Lacking Natural Simplicity

Random musings on books, code, and tabletop games.

Recent Reading

  • The Iron Giant; directed by Brad Bird; written by Ted Hughes, Brad Bird, and Tim McCanlies.

  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; directed by Michel Gondry; written by Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry, and Pierre Bismuth; starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. A very good movie.

  • Van Helsing; directed and written by Stephen Sommers; staring Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, Richard Roxburgh, and David Wenham. Fun monster-killer movie.

Recent Reading

  • Fall of the White Ship Avatar, by Brian Daley, copyright 1986; Del Rey/Ballantine, January 1987. This is the third and final of Daley's three science fiction penny dreadfuls, The Hobart Floyt-Alacrity Fitzhugh Adventures.

Recent Reading

  • The King's Commission, by Dewey Lambdin, copyright 1991; from For King and Country; Primus/Donald I. Fine, Inc, 1994.

  • The Unwound Way, by Bill Adams and Cecil Brooks; Del Rey/Ballantine, November, 1991.

  • The End of Fame, by Bill Adams and Cecil Brooks; Del Rey Discovery/Ballantine, December, 1994.

  • Requiem for a Ruler of Worlds, by Brian Daley; Del Rey/Ballantine, May 1985. This is the first of Daley's three science fiction penny dreadfuls, The Hobart Floyt-Alacrity Fitzhugh Adventures. Great light-hearted fun.

  • Jinx on a Terran Inheritance, by Brian Daley; Del Rey/Ballantine, December, 1985. This is the second of Daley's three science fiction penny dreadfuls, The Hobart Floyt-Alacrity Fitzhugh Adventures.

  • The King's Privateer, by Dewey Lambdin, copyright 1992; from For King and Country; Primus/Donald I. Fine, Inc, 1994.

Recent Reading

  • Brand of The Werewolf, as by Kenneth Robeson; online sources say it was actually written by Lester Dent and originally published January 1934 in Doc Savage Magazine. Doc Savage Adventure #11. I probably got this from memoware, a site that distributes free ebooks for PDAs. It introduces Patricia Savage, Doc Savage's cousin. Entertaining, in a pulp way.

  • The Shadow of the Ship, by Robert Wilfred Franson; Del Rey/Ballantine, 1983. Interesting, if slightly uneven. While a complete novel in itself, it starts in the middle of things and leaves you wanting to know more about the many things alluded to in passing. As far as I can tell it was a standalone novel. Was it his only novel?William H. Stoddard has a good review of the book from the libertarian viewpoint. Update (2008-01-27): looking closer at the Troynovant web site I see that it is a collection of interesting essays on many topics, including books and movies as well as other subjects, with a Libertarian viewpoint, apparently run by Robert Wilfred Franson, the author of The Shadow of the Ship.

Recent Reading

  • Essential Russian Mythology, by Pyotr Simonov; Thorsons/HarperCollins, 1997. Interesting, if brief, overview of surviving elements of ancient Russian mythology and legendry.

  • Here Be Dragons, by Sharon Kay Penman, copyright 1985; Ballantine, 1993. Very good historical fiction. I really should find the other books in this series, Falls the Shadow and The Reckoning, and her other book The Sunne in Splendour.

  • Sacred Flesh, by Robin D. Laws; copyright Games Workshop Limited, 2004; Black Library, 2004. This is the second of Laws' Angelika Fleischer novels set in the Warhammer world; like a lot of them it's a bit over the top in places. I'm not sure whether I'll look for Honour of the Grave or not.

  • The Death of Chaos, by L.E. Modesitt, Jr, copyright 1995; Tor, 1996. Modesitt's Recluce continue to entertain and intrigue, in this, the 5th of the series.

  • The Coming of Conan The Cimmerian, by Robert E. Howard; Del Rey, December 2003. It's surprising how much difference it makes, reading these Conan stories as Howard originally wrote them, in the order he wrote them, without the surrounding dross of the later posthumous “collaborations” that obscure them in the, till now, only easily obtainable editions. It's been years since I've read the 12 books in the Carter/De Camp version of the Conan saga, but I can already tell the this book is one that I'll return to reread much more often.

  • Lens of the World, by R.A. MacAvoy; Avon, June 1991. This book and its two sequels, below, are some of the books that I return to time and time again.

  • King of the Dead, by R.A. MacAvoy; AvaNova/Avon, December 1992.

  • The Belly of the Wolf, by R.A. MacAvoy; AvaNova/Avon, Februrary 1995.

Recent Reading

  • The Chaos Balance, by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.; Tor/Tom Doherty Associates, Inc., September, 1997. More information about the earlier years of the World of Recluce. Enjoyable alternative to the tide of psuedo-Tolkien fantasy.

  • The Deep Blue Good-By, by John D. MacDonald (copyright 1964?); read by Michael Prichard; Books on Tape, 1983. This is the first Travis McGee book. I don't know whether I have read any of his other Travis McGee books (I probably have, and if my library wasn't mostly in boxes I'd probably have a chance of telling), but I have read The Girl, the Gold Watch, and Everything. I think he wrote some other science fiction, as well. In any case, I enjoyed this one; definitely a product of the times, but a good story. Prichard's reading was good; his particular reading voice seems well suited for this sort of book.

Recent Reading

These books were spread out over the past three weeks or so.

  • Sharpe's Battle, by Bernard Cornell; copyright 1995; HarperPerennial, 1999. Sharpe's adventures in Spain, May 1811.

  • Drums of Autumn, by Diana Gabaldon; Delacorte Press, January 1997.

  • The Fall of the Kings, by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman; Bantom Books, Novemeber 2002. This did not hold my attention as well as Swordspoint, the earlier book by Kushner set in this world; in fact, I set it down somewhere in the last two thirds of the book and it sat unread for a very long period of time. It is, no doubt, a more ambitious book.

  • The Gun Ketch, by Dewey Lambdin, copyright 1993; read by John Lee; Books on Tape, Inc., 1999. Well read by John Lee. Well written and rich in details.

  • The Order War, by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.; Tor/Tom Doherty Associates, January 1995.

  • Fall of Angels, by L.E. Modesitt, Jr.; Tor/Tom Doherty Associates, Inc., June 1996. We learn much more about the history of Recluce's world in this one; these Reculse books are consistently page-turners for me.

  • The Thieves' Opera, by Lucy Moore, copyright 1997; Harvest/Harcourt, Inc., 2000. Fascinating tour through the criminal classes of early- to mid- 1700s London, especially Jonathan Wild and Jack Sheppard.

  • Thrones, Dominations, by Dorothy L. Sayers & Jill Paton Walsh; copyright 1998 by the Truestees of Anthony Fleming (deceased) & Jill Paton Walsh; St. Martin's Press, February 1998. I had not expected to enjoy this as much as I did. Why did Sayers stop writing mysteries before finishing this, anyway?

  • The System of the World, by Neal Stephenson; William Morrow/HarperCollins, 2004. Volume Three of Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle, this book finishes the series off nicely. Regardless of Stephenson's prolixity, these books are great fun.

OGL Talislanta

Well, it looks like Talislanta is going OGL. A couple of days ago Morrigan Press announced that they will be publishing a new version of Talislanta using the Open Game License. From the details described so far, it sounds like they have a reasonably good plan. They plan to continue to support the existing Talislanta 4th edition rules, dual-stating the new books other than the new OGL core book, and already have a number of books planned. I'm no great fan of D20 or OGL, but I think it's entirely possible to produce a good game using the OGL as a base, and if this helps publicize Talislanta to those who would have otherwise missed, that's a good thing. That's a difficult task, though, as Dragon Lords of Melnibonë shows.

Moreover, the previous publishers of Talislanta, Shooting Iron, have publicly supported the new publisher.

Recent Reading

  • The Last Light of the Sun, by Guy Gavriel Kay; ROC, 2004. The Fionavar Tapestry was ok, but I've enjoyed his fantasy work more since Tigana, especially has he has moved more towards historical fantasy. The present work did not disappoint me.