29 March 2008

Under the Eagle by Simon Scarrow

I picked up a cheap copy of this first in the Cato & Macro series, and thoroughly enjoyed a second read of it. Great stuff.

25 March 2008

The Secret History of Moscow by Ekaterina Sedia

Absolutely great fantasy. It begins with people randomly turning into birds, and the search for these people leads to an underground where the lost and unwanted of Moscow live - both the politically dispossessed and mythological and fictional characters. As the story goes on you get many little stories about why the people ended up there.

It's similar to Gaiman's Neverwhere, in broad strokes, but this story has a lot more to it. It's more straightforward (in both style and content) too.

23 March 2008

Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay

This story is less original than most of Kay's - in this case the ground has been tread before by Robert Holdstock in particular. That aside, it's a good coming of age/discovery of magic in the modern world story.

Game Chef 2008 Approaches...

With a pre-contest, announced here. Interesting! I really like the idea of building a game to fit some illustrations.

18 March 2008

Beyond Human by Gregory Benford and Elisabeth Malartre

An interesting review of current research in robotics and cybernetic enhancement and where it might go. The book is strongest on the state of the art, but fairly weak on speculating further ahead (lots of interesting ideas, but many of them are not well supported in the text). There's a few interviews with people involved in the development of these technologies, too, which adds a few other points of view to that of the authors.

17 March 2008

Ten Little New Yorkers by Kinky Friedman

Another of Friedman's strange, funny detective novels. This one has a more melancholy mood than usual, and seems like it might be the last he's intending to write. The story also focuses on the recurring characters quite strongly. Good.

11 March 2008

In A Wicked Age: Wrathful Gods and Priests

We played another chapter of In A Wicked Age. It was good, with the conflicts running faster and character generation going a bit quicker. I think the other skill that seems to be building up in repeated play is choosing interesting best interests - this game's set seemed a little more punchy than the group's first try.

Anyhow, we had the Blood & Sex oracle, with the character Nirar (fanatical priest of Jila, destroyer of all other gods and cults) returning. The other elements that came up were the classic girl to wed the effigy of the harvest god, a cutting insult and a woman who was the heir of sorcerors and poisoners.

The story started with meetings between the player characters and some initial maneuvers as they planned how to achieve best interests. Then it all went crazy with almost no-stop conflicts as we had Nirar and the priest of the harvest god fighting (Nirar won), a poet-assassin being pursued by the now-animated effigy of the harvest god in revenge for his insults, and some crazy stuff as Adar tried to prevent his lover Shamnita marrying the effigy, and Ivanim (sp?) the poisoner trying to mess things up to her own advantage.

Great stuff. I'm looking forward to the next one (in which Adar will return, possibly as a ghost).

The Night Manager by John Le Carre

An interesting story, written soon after the Berlin Wall came down and dealing with spy agencies looking for other targets. Also stands out in that it kind of has a happy ending.

01 March 2008

Night's Master by Tanith Lee

So, Luke lent me the actual books that Vincent Baker listed as inspirational to In A Wicked Age.

It's delightfully weird, and I can certainly see how the style informed the game. It's a fun read in it's own right, of course. In some ways it was like one of the classic Conan stories, but without the racism and sexism. Lee's style is also lyrical and whimsical, unlike Howard's very straightforward, punchy stuff.

One of the best fantasy novels I've read recently. I'm looking forward to the other four.