Friday, December 11, 2015

C.S. Lewis on Her Majesty's Secret Service

Came across this today. Like Roald Dahl and Ian Fleming, seems the most noteworthy pagan-turned-Christian allegorical fantasy author was a SPY! Sort of. Well, it's not that exciting. He didn't have a jet-pack or electrocute people in bathtubs. But I found it interesting. You might, too.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Count Belisarius

I finished I, Claudius, Claudius the God, and King Jesus, all by Robert Graves. I needed more Robert Graves. For the first time ever, I bought an e-book because I couldn't wait for a hard copy to arrive. The book is Count Belisarius, and it's one of my favorites so far. If you like historical novels, especially early medieval military history, this one's for you. Set in the waning days of the Eastern Roman Empire, it's fast-paced yet crammed full of scholarly detail - just like all of Graves' books. Here's a good description from the Historical Novel Society:

"Originally published in 1936, Count Belisarius has not basked in the same limelight as Robert Graves’s two earlier masterpieces set in the early Roman Empire. Instead, in Count Belisarius the focus shifts east from Rome to Constantinople. The cast is full and complex but essentially can be summarised as a foursome: the Emperor Justinian and his wife, Theodora, whose closest friend, Antonina, marries Justinian’s general, Belisarius. The story is narrated by a eunuch, Eugenius, a devoted slave in Antonina’s household. The scope of the book is massive – encompassing religious controversy and cultural developments as well as military history – yet, throughout, Graves succeeds in blending historical details with the development of his main characters. For anyone who has seen the beautiful mosaic of Justinian and Theodora in Ravenna, their characters here come as a surprise: for all its ideals and renewed hope, the Eastern Roman Empire was as corrupt as its Western predecessor. Belisarius alone rises above this as a man of principle and integrity and a renowned military leader. He leads Justinian’s army to victory in the campaigns against Persia, Carthage, Sicily and Northern Italy, often against astonishing odds and with little backing."

Monday, December 7, 2015

Car Wars Classic is a Free PDF

According to the Daily Illuminator, Steve Jackson Games has released the original version of the 1980 classic Car Wars. This game allowed us all to pretend we were in Death Race 2000 or The Road Warrior - even if about two people I know actually understood and played by the rules. This was one of the games that originally came in the undersized black plastic boxes with hooks for hanging on the "impulse buy" racks at hobby stores - another innovation of Steve Jackson that TSR would adopt with games like this one. Anyway, you can find the free-and-legal PDF of the original "Car Wars Classic" right here.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

AZ-1: Against the Aztecs

...well, that's what an old-school dungeon module about this might be called. Turns out archaeologists have discovered some sealed chambers in Aztec ruins. But they won't start excavating until next year some time. I wonder what's inside? Probably at least a few zombies, a Great Feathered Serpent, and all the gold you can eat. Read all about it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Sword & Planet

Nothing captures the essence of the genre, for me, better than this Al Williamson piece. He was the primary Flash Gordon artist back in the day, and also did a lot of comics work. Check out a gallery of his stuff here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

More Evidence for Parallel Universes

A scientist thinks he's discovered evidence of a parallel universe - but admits there's a 30 percent chance he's wrong. A "bruise" in the cosmic background radiation of our universe might be the smoking gun. Read all about it right here. And when you're done reading that, read about this experiment that proves the universe is really, really weird. And here's more about spooky action at a distance.