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Holiday reads

A brief round up of my poolside reading on my recent trip to Crete with a gaming lens.

Aiecrew is an excellent history of RAF and IS Army Air Force. Pilots in the strategic bombing of Fortress Europe, Put together by Bruce Lewis (ex aircrew himself) it goes chapter by chapter through the major positions in a bomber crew with interviews and diary entries of survivors, Excellent at giving at first had feel of the terror and bureaucratic absurdities of war as well as the humour and technical changes and challenges..

An interesting 80s flashback to a coldwar slowly going hot. I found this most interesting for the period service details and also the scenes were the Frigates small Marines complement join 43 Commsndo as part of operations facing a Soviet invasion of Norway. For the gamer there’s lots of colour for a naval style (space) game in terms of discipline, culture and tactics.

Volume 27 in the Sphere Conan books this is one of the much frowned upon pastiches. There’s is a brilliant grizzly nautical magical ritual summoning scene and great wizardly politics. Also a scene where Conan scores a fine sword and then goes to get a scabbard and hilt for it has nice Fleming style detail. All in all too much over the top magic and Cimmerian backstory.

Four short stories set about an intergalactic medical hospital / rescue effort. The initial origin story left me cold but the three following stories while dated where excellent puzzles and as the medics often in first contact situations have to determine who and what they’re treating – I don’t want to give away any spoilers but the last tale even generated a manly tear to my eye. Lots of food for thought for challenging SF scenarios though the struggle will be how not to reduce it all to dice rolls.

I read Pacific Edge another volume in the thematic ‘ Orange County’ trilogy and was very impressed. The Gold Coast is equally impressive casting an almost Dickensian net over a group of high school friends in their own way failing to grow up or struggling with adulthood – and in the case of Jim McPherson his dad in the defence industry and mum in the church. It’s a poetic grown up novel about nostalgia for times you never new and missing things right in front of you and while it’s 2027 technology may in someplace be displaced today it makes it evergreen.

But from a gaming perspective there is elements of hardware in the sabotage plot that are really nice – micro missiles with polymer melting compounds warheads. The use of the term ‘ally’ for sexual partner seems suitably detached for our 2018 (we’re all sovereign states) as does the obsession with filming liaisons.

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