This week I read:
Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
This has been on the list for a while, a hard sci-fi story about colonising and terraforming Mars, continued by two more books. Kind of like The Martian but better, by all accounts.
This week I picked it up and could hardly put it down. It helped that I didn’t have much to do at work, so I even read during my downtime, which I’ve not felt compelled to do in a while. I really liked the framing device: we start with a big celebration after the successful colonisation missions and end that with a tragedy; then we jump back in time to the beginning of the mission and follow all these characters from departing Earth; then we skip ahead after the tragedy to the aftermath; and finally end on a cliffhanger setting up the next book.
The book is hard sci-fi, yes, but it’s also highly political. The story is driven by the tension between the inhabitants of Mars and the megacorps of Earth who want to explot this new frontier, between the first Martian colonists and those who came after, and also between factions within all these groups.
I think I’ll be picking up Green Mars, the second book in the trilogy, very shortly.
The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen
Which I last read almost 10 years ago: 2014! Judging from last-read dates (or, rather, the lack thereof1) in bookdb, that was after my big Lovecraft phase ended, so my tastes had changed by the time I last read this book. And they’ve changed again in the intervening 9 years. But the book still holds up.
It is a great short story. We don’t really get anything in the way of details, just hints of something truly horrifying lurking just out of sight, beyond the protective fictions that our brains impose upon reality to make sense of it. And that’s all a good weird tale needs.
Last week I bought a bunch of new books, so this week I tidied up my bookcases a bit. And unfortunately, I’m running low on space again. I have a little over half a shelf left for fiction, about a shelf for RPGs, and a shelf and a half for manga and light novels. There’s no more room for bookcases (for real this time, every wall is occupied).
I need to buy a house with a tower I can turn into a library, or something.
The Dolemnwood kickstarter started on Wednesday, and it is more amazing than I expected. I was only planning to get the books, the GM screen, and a big printed map (to frame and put on the wall). But through a combination of stretch goals and backing in the first 48 hours, I’m also getting, for free:
- A big cloth referee map
- Four adventures, printed and bound in hardback
- MP3s for a 10-track soundtrack by Tales Under The Oak
- MP3s for looping atmospheric sounds, also by Tales Under the Oak
- A dice bag
And we’re about $20k away from the next stretch goal, a book of maps, with 26 days still to go.
This is really great. I am going to be picking up a few of the add-ons, but almost everything I could have wanted is now included for free. Just the adventure books alone, $60 worth of material for free, is amazing. This is easily one of the best-value kickstarters I’ve backed, and the material is also some of the highest quality.
I’m not sure when I’ll return to Dolmenwood, but it will happen.
The Halls of Arden Vul
This week treasure was sold, books were read, magic items were identified, curses were removed, and levels were gained. There was talk, too, about building a house in the nearby town, so I guess I’ve got to figure out how much that should cost: there’s rules for building costs in OSE, but not how much the actual land to build the building upon should cost. I imagine that’ll be pretty expensive in a growing town.
Maybe I can find a handy blog post about land costs in OSR campaigns.
The players also returned to the dungeon—disregarding the warning of the beastmen—and fetched the bulk of the remaining treasure they found last week. They got lucky on the random encounters and were able to make it away undetected, and we ended the session with them heading back to safety.
And now the campaign’s on hold for two weeks, as we play some RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha!
I watched The Witch this week. It was very good, nice to see a creepy horror film which doesn’t rely on jump scares.
I only started recording when I last read a book in 2012. So books I last read before then don’t have a date.↩︎