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.
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.
I've designed a lens cap holder for my Lumix GF1. There are
many like it,
but this one is mine.
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.
2015-2016 children's science fiction, 26 episodes: the five Tracy
brothers pilot a variety of vehicles to rescue people in trouble.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Back to the boardgame café again.
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.
2015 comedy, 13 episodes; most of the same team of misfits continue to
try to keep their community college going.
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.
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
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.
2015 science fiction, 26 episodes:
Mecha pilots fight against the corruption of words.
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
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.
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.
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.
2015 fantasy, ten episodes. The grandson of Robert Jekyll fights
monsters in 1930s London; some of them are human.
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.
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;
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.
This Dungeon Fantasy supplement deals with "special" treasures: not
just the big hauls, but something truly unique.
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
My wife went to a wedding recently, and came back with a Thing.
Some trailers I've seen recently, and my thoughts on them. (Links are