Category Archives: Books & Movies
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Choose-your-own-adventure in Heinlein’s Starship Troopers universe?! Holy cow!
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What if the monsters were real? And who said they weren’t?! ~
Avery Abernethy, 25 August 2016
Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge is in the Monster Hunter International universe. In the Monster Hunter universe monsters are real. Teddy Roosevelt ran into monsters in the Cuba invasion with the Rough Riders. When he became President he put Federal bounties on dangerous monsters. Bring in evidence of killing a deadly monster, get paid a bounty. More dangerous monsters yield bigger bounties. But monster hunting has a high casualty rate. And high bounty monsters are especially deadly.
Monsters want to eat us. Monsters are not boyfriend material for lonely high school girls or strong independent women. Vampires suck your blood and eat your soul. Vampires and other monsters are enemies of humanity and deserve killing. Monster Hunter International is the premier private monster killing outfit in the world.
This is a collaboration between Larry Correia and John Ringo. Correia is a former gun store owner and competitive shooter. Ringo is a vet of the 82nd Airborne. Both are among the best active writers of military science fiction. Both know guns, explosives and how to write a great combat scene. Many wargame players are interested in weapons and the idea of killing evil monsters and collecting large bounties is something which appeals to gamers from D&D, to Call of Cthulhu, to Warhammer.
Airboy reviews Heller’s follow-up to Gray Tide in the East ~
Avery Abernethy, 03 August 2016
Tidal Effects is the sequel to Gray Tide in the East. In the previous book the Kaiser orders the German Army in 1914 to respect Belgium’s neutrality after Imperial Russia and France declare war on Germany. The British Empire never enters World War 1. Germany and Austria-Hungary crush Russia and annex large portions of European Russia including all of Poland, the Ukraine and the Baltics. France is bled white trying to attack in unfavorable terrain. Germany gives France favorable peace terms taking several relatively useless colonies including Martinique in the Caribbean Sea. At the end of Gray Tide in the East Germany is the dominant land power in Europe.
Tidal Effects contains two novelettes: High Tide and Rip Tide. In High Tide several members of the Imperial German Foreign Service and a high ranking Naval officer manage to start building a substantial naval base in Martinique. Substantial progress on this naval base is accomplished without the knowledge of the Kaiser and the rest of the Imperial Cabinet. The USA learns of the base and must decide if they want to enforce the Monroe Doctrine. Tidal Effects includes basics of naval espionage, isolationist politics of the USA early in the 20th century and foreign policy. The central conflict centers on the ability of the US President to get enough political support to keep the hugely powerful Germany from getting a foothold in North America without starting a major naval war. The Kaiser is maddened that his subordinates put him in this position but also wants to maximize the political and military gains possible from this situation. The entire story is plausible given the military, economic, political and foreign policy situation in this alternate history.
An adventure for your weekend ~
Jonathan S. Pembroke, 28 May 2016
I straightened my back and looked out over the churned earth and fresh-plowed rows of the field. I leaned on my hoe, wiped the sweat from my brow, and savored my accomplishment as the sun slid towards the horizon. I’ve always derived deep satisfaction from the labor of an honest day’s work and there are some things you want to do with your own two hands.
A slight breeze ruffled my hair, reminding me that the early spring evenings tended towards the cool side. I gave the field one last look and returned to my porch.
The top step squeaked but I barely heard it; in truth, I’d ignored the loose nail for so long it felt wrong to fix it. As I stepped up, Trio raised his head. His tail thumped a greeting against the boards. I stooped, scratched his ears, and sought my rickety rocking chair. My pipe lay in the seat. I stuck the tip between my teeth and focused my eyes on the bowl. A brief spark flickered and a stream of smoke rose from the tobacco. I inhaled, relishing the warmth as the sweet smoke filled my lungs. The breeze blew again, mixing with soft sounds of clucking chickens as they sought their roosts for the night.
Trio sat up, ears erect. A soft growl escaped his lips. “Easy, boy,” I said. He fell silent but continued to gaze into the trees. I shrugged; whatever was out there would show itself soon enough.
A horse neighed in the distance. A moment later, a party of riders emerged from the tree line beyond my fallow field. I counted nine. It was a large enough party to travel safely through the valley and enough to challenge me, had they caught me by surprise.
The band trotted up to my house without hesitation. The foremost wore the standard of a snarling white tiger on a field of green. He was a middle-aged man and rode with confidence. The group stopped and the leader dismounted.
Trio stood at his approach and growled again. Several of the man’s companions reached for their weapons but he waved them down. He stopped short of the porch and said, “Do I have the honor of addressing the Royal Mage Vetterex?”
The new “big book of wargaming” goes under the GrogHeads microscope ~
Brant Guillory, 15 May 2016
Zones of Control is the book that wargaming has been waiting for. Seriously. And that’s a pretty grandiose statement, but the truth is, it’s a long-needed book from a hard-to-ignore-and-harder-to-impugn publisher that tries to comprehensively examine the breadth and depth of wargaming under one cover. Where previous ‘seminal’ works of wargaming – Simulating War or The Art of Wargaming or The Complete Wargames Handbook – were concerned with specific facets of wargaming (academic explorations, professional uses, or hobbyists, for example), Zones of Control brings them all into one giant melting pot, and then sprinkles in the occasional dose of aesthetics, role-playing, and digital design.
Interestingly, Zones of Control is able to swing such a wide arc precisely by avoiding the overly-pedantic and never-solved argument about “what is a wargame?” It is conspicuously absent throughout the book, and there isn’t even a cursory attempt at it. Avoiding that discussion allows the editors a wide range of latitude to include discussions of Twilight Struggle, Tunnels & Trolls, and battlefield re-enactors. And truthfully, the book is much richer for it.
It is that very breadth that can make Zones of Control a challenge to review, however. To what are we comparing it? It’s scope alone puts the book in its own category among the wargaming literature. There’s no comparable volume in the pop music world, whose attempts at a broad-scope literary volume end up more an inventory of artists than an exploration of types of music. One might compare this book to something like a collected academic volume like the Communication Technology Update, but with technology and its markets moving as they do, that textbook is updated every 2 years. The collected essays of Zones of Control are almost “the greatest hits” of a year or two of erudite magazine articles from a flagship wargaming analysis journal, if such a thing ever existed. Spread over 5 years of quarterly issues, rather than collected into a consolidated volume, the essays of Zones of Control might have have become the catalyzing agent around which a comprehensive cross-domain association of wargaming might have coalesced – a worthy literary companion to the Connections wargaming conference. But to deconstruct the book and instead attempt to feature the writers over the span of several years would have cost the critical momentum needed to even publish the book at all. Instead, we’re forced to hope that someone picks up the baton and starts a recurring publication as a companion to this volume. But that’s putting the cart at least a mile or two before the horse that Kirschenbaum & Harrigan have saddled for us.
Papa’s got a brand new bag! ~
Jonathan Glazer, 13 May 2016
If you have been reading this series faithfully, I hope you have come away with the observation that this is more of a practical discussion of surviving the zombie apocalypse aimed primarily at people who haven’t devoted their lives to every aspect of survival. When I was in Junior High School, I began reading survivalist magazines and that started me on the path towards building the right mindset towards being able to live through a variety of trying circumstances. I also thought that my parents would agree that stockpiling food, water, weapons and all the other stuff needed to be one of the few to help repopulate America Mark II would be a great idea.
As it turns out, I was not as persuasive as I thought. They were more focused on paying the mortgage and making lunches for us every day. As I “matured”, my interest in survival continued, but I realized that there was no way I could prepare for every eventuality and guarantee that my family and I would be one of the few that continued on with a full belly. If I lived in a rural area, my commitment to the cause would be greater because the lower population density and the ability to grow my own food would make hardcore survival into a real option. I have spent my entire life in a suburban environment which means my access to land and proximity to other people makes long term existence in dire times distinctly more difficult.
What to do when the movies come true ~
Jonathan Glazer, 15 April 2016
I am going to take a slight departure with this installment and move in a different direction for the moment. Of course we must always keep our eyes open for the first sign of the dead rising with a taste for human flesh. But for now I want to talk about a more immediate threat. This one is very real and in the news daily. I am talking about the invasion of the United States by a human hostile enemy.
The United States Armed forces have always been accused of preparing to fight the next war by training to fight the last war. As Santayana is often paraphrased “Those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it”, the lessons of prior conflicts must be studied, but that does not mean we will be fighting the same war over again. The United States Military command still teaches amphibious assaults, as executed on the beaches of Normandy, Sicily and the Pacific Theater of Operations throughout World War II. The reality is that while we do land troops in this fashion, such as in Somalia and a few other engagements, such landings are always unopposed. This is because technology has rendered the survivability of a true hostile amphibious landing to be not acceptable. Surface to shore missiles and man portable rockets along with increasingly sophisticated targeting systems mean that landing craft will be an endangered species by the time they reach a contested beachhead.
What to do when you can’t run for things when you run out of things ~
Jonathan Glazer, 11 March 2016
“Do we have any advil left?” Running out of stuff today is a minor inconvenience. I have been known to dash out of the house 3 or 4 different times over the course of a day to get forgotten, depleted or lost items needed right away. Fortunately for me, I live within 5 minutes of a couple of big box stores, not to mention a choice of super markets and major chain pharmacies. What happens when the lights are out, the undead roam the earth and every other person with a pulse is competing with you for everything? Your biggest problem won’t be sneaking 13 items in the 12-items-or-less aisle. Scrounging will be an extremely valuable skill in the days when there is no more civilization. Even the best prepper will forget something, not anticipate the need for something that becomes invaluable or just plain run out of necessary items. Perhaps a badger will sneak in your shed and eat your spare fuel line for your generator just before you need it most. Where do you get a new one?
Walmart may seem to have everything in stock now, but once all goes to hell in a handbasket, your neighbors will likely forget their manners and chaos will ensue. A day or so after the big one hits, shelves will be picked clean quickly. In the days before the last two hurricanes here in the Northeast, things like batteries, flashlights and generators disappeared. Even a heavy storm makes people buy eggs, milk and break like there is a French toast bakeoff the next day. Once it is clear there are no consequences, people stop waiting in line and just take what they need. There are videos of the stores in New Orleans following hurricane Katrina and they were enough to give any retail manager nightmares. The scenes in many zombie movies of survivors entering supermarkets to find what they needed are not likely to happen. Markets, big box stores and discount clubs will look like empty warehouses with scattered debris everywhere. The only exception might be if an armed group takes over one of these centers of consumerism as a means of safeguarding the contents and using them until the cavalry arrives. In that case, you are looking at a hell of a fight to gain entry and get your hands on some toilet paper and baby wipes.