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I agree with the Neil Gaiman article, although his evidence is much weaker, being drawn from Pratchett's life, than the evidence in Pratchett's books.
How can anyone read Pratchett's Night Watch and not think he has a lot of darkness in his soul? Yes, he is sending up torturers and secret police, but...he's sending up torturers and secret police!
I recently re-read his Monstrous Regiment. The part where Tonker says, "Yes, they were very good at seeming," about the Poor Girls Working House is just like a punch to the gut.
Anyone who calls Pratchett a "jolly old elf" is clearly not thinking about Terry Pratchett's elves.
I had a bad experience at a convention with a smelly, large, very hairy man playing cross-gender at my table and doing it VERY badly, in the vaudevillian "man dresses up in coconuts and wig...makes pouty face...so-called hilarity ensues" way. He went through all the stereotypes about how "women" act: slutty, cares only about the gold/lootz, afraid to be a front-line fighter, dumb, etc.
The racial equivalent would be a white man wearing black-face to a convention to portray a "black" character and saying, "Where da white women at?" and "I sho' love watermelon, yessir" right in front of a group of black players.
As a cisgender woman that guy made me VERY uncomfortable. I suspect he would make cross-gender women uncomfortable too. Hell, I think he'd have made Norman Bates uncomfortable!
If you, dear reader, are going to play cross-gender, I recommend you do not do that. Divest of your stereotypes. Or, if you must use them, mediate them with positive qualities and develop a well-rounded character before you sit down at the table. If my first ever gaming experience had been with that man at the table, I would have walked away and never looked back, and later on, if I had kids, I'd be very reluctant to let any of my children play role-playing games for fear of them becoming like him.
Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
My own experiences in the academy (well, state university) were pretty boring. No postmodernists, no idiot professors, nobody who wanted to junk Shakespeare, nobody who wanted to replace the canon with feminist slave narratives by transgendered people with mobility impediments. Although, come to think of it, I never was assigned any Dickens. But I did have one guy make us read The Canterbury Tales and The Time Machine in the same class, so that's gotta be worth something.
I wouldn't mind having Canterbury Tales and The Time Machine in the same class at all. My undergrad didn't spend enough time on Chaucer, IMO. But what I couldn't stand was having Frankenstein and Wordsworth in the same Eng Lit class. There is only so much elaborate description of nature that one mind can endure. If I never read about a Swiss alp or an English hilltop again, it'll be too soon.
Some further thoughts on THoC:
The aspects of the novel that seem most D&D-like are:
Oh, and the contest the heroes are forced to compete in is a bit like some contest-based modules where the PCs need to use their own particular skills to succeed.
There's even a Thief character in the story who uses his pick-pocket skills to get around in alt-Philly, and is forced to compete against the Chief of Police in the "Hunger Games"-like contest.
If I were to borrow from THoC for my own role-playing game, I'd probably have Ulithia be a place, because the White Weaver is certainly cool, but the more satiric-alt-timeline stuff I likely wouldn't use. However, I could see someone else using it, especially if they like mixing in "real world" stuff with their fantasy, like the "Reign of Winter" Pathfinder book where the PCs get to kill Rasputin.
A review of Francis Stevens' The Heads of Cerberus:
The plot may be a bit hard to summarize so please bear with me. The premise of the book is that three normal people from 1918 (the modern day when the story was serialized) accidentally snort the "Dust of Purgatory" and travel to an astral-plane called Ulithia, where time flows backwards & forwards. The lady in charge there (The White Weaver) tells them to pass through the moon-gate, and when they do, they think they've returned home to 1918 Philadelphia...it looks just like the normal world they left! Almost...
It turns out the moon-gate leads them to another dimension, an alternate-dimension future (the year 2118) where they're stuck in a dystopian society, where the lower classes are known by numbers, not names and all knowledge is controlled by a corrupt elite. Because they're outsiders and ignorant of alt-Philly's laws, the good-guys are to be put to death! But! There's a chance for them to escape death by competing in a "Hunger Games"-like contest (only less "Hunger Games," more...Gulliver's Travels meets Star-Search). Action and adventure ensue. Guns and fist-fights are involved; two of the adventurers fall in love with each other in the course of fighting for their lives (hetero-style, because 1918).
Finally, at the very last minute, they manage to escape by ringing the big red Bell of Doom that EVERYONE says they Should. Not. Ring. (that part really does remind me of some D&D games I've played in). The alt-Philly timeline dissolves and they find themselves in the "real" Philadelphia they left, and discover that only several hours had passed in their world, while many days had passed in alt-Philly world.
The sci-fi part comes in when the guy who was trying to steal the "Dust of Purgatory" in the first place explains Star-Trek style that the dust is really a strange alchemical substance that allows people's "sympathetic vibrations" to vibrate in a pattern that leads them to become out-of-phase with the atomic structure of this world, and helps them visit the astral plane of Ulithia; that there are other worlds "within worlds" through the moon-gate and infinite-timelines, that they just visited one of them. The explanation reminded me of that episode of ST:NG when Ensign Ro Laren and Geordi LaForge are "out of phase" with normal matter because of a cloaking-device malfunction (ep: "The Next Phase"); only in this case, instead of the protagonists being able to see-and-hear the "real" Philadelphia, they're totally phased into alt-Philadelphia. When the Bell of Doom gets rung, the "sympathetic vibrations" of the bell knock their molecules back into alignment with the world they came from and they return home.
Okay! I read "The Heads of Cerberus"! Time for a review.
My preliminary thoughts, which I wrote on a secret map made of moonlight:
A more involved review to follow (spoilered for length/and-or you really want to be surprised!)
The Francis Steven books came! I got "The Citadel of Fear", but, more excitingly: "The Heads of Cerberus" in a 1st edition library binding, with illustrations and a foreword by Lloyd Arthur Eshbach! He describes THoC:
Of her works, only The Heads of Cerberus can be called science fiction -- though even in this story a strong inclination toward a wilder fantasy is evident.
More review will be forthcoming, once the novel is read.
Introducing the next Appendix N read: Manly Wade Wellman!
I think one of the commentators on the Tor message-board is correct in saying that the reviewers have it backwards: they are judging the books by their latter imitators (such as the X-Files) and not appreciating them as progenitors.
JOHN BELLAIRS! JOHN BELLAIRS!
Can you tell I'm a fan?
I mostly (okay, only) knew him from his YA works, but "The Face in the Frost" started it all. I think he would have been a good Miskatonic/Cthulhu fan-fiction writer, because of all the great "weird" elements he puts in his books.
My fine dog-headed canine, reverse that sentiment. The "Circe" movie is a fine opportunity for Wonder Whinny to get some screen time, if I let her live awhile...
Kirth Gersen wrote:
I need to get out more... I'd read all of the ones they've reviewed so far. Hope they do Bellairs' The Face in the Frost next -- possibly the best book about wizards ever written.
It has been FOREVER since I've read John Bellairs! I read all of the Anthony Monday and Lewis Barnavelt books when I was in middle school. Wow. That takes me back. I've got to re-read and see if they hold up now that I'm an adult with my "sophisticated" Eng Lit degree.
Don Juan de Doodlebug wrote:
[snark]Doesn't a Private Message option on the boards obviate the need for wingoblins?[/snark]
No seriously, have you and HD been talking about me behind my back?What's he say about me? Is it the snakes? Is he staring at my snakes? Great, now I just sound paranoid!
Doodlebug Anklebiter wrote:
While we might call Gone With the Wind a "chick flick" nowadays, it wasn't marketed as a "women's picture" back in the day, and it certainly had a much bigger budget and action sequences than if it had been one. Link. Aside from the racism and atavistic view of the South, there's no way GWTW would be made by any studio today.
Producer: You want us to produce a 4-hour romance movie based on a novel for HOW much money? Hahahaha! Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
History documentaries (good ones) are really expensive. Even a single historical photograph that is "public domain" material costs money: there are archive fees, research fees, and lots of due diligence from the legal department to make sure the image can be used. And that's just one photo!
Also, the "easy to watch" factor. Sad to say, but people would rather look at fools making fools of themselves than get interested in history that actually matters, because doing that takes thought and reflection.
TCM is great, and I think of it as the "Film History" channel.
Thanks Lanx, for the clarification on the title. It still bothers me though. I understand the Prince of Wales is a sovereign over Wales, but in the future he will be king of England and his title as Prince of Wales won't be as important as his greater-scope sovereignty. I just find it odd that, in Golarion, the Pharaoh would choose to go by his "lesser" title rather than the more-expansive title of Pharaoh. Stavian may have political reasons for doing so, because he needs to unify fractious Taldor (the same reason Prince of Wales is such a "hot" title for heirs apparent in England, to quell Welsh nationalism), but Khemet doesn't seem to have those problems.
In the PbP I'm in my character, Idiah, is from Isger. She was a bandit and when the Isgeri army, supported by Hellknights, routed her camp she fled to Molthune. The Molthune govt. was sponsoring her band in a proxy-war with Isger. Molthune is afraid a strong, rebuilt Isger will expand to lake Encarthan and draw Cheliax's vast resources to enforce dominance in the region; after all, Molthune shares all of its southern border with Cheliax-aligned countries. Sure, there are mountains in the way, but that didn't stop Hannibal.
I could see a James Bond-esqe spy war going on between Molthune, Isger and Druma in the esastern Meandor Mountains.