Books Read in June, 2018
Caliban’s War by James S.A Corey
The Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (r)
John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood by Michael D. Sellers
Hollowgirl by Sean Williams
May, 2018 Reader’s Digest
Mind Merchants of Zodanga by Jack Norris (PDF) (RPG)
Myths of Artol by Keith Johnson (PDF) (RPG)
To Sail Once More Into the Valley of Dor by Vicki Lalonde (PDF) (RPG)
Torg: Aysle by Greg Farshtey, Greg Gordon et. al. (RPG) (r)
Seeds of Destruction by David Dolph (PDF) (RPG)
Queenswrath by Greg Farshtey and Jennifer Williams (RPG) (r)
Binary System by Eric Brown
High Lord of Earth by Greg Farshtey and Paul Murphy (RPG) (r)
Operation: Hard Sell by Ed Stark (RPG) (r)
Torg: Orrorsh by Christopher Kubasik (RPG (r)
June, 2018 Reader’s Digest
The Malice by Peter Newman
Torg: The Land Below by Stewart and Stephan Wieck (RPG) (r)
Crucible of Pain by Dan Greenberg (RPG) (r)
Torg: Space Gods by Greg Farshtey, Greg Gorden, Ed Stark and Jim Bambra (RPG) (r)
A Delusion of Satan by Frances Hill
Cylent Scream and Other Tales by Paul Balsamo, Patrick Flanagan, Robin Jaskow, Scott Mitchell, Mike Nystul and Lou Prosperi (RPG) (r)
The Storm Knights’ Guide to the Possibility Wars by Lou Prosperi (RPG) (r)
The Temple of Rec Stalek by Shane Lacy Hensley (RPG) (r)
Infiniverse Campaign Game Update Volume I by Greg Farshtey (RPG) (r)
The Delphi Council Worldbook Volume I by Robert Maxwell and Bill Smith (RPG) (r)
And those were my reads in the month of June. Whew! I managed to read quite a few books, when considered around the old Torg roleplaying books that I read in June, and there was a lot of good non-fiction in my reading as well. Given that I hadn't read any roleplaying game material in May, I guess I more than made up for it in June! :) A good month of reads with some entertaining and pleasantly surprising books.
The books I enjoyed the most were:
The Gods of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs - The second book in the original Barsoom trilogy by ERB, The Gods of Mars is the story of John Carter's return to Barsoom - but a part of Barsoom that is shrouded in myth and legend. This second novel is one that deals with religion, belief, life, love, death, and other themes that may have surprised readers back when it was written, but are now themes found quite commonly in fiction and other media. However, this book was the first to do so. While Dejah Thoris doesn't make an appearance until near the end of the book, which wraps up on a delightful cliffhanger, the themes of the book and how they affect the protagonist and those around him, whether friends or foes, makes it such an interesting read. Certain plot elements are somewhat obvious to the modern reader, but that doesn't prevent the enjoyment of this novel.
A Delusion of Satan: The Full Story of the Salem Witch Trials by Frances Hill - Another one of the non-fiction books that I enjoyed this month. One of the founding precepts of the United States is the freedom to practice religion as one sees fit. I won't go into the details of the history of this practice in the U.S. (you can read about that in all sorts of places), but suffice to say the atmosphere of colonial Massachusetts demanded conformity in attitudes, dress, behaviour and piousness. This led to the situation of a feeling of repression and oppression, especially among the disenfranchised. In this book, Frances Hill examines the political and social circumstances extant at that time and leads the reader through the most notorious witch hunt in history. Hill posits that the social conditions led directly to the accusations that led to the deaths of 20 probably innocent people. She investigates the reality of the accusers and the actual physical manifestations that they experienced. However, the political machinations between two of the families of Salem (behind the scenes) led to many of the accusations as enemies of one family against the other. There is a lot more to this book that, though I question Hill's conjectures about psychological conclusions, is an excellent, no-nonsense account of the weird year of 1692 in Salem. I recommend this one.
John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood by Michael D. Sellers - This non-fiction work is the author's inside look at why the 2012 John Carter movie failed at the box office and how Disney completely botched the marketing of the film, ensuring poor viewing numbers and that no sequel(s) would be made. The author is somewhat biased about the events, but the behind-the-scenes look, based on a lot of internet material, at what went on makes for an interesting read and the tale of how some Hollywood dreams have bitter tastes to them.
Queenswrath by Greg Farshtey and Jennifer Williams - This collection of short scenario ideas for the old Torg: The Possibility Wars RPG is quite nice, being a series of edicts from Pella Ardinay, the ruler of Aysle (the fantasy cosm) on (Core) Earth, for Storm Knights to deal with various problems that have arisen in her realm. Nice collection of scenario ideas, not really fleshed out but ready to be helped along by a good GM. Wonderful stuff.
Binary System by Eric Brown - Established writer Brown has written a superb novel that is part space exploration, part first contact, and completely engrossing. This is the story of Cordelia "Delia" Kemp who, after a catastrophic accident and explosion on her spaceship, ends up in a remote, strange and unexplored part of space with only the Imp (her internal AI) as her companion. Delia finds herself on the ice planet of Valinda with unknowable aliens and has to find a way to survive under challenging circumstances, with seemingly no means of getting home. The characterisation and dialogue is top-notch, and Delia is a well crafted, three-dimensional character whose anguish and desperation over being stranded on an alien planet is vividly brought to life with realistic descriptions. Haunted by what happened to the man she finally declared her love for just before the starship was destroyed, her feelings are explored very nicely, and her interactions with her Imp, and the two alien species (the Fahran and the Skelt) she finds on Valinda are handled exceptionally well. What makes this novel truly stand out, however, is the worldbuilding that Brown engages in. Valinda's geography and its inhabitants are lovingly revealed through the eyes of Delia, and I'm not going to spoil the potential reader's enjoyment of this major element of the book. Suffice to say this is space opera at its finest, and I highly recommend it.
Overall, I managed to read 7 novels, 14 RPGs and RPG products, 2 magazines, 0 comics, and 0 graphic novels in June. This brings the year total in 2018 to a set of numbers that look like this: 43 books, 24 RPGs and RPG products, 12 magazines, 0 comics, and 2 graphic novels.
Anyway, thoughts and comments are always welcome. :)