SPECIAL: Amazing Stories introduces the Gernsback Science Fiction Short Story Writing Contest (details here, under the Magazine Tab in the top menu)
This week’s roundup includes stories from 6/1 to the present
PRESS RELEASES & NEWSLETTERS (Full text below)
Radio Archive News; Epic Worlds Story Contest Winners (free fiction); Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy Publishing; RPGNet Newsletter; Flamecon Thanks Supporters; Night Shade Books – Laird Barron; Harper Collins – Human Universe 50% off
UH OH! Cat Herders – Take Note: Link established between cat ownership & Schizophrenia! (“But I heard him I tell ya! He talked to me in Swahili! They’re taking over! We’ve got to warn everyone! I’ll be safe, but I can’t vouch for the rest of you! Gee, that’s a funny looking jacket…”
Puppie’s Own Words (it ain’t yip, yip, yip squeal!) (Jim C. Hine’s roundup)
Secret Wars Delayed (How would we know?)
Muslim Fiction Writers Find a Home in Genre (via Mike Walsh)
On Chinese SF (via SF Signal)
Cricket Magazine Wins Merit Award (via Erin Underwood)
Robot Fail (see what happens when you let Robbie Drink!?) Via Mike Walsh
Link Between Birth Month & Disease (Pinero would be pleased)
“Pash da ban…Pass the Bananas please” (Chimps seek out alcohol in the wild)
Space-X Passes Launch Abort Pad Test (think of champagne corks popping out of the bottle)
Schoolboy Discovers Exo Planet (via David A Hardy)
Fly Around Ceres! (Fly me to the asteroid, Let me play among the stars, Let me see what spring is like, On Jupiter and Mars – adapted Sinatra)
PRESS RELEASES & NEWSLETTERS
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Of all the characters introduced by the pulps, no one was more popular or more influential than The Shadow. No other character so captured the interest and imagination of the American public during the thirties and forties. From the radio to the pulps back to the radio The Shadow was the dominant fictional character of the time. But what exactly is the background of this mysterious fighter for law and justice?
At first, The Shadow is completely a man of mystery. We know nothing of him other than his complete enmity of crime. He is the master of disguise who appears mysteriously when the situation seems most hopeless. His guns speak a language that make the most hardened criminal cringe with fear. But, as time goes on, we learn more and more about The Shadow. We are introduced to a small but dedicated band of agents he recruits to help him in his war against crime. The Shadow was a genius capable of solving the most intricate puzzles and schemes.
Strangely enough, while one of the most popular characters ever in American literature, as well as one of the most famous radio characters ever, very little has been written about The Shadow. During the thirties and the forties, a few articles about The Shadow did appear, usually as a tie-in with some Street and Smith magazine campaign, or written by Gibson and appearing in a writers’ magazine.
Still, no work of any length has ever been done on The Shadow pulps, concentrating on the stories themselves. Frank Eisgruber Jr. is a devoted Shadow fan who owns a complete set of the magazine. Frank has written extensively for pulp fiction fanzines and is familiar with all that has been written on the mysterious crime fighter. He has read every Shadownovel a number of times and has extensive notes on the entire series. This audiobook is a result of his studies.
Read by Roger Price.
A pair of Vickers pronounce the sentence of Death in the high avenues of the sky where one man lives and another man dies! Dare-Devil Aces was another of the many pulps that rode the wave of popularity of World War I aviation tales in the decade after the conflict. It made its debut in February 1932 and lasted for an astounding 135 issues. It finally closed after World War II ended, with the November 1946 issue. During its run, it presented a wide assortment of high-flying aerial series, including The Red Falcon, The Vanished Legion, The Three Mosquitoes, Molloy and McNamara, The Black Sheep of Belogue, The Mongol Ace, Chinese Brady, Captain Babyface, Smoke Wade and others. Strap on your flying helmet, toss that scarf about your neck and get ready for some soaring action in the skies over France and Germany during the Great War. Dare-Devil Aces return in vintage pulp tales, reissued for today’s readers in electronic format. $2.99.
The Knight of Darkness journeys from Chinatown to the Canadian North Woods and to Manhattan society haunts to combat criminal conspiracies in two pulp thrillers by Walter B. Gibson writing as “Maxwell Grant.” The Shadow follows a trail of counterfeit money in “The North Woods Mystery” from the back allies of Chinatown to the uncharted Canadian wilderness in pursuit of Mongol smugglers. Then, in “Death About Town” serial killings at a posh New York gentlemen’s club become even more baffling when the murderers themselves are slaughtered! BONUS: a classic adventure from the Golden Age of Radio! This instant collector’s item showcases both original color pulp covers by George Rozen and the original interior illustrations by Tom Lovell and Paul Orban, with original commentary by popular culture historians Will Murray and Anthony Tollin. Double Novel Reprint $14.95
Hi guys… I just posted a piece about Strange Wills on my website www.leonardmaltin.com and hope it brings you a few new customers. Cheers.
The winning stories of the Epic Worlds contest are revealed and are waiting to be read! Which one are you going to enjoy first?
Winners of the Epic Worlds Contest
1st Place · Fantasy · By Shawn Patrick Cooke
The winner of Inkitt’s Epic Worlds writing contest is proudly awarded to Shawn Patrick Cooke for ‘Illuminated’. Delivered with superb cadence, this story is both elegant and engaging. It is a tale that finds great balance between culture and fantasy and a piece that offers both a story and an experience.
Summary: Lasair is a monk, the best illuminator in the abbey of Kells. One night, a stranger delivers a commission, one that will challenge his faith and lead him to uncover the hidden nature of the world.
- Read Now for Free
2nd Place · Fantasy · By Joshua Grasso
The Winged Turban‘The Winged Turban’ by Joshua Grasso is brilliantly executed. The story clings to its audience, growing with the tension of the text until a reader is completely absorbed. It is the kind of story that demands to be read, and one that should not be put down until its end.
Summary: Beatrice has been married off to the ancient House of Saffrendento, but old Houses don’t always welcome new blood. Especially women who have correspondence with sorcerers…and speak with the dead.
3rd Place · Fantasy · By jwjone12
The HuntressThird place goes to jwjone12 for ‘The Huntress’. Engrossing in its approach, this tale dives fully and literally into its own world. The author has skillfully created characters and landmarks that are as true to their own world as any that might be found within our own reality.
Summary: One must always consider, is the storm of this world, or of Paradise? For many souls are capable of besting nature, but few are equipped to prove themselves mightier than the gods. – Jovess Astaire
RPGnet Newsletter #7
June 9, 2015
News and Announcements
This week, we’re privileged to have our second edition of Tectrix’s monthly AP Spotlight column. The focus this go around is on The Climbers, Derendel’s Apocalypse World actual play. If you have any idea for another spotlight column for the Newsletter – or, even better, would like to write one of your own – please PM Shannon or me (Iustum).
Also, you’ve probably noticed that RPGnet has had a few technical hiccups in the past ten days or so. Please remember to check the Announcements tab at the top of each subforum for updated information on RPGnet technical status.
Lots of activity on the Column front last week:
- Jim Myers’ second issue of Active Play, his ongoing look at techniques for being a more proactive player, “The Pre-Game Communication”.
- Another Fuzzy Thinking cartoon from Christopher Cecil: “Time for 6E!”.
- Sandy Antunes gave us another talk from Sandy’s Soapbox, this time focusing on teaching cryptography: “A Cryptology Game”.
- Brent Dedeaux (of Tales from the Rocket House) summarizes the “Ten Essential Elements of Old School D&D”.
Here are the reviews from last week:
- Edward Kabara’s review of “Street Grimoire” (Shadowrun supplement).
- kafka’s review of “Hub Federation Ground Forces” (Traveller supplement).
- kafka’s review of “Larger than Life Directors Cut” (Pulp RPG)
- Antonios S’s review of “Bauhaus Starter Box” (Miniatures game).
- Cody Johnston’s review of “Insanity’s Blade” (Computer game)
- Antonios S’s review of “Urban Panic” (Board/Tactical game)
- Antonios S’s review of “Super Fantasy: Night of the Badly Dead” (Board/Tactical game)
- Antonios S’s review of “Intrigue City” (Board/Tactical game)
Threads You Might Have Missed
We had some great (if sometimes a little contentious) discussions of RPG theory in TRO and Dungeons & Dragons / Fantasy D20 Spotlight last week.
First, Matthew noted what might be an issue with D&D 5E’s magic item system in: “Ok, so another 5E thing I’ve noticed; Magic Items are hard to award”. While some of the thread focuses on 5E-specific rules issues, there’s a lot of useful discussion of magic item economies, the role of magic items as a reward for player success, how a GM can control magic item accumulation by the players, and similar topics.
Back in TRO, Particle_Man asked “Do you fudge as GM? Are you cool with GM fudging as a player?” This has been a contentious topic in RPG discussions for approximately as long as there have been such a thing as RPG discussions. Nevertheless, this thread has some fresh and interesting perspectives on what exactly “fudging” is, why it happens, and why it might be more acceptable/appropriate in some rule systems than in others.
Finally for this week, Ka_ge2020 started a thread on another issue that has long been a bugaboo among RPG players: “Explain to me Math aversion”. As a person who tends to be whatever the opposite of Math Averse is, yr. humble editor found the thread very enlightening. There’s also some fantastic discussion of the role of math and calculation in RPG design, which will be of general use to both game designers and GMs.
Welcome to the second AP Spotlight column! At Shannon’s invitation I’ll be using this space to profile exceptional AP games. While quality is subjective, I’ll be focusing on works that succeed both as games and as APs specifically – that is, they’re presented in a readable and sometimes even multimedia format that elevates them from a simple recap to a unique form of media.
For this month’s AP Spotlight, we’ll be taking a look at Derendel’s The Climbers, an Apocalypse World campaign set in the swamps of what used to be Miami, back in those golden days before the titular plague came, and the dead started walking.
I want to note here that I chose The Climbers for review several weeks before seeing the new Mad Max: Fury Road in theaters, so the gonzo post-apocalyptic shenanigans they share is entirely coincidental. That said, if you’ve been to Mad Max, you have a pretty good idea of what Apocalypse World is capable of generating; if, like some of my friends, you’ve been to three screenings and you’re setting a date for your fourth, you might want to give the game a spin. Try not to borrow too heavily, though, because building your own apocalypse is half the fun.
The Climbers is played over Skype, with four PCs and Derendel as the GM. Following DaveB’s methods for his Mage: The Awakening games, Derendel records the session’s audio using a second computer for sound quality reasons, then spends two to three times the session length transcribing the audio, which can take over twelve hours. For the final touches, he embellishes dialogue and inserts OOC commentary in blue. The final product is a readable narrative that also brings in qualities that make the AP format distinct from novelizations proper; in fact, if I had to compare it to another type of media, I’d go with a sports broadcast, where the viewer is watching the action unfold on screen while commentators make witty quips and analyze the game’s strategy in the background.
When I asked why Derendel puts in the energy for such an intensive AP process, he had this to say: “I like APs because it lets me do several things at once. First, I can turn what would be a chaotic discussion into a clean(er) story by distinguishing between OOC banter and in character dialog (via coloration of text). Two, I can demonstrate the rules and my game master decisions in way that might not be as clear via an audio or video recording. Third, as a bonus, I can extract out a log for my players to refer to later.” The downsides, he explained, are that he sometimes falls behind, and that sneaky players who whisper can be hard to understand in the audio.
I’m all in favor of games like last month’s Malibu Dream House that focus on uninterrupted narrative, but if you want to learn the crunchy bits of how a game is played and run, Derendel’s approach is a great one. He takes the time to explain the mechanical aspects as they come up, and spends nearly as much time explaining the group’s OOC thought processes as he does telling the actual story.
For those unfamiliar with Apocalypse World (and I counted myself among your numbers before I picked up The Climbers), it’s an award-winning game run with the Powered by the Apocalypse engine, a bare-bones, highly collaborative system that’s also used for Monsterhearts and Dungeon World, among others. PCs are created on a class basis (called ‘playbooks’) to fit the niches you’d encounter in a post-apocalyptic setting, such as the Skinner (artist or stripper) and Gunlugger (self-explanatory); each playbook comes with its own set of ‘moves’ that a character can roll 2d6 to enact. It’s not the character stats that make the Powered by the Apocalypse engine so much fun, however: it’s the group world building.
As in all other Apocalypse World campaigns, the GM (‘MC’ in PbtA terminology) is strictly forbidden to plan for the campaign prior to the first session. Derendel’s pre-gaming routine (also seen in Corrupted Transmission, his Hunter: The Vigil campaign) already relied on player input for world building and theme choice; making it official with Apocalypse World was a natural step.
For the first session, the group built their setting and conflicts from scratch, deciding on a Florida depopulated by a fungal disease that kills and revives anyone it infects, rebuilt on the backs of slave laborers, and teetering on the verge of starvation due to unreliable food supplies. The group’s home base (later illustrated with homemade maps), dubbed Stumpland, comes together as a cozy mire, occupied by an eccentric cast drawn together with a complex – and wholly improvised – web of social history. New residents are added by the group as the game goes on based on what makes narrative sense.
When I asked Derendel about the challenges of running an Apocalypse World campaign, he told me that the group input aspect was in line with how he liked to run things, but that the degree the game called for pushed him past his comfort zone: “The hard part for me is to resist the temptation to plan ahead, and especially build a cast of characters to work with. Since the whole point of AW is to play to see what happens and make stuff up as you go along, I feel to do otherwise would be to work against the spirit of the game. But it removes some of the crutches I use to prop up my gamemastering confidence.”
Due to OOC real life disruptions the PC list changes after a few sessions, so I’m outlining all five past and future cast members for completeness’ sake.
- Gator: A sharp-edged mercenary with a face shredded by an encounter with one of his namesakes, this Gunlugger doesn’t mess around. Make a deal with him and he’ll stick it through, even after your death.
- November Orleans: After the end times, proper crocodile jerky’s a treat, and this Skinner knows all the recipes. She moonlights as a dancer and animal trainer, too!
- Violet Jefferson: When there’s nothing left to believe in, it’s up to this Touchstone to found a new religion based on the holy text of nothing less than the Constitution of the United States of America (with the Bill of Rights thrown in for good measure).
- Billie Ray Tallahassee: Where there are scraps, there are scavengers, and this bastard of a Ruin Runner’s got the savvy to pick through the old world’s carcasses. Unfortunately, due to OOC conflicts he didn’t stick around long.
- Jarhead: A newcomer starting in post #12, this Savvyhead makes his living doing repairs, but he’s equally capable with more esoteric devices.
As an Apocalypse World novice I had to take a chance on The Climbers. Going into an AP without a prior grounding in the system’s mechanics can be confusing for readers to the point where the story becomes difficult to enjoy. The reason I stuck with it is that The Climbers did a fantastic job of not only providing an engaging story, but actively teaching me how to play the game. If you’re looking for a fun way to learn the fine points of GMing a collaborative system, give The Climbers a read through. Even better, for those of us who are easily addicted: it’s only been going since September 2014, so the length is manageable, and it’s not currently on hiatus so you won’t be stuck waiting for updates that never come.
Have a good week, everyone.
RPGnet Newsletter Staff:
Actual Play Spotlight Columnist
Flame Con is Proud to Be Supported by Our Kickstarter Backers and Sponsoring Organizations
Flame Con, New York’s first queer-focused comic con, is taking off on Saturday, June 13, 2015 at the Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn, bringing together special guests, panelists, vendors, artists, and more, from across the spectrum of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror fandoms. None of this would be possible without the help of our wonderful Kickstarter backers, or the generous Support of our sponsoring partners:
Northwest Press, the premier publisher of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender comics collections and graphic novels. Northwest Press celebrates the LGBT comics community, with a great catalog of top-notch work, authors, and artists.
Fun Home, the new Broadway musical based on the best-selling graphic memoir by award-winning author Alison Bechdel. Fun Home is a groundbreaking, refreshingly honest show about seeing your parents through grown-up eyes and is the winner of 5 Tony Awards®, including Best Musica
Pridefest Game by Atari, an exciting new social-sim game coming soon to iOS and Android devices that gives anyone the chance to create and launch their own personalized pride parade. The first LGBTQ-themed game from Atari, Pridefest is a leading example of games that are inclusive for all video game fans.
MailChimp, dedicated to helping small businesses Send Better Email. Over 600 million emails a day empower MailChimp’s marketing emails, automated messages, and targeted campaigns.
gaysiansgame, a grassroots social media campaign to highlight Gaysians and gaymer/geek/otaku culture. Gaysiansgame members work to create safe spaces that respect, validate, and celebrate the ethnic, queer, and cultural identities of LGBTQI Asian & Pacific Islanders in a variety of community settings and events.
CockyBoys, an award-winning adult film company, and proud sponsor of Flame Con’s 18+ afterparty, The Fire Ball!
More information about Flame Con is available at http://www.flamecon.org/
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