Art Evolution 14: Todd Lockwood

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010 | Posted by Scott Taylor

thousand-orcs-254Art Evolution continues, from its roots here, to the incredible talent that created the newest vision in ‘Dragon Chess Lyssa’.

Now things were fully flowing in a uniform direction, and the more people I talked to the better the reception. This project was real, solid, and I decided it was time to go back to John O’Neill and give him an update.

O’Neill gave me another ambiguous ‘can’t wait to see what you’ve got’. Again, nothing to write home about, but certainly a continuing vote of confidence that what I was doing would at least be viewed by the movers and shakers in the Black Gate rooftop headquarters.

Not wanting to push matters with O’Neill, I just put my nose back to the grindstone and continued on with my article recruitment. To this end I determined that I’d contact Todd Lockwood.

Now I’m not going to blow smoke here, I knew Todd’s work having immersed myself in D&D 3rd Edition when it released in the late 90s, but I’d never considered his work life-altering because of a single restricting issue, the covers of the 3rd Edition core books were all without picture art [I know, blasphemy!]. From that standpoint nothing in 3rd Edition struck me as particularly awe-inspiring, and it’s much harder to make a huge impression when you are dealing with smaller interior art.

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Stages of Gamer Development

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010 | Posted by Tom Doolan

diceI am currently in a master’s program for Counseling Studies, and part of that is the study of psychological theories. Something I have learned is that many theories have been presented over the years about psychological development. What stages are involved, what the normal “process” of psychological development is, and so on.

This got me to thinking. Do gamers go through a development process? (And by that I mean tabletop role-players. Video-gamers may go through a similar process, but that’s not my focus.) Perhaps someday, when I have to write a research paper, I will base it on this idea. Because I’m a geek like that.

Anyway, here’s my initial theory on The Stages of Gamer Development, from a psychological point of view. This theory assumes an average gamer, introduced to the hobby during adolescence (ages 11-13 or so), who continues playing through adulthood. Obviously there will be many who do not fall within these parameters. But, given it’s a psychological theory, it is a broad generalization at best, and open for individual interpretation of course.

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50% off all Books at Golden Gryphon Press

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

wreckOne of my favorite small press publishers, Golden Gryphon Press, is having a 50% off sale.

Golden Gryphon was founded by Jim Turner, the esteemed editor at Arkham House, in 1997. When Jim died in 1999 his brother Gary took over, and over the past 13 years the imprint has published an extremely impressive array of titles, including 62 archival quality hardcovers, four limited edition chapbooks, and 13 trade paperback reprints.

They specialize in short story collections from modern authors, and their books have included some of the best collections of the past decade, including  The Dragons of Springplace by Robert Reed, The Robot’s Twilight Companion by Tony Daniel, Beluthahatchie and Other Stories by Andy Duncan, Strange Tides by Paul Di Filippo, Secret Life by Jeff VanderMeer, Wild Galaxy by William F. Nolan, and The Wreck of the Godspeed, by James Patrick Kelly.

Unlike most small presses, Golden Gryphon works very hard to keep their prices in line with regular hardcovers, and their books range from $20 to $24.95 — meaning you can nab virtually all of these titles for $12.50 or less during their sale.

More details on the sale are here. I would suggest you move quickly, however. The sale is for a limited time, and a handful of their most famous titles, such as Think Like a Dinosaur by James Patrick Kelly, The Fantasy Writer’s Assistant and Other Stories by Jeffrey Ford and The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross, are already sold out and out of print.


No Mere Nostalgia, Part II: TRON (1982)

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

tron-title-cardOn the other side of the screen, it all looks so easy. . . .

Earlier this year, I marched stolidly at the front of a phalanx to defend the original Clash of the Titans right before its re-make was about to hit theaters. I found the re-make more palatable than I expected, although I have since gotten frosty about it after watching it a second time when the DVD came out; the sucker just doesn’t hold up. Although a sequel to the re-make is now in the works, I think the status of Harryhausen’s 1981 film remains secure. It may even improve.

Now I am facing a similar-sounding situation with this Friday’s looming release of TRON: Legacy. I am here to defend the 1982 film TRON, a movie that balances on a triple-edged knife’s tip of nostalgia, prescience, and ridicule.

However, my position with the new TRON is different than that of the new Clash of the Titans. The forthcoming TRON: Legacy is not a re-make, but a sequel, and this puts me less on the defensive and instead rezzes me up. The early reviews are lukewarm, but at least TRON: Legacy isn’t trying to override the memory of the first movie, and it has brought back the original star Jeff Bridges as well as director Steven Lisberger (in the role of producer this time).

During the early stages of the “New TRON movie” development, Disney did consider doing a re-make, but thankfully someone in the Mouse House realized that a sequel was a better plan. Developments in computer technology between 1982 and 2010 provide an opportunity to explore how the world of computers from the original film have changed — how the grid and the primitive Internet have expanded to rule the world and transform into a reality parallel to our own — and that is fertile ground for a sequel. A sequel almost seems a necessity.

But that TRON: Legacy got made at all is a celebration of one the weirdest, long-term success stories of science-fiction cinema: how a “video-game craze” movie that got a muddy reception on its original release turned into a piece of technical prophecy, an oracle of the modern hi-tech zeitgeist.

Yes, but is it a good movie?

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A Review of Another Fine Myth by Robert Asprin

Monday, December 13th, 2010 | Posted by Isabel Pelech

another-fine-mythAnother Fine Myth, by Robert Asprin
Dell Fantasy (224 pages, $1.95, 1978)

Reading Another Fine Myth, by Robert Asprin, was a peculiar experience. This is not because of the book itself, but because I’ve been following the comic by Phil Foglio, currently being posted as a webcomic. I think Foglio’s style made me expect a more frantic story than I got; if you read any of his comics, such as Girl Genius, you’ll know that the panels tend to be full to the point of bursting.

While I liked Another Fine Myth, I didn’t love it, and some of that may be because I was expecting a different sort of story. Mostly, though, I think it’s because the narrator never really took control of the events, making him more a sidekick than the protagonist I thought he was supposed to be.

He’s not enough of a fool to be the sort of protagonist who solves the problem through sheer luck and incompetence, but he doesn’t really get a shining moment either. He’s just there. I suspect this is a problem that goes away as the series progresses. My opinion of the series as a whole will probably be a bit different from my feelings about this one book.

Skeeve is a magician’s apprentice, but arguably not a very good one. He sees magic mainly as a potential thieves’ tool, a point of contention between him and his master. To show Skeeve that control is more important than power, the master decides to summon a “cold, vicious and bloodthirsty” demon by way of demonstration. Unfortunately, said master is assassinated just as the ritual is completed.

Fortunately for Skeeve’s continuing existence, the demon is not as vicious and deadly as advertised. His name is Aahz.

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Morlock Returns

Monday, December 13th, 2010 | Posted by Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones

travellers-rest-coverIf you’ve been missing Morlock, you’re in luck, because he’s back.

James Enge’s iconic character has been getting a lot of well-deserved attention lately. If you missed out on the news, Enge’s first novel, Blood of Ambrose (starring Morlock) was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. His third novel, The Wolf Age (starring Morlock) recently received a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly.

Now it turns out that The Wolf Age is Pyr’s one-hundredth title, an event certainly worth celebrating, and what better way to celebrate than with a new Morlock novelette?

I’ll let the official Pyr release from Jill Maxick take over from here:

In honor of this burgeoning Morlock fan base, and to commemorate The Wolf Age’s status as Pyr’s one-hundredth title, Pyr is issuing a free, exclusive, ePub novelette called “Travellers’ Rest.” Featuring a cover by artist Chuck Lukacs, “Travellers’ Rest” is an 8,500 word original novelette, written for Pyr, which takes place before the events of Blood of Ambrose. It is available on the Pyr website, as a free download in ePub format and will also be available via Kindle. (Two previously published Morlock short stories that take place many decades after the events of The Wolf Age — “A Book of Silences” and “Fire and Sleet” — are available on the Sample Chapters section of the Pyr website.)

For those of you without an e-reader, the HTML version is here.

What are you waiting for?


Supernatural Spotlight – Episode 6.11 “Appointment in Samarra”

Monday, December 13th, 2010 | Posted by Andrew Zimmerman Jones

This episode begins with the appearance of Robert Englund (better known as Freddy Kreuger from Nightmare on Elm Street) as a doctor who works out of the back room of a Chinatown butcher shop. He’s stitched up John Winchester many times over the years, but now it’s Dean seeking him out, for some sort of procedure which, apparently, has a 75% success rate. I’m thinking a vasectomy, but no, he’s going to go all Flatliners.

Death (left) and grim reaper Tessa (right) offer Dean a deal to get Sam's soul back.

Death (left) and grim reaper Tessa (right) offer Dean a deal to get Sam's soul back.

In the seven minutes that he’s dead, Dean casts a spell to summon Tessa, a Reaper (as in the Grim kind). But he doesn’t really want Tessa, he wants her boss … Death.

Dean figures that if there’s anyone they know who can get Sam’s soul out of its little hell box with Lucifer and Michael, it’s Death. And, in fact, he’s right. He tries to blackmail Death by threatening to not give his ring back (the ring was obtained at the end of last season, so that the Winchesters could trap Lucifer). Death is amused, because he knows exactly where the ring is being held. But still, he offers Dean a deal, a bet, and if successful he’ll give Sam’s soul back and put up a wall that will hold back the memories of his torments … for a time. Possibly even a lifetime.

The terms of the bet: Dean has to wear Death’s ring for a day.

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A Novel Superman

Monday, December 13th, 2010 | Posted by Matthew David Surridge

The Last Son of KryptonMedia tie-in novels are common nowadays, and people have debated how good tie-in novels are and how good they can be. I don’t have any strong opinions, other than to note that a) the usual conditions under which tie-ins are written don’t seem encouraging; b) on the other hand, great books can be and have been written under much less encouraging conditions and much greater restrictions; and c) I’m really looking forward to reading Michael Moorcock’s Doctor Who novel.

But I will say this: when the question of the quality of media tie-in novels arises, there are two books I think of as both tie-in novels and excellent fiction in their own right. There may be more, but these two have stuck with me from a young age, and every time I re-read them (as I do every few years), I find they’re still powerful and resonant work. The language is tight, terse and moving. The characters are strong. The world is well-conceived, feeling fresh and new.

The books are Superman: Last Son of Krypton and Superman: Miracle Monday, by Elliot S! Maggin (follow the link to uncover the mystery of the exclamation point). Published to accompany the release of the first two Superman movies, the books have little to no connection with the movies as such, being instead original and utterly fascinating stories.

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Black Gate Kuttner Contest: And the Winners Are…

Sunday, December 12th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

kuttnerBlack Gate magazine is very pleased to announce the winners of our Kuttner Contest:

Pawel Martin
Alexander G. Tozzi
G. W. Thomas

All three winners receive a copy of Terror in the House: The Early Kuttner, Volume One, compliments of publisher Haffner Press. Terror in the House is 712 pages in hardcover, and is edited by Stephen Haffner and illustrated by Harry V. Parkhurst. Congratulations to the winners!

To enter the contest required a one-sentence review of your favorite Henry Kuttner short story. Winners were chosen at random from all eligible entries.

The wide range of entries gave us a fine appreciation for just how well Henry Kuttner is still remembered over 50 years after his death, and these concise reviews of readers’ favorite Kuttner tales should help those less familiar with him understand the enduring quality of his fiction. Some of the best entires we received are collected below.

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Take Advantage of Holiday Discounts at Lulu.com

Sunday, December 12th, 2010 | Posted by John ONeill

luluI got a reminder from Lulu.com this morning that the window for placing Holiday orders in time for Christmas is closing.  Thanks Lulu!

Plus, they sent me the handy coupon at right.  It’s good for 20% off any order (up to a total of $100 savings) until Dec 31, 2010.

I hope I don’t get in trouble for sharing it. Probably not.  But if anybody locks you in a small room and shines a bright light in your face and demands to know where you got this coupon, remember these handy phrases: “I’ll talk!  It was Gordon van Gelder.”

Or just go get your own coupon online, at their Daily Deals page.

startling-storiesLulu is the leading Print on Demand (POD) publisher. Need a reminder of all the great titles available at Lulu?

Over the past year we’ve told you about the two volumes of The Clayton Astounding reprints, Vagabonds of Space and Planetoids of Peril.

For gamers, there’s the new role playing game of heroic rodents, Hyperborean Mice, featuring grim swords & sorcery action… with talking mice.

For short fiction lovers, there’s G.W. Thomas’ terrific Dark Worlds magazine, featuring tales of modern adventure fantasy, and the new incarnation of pulp magazine Startling Stories, from Wild Cat Books (shown at left).

And don’t forget Charles R. Saunders’ latest Imaro novels, The Naama War, and The Trail of Bohu.

At that and much more.  Support your favorite small press publishers, and get some great gifts at the same time. How cool is that?


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