Lacking Natural Simplicity

Random musings on books, code, and tabletop games.

Recent Reading

  • The Godwulf Manuscript, by Robert B. Parker; read by Michael Prichard; Books on Tape, 1998. This is the first time I've read (or heard read) any of Parker's Spenser novels, I think. Entertaining, in a light manner. Prichard's reading was quite appropriate.

  • Voyager, by Diana Gabaldon; Dell, November 1994. This is the third of Gabaldon's series about Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser. Enjoyable, if the timetravelling aspect doesn't make you cringe.

  • The Magic Engineer, by L.E. Modesitt, Jr, copyright 1994; July, 1995. This is the third in published order of Modesit's Magic of Recluce series.

  • Resurrection Men, by Ian Rankin; copyright 2002 by John Rebus Limited; Little, Brown, and Company.

  • 1633, by David Weber and Eric Flint; Baen, August 2002. It's interesting to see how recent “Americans in the Past” books tend to have the timelost Americans make their greatest impact on the past via their imported political systems and their technology only secondarily. In any case, this book is fun.

  • The Sorcerer's Soul, by Ron Edwards; Adept Press, 2001. This is the second supplement for Ron Edwards's Sorcerer roleplaying game. Where Sorcerer and Sword adapted the original game to a new genre, this supplement is more of an elaboration of ideas from the original game, additional examples of what you can do with the game and how you can use it in different settings (though in the same genre). I found the relationship map method of scenario preparation particularly interesting. Well worth reading.

Recent Reading

  • The Yellow Admiral, by Patrick O'Brian; W.W. Norton & Company, Inc, 1996. This is another diffcult volume in the saga for me to read, with Aubrey's worries about his career prospects, the estrangement of his wife, and more money problems, and Bonden's injury all contributing to the tribulations of Aubrey and Maturin.

Recent Reading

  • The Commodore, by Patrick O'Brian, copyright 1994; W.W. Norton & Company, Inc, 1994. I find the latter books in the Aubrey/Maturin saga more difficult to read, not because they are of lessor quality or more difficult in and of themselves, but rather because the protagonists' lives are more emotionally strained than in the earier books. In this book Maturin is harrowed by the condition of his young daughter, who he meets for the first time after years away at sea, and the estrangment from his wife that has resulted. But there is hope for both problems. And there is at least one very important first meeting in this book that will have many influences in the rest of the series.

The Commodore

I was reading Patrick O'Brian's The Commodore (W.W. Norton & Co, Inc, New York, 1995) and was struck by these two quotes:

“Sickness has innumerable squalors, many of which you know far too well, my dear,” he said when Jack and he were sitting together in the great cabin, “and among them, in some ways the nastiest, is the sufferer's total selfishness. Admittedly, a body doing all it can to survive will naturally turn in upon itself; but the mind inhabiting that body is so inclined to feast on the indulgence, carrying on and on long after the necessity is gone.” — Stephen, on p. 231

“... there is no heart to change: no person left: only a set of pompous attitutes.” — Jack, on p. 234

Web Browsing: Elinks; Recent Reading

Recent Reading

  • One Corpse Too Many, by Ellis Peters (Edith Pargeter), copyright 1979; narrated by Patrick Tull; Recorded Books, Inc, 1991.

RPGs: Detail vs. Simplicity

A conflict: on the one hand I'm attracted to the detail and broad applicability of games like GURPS, CORPS, and Hero (especially the effects-based powes frameworks of the latter two), but on the other hand I'm oppressed by the work involved in creating anything using them. BESM seems to be the best balance in this area that I've found so far, and while so I'm looking forward to the 3rd edition, I'm quite happy with the 2nd edition, revised.

And on the gripping there is the opposite extreme, with games like Over the Edge, Risus, Story Engine, and Fudge, which have (or can have) minimal details and very simple rules.

Recent Reading

  • The Reverse of the Medal, by Patrick O'Brian; William Collins & Co Ltd, 1986; W.W. Norton & Company, Inc, 1992. I've always found this one of the most difficult books in the series to read, finding Jack Aubrey's difficulties in this volume most unpleasant to bear. On the other hand, the ultimate scene with Maturin and Duhamel is very satisfying.

  • The Letter of Marque, by Patrick O'Brian; William Collins & Co Ltd, 1988; W.W. Norton & Company, Inc, 1992. This book contains one of my favorite long passges in the series, Stephen Maturin's journey to be see his estranged wife.

  • The Thirteen Gun Salute, by Patrick O'Brian; William Collins & Co Ltd, 1989; ; W.W. Norton & Company, Inc, 1992.

  • The Nutmeg of Consolation, by Patrick O'Brian, copyright 1991; W. W. Norton & Company, Inc, 1993.

  • The Truelove, by Patrick O'Brian, copyright 1992; W.W. Norton & Company, Inc, 1993.

Recent Reading

  • Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon; Delacorte Press, 1991. There's something about time-travel books written outside the science-fiction realm that I find offputting, and I definitely prefer my historical fiction unadulterated by such things, but this series is reasonably good despite that.

  • Dragonfly in Amber, by Diana Gabaldon; Delacorte Press, 1992.

  • The Wizard of Karres, by Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint, and Dave Freer; Baen, 2004. James H. Schmitz wrote a number of enjoyable tales, including that delightful romp The Witches of Karres. The Wizard of Karres is a reasonably good sequel. I'll have to re-read the original sometime soon.