Thursday, September 23, 2021

Y to Z

There's been a lot of talk recently about the lack of hope for the future. This has been reflected in modern art and entertainment quite a good deal. We see much about the destruction of the world or people, but not a whole lot about how things would look if they improved. In fact, we've been living in the remains of the twentieth century for two decades now.

To be honest, all one has to do is go on social media or turn on the television and be greeted by an onslaught of fashions, worldviews, aesthetics, and entertainment, that more or less feel as if they were ripped from the twentieth century, just decayed. And they look and feel more decayed every time you look at them. It's fairly morbid stuff.

This isn't to say there is nothing worth indulging in these days: there is actually quite a lot. The point is more that there is no real hopeful look towards the future of the world, or any real view of what is to come that isn't merely about full collapse or yet more of the same continuing indefinitely. The days of looking forward to cheap rockets to the moon are long over. What has replaced them is . . . nothing, really.

We can't really seem to imagine anything beyond the "modern" (in a mid-twentieth century sense) world continuing forever without end. Which is weird, considering that we all know it won't. It can't. History doesn't work like that. But there are no visions being presented from the greater culture as to what could possibly come next that isn't just rehashed and reheated mush left over from the previous century. 

We aren't going back to anything; humanity doesn't work like that. We're moving into uncharted territory, as we always have. What the twentieth-first century will have in store for us is yet unknown! 

So why does it feel like no one even wants to guess at what that future might be like? Why do we only imagine destruction or an even more hedonistic version of late twentieth century first world life? Is there nothing beyond that?

There was a post made recently at The Dacian by author Alexandru Constantin about the lack of anything aside from pastiche from his generation. It was as if we all arrived late to a party that had already been abandoned and have no idea what we're supposed to do next. 

We don't have anything to build on. There is no vision of the future being made in the wider culture. It is just more of the same.

"We are twenty-one years into the 21st Century but culturally we are trapped in a nostalgic pastiche of the 20th. Our current seems incapable of articulating the present. Everything is referential to the ghosts of the past. Our social and political commentary is trapped in the mystified history of World War II seen understood through the lens of superhero movies and Tarantino infantilism. Endless performative stupidity.

"We live in a state of dyschronia, a disoriented, out-of-time sensation of vertigo. Bug World is main street Disneyland, a non-place of interchangeable Starbucks disguised as nostalgia. Remember Star Wars guys, how quaint, slap a Spider-Man on it! Boy oh boy the past is now, then, and forever. You too can have a childhood just like your father did, but this America is extra good 4k resolution.

The brand is love, the brand is life. It was made in the 20th century, and that makes it to be worshiped. Why have something new that builds on it, when you can have the same thing rehashed forever? Remember that copyright logo? Doesn't it make you feel warm inside? Hey, you don't need that physical collection, do you? Trade in and give the corporation your credit card number so they can charge you indefinitely for the right to rent things digitally. Why do you need to own anything when you can trust us to own it for you?

Surely this is the future your ancestors fought so hard for.

But the other point is that it's stale. This is all the same crap we had back in the 1990s, only now filtered through high definition screens and tacky brands that were obnoxious even at the time they were new. We were already seeing a downgrade at the time of the '90s, and now they expect you to celebrate the downgrade with endlessly rereleased and repainted toys that you already had, only now they're made worse. And you most likely will buy them again and again, judging by how the endless reboot culture is still supported by people who peaked back in 1999 and are incapable of thinking of a brighter future beyond consuming product.

Who cares that Blockbuster destroyed an entire superior industry; don't you remember the smell of store brand popcorn and the feel of cheap the laminate rental cards in your hand when you walked in to rent The Matrix for the first time? That's what really matters! Hey, did you hear they're making a new Matrix soon? I remember that lobby scene from nearly thirty years ago like it was yesterday! Seeing the new one will make me feel like I did back then. Boy, I wonder what will happen when they make another Matrix in twenty years again. Remember Blockbuster? I could sure go for some popcorn. Oh hey, it looks like Blockbuster is getting its own popcorn brand. Isn't that cool? It reminds me of when I was a kid and rented The Matrix.

But what is being made that reminds you of what it means to be an adult? What is trying to pull you forward with a fresh vision of what is to come instead of pushing you into reliving what has already passed? What is there to look forward to? Why are you constantly called to relive the past instead of shaping a future?

Why aren't we answering those questions anymore?

"The truth is we failed. We were given the internet and instead of creating groundbreaking art or revolutionary culture we reverted into nostalgic infantilism. We turned our back on the future and retreated into a never-ending Comic-Con, cheering for children’s entertainment created before our parents were born. Endless remakes, endless re-imagining. We can’t imagine a future, so we just borrow previous versions. Bladerunner again, Dune again, Matrix again, endless Terminators, endless Alien’s."

It doesn't even matter if you like these things. The simple point is that we're reliant on reheated corporate product for our art and entertainment when such things used to come secondary. 

Yes, Hollywood has always created remakes. But they also constantly pumped out new things. We had a B-movie industry that, before it was choked out by the big boys and corporate chains, used to try and present that. There was new with the old. Now you get old things repackaged as new without any of the charm, care, or craft, that made the old things what they were to begin with. It's a tailspin of corporate meddling and hopes for easy money disguised as giving the customer what they want. And it isn't really working anymore.

However, the greater point is that storytelling doesn't exist so that we can see the same corporate owned intellectual properties be sold to us over and over indefinitely amen. It exists to lift us up and show us a place much different than here--one that opens up possibilities. Now the only possibilities is the same cracked world spinning onward forever.

What is the purpose of storytelling? To tell the exact same story over and over, but change the undesirable parts for our ever-mutating "modern" sensibilities? Is it just to mindlessly consume product and wait for next product? For what end do we consume them?

Is storytelling just soma? Is escapism really bad for you? No, that can't be the case, simply given how effective it was for hundreds of years before the modern mess we live in. Stories have a greater purpose than to lull you back into a diabetic, comfy coma. They exist to push you onward. But we seem to have forgotten that.

Stories are made to give voice to things we feel and experience internally, not to be endlessly rehashed as brand names that remind you of other times from long ago. They are meant to give us the strength to get up and continue forward into new horizons.

So why are they being used to keep us in the past? Why indeed.

This world is gone, and it's not coming back.

One could easily point to Cultural Ground Zero as some sort of cause to this, but CGZ is not a cause; it is a result. Allowing corporate monopolies to run roughshod over the little guys, choosing not to address serious issues that needed addressing for decades, and deliberately demonizing the past has left us adrift in a counterfeit existence, unable to find the way back out. We were already done long before CGZ hit.

The reason we can't find the way back out is because getting into this situation took a lot of finagling by generations much older than us--deviating us from a natural progression as a species into a sort of bottleneck fashioned from errors about humanity that came out of the industrial revolution. Remember, Utopia is coming every day now because we have electricity and cures for diseases we didn't have centuries ago. It'll just happen! All you have to do is pretend human nature can be perfected and improved, even though actual evidence proved it can't be. We are what we are; but we if we can pretend we're not? This backwards thinking is why we live in a backwards world. 

We still live in a society that still sees the same crimes and tragedies play out time and time again, decade after decade, solemnly shake our heads, and wonder when will the Other Idiots finally Evolve and get with whatever is fashionable this year like we have. We do this over and over and wonder why nothing changes.

Because it won't. It never will.

Human beings don't really change. We can't, and we won't, no matter how much we wish we could. We are fundamentally imperfect and flawed beings capable of just as many horrific acts as we are noble ones. We can funnel crippling pain into unreal strength and turn core virtues into poisonous vices. We can achieve anything, but one thing we are good at above all is convincing ourselves to follow a single track. Sometimes this can be a good thing, especially when working on or creating something, but it can also lead to terrible thought processes planted from our ancestors that bear evil fruit long after the ones who started it have passed on.

And that is basically where we are today.

Essentially our problems come from being locked in the wrong frame of mind from those a few generations back. It was this mentality that never had a plan except that Things Would Work Out at some point. That's about it, really. Does that sort of thinking make sense? I don't know, does it look like it's Working Out to you? Yet we refuse to turn back despite its proven failure.

Maybe if we keep getting mad at reality for reasserting itself every time we try to defy it eventually reality will change for us. Seems as good a plan as any. After all, why else would we continue to smash our heads against the same brick wall repeatedly for decade after decade, expecting different results from the exact same decisions that failed before? The 20th century is over. Perhaps we should stop living with 20th century expectations and blind hopes. Those times are long gone, and they're not coming back.

It's over.

Nonetheless, we are locked where we are because choose to be. Until we break the cycle, we will be rehashing this same tired fugue state indefinitely, or at least until we are forced out of it by outside factors. Either way, it isn't going to always be like this. We would be better off making the choice to move on before it is made for us.

However, that doesn't help the expression issues. How do we express things when our imagination has been so stunted? Well, we first have think outside of the box, as hard as that might be. If you can't imagine a better world than you can't imagine a brighter future. Everyone should be able to imagine something beyond their own present state. Otherwise you will be little more than a prisoner to the whims of outside forces to get what they want.

We internally know all of this, but we are, right now at least, unable to express what will come next. It's a shame, but one day it will be different. As long as we push against the tide we can find a break in it. And if it kills us? Well, at least we attempted it.

A second sort of related post on this subject of endless circling the drain came from author Alexander Hellene. He touches on a subject close to it, but there are a few choice passages to highlight. You can find the post here.

"What is American culture in the early twenty-first century? An endless spiral of revivalism and nostalgia. Replicating chunks of a relatively recent past we cannot escape because nobody can imagine a future any different, any better, than this.

"The more scholarly among us like current events to the past. This is just like Ancient Rome . . . it’s 1939 all over again . . . you know who else drank water? This helps explain recurring patterns of human behavior, but pointing out similarities and recommending solutions without taking what is actually happening in the present into account does nothing to solve the very real, very deep problems we face."

Why do we need to be constantly reminded of our childhood? Why can we not instead be reminded of a better future we can aim for? Why is this culture more obsessed with the latter than the former? It is because we are incapable of thinking of anything aside from what we already know of. This is how we were educated to be. If the best you can imagine is 1987 or 1995, then that's all you can hope for.

And neither of those years was all that great, in the grand scheme of things. But it's all we have as a reference. We were taught to expect it to last forever as long as we just kept our heads down and did what we were told. We didn't expect it wouldn't be sustainable, and it turns out that it wasn't.

This misplaced nostalgia also degrades the past era as we attempt to constantly relive those times. You just take more and more from it, distorting the memories with every piece you pillage, misremember, rearrange, and subvert for your own selfish gain. When those memories are gone and destroyed, what remains? 

At the end, you are left with nothing. Hence, what we are currently seeing after an endless 1997 on repeat. We can't imagine anything beyond the faded memories of a forgotten time currently and rapidly fading out of sight. 

This isn't going to go on forever, but we want to pretend it will.

"But the fact remains that we are trapped in a bizarre Frankenstein’s monster of World War II nostalgia and 1980s geopolitical thinking and artistic aesthetics, a paradigm stuck in those two decades, with no end in sight. A culture of pastiche. Take bits of the past to make something that’s kind of like the past. It’s like a road trip without a map or an idea of where you want to go: you decide to just pull off in some pretty residential development and just do circles around the cul-de-sac for hours, driving a lot but going nowhere.

"There’s a glitch in humanity’s code. The present is a broken record we cannot unskip. In the end, I shouldn’t be so surprised that robots can imitate us so convincingly.

No wonder Hollywood has been working on AI scriptwriting to replace their rapidly collapsing talent pool. It's only going to get easier the more we try to dumb ourselves down to match what we consume, just as we do with every single modern reboot, reimagining, relaunch, and unnecessary sequel. We're back to ignoring reality again.

Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, the trapped nature we find ourselves in has a lot to do with the self-mythicization we have engaged in since at least the Enlightenment. Our ego has us stuck. We think we figured it out, but it turns out we didn't. We broke from tradition, and we've been steadily sliding downhill since despite our understanding of technology and medicine improving. Happiness alludes us still.

Unhappiness has steadily grown to the point that depression and suicide is an epidemic in the modern world. This also leads to other health problems such as obesity or hard drug and alcohol use. We are killing ourselves to fill a hole and numb the pain. None of this ever gets addressed because it is just assumed these issues will Get Fixed one day. They will be repaired Scientifically. We just need to get there!

So how much longer are we supposed to wait?

Since that's how we were taught the future is supposed to work, and have been told for hundreds of years, it is unfathomable that this direction could be wrong. It is even more impossible that those before our enlightened ideas came to fruition might have had something right that we got wrong. After all, things just naturally Get Better, remember? Despite evidence to the contrary that you can easily gleam by seeing how the '20s has been shaping up so far. Aside from that.

It hasn't been great, and probably won't be for awhile. The 2020s are probably going to be a rough ride for everyone involved. Nonetheless, we still need hope for a better future--just not the empty hope based on nothing we relied on before. That was what lead us here to begin with.

Mindless worship of "the future" has led to nothing but empty consumerism as a replacement for ethos or hope. We exist to consume soma, and nothing else.

At some point we must admit there is no future here. We were sold a lie.

An example of ahistorical nonsense disguised as "Hope"

Another example. You can read this article here.

And where has this materialist mentality of mindless hope led us? Nowhere at all. In fact, it has left us without any vision of the future or bearing on what to do next when the above paradise we were promised never came true. It never came true because it can't come true.

We need something beyond a future of spinning our wheels through fields of broken down dreams and empty hopes. You aren't going to find water in the desert, and you aren't going to find a future where there is nothing but a past built on sand.

Now, don't take this as a blind condemnation of the past. This isn't anything of the sort. We need the past. We need what our ancestors put down for us in order to forge ahead in the world. We need people who keep old traditions alive, unsoiled by the ambitions of those who wish to selfishly destroy them for clout and an improved social score created by those who hate them. We need the old ways to keep our bearings straight.

But we also need those visionaries willing to forge new trails and help us look at eternal things in a new way. It doesn't mean abandoning tradition. Quite the opposite: it means building onto it and expanding. Growing new branches and allowing us to stretch our wings, all this while the roots are still tended to in order to make sure we are still sturdy enough to handle it. There is much we must do; much we haven't been doing at all. 

There isn't a perfect formula for this problem, but we need to be able to have a hopeful glance ahead in order to have a direction to build towards.

The future awaits regardless of what we want. It always does.

An example of something we can learn from the past.

This is a reason I have taken to calling the next generation the Last Generation, while the mainstream attempts to call them Generation Alpha. This is an assumption that things will just Start Over with them, when that is simply not the case. They are the last to live in this dried out husk of twentieth century scraps. with them comes the end.

What comes next? That's the pertinent question.

Admittedly, this post is really just a very long way of saying that I don't really have a solution to this problem. I've always been more of a traditionalist, bordering on Luddite. I'm the wrong person to supply a solution to this quandary. The importance of the past can't be understated, nor be as hated as it is by those in the mainstream. We can't afford to lose our only links out of this trap we are stuck in. You need the past to move into the future.

That said, we do need a vision of the future beyond the same one, or mutations on the same one, we have had for far too long. That world doesn't exist, will never exist, and can't exist. We have more than enough modern examples to prove that much. It is time for new ways.

But, again, things are changing at a rapid rate. While the '00s were a big load of nothing, the '10s proved just how much things had changed despite not seeming as if they did on the surface before. And within 2 years of the '20s we have seen a total upheaval of the way things were. Whether we like it or not, the old days are definitely over. We are entering a new era. Better strap in, because it's going to be a rough ride going forward.

Now, will we use this change to our advantage and finally press towards a new, shining future, or will we continue to let ourselves degrade into nothing, clinging to the dead twentieth century forever? Right now there's no way to tell what we'll do, but I'd like to think humanity's capability to adapt will at the very least help us to find a new angle on this old problem, and see it for what it is. We're about due. Then we can find a way out again.

What comes next? Who knows. Perhaps it will be a better way forward. All we can do is hope for the best.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Short Update!

The OG!

Hope you are having a good week! It is time for a quick update. I only have two bits of news to share with you today before we each continue on our merry way.

The first news is that the Pulp Rock crowdfund is getting a second wind on kickstarter to help with general production expenses. Last I heard an additional story might make its way into its pages, but I can't be certain. Nonetheless, if you back it here you can get it early and with your name in the credits. From what I've seen of the project, it's quite unlike anything else coming out of OldPub or even in the independent space. Check it out for some rockin' good times!

The other piece of news is a bit different from the above, given that it involves something completely brand new. I almost don't know how to say it since it has been something I've wanted to say for some time now. So here it goes!

My story, Dead Planet Drifter, will be appearing in the 2022 summer issue of Cirsova magazine. This is a tale about a lone galactic enforcer who finds himself stranded on a planet of the dead. And no, I'm not talking about zombies or ghosts. What does that mean? You'll just have to see for yourself next summer!

You can see the entire lineup for Cirsova's 2022 here!

This is personally thrilling for me because I have been reading Cirsova since it first began printing issues 5 years ago and have always wanted to be in its pages. Today I count myself grateful to be in this lineup. It's been a writing goal for quite some time now.

Please be sure to read the issues (and every other Cirsova issue!) when you get the opportunity to. They are putting out some of the best adventure fiction today, and even busying themselves with re-releasing old out of print pulp stories. There is no one else out there like them.

In fact, their recent kickstarter for Julian Hawthorne's pulp output has recently hit its second stretch goal after blowing past its initial funding! Once they hit the third one they will be able to continue making more of these projects in the future, as well as create files for this one specifically for the public domain. At this rate, they should make it before the campaign ends.

Anyway, if you're a fan of old stories, or want to see more nearly lost fiction be reprinted, you should check it out here!

And that's all for today. Not a lot, but I still thought you should know.

It's been a bit of an odd year, but it's also been kind of fun. Here's hoping we keep heading down this path towards greater things. There's even more coming down the pike!

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Rocket Knight Adventures: One of the Best Games Ever Made

You know, much is said about cinematic games that tell epic, engrossing stories. This is usually codeword for games that don't offer much aside from gameplay ripped from 2007 or so, and a story where anyone who has seen a movie or read a book before the 2000s can guess every single thing that will happen. Most who champion such games don't say much about the gameplay, or what makes it stand out from the rest.

What isn't appreciated much is how video games stories, and their appeal, used to be shown through their gameplay. Even simple platformers, the most common genre at the time, were capable of doing this. This might have been back when pulp storytelling was synonymous with everything from comic books to simple platformers, but it was a formula that always worked. It still works today!

Adventure stories are universal--they don't need to be designed after modern big budget movies to work. And for a long time they didn't.

Take the cult classic game Rocket Knight Adventures. Made by Konami during their golden age of the 1990s, this was one of their few creations created exclusively for the Sega Genesis. At the time of the console wars, Sega and Nintendo were doing just about anything to get a leg up on the other, and that included gathering exclusives. One such sadly overlooked gem from this time period is the game we are talking about today. The title you see above is completely accurate: this is an adventure unlike any you'll play. Especially unlike any you'll come across today.

You see, Konami got the director of the excellent Contra III: The Alien Wars and Contra: Hard Corps to create a brand new platformer mascot in the early '90s/ This was during the surge that was brought on when Sonic the Hedgehog took off and everyone was making their own mascot. Everyone was putting out a platformer, mostly to try and get in on the success Sega was enjoying. This led to a golden age of the genre that many fans of such games still go back to today, one of fertile releases that remain as good today as they did back then. The era was that good for the genre that it still reverberates today.

Konami's Rocket Knight Adventures is one of the peaks of this era, and you will find few people who disagree with this assessment. For good reason!

Made by me

So what exactly is it that makes the game so good? The thing to start with would be the aspect that makes all classic games what they are: the gameplay. This is the most important aspect of any game, and the gameplay here is as good as it gets for platformers.

It does everything it is supposed to do. Rocket Knight Adventures is a platformer, which means the main goal of the game is to traverse from one side of the screen to the other. This sounds a lot simpler than it is, as anyone who has ever played a platformer can attest. Where it differs from standard genre fare is in the title. You play as a rocket knight. That sounds as cool as it is to play. You can slash and boost across the screen with a charge jump, just as you'd figure. Being a rocket knight means you have a sword and a rocket pack which form the core of the gameplay. Everything after that from the design to the aesthetic all flows from this base concept.

This is one of the things that makes video games so different from other mediums: the gameplay system fed through the controller dictates everything else that forms around it. Your gameplay is centered on a sword and a rocket pack and this effects the level design, the story, the character designs, the art direction, and even the catchy music. The whole project hinges on the fact that you are playing as a rocket knight and the game is built to enhance and perfect the feeling that you are in fact one of these fantastical soldiers of good.

Should you look back at any classic video game from the golden age of the 1980s and 90s you will see they all follow this template to success. This has gotten lost over the years with recycled gameplay taking a backseat to whatever story the story team wants to tell, but it is the most important factor of good game design. Video games are about allowing you to play a role, and the gameplay enhances that feeling to complete the experience. 

This is the reason Nintendo has managed to retain so much popularity over the years. They are simply the only big company left who remembers this formerly obvious fact, and they profit from it.

Take the original Super Mario Bros. Did you know that the coins are placed how they are to subtly influence the player and guide them to make jumps so they learn how to play and even make tricky obstacles easier to avoid? All one has to do is pay attention, and the game doesn't even have to walk you through it. This was something Hideaki Kamiya emulated with his own hit back in the day, Viewtiful Joe. He claimed it was vital advice for design, and it is one he still uses to this day. You don't need tutorials if you can teach the player through the elements they were already given how to succeed. you teach through the gameplay the player is meant to master. This was so standard back in the day that everyone understood it internally.

Other companies did it, too.

In DOOM, you are a lone space marine fighting off a demonic invasion on mars. The level design, weapons, enemy patterns, and even music all work to build this atmosphere of action through desperation that permeates the game.  Even when you are good at the game and think you are Rambo, it doesn't take much to screw up and become just another corpse. The horror atmosphere never really disappears, even when you master the game. The horror experience always comes first.

In Thief, you play as the titular thief. Stealing, sneaking, and espionage, are all core elements of the gameplay. Without them the game wouldn't be what it is. The team wanted to make a game entirely about being a thief, which meant the gameplay had to nail all of that perfectly for it to work. The developers put everything to work to match the gameplay they had built. The rest of the production from the aesthetic to the story all take a backseat to the fact that the gameplay centering on being a thief needed to come first. As a result, is one of the best at what it does. Every element falls in line where it should be.

To bring it back around, Rocket Knight Adventures is exactly like the above examples. In fact, it is one of the best platformers of all time because it does all this with a wild idea for platforming and makes it feel 100% normal and natural at the same time. That isn't easy to do, but like all the best art and entertainment, the more well crafted something is the easier it looks to create. Rocket Knight Adventures feels effortless, when it certainly was not.

And there is our hero.

In RKA, you play as Sparkster, a possum knight who uses his rocket pack to fly about the land and bring justice where it need be brought out. You are a white hat hero who is celebrated as something of a legend. The rocket knight is the best of the best, after all. At the start of the game, the kingdom is under attack by the steam-powered pigs who attack and kidnap the princess. Does this feel like a job for a rocket knight? Boy howdy is it!

The entire first level deals with you fighting through the attacking pig army and flying towards the castle to put a stop to this oncoming assault. You then find out a rival knight has betrayed your kingdom and has taken the princess prisoner for the villains. Now you must do your duty and put things right again. Show them what the rocket knight is made of.

And that is what you spend the game doing. Who else could get through the madness to come unless they were the best of the best?

Each level in the game follows Sparkster's journey across the land towards the enemy empire, filling the moments with tough as nails platforming that will test your skills and enemies that are vicious enough to wish you had a rocket sword as well. This journey is not going to be easy.

While the gameplay is centered around jumping and slashing, the developers made sure to use every part of the animal, as the saying goes. You are a possum, so you can hang from objects with your tail. Your sword can be charged to do a spin attack or a rocket lunge, and yet it is more powerful the closer you are to your enemy which turns combat into a risk/reward system. Your rocket pack allows you to ricochet off walls which allows for accessing secrets in strange places as well as shortcuts, should you know what you are doing. In Rocket Knight Adventures, mobility is your best friend. What else does one expect from an elite rocket knight?

Even the console system itself is used to its utmost limit. You have mode-7 style moving and twisting sprites (even though the system isn't incapable of mode-7, Konami went all out on presentation) in regards to the scrolling and the bosses. Levels use wave reflection, darkness, rushing air, and every single trick available to make you need to use both your head and your platforming skills to traverse the insanity preventing you from completing your noble quest. You will be pushed to your skill limit in this one.

This is because Rocket Knight Adventures is an unapologetically hard game. Just like most of the video games made at the time, this one is going to put you through the grinder and make you earn your ending screen.

But the developers also knew that different people come to the genre for different things. As a result, it has multiple difficulty levels, including a super hard one-hit mode that comes straight from the people that make the Contra games. Konami was known for challenge. This one is most definitely no exception to the rule.

One of the issues with platformers these days is that they are simply too easy. Though there is a reason for this, mostly due to how the genre was treated post-1995.

With the advent of the 3D game consoles the platformer was shuffled off to handhelds and were eventually locked out of the home systems until the creation of downloadable games. They essentially went MIA for over a decade. Even then when they came back they were treated as eccentric and for niche audiences, never given the polish and focus they once had.

It took until New Super Mario Bros. Wii to come out on the Nintendo Wii to give the genre its place back in the spotlight. And even then, the game isn't that hard for anyone who knows the genre well. The issue is that for many they are so out of the loop on platformers that they consider games like these to be too hard today. This is what happens when the industry diverted from its original aims. Now arcade gaming is considered niche instead of the standard so arcade genres tend to not be as focused on challenge as they once were.

This shift in difficulty happened because the mainstream audience is essentially out of practice when it comes to arcade gameplay. So coming back to a game like Rocket Knight Adventures might be asking too much for most gamers these days. But for those used to it, RKA is arcade gaming perfection back when that was the expectation for good games. Perhaps it will be again. One can only hope.

Masterful level design, expertly balanced difficulty, striking art design, contribute to this greatly. As do the controls that take advantage of every part of the controllers, the player's reaction-time and expectations, and the many moves you can perform. Then there is the length that manages to be long enough without wearing out its welcome or short enough to feel unsatisfying. Oh yeah, and you also get to have a giant mecha fight at one point.

This is what helps make Rocket Knight Adventures one of the best games ever made. Platformer or not, it's close to perfect.

Unfortunately, the game was also more or less completely passed over back in the day. Perhaps it was due to too much competition at the time or just luck of the draw, but Rocket Knight Adventures didn't do very well at all. Most people who talk about it today discovered it via word of mouth--they didn't play it at the time. RKA simply never achieved the success it deserved.

And this thud of a performance affected the series going forward. After the original bombed, Konami pumped out two more sequels, one for the SNES and one for the Genesis. They were both called Sparkster, named after our protagonist, and yet both were completely different games. 

The Genesis sequel (subtitled Rocket Knight Adventures 2) is more twitchy and fast paced with more labyrinthine level design than the more arcadey original. The SNES sequel (which originally started as a port of the original game) is a good deal closer to the original, though the music, outside of the masterful stage 1 theme, is dull and the controls are more cumbersome than the first game was. Despite their differences with the original as well as each other, both do feel like sequels to the first one. But not the sort of sequel you'd hope for.

On top of this, neither were given close to the budget or attention the original did and as a result they aren't quite up to the standard of Rocket Knight Adventures is. They are fine enough games, but it is clear neither was given as much attention or polish that first one did. The controls and focus changed a bit with how the rocket pack works and even how basic attacks are delivered, both of which change the pitch perfect tactile feel of the first game. They were essentially overhauled from the original. Whether, again, this is because of perceived faults in the original because it didn't achieve success or not is unclear. Regardless, they aren't quite the sequels one hopes for from a follow-up to a classic like Rocket Knight Adventures.

It doesn't take a big brain to realize that if that classic first game didn't light the world on fire than these sequels wouldn't either, and they didn't. coming out in a crowded market and not reaching on par with the first game prevented them from gaining ground. The series was over before it really started. It's a shame, but that's just how it goes.

There was an attempt at a revival game over a decade ago, but as can be gleamed by the fact that it has been over ten years since its release, it didn't exactly revive the franchise or light the world on fire. It was a game that was full of ideas but sorely lacking in execution--a platformer made by developers who don't understand platformers or arcade design on a fundamental level. As such, it is merely average, and not really worth going into compared to the other games. Not as if you could play it these days if you wanted to anyway.

And that was pretty much it for Sparkster.

But that doesn't change the fact that Rocket Knight Adventures is one of a kind, and still well worth playing today. Even if Konami has all but forgotten about this one or wants bury it for whatever reason, RKA is still one of the best games on the already great Sega Genesis.

And that makes it one of the best games of all time.

So check it out today before used prices get too insane. This is a game that deserves to be rediscovered and played, given the attention it deserves. There isn't much like it out there, and there probably never will be again. But that is what makes this one so unique.

Who doesn't want to be a flying knight? I can't imagine. This is the sort of things video games were made to portray. Fighting for honor, princesses, and taking on rivals. Imagination run wild!

It doesn't get any better than this.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Signal Boost ~ 9 Volt Manga!

Find it Here!

Looking for more independent escape from the dull mainstream? You can find it in the next 9 Volt comic anthology, volume 4. This one is based on the currently red hot manga from Japan!

While manga has obliterated the western market in the last few years, it only stands to reason it would have influence on those in the independent spaces, too. And here is just that sort of project! Expect to see more of this sort of thing in the next few years.

The description:

"Great things come in small packages! This digest sized collection contains 8 manga stories by those plucky artists known as the Triple-A Creators Community! join us as we explore new genres, new worlds, and new adventures in manga form. Featuring Daniel Mcguiness, Jake Tvister, Sergio Gonzalez, Steve Brute, Dale A, Robin Taylor, Epithetsoup, and ArtAnon Studios. Cover by Shell "Presto" DiBaggio. Interior illustrations by SpaceBeatCerulean and Jake Tvister"

You can find it here!

There's a lot more cool stuff on the horizon, so stay tuned. NewPub is just getting started! We've got a whole world to conquer.

Thursday, September 9, 2021


A long time ago, we actually liked each other, for the most part. Societies run off people who have to like each other on some level, after all. 

Back then, we liked to read and watch stories about normal people just like us who strove to be the best (or those who fell apart under the influence of darker forces) and watched in nail-biting tension wondering if they would survive their ordeals intact. After all, they were just normal people like you or me. All we wanted to do was see them survive, just like we hope to get through our trials in life. Stories reaffirm our love of life and existence and adventures stories were made specifically for this very purpose.

Which is why it is detestable that the mainstream art and entertainment landscape is so abysmal these days. Everything has been flipped on its head, and turned around backwards. And we celebrate this subversion as if it's a good thing. Storytelling has been vandalized and we refuse to clean the graffiti off despite knowing how dirty and soiled our monuments have gotten. Now we are at another crossroads: do we let our art die, or do we fight for something better than the status quo of misery? One thing is for sure, and that is that the path we are on leads to nothing but a cliff into bottom of jagged spires. We're going nowhere worth going.

So I would just like to say this right out. There is no point beating around the bush when we all know part of the issue that's in plain sight, and I don't like to waste time.

Antiheroes are a plague on storytelling, and people who swear by them do no understand heroism whatsoever. Catering to this crowd has obliterated adventure as a genre. This is a truth that should be obvious to anyone who has been paying attention over the years.

Back in the 1990s, there was this trend we called Edgy. What it was was simple: the constant danger and harshness of existence is too much and so overbearing that it will even overwhelm so-called pure heroes and drag them into the darkness. This means that in order to win against evil, only the most vicious opponent will win by any means necessary. You must be evil in order to comprehend evil (which is probably actually just a misunderstood victim that the true evil people, "good guys", created) or you will lose. You must stain your soul, otherwise you are no better than an ignorant paladin saying prayers to some useless god who probably doesn't exist don't think about it too hard. Doubt it if you want, but then ask yourself when the last time you saw a paladin character in the mainstream that wasn't a hypocrite or stupid. This wasn't always the case, either, but we let it become mainstream and it ruined the concept of heroism.

This was the decade where heroism was finally overcome by the creeping nihilism of anti-heroism that had steadily been rising since the 1960s. Now good guys were lame and weak--they didn't understand the true depths of evil in this world! To fight fire you have to use napalm and burn yourself in the process. Basically, everything before Current Year was made of childish delusions. Now we're adults and see the world for what it truly is! We went from morally certain Cannon Films-style action movies at the decade's start into amoral Tarantino rip-offs where everyone hates each other and the world but they are cool for it, as you can tell by the wordy and vapid speeches. This all happened in the same decade: the 1990s.

And we've been living in this world ever since. Nothing has improved: we still think evil people are cool, morality is passé, and the only thing worthy fighting for is the right to hedonism. Around a quarter of a century of the same boring archetypes with no change.

To this day you have adults who think Flaws make characters Interesting and that White Hats are inherently less Interesting than Black Hats because of it. They think this due to growing up in a world where good was treated as a banal boring thing for all the lame normies and excitement is being against all authority and for yourself as a hyper-focused individualist. The result of this is the death of communities (no, your hobby group or art scene is not a community and it never will be) and the atomization of people into tiny clusters of detached bugmen who only care about themselves and their own appetites.

Leave that boring small town and come to the exciting city! That's where the action truly is! If you grew up in the latter half of the 20th century, you heard this all the time in media. Anyone who has ever been to a city knows how big a lie this is, but so many still believe such a thing and blindly follow this dead end path to this day. All because of a narrative that has been an objective failure and has nothing to show for it.

The anti-hero is the embodiment of this selfish and empty modernism that has led to no good art, no lasting culture, and has only created a more miserable world from the one they subverted. The will only cease when we finally admit to how utterly worthless the concept of this table-flipping culture truly is.

There are heroes, and there are villains. These are the only two that matter. Obsessing over anything else is just the same sort of paint worship that caused the obnoxious trope reverence that is stifling creative writing these days and being taught in scam artist writing courses. If you want to stand out, try not listening to these people.

Let us start from the beginning, since the term has gotten so diluted over the years that it means almost nothing anymore. Heroism is a very simple concept that anyone can understand. Here it is in a single sentence:

"Heroism definition is - heroic conduct especially as exhibited in fulfilling a high purpose or attaining a noble end."

I have to point this out because definitions have gotten so muddied that there are people who think characters like The Shadow are not heroic, but are actually anti-heroes. How you get that is a mystery to me, unless you don't understand morality from the get-go. This topic was a lot clearer a century ago than it is these days.

What happened is that at some point heroism became equated with upholding the Status Quo against those who wish to change it for whatever reason. The implication being that the modern age is an age that needs heroes in order to even function properly, because without them we would kill ourselves and devolve into an anarchy of animals. The question is never asked as to why the highest cause a hero could fight for is to be glorified police officers for a world of overdoses, morbid obesity, suicide, depression, and societal decay. Heroes would never fight for these things--they would fight to change them.

And these is where we get lost in the reeds a little.

So what you began to have in some places like Italy were films where the harsh consequences of modernism had begun to be apparent to everyone and implode on itself. Now lawlessness began to overwhelm the supposed civilized world. '60s and '70s Italian crime films ("Poliziotteschi" as the genre is known worldwide) bleakly portrayed the outcome of the modern world as it fell to ruin and disorder from entropy. This of course didn't mean such films were guaranteed happy endings, but neither did it mean they featured heroes, such as you and I would know them. That wasn't what these movies were really about. Having a protagonist is not the same thing as having a hero, and these movies weren't meant as classic adventure fare but more about encapsulating the turbulent times they lived in and try to understand them. To call such protagonists "anti-heroes" misses the point of what they were made to actually do.

That didn't preclude heroes from existing, however. Inspector Tanzi from The Tough Ones is an unabashed hero in the classic mold. But many of the genre's movies were more along the lines of Graham Greene's Brighton Rock: stories about moral and spiritual decay and what unfolds from them. They are more like classical tragedies than adventures. 

The same could be said of the spaghetti westerns of the time also being a more fantastical reflection of the era through a different setting. The Italians were not the most subtle, but they were very reflective as they attempted to also entertain their audiences. At the end of the day, Justice still mattered. Even when not telling hero stories this is an important thing to remember. You don't partake in these sorts of movies for heroes and villains, but to see Justice win through any means it can even if through an imperfect vessel. Audiences back then, however, knew that.

So why such a thing such as this is said by spiritual boomers of today is beyond me:

This isn't just a shallow reading of the genre, it's a shallow reading of heroism to begin with. Just about everything from that passage was incorrect.

But did you catch the terminology? There it is again: "realistic" and "interesting" as synonyms for "good" when neither actually mean anything at all in the context given. The above passage was written by a postmodern disciple of misery and meaninglessness who has long since lost the thread of what reality actually is, never mind heroism.

You might understand this, but obviously many do not. So let us repeat it louder for the ones in the back.

John Wayne protagonists are aspirational. You want to be the type of man that can have the kind of courage and bravery he has. That you don't think someone can live up to being the very best of men is "realistic" says more about your morally dead worldview than it does about movies enjoyed by millions back when heroism meant something. Advertising your own spiritual vapidity is a weird way to make declarative statement, but here we are.

On the other hand, the protagonists in spaghetti westerns are not meant to be aspirational. They are (usually) meant to be imperfect instruments that dispense the Justice that is sorely needed in this broken land. As said above, it was a funnel for escapism in the climate that Italy had at the time. It was too show that Justice always finds a way, and things will always find a way to work out, even if not as expected.  In this sort of story, heroism isn't really the point.

These are very two different approaches to the western genre. So why are they compared at all? Agenda and poor education in regards to morality.

Of course the above separation completely misses the point of both in order to say another prayer to the God of Realism and Interesting Characters that he has been told through garbage media criticism of the last 50 years are actually elements of good writing. These are the same people years back that argued Game of Thrones was better than Lord of the Rings because it didn't start with a birthday party. Lightheartedness is childish and bad writing. So says the spiritually hollow.

And yet we let them dictate quality standards to us regardless.

"Shades of grey" as a concept doesn't mean anything. Heroes don't have shades of grey: what makes a person a hero is doing the right thing exactly when he needs to: rising above being a normal passerby and turning into an active Hammer of Justice against the unjust where there wasn't one moments before. There are no shades of grey in that. None. There is only right and wrong. 

And this is why so many (post)moderns have been attempting to muddy up the waters ever since Easy Rider was thankfully murdered by a bunch of trigger happy hillbillies back in the day. Such people hate heroism and wish to overturn the definition of it to something far lesser in order to enshrine their own baser tastes instead.

As a different reviewer says of the same above spaghetti western:

You can already see the contradiction, I assume. Both reviewers praise and love the same bog standard modernist philosophy, and yet they come to different conclusions on the same movie which impacts how good they think it is. Insanity runs deep. This movie is simultaneously a subversive mature epic for smrt people and a cliched kiddy carnival ride for the hicks. It would be impressive if it wasn't so obviously crazy.

So which is it? Is Django a movie about a grim anti-hero in a nihilistic world where nothing matters, or is he a "goody goody" declaring objective moral statements which reaffirm the existence of a natural order of things as he saves the day? It can't be both, but apparently it is. However, you might also notice that the second is considered a Bad Thing.

We have become so morally dead that a character saying a forceful statement such as "That's not right" is considered embarrassing and worth recoiling from. And yet somehow a selfish character that cares about nothing but himself but somehow still does the right thing (which isn't actually realistic, but hey, we ignore that when it's convenient) is somehow Interesting. Except that is isn't, at all. There's nothing interesting about an asshole who just happens to do the right thing because it benefits him in the moment. He's just a villain that walked down the wrong alley at the right time. How does that make for an interesting character? It doesn't, and I'm tired of pretending it does.

Heroes do the right thing because they choose to. The requirement is rising above yourself to dispense the justice that is needed in the moment. That's it. These characters don't have to be aspirational like John Wayne, but they have to exhibit behavior worthy of being called a hero in the first place. That might not be considered "Interesting" to those who think the cool bad people are deeper and more complex than the lame good people, but it is interesting to people who actually do love Justice and desire to see it play out through any means possible.

To return to the earlier example of The Shadow, ask yourself how he could be considered an anti-hero by the above morally grey gruel crowd. The reasons are fairly shallow, just as they are for arguing Flawed Protagonists are inherently more Interesting than aspirational ones. Which of the two is The Shadow? The latter, and one of the best examples of such. This is why the industry has been frantically trying to scrub him from existence over the last few years.

Just look at the arguments one hears about how he falls short of the heroic idea. Warning: they aren't good arguments.

"He kills people!"

Everyone he kills is an objective evil scumbag threatening innocents.

"He thinks he is objective Good! That's dangerous! No man can judge another!"

He IS objective Good. That's part of the appeal of the character. We don't know who sent him or even what he really is, and yet he is so mysterious and all-knowing that we find him intriguing regardless. He is an unabashed agent of Good. There is no grey in The Shadow.

"He laughs like a villain and dresses in black! That's anti-hero behavior!"

He does this to reflect the villains' evil back at them and make them afraid the way they make their innocent victims afraid. For those who love "nuance" or whatever, simple color schemes do confuse them quite easily.

"He doesn't answer to the law!"

Justice is above the law. If the law doesn't run in accordance with Justice then it is evil and must be destroyed. The Shadow proves this over and over again. This is White Hat behavior.

"He's too dangerous and unhinged to be considered a true superhero! Batman would never kill or assert moral superiority!"

The Shadow is a pulp hero, which means he is already morally superior to all superheroes. Superheroes uphold the status quo and bow to the law in order to keep the machine grinding along; pulp heroes fight for Justice and Truth above all else, even if the law or other "good people" don't agree with them. Again, heroes fight for Good, not the Status Quo.

But we've forgotten this, just as we have forgotten that objective good and evil do exist outside ourselves. Corporately owned heroes, however, have another agenda they need to serve instead. That is, how to make sure readers keep buying stories about a hero that will never affix any real change on the world.

That sounds pretty evil, but what do I know. Maybe it's grey and Interesting instead.

The above also explains why the last Batman/The Shadow crossover comic had Batman morally preening to a broken Shadow about how much better he is. This despite the fact that Batman is a pale Shadow ripoff without any of the Justice or search for Truth but with plenty of merchandising opportunities for his safer brand of law enforcement. Upholding the (post)modern order in place as it crumbles under its own weight is quite a heroic feat. He might not have killed the Joker who just escaped Arkham for the fifth time and killed a crowd of 5000 but at least he isn't a murderer! Yes, this is an argument you will hear from supposed hero fans.

This is a sign of how bad it has gotten.

Sorry, Mr. Reeve, that's not "Interesting" or something.

It wouldn't be half as annoying if this view evolved in some way since its first real push into the mainstream back in the 1960s, but it hasn't. It's only gotten lazier. Still the same arguments; still the same examples; still the same shallow worldview at the heart of it. Nothing changes, except the stink of decay getting worse every day.

This was the major criticism thrown at the currently mega popular My Hero Academia manga and anime series. You might have heard it at the time, I know I did. It was called generic and bland, but no one could give examples of it being such or give a reason why. I'm certain said critics are still buying Batman comics and ready to line up for the next movie though. Apparently half a century of declining moral certainty and repetitive plots brought about due to corporate mandate is far less generic than a series that literally deals with the very issue Western comics refuses to address. But you'd have to actually give it a chance to know that. Comic book readers don't like new things very much, as can be gleamed from what actually sells. So a new series coming out to outsell their market must have been quite upsetting.

I'm feel sympathy if the industry didn't deserve it, but it absolutely does.

For those unaware, My Hero Academia has slowly since it started revealed itself as a hero story dealing with the inherent contradictions in modern life, upholding the current status quo at all costs, and burying the inconvenient past to construct a utopic future over the remains. It goes where a corporate western comics refuse to, and that's what makes it generic next to the 500th retcon of Peter Parker's love life over the last decade. Go figure.

My Hero Academia is a hero story exploring what heroism actually means at the root of it, which means there is little room for grey goo. And this is one of the reasons it has achieved the massive success it has. Black and white exist, no matter how you might think otherwise.

Now, I'm not trying to overanalyze this. Kohei Horikoshi is telling a fun hero story at the heart of it, but he never mucks about in the grey. While there can be hard situations and tough choices, a hero still picks himself up again and strives to make the best one he can. He does not stop dispensing Justice and saving the innocent to indulge in his appetites instead. This isn't a western comic. 

The one "anti-hero" in My Hero Academia was designated a villain. He inspired terror across the country, the repercussions of which are costing lives and wellbeing in the series at this very moment. This happened because of his selfish actions that he wrapped in Truth as a shield for his reprehensible actions. In other words, he was still a villain. There was nothing heroic about any of his actions. And unlike a modern western comic fan, the series readily admitted this as the truth of it.

Right now the story concerns itself with the hero society falling apart because of how fragile their lives of carefree modern living were. They got fat and happy, soft, and let it all fall apart around them. All it took were those who hated the world for various reasons of their own to want to tear it down more than people wanted to protect it, and that happened quite easily. There wasn't much to protect aside from comfort held up by organizations stifling things like natural abilities and freedoms which caused even more problems of its own. What is there to protect? Essentially, good rolls out from good and evil rolls out from evil, good intentions or not. Now the question remains how the protagonists can fix this mess before the villains wipe out everything. Can they rebuild society or will they collapse under the weight of the sins of the past? We'll have to see.

Doesn't seem very generic to me, and I've been reading manga for a long time. But you would have to look past the surface level of "shonen" and "superpowers" and actually give it a chance. It isn't a western cape comic, no. It actually progresses and develops as a narrative. Oh, and it will actually end, too.

I should also say the above is a reason that Japanese manga has overtaken comic books in sales and popularity. It has none of the faults which crippled the western industry. The morality is also simply much sharper in manga these days, and that's clearly what audiences actually want after being fed a diet of morally ambiguous garbage for over half a century now in the west.

People want moral certainty and real heroism, not murky grey gunk from limpwristed losers. And they've been wanting it for a long time.

But it will never be the same.

Another recent example of such obvious dichotomy of black and white morality is in the manga series Edens Zero by Hiro Mashima, the creator of Fairy Tail. However, unlike that series, Mashima has really turned up the heat and pulled out all the stops to make something better than he had before. He created a cosmic adventure story between the forces of good and evil. As someone who didn't really like Fairy Tail, I'd say he is definitely succeeding where that one fell flat for me.

For those unaware, Edens Zero is the story of Shiki Granbell who is traveling across the universe on the Edens Zero spaceship to meet Mother, the mysterious supposed goddess of the universe. Along the way he meets the worst scum the cosmos has to offer, and it is up to his crew and himself to set them straight while they head out on their quest. It's only been running for a bit over three years and with over 150 chapters, but so much has happened in its pages that it puts all modern western comics to shame. No one in the mainstream is putting something out like this.

Edens Zero is a shonen adventure series that manages to avoid the power creep problem the genre has become known for since Dragon Ball while also maintaining a high level of excitement throughout its onslaught of action. It's just a good old fashion adventure story. I'd call it sword and planet, except there are also guns, androids, virtual planets and planes, tokusatsu power suits, time travel, space pirates, space cops, and superpowers. Mashima isn't afraid of throwing everything in but the kitchen sink into this one, and he makes it all fit together as a neat whole.

It's a fun read of heroes against villains with some "grey" characters along the way (that will always eventually turn black or white, as it always goes in proper stories) to wild worlds as alien and inventive as anything you can imagine. It is quite a bit different than Fairy Tail, and quite a bit more inspired.

This is because, unlike Fairy Tail, Edens Zero is completely planned out and not done by the seat of the writer's pants. He used everything he learned through both Fairy Tail and first series Rave Master in order to write an epic adventure through the cosmos with cyborgs, magic, spaceships, and aliens aplenty, and a good bit of action to wash it all down. 

But most importantly: the good guys and the bad guys are always clearly defined and the line between them is never blurred. There are characters not on either line that will eventually be made to choose a side when trouble arises. When alliances are tested then you know precisely who everyone really is. This moral certainty is what gives the series its hotblooded drive and spark that makes it a blast to read through.

If it was just a bland hodgepodge of "grey" characters it would be like every other western comic set in space. And none of those are anywhere near as popular as Mashima's work is. 

This is why it feels like the Japanese are dominating the medium where the west is constantly stumbling. It is because their competition has completely ceded the moral ground which has in turn affected the interest audiences have in their anemic comic books. Who wants to read about miserable people being miserable to each other while fighting slightly more miserable people with slightly meaner motivations?

Nobody, apparently. It seems normal people don't care about "interesting characters" or whatever they are calling that grey mush these days. Audiences want heroes and villains. They probably always did despite being told they couldn't have them.

And this is also why movies like Dirty Harry or The Tough Ones still hold up today. They give the audience exactly what they crave, and they do it incredibly well.

Ambiguity of any kind does not preclude depth.

This is the main lesson to take away from the quest for "realism" and "interesting" is that it has led art off a cliff and should be abandoned. there is clearly no future in it, proved even more by how it has directly led to the climate we know live in. It is time to abandon this path just like heroism was abandoned back in the '60s. Enough is enough.

We deserve better.

While NewPub and the evaporating mainstream gives more room for such stories to finally flourish, it won't mean all that much if we don't change our understanding of real heroism. The fact of the matter is that we let this climate exist to begin with. It won't just evaporate overnight.

So let us start today in offering and indulging in more art and entertainment that celebrates the good instead of the evil. Change can only start with us, after all.

Then maybe we can finally turn this whole ship around before we steer right off the world's end. We don't have forever, after all. We can like each other again, and we will. As long as we remember to celebrate the good we can connect again.

The past is over, but the future always has the potential to be better. The more we work on it the more we can turn it around. No more celebrating the corrupted and the tainted: we will bring the good back to where it belongs. Once things are put back in their natural place everything will finally make sense again, just as it was always meant to.

And won't that be good?

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Dinosaur Destroyers

Find it Here!

It's been a busy summer full of releases, and it hasn't stopped yet. Today I would like to highlight a couple you might have missed.

In case you missed it, DMR Books recently put out the Prehistoric Adventures anthology, their follow-up to the recent Planetary Adventures release. This is yet another collection of classic pulp adventure tales reprinted for the first time in ages.

DMR have been on a bit of a roll this summer, putting out all kinds of classic pulp back out on the market. While that first volume focuses on the sword and planet style setting, this second one focuses on the caveman age!

Here is the story selection in the sequel volume:

“Dinosaur Destroyer” by Arthur Petticolas
“Spear and Fang” by Robert E. Howard
“With Weapons of Stone” by C.M. Eddy, Jr.
“Arhl-a of the Caves” by C.M. Eddy, Jr.
“Stories of the Stone Age” by H.G. Wells

Once again, you can find it here

But that is not all. As I said, DMR also put out yet another anthology! They apparently just don't know how to stop.

Find it Here!

Just last month, in August, DMR Books also put out a third volume in the series. This one is called Viking Adventures. I believe you can guess what this one is about just from the title. Nonetheless, it completes the short series that they have been releasing all summer in style. You aren't going to see this re-released by OldPub, that's for sure.

It is always good to see older material more readily available, especially these days when it's more likely to be buried, and these volumes have been a good resource for finding classic pulp. Without NewPub much of this material would be lost. Here is hoping for future entries in this vein from DMR and other publishers!

This is the story selection for the third volume:

“The Teuton’s Battle-song” (poem) by H.P. Lovecraft
“The Trader and the Vikings” by Poul Anderson
“The Regent of the North” by Kenneth Morris
“The Valkyries” by E.F. Benson
“The Passing of Sweyn” by Ray Wynn
“Seanachas” by Fiona Macleod
“Vengeance” by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur
“Ragnarok” (poem) by Henry Kuttner

Again, you can find it here.

It's been quite a summer, and it is finally coming to an end. But there has been quite a lot put out over these long months with much more to come in the future. I'll try to post more about these projects in the future when I can. Because there will definitely be more as OldPub continues to shrivel and NewPub flowers in its place.

Autumn is on the way. Until next time!

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Weekend Lounge: Weird Fiction & Gonzo Gaming!

For a break this weekend, how about checking out the newest episode of Geek Gab? In this one Alexander from Cirsova guest stars to talk about his recent projects such as his  Lost classics kickstarter of Julian Hawthorne's Weird Fiction. It promises to be a good listen!

There is a lot going on these days. Here's another!

In other news, there is about a week left on the Pulp Rock anthology. Jump on it to get some of the most fun stories you can imagine. Author alexander Hellene has even decided to read an excerpt of my story Mad Wind as a preview. You can hear it here!

Exciting things are afoot! Be sure not to miss any of the craziness going around out there. Have a good weekend, and I'll see you soon.

Just wait until you see what's next!