Under the Influence: RUSH

"In the constellation of Cygnus there lurks/A mysterious, invisible force:/The black hole of Cygnus X-1…"   Many are the rock bands that emerged from the 1970s; few are those who survived the decades since. Even fewer are those that impressed me, not with one or two songs, but with entire ALBUMS that I would collect and listen to most of. My usual music-listening habits involve picking one or two songs out of an entire band's career that I like, which is why I rarely will say I like a given band. But there is one huge exception: the [ Continue reading... ]

On My Shelves: Holst’s _The Planets_

There are a few classical pieces known to almost everyone; Beethoven's Fifth and Ninth Symphonies, Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance (from graduations everywhere), Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D-Minor. Many more are known, but not always immediately recognized by name, as they get played in part or in whole in many different settings. But in the world of SF geeks, there are some with special significance, and of these, few could compete with Gustav Holst's The Planets, a suite of seven pieces each representing one of the major planets (other than [ Continue reading... ]

Just For Fun: Tabletop RPGs 2: Effects Versus Causes, OR Why I Hate _Champions_

In my prior RPG discussion I talked about my basic approach to running a game – that the world is the important thing that I'm presenting, and the rules are the tools – often imperfect and clumsy tools – used to help the players (who are stuck in our world) interact with the game world through the characters, who live in the game world. But what makes a game world a functioning world rather than, say, a bunch of settings, people, and things? My simple answer for this is that it is a place with an underlying logic to it. Our world has the [ Continue reading... ]

Just For Fun: Tabletop RPGs – Game Balance OR World Trumps Rules

I've been a roleplaying gamer since 1977, when I first encountered Dungeons and Dragons – unless you count the venerable game of "let's pretend", which I was playing from the time I was 4 or 5, and even had some rules for to minimize the arguments. I discussed my initial encounter with commercial RPGs, and the influence it had on my life, in this prior entry: http://grandcentralarena.com/under-the-influence-roleplaying-games-rpgs/ In this entry, though, I want to talk about running RPGs and how I view this extremely challenging hobbyist [ Continue reading... ]

Just For Fun: Deleted Chapters of Phoenix Rising, Chapter 50

Now we jump far, far ahead to near the end of the book. This chapter was deleted because the book ended very, very differently. Not only did Xavier only show up for a couple of chapters (being sent off to Idinus of Scimitar rather than the Wanderer, and thus not traveling with Tobimar and not showing up for the final battle), but also there was no "screw you" trap following Thornfalcon's death, and after their meet-and-greet, the three companions did, in fact, burn Thornfalcon's mansion to the ground and didn't confront the remaining Justiciars [ Continue reading... ]

Just For Fun: Deleted Chapters of Phoenix Rising: Chapter 12

This chapter followed the introduction of Tobimar and Poplock, and implied some time passed. As you can see, the timeline got shifted some -- in the final draft, of course, it's implied that the first events for Tobimar and Poplock happen after Rion becomes a Justiciar.     Chapter 12.      Lighter blade parried greatsword with a chiming impact that diverted the larger weapon but also drove back the smaller with near enough force to disarm. Rion cursed mildly as he backpedaled, his fingers clearly stinging. Kyri laughed [ Continue reading... ]

Just For Fun: Deleted Chapters of Phoenix Rising, Chapter 4

So, Toron had begun an investigation last time...   Chapter 4. "I am sorry, Victoria." The huge draconic creature's voice was soft. Kyri couldn't believe it. "But… nothing?" "Nothing, little Vantage." Toron's clawed talons slashed the air in his own anger. "I have used all my senses. I have spoken with all of note in this part of Evanwyl, from the Watchland and the Justiciars down to every living servant of the neighboring houses. I have meditated in prayer in the center of the wreckage, tasted the ashes for their [ Continue reading... ]

Just For Fun: Deleted Chapters from Phoenix Rising, Chapter 3

Seeing these deleted chapters gives a feel for how much can be cut from a book without it being immediately noticeable. I'd basically written out the investigation of the Vantages' murder and deleted the whole thing!   Chapter 3.      "No, Milady." Thornfalcon's face seemed even longer and sadder than usual beneath the silver-beaked helm. The poet and would-be swashbuckler of the Justiciars of Myrionar, Thornfalcon's lugubrious exterior usually masked a playful romantic, ready with a compliment for a lady or a quip to set a room [ Continue reading... ]

Just For Fun: Deleted Chapters from Phoenix Rising, Chapter 2

These chapters were mostly cut because they kept us from getting to the core action. There's still a fair amount of information in them that might interest readers, though the crucial parts I tried to stuff into the remaining chapters.     Chapter 2.      Kyri stared numbly down at the remains of the front door; with cruel irony, the fire-charm on the door had remained intact, so the huge portals were unscorched, smeared only with water and soot from the rest of the mansion but otherwise marred only by the deep [ Continue reading... ]

Just For Fun: Deleted Chapters from _Phoenix Rising_: Chapter 1

Depending on the story and the editor, some of my books have had significant rewrites and changes over the years. In the case of Phoenix Rising, I originally detailed a lot of material which was only mentioned as backstory in the novel. I think the decision to cut the stuff out was right, overall, but it did deprive readers of event and character detail that might well have been worth reading in its own right. So I'm going to post some of those chapters for my readers' amusement -- and maybe comment on each. Here is what used to be Chapter [ Continue reading... ]