Dungeons & Dragons

The Sword & Sorcery Anthology, edited by David G. Hartwell and Jacob Weisman

If you like your fantasy gritty, violent, personal, and character-driven, featuring flawed antiheroes, then you’ll want to listen to these two fascinating three-part series of podcast episodes on SF Signal.

Hosted and moderated by Patrick Hester and Jaym Gates, the panels include noted authors, editors, and artists, such as Lou Anders, Scott Lynch, James Enge, Saladin Ahmed, John Picacio, and many more.

The discussions are wide ranging: The panelists discuss what makes a story sword & sorcery (do you agree with Lou?), the proper length of a sword & sorcery story in prose form, and what the boundaries between sword & sorcery, sword & planet stories (Edgar Rice Burroughs’s John Carter), epic fantasy, and urban fantasy are. They talk about the new sword & sorcery (by authors Scott Lynch, Joe Abercrombie, James Enge, Michael Chabon, and others) in relation to its progenitors in the classic pulps (Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber) and the more mature work of Michael Moorcock, the proliferation of sword & sorcery into non-Western settings (e.g., sword & sandal stories by Saladin Ahmed and Howard Andrew Jones), and sword & sorcery in different mediums, such as film (Conan), table-top roleplaying games (D&D), contemporary video games (Skyrim), and art (Boris Vallejo).

After listening to all of these episodes, what’s your take on sword & sorcery?

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NEWS ROUNDUP | NASA FAIL, Community Mocks Politics, Cheap eBooks, D&D, History of SF Thumbnail
  1. NASA wasted over $400 million taxpayer dollars last week as its new global warming research satellite (I thought the science was settled?) failed to make it onto orbit. The cause? A rocket “glitch.” That’s the second time in two years. Just abolish the agency and myriad regulations already to make way for private space endeavors.
  2. A recent episode (S2Ep17) of the tv series Community mocks politics and student government elections, that training ground for our future rulers. You might want to watch it on Hulu.com, while it’s still available, before reading the rest of this entry as I picked out my favorite parts to highlight and they might spoil it for you.

    Britta, the same character concerned with orc/goblin (I forget) property rights in the AD&D episode, declares that democracy (rule by the people ) is a sham and that human beings should not be governed. But she’s not well-received by the masses. Pierce (Chevy Chase) enters the race simply to harass a fellow candidate for not loaning him her pencil earlier. Jeff enters simply to demonstrate to the lone serious candidate, Annie, who comes off as a typical hyper-competitive douchebag, that he can beat her simply by uttering empty feel-good slogans, prompting her to turn to dirty politics in order to embarrass him into pulling out of the race. There are several other joke candidates as well. Good stuff.
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  1. The tv series Community recently had a funny episode devoted to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. I started roleplaying when I was 12 with AD&D, roleplayed with a variety of games well into college, and have fond memories of it. I haven’t seen any other episodes in the series, so I don’t know if they’re worth watching. io9 has a good review of the D&D episode. Watch it for a limited time on Hulu.com.
  2. As if anti-gay marriage bigots and statists weren’t bad enough, now we can add anti-AI marriage luddites to the mix. Yes, folks, that slippery slope that gay marriage will surely start us down will lead us one day to marriage between humans and artificial intelligences! Um, yeah…so what? That alone won’t destroy traditional marriage any more than gay marriage will. I guess this guy hasn’t heard that Japanese nerds are already marrying their favorite anime game characters. No, I’m serious

    But anyway: The libertarian ideal, however one feels personally about gay and AI marriage, is for the state to get out of marriage entirely. Let people decide what to call their relationships and social evolution sort it out. Down with government classificationism!

    Here’s io9 on the story. And here’s the biggotted luddite’s speech:
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