Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Blog Watch: Naked Dames, Skipped Chapters, Heroic Girls, and Primitive Energies

Role Playing Games (Gaming Ballistic) Introductory GURPS: What do Basic D&D and WEG Star Wars tell us? — “One of the nicest things about the Basic D&D and S&W sets (and I feel this way just as strongly about the old WEG Star Wars RPG) is that you can sit a half-dozen or even a dozen people down at a table with nothing, and be playing in less than an hour. Perhaps much less. Even with limited copies of the rules. ”

Appendix N (Cirsova) Short Reviews – Lorelei of the Red Mist, Leigh Brackett and Ray Bradbury — “I wonder if Bradbury blushed when he was handed what Brackett had already written? Then again, we tend to remember Bradbury as the kindly old man of Ray Bradbury Theater, the guy who wrote scary kids stories and that book you had to read in school, when in 1947 fandom was asking ‘how did you wean Ray Bradbury away from his naked dames long enough to write Rocket Summer?'”

From the Comments (Black Gate) Discovering Robert E. Howard: Howard Andrew Jones and Bill Ward Re-Read “The People of the Black Circle” — “This is, however, where I’m dissapointed with Dark Horse’s adaptation on it. Essentially they skipped over the whole chapter ‘Yasmina Knows Stark Terror’ – which despite the Comics Code and reasonable limits on Magazine/Distribution was done by Marvel twice or so in the past quite well. I mean the part of the story to find fodder for the Brundage Cover…”

A New Hope (Salon) Leia finally picks up a lightsaber — and the little girl inside me cheers — “Is it crazy that when I saw that moment in the trailer, I felt an enormous upswell of triumph? Not just for Leia, former princess, but for me—and for the little girl I was, when I first saw these films. I don’t have to prove anything anymore. These films are for me, too. And that is how it should be. Because ‘Star Wars’ is, as Joseph Campbell so famously framed it, the hero’s journey, the story of everyone, for everyone. I’m glad that the new generation of little girls will know that they can be heroes too.”

Get Off My Lawn (Camille Paglia) Feminist Trouble — “As I have repeatedly argued throughout my career, sex is a physical interaction, animated by primitive energies and instincts that cannot be reduced to verbal formulas. Neither party in any sexual encounter is totally operating in the rational realm, which is why the Greek god Dionysus was the patron of ecstasy, a hallucinatory state of pleasure-pain. ‘Yes means Yes’ laws are drearily puritanical and literalistic as well as hopelessly totalitarian. Their increasing popularity simply demonstrates how boring and meaningless sex has become – and why Hollywood movies haven’t produced a scintilla of sexiness since Sharon Stone uncrossed her legs in Basic Instinct.”

From The Comments (SciFi Wright) The Canon Gap — “Yes, it is true that much of the old canon is not readily available. But if you point that out and stop there, you miss part of Jeffro Johnson’s point. Yes, they are hard to find, but WHY are they hard to find today? If the stories are indeed better qua story, they ought to be readily available. So what happened? Part of Jeffro’s series was on that question, and he concluded that the canon was subverted and replaced with malice aforethought. The inestimable Tom Simon has touched on some commercial reasons which might bear on the matter in his essays on fantasy publishing; Jeffro touches on ideological hypotheses for the erasure of the past in our little world. I suspect that both men have part of the story; in particular, I suspect that the shift was begun for commercial reasons by publishers such as Lester Del Rey, who wanted to sell his new fantasy blockbusters, but carried to completion by ideologues who are invested in reshaping the field to suit their ideology, and hiding the past was a necessary first step.”

Movies (Actually…) What makes SF work? — “It’s not an entirely unreasonable riff on the more out-there ideas of the day, but it’s out of step with the majority in the middle – because it breaks the rules: It invokes mythic themes and deus ex machina in the context of what’s written as a solid engineering SF story. To my mind, this essentially puts the film (and the co-developed book) in the position of being two quite different stories which have been stitched together, which I think is what causes the slight sense of ‘wrongness’ that rubs me the wrong way in the early ape scene and the transition to psychedelia at the end.”

AD&D (PJMedia) The Long Shadow of D&D’s Alignment System — “It’s a remarkably fraught system when you think about the implications; after all, having one’s moral quality be fully quantifiable can have any number of implications, starting with the fairly basic one that if something is inherently Evil then you can kill it without any kind of remorse.”

Conventions (Castalia House) Safe Space as Rape Room: Science Fiction Culture and Childhood’s End (Part 3 of 5) — “All of this noise, to prevent annoyance, alarm, the feeling of threat and unwanted or uninvited contact. Not one word to prevent child molesters from ‘accepting’ the invitation of a child. To the contrary, from the point of view of a practicing pedophile, the various ‘safe space’ policies cited by Scalzi both endorse and enable adult-child relationships. Now, that may seem like a strong statement from silence, but it really isn’t, if you can, for a moment, think like a predator.”

Traveller (Tales to Astound) TRAVELLER and “Hard Science Fiction” — I don’t think so… — “People attack the Traveller rules for ‘not making sense,’ for ‘not being realistic.’ Flamewars have broken out over the logic (or lack thereof) of Interstellar Trade, Piracy, Ship Design, and more. Decades have been spent trying to bring the rules and setting of Traveller into alignment with the Hard Science Fiction that Traveller is ‘supposed’ to be. But the fact is, Traveller was never supposed to be Hard Science Fiction. It was designed to allow RPG play in fictional situations inspired by SF tales published in the middle decades of the 20th century.”

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7 responses to “Blog Watch: Naked Dames, Skipped Chapters, Heroic Girls, and Primitive Energies

  1. H.P. December 18, 2015 at 11:56 am

    There is a certain amount of revisionism around Leia going around these days too. But I rewatched A New Hope (or as I like to call it, “Star Wars”) last night, and she is a bad ass throughout. The first thing she does when she meets Luke and Han is to grab a blaster and start blasting and she pretty much carries things–Luke is too whiny and Han too cool-for-school in the first movie.

    • jeffro December 18, 2015 at 12:01 pm

      I like to point out how the Frazetta style movie posters evoke John Carter and Dejah Thoris… but the fact is, Star Wars was light years away from the spirit of the typical Edgar Rice Burroughs story.

      And yes, Leia has to be diminished so that some character in the new movie can be the “first” strong female character in the franchise.

      Though granted, I think wherever Leigh Brackett was going with her concept of Luke’s sister would have been more awesome than either Leia in Return of the Jedi or whoever the girl heroes are in this new movie coming out right now.

      • pcbushi March 18, 2016 at 2:12 pm

        As I think JC Wright and others have probably pointed out, the current concept of a “strong” female character is one who is either genderless or eschews her feminine side. Rey was basically just a character who was good at everything; could have been a man or woman. Leia was simultaneously strong and feminine in the original trilogy.

  2. John C Wright December 18, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    “I’m glad that the new generation of little girls will know that they can be heroes too.””

    Heroines. Lady heroes are heroines.

  3. pcbushi March 18, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    Great roundup. I wish I had time and friends to explore GURPS. And also I love those Star Wars bad lip readings. The extra music video versions that they’ve put out are excellent, too.

    • jeffro March 18, 2016 at 2:19 pm

      Ah, thanks.

      4th Edition GURPS is not going to be too many peoples’ first rpg. The old third edition “all in one book” iteration has a certain amount of charm, it not all the bells and whistles of the new system. If time and players are scarce, I might look into an old school solo adventure from Dark City Games. The old microgames Melee and Wizard are still on my “want to play someday” list, though.

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