Tag Archives: books

Rogue Planet: Now In Print

So, I’m just gonna leave this right here…

(Kickstarter backers waiting on the dead tree edition… they’re all in envelopes, all addressed, going to the Post Office tomorrow or Thursday unless something weird happens.)

The Sky People

The Sky People

Cover of As anyone who has followed my career (if you can call it that) knows, I have a special love for the genre often called “Sword and Planet” or “Planetary Romance”. The platonic ideal of this genre is Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom chronicles. The essential feature of the genre is an alien world filled with monsters, princesses wearing next to nothing, advanced technology alongside swords and arrows, and a heroic square-jawed Earthman who will come along and save the oddly-colored natives from some terrible threat, usually rising from a despised outsider to a revered leader in a matter of weeks. You know… Avatar. Only a lot less pedantic and preachy.

Anyway, this genre is known for several things, good and bad… the bad being ludicrous science, cardboard characters, and considerable sexism and racism. When modern authors approach the genre, they tend to do a conscious pastiche of the “old school” minus the political incorrectness, but otherwise identical to material which would not have been out of place in a magazine published a century ago. (Some of us also attempt a respectful, albeit tongue-in-cheek, approach.)S. M. Stirling tries a surprisingly new approach — take all the tropes of the genre and dump them in world which is psychologically, politically, and scientifically real. Does it work?

Well, I wouldn’t have finished the book if it didn’t, so there’s not a lot of suspense to that question. But click the “Read More” button anyway, OK?

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The World Of Tiers

The World Of Tiers

OK, this is going to be a look at an entire series, not just a single book, but it’s an eminently gameable series. It surprises me that no one has glommed onto the World of Tiers license yet. Really, someone should just buy “Phillip Jose Farmer” as a license, because he creates settings which are extremely rich in roleplaying potential and which haven’t been utterly and completely done to death in multiple editions yet. Then again, my understanding is that most licensed games don’t sell too well, and Farmer was at the peak of his popularity and productivity in the 1960s and 1970s, making him a bit unknown to today’s younger audience.

Anyway, the World of Tiers… centaurs, Teutonic knights, harpies, American Indians, teleportation, demigods, robots, and more!

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Midnight At The Well Of Souls

Midnight At The Well Of Souls

Midnight at the well of souls

Many great science fiction novels and settings have been turned into RPGs, and also some not-so-great ones. This is not one of the not-great ones; that is, it’s one of the great ones. Unlike a lot of great science fiction books, movies, or TV shows, it’s also eminently gameable. The novels, five in the original series (which I’ve read several times) and a bunch more written more recently (which I have not read, but since they were published well after this game, they’re irrelevant, and irrelevance never forgets), take place on the Well World, a kind of cosmic lab where the creators of all life in the universe experimented with different species. Think of it as a biological Google Labs. Some things got out of beta and were published, and some things, well, can we say “Google Wave”, anyone? In any event, the world was divided into hexagons — yes, hexagons — each containing a unique biome and a sapient race, ranging from humans to centaurs to talking asparagus to incomprehensible energy beings, and they all shared the same world, and in some hexes tech worked and in others it didn’t, and in some magic — yes, magic — worked and in others it didn’t, and you can see how a setting like this, with hundreds of races, mixed tech and magic, and a legendary control center (the “Well of Souls”) to quest for would be a perfect RPG setting. However, I’m going to bet you haven’t heard of the RPG, and as far as I know it vanished rather quickly, leaving behind no supplements. Why? Was it a steaming pile of suck, deserving of a painful death, or was it just in the wrong place at the wrong time? We won’t know until we crack open the book and begin!

Quick! Hit “Read More”! We have to begin!

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Android Karenina

{jcomments on}Gameable Literature: Android Karenina

Android Karenina

Having decided to end a rather long period where I haven’t done a great deal of reading (given I used to go through 2-3 books a week and I’ve been barely doing one book every month or two, it’s pathetic), I have also decided to try to make some use of this reading time in terms of adding some content to this blog. Thus, as I finish any book which might even be vaguely useful to gamers, I will compose an essay/rant/review on it here, in the vauge hope someone finds it useful. This time, we shall be looking at “Android Karenina”.

(And if you find this article intriguing and/or useful and seek to purchase the book, well, I’ve just set up an amazon affiliates link.)

Read on for an exciting tale of Robots and Russians, of Androids and Angst, of Cossacks and Calculators! (All of which would make great circa-1978 game titles, except Androids and Angst, which is something the Forge would publish.)

 

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