Norwescon Panels: Worldwide Dead!

kwaidan-illustrated

A page from the illustrated edition of Kwaidan, by Lafcadio Hearn–my first exposure to “J-horror”, long before the wave of more recent Japanese ghost movies hit the shores of North America.

Thursday, April 2, 2015 -

3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

WORLDWIDE DEAD

Not every ghost is an American Civil War soldier or Victorian spinster. The cultures and folklore of unquiet dead from around the world bring a spirit all their own to horror.

Nathan Crowder (M), Pat MacEwen, Jude-Marie Green, Arinn Dembo, Jeremy Zimmerman

I like to do a little preparation before I attend a convention, and give myself a refresher on the topics that my peers and I will be talking about. It’s just more fun if you can bring some cool ideas and resources to the table.

My thoughts on this topic will definitely swirl around a bit. I tend to interpret it as the opportunity to talk about non-British, non-European, and non-white American ghosts…basically, Ghosts of Colour.

This is an exciting topic for me, because I’m actually not very moved by the stereotypical Victorian ghost story. M.R. James never scared me as much I’d hoped he would, and it’s rare that movies in that tradition really get to me–The Woman in Black being a rare exception.

I grew up with multicultural ghosts in the Southwest, and I always found them easier to understand and even to fear. Even the white children of ranchers were taught about La Llorona, the Weeping Woman, when I was growing up…the Native or Hispanic woman who was said to walk the wastes eternally mourning her lost children and the man she had loved–a man who also betrayed her.

In my 20’s I first started getting very interested in Japanese ghost stories and folklore, after reading the translations of Lafcadio Hearn, in particular Kwaidan (which was also made into a fantastic movie by one of my favorite Japanese directors, Masaki Kobayashi).

Kwaidan-movie

My question to you: do you have a favorite Ghost of Colour? Or even just a favorite ghost story, legendary haunt or evil spirit from somewhere other than England or North America?

What book, story, movie, folktale or legend would you add to a list of Worldwide Dead?

 

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Kerb Stomp Episode Three

Kerb-stomp

The Kerberos biweekly podcast continues with Episode 3, in which we discuss the latest industry news, our progress on Kaiju-a-Gogo, the guest appearance by Martin and Chris on the Space Game Junkies Podcast, my upcoming panels at Norwescon, and all our other pop culture hijinx.

Please do follow the Podcast if you are into Internet Radio, and if you’d like to ask a question that is answered on the show, leave me a comment here, on Facebook, or on this thread on the Kerberos forums.

 

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World’s Oldest Cheese

I never lose my passion for archaeology, no matter how many years pass. I still get excited about new discoveries. In this case, a major step forward for the Archaeology of Cheese–a wheel of cheese 3,600 years old, recovered from a Bronze Age tomb in China.

To relate this to a work context…I’m quite certain that a wealthy Hiver would love to own this as a conversation piece.

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Irons in the Fire – Puppetland Tales!

There’s a lot of work to be done in my little world. I thought it might interest people to know what I’m writing on any given day and week.

Some of you might recall that my name came up last November in connection with a Kickstarter campaign to re-print Puppetland, a highly original role-playing game from the 1990’s.  I’ve always like John Tynes, the creator of the game, and I’ve had good experiences in the past contributing to his RPG milieus. When his collaborator Shane Ivey was canvassing for writers to produce new content for the game, I pitched a few ideas for Tales, the playable scenarios for this game.

Thanks to the Kickstarter’s stretch goals, I’m writing three Tales for Puppetland this month, and having great fun with it. I always do a little research and brainstorming when I’m working with a new universe, and Puppetland research is just a gas.

My scenarios, “The Box”, “Pretty Polly” and “The Bottler”, are all based on the classic icons and structure of the 19th century Punch and Judy shows. Most of the characters I’m working with are classic puppet archetypes from the 18th and 19th centuries.

One of the resources I’m using for inspiration is the website of the International Puppetry Museum in Pasadena, which has beautiful colour photos and descriptions of the many exotic puppets in their collection. Their collection includes amazing works of art from all over the globe, including wonderful shadow puppets from different cultures in Asia, marionettes and hand puppets from every continent, and even a collection of vintage puppet stages backdrops and boxes from shows featuring puppets performing Shakespeare and other classics.

Definitely recommend that anyone who loves puppets and stagecraft should check it out.

 

 

 

 

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Nerds of a Feather on The Pit

pit_art_03

Interesting review of Sword of the Stars: The Pit and Endless Dungeon at the Nerds of a Feather Fanzine today! This writer vastly prefers the roguelike spin-offs to the 4X games that were the originals.

I mostly wrote off Sword of the Stars and Endless Space, but I’m particularly happy I took a chance on these two games. I absolutely recommend them to anyone who’s into sci-fi andRogue-likes. I titled this as “versus” as if these two were competing, and perhaps they are, but it’s us, the people who play the games, who win here.

Needless to say I never argue with taste: some people like Sword of the Stars better, some people prefer The Pit, but in either case I’m just glad to entertain you. Thanks for playing! :)

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Kerb Stomp

Kerb-stomp

My company has a new podcast, which we post twice-monthly. The first episode was a little rough, but the second one has been released and our quality has already improved greatly.

Audience interaction is part of the fun of doing a company podcast, so if you have any questions for the Kerb Stomp crew or about my work for Kerberos specifically, please pass them along. We’ll answer them in the next episode!

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Gateway to Elsewhere (1954)

book-cover

Hilarious old science fiction book cover shared by Saladin Ahmed on his Twitter feed today. This is from the Ace paperback edition of “Gateway to Elsewhere” by “Murray Leinster” which was a nom de plume for William Fitzgerald Jenkins.

This novel was first serialized in Startling magazine in 1952, and this paperback edition was published in 1954. The artist is Harry Barton.

The way the artist has captured the bewildered white boy and the giant, balatantly dark-skinned djinn both gazing fixedly at the Orientalist fantasy of female sexuality?

Yeah. That is pure comedy gold. And captures the spirit of the novel rather well, actually.

According to Saladin Ahmed, he’s teaching this novel in a class called “Arabs and Muslims in SF/F”, so if you’ve ever wondered why he sometimes seems angry or depressed…there might be a reason.

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John Lee Hooker – 1970

Every once in a while I find a treasure on the Internet at random, like finding a beautiful shell on the beach. Today it’s archival footage of blue giant John Lee Hooker, playing live in the year that I was born – 1970.

 

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Sword of the Stars: The Pit – New DLC!

necromancer_splash_logo

The team and I are hard at work on Kaiju-A-Gogo right now, but we still found time to create a new Playable Character DLC for our first full indie title, Sword of the Stars: The Pit.

The Necromancer expansion introduces Azraeus the Defiler, a Horde Zuul necromancer in service to the Immortal. Of all of the characters we’ve introduced so far, Azraeus has some of the most original gameplay mechanics. He’s an undead character, resurrected by his Master to plunder the Pit and steal the cure to the Xombie Virus, and his version of “eating” and “drinking” are very…unique.

I’ve posted a new fictional stinger for the DLC to my Patreon Page. It’s a collaborative effort between artist John Yakimow and I, and I hope you’ll enjoy it–the .pdf is free content.

John has always been a great collaborator on Zuul art and characters, and Azraeus the Defiler is one of his classic horror character concepts. Please check it out, and give us what support you can. The DLC should be out within a few days.

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2015 – Back On-Line

Arinn-in-2015

Arinn Dembo, Christmas 2014

2014 ended very strangely for me. I lost a month of my life down a swirling hole of sudden disaster.

This happens to everyone once in a while. In this case, I was already handling one crisis: it was time to pack up and move out of the old Kerberos Productions offices on 8th Avenue. The tide of gentrification in the neighborhood caught us at last, and the owners of the building sold it to developers. We had to pack up and hit the road so that they could gut and renovate the building.

In the meantime, I had been happily subletting half of a large flat from a fellow artist in East Vancouver for almost two years, and I was very happy with the place. I’d planned to continue living there for several more months while I was working to wrap Kaiju-a-Gogo and finish up some personal writing projects.

Unfortunately, my flat-mate/landlord told me within a few days of the end of November that he needed me to vacate the flat, which came as a real shock. Since my fellow devs were already packing up the old Kerberos Productions offices and doing a lot of moving that weekend, I decided to simply pack up and move my apartment at the same time. I put most of my things in storage and went to stay with family for a while, so that I could work on a new place to stay in the new year.

The upside of this is that I’m perfectly safe and warm, have a roof over my head, and there is no threat to my immediate survival. The down side? I had to go over six weeks without a working computer.

I’ve solved that problem now, set up a new desk and I’m able to get back to work, so I’ll be posting more often as I have more work to share.

Thanks for your patience, everyone.

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