists his uncle George, owner of a garage and publisher of a safe negro travel guide, to go and find him. His old friend Letitia (Leti), a photographer comes along. They get caught up in strange magical events, and discover that they are related to a secret society/family of very blond, white magicians.

This is all interesting enough, but it then picks up in the fifth episode (of ten) in which Ruby, Leti’s sister, transforms into a white woman and learns that the point of magic is to do whatever the fuck you want (this from Christina, the last surviving member of the Order of the Ancient Dawn, or rather not as women weren’t allowed). This then is followed up with Tic’s experiences in the army in Korea (he meets a monster whose actions may be less terrible than his in the war), and the next episode features Hippolyta, Tic’s aunt, travelling through time and space and having weird adventures.

The next two pile on the pressure (Dee, George and Hippolyta’s daughter, is cursed by the police and everyone has to make terrible bargains and go back in time to the Tulsa Massacre of 1921 to save her). Then we have the last episode and... it’s fine. Sacrifice, bad guys lose, fighting, excitement, robot hand, it’s all fine. But not as good as the middle section of the season!

The show makes no bones about its opinion on racial relations. At the start Tic is reading some Edgar Rice Burroughs, and the hero is a former confederate officer and he defends this choice, as the story is good enough not to worry about that, and anyway, white people write everything, what are you going to do? The show itself keeps coming back to The Count of Monte Cristo both explicitly and in the plot, making the fairly unsubtle point that, sure, but there are black authors too.

Watch This: Some truly brilliant episodes intermixed with fun and exciting fantasy TV
Don’t Watch This: If you prefer your true villainy to be a bit less explicitly mapped onto real world events.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

I Read Books: To Green Angel Tower: Siege


To Green Angel Tower: Siege

In paperback To Green Angel Tower was split into two volumes, making Tad Williams’ trilogy into a quadrology. This gives this book something of a cliffhanger as the longer plot threads are unfinished.

Most of his hero characters are at The Stone Of Farewell with Prince Josua, and others on their way. However King Elias knows this too and sends a small army. Meanwhile there’s a lot of spooky magic and (this being a re-read) I can see the fore-shadowing of the Storm King’s plan.

Read This: If you’re into big fat epic fantasy trilogies
Don’t Read This: I can’t really suggest starting at volume 2.5 of 3.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Liner Notes for In Silence


Liner notes for my story In Silence.

****

An abyssworld, an entire universe that is a cave system. This would make a good setting for a fantasy role-playing game, a mega-dungeon beyond all mega-dungeons, an underdark that has no overdark. Such a place would need no great explanation, it would simply exist, with creatures and whole civilisations blind or using light, however seemed most interesting.

This is science fiction, so perhaps we need an explanation. Where does the water come from and go? How do you have an ecology without light? All things I should probably address at some point, even if it’s mostly a backdrop for space opera heroics.

Of course it being space opera I could always blow it up rather than do the science.

We’ve always known the Patrol has incompetents – Gunn himself though equal to any challenge is sometime temperamentally unsuited to a situation. His rival, Commander Lord Richards, had the same flaw and more often unequal. Here we see the problem when there are too many jobs and not enough people to do them; someone who is not a good fit will be put in. Worse still, it’s an independent command for someone who can’t quite maintain control. The problems of management.

The first story started in the middle because I wanted to get going quickly; this one is slower paced, almost gentle, so I took the opportunity to take a look at the Platform, where Gunn and his crew are based. And this also introduces his management problems.

Does the final revelation work? I was trying to get the feeling of an old-school science fiction story where explores go somewhere, look at stuff and think they understand then discover there’s something stranger and fascinating going on. Not entirely consequential but enough to give them a humbling second thought.