random links

Archipelago II Earthsea like roleplaying
Patrick Benson’s Fudge blog
Making PTA Work, good reminders by Doyce
5×5 Sandbox Experiment
Make your own New Crouzubon
The brainstormer quick 3 bit ideas
Very nice review of Wraethulu RPG
Serenity Combat quick PDF
Mouse Guard: the pedagogy of playing, Character creation in play, part 2.
Collaborative World
[Kev] Palladium on sale now
Making support characters fun: Researcher, Hacker
Good SotC session
Keeping it fresh
Kickers and bangs
Continue reading “random links”

How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier

Well, that’s where my evening went. I enjoyed it thoroughly; it was a fast paced fun story. I like the strange world building– it makes it a lot easier to detach in time and place– particularly the obsessive focus on “here”. The complete commitment schools are interesting backdrops and very quirky to think about.

The core of the story is Charlie, her friends, and high school social interactions. Even twisted into this fantasy world, the basic complaints of high school remain clear– though interesting, since it’s all inside baseball on the girls side. The bitter hate for the “boys like you” fairy possessor was fascinating– again, something I generically knew, but reading it deepened the experience. (Any number of real life asides and out of context snipes fall into place.)

It’s a quirky treat– a few hours of confection and characters you quickly come to care about. And not a dragon in sight.

Beka Cooper: Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce

A great followup to Terrier– Beka takes to life as a Dog very well. She has changed a bit, but her core remains the same. The primary plot is about counterfeiting, which the author does well in tying real consequences to. Beka goes through a lot, but her most trying events mostly involve her seeing deeper into the world… not exactly getting jaded, but being exposed to more corruption and courtship.

The courting was very well handled; though pitched at YA readers, Beka has full fledged feelings and experiences. The curtain comes down before she talks about mechanics… but that’s ideal to my mind, and is something I usually appreciate in novels pitched at anyone. (Some phrasings, like “peaches” are cute and consistent.)

In the end, if you liked the first book, you’ll like this one. The characters she meets are as well drawn as those of the first book, rouges, scoundrels, and nobles alike.

Schedules, Requests, and Gaming

What is everyone’s current status? I know that Kev has added another work-like time suck to his schedule, and that Ben would like to spend time with his love. Do we need to look at moving the game to a different day, or officially cut back to every other week or more infrequently?

Does your schedule get better at the end of summer, or some later time– or is everyone’s schedule so erratic that it would be better not to plan on people showing up consistently?

Should we switch to board gaming for a while if roleplaying meetings just aren’t working? Or do we just need to try a different roleplaying game– the games we currently have don’t include everyone or scratch the right itches?

Lots of questions. Everyone, please write back or comment– let’s talk about what we can do and what we want to do.

Quick Notes: Books read on Vacation

In addition to reading some Spirit of the Century, I also completed several books on vacation. This is probably all the record they’ll get.

Foreigner by C.J. Cherryh. A strong book with a strange setup; the first two or three chapters don’t tie to the rest of the book very strongly. (I think I’d have preferred them as a linked short story, even under the same cover.) The politics, aliens, and negotiations and cultural struggles are all deftly handled. The compromises in dealing with the native cultures are interesting, as is the history that is revealed as the book advances. There is action, but I like the suspicion and doubt even more.

RIM by Alexander Besher. OK, but weak. Lots of psychic and religious/eastern mystical meshing strangely. Not recommended for a reread.

The Female Man by Joanna Russ. A good story confusingly told; I didn’t like the structure, but the underlying story was good. It was just work to get to it.

Self Made Man by Norah Vincent. An interesting look at unconscious social cues, the effect of presentation, etc. She comes away with sympathetic look at men’s internal interactions and offers good commentary about how we reinforce a system that fails us. There’s no real solution offered, and the social pressures to conform look immense from her viewpoint, but bit by bit, maybe we can salvage men’s roles. Her perceptions of dating very much matched mine, particularly the ego crushing and reinforcement of roles inherent in the attempts. I’m so happy Jennifer and I mapped out a different route.

Jaran by Kate Elliot. I liked this book quite a bit. There are interesting sci-fi elements, but it’s also a great look at fitting into strange cultures, evaluating responsibilities, and so on. I like the novel’s heroine, Tess, and the men of the jahar. The Chapalii are realistically alien, with subtle differences adding up. I don’t know if I want to continue on to read the rest of the series, or just stop after this successful book.

New Sudden Fiction edited by Robert Shapard and James Thomas. A collection of well written stories, all 3-5 pages long. A few really worked well and ran with me, while others were okay but quickly forgotten. I really enjoyed the domestic stories; the audio tour of the ex-boyfriend’s apartment and a close examination of three voice mail messages. Others perfectly crystallize one moment or snippet of life. They won’t all work for you, but at 5 pages, even a bad story is over with quickly. It’s easy to get sucked into the next story, and the next…

Apricot Cobbler

I brought this along when I played Trouble on the Tarmac against Bryan. I didn’t cover it on the trip down so it sloshed right over the edges of the pan. It looked messy by the time I served it, but it was still tasty. I made it right out of the Bittman recipe for cobbler, though its default is blueberry. The apricots came right off of the backyard tree… yum!

The cobbler was desert for a potluck dinner we threw together (though, really, all of the serious effort was Bryan’s). It was good.