I’m a bit late on this, thanks to the Lunar New Year holiday over here in Korea, but I’m very pleased to announce that my short story “The Incursus by Asimov-NN#71″ is appearing as a reprint in the February 2019 issue of Lightspeed, alongside a lineup of work by Matthew Baker, Elizabeth Bear, Carrie Vaughn, Crystal Koo, KT Bryski, Ashok K. Banker, and Dennis Danvers., plus some reviews and and interview with Lilliam Rivera.
Stories become available at different points throughout the month—mine goes live on the 21st of February, and I’ll add a link here when it does—but as always, you can get access to them all now if you purchase an ebook version of the issue or get yourself a subscription… and that will include a reprint of Kat Howard’s novella “Hath No Fury” as well as an excerpt from Micah Dean Hicks’ Break the Bodies, Haunt the Bones, on top of the content that will become available on the website throughout the month.
“The Incursus by Asimov-NN#71” is basically my take on what’s actually wrongheaded about our popular conception of AIs and how the “Turing Test” as most of us understand it is self-congratulatory nonsense. It was written one afternoon in Saigon back in 2014, back when the world didn’t feel like it was collapsing at quite the same head-spinning pace that has since become almost normal to us, but when I had just read Thomas Ligotti’s The Conspiracy Against the Human Race and been thinking about how it related to work by people like Thomas Metzinger and Susan Blackmore (especially in this mode, though she’s been on my radar all the way back since The Meme Machine).
Well, the next in the set of Edgar Rice Burroughs books I’ve tackled are his Moon stories. The series consists of one novel (The Moon Maid) and two sequel novellas (“The Moon Men” and “The Red Hawk”), the latter of which Ace published together under the title The Moon Men. I read the former in late 2018, and the latter just today, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on the whole series: the lunar adventure and romance, the pulp war stories, and the inevitable weird racial fantasy of postapocalyptic cowboy-and-Indians-and-moon-men and all. Oh, and naked Japanese hill-pygmy warriors.
Yeah, these books are kinda strange.
See that image above? That’s a map of heavily populated places where, by 2050, it’s estimated mass flooding is very likely to occur on a yearly basis by 2050. (It’s taken from here.) The relevance to this book review will be clear, if you read on.
I will start by saying that I wrote this long reflection on what is ultimately an obscure novel about a refugee crisis in Britain back in November, when illness forced me to rest for a couple of days and I finally read it after having it around for literally decades and never having gotten past the first few pages.
Please don’t mistake the length of this post for an endorsement of the novel. When I write something this long, it’s usually because I’ve been discomfited, and in ways I think aren’t completely (or perhaps consciously) intentional on the author’s part. (Let alone keeping up with whatever controversial things the author has said online to make people hate him. Okay, I peeked, but I am shrugging right now.) This is a book that made me very uncomfortable, but which also, because of the parts it unsettled me with, also felts very much of a piece with the world we’ve found ourselves in.
Montsegur 1244 is a freeform story-game that came out about a decade ago. I read through it once in 2012, but gave it another, closer look earlier this week, and thought I’d say a few things about it now.
I’m somewhat familiar with the Gumshoe RPG system: I’ve played a short campaign of Trail of Cthulhu, and skimmed several core rulebooks using the system—Trail of Cthulhu, Nights Black Agents, Ashen Stars, and Cthulhu Confidential, all of which I own copies—but I haven’t had a chance to read any of those rulebooks in full or run a Gumshoe system game.
In fact, until recently the only Gumshoe gamebook I’d actually read in full was Gareth Ryder Hanrahan’s Lorefinder book, which essentially is an extended Gumshoe hack designed to be bolted onto Pathfinder (and other D&D-styled traditional RPGs), in order to enable running investigative scenarios.
But not long ago, a couple of friends and I agreed to try start up an informal gaming testlab sort of group, dedicated to trying out systems that we’re interested in, and own, but haven’t had a chance to play. One of the suggestions made by a few of us was that we try a Gumshoe system, and we both, specifically, suggested The Gaean Reach. I was wager to try it since it’s a shorter and more concise ruleset, has a few unusual innovations (like the tagline system from Skullduggery/The Dying Earth Revivification Folio and the randomized, card-based character generation system), and because it looks like fun.
So I decided to read The Gaean Reach, along with The Gaean Reach Gazetteer supplement—which together total fewer than 200 pages—and see what I think of them. And, further, I figured that I’d take some notes along the way so that I would remember those thoughts when it eventually comes time to prepare for running this game.