November 7 story: The Dreadful Writer, Part II

The second half of the interview with the fictitious writer James L. Cunningham. Part I is here.


Weber (editor): Does that come from your years in the army? You fought in Sudan, correct?

Cunningham (writer): Yes, against the Mahdists. Although ‘fought’ is not the best word for what happened there. Keep in mind that, when I was young, I read stories and tales of our Empire’s wars in the Far East. The ones from the Indian Rebellion of 57 were my favourites. Soldiers still fought duels back then. Not many, true, but it was not unheard of for men of both sides to single each other out for combat. But when I fought in Sudan… that was not the era of the duelist anymore, but the era of the Maxim gun. The closest I ever got to an enemy was perhaps thirty meters, a very angry Dervishe who became the inspiration for my first published story and, I guess, the original seed for many other.

Continue reading “November 7 story: The Dreadful Writer, Part II”

November 4 story: The Dreadful Writer, Part I

This is the full interview with the British-American writer James L. Cunningham. It first appeared on All-Men’s Adventure Magazine in 1935. The original interview was half as long and its most “juicy” aspects had been cut off, probably out of fear of upsetting the moral authorities that back then were keeping a close eye on this kind of magazines. The writer died later that year from cancer, which could explain his strangely forthcoming and open answers. After Monroe Webster, the editor and interviewer, died in 1965, the original interview with lines marking the parts to cut out was found among his papers.


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Reading the Hugos: Super Secret Easter Egg short story finalist.

You might think that just because the Hugo awards have only six finalists, that means I should only review those six short stories. Bah! I’m a rebel, and I bow to no Law, no matter how clearly logical and sensical it may be. If I see a “No spitting here” sign, I spit on it, and if I see a list of six nominees, I metaphorically spit on it as well and then review the seventh story that wasn’t even nominated. That’s especially apt if that story is a kind of a review of some of the other stories. How more meta can you get? And isn’t that what Hugos are all about?

Continue reading “Reading the Hugos: Super Secret Easter Egg short story finalist.”

You are (probably) doing it wrong: Hit points, literature, and D&D.

This will the first post in a series where I will address a gaming topic that has intrigued me for a long time, the suspicion that one of the games many people love (Dungeons & Dragons) has been seriously misinterpreted even by some of its most ardent followers. In other words, that you have been playing or -at the very least- interpreting it wrong. If nothing else, that at least there is another, and better, way to play it. As the title says, it’s a probability, not a necessity.

Some of you reading this may be grognards with a lot of practical experience with this stuff, and because I know some of you are also very interested in the literary side of D&D (and, as you will see, this is as much about books as about games,) your opinion and criticism would be greatly appreciated. You may consider many of this stuff “obvious,” but from what I have seen and read, I suspect it’s not for the majority of people.

Continue reading “You are (probably) doing it wrong: Hit points, literature, and D&D.”

Reading the Hugos: Redshirts, by John Scalzi.

In my previous post, I said I wanted to know more about the Puppies’ origins and claims (sad, rabid, lunatic, or in any other mental state.) Although sometimes it seems more like a controversy about what silly people say on Twitter, it’s essentially a literary one, and the main issue is the belief that the quality of science fiction and fantasy has degraded and the genre has become dominated by a clique of ideologues. Now, that there are a lot of ideologues out there on social media is true, and obvious, but I wanted to read their books. Are they really that bad, or are some people projecting their hopes and Internet drama?

Continue reading “Reading the Hugos: Redshirts, by John Scalzi.”