This week I read:
Cities in Flight by James Blish
This is a slightly confused book, being a collection of four novels not arranged in publication order—instead arranged in in-universe chronological order—and the novels themselves being made up of several short stories smashed together.
The seams were pretty visible, especially in the third novel which really felt like three different stories which had just been glued together at the chapter boundaries. The first and second novels were pretty cohesive, but then the fourth one again was a bit disjointed: with a weird crusade subplot which came out of nowhere, was a big deal for a few chapters, and then got totally resolved and was never mentioned again.
Despite the flaws, I did overall enjoy this book, even if it didn’t really leave me with a keen desire to check out more of James Blish’s work. It felt very Traveller to me. The setting is very different, other than some surface similarities like having anagathic (anti-aging) drugs, and Earth encountering a older, hostile, interstellar polity shortly after branching out into space, but is otherwise very different: the mechanics of FTL travel, and the presence of instant real-time communication across space would radically change the Traveller universe. But the feeling, the cities being big spaceships full of migrant workers who arrive in a system, do a job for some questionable employers, and then leave to go elsewhere, felt like it came right out of a Traveller campaign. Or the other way around, I suppose, given the publication year.
The Halls of Arden Vul
We had our very first PC deaths this week, after 26 sessions of play. The party had an unfortunate encounter with a pack of ghouls in a room under an anti-magic effect, which rendered most of their good equipment inert. There were also some unlucky dice rolls, with a couple of characters succumbing to the ghouls’ paralysing attacks in the first round of the combat. The remaining party members had to leave their paralysed companions (and their magical equipment) behind and make their escape while they still could.
So we lost two PCs, one retainer, and a lot of good gear. But two long-suffering retainers have been promoted to PC status, two new retainers have been hired, and the players are drawing up plans for how to reclaim the sizeable treasure horde they’ve inadvertently created.
Though, before they mount an expedition to do that, they’re going to go follow up on some other leads they have, doing something totally different for a while to clear their heads and to find some more loot.
Adventurers clearing out monsters to recover treasure, only to in turn be killed by new monsters and deposit their treasure elsewhere is all part of the dungeon’s circle of life.
Advent of Code
I’m still at it, though I’ve skipped part 2 for a few days. Let’s see how much longer I stick with it, though day 15 or so is usually around when I get bored and stop.