Thursday, October 19th, 2017 05:01 am

Posted by John Kovalic

Hi John,

My name is Alessandra (called Sandy) from Italy.

At  first, sorry for my English!

I’d like to tell you that you are my favorite illustrator !

I met you in Lucca comics & games in far 2005 during an interview of  Ragno Magazine, do you remember?

In that time, you draw me a play card of munchkin “a lot of very nice balloons”, but my boyfriend lost my card and I cry.

I love Munchkin illustration!

In Lucca comics & games 2014 I went to Lucca only for you, but during your signed session,  Lucca’s security couldn’t enter in Games palace .

So, I’d like to know if you will came in Italy again , and finally say hallo to you!

Thanks a lot for your kindness and enjoy yourself!

Sandy

Hi, Sandy!

First off, thank you so much for the VERY kind words! Your English is MUCH better than my Italian, so you have nothing to apologize for!

I’d love to come back to Italy, and soon. When I was in school, in England, we’d spend our summers outside of Milan. I miss it terribly.

The problem with Lucca is, it usually falls on Halloween, and I really try to spend holidays with my wife and daughter. But I do have a many friends there, and I miss them all. It’s also one of my all-time favorite conventions. So…possibly..?

I’m sorry I missed you at Lucca 2014 – it was a crazy huge convention. I’m going over my 2018 schedule now: if I’m not back at Lucca next year, perhaps there will be another Italian show.

In any case, Italy’s definitely top of my list to get back to, and soon! And I’ll certainly re-draw you that card. Tell your boyfriend he loses a level!

With many thanks,

John

 

 

Thursday, October 19th, 2017 06:05 pm
Most of the time, I'm sufficiently busy that updating the log of books read falls off my radar. But! I want to!

I am going to forget items, I'm sure.

Books 2017: 157-181


157. Jim C. Hines, Terminal Alliance. DAW, 2017.

Read for review for Locus. Fun.


158. Elizabeth Bear, The Stone in the Skull. Tor, 2017.

Read for column. Extraordinary fantasy.


159-160. Elizabeth Bonesteel, Remnants of Trust and Breach of Containment. HarperCollins, 2016 and 2017.

Read for column. Space opera. Okay, I guess.


161. Sarah Gailey, Taste of Marrow. Tor.com Publishing, 2017.

Read for review for Locus and for column. Novella. Hippos.


162. John Crowley, Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruins of Ymr. Saga, 2017.

Read for review. Baffling.


163. Ausma Zehanat Khan, The Bloodprint. HarperCollins, 2017.

Read for review. Epic fantasy. Meh.


164. Julie Tizard, The Road to Wings. Bold Strokes Books, 2017.

F/F fighter pilot romance. Meh.


165. Melissa Brayden, Eyes Like Those. Bold Strokes Books, 2017.

F/F workplace romance. Meh.


166. Jaycie Morrison, Heart's Orders. Bold Strokes Books, 2017.

F/F historical American WWII women's army corps romance. Meh.


167. Sophia Kell Hagin, Omnipotence Enough. Bold Strokes Books, 2017.

F/F near-future SF romance.


168. Fonda Lee, Jade City. Orbit, 2017.

Read for review. Really good fantasy.


169. K.B. Wagers, Beyond the Empire. Orbit, 2017.

Read for review. Space opera trilogy conclusion.


170. R.E. Stearns, Barbary Station. Saga, 2017.

Read for review. Really good science fiction with pirates and murderous AI.


171. Melissa Caruso, The Tethered Mage. Orbit, 2017.

Read for review. Really good fantasy.


172. K.J. Charles, Think of England. Ebook, 2014.

M/M romance. Sad boys in love. Historical.


173. K.J. Charles, The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal. Ebook, 2015.

Linked stories about sad boys in love. Historical fantasy.


174. K.J. Charles, An Unsuitable Heir. Ebook, 2017.

Historical romance between a man and a genderqueer person. Good.


175. K. Arsenault Rivera, The Tiger's Daughter. Tor, 2017.

Read for review. Excellent epic fantasy debut. Includes epic romance between women.


176. Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, and Alyssa Cole, Hamilton's Battalion. Ebook, 2017.

Three romance novellas set around the American revolutionary war. The first two, a heterosexual romance and a M/M romance, are excellent; the third romance is F/F and is entirely meh.


177. Leena Likitalo, Sisters of the Crescent Empress. Tor.com Publishing, 2017.

Sequel to The Five Daughters of the Moon. Read for review. Meh.


178. Tade Thompson, The Murders of Molly Southborne. Tor.com Publishing, 2017.

Read for review. Strange and peculiar and compelling novella.


179. Nnedi Okorafor, Binti: The Night Masquerade. Tor.com Publishing, 2017.

Read for review. Concluding Binti novella. Pretty good.


nonfiction.

180. Shihab al-Din al-Nuwayri, The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition: A Compendium of Knowledge from the Classical Islamic World. Penguin Classics. London & New York, 2016. Translated and abridged by Elias Muhanna.

This is Serious Abridgement, one slender Penguin volume for a 33-volume medieval Arabic encyclopaedia. This abridgement and translation gives a flavour of what the original might possibly contain, and makes me deeply regret the lack of proper complete translations of more medieval Arabic literature.

It is really enjoyable, though.


181. Michael Maas (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Justinian. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2005.

Cambridge Companions aren't really designed to be read cover-to-cover, but I did. Eventually. It is a quite comprehensive companion, to be fair. An introduction to many things. Worth perusing.
Thursday, October 19th, 2017 12:09 pm

Empire Games

Attention, British readers: Empire Games just came out in small format paperback today, with a price cut from the big trade paperback. The ebook edition also got a whole bit cheaper: Kindle edition here.

(The US paperback/cheap ebook will be along a bit later, because Tor UK and Tor USA are actually different publishers with different schedules.)

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017 08:40 pm
Didn't log last Wednesday. Oops.

Weigh-in: 107kg approx

Benchpress: 1x5 at 60kg, 1x8 at 65kg, 1x5 at 70kg, 3x8 at 65kg, 1x6 at 60kg
Squats: 5x5 at 100kg
Leg lifts: 3x10
Sit-ups: 2x12
Bicep curl: 3x10 at 8kg/arm
Lat raise: 3x10 at 8kg/arm
Military press: 3x10 at 5kg/arm
Assisted pull-up: 2
Attempted pull-up (unassisted): 2x3
Wednesday, October 18th, 2017 01:02 am
Piled Higher & Deeper by Jorge Cham
www.phdcomics.com
Click on the title below to read the comic
title: "Confusing Malaise" - originally published 10/16/2017

For the latest news in PHD Comics, CLICK HERE!

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017 08:07 am

One of the strangest objects in the outer Solar System has recently been found to have a ring. One of the strangest objects in the outer Solar System has recently been found to have a ring.


Tuesday, October 17th, 2017 07:33 am

Both gravitational and electromagnetic radiations have been detected in Both gravitational and electromagnetic radiations have been detected in


Monday, October 16th, 2017 08:34 pm
This is a horror game I don't know much about, set in Victorian Britain and drawing on the Jack the Ripper mythos and a lot of other sources:

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/Rippers

"Rippers is the high-action horror campaign of Victorian-era monster-hunting for the Savage Worlds rules system from Pinnacle Entertainment. In the First Edition Rippers setting, an evil Cabal led by the monstrous Jack the Ripper brought the Victorian world of 1895 to its knees, until a team of heroes led by Johann Van Helsing fought back using implanted Rippertech torn from the creatures of hell. Ultimately that storyline revealed that the use of Rippertech damned the hero's soul to eternal torment, and even strengthened the enemy. But the new Second Edition, Rippers Resurrected, removes that unfortunate drawback. Now, with the Cabal in retreat, the Rippers hunt supernatural horrors across the globe in a struggle to take back the night.

Fog-filled horror in the gothic style the Penny Dreadful TV series and the 2004 film Van Helsing, Rippers Resurrected emerged into the gaslight in a triumphant October 2015 Kickstarter campaign. Now this offer, part of the Bundle site's annual "October Horrors" sequence, presents almost the entire Rippers and Rippers Resurrected lines, plus the complete Savage Worlds Deluxe rulebook AND the Horror Companion, cheaper than a few silver bullets for a Gatling pistol. It's everything you need for a complete campaign of abomination-stomping across the Earth.

We provide each ebook complete in .PDF (Portable Document Format). Like all Bundle of Holding titles, these books have NO DRM (Digital Restrictions Management), and our customers are entitled to move them freely among all their ereaders.

Ten percent of each purchase (after gateway fees) goes to this offer's designated charity, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The total retail value of the titles in this offer at launch is US$93. Customers who pay just US$7.95 get all five titles in our Player's Collection (retail value $37) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks, including the Rippers Resurrected Player's Guide, Archetypes, and the Deluxe Character and Campaign Journal, plus the complete Savage Worlds Deluxe Edition rulebook and its Horror Companion (both presented in several past offers).

Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $17.95 to start, also get our entire Game Master's Collection with nine more titles worth an additional $56, , including the Game Master's Handbook and the Frightful Expeditions worldbook; the Plot Point campaign Lord of the Underworld; five Combat Maps of tombs, castles, and other spooky battlegrounds; and The Lost Library, a huge archive of the entire First Edition Rippers line (2005-2008), with adventures, characters, Figure Flats, and the Horror Wars miniatures game.

At least one more title will be added after launch. When a title is added after launch, ALL customers who previously purchased the bundle automatically receive the newly added title, REGARDLESS of whether or not they paid more than average. This is their reward for buying early.


OK, I might as well admit that I'm not a huge fan of the Savage Worlds system, it doesn't seem to offer much that other games don't. This particular iteration has a problem I've seen in other Victorian horror RPGs - it tries to simplify and Americanise everything, while piling in steampunk-style gadgets and general "everything but the kitchen sink" Victorian-ish fictional archetypes. We get Dracula and Van Helsing and Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes and... well, you get the idea. There's also the "everything is connected to everything else in a horrible conspiracy" trope in full flower.

Having said that, if you get in early enough it's pretty cheap, and you get quite a lot for your money. It isn't actively offensive, but I'd STRONGLY recommend that GMs who want to use it take on some additional sources for Victorian everyday life and real-world events, since politics, historical events, social issues etc. etc. get very little attention.

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Monday, October 16th, 2017 07:05 pm
Didn't get out to the market etc. on Friday and Saturday, for various reasons, but rather a good haul from Sunday's first car boot sale:

A Nikon e-series 50mm f1.8 - for a fiver! And a Nikon EM body with 28mm f2.8 Sigma and some sort of small flash for a tenner - haven't tested the camera yet because I don't have the right lenses dohhhh - batteries, not lenses. The lenses are very nice, and are already on eBay.

And something I arranged to buy last week and collected today - a Holga 60mm f8 Lomography lens in Nikon fitting. It's crap, but I didn't pay much for it and I want to have a play with it and see just how bad it is before I sell it on. Except that with the stormy weather that's coming in it was too dark to try it today, and I suspect tomorrow won't be much better...
Thursday, October 12th, 2017 09:13 pm
Two offers for Call of Cthulhu, possibly the definitive horror RPG; one is all-new, World War Cthulhu, material for campaigns set in World War 2, the other is a repeat offer of material with a British setting that may also be useful as background for World War Cthulhu.

World War Cthulhu

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/WorldWarCthulhu

"One of two Cthulhu Mythos offers running in parallel during the Bundle of Holding's annual "October Horrors" sequence, this World War Cthulhu Bundle features the Cubicle 7 Entertainment World War Cthulhu line of tabletop roleplaying game supplements and scenarios for Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu. In World War Cthulhu, brave agents of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service face Lovecraftian terrors -- and humanity's own darkest impulses -- against a backdrop of 20th-Century conflict. In World War II, the Special Operations Executive fights a two-front war against both Axis and Mythos. In the 1960s and '70s, as the Cold War threatens nuclear destruction, Section 46 continues a personal battle against the insidious influence of a much older enemy.

We provide each ebook complete in .PDF (Portable Document Format). Like all Bundle of Holding titles, these books have NO DRM (Digital Restrictions Management), and our customers are entitled to move them freely among all their ereaders.

Ten percent of each purchase (after gateway fees) goes to these two Cthulhu offers' designated charity, Doctors Without Borders.

The total retail value of the titles in this offer at launch is US$106. Customers who pay just US$9.95 get all three titles in this offer's Starter Collection (retail value $51) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks, including the World War Cthulhu: The Darkest Hour corebook (retail price $20) and the Europe Ablaze campaign guide (retail $18) [both previously offered in our October 2015 Bundle of Tentacles +3], together with The SOE Handbook (retail $13), a manual of tradecraft for the covert agents of the Special Operations Executive.

Those who pay more than this offer's threshold (average) price, which is set at $19.95 to start, also get this offer's entire Bonus Collection with three more titles worth an additional $55, including World War Cthulhu: London (retail $20), about the capital city during the Blitz; Cold War (retail $20), which pushes the Mythos into the 1960s; and Section 46 Operations Manual (retail $15), a Cold-War companion for the 1970s.

With these books you can stage a complete Mythos campaign across an entire continent and three decades. And the World War Cthulhu line also works great with the Cubicle 7 ebooks in our resurrected December 2016 Cthulhu Britannica offer, now in progress.

Cthulhu Britannica

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/CthulhuBritannica2017

Cthulhu Britannica is Cubicle 7 Entertainment's long-running series of Call of Cthulhu supplements and scenarios that bring the Mythos to the British Isles. This offer, revived from December 2016, includes the original Cthulhu Britannica scenario collection, the giant London supplement (a spectacular Kickstarter success in November 2013), and the entire London support line.

This Cthulhu Britannnica revival is a companion to the new World War Cthulhu offer now in progress, featuring Cubicle 7's line of wartime Call of Cthulhu supplements and scenarios set during World War II and the Cold War. (That World War Cthulhu offer includes a Blitz-era London sourcebook that dovetails perfectly with this Britannica offer's huge London set.) These two offers, part of the site's annual "October Horrors" sequence of horror and suspense RPG offers, run in parallel and end at the same time.

The total retail value of the titles in this offer at launch is US$122. Customers who pay just US$17.95 get both titles in this offer's Starter Collection (retail value $65) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks: the original Cthulhu Britannica scenario collection (retail price $15) and the complete Cthulhu Britannica London set (retail $50).

Those who pay more than the threshold (average) price, which is set at $24.95 to start, also get our entire Bonus Collection with four more titles worth an additional $57, including the seven-part campaign The Curse of Nineveh (retail $23), its two deluxe handouts -- The Journal of Reginald Campbell Thompson and The Journal of Neve Selcibuc (retail $15 apiece) -- and The Ballad of Bass Rock (retail $4), a short CoC scenario (cut from Shadows Over Scotland) that strands the investigators on a bleak isle with a lighthouse and a shoggoth.

At least one title will be added after launch. When a title is added to an offer after launch, ALL customers who previously purchased that offer -- including the purchasers from the original December 2016 run -- automatically receive the newly added title, REGARDLESS of whether or not they paid higher than average. This is their reward for buying early -- even way early.


While I'm not planning on running this material at present, I'm certainly interested; the WW2 / British setting is a change from the usual 1920s, Victorian and modern day campaigns, and could be a great way to get into a modern-day Laundry campaign, since a lot of that setting derives from the aftermath of WW2. I'll definitely be reading to see how things are handled, and if anything rekindles my interest in horror RPGs. As usual, especially when I'm interested in these bundles, I have to point out that they cost money - they're cheap compared to dead tree or individual purchases, but if you already own some of this material the bundles may be less attractive.
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Thursday, October 12th, 2017 12:10 am
Someone really ought to write this... The Winter Soldier was the "one-armed man" who killed Richard Kimble's wife. No idea why, maybe she was a KGB defector or something - in which case he let Kimble live so that the "one armed man" description would circulate in the intelligence community and they would know that defectors were not safe in the USA.