Lacking Natural Simplicity

Random musings on books, code, and tabletop games.

Gentoo idiocies

Ok, so you deprecate qpkg, and remove it from the user bin directories without providing a replacement that has all its functionality, but continue to use it and hide it in /usr/lib/gentoolkit/bin/qpkg? That's idiotic.

What is WFRP ABout, Really? Walter Jon Williams on Wodehouse

What is WFRP ABout, Really?

Nobody says it better than James Wallis:

D&D is about quests for glory and riches; WFRP pretends to be the same, but in fact is about the PCs' day-to-day fight for survival in a universe that hates them. If you don't finish each adventure worse off than when you started it, your GM is doing something wrong.

Walter Jon Williams on Wodehouse

WJW says it well:

I devoured a whole lot of Wodehouse in my teens, in those formative years when I was devouring a lot of Delany and Zelazny and Robert Heinlein. I eventually gave up on Wodehouse because I realized that all the Jeeves stories had the same plot. I've come back to them since becoming a full-time writer because I've realized exactly how hard it is to write 90 books with exactly the same plot, and it is not a skill to be sneezed at.

Slime Oddity

For some reason, clisp version 2.35 installed from the FreeBSD ports doesn't have :PC386 in *FEATURES*; without this, Slime from CVS stops with a continuable error:

** - Continuable Error
If you continue (by typing 'continue'): Ignore the lock and proceed
The following restarts are also available:
STOP           :R2      stop loading file
ABORT          :R3      ABORT

And after that, even if you continue slime is never able to connect to swank.

Recent Reading; Sales of Midlist Authors

Monday, 3 October 2005

Recent Reading

This is a couple of weeks of reading.

  • The Game of Kings, by Dorothy Dunnett, copyright 1961, copyright renewed 1989; Vintage Books/Random House, May 1997. First in the Lymond Chronicles.

  • Queens' Play, by Dorothy Dunnett, copyright 1964, copyright renewed 192; Vintage Books/Random House, May 1997. Second in the Lymond Chronicles.

  • Eight of Swords, by David Skibbins; Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Minotaur/St. Martin's Press, April 2005. An interesting mystery.

  • A Gladiator Dies Ony Once: The Further Investigations of Grodians the Finder, by Steven Saylor; St. Martin's Minotaur/St. Martin's Press, June 2005. The second collecton of Roma Sub Rosa short stories, after The House of Vestals. I think I like this series of Roman mysteries the best of the ones I've read.

  • SPQR VII: The Tribune's Curse, by John Maddox Roberts; Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Minotaur/St. Martin's Press, April 2003. While Saylor's Gordianus and Davies' Falco are to some degree outsiders amongst the inner realms of Rome's political machinations through which they often wander, but Roberts' DeciusCaecilius Metellus the Youger is definitely an insider. I think it was one of John Maddox Roberts' "Roman Empire in Space" SF books that introduced me to the Roman Empire (at one remove) when I was a youngster.

  • SPQR IX: The Princess and the Pirates, by John Maddox Roberts; Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Minotaur/St. Martin's Press, June 2005. I've apparently missed SPQR VIII: The River God's Vengance.

Sales of Midlist Authors

Back in January of 2004, Walter Jon Williams said:

In 1990 the average midlist science fiction novel, by a non-name writer, would ship 75,000 copies and sell 60,000. Now the average midlist novel ships less than 20,000 and sells less than 10,000.

It was possible to make a living selling 60,000 paperbacks a year, but if you sell less than 10,000, you'd better have a McJob.

In February 2005 Tobias Buckell summarized his survey of genre advances.

Recent Viewing

Recent Viewing

  • Serenity, 2005; directed and written by Joss Whedon. It was good.

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, 2005; directed by Garth Jennings, based on the book by Douglas Adams with a screenplay by Douglas Adams and Karey Kirkpatrick. Disappointing: it's like they made a movie out of the some of the same pieces as the book, but left out all the humour. Now I have to reread the books to make sure they're still funny.

Roleplaying: Heroquest

Neel Krishnaswami explains how Heroquest turns setting into rules effortlessly.

In one of the comments on that article, Brand Robins said:

I just remembered something I said to my Grave of Honor (A Game of Thrones with HeroQuest rules) group when we got started: "HeroQuest is really, really good at supporting your vision. If you know what you are doing, have a feeling for what you want, and push your narration then HeroQuest will support you better than just about anything else. If you don't have a good vision or feel, however, or if you're looking to have the system tell you what happens or suggest courses of action seperate from naration (as most games do) then you're going to be SOL."

All of my actual play with the system has backed that up in my experience. When you go into HQ with a vision, a good flow of narration, and an understanding of what you are after it supports you brilliantly. It does not, however, particularly help you in developing those things if you don't already have them. Thus the frequent complaints (on and similar) that it breaks down into a "bean counting game."

In an entry on his blog, Brand Robins talks about medium length/detail contests in HeroQuest.