Showing posts with label Tales from the Magician's Skull. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tales from the Magician's Skull. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

The Skull emerges from Goodman Games's Ziggurat to roam GenCon 2022's Exhibit Hall

This is one of a series of reports on GenCon 2022; other links coming soon from this Table of Contents, to be posted in random order:

  • Rogues in the House Podcast 
  • Conan IP Owner and the Board Game - Playing with Rogues 
  • The Skull from Tales From the Magician's Skull roams the Exhibit Hall [You Are Here]
  • Dawn of Madness Gameplay with Byron Leavitt 
  • Selfies from Gencon - Making Friends
  • Writer's Symposium Overview
  • Moderating Sorcery & Sorcery, Horror, Pulp, and Game Panels 

Saturday, August 13, 2022

S.E Lindberg debuts on the Rogues in the House Podcast, wins award from the Skull at GenCon 2022, BTS Footage

This is one of a series of reports on GenCon 2022; other links coming soon from this Table of Contents, to be posted in random order:
  • Rogues in the House Podcast [You Are Here]
  • Conan the Board Game - Playing with Rogues, Matthew John and Jason Ray Carney
  • The Skull from Tales From the Magician's Skull roams the Exhibit Hall
  • Dawn of Madness Gameplay with Byron Leavitt
  • Selfies from Gencon - Making Friends
  • Writer's Symposium Overview
  • Moderating Sorcery & Sorcery, Horror, Pulp, and Game Panels 

S.E Lindberg debuts on the Rogues in the House Podcast, wins award from the Skull at GenCon 2022, BTS Footage




Early this year I reported on the Rogues in the House podcast for Black Gate. Check it out. As the Rogues move beyond podcasts to build the Sword & Sorcery community, they started publishing anthologies including the just released A Book of Blades which I proudly contributed a Dyscrasia Fiction story: "Embracing Ember." With my Event Coordinator role for the GenCon Writers Symposium, I did my best to gather the Rogues and other contributors to A Book of Blades on several panels. We gathered in Marriott Ballroom #4 to record this special session. I highlight two timepoints:
  • 6:45 min:sec: The Skull crashes the party and award his only named intern an award
  • 48 min: I namedrop two friends, fellow Aikidoka Sensei Dirk Domaschko and Master David Silver, attributing them for getting me into the GenCon culture years ago. 

The Rogues on Hallowed Ground (link to Aug 8-2022 podcast episode)
"Rogues, old and new, meet at the mecca called GenCon. In this very special episode, Deane and Matt are joined by Howard Andrew Jones, Seth Lindberg, Steve Diamond, Sean CW Korsgaard, Jason Ray Carney, and *shudders* The Magician's Skull himself. Topics include sword and sorcery (of course) as well as our "top picks" from GenCon."

Embedded Podcast - listen here!

 

Behind the Scenes Footage

  • Matthew John - Conan the Board Game and Rogue in the House
  • Steve Diamond - Horror Writer
  • Sean CW Korsgaard - Baen Books
  • Howard Andrew Jones - S&S Author and Editor of Tales from the Magician's Skull
  • Jason Ray Carney - Whetstone and Professor of Dark Arts
  • Deane Geiken - Rogue in the House Podcast
  • S.E. Lindberg - S&S Enthusiast




Monday, August 1, 2022

Dyscrasia Fiction in Tales From the Magician's Skull sneak peak

The mighty Skull revealed the cover to issue #9 today over in Kickstarter:

 "Issue #9 is nearly complete and slated to begin layout soon."

The cover reveals a story of mine within its covers.  More Dyscrasia Fiction is coming!



Sunday, July 31, 2022

Tales From the Magician's Skull Blog Round-Up: Jul 12 to 29th 2022


Skull Minion of the Thirteenth Order, Bill Ward, casts more spells upon us weary, mortal dogs (via the Tales From the Magician's Skull Blog, link).

JUL 29   In The Land of Dreams: Lord Dunsany’s At the Edge of the World by Fletcher Vredenburgh

I didn’t read any of Dunsany’s stories until long after I had encountered several of his direct literary descendants. I discovered H.P. Lovecraft on the Stapleton Library shelves, Clark Ashton Smith on the foxed pages of old anthologies, and Jack Vance in dad’s boxes of books in the attic. I didn’t know their style had been presaged by Dunsany’s stories of mysteriously abandoned cities, phantasmagorical river journeys, and strange, forgotten gods. I knew some of Lovecraft’s earlier stories, especially his short novel, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (1927), were called “Dunsanian,” but it is only in more recent times I’ve read Dunsany’s own words.

 

JUL 26   Ballantine Adult Fantasy: William Hope Hodgson

William Hope Hodgson, godfather to cosmic horror and ghost detectives alike, had two books reprinted in the Ballantine Adult Fantasy line, The Boats of the Glen Carrig and The Night LandThe Night Land was published in two volumes because of its length — more controversially it received heavy editing from series editor Lin Carter to render Hodgson’s deliberately difficult prose more accessible.

 

JUL 24   Adventures in Fiction: Lord Dunsany (also known as Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany) by Michael Curtis

Some Appendix N authors directly influenced the creation of fantasy role-playing. We see concrete inspiration in the trolls borrowed from Poul Anderson or the “Vancian” magic system of D&D. Other Appendix N writers exerted a less obvious influence, providing more a sense of tone and wonder than any specific element. It can be argued, however, that one Appendix N author wielded the greatest influence on fantasy role-playing not because his works were borrowed wholesale or served to color Gygax and Arneson’s campaigns, but because he inspired numerous other Appendix N writers, impelling them to create the stories from which RPGs derive their origins. Few would recognize the name Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, but many more know him by his title, Lord Dunsany (pronounced Dun-SAY-ny), whose birthday we honor today.

 

JUL 22  Ballantine Adult Fantasy: Lord Dunsany

Among the most reprinted authors in the Ballantine Adult Fantasy line was Lord Dunsany, the Anglo-Irish peer who was also a tremendously prolific short story writer and playwright. Dunsany’s sweeping elegies of imagined worlds were both reminiscent of classical myth and the dreaming aesthetic of the visionary fantasists and tellers of Weird Tales going back to Poe. Dunsany is cited as an influence by almost every major writer of the fantastic to emerge over the course of the twentieth century.

 

JUL 19  Fantasy in the Time of Lord Dunsany by Brian Murphy

https://goodman-games.com/tftms/2022/07/19/fantasy-in-the-time-of-lord-dunsany/

When Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany (July 1878-October 1957) set pen to paper, he was wrestling tigers and dragons from the air and committing them to paper. None before or since have done it quite like the man known as Lord Dunsany. He was sui generis, writing in an age where there was no fantasy genre as we know it today. Dunsany was influenced by the bible and Greek mythology, old fairy tales, and to a lesser degree by a few peers including Rudyard Kipling and William Morris. But crucially, not a body of fantasy literature. Coupled with his one-of-a-kind elevated writing style, Dunsany’s early fantasy material feels ethereal and wondrous, as fresh as when it was written more than 100 years ago.

 

JUL 12   A Look at Savage Scrolls

New from Pulp Hero Press is Jason Ray Carney’s Savage Scrolls (2020), an anthology of contemporary sword-and-sorcery fiction. And make no mistake, this is actual sword-and-sorcery, not sword-and-sorcery used as a vague descriptor, a marketing buzz word, or a broad umbrella term for dark fantasy or fantastic darkness or pseudo-fabulist progwave interstitial slip-hop ironically-referencing-a-loincloth wannabe litfic masquerading as sword-and-sorcery. No, Savage Scrolls is refreshingly exactly what it purports to be, and it does what it says on the cover – providing a collection of contemporary sword-and-sorcery from some of the best modern practitioners in the game.

 

 

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Tales From the Magician's Skull Blog Round-Up: July 10th 2022

 



Skull Minion of the Twelfth Order (recently promoted), Bill Ward, continues to guard the threshold between reality & fantasy (via the Tales From the Magician's Skull Blog, link).

Read on, Mortal Dogs!


JUN 21 Appendix N Archaeology: The Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series by Michael Curtis

More than a decade before Gary Gygax assembled his list of influential fantasy authors and titles—the famed “Appendix N” which appeared in the Dungeon Masters Guide published in 1979—another author was hard at work compiling a list of fantasy stories to introduce to the reading public. Both catalogs would include some of the same authors on their rolls, and it is safe to say that without the first list, Gary Gygax may never have discovered some of the names that helped influence fantasy role-playing. In the spirit of Goodman Games’ ongoing efforts to return to the roots of the hobby, we now go one step further to explore the fertile landscape from which those roots drew nourishment. This earlier catalog was the Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series. Edited by Lin Carter, an esteemed author of science fiction and fantasy in his own right, this literary series was comprised of more than sixty titles released between 1969 and 1974 by Ballantine Books.

 

JUN 24 Classic Covers: Ballantine Fantasy

The decade of fantasy publishing kicked off by the runaway success of the The Lord of the Rings produced not only a flurry of reprints of classic fantasy, but also an entire crop of creative, iconic, and visionary cover designs. Ballantine Books launched its iconic Ballantine Adult Fantasy line on the strength of the fantasy boom, featuring cover art as wonderous as the contents of the books themselves.  We’ve gathered together some of our favorite covers below to share with you. Enjoy!

 

JUN 28 A Hero Emerges: Young Thongor by Fletcher Vredenburgh

I have an extreme hate-love-hate relationship with the work of Lin Carter. He was the Chun the Unavoidable of sword-and-sorcery, his efforts still coloring the genre he loved so much, even nearly thirty-five years after his death. His work as an author and probably the greatest promoter of sword-and-sorcery are things most of us can only aspire to, knowing full well we can never achieve his level of fantastic devotion. The Ballantine Adult Fantasy line, the five volumes of Flashing Swords! and many of the assorted anthologies he edited are still books every fantasy fan should own.  That said, few will ever aspire to his accomplishments as a writer.

 

JUL 1 Charles R. Saunders’ Nyumbani Tales 

In Nyumbani Tales (MV Media 2017), sword-and-sorcery great Charles Saunders collects 13 short stories spanning his early career, work that had previously appeared in a variety of publications, from small press ‘zines like Weirdbook and Black Lite, to mass market anthologies such as Beyond the Fields We Know and Hecate’s Cauldron. Fans of Saunders’ Imaro series will already be somewhat familiar with his short fiction, since the earliest parts of that epic were built upon the classic early Imaro shorts that first won the character his reputation. And, while many of the stories within Nyumbani Tales aren’t strictly speaking sword-and-sorcery, there are not only familiar faces here for Imaro fans, but a great deal of familiar ground as well. That familiar ground, of course, is Nyumbani itself, Saunders’ fantastic African setting.

 

 

JUL 5 Where to Start Your Summer Reading

Whether you’ve got vacation from work or school, prefer to shelter-in-place with some strong air-conditioning, or have just recently defeated an interdimensional incursion of home-besieging swine-things and find yourself with a block of free time—it’s a fine occasion for some summer reading! Tales From the Magician’s Skull’s ongoing Where to Start series of articles are written specifically to introduce readers to new (old!) fiction, with particular care taken to untangle some of the more confusing or overwhelming aspects of convoluted publication histories and multiple editions. They are also written by folks who absolutely love the authors, characters, and series in question, and want to share that love with the world.

 

JUL 8 Congratulations to the 2022 Robert E. Howard Award Winners

Last month’s Robert E. Howard Awards, given by the Robert E. Howard Foundation during the annual celebration of REH’s life and work that is Howard Days, in Cross Plains, Texas, is a chance to honor all of those dedicated scholars, publishers, editors, and artists whose scholarship and passion ensure that REH’s work thrives nearly a century on. Dozens of talented and devoted creators were nominated for awards in various categories, but of course, only a few could win! Readers of Tales From the Magician’s Skull, both print and online, will recognize some of those names, such as frequent contributor Brian Murphy winning in the Emerging Scholar Category, and Jason Ray Carney scoring in the Literary Achievement Category for his helming of Whetstone: The Amateur Magazine of Pulp Sword and Sorcery. Outstanding Achievement in Anthology/Collection went to Jason M. Waltz’s Robert E. Howard Changed My Life, with a list of contributors that is a veritable who’s who in the field of Howard Studies but with four very important writers from our own TFTMS: Managing Editor Howard Andrew Jones, and bedrock contributors Adrian Cole, John C. Hocking, and C.L. Werner. The full list of winners is below; to them, and to all the nominees for their extraordinary work, Tales From the Magician’s Skull salutes you!

 

Friday, June 17, 2022

Tales From the Magician's Skull Blog Roundup - June 17th 2022


Skull Minion of the Eleventh Order, Bill Ward, continues to guard the threshold between reality & fantasy (via the Tales From the Magician's Skull Blog).  With Robert E. Howard Days occurring (a tribute to REH who died June 11th), and with the passing of master painter Ken Kelly, the focus turned to the masters who have traversed realms. Read on, in honor of heroes!

MAY 31 - Classic Covers: More Roger Zelazny

Multiple-award-winning and best-selling author Roger Zelazny’s popularity wasn’t just confined to his native United States. Winner of France’s Prix Apollo, translated into dozens of languages, Zelazny’s reach was international and his appeal universal. While many of us will only ever appreciate him in one language, the multitude of artistic interpretations of his highly imaginative stories is something we can all enjoy with yet more Classic Covers.

 

JUN 3 - A Look at Caveman Stories by Fletcher Vredenburgh

That Robert E. Howard’s first professionally published story, “Spear and Fang,” was a caveman story should mean something to the history of heroic fiction and sword & sorcery itself. Perhaps, because it’s not a very good story, it never had the effect a better one might have. But I’m not totally sure; teenage Robert E. Howard already had a sure grasp of the elements that hook a reader craving action and adventure in their stories.

There’s not very much to “Spear and Fang” (1925). Pretty Cro-Magnon girl A-aea is forcefully accompanied into the woods by the haughty and threatening warrior Ka-nanu. Very quickly, they’re set upon by a ferocious, animalistic Neandertal who proceeds to dismantle Ka-nanu. Later, A-aea is saved by the object of her affections, the brave (and artistically inclined) Ga-nor. All ends well and love will bloom in the savage dawn of mankind.

 

JUN 7 - Dehumanizing Violence and Compassion in Robert E. Howard’s “Red Nails” by Jason Ray Carney

Robert E. Howard’s sword and sorcery tale “Red Nails,” published as a three-part serial in Weird Tales in 1936, tells the story of the city of Xuchotl, the enduring, blood-soaked war between the Tecuhltli and the Xotalanc, and the dehumanizing effect of sustained hatred and violence. “Red Nails” engages with several ancient literary tropes, but the one that centers “Red Nails” is what I term “the stalemate war.” By focusing on the stalemate war between the murderous Tecuhltli and insane Xotalanc, I hope to bring into focus a surprising facet of Robert E. Howard’s most famous sword and sorcery character, Conan of Cimmeria: the way the barbarian maintains his humanity through compassion.

First, let me briefly clarify what I mean by the literary trope of “the stalemate war.” Identifying tropes and patterns in literature and popular culture is more an art than a science, but it’s fun and often reveals surprising dimensions to works. Why storytellers hew to these enduring patterns, who knows? Some speculate that these mythic patterns are evolutionary residues, instinctual psychological narratives that unconsciously narrate the crucible of our evolution. Their origins notwithstanding, there are undeniable recurring structures of story that resonate with us, and so storytellers return to them over and over, hone them, and reinvent for their own purposes. Robert E. Howard did this with “Red Nails,” and he did this masterfully.

 

JUN 10 - Classic Covers: Frank Frazetta’s Lancer/Ace Conans

Second only to Robert E. Howard in importance in the development of the perception of Conan, Frank Frazetta’s explosively elemental take on the Cimmerian achieved instant cultural cache and has become the defining image not only of Howard’s most famous creation, but of the barbaric hinterlands of fantasy fiction itself. Frazetta’s frenzied depictions of havoc and battle, his iron-muscled killers taut with violent fury, his churning vistas of bodies in conflict beneath rust-red skies, presented a gritty, dynamic vision of the bloody world of sword-and-sorcery fiction — a graphical apotheosis for a sub-genre that was no longer tucked away in moldering pulps, but instead enthusiastically smashing through the doors of mass culture.

The long-running Conan series helmed by de Camp and Carter was the entry point for a generation of readers newly discovering the original tales of Robert E. Howard’s barbarian adventurer—along with a mixed bag of pastiche and repurposed stories from other Howard heroes.

 

JUN 14 - Classic Covers: Ken Kelly

The world of fantasy illustrators has lost one of its most prolific and long-running practitioners, Ken Kelly (May 19, 1946 – June 3, 2022). From the classic Berkley Medallion line of collected Robert E. Howard to the modern Baen reissues, Tor Conan pastiches, and Wildside/Dorchester Weird Works of REH — and the thousands of fantasy and science fiction books from every major publisher in between — Kelly’s art was a ubiquitous presence on the paperback rack for half a century. Tutored by “Uncle Frank” Frazetta, the undisputed master of brooding sword-and-sorcery illustration, Kelly incorporated Frazetta’s high-contrast interplay of light and dark and sinuous, dynamic character modeling into his own brand of frenetic, physical, and fantastically explosive art.

While many remember Kelly for his work on album covers for bands like Kiss and Manowar, or his equally dynamic covers for horror and film magazines, comics, and even toy advertisements, for those of us at Tales From the Magician’s Skull he will forever be honored as one of the major voices in sword-and-sorcery illustration, a direct connection between our contemporary age and the era in which rediscovered pulps boomed across the collective consciousness and sparked a revolution in fantasy story-telling — both in print and in art.

 

JUN 17 - Lin Carter: Enthusiast of the Fantastic by Brian Murphy

Born this month 92 years ago, the late Lin Carter (1930-1988) was, perhaps more than anything else, an enthusiast. He heard the Horns of Elfland, and they called to him like few fans of the sacred genre before or since.

Author of Thongor. Creator of worlds. Self-mythologizer. Awards organizer of the Gandalf, for whose statuettes he paid out of his own modest pocket. Founder of the (mostly fictitious) Swordsmen and Sorcerer’s Guild of America, or S.A.G.A. Generous with his praise, both for the fantasy GOATS, and his peers and contemporaries. Editor of the esteemed Ballantine Adult Fantasy Series (BAFS), which breathed new life into old classics and helped codify the fantasy genre. Frequent contributor to Amra. Capable steward of multiple anthologies including Year’s Best FantasyFlashing SwordsKingdoms of WizardryRealms of Wizardry, the Zebra Weird Tales paperback revival, and many others.

Carter wrote lots of fiction. Most of it was of mediocre pastiche quality, with a few sparkles amidst the detritus. But what he never lacked was a boundless enthusiasm for it all.

 

 


Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Tales From the Magician's Skull - May 4th 2022 Blog Round-Up

 


Tales From the Magician's Skull Blog May 4th 2022 Round-Up


APR 22  Classic Covers: Avram Davidson

Twentieth-century genre fiction produced a number of huge talents that liked to try it all — writing across category labels in blissful violation of what would one day become the standard practice of brand marketing. Indeed, for prolific writers of both the pulp and science fiction golden ages of magazine fiction, casting one’s net wide across the flimsy genre partitions of the day was just a common-sense way to broaden your market. Prolific author of short fiction, as well as essayist, editor (including a stint at the helm of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction), and novelist Avram Davidson stands right alongside genre-hopping giants like Poul Anderson, Isaac Asimov, or Jack Vance as a writer that refused to stay fenced in. Whether in his dozens of undefinable short stories, or his pulpish far-future SF, magic-infused novels of alternate history (the Vergil Magus and Peregrine series), or tales of mystery and weird horror set in imaginary nations of the contemporary world, Davidson demonstrated a roving intellect ever-eager to explore the wild hinterlands of speculative fiction.


APR 25  Adventures in Fiction: Fletcher Pratt by Jeff Goad

The Appendix N is a list of prolific authors of science fiction and fantasy. But Fletcher Pratt is not one of them, at least not in comparison to most of the authors on the list. He primarily wrote historical nonfiction about the Civil War, Napoleon, naval history, rockets, and World War II. So why is Fletcher Pratt listed in the Appendix N and why does he have the coveted “et al” listed after The Blue Star?

Well, digging a bit deeper into his writings and his career, it is no surprise that Gary Gygax was smitten with this fellow….

Fletcher Pratt was a bearded, bespectacled, pipe-smoking intellectual who raised marmosets in his spare time. And if you don’t know what a marmoset looks like then I highly encourage you to pause reading this to do a quick Google Image search of these adorable mini-monkeys. I promise that you won’t regret it.


APR 26 Beyond the Gate of Shadows: Harold Lamb’s The Grand Cham

“As evening closed in they were threading through gorges that hastened the coming of darkness. Often they looked back in the failing light. No one desired to be last. And then Rudolfo, in the lead, halted abruptly.

‘Before them in the twilight stood a great mound of human skulls.”

When we are first introduced to Michael Bearn, young Breton ship-master in Venetian employ, he and his shipwrecked crew are slaves to the Turkish Sultan, Bayezid the Great, ‘the Thunderbolt.’ Bearn, talented, headstrong, and proud, refuses to kneel before the conqueror, the ruler of an empire stretching from the Danube to the Euphrates, and Bearn is cruelly cowed when his arm is crushed by an iron sleeve. Crippled, brutalized, Bearn vows his revenge to the Sultan’s laughing face — and thus colossal events are set underway with the snapping of a man’s bones, and the humiliation of his soul. For Bearn is a man of immense drive and cleverness, and Bayezid is not the only great conqueror in the vast lands of the East . . .


APR 28  Adventures in Fiction: Jack Williamson by Ngo Vinh-Ho

In the storied list of Appendix N authors, there is one name that encapsulates nearly the entire course of modern American science fiction and fantasy: Jack Williamson. John Stewart Williamson was born on April 29th, 1908 in an adobe hut in what was then still the Arizona Territory. Seeking to better themselves, the Williamson family travelled by horse-drawn covered wagon to New Mexico in 1915, where Williamson recalled that they “homesteaded in Eastern New Mexico in 1916 after the good land had been claimed. We were living below the poverty line, struggling for survival.”

This isolated, hardscrabble existence continued throughout Williamson’s entire youth, but his imagination and inquisitive mind helped him to endure. As he describes, “I did a lot of farmwork—riding horses after a string of cattle, gathering the corn, that sort of thing. Working alone so often like that was naturally pretty boring, so I started creating these endless epics and fictional cycles in which I was the principal character—all this done simply as a way of keeping my mind alive.”


APR 29  Classic Covers: Jack Williamson

Few writers can boast as long and as productive a career as SF Grand Master Jack Williamson — this ‘Dean of Science Fiction’ produced scores of short stories and dozens of novels across multiple genres and series during a lifetime that saw him publish work in over eight consecutive decades. Getting his start in the era of the pulps and publishing right through until the first decade of the twenty-first century, Williamson’s style may have changed with time, but his adherence to straightforward storytelling, breakneck adventure, and uncluttered prose remained a constant over his long career.

Williamson, who became a college professor after he achieved success as a commercial writer, is credited with coining the terms ‘terraforming’ and ‘genetic engineering.’ He is possibly also the first to use the term ‘psionics’ (perhaps this was what Gary Gygax was thinking of when he listed Williamson as an influence on D&D in Appendix N?). While most associated with his numerous science fiction shorts and series (Legion of SpaceHumanoids), Williamson also wrote grounded fantasies, even horror, as with his werewolf novel, Darker Than You Think.


MAY 3 Ballantine Adult Fantasy: Ernest Bramah

An English writer with a varied bibliography ranging from humor, to dystopian science fiction, to mystery tales of the blind detective Max Carrados, Ernest Bramah achieved literary success and is still best known for his tales of itinerant Chinese storyteller, Kai Lung. Bramah’s combination of understated humor, familiarity with East Asian culture and mythology, and most especially his inspired ‘translation’ of the cadences and over-refinement of antiquely formal and courtly Chinese into a playfully whimsical English, proved not only popular with audiences, but enduringly influential for the more fantastical varieties of Asian-themed fiction penned in the West over the last hundred years.

Lin Carter chose both Kai Lung’s Golden Hours, and Kai Lung Unrolls His Mat for the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series in the 1970s, and had the series continued there would have certainly been more Kai Lung available had Carter wished — for unlike many of the individual works or even specific authors Carter would reprint after decades of relative obscurity, Bramah’s Kai Lung stories have never been long out of print in over a century since their first publication.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Tales From the Magician's Skull Blog Apr 1st-20th 2022 Round-Up




Tales From the Magician's Skull Blog
 Apr 1st-20th 2022 Round-Up

 

Apr 4: Adventures in Fiction: Stanley G. Weinbaum by Ngo Vinh-Hoi

Not many authors can be credited with changing the entire trajectory of a genre, yet Stanley Grauman Weinbaum managed to do so with his very first published science fiction story A Martian Odyssey. The story first appeared in the July 1934 issue of the science fiction pulp magazine Wonder Stories, which was a distant third in popularity to Astounding Stories and Amazing Stories. Forty years later, no less a figure than Isaac Asimov would declare that “hidden in this obscure magazine, A Martian Odyssey had the effect on the field of an exploding grenade. With this single-story, Weinbaum was instantly recognized as the world’s best living science-fiction writer, and at once almost every writer in the field tried to imitate him.”

 

Apr 5: Classic Covers: Adventure Magazine

At its height, Adventure Magazine had a circulation of over 300 thousand and was published three times a month, marking it as one of the most successful fiction pulps of all time (in 1935 Time Magazine dubbed Adventure ‘The No. 1 Pulp’). Adventure gave the audience just what the title suggested; pulse-pounding tales set in exotic locales, desperate journeys on land and sea, western gunfights, jungle explorations, and blade-whirling exploits throughout history. It even frequently intersected with real-world adventures offering true (ish!) accounts of modern day acts of exploration and daring. A host of classic adventure writers appeared in its pages, such as H. Rider Haggard, Rafael Sabbatini, Baroness Orczy, John Buchan, Talbot Mundy, Harold Lamb, and H. Bedford Jones.

 

 

Apr 8: A Look at Edgar Rice Burroughs’ I Am A Barbarian

If the nickname “Little Boots” doesn’t fill you with dread perhaps it will in the original Latin: Caligula. The byword for depraved tyranny, the quintessential Mad Monarch, Caligula’s brief reign as third Emperor of Rome has been the fascinating stuff of prurient legend and scandalous rumor for nearly two thousand years. A megalomaniac combining arbitrary cruelty with a wicked sense of humor – flinging coins to the poor after first heating them in a brazier, turning the Imperial Palace into a brothel to pimp the wives of senators, ordering his legions to attack the oceans and gather seashells as plunder, appointing his favorite horse to the Senate – this “viper for the people of Rome” is like a joke you’re ashamed to laugh at, or a car crash from which you can’t look away. Separating the truth of Caligula’s reign from the rumors and embellishments is the mostly impossible task of historians – but using it as a backdrop for titillating fiction is the job of storytellers, something Edgar Rice Burroughs’ I Am a Barbarian does with page-turning success.

 

 

 

Apr 12: Where to Start With Harold Lamb by Howard Andrew Jones

It wasn’t so long ago that the fiction of Harold Lamb was best known only as a footnote in the old Lancer Conan books, mentioned in passing as being important and influential but almost completely unavailable. All that could be found of his prose were some late novels and his biographies, and, fine as those biographies are, neither were foundational works of sword-and-sorcery. Today, though, most of Lamb’s fiction is in print once more, and fairly easy to lay hands on, just like the histories, many of which are retained to this day by libraries across the United States. So much is out there now it can actually be difficult to know where to start. You need no longer scratch your head in wonder, however – this essay will show you the way.

 

 

Apr 15: Classic Covers: Harold Lamb’s Histories

What do you get when you cross an expert adventure storyteller with a linguistically-gifted polymath? Some of the greatest popular histories ever written. While Harold Lamb’s fiction was familiar to readers of Adventure magazine, it was his gripping histories and biographies, starting with 1927’s Genghis Khan, that won him international acclaim, and made him an acknowledged expert in both Hollywood and the State Department.


 

 

Apr 19: Adventures in Fiction: Turning the Khlit Stories of Harold Lamb into RPG Adventures!  by Julian Bernick

Here in the Goodman Games world, we’ve been rediscovering the works of Harold Lamb. He wrote timeless adventure stories that influenced a bevy of Appendix N authors, most notably Robert Howard. The strength of Lamb’s tales are tight plotting, crisply drawn characters and rich historical detail. But as enjoyable as Lamb’s tales are, they lack some of the cardinal elements of Appendix N literature and DCC RPG adventures: supernatural magic, brooding extra-human entities from beyond space, and the never-ending struggle between Law and Chaos. Without these elements, what can we draw from these adventure stories to enrich our adventures for DCC RPG? For this essay, I’ll discuss the Khlit stories collected in Wolf of the SteppesThese tales are just a fraction of Lamb’s pulp stories, but still provide plenty of useful ideas for DCC adventures. 

Friday, April 1, 2022

Tales From the Magician's Skull March 2022 Round-Up 2

 


Tales From the Magician's Skull Blog  Mar 2022 Round-Up-2


 Post Links & Blurbs, Championed by Bill Ward

 

Apr 1:  Look at Henry Treece’s The Great Captains by Fletcher Vredenburgh

When Treece turned to fiction, an endeavor that would eventually put an end to his poetry writing, he found his voice in historical fiction, in particular in legendary events and characters, and in providing a realistic basis for them. Among his most notable works is the Celtic Tetralogy. Chronologically, the first, The Golden Strangers (1956) is about the conquest of Neolithic Britain by bronze-wielding invaders. The Dark Island (1952) and Red Queen, White Queen (1958) recount the doomed resistance by British leaders Caractacus and Boudicca, respectively, to Roman rule. In The Great Captains (1956), Artos and Medrodus, descendants of the invaders from The Golden Strangers, fight a doomed battle against a new race of intruders. Together the four books recreate ancient Britain, its forests haunted by spirits, portents looming in every strange occurrence. In his novels he presents events that perhaps lie at the center of the mythic heart of Britain. Alongside Paul Kingsnorth’s Buckmaster Trilogy, it’s one of the great poetic works about Britain’s history, its land, and its people

 

Mar 29:  Ballantine Adult Fantasy: William Morris

One of the most significant figures in the cultural life of Victorian England, William Morris (1834-1896) was everything from a poet, translator, and writer of medievalist fantasy, to a political activist, printer, champion of building preservation, and a renowned innovator in textile manufacturing and interior design. When Lin Carter oversaw the Ballantine Adult Fantasy line (1969-74), he brought many of Morris’ out-of-print fantasies back into print in affordable paperback editions.

 

 

Mar 25: Fueling the Fire of Fantasy Fiction: Gaming’s Influence on Today’s Writers by Brian Murphy

After taking a bit of a controversial stance last week with my piece on the possible detrimental effects of gaming on sword-and-sorcery, I will now take the opportunity to rebut … myself, and offer the opposing side a chance. And discuss the net positives that role-playing and, in particular, Dungeons and Dragons has had on fantasy fiction. As I mentioned in my prior piece, gaming can, and in many instances has, inspired gamers to take up a pen and launch successful careers as fantasy authors. Before they were writers, the likes of China Mieville (author of Perdido Street Station), Cory Doctorow (Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom), and Joe Abercrombie (First Law trilogy, The Heroes) were slinging dice at the game table. George R.R. Martin is another notable author who sings the praises of role-playing, though he had started writing in 1971, prior to the invention of D&D.

 

 

Mar 22: Classic Covers: Dragonlance

It might be fair to say that the Dragonlance series — initially a trilogy of novels written by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman in tandem with a group of D&D modules from TSR — is The Lord of the Rings of media tie in fiction: massively best-selling, appealing to a broader fanbase than conventional wisdom dictated, and prompting an entire industry of imitators. In Dragonlance one can see the beginnings of not only an explosion in shared worlds based on popular media, but also the genesis of Young Adult fiction as a force punching well above its weight class in publishing.

 

Mar 18: Dungeons & Dragons: Friend or Foe of Sword-and-Sorcery?   by Brian Murphy

I’m a long-time D&D fan and ex-gamer who may again pick up the dice bag. D&D is an awesome game, has given me countless hours of unadulterated joy, and I will unequivocally state that the world is a better place for it. But, I don’t think it has necessarily been a uniformly positive influence for subsequent generations of writers. Specifically, it may have played a role in the downfall of sword-and-sorcery.  Note: The following bit of speculation is not an indictment of what goes on at the table during D&D games, which at their best are cauldrons of creativity. But rather, the impact D&D may have had on sword-and-sorcery and subsequent fantasy fiction.

 


Mar 15: Where to Start With Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser

Aside from Conan the Cimmerian, there can be no more iconic image in all of sword-and-sorcery fiction than the dynamic duo of “the Twain.” Fafhrd, towering Northern barbarian, and Mouser, weaselly little thief, form a wonderfully visually complementary whole, and that’s even before you get to their actual personalities. Bawdy and reckless, bantering and adventurous, these two lovable rogues have traveled the length and breadth of a nowhere place called Nehwon, with many of their most memorable escapades taking place in the city of Lankhmar.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Tales From The Magician's Skull -Mar-2022 Round-Up 1

 


Tales From the Magician's Skull Blog Mar 2022 Round-Up-1

Feb-24: Adventures in Fiction: Arkham House, Ithaqua, and In-Jokes: The Influence of August Derleth by Bradley K. McDevitt

Most of you probably know the name H.P. Lovecraft, but do you know August Derleth? Bradley K. McDevitt reminds you that you have a good reason to remember him. Without August Derleth (1909-1971), you probably wouldn’t have that Cthulhu bumper sticker on your car, that Cthulhu for President poster, and certainly not that Plushie Cthulhu you have staring down at you from your geek-memorabilia shelf.  Not that Cthulhu would not exist, but he (it?) would be just one more forgotten character in a series of stories by an author unknown except to the most ardent of horror literati. Howard Phillips Lovecraft’s greatest creation and most if not all of his fiction would have passed into obscurity if not for August Derleth’s founding of Arkham House publishing.

 

Feb-25: Classic Covers: Arkham House

When one thinks of legendary pulp publishers, names like Weird TalesBlack Mask, and Planet Stories leap to mind — beautiful magazines as sadly transitory as the era of popular literacy they defined. But it was for an indie book publisher to emerge as one of the leading lights of preservation for the best in the weird and fantastical horror of the age, and add its own legendary name to the rolls of honored pulpsters: Arkham House.


Mar-3: Appendix N. Archaeology: Arthur Machen by Bradley K. McDevitt

This article is part of a series where the spotlight shines on some authors that inspired the writers we acknowledge today as influencing the creation of Dungeons and Dragons. For those unfamiliar with his fiction, the late Victorian era Welsh author Arthur Machen was admired by contemporaries like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and William Butler Yeats. Further relevant for this article, his work is an acknowledged influence by Appendix N authors such as Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, and H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft even cheerfully admitted appropriating details like the god Nodens and reality-destroying language Aklo from Machen to be parts of the Cthulhu Mythos.

 

Mar-4: A Look at Andre Norton’s Witch World by Fletcher Vredenburgh

Born in 1912, Alice Mary Norton worked as a teacher, a librarian, and finally a reader for Gnome Press before becoming a full-time writer in 1958. By then she’d already had a dozen books published, including such classics as Star Man’s Son, 2250 A.D. and Star Rangers. Based on their easy style and simpler characterizations, most of her early books would probably be classified as YA today. It was with 1963’s  Witch World that Norton first wrote a full-fledged sword-and-sorcery book steeped in pulp gloriousness. Sadly, for one of the most successful and prolific women to write fantasy and science with a career that last over fifty years, her books seem sorely neglected today.

 

Mar-8: Classic Covers: Andre Norton

Alice Mary Norton — best known to the world by her pen name Andre Norton — was the author of over a dozen series in the genres of fantasy and science fiction, as well as a host of standalone works, including everything from young adult stories and historical adventures to wild science-fantasy mashups and sword-and-sorcery. Her best known and most enduring work is Witch World, itself consisting of story cycles running the gamut from portal fantasies incorporating science fiction to straight up high fantasy. Her long and varied publishing career would influence many a future writer, result in Norton being honored as the first woman to receive the SFWA Grand Master Award, and, of course, inspire dozens upon dozens of evocative book covers.

 

Mar-11: Jack Vance’s Influence on Dungeons & Dragons

Did you know that ‘Vecna’—he of the disembodied hand and eyeball—is a deliberate anagram of ‘Vance?’ Gary Gygax made no secret of his love for the work, and person, of Jack Vance, and Vance’s Dying Earth stories in particular were often cited (see Appendix N) by Gygax as a major influence on the genesis of Dungeons & Dragons. Most prominently, of course, in what came to be known as the ‘Vancian magic system’—a term that emerged from the world of RPGs rather than any literary fandom—but there are many other elements, and indeed a prevailing tone, in D&D that are inspired in whole or in part by the works of Jack Vance.

 

 

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Tales From The Magician's Skull - Issue #7 Round-Up


 

Tales From the Magician's Skull Blog Early Feb 2022 Round-Up



PRE-ORDER #7. What's in it? Seven tales, and all have previews on the TFTMS blog! here are the quick links:

JAN 31 A preview of John C. Hocking’s “The Gift of a Poison Necklace”

Benhus returns once again to the pages of Tales From the Magician’s Skull to confront the mystery of a necklace that kills. When his patron, the Lady Thale, survives both an assassination attempt and the follow-up robbery to recover the deadly jewelry sent by her enemy, Benhus must investigate a twisty trail of murder and intrigue in “The Gift of a Poison Necklace.”

Fans of John C. Hocking’s long-running series will know that this is the seventh King’s Blade tale to appear in our magazine—one in every issue! Once again the young swordsman Benhus is in over his head and beset on all sides—good thing he knows a thing or two about swordwork . . .

Let Stefan Poag’s double-page, tavern-smashing illustration further whet your appetitive for sword-and-sorcery action while you await the full story in our soon-to-be-released next issue!

 

FEB 5 A Preview of D.J. Tyrer’s “Death Stalks the Night”

Horror-powerhouse D.J. Tyrer marks his first appearance in Tales From the Magician’s Skull with an eerie tale of bone-stealing nightwalkers and sinister magic. All is not well on the night-shrouded veldt, and only the warrior Ini-ndoga and his diminutive companion Mbeva can thwart a potent evil in “Death Stalks the Night.”

Chris Arneson’s mistily mysterious double-page illustration sets the stage for this tale of dark forces and heroic deeds — and our downloadable preview is sure to whet your appetite for the full story in our soon-to-be-released next issue!


FEB 8 A preview of C.L. Werner’s “The Snake in the Fold”

Fans of Tales From the Magician’s Skull and Warhammer Fantasy alike need no introduction to C.L. Werner, who returns once again to the pages of our magazine with a tale of his wandering samurai, Shintaro Oba. On a mission to free the soul of his late master from a demon’s clutches, Oba’s encounters with spirits, monsters, and foul magic are fast-becoming the stuff of legend — join him as he once again braves damnation in “The Snake in the Fold.”

Randy Broecker’s iconic double page illustration of samurai versus snake demon embodies eastern style and pulp power, the perfect match for Werner’s Oba! Our downloadable preview is sure to whet your appetite for the full story in our soon-to-be-released next issue!


FEB 11 A preview of Mark Rigney’s “Dara’s Tale” 

Mark Rigney’s story of a remote village beset by scurriers — and perhaps fouler things besides — is his first foray in the pages of Tales From the Magician’s Skull. Young Dahnica, her head full of stories and a knife in her hand, may be all that stands between her people and a dark evil in “Dara’s Tale.”

Peter Mullen’s creepy-crawly illustration will surely have you scurrying after TFTMS#7 — and our downloadable preview is guaranteed to whet your appetite for the full story in our soon-to-be-released next issue!

 

FEB 15 A preview of Scott J. Couturier’s “Interred With the Worm”

Scott J. Couturier hits the pages of Tales From the Magician’s Skull for the first time with this tale of a powerful amulet and a forbidden tomb narrated by . . . well, let’s just call him a “tomb-robber of old.” Marvel as he brushes the cobwebs from his ancient story in “Interred With the Worm.”

And just in case you were thinking the title referred to a garden-variety ‘worm,’ let William McAusland’s hyper-detailed rendering of Couturier’s unquiet tomb dissuade you of the notion — just as our downloadable preview is sure to whet your appetite for the full story in our soon-to-be-released next issue!


FEB 19 A preview of Nathan Meyer’s “Beneath a Scarlet Moon”

Hardboilded wordslinger Nathan Meyer explodes onto the pages of Tales From the Magician’s Skull with Issue#7’s cover story: “Beneath a Scarlet Moon.” Join the grim warrior Auric and some unlikely companions as they journey across a poisonous landscape beneath a bloody glaring moon in this doom-laden tale of pain and sacrifice.

Chris Arneson frames the horror of a thousand-legged attack in his incredible interior illustration — and our downloadable preview is sure to whet your appetite for the full story in our soon-to-be-released next issue!

 

FEB 22 A Preview of James Enge’s “Beasts of the Bluestone Hills”

Fan-favorite Morlock Ambrosius stumps up that crooked way once again and into the pages of Tales From the Magician’s Skull for the seventh time! But lucky number seven may not prove to be so boonful as Morlock and his fiery avian companion travel across bizarre lands confronting chimeric creatures in “Beasts of the Bluestone Hills.”

Samuel Dillon’s brooding art captures the look of the seasoned adventurer and hints at the oddities in this, Morlock’s latest tale — and our downloadable preview is sure to whet your appetite for the full story in our soon-to-be-released next issue!

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

TFMS bi-weekly Blog Roundup

 


Tales from the Magician's Skull Blog Roundup, end-Dec-2021 to min-Jan 2022
Skull Champion of the Fifth Order, Bill Ward, continues to marshal his army of articles! Here are the latest headlines (linked) with blurbs:

Dec 27: Appendix N Archaeology: Clark Ashton Smith by Michael Curtis

Gamers often point to Appendix N and decry the absence of a particular author (or three, or seven, or…), declaring Gygax’s omission of them to be a literary crime of some sort. Putting aside the unbelievable idea that gamers may complain about things for the moment, we must realize that Appendix N is not a list one can argue with. It is a catalog of all the literary influences Gygax chose to recognize as wellsprings from which Dungeons & Dragons flowed. Since it is representative of one man’s work, we can’t claim he made the error of excluding a particular author, even if we believe we can see their influence in the final product. Game design, like art, is a subjective process and one tends to see what one is inclined to see.

Dec 28: The Self-Made Mind: The Art of Clark Ashton Smith

Clark Ashton Smith, an untutored genius self-educated in both poetry and pulp, also turned his restless mind to art. In everything from his simple line sketches and watercolor landscapes, to his carving and sculpture, Smith demonstrates the same characteristics of baroque intricacy, imaginative grotesquery, and dark humor that are a hallmark of his writing.

Dec 29: New In The Online Store: Tales From The Magician’s Skull #0

This may be #0, but it’s certainly far more than zero.

Back by popular demand, resurrected from the dim corridors of lost time, it’s TFTMS #0! This special issue of Tales From the Magician’s Skull was only available to Kickstarter backers — but now it’s back and available as a PDF! It’s filled with stories and articles about sword-and-sorcery fiction, and features a spectacular cover by legendary artist Ian Miller! Let’s take a look!

Jan 3: Classic Covers: J.R.R. Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings was the book that launched a thousand trilogies, and made Tolkien’s name synonymous not just with modern fantasy fiction, but publishing mega-success. With more copies, in more languages, in more editions, than anything else in its category, and with an entire sub-industry spun out of publishing various notes, unpublished drafts, and side-excursions of its author, The Lord of the Rings remains the gold standard by which all other secondary worlds, and all other fantasy blockbusters, are judged. With covers ranging from the iconic to the iconographic, the literal to the surreal, many even featuring the art of the good Professor himself, and with editions spanning leather-bound limited-run collectibles to utterly ubiquitous mass-market paperbacks, copies of Tolkien are as ever-present and universal in the physical world of books and book collections as the tales they tell are ingrained in the imaginations of modern readers.

Jan 7: A Kind of Elvish Craft: Quotations from The Lord of the Rings

“To make a Secondary World . . . commanding Secondary Belief, will probably require labor and thought, and will certainly demand a special skill, a kind of elvish craft. Few attempt such difficult tasks. But when they are attempted and in any degree accomplished then we have a rare achievement of Art: indeed narrative art, story-making in its primary and most potent mode.” — J.R.R. Tolkien, “On Fairy-Stories”

J.R.R. Tolkien’s seminal lecture/essay “On Fairy-Stories” is nothing short of a manifesto of his art, and a spiritedly reasoned elaboration of his Theory of Story — specifically Fairy-Stories, or tales of the Land of FaĆ«rie.

Jan 11: Reading About Robert E. Howard

It’s safe to say Robert E. Howard has passionate fans. And this passion goes beyond buying stacks of books and old comics and limited edition resin sculptures, beyond pilgrimages to Cross Plains or Valeria cosplay, beyond, even, mimeographing ‘zines in their basement or writing fiction inspired by Howard’s example. For you see, Howard’s fans have dared to set their sandalled feet upon the tumbled jeweled thrones of literary criticism, and they’ve been trampling such thrones for decades. Here’s a look at just some of what they’ve been saying.

 




Monday, December 27, 2021

Tales From the Magician's Skull Blog - Dec14th-24th Roundup

 Tales from the Magician’s Skull Blog - Dec 14th - 24th Roundup

Bill Ward champions this at: https://goodman-games.com/tftms/



Dec 24 Adventures in Fiction: Fritz Leiber By Michael Curtis
https://goodman-games.com/tftms/2021/...
We’ve talked a lot about Fritz Leiber, whose birthday we’re celebrating today, over the last few years. Leiber, born December 24th, 1910, is most widely known among gamers as the man responsible for the fantastic Fafhrd and Gray Mouser stories. In the years running up to DCC Lankhmar, a lot of ink has been spilled discussing Leiber’s most famous creation. Today, however, we’re going to examine some of Leiber’s other work and see how we can apply it to our games—especially DCC Lankhmar.

Dec 21 Classic Covers: Michael MoorcockBy Bill Ward
https://goodman-games.com/tftms/2021/...
With more than a half-century of prolific, diverse, and wonderfully inventive writing in everything from classic sword-and-sorcery to surreal alternate history to sword-and-planet pastiche to counter culture lit fic, Michael Moorcock has seen more editions of his work than you can shake a demon-possessed sword at. And while Moorcock freely hops from genre to sub-genre to whatever-he-feels-like, he seems to have inspired a similar variety of artistic interpretations of his work, sometimes very at-odds with traditional branding, and at others pitch perfect examples of publishing trends. As wild and inventive as his fiction, the following mad collage of images just scratches the surface of the wide array of covers that have helped Moorcock’s books leap from the shelf and into the hands of eager readers since the 1960s.

Dec 20 Adventures in Fiction: Zenith the Albino By Terry Olson
https://goodman-games.com/tftms/2021/...
Many of us come to Gygax’s Appendix N to explore the works that inspired both the D&D of our youth and our favorite fantasy RPGs of today. We read these literary progenitors for both insight and inspiration, and we begin to recognize their themes, plot-twists, villains, and heroes being adapted and personalized by today’s authors. But the writers whom Gary Gygax read were not writing in a vacuum. Surely they were adapting and personalizing the themes, plot-twists, villains, and heroes that they were reading. Who inspired them? Answering this question by reading further back in D&D’s ancestral chain, by going “back to the roots of the genre as deeply as possible” (as Moorcock puts it), is what we call “Appendix N Archaeology.”

Dec 19 Brian Murphy’s Flame and Crimson: A History of Sword-and-Sorcery By Bill Ward
https://goodman-games.com/tftms/2021/...
In Flame and Crimson (2019) Brian Murphy has crafted no less than the first book length history of the sword-and-sorcery genre, from its origins and antecedents right down to its reflection in the popular culture of the present day. It is a work both indispensable and long overdue, one that fills a gap in our collective bookshelves while establishing an academic and historical baseline for discussion of sword-and-sorcery going forward. But Murphy also accomplishes the most difficult task of all, balancing the need for critical rigor with readability, and the result is a book that not only provides a compelling and comprehensive view of its subject, but is also as fun to read and impossible to put down as the classic stories referenced in its pages.

Dec 18 Adventures in Fiction: Michael Moorcock By Terry Olson
https://goodman-games.com/tftms/2021/...
On the 18th of December, we celebrate the birthday of Michael Moorcock—a big writer with big ideas (regardless of what he thought a handful of decades ago). It’s difficult to rank Moorcock’s diverse achievements in terms of importance or influence. He’s impacted gaming through his Elric stories, he’s been a prolific writer of the Eternal Champion and Multiverse themes, he’s been an influential editor that helped change (dare I say, “improve”) the face of Science Fiction, he’s written comics, and he’s written lyrics for and performed with major rock bands! Perhaps most important of all, he’s inspired generations of great writers, such as Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and Thomas Pynchon.

Dec 18 Adventures in Fiction: Sterling E. Lanier By Jim Wampler
https://goodman-games.com/tftms/2021/...
Yesterday was the 93rd anniversary of the birth of Sterling E. Lanier. He wasn’t just a favorite author of E. Gary Gygax, nor was he merely a cited influence on both the Dungeons & Dragons and Gamma World role playing games. For those things alone he would still be notable and of interest to role playing gamers everywhere. Sterling E. Lanier was the quintessential polymath. His personal interests ranged from skin-diving and boating to bird watching and conservation causes. He was also a naval and military history buff.

Dec 17 The Mad Dream Dies: Karl Edward Wagner’s Bloodstone By Bill Ward
https://goodman-games.com/tftms/2021/...
Aliens, lost civilizations, superscience vs. sorcery, perilous expeditions, a warrior maid, sentient crystalline entities, virgin sacrificing witches, bandits, ambushes, teleportation, a magic ring, cosmic visions, possession, a conjured tsunami, desperate battles, a jungle-shrouded city, cross and double-cross, devolved frogmen, a field tracheotomy, wall-leveling green lightning bolts, a world-threatening power, amphibian-crewed hydrofoils, lost tomes brimming with secret knowledge, a reconfigured semi-solid army of the elder dead, and an immortal juggernaut of a man at the lonely center of it all – it’s Bloodstone!

Dec 14 Heroic Fantasy Quarterly’s 50th Issue By Bill Ward
https://goodman-games.com/tftms/2021/...
The Skull and his various minions, flunkies, lieutenants, and, yes, even interns would like to send a hearty congratulations to our sword-brothers over at Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, on the occasion of their 50th issue! Heroic Fantasy Quarterly is an online magazine specializing in adventure fantasy of all kinds, from eponymous tales of heroism and epic fantasy, to sword-and-sorcery, dark fantasy, and skulldugging daring-do. If you love Tales From the Magician’s Skull, you’re sure to thrill to our mighty sister publication, who have been in the game for over a decade of consistently excellent fantasy publishing!