Archive | February 2017

Favorite Reads: January Books 2017

occult

The Occult Philosophy in the Elizabethan Age by Frances A. Yates: Fascinating bits, even if I suspect a lot of Yates’s scholarship might now be outdated, especially where concerned with the Rosicrucians. But otherwise the book shines in so many other ways: the popularization and influence of kabbalah and alchemy on Catholic reformers and Shakespeare, the Arthurian cult and how that got applied to Queen Elizabeth (makes me want to read Spencer’s The Fairy Queen), and the weird history of early Protestantism makes this worth tracking down.

hospital

The Hospital Ship by Martin Bax: The crew of the hospital ship travels from port to port tending to victims of unknown civil disturbances. No one knows what’s happening, because the radio operator is slightly mad. And then the ship enters the Mediterranean and finds nothing but crucified bodies waiting for them on the piers. A 70s brit-lit novel curiosity, a bit apocalyptic new wave SF and a bit Graham Greene – all shuffled together with pages from a medical textbook. I liked it but it’s not a book I can really recommend, unless any of the above sounds neat. Where I think it ends is in showing two ways humanity can go forward: a mechanistic way and a compassionate way.

night

Godmother Night by Rachel Pollack: Imagine Neil Gaiman’s American Gods except as a lesbian love story that riffs more on fairy tales than mythology. This was the first fiction book in a while I had to set aside for a week because the events in the plot started to get too intense. Pollack’s three for three with everything I’ve read by her being really, really good. I downloaded her latest and hope to read it in the next few months.

Look at that cover though! It’s so much a Sandman cover you can almost pinpoint the month in the 1990s when the book hit. Not to say Pollack’s ripping off Gaiman, I just think both came to the same place independently of each other.

kill-boss

Kill the Boss Good-by by Peter Rabe: Syndicate boss Tom Fell cracked up and went to a sanitarium leaving his lieutenant Pander in charge. Now Fell’s back and wants to get back in charge, but Pander has other ideas. A simple straightforward crime novel, but an enjoyable ride all the same. Rabe was one of the steady producers of Gold Medal novels, the same paperback original line that published Jim Thompson and David Goodis and others. Rabe also was a psychiatrist by trade and this makes the bits when Fell’s having a manic episode read as observed details. There’s a Black Lizard reprint that might be possible to find or the Starkhouse reprint I read.

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Those Oscar Gordon Days: Who’s That Knocking Under My Floor?

you-chose

The End of Boulder

Adventure the Last: Who’s that Knocking Under My Floor?

The summer was nearly over. Folks had to go back to work or their home countries.

The adventure opened with Oscar, Boulder, Micah, and Jenny the serving girl from Adventure Four at home in the former haunted house from Adventure the First, when the floor cracked open and a bunch of zombies stumbled out.

These were quickly defeated, but the hole remained and it turned out the party’s headquarters had a whole unexplored level beneath it holding who knew what horrors. The crew (except for Jenny who stayed upstairs) headed down to investigate and found various undead menaces, sacrificial altars, and tombs all controlled by the reconstituted ghost of the necromancer they had defeated all the way back in the first adventure. Only now it was stronger and meaner. In the end the ghost was defeated, but not before cursing Boulder and making him age 70 years.

And that’s how Boulder stayed, since this turned out to be the last adventure. It was kind of nice coming full circle that way, but if we had gone on I would’ve had the party try and find some way to heal Boulder.

And so, it ended…

Like I said the campaign felt very episodic and didn’t have any big storyline pushing it forward. I didn’t mind this, especially since a neat setting was starting to emerge as the players interacted with the world around them. Mancuzo, the Maddling, and the Volod Brothers all would have made great recurring antagonists. If the game had gone on I would have added more politics to it by having the authorities and various factions take note of Oscar Gordon start interfering.

And despite my complaints in regards to running an open table, I did like the variance of different personalities showing up from week to week. Of course now I’d only be able to get one of the core players back since almost everyone else has left town, and we’re already playing other games so I’m resigned to let this lie and smile when I think of where the Madling is now.