Monday, June 27, 2022

Essays: Young Jorge Borges

 A Universal History of Infamy by Jorge Luis Borges, Translated by Norman Thomas Giovanni, E.P. Dutton, 1979, Original publication 1935.

Provenance: From Sacnoth's library by odd happenstance. The company that helped put together miku, and the gods, is putting together another show called She Devil of the China Seas, about the Pirate Ching Shi*. I had brushed up against this legendary figure a number times in my life - including as model for an unpublished character for Crucible.. I mentioned it to Sacnoth at one of new post-Covid gatherings, and he plucked this book off the shelf, which contains a short essay by the renowned Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges on the subject. 

Review: Jorge Luis Borges is sort of that distant relative to most fantasy  gameplayers thkat they have heard of, maybe see at weddings, but never really had a good talk with. People may have read "The Library of Babel" or "The Book of Imaginary Beings". but Borges was not one to follow the traditional fantasy quest traditions, so gets overlooked by our rank and file. He is a founder of the school of Magical Realism, which is thought to be installing fantasy elements into traditional settings and writing, but has revolved over the years into a genre that means Elves as London Coppers. 

The book is a collection of essays and short works that break down into three categories. First there are fictionalized biographies of particular villains of the past - Bill the Kid, Monk Eastman of the Gangs of New York, and the aforementioned Widow Ching. As a hinge in the presentation there's a short story written in first person about young urban punks, and then finishes up with a collection of "Etcetera" - short parables, for lack of a better word. The biographies are more eloquent, less factual, Wikipedia entries, and the Etcetera are short enough to merit a multi-entry Twitter chain. Indeed, if Borges' medium was the net and not the printed form, these would have been lost to the ever-widening electronic gyre of Facebook. It was good he was writing when he did.

These essays are from early in Borges career, yet immediately set himself out as a master teller of tales, his work based philosophically in their underlying morals. They can be a great underlying foundation for a campaign setting or adventure, but lack the deep exposition, quest-like plotting native to our sub genre. What they do have is a lyricism and magic that sweeps the reader along to a brief resolution. The are as eloquent as they are brief. Magical realism, indeed. 

The originals are in Spanish, and the English translations (in Borges own opinion) are excellent. Still, in reading foreign translations, it feels like attending a play and standing in the lobby, while a stream of people come out and tell you what's on the stage. Yet even in translation it is worth it to hunt this down and read it, if nothing else as to indicate philosophical underpinnings to potential settings. And because it is a darned engaging set of reads. So need to go down to my library and pick up the Borges Collected Fictions that I have had on the shelf for a while.

More, later,

*An incredibly famous female pirate you've never heard of, Ching Shi (also known as Zheng Yi Sao, Shi Yang, and Shi Xianggu, all of which translate as "Wife of Ching" or "Widow of Ching") inherited her pirates from he husband, and built the family business up to an armada that terrorized the mainland. The fact that we name her in the shadow of her less-successful husband is telling.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Theatre: Beauticians and the Beasts

 miku, and the gods by Julia Izumi, Directed by Alyza Delpan-Monley, co-presented by Pork Filled Productions

This one left me confused. 

I'm not alone. The Lovely Bride and I always wait to get back to that car and start the drive home before discussing a play, mainly because we've had strangers dip into our discussions with their own insights (not a criminal offence, but not appreciated). And as we made our way down off the hill of West Seattle, she said, "That was ...." and she paused.

"Weird?" I said.

"Weird." She repeated almost immediately. "Nice costumes though."

And it was weird. More performance than play, it was narratively frustrating. It started strong, but threw me off the path about forty-five minutes in and I never quite recovered. Even now, I have a hard time describing what the play was ultimately about.

OK, here goes for a summary: Miku (Lola Rei Fukushima) is a brilliant 12-year old who lost her brother in an accident in a river. Determined to fix an unjust world, she seeks out the One Who Is Wise (NEVE), an acid-tongued beautician to find out how to become a god. She also encounters Ephraim (Ben Symons) who wants to become an Olympic-level swimmer. Seeing connection between Olympians and Olympians, she recruits Ephraim to help in her god-quest. Meanwhile, Miku's grandmother Seiko (Naho Shioya) is dealing with dementia, aided by Shara (Sherif Amin), who is a minor god of Beauticians and War. Or maybe just a beautician. We're not quite sure.

And that's about as far as I can go before I get kinda confused. I am not sure exactly who the story is about and whether it is real or in one of the characters' headspace. There is interpretive dance. There are announcements. There are muffled announcements, and I'm not quite sure if that was intentional. There is a strong feeling if these characters are the characters they have declared themselves to be, or are gods, or mortals, or memories. The play has good bits, but defies me to put them together in a coherent order. Which, since they are talking about gods and mythology, may be part of the point. The play ends softly, and again, I am not sure that it has ended, except for an announcement that "The Play Has Ended." But has it ended? Really?

The actors are great, committing to characters that are over the top gods and super heroes - you know, maybe. Fukushima had been at the Arts West previously, and brings that same direct energy into holding the center together here. The stage is minimalistic and effective, bringing the question of where are we to the front. 

But ultimately is does not bring me anywhere close to enlightenment or closure or comprehension. Gods, death, memories, all sort of get thrown up at once. That's cool. Some forms of art don't engage at a cerebral level or an emotional level, but rather at a quasi-mystic feeling. Ballet and poetry come to mind, which are spider-webs, beautiful but incredibly delicate, unable to withstand a harsher examination. I didn't hate it. I was just puzzled and frustrated by it. The play ultimately feels like it is still trying to figure out what it is.

Nice costumes, though.

More later

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Theatre: The Bigger Boat

Bruce, Music by Richard Oberacker, Book & Lyrics by Robert Taylor and Richard Oberacker, Based on the book The Jaws Log by Carl Gottlieb, Directed and Choreographed by Donna Feore. 

Spoilers: I loved this, and strongly recommend that others go see it. Fair warning: The Lovely Bride did not, but we will get to that.

Long ago, musicals would show up on Broadway, then turn into films in Hollywood. Now the opposite is true - Intellectual Properties arrive from films and TV shows and are turned into comfortable songfests in NYC, then tour the nation in road companies. And this particular project goes even further - it is a musical based on a book about a movie about a book. So I will admit I was a little cautious going into this one.

And I enjoyed myself tremendously. I thought it was great. This is one of those performances I want to heartily recommend to others. Five years ago, I got to see Come From Away at the REP before it got big and was floored by the production. Bruce had the same effect on me. It a musical about the making of one of the first big modern Hollywood blockbusters. And you should go see it.

It is about the making of Jaws, and Bruce is the name for the infamous, problematic, mechanical shark that almost sunk the entire production. A young film-maker off his first modest success gets the nod to bring a best-seller about a killer shark to the big screen. At that time the best-seller was not yet published, and did not even have a final title. This was the first of many hurdles in the process.

And the show is all about the process. Putting together the initial team, casting, planning to record in a real ocean, finding the set location. The first chunk of the musical is laid out on a three-by three vertical grid, where the various component parts are spinning and people are contacted, recruited, convinced to come together. Like Jake and Elwood Blues, they are going to put the band together. Like Judy Garland and Micky Rooney, they're going to put on a show. About a shark.

And then they go to the island itself - Martha's Vineyard, and as with every plan, it disintegrates upon first contact with the greater reality. Problems with locals. Problems with scripts. Problems with the weather.  Problems with the actors. And most of all, problems with the mechanical shark that fails spectacularly and repeatedly, forcing the team to shoot around it. In the process, they succeeded with the shadow of the knife as opposed to the knife itself.

The cast is fantastic here - strong-voiced and solid, top to bottom. Jarrod Spector is an idealized Steven Spielberg at the start of his career. Ramzi Khalaf is a pugnaceous, insecure Richard (Ricky) Dreyfus. Hans Alwies is a drunken veteran Robert Shaw who acts the diva right up to the Indianapolis scene, where he disappears into Quint's character. Beth Devries is Lorraine Gary, whose character in the movie gets sidelined by the three male stars but here is a supportive foundation. Geoff Packard is the production company's Dad-figure as Roy Scheider. But it is the people behind the scenes, Alexandria J Henderson (as talent director Shari Rhodes) and E. Faye Butler (as film editor Verna Fields) that are fantastic, even if their real-life counterparts of that era were much paler. Top to bottom, everyone was brilliant. Heck, they even have you rooting for the producers (Eric Ankrim as Richard Zanuck and Timothy McCuen Piggee as David Brown).

How much of the story is ultimately true? Don't care. This musical actually hit me where I live and work. I have spend much of career as a corporate creative, working with teams of talented people, sometimes but not always in a leadership position, and the things found here ring true to me. I have done casting, I have been in the room where the deals are made, I know the chaos that often results in looking like we had it all planned. In many ways, this play gave me the reverse of PTSD - it was joyous and my eyes were wet by the end of it (It might have been the smoke, but hey, its Hollywood). And to honest (and a little cynical), while the actually making of the film involved a lot of plucky young professions working against long odds and nasty conditions, the original book got a huge promotion from Doubleday and the movie itself had a major ton of promotion, licenses, and distribution.  Don't care. It really hit me.

I even marveled at the set design. I have an allergy to "gizmo plays" that have flying sets and sliding furnishings and multiple levels of production to fill vertical space. But the Hollywood Squares initial set-up actually WORKED, and when everyone decamps to the island, that set splits apart to reveal a wider, more open world, and I was completely taken in. It was Dorothy stepping into Oz. 

The Lovely Bride did not care for it. In fact, she used the word "deplorable". And the big reason was that for her is did not work as a musical. I think that's a fair cop. A lot of the tropes you get from a Broadway Musical are missing = There is the "Statement of Purpose" song at the beginning, but there is not a lot of toe-tapping memorable melodies here. There is no catchy little comedy number or showstopper solo or big production number right before the intermission (heck, there isn't even an intermission). She felt it was closer to opera, and she doesn't care much for opera. But I liked it. I would buy the CD (Do they still do CDs?)

And, to be fair, would it have the same effect as it had on someone my age as on someone who had never seen the movie it was based on, or knew anything about the stories that have grown up around it? I dunno, go find someone who doesn't know about the film that traumatized a generation about swimming in the ocean. I can wait.

Summary on Bruce? Let me oversell it. I think it is great. I think this was a tonic for everyone who is involved in creating things in the real world. It made me want to return to projects that have been abeyance for a while, and return to my daily creative task with new vigor. 

So yeah, I think you should go see it. 

More later,

Saturday, May 28, 2022

No Quarter: The Next Gen I

So, I don't know if I really want to go on with this blog's ongoing practice of talking about collectible quarters, but old habits die hard. After the States Series and the National Parks series, the US Mint has launched a new collection of collectible/commemorative quarters. And it was pretty easy to mock pictures of birds and mountains and the mudflap that Wyoming used for its quarter. But this new series is on famous American Women, some of whom have passed on in recent memory. So I think I will walk a tad more respectful this time out.

Originally, this was supposed to be similar to the previous currency series, in that each state would get one woman to brag on, but that was revised because they want to do a sesquicentennial (250 years) set in 2026. So we get four years of famous women for 20 total as opposed to 50 national parks/monuments/seashores/parking lots. The idea that women get about 40% of the attention given to other subjects is such an American Thing.

But as I said, I'm going to walk a little more carefully, in part because a lot of these women are unknown/forgotten/ignored in the standard narratives. Also, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the majority will be from the twentieth century, as opposed to something from the Civil War era, in part because women have been unknown/forgotten/ignored in a lot of traditional texts.  I'd like to to concentrate (and mock) the design a lot more than the subject matter, and to encourage readers to follow the links to learn more in detail of these remarkable women.

But first off, let's talk about the other side of the coin, literally. The side with Washington on it.The face/heads/obverse of the coin has made some major changes, and some minor ones. Big one you'll probably notice - Washington is facing the other direction. Also, the sculpture is from a 1931 dollar, and you can see differences in the artistic approach (George has an even thicker neck, and the rat-tail at the back of his head is more pronounced). Also some of the text has switched sides - The denomination and United States of America are now on the other side, and the year moves back to being on the same side as George. As a result the reverse side does have more text to deal with as it previously had

Anyway, I am not expecting a lot of coins to get a review below C (They have gotten much better at it over the past 20 years), but here are the review levels. 

Way Cool =A
Not Bad = B
Just Average (also known as Meh) = C
Kinda Lame = D
So bad you don't want to show your mother = E

Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

This is a strong lead-in, both from subject and presentation. Maya Angelou is known for her autobiographic works and her poetry, but also for her work in Civil Rights. Now I Know Why The Caged Birds Sing is pretty much a standard text for a generation of English classes, and she was the second poet to read one of her poems at a presidential nomination (the first was Robert Frost, the most recent was Amanda Gorman). 

Her pose is dynamic and evokes Caged Birds in its presentation. I really like it because, right off the bat, it gives us more than the standard portrait and creates an active presentation for the coin. She is also the first African-American woman on a coin. Buckle up, there are going to be a lot of firsts in this series.

Rating: A

Dr. Sally Ride (1951-2012)

It is no longer big news to have women in space, but Sally Ride was a big thing back in the 80s - the first (American) woman in space. I know - it took us THAT long to put a woman in space, but hey, equality has always been a process. She is also the first known LGBT person on a US coin (get back to the closet, Buchanan - your family burned all your correspondence, so we're still not sure about your status, shy of a seance). 

The coin itself is, well, OK. Sitting portrait along one side, big globe in the background, bit of a swirl that evokes orbit and window on the shuttle. Its a pretty nice quarter, but nothing that makes me really engage with it. 

 Rating: B

Wilma Mankiller (1945-2010)

No jokes on the name, please.While there's a good chance you know about Maya Angelou and Sally Ride, now we get into more esoteric heroes. And its a pity, because Wilma Mankiller's background is impressive, including both Native American activism in California and Oklahoma, and as a chief of the Cherokee people. 

The coins are already settling into a comfortable type - figure on the left-hand side, shown torso up, symbology in the background on the right-hand side (A symbol of the Cherokee nation,  all contained by a circle with all the required data. I think we are going to lose her note as Principal Chief and the Cherokee words beneath in the folds of her shawl. It is a very busy coin.

 Rating: C

Nina Otero-Warren (1881-1965)

We are probably going to see a lot of suffragettes, particular for those famous women born before 1900.  Maria Adelina Isabel Emilia "Nina" Otero-Warren is the oldest representative of this crop of coins, and her achievements span politics and education. She argued for bilingual education and was the first Latina to run for the US House of Representatives (as a Republican. She lost). She is the first Hispanic-American portrayed on US Coinage.

Like Mankiller and Ride, we see the sitting portrait on the left side of the coin. In addition, there is a LOT of text - in addition to the stuff shoved onto this side from the obverse side, we have Votes for Women on this side, which to some folk is STILL a controversial subject.  Plus a collection of Yucca flowers to represent her native New Mexico. I think it is going to be a cluttered quarter, much like Mankiller's. One good bit - her head does break the plane of the surrounding circle, making it a bit more dynamic.

Rating: C

Anna May Wong (1905-1961)

Wong Lui-tsong is the first actress on the group, and a pioneering Asian-American in the film and TV industries. That's good. However, a lot of her roles were very much in the stereotypical vamp/dragon lady that smacks of Orientalism and exoticism, so that's a little less good. Plus the fact that a lot of early work are "lost films" that have not survived into the present day, and her ground-breaking TV show was on the now-extinct Dumont network, and few records exist of it as well. Yet she has been recognized for her work in recent years, as well as her work for the Chinese-American community.

The quarter itself is exceptional in that it gets away from the already-trope of the previous three with a closer headshot that plays off the natural beauty of Ms. Wong. This is a very stylish coin that feels like a silent movie poster of the era. I like it.

Rating: A

That's it for the first batch - tune in next year for five more, and keep checking your change!

More later,

Sunday, May 22, 2022

This Just In: Latest Arrivals

So, more Kickstarters have shown up at Grubb Street, along with the occasional purchase from local brick and mortars and one author copy. As always, I want to note that these are not reviews so much as "first looks", and in most cases I have not read them cover to cover nor tested out their mechanics. But I still want folk to know what's out and what's happening, as opposed to doing a thorough deep dive and getting back to around, let's say ... Christmas.So this is a better approach for me.

And what do we have in this collection, Johnny?

Grimstone Roleplaying Game (Angelos Krypianos, Writer/Creator Spiral Lane Productions, 126 page Hardback). Greek writers, Greek publisher, this is part of what I was talking about last time in the global nature of RPG design. This is actually the crunchiest of this collection of games, with a great backstory - all of the races are human, but made up of different parts of the Sun and Moon. A nice setting, low-magic, with a unique RPG system.

Ships of the Expanse (Keith Garret, Lem Lemke, Mari Murdock, Nicole Winchester, Writers/Designers, Green Ronin Games, 144 page Hardback). I have not played the Expanse RPG, but I really like the design of the games in this line, and the spaceships in general. It scratches that Traveller itch of my game design history. The Ronins have done a fantastic job with this production, not only on presenting the ships but also talking about hard-science intra-solar system space travel. And I want to unleash these deck plans on others, now. Picked this copy up at Olympic Cards and Comics down in Lacey, which has a LOT of non-traditional RPGs that I don't find elsewhere..

Coyote & Crow (Conor Alexander, Creator/Writer/Developer), Coyote & Crow LLC, 474 Page hardback) There has been a strong movement for authenticity in game design, in particular for games which find their origins in other cultures and heritages. Coyote & Crow, rooted in Native American heritageis created by mostly Native American talents. The game deals with an alternate cyberpunk North America on a world where the European colonizers were wiped out by a space anomaly before they could get up to any mischief, and the survivors on this side of the planet gained low-level magical abilities. The book is a massive full-size, full-color hardcover. The system itself looks like Shadowrun with d12s, and the worldbuilding itself is interesting. It has also was nominated for a Nebula, which is a rare thing for RPGs (Alas it lost out to Thirsty Sword Lesbians, which was covered in an earlier writeup).

Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game Playtest Rulebook (Matt Forbeck, Writer, Marvel Worldwide, Inc, 120 page softbound). Got this at Fantasium, my local comic store as an inexpensive addition to my weekly comics pull, and read through it over the weekend of its release. It is the "playtest copy", but it compares favorably with the now-ancient Yellow Box Marvel. Amused that the ability scores spell out MARVEL instead of FASERIP, and there are diceworks that echo the old D6 system from West End (it has botch dice, which can be negated by .... Karma!). It is what it says on the tin - a playtest copy, so it is not a complete overview of all of Marvel and its powers, and I don't think it has anything for experience and character advancement. Inexpensive and definitely worth checking out (And I welcome Matt into the "Brotherhood of Marvel RPG Game Designers" - next week we fight the Great Lakes Avengers!).

Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding Volume 2 (John Joseph Adams, Editor, Kobold Press, 108 page softbound digest). The Kobold Guides are just fantastic reads - essays by some of the best and brightest in the field on a variety of subjects. The books are veritable wonderland of insights and commentary on various components of campaign, fiction, and world design. An excellent product. Oh, did I mention that I have an essay in this edition? I talk about Space Hamsters.

Corsairs of Cthulhu, Fighting Mythos in the Golden Age of Piracy (Ben Burns, Writer, New Comet Games, 297 page hardback) Pirates Vs. Cthulhu! Who could argue with that? The book consists of a set of modifications to the core Cthulhu rules (the Investigators are now Corsairs, and have skills like Alchemy and Artillery), and a huge world-sweeping adventure. I like some of New Comet's Games (Devil's Swamp was quite good), and don't care for others (A Time for Sacrifice  left me cold). Leafing through Corsairs, the adventure itself looks like they have everything and the kitchen sink involved here. Looks very interesting, and may yet get to my gaming table..

Remarkable Cults & Their Followers (JVC Perry, Jeff Lee, RP Davis, Writers, LoreSmyth, 180 page softbound). This is a 21st century version of the Book of Vile Darkness, though its definition of cults extends to factions and secret societies, but has enough that are just Evil Evil Evil. This is a really beautiful book that deals with a great subject for players - Setting up and running cults both as opponents and as player organizations. They have about a dozen cults/secret societies/factions that can be dropped in (including maps of their secret headquarters), along with rules for setting up your own. Plus evil artifacts! It is "system-neutral", which means it plays well with 5E. Of this group, I particularly like the layout and art.

And that's about it for this haul. Did I mention that I have an essay in The Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding, Volume 2? As luck would have it, I talk about Space Hamsters.

More later,

Sunday, May 08, 2022

Theatre: Mother's Rave

Alma, by Benjamin Benne, Directed by Sophie Franco, Arts West, through May 22.

The Lovely Bride and I took another journey to that mystical land beyond the Duwamish River called West Seattle. I am almost at a point where I can get there without getting lost (the West Seattle Bridge is still shut down). Our goal (in addition to great sushi, is the Arts West Theatre, a small but great theater group ensconced in the shell of a renovated former furniture store. The LB and I have been hitting opening nights, and to a great degree, have be rewarded for the effort.

Case in point, Alma. Yolanda Suarez is Alma, Leah Sainz-Jones is her daughter, Angel. Angel is supposed to be taking her SATs tomorrow. Alma has been preparing for this day, the next step of her daughter's success, to have the life she was denied. Angel does not plan to take the test. The resulting discussion/argument is the core of the play itself. Two actors, one problem, ninety minutes.

And the playwright pulls it off. The analyst in me can tweak to the ratcheting up and unwinding of dialboue as their relationship plays out over the course of the argument. Alma and Angel are friends and also mother and daughter, with all the baggage and hidden traps that that involves. They curse, bluster, accuse, mock, make up, cuddle, cry, tease, and love each other, and the script itself dances from one point to another.

Also a sizable chunk of the dialogue is in Spanish, in that halfway domain in families where the parent has come from another country and the child groks the new language. Yet they slip in and out of it gracefully, and there are only a few points where I felt I missed something - that would be the universal nature of parent/child relationships. Also the PTSD that comes from High School testing.

There's a third player on-stage, unseen but not unheard- America and the American Dream. The ghosts of an old country. The play takes place in that weird temporal borderland between Trump's election and inauguration, in that weird quantum state when everyone was wondering how bad could it be. The newly-elected voice, over a malfunctioning TV, blasts into their lives about building a wall and making Mexico pay for it (yeah, how did THAT work out). Alma is an illegal, and Angel is aware that the rules have changed, and what they have both hoped for is now much, much more difficult. 

The set design is excellent, open-spaced and beneath (at times) the stars, setting the eternal nature of the parent/child discussion. The program book also carries a bit of weight in the proceedings. There is interview with the director, which is par for the course, but also a page of translations and explanation of what the Prologue (storms, horses, soldiers, Military music) means within the larger whole. Even th art in the hallway underscores the players on the state. It was very much a total package.

Alma is a small play (Two people and the ghost of the American Dream) and a greater play as well, set within its time and within the long timeline of mothers and daughter. I liked it, and think you would too.

More later, 

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Book: Pulp Fiction

The Dictionary of Snow Hill by Jess Nevins, 2022

Provenance: Another book recommended by Facebook ads. I get a lot of ads for books on Facebook, so the Algorithm has me pegged.  Yeah, I'm getting worried about that as well. This one caught my attention because of the Author - Jess Nevins. Nevins has written one of my favorite reference books (You have a favorite reference book, right?): The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana, as well as doing annotations on things like Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comics. So, yeah, he comes from a good background, so I'm in.

Review: This is a love-letter to Pulps of the 20's and 30's, with parts spilling over to before and after that era. Set in the Maryland city of Snow Hill, the largest and shiniest city in the US, it is a collection of tales involving Science Heroes and Villains. This is tropes gone wild, and features a host of familiarish players - Micheal Ferrum, the two-fisted "Doc Bronze" and his Sensational Six, World-famous Consulting Detective Havelock Blake, the Shadow-esque Laughing Monk, along with talking ape detectives and luchadors. Roman a clef with the predecessors of the super hero universes.

Yes, it is a madhouse, literally so in places. There are invasions from other planets, inner worlds, and undersea menaces. Lovecraftian horrors abound (and we have the Doctor Strangish/Inner Sanctum magician named Anton Weird in the mix as well). It is a world where all the heroes of the pulps are all active at the same time, sharing the same universe and the some of the same enemies. Physics itself tends to bend around such challenges.

The format is in encyclopedia format with rough alphabetization. Entries are narrated by different in-world inhabitants, so we have unreliable narrators throughout. Radio scripts, media articles, and personal memories all mix and twist. Being an overview of the various characters' careers, many of them end badly. Particularly there is a lot of reference to the events of June 21st, 1937, a solstice where many things go badly for many, many people. This is the ongoing narrative that stretches throughout the book, the approaching cliff that the characters are hurtling towards.

So, does Nevins gather together the collected strands and resolve them? He has been an annotator of a lot of Alan Moore's work, and Moore has had challenges with stories not so much resolving as running out of pages, and of playing nastily with his creations. Does Nevins "stick the landing"? Yes, in part because of the unreliable nature of his narrators and the who is giving information when in the book. There are a couple tweaks and twists, but the book delivers.

The Dictionary of Snow Hill entertains and delights. It would make a solid sourcebook for a era-specific superhero gaming campaign. It feels very much like Kurt Busiek's Astro City comics - Set firmly within its genre, with characters whose archetypes are easily identified. It's a great read if you remember the pulps, and worth checking out even you don't.

More later,