Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Category Archives: Castalia House

The Best Science Fiction Read in a Long Time

I picked this up thinking I would find out the ending to Arkhaven’s first comic series. But then I couldn’t put it down.

It’s in the same universe. And it’s very much like Traveller. Worlds have tech levels which are enforced by law. There is a “spinward marches” where all the action takes place. There is a jump drive and some sort of non-reality jumpspace… but you can precipitate out of jump in less than two weeks.

But the story…. It really is first rate. If you liked Poul Anderson’s Flandry stories, The Mote in God’s Eye, Jerry Pournelle’s A Spaceship for the King, or Vernor Vinge’s A Deepness in the Sky, then this will be right up your alley. It’s an intricate spy thriller featuring a female James Bond type going head to head against sort of a female Agent Smith and it’s utterly engrossing.

One thing about Vox if you’ve observed how he handles real life intrigues, he really does think several moves ahead compared to most people. Also he’s quite cunning. This “evil mastermind” trait of his turns out to be a perfect fit for this type of book. For the first time in a very long time I get to see an elaborate “chess game played on interstellar scales” plot with factions that have realistic motivations… and adversaries that are actually worthy opponents.

How many times have you heard reviewers complain that a property’s bad guy is neither competent nor coherent? Well this book is the answer to that objection. If you’re on the hunt for a tightly plotted space thriller, this should go to the top of your pile.



Okay, Now That’s Something

Most days I’m too busy doing whatever it is I do at Castalia House blog and on the Castalia House Twitter feed to really think what all is really going on.

But this…?

Man, I tell you. Sometimes I’m just glad to be alive and surrounded by so many awesome people.

This is one of those times.

What’s Going On

Okay, the blog here has mostly been taken up with answering my critics lately. The thing that sticks in my craw from all of that is Justinian Herzog’s feeling that game bloggers such as myself are getting distracted by the culture wars. So I think maybe people are missing out on where the action has shifted to in the past few months.

  • First off, I’ve just got done playing the most monstery of monster games: an eight session long game of 7 Ages played with a full table of seven players. I have not written this up, but you can find pics of this over on the Castalia House media feed on Twitter.
  • On that same feed, you’ll find numerous pics from playtests of Seven Years War: Frederick’s Gamble. This is a great game that typically runs about six to eight hours and that allows for players to drop in and out between sessions if need be. Developer Fred Schachter used to work with SPI and I have to say… seeing first hand how these games come together has been a treat.
  • A lot of my “spare time” goes into editing Castalia House blog lately. A lot of stuff that would have been run here is now getting posted over there. Blog Watch has turned into Sensor Sweep, for instance. If you have a yen for more “Appendix N” type writing, but from a somewhat more scholarly standpoint… you gotta check out Morgan Holmes’s epic series on Building A Weird Tales Library.
  • All throughout last year people were asking me to (a) read something written after 1980 and (b) identify someone that was writing “Appendix N” type literature today. Well I finally addressed that. See the retrospective here and the link roundup followup here. (Full disclosure: the author is published by Castalia House and has given positive endorsements for my stuff.)
  • I occasionally get requests that I go back to doing something along the lines of my session reports and analysis of ACKS and Dwimmermount. Well something like that is in progress as well: a new series on first edition AD&D and Oriental Adventures.

If you want more of what we did last year… well hey, I think we have most of the bases covered here.

So what’s up with this idea that I’m being distracted by politics and so forth? Eh, my theory is that it’s coming from people that read my social feed and ignore what I’m doing over at Castalia House. Don’t do that! Heck, my Google+ page has been called “Drudge Report for Nerds”. Only my closest friends and worst enemies follow it. If I start following a story from the media there, I will likely keep looking at it long after you’ve stopped caring about it. So please… do yourself a favor and don’t look at it, Marion!

Oh, but there is one more place to look if you want to see where all the effort that used to go into game blogging has ended up. It’s in Cirsova:

And if you look at the line-up for the rest of 2016, you can see that I have a piece queued up to appear there that would have in times past simply been posted to the web for free.

Wind is changing!

Yes, it is…. And one of those changes that’s coming along here is the rice bowl is about to come out. I never got around to getting a Patreon set up. I never did a Kickstarter. I never put those adds up for the “guys only” MMORPG games. I just wrote a whole bunch of blog posts. And then… Rhinestone Cowboy style, people I don’t even know started sending me vintage games in the mail. I’m not quite sure how the next phase will shake out, but I’m looking at how the Amazon Associate program at the moment. If I’ve set it up right, when you purchase Cirsova via the link in this post, I will get a kickback for spreading the word. It’s a little tacky, maybe. But for the people out there that want to get all “here, take my money!” on me… there it is.

And that about covers the highlights of what’s going on. See you around!

This Week at Castalia House: Appendix X, Napoleon at Jena, Black Fleet Trilogy, and Space Oddity!

This Week at Castalia House: Hufflepuffs, Lovecraft, Retro Fandom, and En Garde!

The real breakout post was the Superversive take on the Hufflepuffs. Man, I never saw that coming! Meanwhile, Warren Abox brought in a great guest post that served as a major force multiplier for Wargame Wednesday.  GURPS-Day was turning out to be such a thing, I decided to get on board. The amount of posting that is going on with that is phenomenal, really.

We’ve got not only more reviews and retrospectives, but also Alex’s look at what fandom was like back in the day… and also something completely different: Daniel’s Space Oddity game. From the looks of it, Alex nailed it before anyone could bite their fingernails. So don’t read the comments on that one if you don’t want a spoiler!

Come on over to the blog, y’all. We’ve got plenty of fine reading material for you…!