Saturday, January 13, 2018

Deuterocanonical Dresden

One of my blogging goals for 2018 is to revisit and hopefully cap off some of the series of posts that have been left hanging in previous years. Of these, the most egregious is my planned re-read of the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher, which spluttered out before I even got to the first novel. There are now fifteen novels in the series, along with the various short prose and comic-book stories, and while the release date for the sixteenth has not yet been announced, this summer will see the release of the second short story collection, Brief Cases. Whatever the real-life circumstances that have delayed Harry's adventures, at least we know Jim hasn't lost his touch in coming up with snappy titles.

But all of that is in the future - today, I'd like to highlight a neat resource for Dresden fans that has recently come online. This website is called Word of Jim, and is a compilation of forum postings, live interview responses, comments left on Amazon reviews, and other such ephemera made by Jim Butcher himself that drop hints at future books and explain or undercut various explanations for ongoing mysteries, or just wacky fan ideas. It's great fun to browse through, although I have yet to locate the place where he says that Ronald Reuel, the titular Summer Knight of Summer Knight, is not the same guy as J. R. R. Tolkien. However, another tidbit seems to support my theory that he is:

I’m sure it’s just one of those freaky coincidences. Tweed-clad old smiling ‘creator of worlds of imagination’ Ronald Reuel, Summer Knight of the Seelie Court does not look a thing like Tolkein.

Or, uh. Well he does, yeah.

On advice of legal council, I claim the right of the fifth amendment not to testify against myself…
On the other hand his statements that Justin DuMorne, Harry's guardian, was absolutely, no-questions, "D-E-D dead" (which I take as evidence that Harry's mentor is still alive*) are available, although I had a bit of trouble finding them since I was initially using "DuMorne" as my search term. Truth be told, some of the pages could use a bit of subdivision.

As we mostly-patiently wait for Brief Cases, as well as the next two novels, Peace Talks and Mirror, Mirror (which will be about exactly what you're thinking), I anticipate that Word of Jim will become a well-used resource by the Dresden fan community, and I thank the compiler "Serack the WoJ Guru" for his efforts.

*OK, here goes. Some years before gaining guardianship of the young Harry Dresden, Justin DuMorne was, by all accounts, an exemplary Warden (The Dresden Files' version of a wizardly police officer), who was involved in the takedown of a dangerous necromancer named Kemmler. Immediately after Kemmler's seemingly final demise, however, he absconded with a dangerous artifact (the yet-unnamed Bob the Skull) and, later, trained Harry as a wizard without any of the usual ethical instruction. Later Harry encounters a bunch of Kemmler's old hangers-on, including one with the charming nickname "Corpsetaker", who specializes in tactical body-swapping.

My theory, then, is that during that last battle Justin DuMorne was the victim of a similar body-swap initiated by Kemmler, and thus was killed in the necromancer's body while his own identity was stolen by Kemmler. Thus, DuMorne is, as Jim points out, as dead as Kemmler, in that they both half are and half aren't. Of course, if Jim never brings Kemmler back to face Harry again they might just as well be all dead, but at this point in Harry's career a legendary necromancer with the face of his hated guardian is just the sort of enemy he might encounter. And I have my suspicions about the mysterious figure called Cowl . . .

Friday, January 05, 2018

Kickstart Your New Year With Card Games and Adventure Fiction!

Happy 2018 to all my readers! As I do from time to time, I'd like to start this year of blogging off by highlighting a couple of crowd-funded projects I'm following.

The first is a card game called "The College Experience", put together by some folks in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Now, I have to admit a little bias, here - the artwork for this game is done by a very dear friend of mine, through whom I was able to get access to a play-testing copy. While not particularly complex, as a pickup game for a spare half-hour or so it does it's job well, especially in the endgame when the players are getting a little more desperate to fill one of the two victory conditions (either holding the "Diploma" card when the draw pile runs out or, in one of the games more elaborate jokes, getting all three of the other highest value cards at any one time. These three cards, of course, represent Good Grades, Enough Sleep, and your Social Life). With just a single day left in the campaign, the game has raised nearly 30% more than its original goal, which is a victory condition in itself.

Also crowd-funding this month - although it's really more of a subscription drive, the goal-meeting aspect is something of a formality, given the circumstances -  are the next two issues of the excellent pulp fantasy and science fiction adventure magazine Cirsova. The magazine has apparently been doing quite well for itself, since the two-issue digital subscription is a whopping $1. With the back issues going on Amazon for about $3 each (for Kindle Readers, of course, the physical copies are more costly no matter which way you buy them), the magazine is practically being given away - and, if you still need convincing, most of the first three issues are literal giveaways at the magazine's website. But don't delay too long, the subscription is only open until the end of the month!

No matter if you're a reader, a gamer, or both, there's nothing quite like helping someone else fulfill a creative dream. Although the technology is only a few years old, it's amazing the kind of things that can be produced by crowd-funding. Both of the projects I've mentioned here have met and exceeded their initial goals, and I hope the successes of these projects inspire their creators for a long time to come.