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Wednesday
Aug062014

Nerd Props to . . .

 

 

 

Kickstarter is one of those things that can be good or bad, like any tool, depending upon how it’s used.  By bad, all one must do is recall the joker (“Who’s more foolish,” said Obi Wan, “the fool or the fool that follows him?”) who raised oodles of money for potato salad.  Then I think how unfair that is compared to a project by Clear Water Aquarium (home of Winter the Dolphin) which unable to make their goal.   Anyway, I’m sure there’s been lots of good, bad, and ugly, but one thing’s for sure, Kickstarter has been an asset to the nerd community: novels get written, rpgs get published, and films get produced.  For example, Ken Whitman has funded a film based upon the classic Traveller rpg.  Gaming master Monte Cook funded his new rpg masterpiece Numenera.  Living Legend Larry Elmore funded a beautiful tome of his life’s work.  For all the good and bad of it, Kickstarter has opened the door for artists and fans.  Nerd Props Kickstarter! 

Sunday
Aug032014

Quite Quotable

Education is experience, and the essence of experience is self-reliance.

T.H. White, The Once and Future King

Tuesday
Jul292014

Nerd Props to . . .

Slough Feg

 

 

 

To the Spinward Marches!The Stars Their Destination.Slough Feg (formerly known as The Lord Weird Slough Feg) take their name from a character in 2000 AD’s Slaine series.  The band resides in San Francisco and are currently signed to Metal Blade Records.  If you like your rock speculative fiction-based, this is your band.  Each album draws upon science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mythology –  even history on occasion.  Traveller (2003) is a concept piece based upon the classic rpg and features a character inspired by one frontman Michael Scalzi played as a teen.  The second track on Hardworlder (2007) is based upon Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination; a special Gully Foyle vinyl edition (Foyle being the main character in Bester’s book) was released with the cd.Their newest release, Digital Resistance, continues the trend with a stand-out track entitled Laser Enforcer.  The band’s twin lead guitar sound is a very nice blend of Thin Lizzy’s melodic hard rock and Iron Maiden’s driving riffs.  Check them out at www.sloughfeg.com.   

 

Sunday
Jul272014

Quite Quotable

A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof was to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.

Douglas Adams, Mostly Harmless

Friday
Jul252014

The Great (Missing) Tarzan Adventure #3: The Beasts of Tarzan 

 

I don't know what happened here, but this one did not or was not posted, which is a shame because this is still my favorite Tarzan book so far.   Anyway, here it is . . .

The Beasts of Tarzan is Edgar Rice Burroughs’s third Tarzan novel, and so far, probably my favorite.  The story picks up not long after the events of The Return of Tarzan.  This volume is much slimmer than the previous two, so I was initially worried I would be reading a throw away story.  Instead, I found the story to be much more focused (especially compared with Return), which made the scenes blur by most of the time.  The big surprise to me, however, was the emergence of Jane as a very strong, capable woman.

Here’s the point you’ll want to stop if you haven’t read it yet . . .  Okay, like I stated earlier, the events pick up relatively close to the end of the second book and involves that wiley Russian duo of Rokoff and Paulvitch.  They have escaped from prison and, not content with being free, seek revenge against Tarzan for spoiling their ventures in Return.  You’d think they would know they had been bested by the better man, but this being pulp fiction, you can’t keep a good villain (or two) down.   

Rokoff and Paulvitch kidnap Tarzan’s son but end up with Jane as well.  This lures Tarzan into a trap.  Instead of killing him, however, they want to punish him.  They strand him on an island and tell him they are going to give his son to a tribe to be raised as a cannible and hint at the dire fate his wife will suffer.  Of course, Tarzan isn’t one to succumb to despair.  Thus begins a rescue mission, the likes of which I’d never read or seen before.  Tarzan puts together a ragtag band to rescue/avenge his wife and child.  This army consist of several apes, a panther, and a brave African warrior.  They escape the island and tear into the interior of Africa.  You can probably guess how it all ends, I pretty much had – there’s twenty-one more books, you know – but not how gruesome it would be, nor how Tarzan, and especially Jane, would behave during their adventures.

This novel was relentless, but I mean that in a good way.  By the second page, stuff started happening – that’s when Tarzan finds out about the abduction of his son.  By the second chapter, Tarzan is marooned.  And it just keeps building up.  It was like reading a Liam Neeson movie – one thing after another, but nothing stops our hero.  The only time the narrative drug for me was at the end when some pirates are introduced and we get their entire piratical career.  One of the bigger surprises this time were Jane’s scenes.  When the story cuts to her, the pace doesn’t slow down one bit.  She’s first attempts to save her son, then becomes a victim and finally escapes.  She is not a passive character at all. In fact, she was one of my favorite things about this book.  She truly broke the sterotype.  We see her as a beautiful woman, but also as a motherly one (even when it’s not with her child).  She is also very capable, being brave and strong, especially while standing up to Rokoff and facing the jungle wilderness.  She shows herself to be truly worthy of the title “lady of the jungle.”

The thing I liked most, though, was Tarzan’s ragtag band of soldiers.  One is a warrior from a African tribe.  The others are the titular beasts.  Akut, his ape brothers, and the panther Sheeta tear across the ocean and into the jungle with a ferocity that is startling at times.  These parts of the book were most like the scenes you get in the comics and the cartoon, with the beasts doing Tarzan’s bidding.  While they work for him, he is not their master.  There are times when he knows he has to let them fulfill their animalistic urges – escpecially during the heat of battle.  Tarzan cannot stop Sheeta from killing Rokoff.  (And the only reason he wanted Sheeta to back off was so he could do it himself!) 

Of course, I think it was this book that really made me see that Tarzan is very much the beast here, too.  There is one scene in particular near the end when Tarzan and his crew have fought the pirates.  Jane asks him to spare the pirate leader.  He doesn’t hesistate with his response.  He says “no” and kills the guy.  While the scene made perfect sense, I didn’t expect it.  Gave me chills reading it,  and I had to read it a second time just to make sure what happened actually happened.

Besides the pace, I guess it’s safe to say, the characterization made this book.  Jane and Tarzan really came into their own.  Their actions never felt contrived they way they did sometimes in the earlier books.  I was even fooled by Burroughs with a character.  He was the typical thug in appearance, and even though he helped Jane escape, you’re led to believe it’s for his own purposes.  It’s not.  Good play Burroughs.  Good play. 

Very good book.

This book, as of now, will be the measure by which I judge the other books.  It wasn’t the Victorian Romance of the first book; it wasn’t the globe-trotting thriller of the second.  It was an exciting revenge story that allowed the characters to reveal their true natures – for better and for worse.  I do expect to see the other Russian, Paulvitch back – mainly because I’ve already read the back cover blurb for The Son of Tarzan.  I cannot wait to see if the book holds up to this one.  Hope you will joing me for the next outing.  Look for it toward the end of May.