philmophlegm: (Concentrated power)

"We can all put aside our partisan differences for a moment and agree that this Trump-Clinton “Dirty Dancing” duet is the best thing to come out of the debate."

Don't trust "factcheckers". Maybe it’s just my innate cynicism and a background as a professional sceptic that always makes me doubt someone who claims to be “unbiased” when giving you “the facts”.

Why Truman fired MacArthur. Fascinating account.

Weaker Sterling is (on balance) somewhere between good and very good for the UK economy.

...and another article making a similar argument.

Tolkien might not have been too impressed by the current trend to concentrate on the ethnicity of science fiction and fantasy authors rather than the quality of their work.

There is no such thing as trickle-down economics.

This is the best explanation of why so many people will vote for Donald Trump that I've seen.

Ched Evans is Not Guilty. Here's ten myths about the case that need to be busted.

Who is winning in Labour and the Liberal Democrats' race to be the most anti-semitic party?

Dennis Byrd didn't deserve to die in a car crash.

Dolly Parton's 'Jolene' slowed down is amazingly good. (Thanks beckyc)

18 Game of Thrones moments improved by quotes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Given the dearth of available options, who should American conservatives vote for in the presidential election?

Are we seeing the beginning of a political realignment in the UK? Interesting lecture.

Here's a particularly unsubtle example of simple corruption from the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.

Political map of Europe, year-by-year from 3650BC to 2016AD.

70-year-olds play D&D for the first time.

The third most likely person to become the next President of the United States, and how he would do it. OK, it’s beyond unlikely, but not impossible…

philmophlegm: (Eternal Champion)
Shortish fantasy novels featuring an ordinary 20th century bloke transported to two different fantasy worlds as the heroes Erekose and Urlik Skarsol. Perhaps more high-fantasy in feel than Moorcock's more famous fantasy heroes.

Difficult to review these. As standalone stories, they're not particularly memorable or exceptional. Both books are more important as part of Moorcock's Eternal Champion cycle. In fact they're probably the best place to start for those new to Moorcock.
philmophlegm: (NFL draft)

Here's a clever way to make interstellar travel real.

"Around 50% 'hold authoritarian views'". Sounds shocking. What’s more shocking is the ignorance of the researchers (three politics professors no less, albeit from second rate universities) as to what constitutes “authoritarian”. Authoritarians would presumably favour powerful state control, right? You know, like Stalin or Hitler or Mao. Not according to these three clowns. Apparently “ideological sympathy for… rolling back the state” is an authoritarian point of view. Incredible.

Thankfully I wasn't the only person to spot this.

Did you own a copy of Buckaroo or MouseTrap when you were a kid? There's a good chance it was assembled by Irish slaves. Seriously.

The new president of the National Union of Students sounds like a lovely girl.

The Game of Thrones Mock Draft.

The Stevland Angus Appreciation Society

Brave socio-political commentary in 'My Little Pony'. Yes, really.

The man who put 50p on Leicester City to win the Premier League at 5000/1 and cashed it out for 45p after one match (which they won 4-2).

Richard 'fuckwit' Murphy had to publically apologise to Lord Ashcroft and make a donation to his charity for being wrong. I wish the legal system could force him to make an apology every other time he’s been wrong.

Paramount is trying to claim copyright over the Klingon Language. The Language Creation Society's legal reply is wonderful.

Why are we so understanding towards the crimes of Communism? A suggestion I’ve seen elsewhere is that International Labour Day should be replaced with a day of remembrance for the victims of communism and socialism. Good idea.

Gerry Adams apologises for tweeting the word "nigger". I’m amazed at the fuss about this. Might it not have occurred to the twitter commentariat that heading a terrorist organisation responsible for the deaths of 1,800 people is ever so slightly worse than typing a naughty word into social media?

10 things the bookies thought were more likely to happen than Leicester City winning the Premier League.

When the US Navy had flying aircraft carriers.

philmophlegm: (Dragon (1))
I can't quite make up my mind about this. It's the first in a trilogy. Quite long. Hugely popular. Clearly lots of people love it. I seem to remember getting into it quite well when I was reading it, and then going out and buying lots of books by the same author, but I haven't rushed to read the next book. Why not? I think the biggest fault is the slow pace. It really does take ages (in terms of words) for anything to happen. And it's hardly a startlingly original premise - young boy with mysterious background has magical powers, ends up being mistreated, but comes good. Oh, and for such a long book, I didn't feel that I learned much about the world in which the story is set. I could tolerate the second and third faults were it not for the first. It simply should have been much shorter.* Three stars. Probably.

* This is a fault common to many recent fantasy and science fiction novels and series.
philmophlegm: (Forgotten Realms)
Two reviews for the price of one - the first two volumes of Robert Jordan's enormous fantasy epic 'The Wheel of Time'. It's odd that these were the books randomly chosen by amychaffinch because a) I only finished The Great Hunt at 1 0'clock this morning and b) it was amychaffinch who recommended the series to me in the first place (she's a big fan). The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills...

The Eye of the World didn't really grab me at first. The first part of the book is very obviously written as a tribute to The Lord of the Rings. In fact, some events are almost copies of events in The Fellowship of the Ring. Once I got past that, I realised two things. The first is that actually, I really like The Lord of the Rings, so a tribute by a talented author is not a bad thing at all. Secondly, as you carry on into the first book, you start to get glimpses that actually this isn't quite the straightforward LotR copy that it starts out resembling. The world-building, while not up to Tolkien's standard, stands comparison with most fantasy epics. And Jordan's writing style is very readable.

When you get into the second book, rather more aspects of the world are revealed, with many more hints that there are all sorts of complex undercurrents. I'm trying very hard not to be spoilered for the rest of the series because I'm looking forward to seeing what is revealed and how all the factions fit together. That's two really quite long books read and I feel that I'm only scratching the surface.

So if you're thinking that I'm liking this series more the more I read of it, you'd be right. A lot of Tolkien fans don't seem to read many similar works at all, but if you like LotR and you're looking for something vaguely along the same lines, you may well like this. But try to avoid reaching a firm conclusion until you've read the first two books.

(amychaffinch tells me that "it keeps improving" from this point on and that "there are lots of things that you read now that will make lots of sense later". I hope so, on both counts.)
philmophlegm: (How did it come to this?)
Blind Guardian is a German power metal band that decided that being a German power metal band was still too cool, so decided to make most of their songs about fantasy literature. That's seriously nerdy. They even have an entire concept album based on The Silmarillion ('Nightfall in Middle-Earth', which is ace). This song is not from that album, but is obviously based on a work of fantasy literature. And I think it's great.

philmophlegm: (Night's Watch)
I went back to work today. I actually ended up working a fair number of hours last week because unfortunately January is the busiest time of the year for my most important client. In my previous job, where I got eight weeks holiday a year, I would take four of those weeks from Christmas and into January. Now that I work for myself, I don't get eight weeks. In fact last year I don't think I had two full weeks. Most of the holiday I had last year was either running a roleplaying campaign set in the east of Middle-earth in the Second Age or preparing for that campaign.

This Christmas I made an effort to do some creative stuff.

Most of the creative stuff is directly related to that same roleplaying campaign. First of all, a pair of maps (hand-drawn, using dip pen, assorted calligraphy and cartographical nibs and drawing ink and using handmade paper from Nepal). The first (of Numenor) is a direct copy of a Tolkien map, the second is of a non-canonical Numenorean colony in the east which I wanted to do in the same style.

Read more... )


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