Happy Halloween! Well, it was yesterday or today or tomorrow depending on where you’re from. Anyway, it’s time to see something freaky. This is a traditional Irish Jack-o’-Lantern made from a turnip. Turnips and beets were the popular plants to make Jack-o’-Lanterns out of before pumpkins became available in European supermarkets.
This nineteenth century example is from the Museum of Country Life in Turlough Village, County Mayo, Ireland. The Irish say they got the tradition of Jack-o’-Lanterns because of the deeds of a certain blacksmith named Jack. He managed to trap the Devil through some means (stories vary from fooling him into turning into a coin or climbing a tree and then trapping him with a cross) and in return for freeing him, got the Devil to promise not to put him in Hell.
Once Jack died, Heaven refused to take him and Hell couldn’t take him either, so now he walks the Earth in a Purgatory of his own making. The Devil gave him a bit of a fire in a turnip to help him light his way at night. He’s been called Jack of the Lantern, or Jack-o’-Lantern, ever since.
The name John Dee conjures up images of a Tudor-era mage plumbing the mysteries of the occult and speaking with angels through his system of Enochian magic. This is how most people know Dr. Dee, and it is all I knew about him until I visited an excellent exhibition at the Royal College of Physicians in London.
Scholar, Courtier, Magician: The Lost Library of John Dee sets the record straight on a misunderstood and often maligned Renaissance man. Far more than a mere occultist, Dee was a geographer, mathematician, astronomer, world traveler, and cryptographer. He was influential in two royal courts and was an early advocate for the colonization of the Americas.
Robin Riopelle is the debut fantasy author of the novel Deadroads, released by Skyhorse Publishing’s newest imprint, Night Shade, in April of 2014.
The publication of her first novel was a bit more stressful than it normally would be, because her original publisher, Night Shade Books (NSB), teetered on the edge of bankruptcy a year ago, just as the novel was about to be released.
So, just to start with the basics of the story, when did you write Deadroads, what is it about, and what was the process to sell it to Night Shade?
Deadroads was written fairly quickly about 3 years ago. I was inspired, I guess you could say, really intrigued by the connection between Acadian and Cajun cultures.
I’ve always liked darker fiction and I have always written stories with an element of magic, but not capital M magic. Supernatural elements in my stories need to feel organic and slight. Deadroads is about a fractured family with roots in both Louisiana and New Brunswick, and about how they come together while trying to find out what killed their father. Of course, a larger and more ominous mystery about their parents’ past is revealed.
It is the time of year for presents. If you celebrate Hanukkah, I’m late on giving you any gift ideas, but for people rushing to get gifts for friends in the next few days, here are a few last minute gift ideas. Do you know someone who loves interactive fiction? Someone who digs webcomics? If you’re shopping for someone who would rather have a digital gift than a package to open, you might encounter some gifting hurdles — but it can be done!
I’ve already mentioned some games I like in this column, so anything I’ve already spotlighted is something I recommend. Here are a few games I’m planning to cover in upcoming posts:
Today’s just released Choice of Deathless by fantasy author Max Gladstone is an awesome mix of corporate espionage and demon fighting. I got to playtest this one (disclosure: Max is in my fiction critique group, Substrate) and I’ve already played it probably five times. I can’t wait to play it again. (Max is also the author of two amazing fantasy novels, Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise, which you can pick up at your local bookstore or use the expedited shipping option from your favorite online bookseller to get them in time for Christmas.
Choice of Ninja is exactly what you’d expect: lots of martial arts, magic, and stealth, and your choices help decide the fate of two warring shoguns. I’m still playing this one (so author Katherine Buffington may have some surprises!), but I’m really enjoying it so far.
I had so much fun playing a real-estate agent for a haunted house in Gavin Inglis‘s short game Eerie Estate Agent that I bought his novel Crap Ghosts. The book is downloadable without DRM via Kobo, which means if your friend is local, you can buy it and load it to your friend’s device (or send it via e-mail) rather than muck about with online gifting.
Failbetter Games (of Fallen London) is releasing a tie-in 2D adventure game, Sunless Sea, available now for pre-order. Best thing about this one is it comes with a “gift” option right from the order page.
So how do you send someone a digital game as a gift? It depends on the device, but here are a few tips: