Wolf Mother

Wolf-Mother-Portrait

My friend Ludovic Mercier drew this sketch of me as a lycanthrope, and I absolutely love it. :)

You can support his Patreon campaign of fantasy, transformational and furry art here.

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How I Spent My Summer Vacation

I resolved at the end of May to dedicate this summer to fulfillment–not just of my personal dreams or ambitions, but of promises and obligations.

In particular, I set my sights on all of the Perks that remained outstanding from the crowdfunding campaigns that my team has launched from 2012 to 2014.

The fans and players of our games have been really patient and supportive, and with their help and encouragement we’ve delivered three games as promised since February of 2013. Nonetheless, there were some campaigns extras–books, t-shirts and physical knick-knacks–which had been stalled for far too long.

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The Hiver suit of the Ground Pounders card deck.

This summer I’ve plowed the last of the obstacles out of the way, and I’ve been busting hump finding fulfillment partners for a whole ton of physical merchandise. Coming up soon, we’ll have the Hiver War playing cards, a set of six-sided SotS Dice, a Challenge Coin, and the Ground Pounders t-shirt.

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Tarka Suit of the Ground Pounders card deck!

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Sword of the Stars Faction dice!

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Ground Pounders t-shirt in Ground Forces tan.

We’ll also be printing and shipping the Sword of the Stars Premium Lore Book as a limited edition hardback, and Black Section: The Complete Files, as well as some cool merch from the Kaiju-A-Gogo campaign. Stay tuned for more updates in the future, and thanks again for everyone’s support–it is appreciated.

 

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Hallucigenia

Thought this was pretty cool. Video of the ancient Cambrian worm Hallucigenia.

“I’m pretty sure that scientists are just getting high and making up prehistoric animals at this point.”  ~ Saladin Ahmed

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Mother of Assassins

 

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Author Molly Tanzer posted a link to an article on Topless Robot today called “8 Fantasy Series That You Should Check Out If You Love Game of Thrones“.

Tanzer pointed out in her post that there wasn’t a single female author on the list, which was certainly a fair point. But when I looked at the list, I actually saw a trend which I find more disturbing in modern science fiction and fantasy criticism, so I’m going to point it out explicitly.

Not only does this list explicitly ignore ALL female authors and their contributions (which is an obvious problem)…but it explicitly ignores a woman who made a critical and SEMINAL contribution to the field of modern fantasy, in favor of including one of her less original imitators.

In this case, the imitator is male: Brent Weeks, the author of the Night Angel Triology, is placed on the list while Robin Hobb, the author of the Farseer Trilogy, is ignored.

Please let me say in advance that I have no problem with any of the series listed by this article. I particularly agree with the inclusion of The Dark Tower, The Black Company, and Night Angel as must-read series, and I enjoyed the Night Angel books a great deal. I even tried re-reading them recently, although I crapped out in the last novel when I realized that I had no interest in wading through a lot of material about infidelity, which is always a huge turn-off.

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Nevertheless, leaving Robin Hobb off this list when she has produced some of the best fantasy world-building and plotting of the last twenty years is just inexcusable, and including the Night Angel Triology rather than the Farseer Trilogy, and without even mentioning Hobb and her influence on the field of modern fantasy, is just foolish.

The Night Angel Trilogy debuted in 2008: Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice was published in 1995. It predates Night Angel by over a decade, and covers much of the same ground in terms of plot, themes, and world-building–in particular the combination of the assassin’s trade with supernatural abilities.

The Farseer Trilogy also pre-dates the game series Assassin’s Creed, to which Night Angel in inevitably compared, by several years. The first game in that series was released in 2007, and probably influenced the cover artist of the Night Angel books significantly, although the game is not likely to be an influence on the author.

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The discussion of influences in weird fiction and fantasy is obviously a slippery slope. I would never say that Robin Hobb originated the whole field of modern sword and sorcery, for example, given the seminal influence of authors like Robert E. Howard and Fritz Leiber. She also didn’t begin the trend in making modern fantasy much darker and more gritty, in the 1980’s–note that both the first books of The Black Company series and The Dark Tower series made it to this list, published in 1984 and 1982 respectively.

If you go back far enough time, I wouldn’t deny the orientalizing influence of Richard Francis Burton’s translations of 1001 Arabian Nights on these novels, particularly as those stories were filtered by fantasy authors like Lord Dunsany and Clark Ashton Smith.

The point is that there is a time-line, a continuum of influence and growth in the field of fantasy, and it is the habit of modern critics to cut women out of the Family Tree in horrendously dishonest and destructive ways.

Women in science fiction and fantasy are too often denied credit for being “seminal” creative forces in their field of endeavor. When women do achieve great things, and pass on tremendous gifts of creativity, ideas and influence to others, they are far too often carved out of their rightful positions of respect and homage.

Laurell K. Hamilton is arguably the creative grandmother of at least three popular franchise IP’s in the present day: Twilight (and by extension 50 Shades of Grey), True Blood and Harry Dresden are all seeds sprung from the new ground that Hamilton broke in her Anita Blake series.

Nonetheless, Hamilton rarely receives thanks from any of her imitators and proteges, nor are her books lauded and promoted by critics and fans of the popular series that looted her work. Instead she tends to be erased from the discourse…and since she is very much alive and working, she is arguably being impoverished and harmed by this treatment.

In much the same way, Robin Hobb is indisputably the Mother of the Assassin Trope in postmodern fantasy. And she should be credited as such, and read by those who want to understand modern fantasy and enjoy it more deeply. She certainly deserves better than to be erased from the picture by fans, critics, and corporations who exploit the genre for profit.

 

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Experimental Archaeology – Ancient Hair

ancient-hair

Really interesting article in the Wall Street Journal today about Janet Stephens, a Baltimore hairdresser who moonlights as an experimental archaeologist, trying to reproduce the ancient hairstyles seen in ancient art.

Frescoes, pottery, sculpture and other surviving ancient art often depict women with really cool hair. Stephens tries to resolve academic debates on how these hairstyles were achieved, including whether they were likely to be wigs or real human hair. One of her breakthroughs included the realization that a complex arrangement of braids was likely sewn together with a needle and thread.

I find this sort of thing really fascinating, so I enjoy passing it along. Stephens published some of her thoughts and findings in the Journal of Roman Archaeology in 2008: “Ancient Roman Hairdressing: On (Hair)Pins and Needles.” Sounds like a fun read.

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Gods, Memes and Monsters

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New anthology announced today by Stoneskin Press. I have two stories listed in the Table of Contents for this book, “Agave” and “Memphre Magog”, which will be released July 1, 2015.

As always, please support my publishers in any way you can. Pick up a copy, recommend it to your local library or libraries, review the book in general or my stories in particular on Amazon and Goodreads! Share the links with friends, family, pets, other dimensions!

And don’t forget to tell people that I’m one of your favorite authors. The fact that I work in game development and television doesn’t mean that I can’t deliver great work in other media as well!

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NEXTBC AWARDS 2015!


Arinn-repping-Kerberos-at-NEXT-BC-2015Look! It’s me, representing my team and holding our Award in a ceremony to celebrate British Columbia’s Top 25 Most Innovative Companies.

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Left to Right: Arinn Dembo, Chris Stewart, Rowen Epp, Martin Cirulis, John Yakimow.

The NEXTBC Award is a competition sponsored annually by DigiBC: The Industry Association for Digital Media & Wireless Companies in British Columbia. Kerberos Productions was one of the semi-finalist companies invited to come for a gala evening. We had the chance to mix and mingle with representatives from the greater Tech and Investment community of the province, to speak with the Minister of Technology and rub shoulders with a lot of exciting newcomers to the Tech field in the province, including several companies that were brand-new start-ups.

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The Kerberos Table at NEXT BC 2015–a great shot of the back of my head.

The event was held at Science World here in downtown Vancouver, and it was quite a bit of fun to be in that space and enjoy the atmosphere and the displays, both during the event and before we set up our table.

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Designer Rowen Epp and Arinn Dembo enjoying the displays at Science World.

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Left to Right: Rowen Epp, Martin Cirulis and John Yakimow

In general, NEXTBC was a fun night for all of us. Being there with Rowen Epp, Martin Cirulis, Chris Stewart and John Yakimow was a reminder that I am very blessed to be a member of this team. These are some of the smartest, funniest, most creative and hard-working devs in the industry; they’re also incredibly Progressive and they have made my working life into a relatively healthy “safe space”, which is something I’d heartily wish for any woman in tech.

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Rowen Epp, Martin Cirulis, Chris Stewart and John Yakimow. Chris looks entertained, doesn’t he?

At any rate. I’m aware that a lot of the news that people get from women in the computer gaming industry nowadays is bad news. And sometimes it’s VERY bad news.

There are women suffering from harassment, threats of rape and death, doxxing, swatting, and discrimination in the workplace. There are female game devs struggling to have their work recognized and given a fair hearing by review websites, media pundits, and their peers, especially in the field of indie development.

I just wanted to post these photos to let young women coming into my field know that things really can get better. Sometimes the work is deeply challenging and rewarding, and the people you meet along your journey are amazing. Sometimes there are banquets and shiny crystal statues to recognize you for being awesome.

And sometimes you get to play at Science World after hours!

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Cryolophosaurus photo bombs my Science World selfie!

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Konjo Oni

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Whenever I turn in a manuscript to an editor or publisher, and the project is basically complete from my end, I do a final clean-up of my research links and material. Lately I’ve been thinking that people might be interested in seeing a bit more of my process, and how I do brainstorming and free association to generate ideas for characters, settings and themes.

This, for example, is Konjo Oni, a character I recently created for P U P P E T L A N D™, a storytelling game with strings in a grim world of make-believe. Konjo Oni is a warrior marionette from Japan, and this real world puppet was my visual reference for the character. The real puppet is a theater-quality puppet from the Meiji Period, 1868-1912. It was put up for auction by the Zacke Gallerie, and comes from a Viennese private collection.

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In the scenario I created for Puppetland, Konjo Oni is known as “The Flower Demon”. The back of his head looks significantly different than the real puppet seen here. But I’ll let that be a surprise.

The upshot of this post is simply that I take great joy in writing, and one of the things I love most about my writing is the inspiration and pleasure that comes from my research. I find the real world around me endlessly fascinating and magical. And I try to share that feeling with my readers.

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“Destiny”, by Fabien Weibel

Time travel often makes things unnecessarily…complicated.

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Kerb Stomp #6 – Kaiju-A-Gogo

Kerb-stomp

 

Time for Kerb Stomp #6! All About Kaiju-A-Gogo this time.

We’re also going to talk about the way that games can evolve post-release in the modern age, and all sorts of other cool stuff.

Give it a listen.

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