Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Getting Ready for Thursday's Reading

Now that school's out for the summer, I turn my attention to tomorrow's reading at the Woburn Public Library. In case you're interested, I'll be reading first (my friend Nick Mancuso will read later in the evening).

At the moment I've got the two flash pieces I'll be reading: "Children of Frogs" and "Belongings." I'm sort of torn between a sci-fi piece called "Distractions" and a ghost story called "Those in Exile." "Exile" is a bit shorter which might be better for the evening but I really like the other story. I might just call an audible when I get there.

Anyway, if you're interested in listening to a few stories, turn out at the Library at 7:00 pm (45 Pleasant Street, Woburn, MA 01801). There will be refreshments.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Cyberpunk!

Way back in the 80s I'd treasure the few moments I could convince my parents to drive the 15 minutes or so to the local bookstore so I could slip to the back, find the science fiction section and read a few RPGs in the half hour or so it took them to circumnavigate our very small, very sad mall. One of the games I looked for was Cyberspace, which had an 80's awesome cover, truly inexplicable rules, and a courageously specific future-setting.



Last night, my good friend +Alex LaHurreau found a nearly mint copy of this classic RPG in a Worcester used book store. The feelings came in waves.

The cover is every bit as epic as I remember but the true gift was flipping through the timeline the creators put on nearly every page. I've included a few below. The predictions range from comical to poignant. Having hacked a few RPGs myself, I don't post this in the spirit of mockery but in a legitimate sense of awe. I remember reading these pages with absolute credulity and poured through the hyper-specific character generation system (you could buy a voice modulation implant for a character that raises/lowers the frequency of his/her voice - each octave of adjustment sets you back $1500!) with a genuine sense of discovery. Every generation presumes it knows the future, but was there ever an era capable of imagining a world nearly as weird as our own while being wrong in nearly every way?

This book was published in 1989...

Oh, the long and bright future of home faxing.

One of my absolute favorites.

Pretty much right.

Also weirdly close.




Sunday, June 7, 2015

What I Read in May

This list will be a bit longer than previous post if only because there was so much I read this month that really appealed to me. I think two or three of them were instant favorites for the year, but I’ll withhold judgement until a few months have passed. As always, the list presented below is in no particular order.


Pacific Flotsam (2015 Morgan Crooks)
  • The Two Weddings of Bronwyn Hyatt by Alex Bledsoe (TOR.com) Bledsoe’s story is the kind I normally skip as the first scene involves a girl trying on an beautiful dress and making wedding plans. However, something about the protagonist's flinty dialogue kept me reading. I'm glad I did as within a few swift pages I was hooked. Bledsoe sets his fantasy pageant in a backwoods Virginia rife with European fairies intriguing with indigenous fey. The bride, the Bronwyn of the title, navigates through the needs of her own family and the machinations of rivals. This is a genuinely tense scenario with clever twists.
  • An Ocean of Eyes by Cassandra Khaw (The Dark) I’m recommending this story on the basis of its ghastly and strangley dignified setting:  a city ruled by dead, hungry gods and the fools lured to their own destruction. One of a handful of stories I’ve read this year bringing something fresh to Lovecraft Mythos.
  • Time Bomb Time by CC Finlay (Lightspeed) Finlay weaved an elegant mental claw-trap of a story. To say too much about the plot is to ruin the effect but suffice to say it revolves around two characters stuck in a bizarre situation unable to perceive that anything strange is going on at all. Very well constructed. Finlay is able to take a simple idea (almost a gimmick) and make it the heart of a distressing morality play.
  • Disharmony by Ken Poyner (DSF) A weird micro-fiction involving an alien race that uses music for weapons and the terrible results of getting into war with them. Evocative language in service of an unsettling idea.
  • For the Love of Sylvia City by Andrea Pawley (Clarkesworld) Science Fiction stories should introduce a world too weird to be possible and too compelling to be ignored. This story hits the mark on those two levels and so many more. The craft here is notable, Pawley able to conjure up entire post-human societies in the space of time it takes a person to swim to the surface and back.
  • The Red Light is Blinking by Kealan Patrick Burke. (Nightmare) The Red Light is a rather troubling piece seemingly one pitch away from being the next Blumhouse horror movie. Having watched my fair share of Blumhouse films I don’t mean this as a criticism. The writing was taut and effective but also nasty and morally questionable. Just the way horror should be some might say.
  • Poof! by Laura Walden Rabb (Driftwood) A literary speculative piece about an artist striving to reimagine painting for the future. After first creating moveable paint Marx Shepherd invents disappearing paint. All of his work will at some point disappear and the story uses this idea to point to something interesting about the nature of art and life. A small but entertaining story.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Fallout 4

In terms of nerd culture moments, this year has already exceeded my wildest hopes.

And then this morning happened.

Fallout 3 is my favorite game of all time. So yeah, this game has big shoes to fill for me. That said, I'm incredibly excited for it. The graphics look updated and fresh. There are hints of an epic, poignant story (the rumors have it the player character wakes up from Vault 111 after centuries of cryo-sleep looking for his missing family).

And, the setting is Boston (sometimes rumors are right)! I don't even know what more can be said except I look forward to visiting some of the sites in-game and real-life.

The only question left: How many weeks or months do I have left to decide on PS4 or XBOX One?