Saturday, April 22, 2017

The JimFear138 Podcast Ep.49 - The Ramblecast 2.0








Hello everybody, and welcome to another ramblecast! This time I go longer, harder, and more rambley! I really didn't have a plan when I recorded this, but I soldiered on and managed to get 2+ hours out of it, and I hope you all enjoy my disjointed ramblings. I touch on my recent quitting of my job, my plans going forward, how busy I've been, political shit, a new twitter friend I made, and a whole bunch of other shit because god forbid that I actually keep track of what I'm talking about for once in my fucking life. This goes everywhere, and there's no overall point, so I hope y'all are still willing to put up with my pointless ramblings!

King of Limbo Podcast:
Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sj6skTXDugI
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vx0m8E-BvM&t=25s

EJ Spurrell:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BlackTrident_
Website: http://ejspurrell.com/

MP3 Download Link of This Episode: https://ia800408.us.archive.org/25/items/jimfear_audio_productions/EP49.mp3



Social Media Dump

Opening Music:
Honey Bee Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Friday, April 21, 2017

Appendix N Review: Planet of Adventure by Jack Vance







The review series continues! This time we're taking a look at an honorable mention on the Appendix N list, Planet of Adventure by Jack Vance! The reason I call this an honorable mention is because, while it is not expressly mentioned on the list, it does say "Eyes of the Overworld, Dying Planet, et. al." and this I took to mean that the rest of Jack Vance's work is de facto included in the list. So for the purposes of this review, we're going to treat it like it's on the list. Yes, it's science fiction. Yes, Gygax's intention with the rules of D&D was a sort of fantasy world based loosely on medieval Europe. No, it doesn't precisely fit in with the rest of the list. But with a list as diverse as to have H. P. Lovecraft sitting next to Fritz Leiber sitting next to Micheal Moorcock sitting next to Tolkien, I figure that a little bit of fudging based on the "et al." is well within the acceptable spirit of the rules. That, and part of this book directly influenced a Mazes & Perils campaign that I'm going to be DM'ing, so I figure that helps it make the cut. At least in my estimation.


Now as I get the vast majority of my reading done through audiobooks, I'll start this out by going over the audio version of this particular story, available on Audible. The narrator, Elijah Alexander, does a serviceable job. Usually I judge a narrator on a few points, these being actual voice, performance, whether or not the narrator attempts to put on different voices for different characters, and flubbed lines (although that's more the fault of the editor than the actor, but it's one of those things that sticks in your mind).

Mr. Alexander's voice is perfect for this type of story. He sounds like a 1950's radio drama narrator, and as such is able to give this story a certain feel that few narrators would be able to bring to the table. His performance is acceptable. He isn't that proficient with putting on voices, apart from Anacho, but he enunciates properly and there was no part in this book that I was confused about the words of the text. Also the editors did their damned job on this audiobook, and there were no flubbed lines anywhere that I'm able to remember.  It's not an amazing, groundbreaking performance, but it's perfectly serviceable and fits the story very well.

As to the story itself, well frankly I don't really know what to do with this. Like Nethereal, it has several elements of fantasy, science fiction, and horror in it. This is one of those Appendix N stories that just said, "lol fuck genre, this is COOL,"  and ran with it like a kid with scissors. It is also actually four novels in one anthology. City of the Chasch, Servants of the Wankh, The Dirdir, and The Pnume, are the names of the individual novels, but the story flows together so seamlessly that, if you threw them all together with no divisions between the novels, you'd never be able to tell them apart. It really does feel as though Vance wrote them all at once then almost arbitrarily decided to cut it up into four different books.

The basic plot is simple enough. Adam Reith is an astronaut sent to a faraway planet with a team of researchers to investigate mysterious radio signals that emanated from it at one time, but stopped as mysteriously as they began. The way the beginning of this plot plays out should tell you all you need to know about the books that follow it. In the prologue of City of the Chasch, the team is introduced, Reith's job as a scout (which we will come back to later) is described, Reith and Waunder (another scout) are sent to the planet, and a missile strikes the mothership, killing everybody except the two scouts. And as if that wasn't enough, in the first three pages of the first chapter hostile natives chop off Waunder's head while he's unconscious right in front of Reith's eyes!

Yeah, it's that kind of book.

While Reith quickly finds himself alone on the planet, he just (or nearly just) as quickly finds himself a new comrade in Traz Onmale, the young chieftain of the Emblem Men, who are a tribe of human descendants that are ruled by the emblems they wear on their hats which decide their actions and their personalities. Traz leaves the village with Reith, and it's pretty much all downhill from there. To avoid spoilers I'll keep the rest of the plot to myself, apart from isolated reveals of details about the setting that are too interesting to not talk about. But trust me, you'll want to read this one.

So where do I even start after the plot? This has to be the most incredibly dense science fiction story I've ever read. I'm fairly used to new scifi, things like Firefly, or Trek, or Star Wars. You know, gigantic, galaxy-spanning settings with huge governmental entities controlling everything they can get their hands on, and rebellious small factions taking them on. Or even something like Farscape wherein the rebellion is like eight people + 1 starship, or Stargate where the main characters have no ship but thanks to the gates they travel all over the universe. Nothing in my previous experience with science fiction really prepared me for a four-novel scifi story that takes place completely on ONE planet.

Because the saga of Adam Reith takes place almost wholly on Tschai. He is incapable of leaving the planet, despite how hard he's trying to. And Tschai is BIG. I mean really big. Immense. YUGE. The biggest, believe me.

There are about six races on Tschai, five of them major players in the events of PoA, and two of those are divided up into sub-races. There are the Chasch, which are divided up into Green Chasch, Blue Chasch, and Old Chasch. They're an old and decadent race that is on the cultural down slope, and if it weren't for their advanced technology someone would've bulldozed them a long time ago. The Dirdir are feline/reptile creatures that are partially feral, but at the same time have an interest in high cultural pursuits and consider themselves to be superior to the other races of Tschai, an attitude which filters down to their slaves. The Wankh (or Wannek, if you're playing GURPS: Planet of Adventure) are secretive and isolationist, not even speaking the common tongue of Tschai, as well as being the only race to maintain space travel and an airfield for their spaceships. The Pnume are underground dwelling, insect like creatures that have little or nothing to do with the other races of Tschai except for their slaves, maintaining vast tunnel networks and a rigid social hierarchy. The Phung are crazy lone wanderers whose actions make little sense, perhaps even to themselves. The men are divided up into perhaps hundreds of sub-races, including the Emblem Men, Chaschmen, Dirdirmen, Wankhmen, Pnumekin, and other less common variants.

Now just for some perspective on how dense all this is, each of these groups has their own languages written and spoken, customs, technology, social hierarchies, histories, religious practices, and so on and so forth. Now the languages don't come up all that often, except in a certain section where the written language of the Wankh has to be translated. But the cultural practices definitely do, and the entire series is basically Reith experiencing culture shock over and over again after recovering from the worst case of jet lag you've ever heard of. I would reveal more, because this book is completely engrossing if for nothing other than the sheer cultural anthropology of the world Vance has brought to life, but half of the fun of this book is discovering all these different cultures and races, and the mysteries behind them.

So far as gaming, like I said, this book is a masterclass in world building, and for the aspiring GM looking to spice up his game and get tips on fleshing out the different races for his setting, this is a blessing straight from Gygax himself. The different areas of Tschai, as well as the idiosyncrasies of the different races are definitely gameable, as show by that GURPS rulebook I mentioned before. Because yes, that does exist. But if you're not a fan of GURPS, or are just looking for a way to spice up your world, Planet of Adventure is the place to find it. For example, the feral hunting practices of the Dirdir would map very well onto a non-Tokienesque version of elves. I've even adapted the idea of the coin in trade in the land being gathered from one particular very dangerous place into a campaign I'm designing.

There's also the matter of the Scout class, which seems to be a catchall for everything from fighting man to thief. The only thing Reith doesn't do is use magic, because magic doesn't exist on Tschai. To my understanding it was adapted into another role playing system apart from the GURPS adaptation of this setting, The Traveler game. This is a thing that I could see being difficult to map into a rule set as a custom class, but it is doable. I'm just not experienced enough to do it myself, unfortunately.

But getting back to the literary portion of the review, the overall tone of this book series blew me away. It feels much more like Drizzt Do'Urden and his friends blowing through a fantasy setting rather than a science fiction novel. There's not a lot of hard scifi here, but the story doesn't suffer for it. At heart, Planet of Adventure is an adventure story. Shocking, I know, but that really is the focus of it. Vance doesn't waste time explaining the physics of Tschai, or the principles on which the weapons used work, or even the intricacies of space travel. This is about one man, stranded on an alien planet, desperately trying to get home and warn his people about the danger facing them. Reith swashbuckles, lies, cheats, steals, murders, and valiantly saves the day over the course of this story, giving it a feel much closer to what I've heard of John Carter of Mars or even Conan than what Brian Niemeier calls Big Men With Screwdrivers science fiction. Reith uses his smarts and sword arm (figuratively) to get him out of jams far more than he uses his knowledge of advanced scientific concepts.

And the way that the world is developed and laid out, the aliens feel more like ogres and elves instead of your classic wacky space aliens. Apart from the Wankh, of course, who are a completely other animal that nobody will expect. There are also the different slave tribes of human, each viewing the other as freaks and oddities, not true men. They also each have their own idiosyncrasies as well, which are gathered from their master races. The Dirdirmen are very prim and proper, believing themselves to be above everybody but the Dirdir themselves. The Wankhmen are very secretive and devious, and interact with their 'masters' in a completely unprecedented way compared to the way the rest of the slave races interact with theirs. The Chaschmen, in a spectacular turn of Vance's, actually have a religious belief that they are destined to become Chasch themselves!

All in all, Planet of Adventure absolutely floored me, and I could not stand the moments where I had to pause the audiobook, or wait until I was back at work, so that I could get to the next damn part of the story. The prose races along at a breakneck pace, and it is a story that is so much fun to 'read' that I could barely contain my excitement on realizing that science fiction could DO THAT.

I highly recommend this series. If you're not into audiobooks, that's fine, you won't be missing anything that you'd want on your bucket list. It's not like we're talking about the audio adaptations of The Witcher stories, here. But the actual story of Tschai and Reith itself is so incredibly engaging, interesting, and so much damned fun that you won't regret picking this up in any of its incarnations. The audio version is available on Audible under the name Planet of Adventure, and you can find a Kindle version on Amazon under the name Tschai. You should absolutely buy this one, it will open your mind to possibilities in scifi that, given what I've read in the genre from Heinlein onwards, is completely unprecedented and mind blowing.

Music is Ourobouros by Kevin Macleod: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?collection=12&Search=Search

Ouroboros Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/












 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Zombie Slaying 101


Photoshop by Christopher Warren, based on this image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:2007-04-07_-_London_-_Flashmob_-_Fleshmob_-_Zombie_Walk_-_Zombies_(4889850244).jpg



So I've been reading around on the blogs of a couple of my friends, and JD Cowan, Bradford Walker, and Brian Niemeier have really got me thinking, and I think this needs to be said. Well, honestly it probably doesn't need to be said, but I'm gonna say it anyway! Willfully and knowingly stating the gob-smackingly obvious has never stopped me before, why let it now?

In their posts (Bradford's is here, Brian's is here, read Bradford's first because Brian builds on it) they talk about Star Wars and how it's basically gone to shit. They have several theories about why, and like I said they got me thinking. But this post is about what we can do about it. Now most of you already know the solution I'm going to give, but there might be some out there that don't, so allow me to be that guy and just go ahead and state the bafflingly obvious for everybody.

These companies and franchises are shells of their former selves. They are no longer producing material of any quality (except maybe Marvel's movies and tv shows, but I'm so bored and turned off by the practices of their comics division that I can't even get excited about the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie), they're derivative, their heroes have all become bad xeroxes of Watchmen, and they're not doing anything new or fresh that really resonates with people. JD Cowan explains in this very good post on his blog, Wastelandandsky. It's a long one, but my god is it good. You should all go read it.

These companies are not what they once were, as I and others have said. They have been infected by several illnesses, and much like our beloved genres of SFF, it's slowly killing them. Much like in a zombie movie, wherein someone will be bitten, turn, then bite their idiot family member who doesn't get that they're not who they were anymore, these companies are trying to bring their industries and genres down with them.

It's time we stopped being sentimental.

It's time to put them down.

Metaphorically and financially speaking, of course. As RagingGoldenEagle said on twitter:



And he's right. These companies have completely forgotten this. They have lost their commitment to JUSTICE and as such their fate is beyond sealed. They've lost their once iron clad knowledge of what audiences are really after, and because of this sales numbers are declining. So they've already consigned themselves to slow death. The Marvel Vice President of Sales is so stupid that he actually thinks that "diversity" is killing comics, and that people just want more white men in their comic books. People don't care about "diversity", he is right about that. People love "diverse" characters like Luke Cage, Storm, Black Panther, and all the rest of them. For some people out there these are some of their favorite heroes. The problem is that they're taking beloved characters and racebending them to make them more diverse in hopes that the name (like Iron Man or Ms. Marvel) will keep enough readers interested, and that the story will hold their interest.

Well, the issue is that people can see through this, and they're not having it anymore. You guys screwed the pooch so fucking hard with FemThor that everybody knows what you're trying to do, and we're done having this political agenda shoved down our throats when all we want is a comic to read to escape from our everyday lives. We don't want to see your writers lampooning Alex Jones and Paul Joseph Watson, we don't want your speeches about how "women superheroes are oppressed because they're women", and we damn sure don't want you fucking with our beloved characters! This is as clear as I can make it. Nobody cares about the sex or skin color of the hero.

Well, maybe some people do, but those people weren't gonna buy the fucking comics anyways, AS WAS PROVED WITH FEMTHOR IF YOU REMEMBER THAT DRASTIC DROP IN SALES, so their opinion should be discarded and you people should be listening to the actual fans. And the actual fans want you to stop fucking shoehorning your leftist political ideology into your comics. We want you to stop making the politics the main focus of the story. Not everything has to be political, for fuck's sake! Dial it back a few notches, and concentrate on writing and drawing fun stories that will get your audience back.

Now, as I type this, I know that this advice will fall on deaf ears and unseeing eyes. These companies and franchises have hit the death spiral with a will that is astounding, almost as if they're begging for bankruptcy and irrelevance.

I say we should give them what they're asking for.

Let's see if we can't accelerate that death spiral we see them obviously engaging in.

And the way to do this is to just stop fucking buying their crap. Don't go see the movies, don't watch the tv shows, and damn sure don't buy the comics. Take that money you were going to use on that, and go spend it on something actually worthwhile. There are independent publishers out there. Dark Horse, Image, IDW, not to mention all of the smaller publishers like Kung Fu Comics, Alterna Comics, and others that you could be getting your new and exciting material from, instead of staid bullshit that doesn't go anywhere and doesn't matter because they're gonna reboot the universe anyway in five years. This isn't even counting all the manga you could be buying that actually does take its story seriously and has good plot development. Which you can get at RightStufAnime.com via my affiliate program on the left there (shameless plug).

Point is, there are so many other places that deserve your money. Why are you still giving it to these people who don't care about you? These companies are the equivalent of the rock star who's gotten monumentally famous and now doesn't have time for the fans who got him there in the first place.

They don't have time for you.

Return the favor.

Stop giving these people your money, clicks, and attention.

They turned on you a long time ago. It's time to turn on them.

Now I hear some of you saying that the tv shows and movies are still good, but are they? Are they really? Especially knowing that the people who comprise this company fucking hate people like you and me? Do you really want to fund those people? There are, as I said, other, smaller, more deserving entities that you could give your money to. People with an attitude like Brian Niemeier's. "The customer is the boss, we give them what they want." You have limited funds for stuff like this, and you probably shouldn't be giving it to people who hate your guts. Just sayin. I know how it is. I grew up reading Marvel and DC. They are home to some of my favorite characters. But now I've cut them off. I know it's doable. If I can do it you can too. Besides, if you still need your Marvel/DC fix, there is a thriving used market where you still get your comics and they don't get a fucking dime. (hint hint mycomicshop.com hint hint shameless plug)

You need to cut them off completely, and encourage everyone else to do so as well. That means no comics, no loot crate, no merchandise, no movie tickets, no Nielsens on the tv, no nothing. Cut off their profits and bask in the schadenfreude as they shrivel up and die, still maintaining that they were right and the customers were wrong as they fade into irrelevance and history.

Because sales numbers are JUSTICE. And when you turn your back on JUSTICE, eventually JUSTICE will come for you.

This public service message provided by your local bitter, angry comic book/Star Wars fan.

DimensionBucket Media Books Are Now Available!




Well it's finally happened. I warned you all. I prophesied that the day would come when we would finally have books available from DimensionBucket Media. Now that time has arrived, and woe be unto the doubters among you.

Anyway, serious crap aside, YES WE DO FINALLY HAVE BOOKS AVAILABLE! As you can see by the graphic above, we bring you six volumes of some of the best fantasy, horror, and science fiction that you've ever laid eyes on. Some of them are originals, some of them are from old masters, all of them are guaranteed to please and titillate.

I'll go down the list and give you a description of each, from top left to bottom right, as well as links where you can find these great books on Amazon without having to do any of that pesky searching. NOTE: If you cannot see the links, you probably have adblock turned on. If you whitelist my blog you'll be able to see them.

First up we have Darkest of Dreams. This is an anthology of original short stories by the DimensionBucket Media crew, featuring three stories each by myself, Christopher Warren (aka DimensionBucket), Connor Goff (aka Noughtshayde), and William Harmar (aka GentlemanWalrus). It features everything from horror, to science fiction, to fantasy, and sometimes blends these genres as well! You can get the book here:



Next up we have A Man Upstairs, by Christopher Warren. A collection of small stories for small hours. "A Man Upstairs" features an array of uncanny personal accounts–anecdotes of ordinary people in unordinary lives. Keep a light on, an ear to the wall, and listen closely. Just beware: what you hear, will not be pleasant. You can get the book here:



We also have available Crack'd, by Connor Goff. Geoffrey saw the man with a piece of paper, then it all went to hell. Reality isn't quite what it used to be, not after what happened. Now it's coming for him–finding every opportunity to tear his reality apart. Bit by bit. Person by person. Conner Goff presents a novelette of strange and unsettling implications. You won’t be safe. Not under the covers, and certainly not with the lights on. You can find the book here:



Our next book we are very happy to bring to you, as it is this author's first coughcough "professionally" published work, Hell's Five Minute Tales of Horror by Hell Richards! This collection of microfiction is sure to give you a ton of great quick scares! You can find the book here:



Next up we have Dimension of Cobwebs, by various authors! These are tales written by grandmasters of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy, but are some that you might not know so well. All of these authors have their famous stories, but they also wrote a lot more than just those, and we're doing our part here at DimensionBucket Media to bring these back into the public consciousness by compiling them into an anthology that any fan of classic weird tales is sure to love! You can find that book here:



Next up, we have a book that I'm personally very happy to be bringing to you all, The Phoenix on the Sword, by Robert E. Howard! For too long has Conan been remembered by that movie from the 80's starring the former governor of California! It's time to get back to the original stories, and to do that, we're bringing the first published Conan story back into the eye of a public that has been starved for actual heroism and adventure! With cover art by the incomparable Kukuruyo, we hope that you all will join us in remembering why Conan was so popular, and in paying tribute to one of the men without whom things like the Pulp Revolution would not be possible. You can find that book here:




We're very excited to be bringing these books to everybody, and we hope that you'll check them all out! Now, at this point I should tell you that all of these books are only available in paperback for the moment. DimensionBucket Media is going to be at Stokercon this year with a dealer's table, and we needed to have actual print books for display and sale. For that reason we concentrated on getting the paperbacks out first. However, we're hard at work converting them over to audio and ebook, so keep an eye out! I'll definitely be informing you of when those versions go live, you can count on it! And if you do enjoy them, consider leaving some nice words on Amazon. It does help with rankings and whatnot, and we would really appreciate it!

Thanks for the time, and happy reading!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Hooray For Diversification!







Okay guys, I've been listening to Aaron Clarey's podcast today (which you should all subscribe to on iTunes or wherever else he publishes it) and he launched into another rant about diversification in media platforms and income streams. Now that I'm technically self-employed I figure that I need to start taking more of his advice, especially when it's this prescient and good. In the interest of promoting my brand more effectively, as well as giving myself even more work to do, I'm ramping back up my YouTube channel, and I'm starting accounts on Vid.me and Dailymotion. I've tried uploading audio to Minds before, but it didn't work out too well. Maybe they've changed the formula, but for now I think a YouTube, a Vid.me, and a Dailymotion account is good enough of a backup. Not to mention I store and host all my audio on Archive.org, so in the event of a catastrophic failure of massive proportions on YouTube, all the videos that I actually care about having up will be published over on those other two platforms.

I'm also going to be looking into monetization on those two sites once I actually get my YouTube backlog uploaded to them. I'm also thinking about putting adsense on my YouTube channel, but I don't know if it'd be worth it given the immense fuckery going on with YouTube at the moment. But, it is another revenue stream, however small, and that can't hurt, I suppose. I'll give it a think and see where I'm at when I get my channel backed up. In the meantime expect a shitload of videos to be uploaded on Vid.me and Dailymotion, most of them old. I'm going to forego uploading The Scarlet Letter, because I stopped doing the audiobook thing for free when I realized I could get paid for it and never finished that one. If I pick it up again, you'll know, because it'll be up for sale through DimensionBucket Media, and I literally never shut the fuck up about things that I'm selling because that's how I'm trying to make my living now.

I'm also going to be uploading in stages. So I'll start with all my creepypasta narrations, then move on to the audiobook of The Time Machine, then the podcast, then the miscellaneous videos like those two Kaiju Chronicles things I made and never touched again as well as the book reviews and the ads for the Cat Kimbridge books. So be prepared for a lot of old shit that has low sound quality to be uploaded over there for a little while. I'm gonna get caught up as fast as I can, hopefully by the end of the week, so that we can get back on schedule and I can start recording those posts I made while I was convalescing.

Anyways, I hope that you all will join me over on these other platforms, especially Vid.me, because I'm a huge supporter of new social media sites like Minds, Gab, and now Vid.me, and I'd like to get them some publicity. It also helps me out, so that's a party and a bonus. Here's the links so you all can go subscribe or whatever it is they call it on those sites.

Vid.me: https://vid.me/JimFear138

Dailymotion: http://www.dailymotion.com/jimfear138

I'll also be putting them in the social media tab here on the website, so people will be able to find them easier. Thanks for your time, guys, and let's keep this fucking train a-rolling!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The JimFear138 Podcast Ep.48 ft. Brian Niemeier









Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of the podcast! This week we get to talk to Brian Niemeier, reigning Dragon of Horror and author of The Soul Cycle Series! We talk a lot about his books, but also delve into more obscure topics like anime, horror movies, and even take a crack at talking theology for a while! It's a wild ride, and was a ton of fun! Hope y'all enjoy!

MP3 Download of this episode: https://ia600408.us.archive.org/25/items/jimfear_audio_productions/ep48.mp3

Brian's books:

Nethereal: https://www.amazon.com/Nethereal-Soul-Cycle-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00ZBDOHKU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1492376079&sr=8-1&keywords=nethereal

Souldancer: https://www.amazon.com/Souldancer-Soul-Cycle-Book-2-ebook/dp/B01BM1SX3Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1492376106&sr=8-1&keywords=souldancer

The Secret Kings: https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Kings-Soul-Cycle/dp/1541210573/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1492376135&sr=8-1&keywords=the+secret+kings

Brian's website & social media:

KAIROS: http://www.brianniemeier.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrianNiemeier

Gab: https://gab.ai/BrianNiemeier






Social Media Dump

Opening Music:
Honey Bee Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

Closing Music:
Kings of Tara Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License