31 July 2007

In at the Death

Such a cheery title I know...

Well, while recovering from a little self-induced stomach issues (eating something I thought might cause some problems, typical), I was able to at least pick up the latest of my favorite author's books today: no, not JK Rowling for all you Lord of the Pre-Teen fans out there :) The author in question would be Harry Turtledove, and the book is the last of his Great War saga, called Settling Accounts: In at the Death. For those of you who do not know this author, Mr. Turtledove is one of the leading writers of counterfactual or alternate history. Most call it alternate history since counterfactuals tend to be non-fiction fiction, while alternate history is considered science fiction. The main difference is that he does not have to site his sources (though he could being a professor of Byzantine History at UCLA). Anyway, so far have been thrilled to read this final book in an 11 book saga spanning a world where the Confederates won the War of Northern Aggression in 1862 and went their own way causing a chain of events that leads to the CSA fighting the USA in the Great War, and in these last books a Second Great War (since the war is unnamed in the book, but for all practical purposes WWII).

While it is not my intent to actually review the book,(especially since I am not finished) I do recommend anything that Mr. Turtledove has written, especially his American History stuff. Indeed, one of his stand-alone books, Guns of the South is one of my favorite books of all time. All this being said, what actually got me to post about was the whole idea of alternate timelines, something I have written a little about and think of constantly. While it is nice to think that our hopes and dreams may not have been forlorn, that those we have lost might live on in another, parallel world, as many of those worlds might be a ruin of hell or the beauty of paradise itself. All it has taken is a misstep, a bullet gone awry or the wrong (or right) words said at the wrong time, and a world could have diverged with ease, creating?

Therein lies the question, this philosopher's search. I have wondered of their validity (and as a branch of history alternate histories are most valid) and of the possible dangers... of fragmenting worlds and souls. I suspect, due to the nature of quantum mechanics and my own philosophy I will have no answers in that accord. The best I can do is enjoy alternate worlds, perhaps write some counterfactuals myself in the hope of understanding the past through different futures.


26 July 2007

Twilight Struggle

As usual, time seems to ever catch up with me, even when I am resting. But with a Crossroads adventure day this weekend and another show the next (at least it is just in Houston), my ability to update (more my ability to remember) has faded some. Still, I had a little time last night in between discussions of the coming game to try out a new game called Twilight Struggle: The Cold War. For those of you interested in such genres and the time period in history, this is a worthy entry into the genre. First off, it plays like a board and card game, and I would call it a card-driven board game since the board also determines card strategy. It is also a game of hard choices. Sometimes, in order to influence one country you must sacrifice influence or another event in the other because you have to play most of your cards in the turn, especially in the early turns. The game plays fairly fast, is moderately easy to learn (after 1 turn we pretty much had it down), and is an excellent representation of the time period. Further, all the cards have events taken direct from the headlines of the Cold War, a Space Race component helps you dump bad cards, and if tensions get too high, well... Defcon 1 is not the best option and ends the game. And in a nod to the great Cold War classic 'Wargames', one gets a little advice from Joshua/WOPR in one card :) Finally, the game is also divided into three phases: Early, Mid and Late Cold War, allowing more cards (and more variety) into the game, and some cards do recycle, but some are removed from play after played.

The main downside is that you can only play with 2 players, though I might recommend playing in pairs (as we did) to assist in the strategy and management of the markers. The game is marker intensive, but by time turn 8 rolls around it is a splendid sight to see how the influence is spread around the board (in our game, Europe was more or less a draw, though I had the advantage; we were screwed in Africa; the Middle East was a toss up; Asia was slightly to my advantage, but SE Asia was firmly in the hands of the Communist scum; and Latin and South America, with the exception of Cuba, was a fine example of the Monroe Doctrine).

In the end, I thought this was a great game and a great break from the norm, and I intend to play it a great deal more. If you need more information, I might have a look at the latest Knights of the Dinner Table (#128) for it posts a fine review (and more detailed) of this game, one in my mind that is as entertaining as the Risks, Civilizations, and Axis and Allies of the genre.

I might or might not be able to post before the adventure day, but I will certainly have a report of it by Sunday or Monday.


17 July 2007

Wherever The Road Takes You...

Due to scheduling (and shipping) concerns, I have a one day reprieve before I head to Baltimore (which means we get there later and have less time to set up, but what can you do? We all bow to the whims of the Post Office and UPS :) While I am sure money is to be made, the show itself does not excite me as much as other shows... something about it just feels lame compared to others. And the city of Baltimore (at least the parts I have visited) have been alright, simply a general dissatisfaction with the con itself. Of course, if I sold more than just anime-related products we might skip this show and go to ComicCon in San Diego (and still might next year if the scheduling works out regardless), but I suppose we should take the guaranteed sales at Otakon over the toss-up (though likely) sales at ComicCon (I know I'd have more fun, not being a true anime fan anyways). At least the next three shows are in the same state, so a slight break from extensive traveling.

I know I have titled this blog, 'Walking the Long Road' but often times it feels like sprinting and wandering aimlessly combined. On the other hand, the road has allowed me to meet some unique people and I have been to some great places. And every now and then, I have even been inspired. For us types that depend on inspiration, that's not all bad :)

Have a great week and I'll see if I can update from Otakon. If not, the usual Egyptian blessing for the road :)


15 July 2007

An End to Love...

How odd that I would blog on the same weekend after not writing for so long. Well, one never knows when inspiration takes you, even if it is a moribund inspiration at best. I had just logged out of Lord of the Rings Online, looked for a moment at my blog, then just started writing. Perhaps I had been mulling over the thoughts of such things, how we sometimes linger on in love even when we should not. I know I am guilty of this, and the romantic part of my will always want to press on even though the reality stares me plain in the face. So maybe this poem is more about me recognising the traits in myself... or I could have just felt like writing... nah, that would be too simple.

'End of Love'

Warmth... the gentle calm of your caress
Betrays little and yet so much
Your eyes, pleasant though distant
A smile tender but waning...
Movements lost in requited passion
Forgotten if only for this moment,
Suppressing this ache of the soul.

Light... resplendent in the face of 'morn
Denies nothing but shields so much
Your words, welcome though trying
An embrace furtive yet unending...
Ecstasy enraptured within fragments of joy
Searing our hearts for but an instant,
Holding fast to this end of love.

Echoing across the void of time...
I am forever haunted by the memory of love.


13 July 2007

Making Sense of the Present... or the Future... or Something...

I just got back from my two week or so trip, coast to coast if you will, from Long Beach to Tampa, and getting ready to head to Otakon in Baltimore, at least that is the nominal plan. It has been a little tiring and sometimes fun :)

Of course, being on the road has given me a lot of time to think about the roads I have traveled literally, metaphorically and philosophically. I think I was too tired to really think about such things on the way back from Tampa, but every now and then a stray thought from the present, or was it the future, or the past jumped in? I always wonder about that... where my thoughts come from. Do I just formulate them from the ether of the void, or are they part of a collective past or future undiscovered, a cultural/racial memory if you preferl (actually, the term racial memory, at least in sci fi, was coined by Arthur C. Clarke in 'Childhood's End', which if you have not read, do). I admit sometimes I have no idea where the dreams, the memories and thoughts come from, maybe that is why I have to write them down or explore them in various mediums... admittedly, the blog has been suffering but I am still writing. On the other hand, I wonder if those thoughts are telling me not to ignore some of the things I do best for merely the things I enjoy. Is it selfish to want to write for enjoyment, though knowing my poetry or essays suffer in the short term? I presume it is, but do not care as much. I have thought about the matter, hence my actually writing these thoughts down now, and the odd fragment of a poem or two has rattled around in my brain, so I know what is still lingering, waiting to be explored, though suppressed for more immediate concerns.

I wish I were a better writer in that regard... I wish I could turn it on and off like some do. Usually, if I am writing in one style, the other lacks, and vice versa. I have been working to change that through integration in style, but the road, as many others is trying. Still, most of us writers have to walk such roads, so I guess I am not saying anything too new. As so many (and myself included) have pointed out, it's all been said before. It is just a matter of finding a way to say it in a unique manner. Maybe that is why these thoughts exist, drifting from moment to moment, future to present, past to... well, somewhere one hopes.

I will try and update when I get back from Baltimore, if not sooner.

Take care all,