“You don’t look like a Magic player.”

MTG Beguiler of Wills

“You don’t look like a Magic player,” compiles six pieces on gender and sexism in the Magic: The Gathering community. It addressing issues such as in-person sexism, gender and identity representation, and the gender gap in fantasy art.

As per Lifehacker, where I came across the list:

The stories, published from 2015 to just last week, come from a range of feminist and gaming-centric sites. Some critique problems in the world of Magic; some point out promising developments. If you’re wondering why people would care about the gender politics of a card game, and you’re open to learning, these pieces will teach you why.

The compiled articles include:

Here’s a link to the article on Metafilter. The comments are also good reading.

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Magic Books of Faerûn

grimoireFor you Forgotten Realms fans, David Shepheard from The Piazza shared a series of Magic Books of Faerûn by Sean K Reynolds. Each entry contains information like appearance, history, contents, price and stats for the last known person to hold the given tome. Some of the books contain new spells, mainly for 2e, but I’m sure they can be converted to other editions.

Here is a list of the books:

The Mainstreaming of Cthulhu: How a Fringe Horror Creation Became Popular

CthulhuMedium recently published a good overview of the Cthulhu Mythos and its influences on various arms of culture & entertainment. It goes over some of Lovecraft‘s history, authors who referenced his work, as well as those whose works he referenced, a snip of tv, movies & books that bear his DNA and even delves a bit into the racist and sexist attitudes of the times that made their way into his writings.

Black Panther

black-panther-theater

Black Panther was a great movie. I had high expectations for it, based on the character’s portrayal in Captain America: Civil War and on how the trailers for it looked. It ended up being better than I thought for reasons that I found daring and satisfying.

Without going deeply into spoilers, the heart of the movie is a story about morality. It picks up directly after the events of Civil War, and T’Challa ascends to kinghood, due to the death of his father, T’Chaka, during Civil War. His new status brings with it questions about how best to serve his country, Wakanda, and what its place in the world should be.

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Altered Carbon (1st 5 episodes)

AC Logo

This weekend, my wife & I watched the first 5 episodes of Altered Carbon, a dystopian cyberpunk noir series from Netflix based on the novel of the same name by Richard Morgan. We both really enjoyed it. It has a lot of interesting transhumanistic and social themes, including ideas about the nature of humanity and evolution of identity that I find intriguing. It feels to me like if the characters from Neuromancer (Gibson) were placed in the backdrop of Transmetropolitan (Ellis). There are also elements of the anime/manga Battle Angel Alita (Kishiro) – itself soon to be made into a movie with James Cameron at the helm – with an elitist city in the sky and classism both dividing society and controlling it.

Ordinarily, I avoid spoilers in my posts, but in this case, some appear as reference points to illustrate concepts in the series that I find interesting.

I’m unsure whether the story’s background is more appropriately cyberpunk or post-cyberpunk. The former deals with “low life and high tech” while the latter moves past the initial integration of man and machine to a culture in which technology is a pervasive and normal facet of life for most people. This series has elements of both, with the grittiness of cyberpunk ever present, alongside an acceptance of ubiquitous technology in everyday life and an exploration of its ramifications across many strata of lifestyles. How the rich interact with and utilize technology is different from how the poor do, there are religious and cultural reactions to technology, and, to make labelling the genre a little more difficult, humans have spread from Earth and now inhabit other worlds on which there are traces of alien technology.

AC bodies

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Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams

My wife & I finished watching “Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams” on Amazon last weekend. Its a 10-episode sci-fi anthology series based on writing from PKD that’s been called Amazon’s answer to Netflix’s Black Mirror. I love that it represents another investment in speculative fiction on video.

A lot of the series deals with ideas such as subjective vs. objective truth, the nature of humanity, societal and individual power balance, and the effects of technology on human society. It often blends these themes, and others, into varied flavors of sci-fi. Some of the themes and ideas touch on topics that have been getting more media focus in the current political climate, both here in the US and abroad in other countries – especially those dealing with issues related to classism and racism and media’s filtering of current events. I find it interesting that Phillip K. Dick was exploring these themes in the 1950s, and that they’re still relevant and even more actualized now. As brighter minds have conjectured, yesterday’s science fiction has become today’s science fact.

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Bright

BrightEarlier this week, the wife & I watched Bright, on Netflix, which we’d been awaiting since seeing trailers months ago. Initial reviews panned the movie, with some saying that it was the worst movie of 2017. They were wrong – we enjoyed it very much. Its reminiscent of the venerable sci-fantasy RPG Shadowrun. Reviewers, who seem to have no other frame of reference, keep comparing it to Lord of the Rings, but that’s not really a comparison I would make. LotR was very much classic high-fantasy. Bright, on the other hand, is a police drama/urban fantasy mashup. If it were more cyberpunk it could very well be a Shadowrun movie in much the same way that the Underworld series of movies homage aspects of White Wolf’s World of Darkness games.

The movie teams together two police officers – a black male, played by Will Smith and an orc male played by Joel Edgerton – in an equal-opportunity act to show that the authorities in Los Angeles aren’t as prejudiced against orcs as everyone knows them to be, and indeed, like how everyone else in LA, and maybe the world, are. This leads to a complaint that mainstream reviewers keep making that states that the fantasy races in Bright are metaphors for actual human races, and that their interactions are analogies for race relations. I know that in modern game design, its considered bad form to do this, but I don’t personally have a problem with it as a reference point.

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