Appendix N Review

INJUSTICE GAMER looks at Appendix N.

Injustice Book Review: Appendix N by Jeffro Johnson

Cower not, fierce reader! Today we cover a tome of rediscovery. As most of my readers likely know, Jeffro engaged himself with a quest to read through the Appendix N list in the original Dungeons and Dragon DM Guide. His original posts at Castalia House were good, and he garnered  a Hugo Nomination for Best Related Work for his efforts.  This book is hard to review, as it’s so closely tied to its material, so I’ll drift a bit in my points.

First, let me start by saying this was in many ways a HUGE project. Even reading close to the minimum for the project, he still covered 43 essays, with a focus on tabletop rpg content. What he found was, in many ways, startling to most of us not reading SFF before the purges of the 70’s and 80’s.

The essays have been edited some, though there are remnants of the origins as blogposts here and there, mostly in the occasional endote(per essay, thankfully). They have definitely improved by this time and care, as the passion has been more measured here. I do remember reading some of the original posts and thinking “this guy’s too excited”, and I still sometimes get that feeling reading his twitter feed, or hearing him on a podcast. I don’t fault the man’s passion, but for a broader audience I’d recommend it measured out a bit, as the topic nears esoteric for most people reading SFF.

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Science Blast: Fighting Dodos!

Birds that used their wings like clubs!  What’s next? Flying penguins?

Rodrigues Solitaire

Two male Rodrigues solitaires fight over a female, in the background,
using club-like wings

The other Dodo:
Extinct bird that used its wings as clubs

The extinct Dodo had a little-known relative on another island. This fascinating bird ultimately suffered the same fate as its iconic cousin, but we can reconstruct some of its biology thanks to the writings of a French explorer who studied it during his travels of the Indian Ocean.

In the middle of the 18th Century, at around the time the US was signing the declaration of independence, a large flightless bird quietly became extinct on an island in the Indian Ocean.

Today this bird is all but forgotten.

Early explorers to Rodrigues described a “Dodo” living on the tiny forested island. Males were grey-brown, and females sandy, both having strong legs and long, proud necks. But despite outward similarities to the iconic Mauritian bird, this wasn’t in fact a Dodo, but the Rodrigues solitaire.

If you look up Rodrigues in satellite images, you can see a huge ring of submerged land around the central island, over 50% of the original dry land is thought to have been lost under the waves due to sea-level rise and the island subsiding into the bedrock.

That was the stage for the evolution of the huge bird, over millions of years.

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Review: Finding Paradise

So let me start off by saying that I absolutely, positively LOVED Kan Gao’s masterpiece,”To the Moon”. The game was heartbreaking, it was funny, it was thought-provoking, it was clever, it was profoundly moving, and it contained what I will say is absolutely one of the best romances I’ve ever seen, in any medium. It is brilliant.

“Finding Paradise” is the sequel to “To the Moon”, and I had been looking forward to it for a long time. And the longer I waited, the higher my anticipation built.

So what did I think of it?

Well…

Okay, before I go on, I’m going to keep spoiler free for “Finding Paradise”, but I will be talking freely about “To the Moon” since this is, after all, a sequel. If you’re curious about this review, only keep reading if you don’t care about spoilers for that game. I will suggest, however, that you play it first, since it’s AMAZING and partially structured as a mystery; spoilers make a difference.

Ready?

All right, let’s roll. Continue reading

The Failure of the Subversive & The Opportunity for the Superversive

If there is anything positive to take away from this weekend, it is this: the people, in general, know when some entertainment doesn’t serve them. If it continues to fail them, then they seek alternatives. Unserved audiences are opportunities that should not be passed up.

Nick Cole and Jason Anspach serve an unsatisfied audience with their Galaxy’s Edge series of novels, to great success so far, and demand grows for more. That’s the same audience realizing, in droves, that Disney’s not interested in serving them- as the reaction to The Last Jedi makes clear.

It won’t come quickly or easily, but the deliberate sabotage of major media properties such as Star Wars opens an opportunity for folks like the Noblebrights, the PulpRevs, and the Superversives to step forth and court that audience abused and discarded by an establishment that conducts itself like so many Hollywood stars and executives got accused of recently.

Of course there’s been talk on how to go about this. Brian Niemeier had a great post on this the other day, leading to a great follow-up post, and more conversation goes on elsewhere about making this happen.

Whatever else is said, this is clear: the time to come forth and contribute your voice to the chorus is now. Our friends across the Pacific have already noticed, and they’re wasting no time in reaching their hands our way. Let me show you just a few things coming early next year.

That’s right, a new Legend of the Galactic Heroes series, airing April of 2018.

A brand new Mazinger Z movie, due about the same time as the aforementioned series, with a worldwide simultaneous release. Don’t disdain this property; it’s got a huge global following, and many of the noble virtues we seek to uplift have always been present here.

We’ve got the opportunity to turn this ship around. Seize it. Fork away from the sick and dying subversives, cut them off, and build up our culture anew by serving that audience hungry for heroes noble and true despite it all, and succeeding.

Movie Review: Silenced

Readers who follow my personal blog and have read any of my posts on the culture war and censorship already know that I consider free speech one of the most important issues of our time. Aside from being a basic human right, enshrined  most prominently in our Bill of Rights, it is also a pragmatic necessity for our civilization’s survival, for one simple reason.

You can’t solve a problem you can’t name.

And boy oh boy do we have a boatload of Problems-That-Cannot-Be-Named.

Oh, we’re all aware they exist. We whisper of them amongst the like-minded, looking over our collective shoulders. We discuss them in closed Facebook groups and on Discord chats, forever fretting about spies and suspensions. But for the most part, we have all agreed that some things are just off-limits out in the open, at least if you want to keep whatever it is that’s precious to you. For some, it’s a job; for others, family harmony; for still others, long-term friendships. The reasons are valid, and sometimes even admirable, but the consequences of such decisions have slowly accumulated over the last decade or more to bring us to one undeniable fact.

We are all Silenced.

And now, thanks to the efforts of Mike Cernovich, Loren Feldman and many dedicated supporters who’d provided the funds, we have a chance to explore the magnitude of the problem and possible solutions.

The documentary introduces a collection of speakers from different walks of life and of wildly varying respectability/fame/notoriety. They are clips rather than complete interviews, giving an overall effect of unfiltered, unedited expression, even though the choice and placement of different clips is anything but accidental. At first, the format is jarring as we jump from one person to the next with little time to digest the content. However, but at some point the pattern emerges, and we begin to see that each participant is telling an important part of the story, much as all the pieces of a kaleidoscope create a picture.

Read more at Marina’s Musings

Science Blast: First Interstellar Visitor Proves Sneaky Bastard!

Unfortunately, rock proves hard to question…

illustration of 'Oumuamua
ALIEN ASTEROID  This artist’s representation of interstellar asteroid ‘Oumuamua shows its unusual shape: 400 meters long and just about 40 meters wide.
No asteroids in the solar system are shaped like that. 

We still don’t know where the first interstellar asteroid came from

 Clues from ‘Oumuamua’s speed and trajectory lead to answers all over the sky map

ISO: A home for a stray space rock. Astronomers are tracking the motions of stars to figure out which one sent an alien asteroid speeding past Earth in October — but they may never find the rock’s true origins.

Officially named ‘Oumuamua, the asteroid was spotted by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii on October 18 (SN: 11/25/17, p. 14). Its inbound speed of about 25.5 kilometers per second and its slingshot route around the sun pegged it as the first interstellar vagabond ever seen.

That was the easy part. Now astronomers are trying to trace ‘Oumuamua’s path backwards to a particular star or group of stars, without much success. Several papers published online since the asteroid’s flyby peg it as a relatively youthful vagabond, but where it came from is all over the map.

“From my perspective, this object has been hopping stars since it became a free-floating object,” says Simon Portegies Zwart of the Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands. He and his colleagues used star data from the Gaia spacecraft, which released a preliminary catalog of millions of stellar motions in 2016 (SN: 10/15/16, p.16), to calculate the positions of nearby stars in the past. The team found that about 1.3 million years ago, ‘Oumuamua passed within about half a light-year of an unremarkable star called TYC4742-1027-1, it reports on arXiv.org on November 13.

Read more…

Superversive Press Statement Regarding Current SFWA Leadership

It is with a heavy heart that I feel compelled to issue a statement from Superversive Press. After the behaviour of Science Fiction Writers of America’s (SFWA) president Cat Rambo on Twitter (@Catrambo) in response to the revelations contained in Moira Greyland Peat’s book The Last Closet: The Dark Side of Avalon. Superversive Press is stunned that a leader of an organisation like SFWA could have such a shockingly callous and dismissive attitude.

It is simply unconscionable that anybody could treat the horrific sexual abuse of an innocent child as a matter worthy of such flippant disdain.

Superversive Press would encourage all people of good conscience to call for the immediate removal of Cat Rambo as SFWA president, and Superversive Press has no interest in working with people who share Cat Rambo’s indifferent attitude towards child sexual abuse committed by writers the SFWA has honoured and awarded. Who knows what other crimes she would ignore, defend or cover up for writers the SFWA approves of?

Jason Rennie
Owner, Superversive Press