You can see the most recently posted comments here, 24 at a time; or, if you prefer, we've got a news feed...
sotrain515 on Dissecting Lovecraft Part 1: Juvenile Racist Pagan Sleuth At Large
at 18:04 on 07-09-2016 - link
Hey Arthur, great read!
Minor correction: Lovecraft's dad's name wasn't "Winifred" (which is a feminine name I believe) but rather "Winfield" -- Winfield Scott Lovecraft, presumably named for Old Fuss and Feathers himself!
Arthur B on Dissecting Lovecraft Part 1: Juvenile Racist Pagan Sleuth At Large
at 13:52 on 05-09-2016 - link
I have not had direct experience of it.
Apparently it uses the Joshi texts, so it's fine on that part. But to my eye it looks a bit expensive compared to just getting the Complete Fiction or the Penguin volumes, which means you end up getting less stories for more money.
The story selection is decent enough, though I'd query some bits. Missing out The Tomb ignores a very important bit of his development as a writer, and Herbert West - Reanimator and The Horror at Red Hook could happily have been cut to make room for better stuff. It also seems to miss out just about all of his Dunsany-inspired bits.
So as well as being incomplete, it doesn't quite fit the bill as far as a true "best of" collection goes, and on the flipside it doesn't quite provide a rounded, complete view of his work as a writer. It looks to me like it falls between two stools a bit and seems a little redundant, serving more or less solely to give Lovecraft a bit of kudos in the literary world (though the three volumes of his in Penguin Classics tick that box just fine).
- Bill on Dissecting Lovecraft Part 1: Juvenile Racist Pagan Sleuth At Large at 12:41 on 05-09-2016 - link Do you know the Library of America edition of Lovecraft's selected fiction, edited by Peter Straub? Any good?
James D on Kickstopper: I Got Refunded By a Burning Wheel of Fire
at 13:17 on 30-08-2016 - link
This is why it's not a good idea for sensitive artist types to run the business end of things. I'm honestly appalled by the glee with which he tells prospective fans to get the fuck out - these people who liked his UNFINISHED IDEA enough to give him money - based on complaints like these.
He probably doesn't need the money and is just doing this for kicks and THE ART, so I guess if it requires him to engage with the tiniest bit of unpleasantness or personal friction he'd rather just not bother? Yeah, considering how many artists/authors in general would kill for an audience like his, and how many Kickstarters in particular, it's pretty disgusting how flippantly he treats them. It's like a small-scale Justin Bieber spitting on his fans.
Arthur B on Kickstopper: I Got Refunded By a Burning Wheel of Fire
at 11:23 on 30-08-2016 - link
The lack of a PDF and unusual formatting for Burning Wheel are things which Luke is pretty insistent on.
As I understand his statements on the subject, he regards the physical book itself as a work of art in its own right, and to go with a more conventional* format or to offer a PDF version would wreck that.
On the one hand, I tend to view that as a creative decision which is entirely in his court. On the other hand, it does inevitably limit his audience for what he is doing - in particular, I remember a while back someone on RPG.net asked whether there was any hope of getting a decently-formatted PDF of Burning Wheel because they had vision problems severe enough that they simply would not have been able to use the paper version. I had heard that something had been worked out under the table in that respect to sort it, which is great, though if that is true requiring people in that position to come to you to specifically request an accessible version whose existence you don't widely advertise isn't really great from an accessibility perspective. (If it isn't true and Luke left them high and dry, of course, he's basically taking the position that he is fine with people with vision issues being locked out of the experience. Which is, again, his own creative decision, though one I am not sure people will have enormous sympathy for.)
Of course, it's one thing to say "This is not for everyone, I am doing this my way, I realise that this is going to make my rulebook a bit of a niche product and miss out on a lot of custom but for this specific game line I have decided that staying true to my vision is more important than making it broadly accessible. If that does not sound like something you would like, don't give me your money." It's another thing to say "You clearly don't appreciate my vision, here's your money back".
* "Conventional" according to the unusual standards of the RPG industry, that is - IIRC in other contexts it'd be seen as a standard trade hardback size)
https://me.yahoo.com/a/LNXP6LQXuMLu5gzHVKwT.qeGudTCWkfqYp_kR4Ql4KclUA--#758e3 on Kickstopper: I Got Refunded By a Burning Wheel of Fire
at 03:15 on 30-08-2016 - link
I had a similar experience. I've played RPGs since D&D was released in '73. Marine friends of my Dad taught me. I've been collecting them for a long time as well and have a good many on my shelves, several hundred - including BWG.
When Luke finally, in his obfuscatory and cryptic prose revealed the shipping of the tomes (I pledged both) I made a final statement that did me in. I lamented the lack of a PDF, as every other KS RPG I've backed has included such, their base levels start there. I commented the upon odd format of the text itself, as it really doesn't fit with the rest of my instruction manuals and observed that it was likely to languish upon my shelf.
Apparently the thought of the BWC sitting unloved on my shelf was too much for Luke to bear and he booted me off with a refund. I have RPG books filling my shelves the way you see board game boxes filling the shelves behind Tom Vassel, but more so. I have about 500 of the things. Did he truly expect me to cuddle up to it?
In my forty plus years of gaming I've never had the "pleasure" of playing with a group that spoke in character anything like Luke did in his KS. If I had I think I would have slowly backed away and made my exit. But to each their own I suppose. I saw a demo of BW with Luke on Youtube and he made exhibited no such ridiculous pretenses.
Too bad, maybe I'll find it at retail
- Bill on The Runestaff and the Empire's End at 01:37 on 21-08-2016 - link I wonder if King Huon and his superscience throne globe keeping him alive is where Warhammer 40K got the idea for the Emperor.
- Adrienne on Absolutely Delirious at 07:52 on 19-08-2016 - link Yeah, i've wanted to watch this for ages too, although i am very put off by the idea of a show ending that is BOTH downbeat AND a cliffhanger. I may just watch through Assignment Four, i suppose!
- Arthur B on The Narration of Shannara at 22:13 on 15-08-2016 - link If you're actually bothering to read the hardcopy rather than just having the audiobook on in the background it isn't so much as "Terabrooks" as a "mistake".
- Robinson L on The Narration of Shannara at 18:02 on 15-08-2016 - link Oh, and I'm still curious: is Sword a Terabrooks in audiobook as opposed to hardcopy format?
- Robinson L on Mr Bubbles' Nostalgia Trip at 18:00 on 15-08-2016 - link I've only skimmed the article, and not made any kind of study of Objectivism, but there seems to be another contradiction in the author's argument. He invokes the maxim “power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely,” which I tend to agree with. That being the case, though, isn't it the case that any society where one person (or a small group of people) wields absolute power at any point is practically guaranteed to devolve into autocracy? You're blaming Andrew Ryan for acting against principle in a situation which we both agree engineers unprincipled behavior in people, without any kind of checks and balances to stop him? That sound to me more like a systemic flaw than a personal flaw of Ryan's.
Alasdair Czyrnyj on Mr Bubbles' Nostalgia Trip
at 18:27 on 13-08-2016 - link
Infinite is definitely one of those games, like the Thief rebootquel, whose creation is far more interesting than the finished project. It's going to be years (if ever) before we find out what happened behind the scenes, but my own theory is that Infinite had the same sort of improvisational experiment-focuses development the other Bioshocks had, with the concept of the game radically changing during development and major new features appearing, being built, then disappearing when they don't fit the vision, but this time around there was too much money, too much time, and the whole thing was built on a central concept that didn't fit together. In Bioshock, Objectivism and bioengineering fit together with the whole idea of 20th-century political utopianism; the new society and the new man and all that. I still haven't found anyone who has explained to me what the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics has to do with the American national identity, and suffice to say Infinite never does either.
I've also found that Bioshock 2 has improved in retrospect, partially because I liked more of the characters (particularly the abused no-longer-human Subject Delta), but also because it works as a final endpoint to the Bioshock story. Rapture is dead, but Bioshock 2 is about what its final legacy to the world will be.
- Arthur B on Mr Bubbles' Nostalgia Trip at 11:32 on 13-08-2016 - link Honestly, hearing about Burial At Sea was what tipped Infinite over the edge for me from "That sounds disappointing, I'll probably get it if/when it is cheap" to "They really don't have any ideas left at all, do they? I won't bother." That reassessment is pretty good and just confirms my decision to pass it by.
Alasdair Czyrnyj on Mr Bubbles' Nostalgia Trip
at 20:13 on 12-08-2016 - link
Honestly, his discussion reminds me of nothing so much as the decades of argument among scholars and propagandists about whether or not the Soviet Union was a betrayal or the fulfillment of true socialism. Like a lot of those guys, the fellow you linked seems to be comparing Rapture to an nebuously-defined ideal Randian community rather than considering in the context of an underwater city-state that has to operate according to Randian principles.
Also, just look at all those old comments we made before we found out the truth about Bioshock Infinite. I was reading the one you made about how good it was that Infinite was getting away from the paradigm of the first two games, and it's pretty depressing in the light both Infinite and the "Burial at Sea" DLCs, where the first Bioshock slowly grows into a inescapable singularity that consumes both the setting and characters of Infinite.
Man, the more you dig, the more Infinite just falls apart, doesn't it? I've even seen one or two reviewers revisit it years after the hype and find it noticeably lacking.
Robinson L on The Narration of Shannara
at 18:00 on 10-08-2016 - link
Interesting. I guess I have an easier time following audiobooks than you do, Arthur, and keeping track of what's going on. I sometimes find myself in the position of putting down a book (audio or otherwise) for weeks, even months at a time, but I can usually pick it back up again and get back into the flow of the story with little trouble. All the memory space which ought to be devoted to remembering things like people's names, or “where have I seen you before, again?” seems instead to be occupied with remembering stories in some detail for long stretches of time.
I listen to audiobooks all the time in my day-to-day life (my iPod is overrun with audiobooks and podcasts, and only a smattering of songs), and since really good prose isn't something I prioritize, I usually go with the audio format if I can manage it and don't worry if I'm missing out on the author's use of language. One thing you and I can agree on, though, is that audiobooks are superb for car trips. I find them a great means of fending off boredom without taking up too much of my brainspace to impede my ability to respond to the needs of the road. For whatever reason, I'm also able to follow fairly complex material while I'm driving—at least as well as when I'm not driving—so I don't have to be too discriminating about what kinds of books are for in the car as opposed to out of the car.
On the subject of the Shannara novels and the first one's lack of originality, I remember listening to a podcast interview of Orson Scott Card—whose fiction I still have a soft spot for, even if I find his politics more repellent every time I come in contact with them—and I recall him commenting that he couldn't get through Sword of Shannara because it was so patently derivative, but that Brooks has done good things with the setting since then because “he's a good writer.” I remember being struck by this latter claim, because I recalled my mother once remarking that Brooks' writing is really bad, and my mother is probably the most undiscriminating reader I have ever met. (Let's just say it was no surprise that she was the only one of the five of us who saw Oz, the Great and Powerful in the theater who actually liked it.)
Apart from one abridged audiobook when I was a kid, I have no experience with the series, and no opinions on it one way or the other.
I must say, though, I don't consider the “Medieval fantasy setting is actually a post-apocalyptic future Earth” all that innovative. I felt the same way when we had the Prince of Thorns discussion a couple of years back. I can imagine it was fresh when Brooks began writing, but it seems downright cliché by this point.
Cheriola: And I wish I had found an audio version for Aliette de Bodard's Aztec mystery / fantasy novels, instead of having to slog through the interminable descriptions of people's clothes by myself.
Yeah, lack of an audiobook version is the only reason I haven't dug into her novels thus far. I'm a slow reader, and there are so many other books ahead of hers in my reading queue.
the Discworld novels certainly benefit from Steven Briggs' voice-acting.
No kidding. Although I think Nigel Planer has an edge over Brooks when it comes to voicing Death.
I don't think I've ever had bad narration actually ruin an audiobook for me, but I've definitely encountered ones where I heard the narrator and said to myself 'Really? this is the voice we're going for with this book? *deep sigh* O-kay then …' And now that you mention it, one of the most recent times I had that experience was with a book I specifically sought out because it had a non-binary protagonist, so that part fits, also.
Arthur B on Mr Bubbles' Nostalgia Trip
at 15:09 on 10-08-2016 - link
Almost a literal decade after it would have been timely, someone at Ars Technica is trying to argue that Rapture would have been OK had Andrew Ryan not betrayed the principles of Objectivism.
This misses a whole bunch of points, not the least being:
- Robertson is misrepresenting Rand's own philosophy there. A very basic idea of Objectivism is that builders ought to retain control of the things they build, rather than being compelled to hand them over for the public good. Andrew Ryan built Rapture; therefore Andrew Ryan should get to set the rules his guests follow in Rapture, and anyone who doesn't like it should fuck off and build their own undersea Utopia.
- Indeed, it's not wholly correct to absolutely identify libertarianism with Objectivism. Objectivist ethics demands an absolute separation between good and evil, and holds that even a little concession corrupts everything. Thus, the sort of isolationism Ryan tries to enforce in Rapture is, in fact, entirely in keeping with that. The Objectivist Messiah in Atlas Shrugged, John Galt, sets up just such an isolationist, fuck-off-we're-full community in the form of Galt's Gulch, after all.
- Even if you go with the very libertarian interpretation of Objectivism John Robertson is running with here, you still have the basic problem of any lassaiz-faire system, which is that as soon as someone like Frank Fontaine starts taking actions which will undermine, disrupt, overthrow or destroy the system you have set up you kind of either have to let them go ahead or put social order ahead of your principles and crack down - and the longer you stick to your principles, the greater a violation of them will be needed to finally stop someone. (It's like how AnarchoCapitalist fantasies of small communities operating entirely on the Non-Aggression Principle don't really have much of a cohesive answer to "What happens when people decide to go fascist?" beyond "Uuuuuh... we'll have private police forces which totally won't be an excellent front for anyone deciding to go fascist.")
- Ronan Wills on Troy Had A Company at 18:38 on 05-08-2016 - link A new episode just came out a few hours ago! Look like it's still going.
- Arthur B on Troy Had A Company at 00:41 on 27-07-2016 - link Binge-watched it. Looks interesting, though I am disheartened by the fact that they posted a "We're about to post new videos, guys!" video as the most recent thing and then seem to have failed to do anything for 3 months. That's rarely a good sign with these things.
Ronan Wills on Troy Had A Company
at 23:31 on 25-07-2016 - link
Thought I'd duck back into this comments thread to alert people to The West Records, a very obvious Marble Hornets-esque series that has both it and its many imitators beat in terms of production quality and (especially acting). It also doesn't seem to have anything to do with the Slenderverse, which is nice.
The starts is quite slow, but give it a chance. Once it gets moving it kicks off hard, which is something a lot of these things don't do.
It's still ongoing so we'll have to see if it gets around to solving any of its mysteries, but I'm definitely interested so far.
- Arthur B on Absolutely Delirious at 01:11 on 10-07-2016 - link I'll be interested to hear what you think of it, Alice.
- Alice on Absolutely Delirious at 17:56 on 09-07-2016 - link This is the first I've ever heard of this, but it sounds amazing, and I've just ordered a copy.
- Ashimbabbar on It Might Be Dying But It's Still a Naughty Earth at 11:11 on 04-07-2016 - link I believe T'sais is the one and only instance in all of Vance's works of religion being a good thing; as far as I know, wherever else it occurs in his works, it's a tool for hypocrites, a weapon for fanatics, or a means of self-delusion.
Craverguy on Absolutely Delirious
at 20:45 on 03-07-2016 - link
I've had this on my "to watch" list for a long time, ever since someone recommended it to me because of how much I like The Prisoner. Good to get a positive second opinion.
Now I just need an affordable Region 1 copy. Last time I checked, they were quite expensive secondhand.
- Adrienne on The Sequel of Shannara at 07:40 on 19-06-2016 - link Hah, fair enough. Read later Kay, maybe?