Tags: humour


Ace Slamm: Space Bastard in... Turn on a Dame (Part Four)

Ace Slamm: Space Bastard

Turn on a Dame
Part Four: What a Maroon

After all their efforts they finally swung around the searing ball of atomic fire at the centre of our solar system and the great purple bruise that was Dyzan came into sight. A giant world, the lost triplet to Jupiter and Saturn, swarming with moons and asteroids, each a world in its own right and crowning them all, the imperial worldlet of Rex, now ravaged by civil war since the fall of the Emperor.

Ace's nostrils flared as the planet came into view. This was the last place he really wanted to be, since the war had come to these moons and him along with them. It was a horrible, grim time for planet Earth, under attack from this distant world and then fighting back, only to find the place in chaos. The whole thing was a mystery that nobody had yet unravelled – why had they been attacked in the first place? Was it just the nature of Dyzan's people to conquer? Whatever the case, it wasn't save here now. The Dyzan princes of the scattered moons were at war, squabbling over the corpse of the once-mighty empire while the rest of the solar system fell into ruin, directionless and ungoverned.

It wasn't safe here.

He flicked the switch to his radio, calling back to the hold where the trio were hiding since the run-in with Rosie. “We're almost there.” his voice crackled over the tannoy. “Where – exactly – are we going?”

There was no reply, but not much later the Professor joined him in the cramped cockpit. “There.” His rough fingertip pressed against the glass of the screen.” We're going to Rex.”

Ace rolled his eyes, hard, just his luck to be taking them to the worst spot of them all in this whole benighted zone. He grasped the controls and took them in, swooping towards the moon of Rex over the lurid and turbulent atmosphere of Dyzan itself. Soon Rex swam large in the screen, a battle-scarred world of gold and ash, the imperial city – or what remained of it – visible even at this distance, a massive structure on a scale previously unimaginable to the human mind.

Ace's radar pinged, warningly and he turned to the little green screen, three blips, incoming. Maybe they'd leave them alone, maybe they wouldn't. He set his jaw and flipped on the broadcast radio. “This is Man's Ruin to incoming vessels. We are on a mission of... exploration and mean no harm. Please divert your course.”

This hiss from Dyzan's magnetosphere almost drowned out any reply but he managed to tune it to hear their crackling missive: “Repeat... Avians – scree! - claim this sector. You are intruding. This is Matloch of the Vulcan's Claw, turn around or be destroyed!”

Ace turned questioning to the Professor whose thick brow was now set in determination. “We're paying you well, punch on through man.”

Ace nodded and his own brow furrowed. “Strap yourself down.” He muttered and turned Man's Ruin towards the oncoming vessels.

This close to Rex's atmosphere the atomic turbines couldn't blast full speed, they'd burn up like meteors in the wisps of atmosphere but, at this terrific speed, the flaps and rudder on the ship could get a little bite and that gave Ace the edge. He swooped in lower, biting deeper into Rex's atmosphere, the ship glowing at the nose as it picked up heat. Distantly he could see the silvery cigar shapes of the Avian vessels with their distinctive back-swept wings barely visible. He flipped up the catch on his control stick and the battle-joy came over him. This was what he was good at.

He thumbed the stud as he roared up out of the atmosphere in a corona of burning plasma, the atmosphere clinging to the ship like a shroud. The vickers opened up with ravening beams of atomic fire, lancing out across the void towards the 'V' formation of the Avian rocket ships. Classic formation, the bird-brains never learned. Great scars opened up along the side of one of the vessels and its wing melted away like butter in a hot pan. Venting atmosphere and the distant, doll-like bodies of Avian soldiers it began its death-spin down towards the planet.

The remaining vessels peeled away, one going high, one going low. The higher vessel swept up, then down, barrelling towards Ace's ship in a hawk's dive, blazing away with its own cannons, hot ions slapping into the plasma shroud and impacting the crackling lightning shield, but they weren't going to get through, not in time.

Ace pushed the thruster control forward and headed for the ship dead on. At this speed there were no earthly reflexes that could avoid a collision and both vessels blazed away with their energy beams, gun against gun, field against field in a battle of competing technology that would result in the death of one, or the other.

The Avian's vessels had been kept weak by the Emperor, not wanting to risk an uprising that could not be crushed by the Imperial fleet and Ace was hoping they hadn't been retrofitted. His luck held. There was an explosion as the Avian lightning field collapsed and as it did the coruscating beams from the Vickers blew it into a cloud of vapour. Ace's own field was dangerously low though now and as he dove back towards the planet his lightning field began to register hits from the one remaining ship.

“Hold tight!” Ace shouted, holding on for dear life as he pushed Man's Ruin to its absolute limit, every bolt and plate rattling as he dove towards the planet's surface, down towards the rocky outcroppings of the Plain of Misery and it's ashen wastes. The Avian ship dived after him, following in his wake, but it's beams couldn't penetrate the corona of hot gas that plumed behind Man's Ruin, her hull vapourising from the heat and the ship baking like an oven.

At the last possible moment Ace pulled up, the planet spinning sickeningly beneath him and the controls cutting the air as we drove Man's Ruin into a desperate set of jinking manoeuvres through the rocky outcroppings of the surface. The Avian was hot on his tail, explosions of melting rock going off like firecrackers beneath them as the Avian ship stuck to them like glue, intent upon their tail and that, that was what Ace was counting on.

Man's Ruin turned, desperately, and swept towards a rocky arch, sliding through by the barest of margins at dangerous speed. So intent on the hunt were the Avians that they followed, but the great, swept back wings of their ship would not fit where the sleek, penial design of the Spite could more easily go. There was a terrific crash behind them and the Avian ship's wreckage blasted out of the collapsing arch like the pellets of a shotgun blast. They were safe, for now.

The Professor clapped Ace on the shoulder. “Well done that man, well done! Bang himself couldn't have done better.” Ace didn't doubt that and wasn't about to argue with the man.

“Where to then Professor?” The reward they'd promised him would be half gone just fixing Man's Ruin, he wanted this job done, now.

The Professor leant of the scope and read out coordinates, it wasn't far. Man's Ruin, scarred and battle worn, swept through the smoking skies and landed on her struts, the grey sand sinking beneath her weight as, pinging and crackling, the vessel began to cool.

They descended, Ace first, onto the grim surface of this ruined world. Ace's hand was on his Eliminator, ready to draw at the first sign of trouble. The trio seemed, oddly, almost at home here. Gail was even smiling as she looked out across the wastes. Bang looked pantherish and confident, in stark contrast to his bullish overcompensation at other times. Even the Professor stood straight backed and confident, all too at home in this alien landscape.

They walked, perhaps ten score yards over the rough terrain until they found a great scar in the surface of the planet, melted rock and sand turned to glass, fragments of wreckage. A rocket ship had smashed down here and as they followed the scar to its end Ace began to feel more and more uneasy.

At the very end were the skeletal remnants of a rocket ship, oddly primitive in design, unlike any other vessel Ace had ever seen but to the trio, it seemed familiar.

“You SEE!” Roared the Quartus triumphantly. “It's still here! Proof! Evidence that we were here first! That we discovered them! That our story, OUR story is true!” He scrambled a camera from his backpack and began to take shots as Bang clambered over the wreckage and hauled out a metal plate, inscribed, in English.

Ace's mind reeled and he literally swayed at this news, dizzy with all its implications. He didn't have enough time to organise his thoughts however, a rock tumbled behind him and he swung around hard, Eliminator at the ready.

“HOLD!” Roared the sneering voice of the man in the silver mask, a plasma pistol grasped in his gauntlet. “I mean you no harm Captain Slamm. I wish to talk a moment and, if you still wish to kill me, we can have it out after that.”

“Kill him!” Roared Bang, tensed to jump, but there was no way he could reach Siltar without being cut down. Ace kept his hand tight on the Eliminator and nodded to Siltar, accepting his proposal with a taciturn gesture.

“Predictable bloody Earthlings.” Muttered Siltar, stepping with distaste down the slope of the scar, as though the ground were not worthy to sully his feet. “This trio came here in the thirties, by your primitive measure. Barely had they been here a day when they began to foment revolt against the Emperor. This brainless lump even turned the eye of the Emperor's daughter.” He gestured to Bang and, judging by the way Gail reacted, that was a sore point.

“Go on.” Ace growled roughly, without taking his eyes off Siltar, though he could sense the unease of the trio at what was being said.

“It's because of them that the Emperor launched his war against your Earth, thinking them the vanguard of some invasion, some rebellion. Your armies beat us, but not because of your might, but rather because of what these bumbling fools accomplished against all odds here. The Empire is ruined, but at least we were beaten – so people think – in honest contest of arms. If this... crank...” Siltar pointed with the barrel of his gun at Quartus “...has his way that legend, for both our peoples, will be shattered.”

“Is this true?” Ace and Siltar shared a nod of understanding and he allowed his attention to drift to Quartus.

“Yes!” Proclaimed the man of science. “I invented space travel for our people! I discovered this place! Bang freed her people and Gail infiltrated the palace! We liberated the solar system from Dyzan's rule!”

Ace lowered his gun and holstered it. “Millions of people died and all because you couldn't stay out of it. All because you had to interfere. They didn't care about Earth until you made them care.” He turned and began to trudge back towards Man's Ruin.

Gail darted after him, recoiling as Siltar blasted a rock to atoms beside her, calling out to him. “Ace! Please! No! People have to hear the truth!”

“No, they don't need to hear it's our fault.” He kept on trudging.

“We had a deal! What about your reward? What about me? I've seen you looking at me, you're twice the man Bang ever was!”

“Hey!” the sportsman bristled at the slight, clenching his fists.

“You can stick the reward where the sun don't shine love.” Ace growled, without turning around. Grinding the ashen soil of Rex beneath his boots as plasma flared, three times, behind him.

(no subject)

"The Quintessential Temptress is, of course, a slight exception being, as it is, after all, a bit of a piss-take. There is, however, a great deal of genuinely useful information contained within this book in spite of the humour and mirth, things that can be used practically. Some people lacking in the essential brain cells required to tell humour from seriousness, or who excuse their lack of understanding of the joke by accusing humour of perpetuating stereotype and persecution may find something within this book to offend them. Jolly good; enjoy being upset, you know you do. The rest of us will get on with having a jolly good – not to mention harmless – chuckle."

I wrote that back in 2004 but in spite of any number of disclaimers and to above, Cassanda-ish prediction, I'm still getting shit over it. As well as Nymphology: Blue Magic, Hentacle, etc etc.

This is all courtesy of the internet troll and drama-llama Kynn (Dazedsaveends on Twitter). Of course, since they're a transgender who chooses to call themselves a woman, you can't say anything against them without being simultaneously a misogynist and a transphobic. If only I were a member of a minority so I had something to insult people with they point out that I'm full of crap. Of course, I'd also have to be the kind of gutless fuckwit who can't support an argument and has to resort to ad hominem to plaster that gap too, but, you know, baby steps.
The irony, again, for those who missed it last time around, is this. The books that this person keeps banging on about are saying the opposite of what they think that they are.
Nymphology, Quintessential Temptress etc, these were taking the mick out of existing stereotypes of women in fantasy, games and RPGs. While also slipping some usable material in under the radar. As I recall the original pitch (when asked) was for something more serious but you do what you're paid to do and more comedy was asked for. You can call me a sell out if you like but it's hard enough to make it in this industry and scrape a living without handicapping yourself. I did what was asked, made fun of misogynistic attitudes in gaming and got some serious stuff in anyway.
Hentacle is, again, satirical, making fun of both hentai and western attitudes towards it.
I'm sorry if that's too complicated and nuanced for some people.
Here's a case in point, is this sexist, or making fun of sexists? You tell me...
And for the record, I am not homophobic, transphobic, misogynistic or whatever else you choose to accuse me of. I do, however, hate liars and twats and people who spread hate and misinformation. Indeed I'm usually the one that calls others on their 'isms'. 


Matters Matrimonial

The tip of my pinky finger is approximately one centimetre across.

This is subdivided into 10 millimetres. A millimetre is approximately the width of a grain of rice.

A micrometer is about the size of a pore on a surgical mask - viruses can still get through, though bacteria can't - to give you some idea.

A nanometre is approximately the same size as one end of a carbon nano-tube, those useful things that we're going to use building tiny machines. Calling them nano-machines is a bit of a misnomer as - obviously - they're going to have to be bigger than that.

A picometre is roughly the same size as the wavelength of a gamma ray.

A femtometre is roughly the same size as a proton, or thereabouts. Some theorise we could build machines at this scale, rather than nano scale, and this would be 'alchemy' in a sense.

An attometre? Well, we descent further into the subatomic here and that's the size of quarks.

The zeptometre is even smaller, now we're talking about preons, the building blocks OF quarks.

Now we're down to a yoctometre, that's about the size of neutrinos, they sleet through most matter without being detected.

Way down, much further than this, down several powers of ten we arrive at the planck scale. This is theoretically as small as anything in the physical universe can get. This is the realm of 'quantum foam' and 'superstrings'.

Some go further and posit that on some deeper level still the universe is 'information' and information can be expressed as ones and zeros, its presence and its absence.

That zero.

That absence.

THAT is how much of a fuck I give about the Royal wedding.

Oh, of course I give a fuck about the things surrounding it. I give a fuck that the country is grinding to a halt for the sake of a meaningless toff to get hitched and pump out more blueblood babies post-haste. I give a fuck that people are being given another day off (nice). I definitely give a fuck that I can't watch the news these days without seeing Nicholas - bloody - Witchall toadying up. I give a fuck that we seem to have stepped back 100 years in time in terms of deference to a bunch of stuck-up Germans with no more claim to real fame than Paris - fucking - Hilton.

Oh yes. I give a fuck about it that way, tangentially. Just not the thing itself.

Of course, we all know the real reason they're making a big deal of it and they're doing it now. It takes more than a single dose of commoner genes to correct the damage of centuries and William is losing his boyish good looks so fast it looks like he's melting. It seems Charles' 'lizard' DNA is rapidly asserting itself so we've had to sacrifice a princess to the dragon post-haste. Perhaps in another ten generations of them marrying relative commoners they'll produce some offspring that DOESN'T look like the progeny of a misguided attempt to breed dumbo and an angler fish, but I'm not holding out hope.

If you want me on wedding day I'll be drowning my screams in console games and work.


THIS came up on Twitter the other day and it's painfully groan-worthy reading. It's also ironic since it's making 'fun' of people's common tacks to dismiss arguments while, at the same time, essentially being a guide to arguments that must be dismissed.

Additional irony comes in with on the one hand criticising scientific studies for being biased and at the same time complaining that the argument 'you have an agenda' has no merit. Science at least works to eliminate bias through peer review and the confirmation of results through repetition. If you do have an agenda that cannot help but colour your views through confirmation and cognitive bias. To choose a less emotionally triggering example than persons of minorities, take climate change deniers or creationists. Their agenda very much colours how they interact with and perceive data. People with an agenda will tend to filter everything they take in by rejecting that which doesn't conform to their pre-existing worldview and only accepting that which supports - or which they think supports - that worldview.

This is true with any strongly held position and it take a lot of work to overcome, particularly through exposure to other points of view than your own and examining them rationally.

The 'article' also attempts to simultaneously invalidate the personal experience of the 'privileged' person while sanctifying the personal experience of the person claiming discrimination. Both are personal experiences and are anecdotal, functionally useless when examining an issue dispassionately and factually.

There are some good and occasionally humorous points on this article, but overall it ends up shooting itself in the foot through hypocrisy, irony and, perhaps most awfully, carrying with it the implicit idea that in order to comment or hold an opinion on any issue (with or without supporting evidence) relating to a minority you must, per force, be 'privileged' to be a member of that minority.

As a left-anarchist by ideology and a socialist by pragmatism I'm for equality and the tearing down of privilege in whatever form it takes but I can't help feeling that this sort of overblown pomposity and total lack of humour, perspective or introspection is counter-productive, whatever and whoever you are.
just me

Slayer's Guide to Female Gamers

Hopefully Matt won't mind me dredging up his evidential post from RPGnet in 2002. Funny to see GMS was being a bit of a dick back then too. The more things chance, the more they stay the same... you can find the thread on Google with a search for the book title and 'review' but you'll have to view it 'cached'. Set the Wayback Machine to 2002:

Anybody else get the feeling that this is going to be a contender for longest thread on this forum :)

A few interesting points about the Slayer's Guide to Female Gamers to consider;

1. At both Gen Con UK and US it was our best selling book by far, even eclipsing Slaine at the former. We sold out at both conventions.
2. I estimate around 75% of all books were bought by females.
3. To date, I have had one, just one complaint from someone who has actually _read_ the Slayer's Guide to Female Gamers. Support for it has been pretty incredible, mostly from the female audience. I ain't making that up :)
4. This book has proved quite controversial - but only among those who have _not_ read it.
5. There is a clear warning label on the back cover. Basically, it warns that this is a gender parody.

Those who have raised pro- and anti-feminist arguments against this book are reading _way_ too much into things. It is a joke. A Michael take. A bit of fun. You personally may not find it funny at all - that is your perfect right. However, it is not the work of Satan, it does not target women, nor does it belittle them.

I am quite prepared to listen to anyone who wishes to criticise this book - but only _after_ they have read it.

A small bit of history. When this book was first announced, several people on industry-only forums (the ones most of you guys don't get to see but where, apparently, publishers are supposed to bait one another) went completely over the top, claiming it was heralding the end of RPGs as a mass market medium, that female gamers would be turned away in droves and all sorts of other nonsense. One publisher even advised retailers that they should not stock this book, nor its twin, SG Rules Lawyers. Think about that for a moment - one publisher was actively going around telling people not to buy another publisher's book. If my mortgage did not depend on our books, that would have been really funny. . .

In short, I have heard enough rubbish about this book. We have had one complaint from someone who has actually read it which, considering sales, is rather good going. Slag this book off all you want - but please read it first. You don't even have to buy it. Just read it.

As for Gareth - you really need to take your head out of your rear end, mate. Please understand that your opinions do not impress me that much and I am getting rather tired of your attitude towards us across the industry forums. To bring your beef with us here beggars belief. If you have any salient points to raise, please contact me in private and I will do my level best to answer them.

Now that is over, many thanks to everyone who has supported us over the past 18 months or so. It is _very_ much appreciated and we are working hard not to let you down with future releases. Oh, and check out Slaine when you get a chance. No, it is not as funny as Female Gamers. But it has a lot more axes, Warp Spasms, witches and druidic rites (funny that this sort of subject material doesn't get anyone excited any more. . .).

Have fun gaming!

Matthew Sprange
Mongoose Publishing

Of all the book signings I've ever done, I think I signed more copies of this SG than anything else I've done, primarily for women, even more than The Munchkin's Guide to Powergaming. Anyone who even passingly knows me knows that I'm not sexist and frankly, I shouldn't have to defend myself against illiterate liars like this but, as a writer, it can't help but bother me when people get entirely the wrong end of the stick.

This is why I stopped going to RPGnet, too many kooks.

What I Learned from Draw Mohammed Day

1. That viewpoints I once considered to be limited to Islamic extremists are held by a considerable number of relatively wealthy, educated and literate Muslims. It seems that Muslims of actual moderate position are the 'lunatic fringe'.

2. That Paedobear and Muhammed are a marriage made in heaven.
3. That Islamic Creationists are more fun than Christian Creationists because they think this is a new argument.

4. That there's apparently no Islamic concept of freedom of speech, so they don't get the concept and can't separate it from hate speech or incitement to violence.
5. That a lot of Muslims think we're all Christian in the west and can't wrap their heads around atheism.

6. That Islam has no answer to Muhammed's having sex with Aisha when she was nine. Or rather that the excuses make the whole topic even worse for them. This appears to be Islam's Achilles heel. Their unanswerable question.
7. That /b/ is the cancer that is destroying not just 4chan, but the internet as a whole, mind you, they did only appear to start playing up AFTER the Muslims missed the point of the whole thing and started slinging the abuse around.
8. That someone can say: "You cannot make fun of Islam, that's racist! Besides, this is all a Jewish plot!" with a straight face.

9. That a lot of Muslims equate the systematic murder of over six million people with doodling a 1400 year dead paedophile bandit with epilepsy.

10. That it isn't Nick Clegg's fault, it's the Jews. Always, always the Jews. Lose your car keys? It was the Jews. Spill milk? Jews. 9/11? Jews. Facebook allowing EDMD? Jews. Jews, Jews, Jews...
I used to think this insanity was limited to extremists and those in more backward and oppressed nations but I'm no longer convinced that's the case due to the sheer volume of Muslims approving of censorship, making death threats, displaying obscene racism and hatred (ironically while complaining about alleged racism and hatred) and approving of hacking in order to silence critics.

I may have to bump Islam up my 'threats to humanity' list ahead of Christianity (but after Apple) at this rate.

(no subject)

As participation in 'Everybody Draw Mohammed' day (tomorrow, May 20th), in celebration of free speech in defiance of religious censorship I've done what I do and have dashed off a very slapdash and amateurish - and horribly blasphemous - card game.

You can download it HERE, ready for tomorrow.
Alternative download HERE.

Originally posted over on business/work blog apresvie