Posts tagged ‘fantasy’


Now reading: Terms of Enlistment

by wfgodbold

By the internet-famous Marko Kloos!

I’ve only just started it. First I had to finish A Throne of Bones and Summa Elvetica (both by Vox Day).

Terms of Enlistment–a milSF work–should nicely cleanse the palate after two long fantasy works (elves, orcs, goblins, Roman legions, a Catholic Church analogue, Vikings–what more could you want?).

I’ll probably finish it by the weekend, if I can work in some reading time in between work and class.


To my great shame…

by wfgodbold

Aftermath of our inaugural battle.

I’ve not yet posted regarding my first Dungeons and Dragons experience*. Four of my friends from undergrad and I have used Google+‘s video chat hangout feature twice in the past month to run a couple of D&D games (only the DM and one other friend had played before (at all)).

I was surprised; the game was more like a co-op turn-based strategy game than anything else. We used MapTool (by RPTools) instead of an actual table, and just have to trust that we’re being honest about our dice rolls**.

We’re also using the D&D Essentials books (instead of the “real” 4E books); between those of us who never played, and those of us who hadn’t played in years, it seemed like the best idea.

Our party consists of “Pelt,” an elven rogue with a mysterious past; Seamus Grimesson, “The Wretched Dwarf,” a knight with a taste for rancid ham**** sandwiches; Docke Kilmar, functioning alcoholic and misanthropic human mage; and Helgarrolfinathdon “Helg” Hammerfoot, a dwarven warpriest possessed of heroic patience.

We’re not really taking the role-playing part of the game that seriously (it’s more like the PA D&D podcasts than a serious game); it’s mostly a way for us to hang out for  3-4 hours every couple of weeks in spite of being separated by hundreds of miles.

It’s a good way to spend a few hours (it’s certainly more fun than I’d thought it would be); I can definitely see how it can turn into a money sink, though (all those sourcebooks and miniatures and everything aren’t exactly cheap). At the rate we’re progressing, we’re not likely to need any of that stuff until 2015 at the earliest. It does make for a nice break from the law school grind, and doesn’t require nearly the time investment that most video games do.

Investigating rumors of a death cult

*I’ll let you figure out if I’m ashamed that I was playing D&D, or if I’m ashamed that I hadn’t yet played D&D. Or if I’m merely ashamed that I took almost a month to post about my shame.

**Amazingly, I’ve yet to roll below a 19. I must just be lucky***.

***No, not really. 😦

****Or any other meat that happens to be around. Including freshly slain kobold.


Battle Hymn (戦歌(いくさうた))

by wfgodbold

Tears to Tiara‘s battle music is excellent; a good thing, too, since the battles last a while. The stage maps are large, and since it’s a turn-based SRPG, you can’t exactly button-mash your way through like you might be able to in FF/Tales/DQ.

If you’re too busy to play through the game yourself (or are handicapped by your inability to understand moonspeak), you can watch the 26-episode anime series based on the game on Hulu. Be warned, though; it’s mostly serious, but they do take refuge in audacity a few times (especially when it comes to Arawn’s relationship with the various girls).

It is interesting to see what the Japanese make of the Mabinogion; they combine it with the Arthurian mythos and end up with a tale all their own.

I highlighted the opening music back in February.


Ruining one iconic franchise wasn’t enough for Square Enix

by wfgodbold

After the hash they’ve made of the Final Fantasy series (XIII was lackluster at best, and XIV is supposedly horrific), they’ve set their sights on that beloved JRPG series (especially in Japan), Dragon Quest.

The newest installment, Dragon Quest X: Waking of the Five Tribes, is going to be a MMO.

On the Wii.

Their shareholders were not amused.

No skin off my nose, though; DQ9 is fun, but not fun enough for me to get involved in an MMO, especially one for a system I have no intention of buying.


In lieu of actual content…

by wfgodbold

I figured I would go through the NPR Top 100 SF/Fantasy books and see which I’ve read in full (bolded), in part (italicized), or not at all (you can figure it out, I think).

1. The Lord of the Rings (I read this for the first time back in 5th or 6th grade, and probably once more in high school. It’s easy to see why it’s at the top of the list)

2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Another series I read in high school. That might explain my warped sense of humor)

3. Ender’s Game (The best of the series. I have no idea what Card was thinking with the sequels)

4. The Dune Chronicles (I’ve read all of Herbert’s books; I have not read any of the books written by his son.)

5. A Song of Ice and Fire Series (I’ve read the first book; it was good, but I’m waiting until Martin finishes the series before I read the rest)

6. 1984 (Read it in eighth grade for English class. Good in spite of that)

7. Fahrenheit 451

8. The Foundation Trilogy

9. Brave New World

10. American Gods (An excellent book; though I did prefer the main story to the many vignettes in between chapters)

11. The Princess Bride (Just as wonderful as the movie)

12. The Wheel of Time Series (I’ve read the first 7 or 8 books, and then quit until it was finished. Now I’ve got to wait until Sanderson finishes writing from Jordan’s notes; even then, I should probably start over, since there’s a cast of thousands and I don’t remember much)

13. Animal Farm (Another book I read for English in junior/senior high school; I think the teachers were just trying to depress us)

14. Neuromancer

15. Watchmen (I’ve skimmed it; I really should go through and read the entire book sometime)

16. I, Robot (Far better than the movie. No comparison. At all.)

17. Stranger in a Strange Land (I prefer Heinlein’s other works, but this had good points)

18. The Kingkiller Chronicles (The Name of the Wind was good, but since this is another giant series, I’m going to wait until it’s done before reading the rest)

19. Slaughterhouse-Five (I don’t remember much about this, other than its being extremely disjointed)

20. Frankenstein (Another eighth grade reading assignment)

21. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

22. The Handmaid’s Tale

23. The Dark Tower Series (I’ve read all but the last book and a half. I keep meaning to finish it, but…)

24. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Good, but overrated, I think)

25. The Stand

26. Snow Crash (How can you not like a book where the main character is named Hiro Protagonist?)

27. The Martian Chronicles

28. Cat’s Cradle

29. The Sandman Series

30. A Clockwork Orange

31. Starship Troopers (A timeless classic. Far better than Verhoeven’s awful adaptation)

32. Watership Down (Rabbits, rabbit mythology, rabbit wars…)

33. Dragonflight (I read most of the series, but I think they were mediocre for the most part)

34. The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (Remember, kids; when we’ve colonized the moon, it’s best to be nice to them lest they drop giant rocks on us)

35. A Canticle for Leibowitz

36. The Time Machine

37. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (I don’t remember much about the book, other than my copy was at least 40 years old when I read it)

38. Flowers for Algernon (Excerpts were assigned in English. Now I really do think they were trying to depress us)

39. The War of the Worlds

40. The Chronicles of Amber (The only books by Zelazny I’ve read. A fun read, but confusing at times)

41. The Belgariad

42. The Mists of Avalon

43. The Mistborn Series (The “magic” system Sanderson invented for this world is amazing; I’m looking forward to The Alloy of Law, his upcoming sequel)

44. Ringworld (Pierson’s Puppeteers, Pak Protectors, Kzinti, and weird alien sex. What more do you want from your SF?)

45. The Left Hand of Darkness

46. The Silmarillion

47. The Once and Future King

48. Neverwhere (Not as good as American Gods, but still not awful)

49. Childhood’s End (I started this in junior high, and never finished it. I just lost interest)

50. Contact

51. The Hyperion Cantos (Just Hyperion; not the sequels)

52. Stardust (A modern take on fairy tales, and another decent work by Gaiman)

53. Cryptonomicon

54. World War Z (An interesting look at the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse, and a great read)

55. The Last Unicorn

56. The Forever War (Time dilation and how society can change when decades or centuries pass between when you leave for war and when you return)

57. Small Gods (Not my favorite of the Discworld books, but Pratchett is usually good)

58. The Chronicles of Thomas Convenant, The Unbeliever (Depressing. I read the original six, and have no interest in finishing it)

59. The Vorkosigan Saga (Intrigue, action, and politics on an interstellar scale)

60. Going Postal (How con man Moist Lipwig reformed Ankh Morpork’s Post Office and himself at the same time)

61. The Mote in God’s Eye (Niven and Pournelle’s tale of first contact)

62. The Sword of Truth (If Ayn Rand wrote fantasy, this is what she’d’ve written. I need to finish the last couple of books)

63. The Road

64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

65. I am Legend (Why does Will Smith manage to ruin every book adaptation he stars in?)

66. The Riftwar Saga (I read through the first major story arc and lost interest after that)

67. The Shannara Trilogy (The first is a ripoff of LOTR. Blatant. The second and third are better)

68. The Conan the Barbarian Series (I’ve read some of the short stories, but not all of them)

69. The Farseer Trilogy

70. The Time Traveler’s Wife

71. The Way of Kings

72. A Journey to the Center of the Earth

73. The Legend of Drizzt Series

74. Old Man’s War (Scalzi’s take on human vs alien war is excellent)

75. The Diamond Age

76. Rendezvous with Rama (I didn’t much like it in junior high when I read it, but I think by then I’d read the rest of the SF they had at the library)

77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series

78. The Dispossessed

79. Something Wicked This Way Comes

80. Wicked

81. The Malazan Book of the Fallen Series (Dark, epic fantasy. I’m ~2.5 books from the end, but they’re very large books…)

82. The Eyre Affair

83. The Culture Series

84. The Crystal Cave

85. Anathem

86. The Codex Alera Series (I prefer the Dresden Files to Butcher’s take on what would happen if the lost Roman legion found their way to a world filled with Pokemon)

87. The Book of the New Sun

88. The Thrawn Trilogy (I read these when they first came out. George Lucas should’ve adapted them for film instead of doing the prequels)

89. The Outlander Series

90. The Elric Saga (Just a few of the short stories, not the whole series. Very Conan-esque)

91. The Illustrated Man

92. Sunshine

93. A Fire Upon the Deep

94. The Caves of Steel

95. The Mars Trilogy

96. Lucifer’s Hammer (If Earth got hit by a comet, we would be royally screwed)

97. Doomsday Book

98. Perdido Street Station

99. The Xanth Series (Just the first few. The puns get too forced after that)

100. The Space Trilogy (For some reason I think I’ve only read the middle book. No idea why)

Huh. I’ve read (at least in part) just over half of them.

Not bad.

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After the oceans drank Atlantis…

by wfgodbold

Was the Hyborian Age, the world Robert E. Howard created for Conan the Barbarian.

The 2011 reboot of the film franchise is decent enough; it’s darker than the original Conan movies, and far bloodier. Limbs (and other body parts) are hacked off, people are slashed all over, some are bludgeoned horribly, and the blood flows like rain.

The story isn’t anything special; Conan gets orphaned and goes on a quest for revenge. For some reason there’s a ~20 year jump between when he starts looking for revenge and when we see him next; in that time, he’s grown stronger, taller, and has acquired a few scars (you’d think that a guy who usually fights unarmored would have far more scars than he does, especially after twenty years of battle).

Conveniently, the bad guys have also not been very productive over the intervening two decades, and Conan’s quest for revenge turns into a race to save the world from certain doom.

The action scenes are well done (though I wish there had been more of them), the actors do a generally decent job (Rose McGowan is flat out scary looking, and more than a little creepy), and several of the wenches are topless (You want to complain to someone, complain to the guys who put “topless wenches” in the credits, not me.). The sex scene wasn’t really necessary, but I suppose we can chalk that up to emulating the 1982 film (which had at least one sex scene).

I don’t know that it’s worth an evening admission, but it’s good enough for a matinee.


Atlantean Sword

by wfgodbold

Tomorrow, the newly remade sword and sorcery epic adventure, Conan the Barbarian, hits theaters (starring Drogo of Game of Thrones as the eponymous barbarian); today’s track is from the 1982 film starring the erstwhile governor of California (and James Earl Jones!).

The reboot (thankfully they did not try to get the Governator to reprise his role) is getting mixed reviews; apparently it hews closer to the dark, pulpy nature of Robert E. Howard’s original tales than to the campy Arnold version.

A welcome change, if you ask me (though I’m still waiting for Solomon Kane to come out in the US (futilely, I fear)).

What is best in life?


Underground Shrine (地下神殿)

by wfgodbold

Record of Lodoss War didn’t start off as the novel series its anime adaptations were based on; those novels were based on actual role-playing sessions the author and some of his friends took part in (using the Sword World RPG system).

The series follows the adventures of Parn (who begins as an unskilled teenager, but eventually becomes a strong knight) and his stereotypical band of adventurers (really; he’s accompanied by a thief, a dwarven warrior, a priest, a mage, and a high elven shaman) as they face off against the forces of Kardis (the goddess of destruction) and the Grey Witch (who has been manipulating the politics of Lodoss Island for generations).

Ryo Mizuno, the original author, eventually spun off a separate series in the same world as Lodoss (Rune Soldier), set on the main continent instead of the cursed island. It’s more tongue in cheek than Record of Lodoss War is, but is still entertaining.


Key of the Twilight

by wfgodbold

Instead of going the traditional fantasy route, .hack//Sign is set in the world of a popular MMORPG, The World. The main character has no interface and is unable to log out, and the rest of the party members accompany him in the game (and work outside the game as well) to try to figure out what’s going on.

I watched maybe half of the series before giving up. It’s placed very slowly, and because Bandai chose to integrate it closely with their .hack// video game series, it’s impossible to get the entire story just by watching the show. Stupid cross-media properties, making entertainment work.

I did like the music, though; this was the first time I’d come across the work of Yuki Kajiura, and she’s been one of my favorite anime/game soundtrack composers since.


Now reading: Monster Hunter Alpha

by wfgodbold

I’m a bit over halfway through Larry Correia‘s third installment in his smash-hit Monster Hunter International series, and it’s his best yet.

Monster Hunter Alpha takes place after the events of Monster Hunter Vendetta, but focuses on Earl Harbinger, the REDACTED anti-hero who leads MHI’s crack team of monster hunters (MHI and MHV both starred Owen Pitt, though Harbinger was still a fairly major character).

If you liked the first two, you’ll love MHα; if you haven’t read the first two, then what the hell are you waiting for?

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