April 11th, 2006

belzoni

This Entry Is Brought To You By The Letter "S"

* And not even the "s" for "smattering," because I don't have a new column to point you at.

* I am returned from Sacramento, where I was the Guest of Honor at the first-ever ConQuest Sacramento, which was a rousing success by all accounts. On Friday, I ran a Call of Cthulhu scenario based equally on the California Water Wars and Yojimbo, which latter I recommend to anyone looking for a plot structure for a con game. On Saturday, I did the panel thing (Alternate Histories, and GM Tips: Worldbuilding, two standards, but always fun to try out on a new audience) and hung around for a bit, and then in company with cynaguan, macklinr, necanthrope, ox_number_10, and the heroic James No-LJ-Known (four of them four of my six players on Friday) I went off to (eventually) a fabulous joint called Elixir, where I was plied with tumblers full of vodka-tonics from the assorted multitude, and Six Million Dollar Man trivia questions from necanthrope. Meanwhile, ox_number_10 drank one of every major spiritous liquor, in sequence, which began to remind me of the inevitable ascension of Enoch, or perhaps of the descent of Inanna, through the Gates of Al-Kohl. (Planetary correspondences for liquors: Sun = Rum, Moon = Gin, Mercury = Bourbon, Venus = Whisky, Mars = Tequila, Jupiter = Brandy, Saturn = Vodka. Discuss.) At any rate, the evening was worthy of Dick Awesome, P.I. On Sunday we held the traditional Nobody Comes To A Sunday Morning Panel in the morning, and then Industry Trends with James Ernest and con impresario Gabriel "Mondo" Vega. ("It's not all doom and gloom, because Doom and Gloom both sell.") And so to bed, and then to Chicago.

* Sara Douglass' Darkwitch Rising, which I read in OKC, is the third book in a series with a high concept of staggering awesomeness, to wit: King Brutus, who as we all learned from Geoffrey of Monmouth was the grandson of Aeneas, rebuilt the Great Labyrinth of Troy in Britain under the city he founded, Troynovaunt, which is to say London. This Labyrinth is the key to the Troy Game,1 a dance that will make the dancer immortal and invincible. But his wife, jealous, wrecked the Game and threw things off kilter. Now Brutus, his wife, his sorceress girlfriend, his buddy King Cole, and the Minotaur (can't have a Labyrinth without a Minotaur) all reincarnate time and again, dancing the Troy Game in one or another permutation. Each reincarnation takes place in some awesome historical epoch, in which the players of the Game jostle for power over it. And as icing on the cake, Darkwitch Rising takes place during the reign of Charles II, who is (of course) the reincarnated king, and the fun begins. But, but, but. This beautiful high concept is mushed up with a lot of relatively standard issue faeries and goddesses and so forth, and then the actual book winds up in that kind of plummy tone that you get when everyone assures each other of the Land and its Wisdom and yadda yadda yadda, in between bouts of self-righteous posturing argumentation and life-affirming pagan sex. So reading the thing was kind of a slog. The plot did kind of get interesting about two thirds of the way through, if the actions of characters I no longer particularly cared about can be called interesting, and I can imagine that the whole structure of the series (a fourth book is due next month) is pretty formally cool. I'll probably eventually read the first book, Hades' Daughter, which is the story of Brutus & co., to slake my Bronze Age and Matter of Britain joneses. But on the whole, a mixed and mushy bag.

* Second Person, by contrast, is an anthology of academic essays about roleplaying games, both tabletop and computerized. I bring it up because it includes an article by me ("Narrative Structure and Creative Tension in Call of Cthulhu"), and because MIT Press now has its sell sheet up. For a full table of contents, see co-editor Noah Wardrip-Fruin's post at Grand Text Auto. Note the awesome company of which I am a part -- Greg Costikyan, Rebecca Borgstrom, Jonathan Tweet, James Wallis, Keith Herber, and the list goes on and on.

* Slither was pretty good -- call it a B-minus -- but it was no Tremors. mollpeartree thinks the problem was too much self-awareness, too many winks at the audience. I think she's absolutely right; a movie like this has to be played remorselessly straight to work as a good joke, to say nothing of a good horror movie. But alien worms and Mal, so something for everyone.

* The project that it looks like Phil Reed and I will be working on doesn't involve an "S", unless "secret" and "shards" count. Hopefully more details Soon.

[1] A real medieval term for a maze or maze-like dance, as it happens. And don't think you've heard the last of it, Suppressed Transmission fans.