Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 00:27 on 30-01-2015, Alasdair Czyrnyj
For those of you out there tired of this meat nonsense and this puppet nonsense, I have some news: two of Thomas Ligotti's long out-of-print collections, Songs For A Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe: His Life And Works, are going to be reprinted in a single volume under the Penguin Classics imprint this October.

And remember: when you see the preorder button, you will know it is time.
at 16:30 on 29-01-2015, Arthur B permalink
at 05:46 on 28-01-2015, Ibmiller
I love Zahn's stuff as well - Icarus Hunt and the Quadrail series in particular.
at 18:00 on 24-01-2015, Robinson L
Ooh, recommendations. My all-time favorite is The Icarus Hunt, a standalone sci-fi mystery; I may post a review of it someday, if I ever organize time to write one.

My second favorite of his non-Star Wars stuff that I've read (and there's plenty I haven't gotten to yet), is the five-book Quadrail series, starting with Night Train to Rigel, a sort of noir train thriller ... in space.

Zahn's characters, though hardly Shakespearian, are usually fun, and I love how they often use cleverness and ingenuity to solve the problems they face in unexpected but plausible and exciting ways. Also, the man can pull out some amazing plot twists every so often.

Fair warning: Zahn seems to be pretty oblivious to issues of gender, race, etc.. He's not actively hateful, but every once in a while he'll come up with something which makes me look at the material askance. Or, in the case of Spinneret, on a semi-regular basis, but so far it's the only one, and even it has improved substantially since my last update. But just so you know.
at 23:00 on 23-01-2015, James D
I've only read his Star Wars novels as a teenager - what non-Star Wars stuff by him would you recommend?
at 03:02 on 21-01-2015, Robinson L
I'm currently reading Spinneret, a sci-fi novel published 30 years ago. Now, Timothy Zahn is one of my all-time favorite authors, despite issues like finding his politics rather tone-deaf. But oh goddess, 150 pages into this book, and I loathe the main character. Seriously, Zahn; this hypocritical, xenophobic, classist, racist little tinpot dictator is the guy I'm supposed to be rooting for?
at 03:30 on 10-01-2015, Robinson L
I'm shocked, shocked, I tell you.

Speaking of paranoia-prone reactionary politics, my journalist friend whose stuff I've linked once or twice before has apparently already gotten quite a bit of flak for basically saying let's not blame Muslims as a whole for the Charlie Hebdo attack or try to explain it in terms of "clash of civilizations" bullshit, mmkay?. (Oh, and also that expressing our compassion for Charlie Hebdo and outrage at the killings need not and ought not be conflated with minimizing or denying their faults.)

I'm disturbed by the apparent suggestion of mental illness as a valid alternative interpretation for the killers' motivation in the third to last paragraph, but otherwise, I think it's a solid and clear-headed article.
at 10:10 on 09-01-2015, Arthur B
For those pondering whether GamerGate is a genuinely new phenomenon or merely an evolution of paranoia-prone reactionary movements of the past, the fact that they're willing to accept tweaked John Birch Society rants as pro-Gamergate manifestos would kind of point to the latter.
at 01:29 on 09-01-2015, Michal
Sad Puppies 3 is a go.

It feels waaaaaaaay to early in the year for Hugo talk, and yet all my feeds are brimming with it.
at 21:37 on 04-01-2015, Shim
So... it's Jurassic Park, only in China, with a dragon?


Did anyone else hear a low, echoey voice just now?

It sounded sort of like "Neeeext Baaaactaaaa"..? And then there was some ominous chuckling.

Also I had some kind of flashback involving dozens of people called Thomas, who all turned out to be Charles Dickens in disguise.
at 16:38 on 04-01-2015, Sonia Mitchell
That's exactly what it is.

Funnily enough, I have a Jurassic Park article half-completed anyway. I think I may need to buy this book as additional research.
at 15:45 on 04-01-2015, Arthur B
So... it's Jurassic Park, only in China, with a dragon?

at 15:31 on 04-01-2015, Sonia Mitchell
Oh man, a novel due on 12th Feb is hitting my interests.
It's a monster book! Set in a zoo! Written by Matthew Reilly!

(Warning: there is almost certainly a fair amount of fail coming from it being set in China)
at 05:36 on 01-01-2015, Robinson L
Happy New Year to all. Here's hoping for Adrienne's sake that 2014 was a great improvement upon 2013, but that 2015 bring even better things.
at 23:48 on 31-12-2014, Alasdair Czyrnyj
I'm going to change the subject!

Over the past few years, I've been cooling pretty hard on the rise of superhero franchise films, partly because there's just so damn many of them, and partly because most of them seem to be so flashy, and kick up a huge groundswell of fan hype...and yet the movies themselves are so inert, the cinematic equivalent of eating packing foam. There's exceptions, of course; at times it felt like Guardians of the Galaxy felt like an actual film that was trying and failed to escape Marvel's claws, but even things like the Captain America movies I just boring.

A few days ago, I found an article on Grantland that talked quite a bit about how Hollywood's been changing over the last few years, and I gotta say, I have concerns. The basic argument is that the great problem isn't superheroes per se, it's the fact that Hollywood is starting to think in terms of five-, seven-, and ten-year plans, that studios are increasingly thinking in terms of nothing but franchises, and we're going to see more and more studio heads that come wholly out of the corporate track.

This is not good.
at 22:55 on 30-12-2014, Alice
So it's not about ethics in games journalism, then? ;)

I think my favourite quote from that piece has to be

Even to this day, the opposition to GamerGate has focused on smear tactics, name calling, false equivalencies and a variety of other dirty tricks.


*gasps, clutches pearls, etc.*
at 11:29 on 25-12-2014, Alice
Goodness, two new articles in one day, what a Christmas treat!*

Hope everyone's having a delightful/festive/restful/survivable (delete as appropriate) holiday season.

*this came out about 90% more snarky than it sounded in my head, I promise ;)
at 16:20 on 14-12-2014, James D
Yeah, GURPS had a real good run in the 80s/90s, and a lot of rad cover art.

at 19:45 on 13-12-2014, Jamie Johnston permalink
at 00:17 on 13-12-2014, Sonia Mitchell
I also have one - Catharsis By Rabbit, article 982. It's not time-sensitive though, so after Christmas is fine by me.

In festive news, I wish this nativity scene was somewhere near me.
at 23:30 on 12-12-2014, Robinson L
Sure thing; thanks, Arthur. And like I said, no great hurry.
at 23:18 on 12-12-2014, Arthur B
No, I see them. Let me get back to you about that.
at 23:15 on 12-12-2014, Robinson L
In my case, as I said, no great hurry; if nobody gets to until after New Year's I don't mind.

As for the articles - there are a couple of them, and they're all marked "ready" on my admin screen. "The Wonderful Shitbag of Oz" was one, and "Book Review: Sir MacHinery." I can post the whole list to the Playpen, if that'll help.