randoms xii: alternative factory

No one remembers the factories. Not really. They appear only in dreams and old photographs and nobody ever thinks too hard about them or about what happened there.

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randoms xi: arena fighting

The sword swings—too slow, too high—and Lake needs little effort to avoid the arcing blade

“Not good enough.” 

Nemeric grunts. His tunic darkened by sweat, eyes wide and wild, his breath hard and ragged. Not pacing himself at all. 

“Like we practiced,” Lake tells him. “One-“ 

Lake pivots from the hip, weapon raised, sweeping inwards. A clash of his sword against Nemeric’s, the shock of it felt in the fingers and forearm. 


Lake pivots into a high, fast backswing and Nemeric dances away to avoid the speeding sword point. 


Nemeric is recovering as Lake thrusts forward, a quick jab, no danger of it reaching Nemeric but he oversteps backwards, stumbles, falls flat on the sand as Lake moves in. 

“Better,” he says. 

The crowd roars in the high stands around them. Not for Lake and Nemeric. The main action is taking place on the broad wide expanse of the Square—in fact a rectangular plateau of bright white marble in the centre of the stadium—whilst Lake and Nemeric shuffle and feint and make a show of struggle, in the shadows near the edge of things. 

Nemeric is flailing around with his sword as he struggles to rise, red faced and gulping air. 

“Quickly, man, quickly,” Lake tells him. “Much longer and they’ll think your heart’s not-“ 

A howl from Lake’s right and he spins.  Continue reading

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Review: Slayground

Slayground by Richard Stark
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A great story told with incredible economy. Sub 200 pages and Stark manages to cram in a complicated web of corrupt cops, an up-and-coming gangster, a mob boss, a platoon of hired guns and- stuck in the middle of it all- Parker, with a bag of stolen cash and no easy way out.

If you’ve seen the movie version of Slayground, with Peter Coyote as the Parker character, be aware that this is similar but different. No Mel Smith for a start. Still features a closed up funfair showdown though, with traps and tricks galore.

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Review: Ninefox Gambit

Ninefox Gambit
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Incredible. Reads like a Warhammer 40K novel written by Ann Leckie; or possibly an epic sword & sorcery tale with dragons replaced by spaceships and magic spells swapped out for elaborate ritual mathematics. Fantastic background, rich settings, intriguing characters. It reminded me of a lot of things, but they were all good things. Highly recommended.

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randoms x: ‘alienist’

“I had some school days. Back at the start. Little bits and pieces anyway. There wasn’t much book learning to be had when I was growing up. On account of my situation, you know?” 

I’ve read the files. Understand all that’s been recorded about her circumstances. The next steps involve a deeper apprehension.

“Remember the Crusades,” she says. Continue reading

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failing my RPGaDAY roll

Best laid plans and all that… I had intended to do much better this year and actively answer an RPGaDAY question every single day of August.

As it turned out I did even worse than last year and managed only a half-hearted answer to the first question. Blah.

Anyway, I was tempted to do a re-run of last year and cram everything in to one long posting effort, but instead of that I have decided that over the next week or so I’ll try and do some more regular postings about gaming stuff. Or maybe I’ll answer a few RPGaDAY questions anyway. I don’t know. Given how badly ‘planning’ has gone in the past it could go either way.

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randoms ix: ‘sind’

“I torched an orphanage one time,” she says. “None of the kids were harmed. We just stood outside and watched and laughed whilst the deep-red bright-yellow flames took the whole of that horrible place down to the ground.” 

I don’t have anything to offer. 

“When the constables arrived—after the fire brigade and the one unnecessary ambulance—everyone said it was me. The kids all bold and happy with the fact, you know? Proud that I had rescued them from everything that went on there. They thought the grown-ups would understand. Be grateful.” 

A pause while she lights another cigarette. No matches. She just holds it between her fingers and the end sparks and catches just-so. If there’s a trick to it I don’t see how it’s done. Something chemical or…  Continue reading

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