Category Archives: Geek

SUET the Card Game is funded! Check it out!

If you’ll recall, one of my oldest friends, John LeMaire, did a Kickstarter a while back for his game, SUET the Card Game. That didn’t get funded, but he’s made some changes to his business model and, lo and behold, this time it worked! So now that you know you’ll get a high-quality family game if you back it, I’m inviting you to give it some consideration.

You can read all about the game here in this handy guest post, but here’s the quick synopsis:

SUET is a card game where you play the role of an evil genius trying to gain entry into the Society of Ultimate Evil and Terror. The Society has declared that the first genius to construct their own unique doomsday device and blackmail the world will be allowed to join. You will play cards not only to help construct and defend your doomsday device, but also to thwart the efforts of your competitors on your quest to become a member of SUET.

Fun, right? This game has been demoed at a number of gaming conventions over the past few years, and it’s ready for prime time. I’ve already backed it, and I hope you’ll give it a go. Here’s the Kickstarter link. Go forth!

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A less-than-fond farewell to 2017

I know I’m not the first one to say this, of course — 2017 was not fun, and for many people, that’s a monumental understatement. Personally, professionally, culturally, politically…this year was a godforsaken mess. I’m far less inclined to toast the year that was, but I’m quite ready to embrace the one coming down the pike, and I hope you are too.

So let’s start with the elephant in the room, which would be Trump and his coterie of destructive buffoons. I’m not going to go into his policies, or the rapacious GOP’s attempts to create a permanent, uneducated American underclass to serve the top 1%. But I know full well that the very presence of this looming threat to American values and democracy, and the utter barrage of weaponized fake outrage and falsehoods, has taken its toll on so many of us, myself included.

Now, let’s be quite clear in that I’m a straight, married, white male, so when I say “taken its toll,” the bill for me is extremely light compared to women, people of color, folks with chronic physical and/or mental conditions, our LBGTQ+ friends, etc. In fact, it feels slightly disingenuous to be bitching about things when my family and I are doing well, and may even see a tax cut next year.

But while my toll is far less, it’s there. 2017 has messed with my head. In so many areas of my life, I found myself waiting for something, waiting for change. Yes, I ramped up my contributions and I joined a protest at Trump Tower and I spoke out and all that good stuff. But the rest of it was kind of living in a defensive crouch in the corner, trying to go about my business and waiting, hoping, praying for the support to help all of us turn a corner.

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A semi-spoiler-free take on The Last Jedi

I walked out of Star Wars: The Last Jedi last night grinning ear to ear. It is a fun, epic film. It has so many nods to the characters we know and love. The visuals are stunning, the acting great, the humor is amazing and on point, and yet there’s tragedy as well. I think euphoric might be too strong a word, but it’s in the thesaurus neighborhood.

Then I thought about writing this now-traditional review for the blog. And in the light of day, the flaws show — and in a way that they didn’t for The Force Awakens or Rogue One. I think these are flaws of ambition, because there is a lot going on in The Last Jedi, and Rian Johnson is trying to do things we haven’t seen before. When he succeeds, he does so amazingly well. When he falls short, it can be obvious and distracting.

I don’t think I can post anything without putting in some spoilers here, but if you’ve read up on the film — features, reviews, etc. — then I think you’ll be OK. But if you’re determined to have a spoiler-free zone, stop here and just know that it’s worth your movie-going dollars if you’re a Star Wars fan, and that you’ll have a blast.   Continue reading

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An ode to the role-playing games of my misspent youth

So, OK, not really an ode. More like a roundup.

The other day I saw that Beth Elderkin over at io9, my all-time favorite geek site, did a nifty retrospective on the role-playing game Call of Cthulhu, which is based, of course, on the works of H.P. Lovecraft. I remember playing it when I was in high school and college, and I credit CoC with introducing me to Lovecraft’s stories.

Yes, that means there’s a direct thread from Call of Cthulhu to my story “On a Kansas Plain” in the Cthulhu Fhtagn! anthology from Word Horde. I sold a story because a role-playing game introduced me to Lovecraft’s work.

And I’ve done a couple of direct tie-in stories for games, too. There’s “Tiger,” in last year’s The Endless Ages Anthology for Vampire: The Masquerade, and “Crisis of Faith” for Paizo’s Pathfinder setting, which uses the d20 rules made famous by the granddaddy of them all, Dungeons & Dragons.

Oh, and I interviewed Gary Gygax and Steve Jackson during my reporting days. I’m never not gonna link to that.

So yeah, games mean a lot to me. They were my very first introduction to the whole idea of worldbuilding, and character. I admit, I wasn’t much of a Dungeon Master/game master/referee/whatever, but I did try my hand a few times. Plot’s hard, of course, especially when you’re, like, ten.

Here’s a fun little list of games that had an influence on me, and a few I simply played and thought were cool.  Continue reading

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Like gaming? Check out Adirondicon on October 14!

If you’re a fan of table-top gaming — board games, card games, strategy, RPGs, the whole bit — and if you’ll be around the Albany, N.Y., area on Saturday, October 14, I have a good idea of what you should be doing.

The first annual Adirondacon is taking place that day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. — that’s right, twelve straight hours of gaming goodness. The event is sponsored by First Stall Productions and the Adirondack Tabletop Gamers and Game Developers, and it’ll cost you just $5 for adults and $2 for kids. The proceeds go to the Bernard and Millie Duker Children’s Hospital at Albany Medical Center.

So it’s for charity, which means you get to play games all damn day for a good cause. This does not suck.

The convention will have a number of organized games throughout the day, as well as open gaming and a large lending library full of games to play on your own. We’re talking Magic: The Gathering, Settlers of Catan, Star Trek Attack Wing, Pathfinder, Arcadia Quest and a bunch of stuff I ain’t even heard of. Plus, I hear tell of food and prizes and swag for sale, too.

Sadly, I won’t be able to make it, but games are awesome and charity is even more awesome. So check out the Adirondacon website to get your badges and sign up for games. (You can also just wander in if you’re not sure of your plans yet or you’re just, you know, lazy.) They also have a Twitter and Facebook presence if you want to reach out to them. It’ll be at the Elks Lodge in Queensbury, N.Y., right near Glens Falls and about an hour north of Albany.

Have fun!

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Review! Podcast! Interview with other authors!

The march continues! There’s a few items that have hit the Internet over the past few days about MJ-12: Shadows, and naturally, I wanted to share.

First up: Dan Hanks over at Fantasy Faction reviews MJ-12: Shadows. Among the very nice things Dan said was this:

MJ-12: Shadows is a blast of a read. It takes a narrower plot focus than the first and strengthens our relationship with the main heroes, while simultaneously introducing a whole host of new characters and superpowers—and weaves it all through some fascinating, disturbing, but apparently pretty accurate moments in history. From beginning to end it’s a fun, inventive, action-packed exploration of super spies operating in the shadows of history, and an almost perfect sequel.

I will not argue with this one whit. Thanks, Dan!

Next up: I’m over at the Skiffy & Fanty “Signal Boost” podcast to talk about the book with Paul Weimer, and he’s always a good interviewer. You can check it out here, or download from your favorite podcast source. The podcast also includes a separate chat with fellow author Patrick Hester talking about Samantha Kane: Into the Fire, which you should totally check out as well.

Finally: Over at the KT Literary blog, I participated in a Three Authors in Thirty Seconds post with agency-siblings Don Allmon, author of The Glamour Thieves and Spencer Ellsworth, author of A Red Peace. It’s funny and awkward and everything you’d expect from three geeky guys geeking out. Also, their books are also awesome and worthy of your book-buying dollars.

MJ-12: Shadows — Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Books-A-Million | Mysterious Galaxy

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The Doctor, Confederate, and the echoes of history

Well, the culture wars sure came home to roost this week, didn’t they? One step forward, one step back.

First, forward! The 13th Doctor — the time- and dimension-hopping, body-regenerating protagonist of Doctor Who — is going to be a woman, and it’s damn well about time. Pun intended. Women, of course, make up slightly half of the human race, after all, and I think it’s safe to say that Gallifreyan Time Lords (and Ladies!) are similarly proportional in gender, lest there be a shortage of little Time Lords/Ladies. So the fact that it took the 14th iteration of the Doctor (there was a War Doctor between #8 and #9) to get a woman is a statistical outlier, to say the least.

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