Isaac Asimov on adventure, pulp, and Shakespeare.

Besides sporting imposing sideburns and writing a few books, Isaac Asimov also lent his name to various magazines and products. One of them, mostly unknown compared to the more familiar Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine, was Asimov’s Adventure Science Fiction Magazine. Unfortunately, it was a short-lived publication, with only four issues between late 1978 and late 1979.

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Reading the Hugos: Seasons of Glass and Iron, by Amal El-Mohtar

Seasons of Glass and Iron, first published on Uncanny Magazine (coincidentally, in the same issue that published Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies) by Amal El–Mohtar, is a Hugo finalist for the Best Short Story category (2017)

This short story shares similar themes and features with the other Hugo finalists already reviewed. The plot is an amalgam of two fairy tales, The Enchanted Pig and The Princess on the Glass Hill, adapted and reinterpreted through a feminist lens. And by feminist, I mean that there isn’t a single worthy man in the whole story and every evil thing mentioned there has been brought about by manly males doing man-things. Sure, there may exist good men —somewhere— perhaps in a distant and even more magical land, and the story explicitly mentions “bad men” so one can infer there may be good ones somewhere, but they are nowhere to be seen.

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Gygax on post-70s fiction.

There is something missing in the big conversation about the current and future state of sff. Well, I’m sure there are many things, but I will focus on one.

Some of the people I read and follow claim that what is needed is to go back to the more pulpish roots of the genre, with AD&D’ Appendix N (not exactly pulp, but still, close enough) being a great starting point to know more about those now-forgotten or ignored classics. Some even read the editorials and interviews from old magazines to better understand the cultural zeitgeist of that era. Now, Appendix N may very well be a fundamental document of a bygone age, but it’s not like its author (Gary Gygax) died, struck down by a malignant curse in the prime of his life, just after penning his sacred doctrine.

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On the problematic nature of orc-slaughtering.

which-one-kills-more_dd

I stumbled upon this post at DYVERS about that modernist and recurrent issue of “complex morality” in games. I had actually written a huge blog post about the issue, dealing with its relation to original  0&1 D&D edition and how people don’t know how to play anymore, the lack of imagination and sadistic superego of today’s players, the pernicious effect of video game simplifications and post third-edition obsession with numbers in RPGs, how many people don’t seem to know what roleplay actually means or how you play morality (or immorality,) and how all of that ties to contemporary popular culture controversies and their guilt-inducing shenanigans. But then I reread the whole thing and… not even I understood what I had written. Therefore, here you have the tl.dr. version which is even better:

 

Post-apoc settings as a prerequisite of Sword & Sorcery.

What the title says.

There is no great sword & sorcery adventure without exploration and discovery. Exploration requires wilderness, and wilderness implies a negation of the World-Building (“everything needs to be mapped and known”) ethos in sff. Adventures require tension, and tension is impossible if everything is mapped, if civilization is dominant, or if the protagonist can go back to their HQ to resupply and rest. Hence, a vast blank space on the map and danger from wich you cannot escape are required: dungeons, caves, ruins, or being trapped inside a magician’s tower. The hero, if he wants to survive, has no other option but to keep going down.

Continue reading “Post-apoc settings as a prerequisite of Sword & Sorcery.”