Dragon Awards! Last Chance to Nominate 7/20!

Yes ladies and gentleveg, you have until by 11:59 P.M. Eastern Standard Time on July 20, 2018 to get your votes in. Nominate your faves that were put out between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018.

For all you procrastinators out there, here are some reminders of great stuff that Codex & Glyph read, watched & played. Caveat: A couple of them are somewhat… idiosyncratic.

Best Science Fiction Novel: Superluminary by John C. Wright. 

Best Fantasy Novel: Tithe to Tartarus also by the same author. What can we say? Codex has always been a big fan.

Best Young Adult / Middle Grade Novel: Rachel Griffin #4 The Awful Truth about Forgetting by Jagi Lamplighter. This one was tough because we went head to head on Lamplighter vs. Stroud. But then we remembered: Alternate History! And if you’re a grown-up and haven’t read the Lockwood Files because you think it’s greasy kid stuff… you’re missing out. Best Alternate England since Joan Aiken’s Wolves of Willoughby Chase.

Best Military SF: Galaxy’s Edge #2 Galactic Outlaws by Nick Cole & Jason Anspach. Another favorite was the new series by Peter Grant, Cochrane’s Company, about building a merc company and fighting corrupt socialist governments and evil mafia (but I repeat myself).

Best Alternate History Novel: Lockwood Files #5: The Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud. 

Best Horror Novel: Turned Earth by David the Good which may seem like a bit of stretch, but keep in mind, it’s in a category all it’s own. It’s SF. It’s action-adventure. It’s comedy. And, if you identify as a mushroom, it’s HORROR. Oh, the horror! Mammalian fans might prefer Brian Niemeier’s Soul Cycle Book 4: The Ophian Rising.

Best Comic Book: Alt Hero #2: Rebel’s Cell from Arkhaven Comics. It doesn’t qualify as fantastical fiction, but our actual favorite comic books were the Bertie Wooster adventures. Make ours Arkhaven.

Best Graphic Novel: Rust #4 The Soul in the Machine by Royden Lepp. If you’re not reading the Rust series, run out and get them. Some of the most beautiful storytelling this side of Stand Still Stay Silent (Book 2 of which will qualify for next year’s Dragon, just FYI.)

Best Fantastical TV series: The Father Brown Mysteries on BBC. This one’s an imaginary history of Britain in which one tiny little 1950s town has something like a gazillion murders, and a Catholic priest from an alternate universe. But we still like the show a lot.

Best Fantastical Movie: The Incredibles #2 directed by Brad Bird

Best fantastical PC or console game: Subnautica by Unknown Worlds Entertainment. Everyone played through it compulsively.

Best Fantastical Board Game: Bears vs. Babies by Elan Lee & Matthew Inman Not as good as Exploding Kittens, but still a lot of fun.

Best Fantastical RPG: Stuffed Fables from Plaid Hat Games. Great for playing with teens & older kids who can really get into nostalgia. Adults can give it a FNAF vibe and go full horror if they want.

As you can read, the were a few categories we didn’t vote on.. The Dragon Awards are great: you can just leave a spot blank for, say mobile platform games if you don’t play them, or media tie-ins, if you haven’t read any this year.

The Disproportionate Peerkin-Mobling Cogitation Protestation

Dear Comrade,

As you are aware, communism has recently been disavowed as our public political philosophy. The Nomenclative Purification Committee, a subgroup working on behalf of the Central Church of the Narrative Administrative Committee, has been debating a suitable replacement word for the salutation given in this very letter. It is, in fact, the last time it will be used in any communication by I or our fellow Narrativists; written or verbal.

Unfortunately, by using it in the salutation above, I have already violated Directive 15, subparagraph 1,703 D. See below.

The NPC has arrived at an impasse over the replacement term. It seems that half (the smart half) want to use the word Peerkin. This term is gender-neutral, stresses equity, and provides a familial tone that is of comfort to many. As you know, Narrativists are often threatened by their own families before and after they join our church.

The other half, who tend to be among our lower, less-enlightened ranks, insist that the term Mobling be used. This word is not only more descriptive, its adherents claim, but contains “truth”. “Truth” is problematic. In fact, we hold no truths. Rather, our truths change to fit The Narrative. You’d think they’d be capable of reading the sign to that effect above the sanctuary door. Several ridiculous third and fourth parties continue to lobby for alternative language choices, not that anyone is going to listen to them.

What is your say on this matter, my fellow Peerkin? Or should it be fellow Mobling? Please submit your response to the NPC post-haste.

I must now request absolution. I addressed you using the word right-wing opponents have always used to refer to one another, signalling their fascist in-group preferences: comrade. The Fairness and Forgiveness Committee, a subgroup working on behalf of the Central Church of the Narrative Administrative Action Committee, has passed judgment.

I am to proceed immediately to the nearest Starbucks, order a mondo-size Blonde Vanilla Bean Coconutmilk Latte, and imbibe the concoction in their public restroom. Should I survive, which seems unlikely, I will be welcomed back into the good graces of the Church.

Should I never see you again, please remember my final words: All Hail the Narrative!


#VegetablesForBroccoli: Turned Earth by David the Good

Mild-mannered soil scientist Jack Broccoli is an unlikely candidate for James Bond-esque action hero. But double-digging turnip beds has toned his physique. The Filipino Butcher Masters martial arts exercise video series has honed his warrior mindset. So when Jack is targeted by the sinister agents of F.A.D.A.M., he’s ready:

As he day-dreamed about fighting off a horde of ninjas with a spading fork, Jack suddenly heard a click at the window of the room. Then another, followed by a scratching sound, as if the glass were being cut. Then a piece of glass fell to the carpet, and the window swung open through the curtains.

A man stood in the room with him ….

The man was the same size as Jack, but he had a defensive stance, which made Jack wonder if he was overmatched. Maybe he just came to take the TV. The man said something through the mask to Jack in badly accented English. It sounded like “Ukon wis mao”.

“I’m not sure what you said, “Jack replied, as his eyes darted around the room, looking for something he could use as a weapon. “Do you want to take the TV?” The man shook his head and took a step toward Jack.

“UKONWISMEAOW!” he commanded.

“Yukon whiz meow?”

The man ripped off his mask. He must be Korean, Jack thought, though to his undiscriminating eye, he might also be Japanese, Laotian, Cambodian, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Tibetian, Thai, Indonesian, Chinese, Pacific Islander, or Cherokee.

“You come. With me. Now!”

“Out the window?” Jack said incredulously.

“No, out the door!” the man snapped.

Okay. Maybe not completely ready.

If you read just one hilariously epic gardening spy thriller this year: Read Jack Brocolli #1: Turned Earth.

Addendum: Despite the heavy-duty action scenes and ancillary Bond babe hotness, this is a book you can give to your 14-year-old daughter. Ours loved it.

Punishment.

Original fairy tales mete out the very best punishments for character flaws.

In The Three Little Pigs the first two pigs import cheap Chinese building materials with which they build their houses. They get eaten by the Great Canadian Wolf, ravenously unhappy with ongoing NAFTA negotiations. The Wolf, thinking the third pig has foolishly imported bricks from Mexico, is eventually trapped in an American-made cast iron pot and is himself devoured. Lesson: Don’t be a glutton. When it comes to bacon, leave the third pig for someone else.

In the original Rapunzel, a nameless Prince climbs the tower using the hair of the woman he loves. As he ponders why he didn’t use the stairs, Dame Gothel leaps forth from behind a curtain:

“Your Rapunzel was rescued not an hour ago by Prince Chad! But I would be thrilled to be your rescue–ee, sweetie!” Wink. Wink. Cackle-Flem-Hack. Big Toothless Grin.

Nameless Prince leaps from the window, landing in a tangle of blackberry bushes. Thinking it will ease the misery of seeing the hideous crone without her makeup, he blinds himself with the thorns. As he staggers off into the wilderness, he now ponders why he didn’t drink a bottle of cheap scotch instead. Lesson: Sometimes the second mouse gets moldy cheese.

The most valuable life-lesson comes from CinderellaAschenputtel, in the original German – by the Brothers Grimm. The eldest step-sister (let’s call her “Allison”) has a college education and reads the most fashionable magazines. She knows what she likes, and she likes fancy dresses, fancy shoes, fancy mansions, and flawless maid service. She knows how to coerce others to provide those things for her and she deserves them. Isn’t she the one atop the highest pedestal?

Allison manipulates her mother, her poor migrant step-sister, and the prince  who’s selling expensive glass slippers. The prince negs her by mocking her gigantic cloven hooves. She shows him!  Grabbing an axe, Allison chops off her toes.

“Hah! The fresh blood will provide the lubricant I need to slip these past my misshapen Cuneiform bones!”

It doesn’t. Lesson: If you want to end up completely crazy, go to college.

In the spirit of these old tales, we’ve come up with an old-school punishment for our miscreant cartoon characters: the Weed Killer Stick. We’re not sure what the poor radish in today’s comic did to deserve his suffering, but rest assured it tastes terrible. It is also perfectly safe. Neither the FDA, the EPA, nor CIA would ever approve of a product for use by the public that wasn’t fully tested, vetted, imported, and marketed, would they?

He is also building up his immunity to the poison.

Astute readers may have spotted a contradiction in our Weed Killer Stick. You are clearly not Churchians.

–> Quizzer