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Showing posts from January, 2013

Gaming Plans for 2013

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We're pretty well along in January but I thought I'd dedicate a brief amount of space to gaming plans for 2013 and looking back at 2012.

2012 was a rather rough time for my gaming group - indeed the concept of a gaming group was a fragile thing. People moving away, losing touch with people, etc. Mid-year I had tried to get a Dungeon Crawl Classics game going. Those of us who played really enjoyed it but we couldn't get a large enough quorum to be able to survive a player or two being unavailable. When I was in college I'd really looked forward to the amount of free time I'd have after graduating. Prior to having kids that was largely true, though that was also the time in my life I was working some crazy hours at some small startup companies in pursuit of millions. I learned a lot and gained confidence in my own abilities as an engineer, but sadly I did not become a gazillionaire - or even a millionaire. Now with two kids, free time is quite the luxury.

Towards th…

Fiction Review: "Hearts in Atlantis" by Stephen King (Part 3-5)

"People grow up, they grow up and leave the kids they were behind." "Sometimes a little of the magic sticks around," Bobby said. "That's what I think. We came because we still hear some of the right voices. Do you hear them? The voices?"  After opening with two novellas Hearts in Atlantis closes with three short stories.

1983: Blind Willie The first of the short stories takes us to the 80s and follows Willie Shearman, one of the boys who beat up Carol in the first story. It is an odd tale, as he seeks to do penance for what he did in an odd way. Essentially he adapts a series of identities, including that of a blind Vietnam veteran, "Blind Willie", who begs outside of St. Patrick's Cathedral.
From other reviews I've seen this seems to be the least popular story in the book. I can see why - it is a bit of a reach, all the identities Willie takes on, how he gets away with it, and most importantly, why he's doing all this.
My own op…

Cold War RPG Musings

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"O fish, are you constant to the old covenant?"

"Return, and we return. Keep faith, and so will we."

- From Tim Powers' Declare, quoting A Thousand and One Nights

Over the Christmas holidays I spent some time reading the first three of John Le CarrĂ©'s novels: Call for the Dead, A Murder of Quality, and The Spy Who Came In From the Cold. In the first two the protagonist is George Smiley, a spy about as far from James Bond as one can imagine. He's not a combat master, he's someone who thinks and knows an awful lot.

I've heard this style of writing referred to as "stale beer" espionage novels. It is a world of blackmail, betrayal, and morally questionable actions. The Spy Who Came In From the Cold involves a series of betrayals and deceptions such that it is impossible to find a "hero".

While such fiction is typically "mundane", it need not be so. For example, Tim Powers' Declare is a WW2/Cold War spy novel with a …

Fiction Review: "Hearts in Atlantis" by Stephen King (Part 2 - 1966: Hearts in Atlantis)

"I learned a lot in college, the very least of it in the classrooms."

The first novella in King's Hearts in Atlantis, Low Men in Yellow Coats, is by far the longest in the volume, taking about 50% of the book. It concerned 11 year old Bobby Garfield and his friends John Sullivan and Carol Gerber meting Ted Brautigan. We learn Ted has some telepathic abilities and can pass them on to others, at least briefly. We also learn that he has some connection to the Dark Tower, the center of Stephen King's "universe".

The second tale, entitled "Hearts in Atlantis", from which the volume gets its title, is also of novella length, though considerably shorter than the previous tale. It is also far less "fantastic", more grounded in reality. But it also shows the affects the previous tale had on Carol Gerber, now 17 and a freshman at the University of Maine. However, she is not the viewpoint character, rather that is Peter Riley, another freshman at t…