RogerBW's Blog

On Distinguishing SF from Fantasy 30 June 2016 - 3 comments

One might naïvely suppose that this would be an easy distinction, for both books and games. Fantasy has dragons; science fiction has spaceships. But there is a set of ideas, loosely correlated with the SF/fantasy divide, which to my mind make a greater difference to the feel of a story than do trappings like those.

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The Ivy Tree, Mary Stewart 29 June 2016

1961; mystery/thriller or romantic suspense. Mary Grey has no particular prospects, but she's a dead ringer for Annabel Winslow, the heir to the small farm of Whitescar, who's been missing for eight years. Con Winslow, who's been running the place as Annabel's grandfather gradually declines, sees a chance to pull a Brat Farrar, produce the "missing heir", and get the place whether or not it's willed to him. But Mary has her own plans.

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Lens-cap holder 28 June 2016 - 5 comments

I've designed a lens cap holder for my Lumix GF1. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

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Track of the Cat, Nevada Barr 27 June 2016

1993 mystery, first in Barr's Anna Pigeon series, murder mysteries in US National Parks. After the death of her husband, Anna fled from her life in New York to find solitude as a ranger in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, home to a few mountain lions among other species. But when a colleague is found dead, the paw prints round the body and claw marks on the throat seem to point a little too perfectly to a killer animal.

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Thunderbirds Are Go (2016) season 1 26 June 2016 - 4 comments

2015-2016 children's science fiction, 26 episodes: the five Tracy brothers pilot a variety of vehicles to rescue people in trouble.

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Look to the Lady, Margery Allingham 25 June 2016

1931 classic English detective fiction; third of Allingham's novels of Albert Campion. The Gyrth Chalice is unique and unsaleable… but it seems that someone is setting up to steal it anyway, for a private collection. US vt The Gyrth Chalice Mystery.

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The morning after 24 June 2016 - 6 comments

The shepherd will tend his sheep
The valley will bloom again
And Jimmy will go to sleep
In his own little room again

...so now what? (Check back on this in a year or two to see whether I was right.)

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An argument for the UK to remain as part of the EU 23 June 2016 - 3 comments

This is quite separate from the political arguments, which I don't intend to go into even today. It's a very simple appeal to money.

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Training Daze, Mike Shepherd 22 June 2016

2011 military SF novella, a later insertion into the Kris Longknife series. After the triumph of the Battle of Wardhaven, Kris and crew go out to train allied fast patrol boat commanders.

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Pyramid 90: After the End 21 June 2016 - 3 comments

Pyramid is the monthly GURPS supplement containing short articles with a loose linking theme. This time, tying in with the After the End series again, it's a grab-bag of articles about the post-apocalypse.

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The Space Barbarians, Tom Godwin 20 June 2016

1964 science fiction, sequel to The Survivors/Space Prison. The survivors of the hell-world Ragnarok have handily won the war against the Gern, but they don't seem to be able to talk sensibly with either Earth or the former Gern-slave colony of Athena. And there's a new threat approaching…

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Thirsty Meeples June 2016 19 June 2016

Back to the boardgame café again. With images; cc-by-sa on everything.

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Mystery Mile, Margery Allingham 18 June 2016

1930 classic English detective fiction; second of Allingham's novels of Albert Campion. Multiple attempts have been made to murder an American judge; Campion does his best to keep him safe.

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Community, season 6 17 June 2016

2015 comedy, 13 episodes; most of the same team of misfits continue to try to keep their community college going.

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Defiant, Mike Shepherd 16 June 2016

2005 military SF, third of the Kris Longknife books. As a victim of fallout from a political attack against her family, Kris gets sent on a diplomatic mission, then comes back to a desperate struggle in defence of her homeworld.

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More Torg Redesign 15 June 2016 - 3 comments

I wrote a while ago about how I'd redesign the Torg world to keep a similar feel but make it a bit more interesting. Now I want to consider how one might change that feel by changing the rules. (Like those world modifications, this would break the existing campaign, so players in my GURPS Torg game need not worry that this will apply to them.)

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Wave and Die, Stella Whitelaw 14 June 2016

2001 mystery, second in Whitelaw's Jordan Lacey series (private investigation in a small seaside town). Jordan investigates stolen water-lilies, vandalism, theft of a wedding cake, arson, and an errant husband. Oh, and a Second World War aircraft wreck.

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Aquarion Logos 13 June 2016

2015 science fiction, 26 episodes: AniDB. Mecha pilots fight against the corruption of words.

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The Crime at Black Dudley, Margery Allingham 12 June 2016

1929 classic English detective fiction; first of Allingham's novels of Albert Campion. George Abbershaw, expert pathologist who unexpectedly finds himself in love, goes down for the weekend to the remote country house called "Black Dudley"; but the gathering is afflicted with murder… and then taken over by gangsters. US vt The Black Dudley Murder.

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How I enjoy mystery stories 11 June 2016

The mystery story when done well is an extreme form of the story problem, which one can enjoy both on the level of normal fiction with characters and plot and setting and so on and on the level of working out whodunnit before the author reveals the solution.

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The Ring of Charon, Roger MacBride Allen 10 June 2016 - 2 comments

1990 science fiction. Larry Chao is a junior scientist at a gravity research station on Pluto, that's about to be shut down. He's just made a remarkable improvement in gravity manipulation, but the chief administrator won't take it seriously, so he fires off an unauthorised experiment to prove to the scientific community that there's real progress being made. At which point something very unexpected happens.

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The Floating Admiral, The Detection Club 09 June 2016

1931 English detective fiction, in fourteen chapters by fourteen authors. The body of retired Admiral Penistone is found in a small boat on the river, stabbed through the heart. Everyone has a story, and everyone has something to hide.

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Jekyll and Hyde 08 June 2016 - 2 comments

2015 fantasy, ten episodes. The grandson of Robert Jekyll fights monsters in 1930s London; some of them are human.

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Wonderment in Death, J. D. Robb 07 June 2016

2015 SF/mystery novella; fifty-second (roughly) of J. D. Robb's In Death series, published as part of Down the Rabbit Hole, a multi-author anthology of stories loosely inspired by Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Apparently Darlene Fitzwilliams fatally stabbed her brother, then jumped off his fifty-second floor balcony. But there's no sign that she was the sort of person who'd do that.

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Thirsty Meeples May 2016 06 June 2016

Having missed a couple of months thanks to busy-ness, we returned to the boardgame café (which appeared to have undergone a complete staff turnover, though some of them are now just working on different days). With images; cc-by-sa on everything.

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vN, Madeline Ashby 05 June 2016 - 3 comments

2012 science fiction. Amy Peterson is a self-replicating ("von Neumann") humaniform robot, who has been growing up slowly as part of a mixed human/android family. Then her grandmother shows up, and she has to eat her.

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GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Treasures 2: Epic Treasures, Matt Riggsby 04 June 2016

This Dungeon Fantasy supplement deals with "special" treasures: not just the big hauls, but something truly unique.

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A Man Lay Dead, Ngaio Marsh 03 June 2016

1934 classic English detective fiction; first of Marsh's novels of Inspector Roderick Alleyn. At Sir Hubert Handesley's country house weekend, five guests play a game of "Murder". But when the lights come up…

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Biological Warfare Cake 02 June 2016 - 8 comments

My wife went to a wedding recently, and came back with a Thing.

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May 2016 Trailers 01 June 2016 - 2 comments

Some trailers I've seen recently, and my thoughts on them. (Links are to youtube.)

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