Lacking Natural Simplicity

Random musings on books, code, and tabletop games.

Sorcerer & Sword's bibliography of Sword & Sorcery fiction

In reading Flame & Crimson I was reminded that Ron Edwards of Adept Press published a supplement Sorcerer & Sword for his RPG Sorcerer (both copyrighted 2001) that has a chapter discussing Heroic Fantasy, as he calls Sword & Sorcery fiction. It's an interesting read that mentions some authors and books that Flame & Crimson doesn't. I've listed the authors and works from that chapter below, with check marks (✓) for the ones I've read. Edwards listed some things more specifically that I have listed more generally. He breaks it down into several eras:

Also mentioned (sometimes for tone and mood rather than specific stories or books):

Recent Reading: Ramsey Campbell - Far Away & Never

After reading Flame and Crimson I went and bought several of the Sword & Sorcery books it discussed. Here is the first one I finished:

  • Far Away & Never, by Ramsay Campbell, copyright 1996, Necronomicon Press, ISBN-10: 0940884860.

    Enjoyable collection of stories, avoiding the flaws of many of the later sword & sorcery authors.

    The word-based magic in “The Stages of the God” and “The Song at the Hub of the Garden” had a flavor of its own, and “The Ways of Chaos” made me want to read Ghor, Kin-Slayer: The Saga of Genseric's Fifth-Born Son (G1, G2). 1


Robert E. Howard left an unfinished story and many decades after his death 16 top fantasy authors completed it by writing sections in turn, each starting where the previous author had left off.

The Siege of Gondor (at

There is a very interesting six-part series of articles (I, II, III, IV, V, VI) written by military historian Bret Devereaux at A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry that analyzes the Siege of Gondor in the Peter Jackson film and in the Tolkien book, including logistics, operations, cavalry mechanics, the physics of supernatural creatures and their weapons, and the role of motivation and cohesion. As is not surprising, the sequence in the Peter Jackson film makes compromises with the story to better suit film, while the sequence in the book is better grounded in the reality of historical battles.

There is also a review of the Gondor Heavy Infantry Kit, which depends on the discussion of armor in the Lannister Infantry Kit review.

And, there is a three part series (1, 2, 3) on War Elephants.

His Blog Overview gives a good description of what he's doing on his blog and his credentials as a professional military historian.

Traveller at Sandbox of Doom

Clark Ashton Smith created much as an evil god might create

G. W. Thomas says about Clark Ashton Smith and Robert E. Howard:

Clark Ashton Smith created much as an evil god might create. He stands high above his Fantasy worlds and he laughs. He laughs at the poor souls who must suffer his realms of terror and beauty. His is a sardonic humor that torments and feels no kinship with those who suffer under his machinations. Robert E. Howard, by contrast, makes you feel the hero’s skin, let’s you live inside it as Conan or Kull or Bran Mak Morn feels the hatred of the enemy, the bite of swords, the wickedness of evil.

I think this is why I sometimes have difficulty getting into Clark Ashton Smith's work. I suspect that if I had encountered Smith about the same time I encountered Lovecraft, at around 10 to 12 years old, I wouldn't have that difficulty. It's probably why it is easier to get into Robert E. Howard's work.

Recent Reading: Flame and Crimson

  • Flame and Crimson: A History of Sword-and-Sorcery, by Brian Murphy, copyright 2019, ISBN 978-1-68390-244-7.

    A very good survey of Sword and Sorcery fiction, well worth reading. I'm going to have to read it again and pull out all the books and authors it mentions.

    I found it much more interesting and useful and indeed inspiring than I found Appendix N, Jeffro Johnson's survey of the sword and sorcery literature from the AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide. Both cover a lot of the same works, but I found Jeffro's book somewhat unfocused and in a few occasions a little mean spirited, but worth reading for someone interested in D&D.

Last edited: 2020-11-30 20:46:08 EST

Foreign File Systems on macOS: Fail!

Back sometime in March 2018 I installed Tuxera NTFS for Mac. It was the first NTFS for Mac that I found. I used it casually for a while and it seemed ok.

Sometime later, probably in October 2019, I decided I needed to move 110 GB of files off my Macbook Pro laptop's internal drive and onto a external drive. I also wanted to access this drive from Linux, and thought I'd just use a NTFS-formatted drive so it would be readable there.

I copied the files over using rsync and there seemed to be no problems, until I (in a fit of paranoia) ran the Unix cmp command on all the files on the original disk and the matching files on the NTFS-formatted drive. There were lots of differences. Uh oh.

I didn't see anything on the Internet complaining about this.

So, sometime in October 2019 in I installed Paragon Software extFS for Mac. (I see now that they have a NTFS for Mac; I haven't tried it.)

I wanted to try the same thing and see if it worked more reliably with extFS. I originally wrote short shell scripts for this, for consistency, so I could just change the volume name and run them again. Again there were lots of differences. Uh oh.

Again, I didn't see anything on the Internet complaining about this.

All I was doing was running rsync -avz with the appropriate directories; it should have worked.

I formatted the drive to Mac OS Extended (Journaled) and recopied the files, and this time they all compared ok.

I decided to just use Unison to sync the files to a couple of my computers for backup and local use instead of connecting the external drive to each computer in turn. This is working ok for me.

Maybe this was user error on my part, but it happened consistently with both of these file systems.