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"Goodbye, Jean-Luc, I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential. But then again, all good things must come to an end."
- Q, Star Trek: TNG

Washington Post: Tolkien Grows Up

by Ken Newquist / April 23, 2007

This Washington Post review of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Children of Hurin opens with this lede:

If anyone still labors under the delusion that J.R.R. Tolkien was a writer of twee fantasies for children, this novel should set them straight. A bleak, darkly beautiful tale played out against the background of the First Age of Tolkien's Middle Earth, The Children of Hurin possesses the mythic resonance and grim sense of inexorable fate found in Greek tragedy.

After reading the Lord of the Rings novels, after seeing the Peter Jackson movies, could anyone -- anyone -- really think that Tolkien's works were "fantasies for children"?

Game Day: Dragon's End, Ravenloft's Mists

by Ken Newquist / April 22, 2007

It was a bitter-sweet game day on Friday as Paizo Publishing and Wizards of the Coast announced Dragon and Dungeon magazines would cease publication after Wizards pulled the license to publish the books from Paizo. Since they didn't give it to anyone else, this means that the magazines will cease publication in August with Dragon #359 and Dungeon #150.

New Tolkien Novel 'The Children of Hurin' To Be Published

by Ken Newquist / April 16, 2007

The Children of Hurin written by J.R.R. Tolkien and edited into shape by his son Christopher, will be released by HarperCollins. This expands upon an earlier version told in The Silmarillion.

According to the CNN story:

The story is set long before "The Lord of the Rings" in a part of Middle-earth that was drowned before Hobbits ever appeared, and tells the tragic tale of Turin and his sister Nienor who are cursed by Morgoth, the first Dark Lord.

The 2007 Hugo Award Nominees

by Ken Newquist / April 15, 2007

The 2007 Hugo Award nominees have been announced, and unlike last year I haven't read a book on the list. I've read other books by those nominated for best novel -- Vernor Vinge and Michael Flynn -- but not these. In Vinge's case, I was aware of Rainbow's End, but hadn't gotten around to picking it up yet. I had no idea that Flynn had Eifelheim out, which just goes to show I need to pay more attention to Analog's "Reference Library".

Strange Horizons: Dispatches from Planet France, Painted, Rehydration

by Ken Newquist / April 14, 2007

This week's edition of Strange Horizons features speculations on French language, architecture and tourism in the column "Dispatches from Planet France: Châteaux, Part I" by Susannah Mandel, the speculative fiction short story "Painted", by Becca De La Rosa, the poem "Rehydration", by Tina Connolly and reviews of the books Primeval, The Last Mimzy and Glorifying Terrorism.

Game Day: Munchkin, Munchkin, Munchkin! (and a few Dwarves)

by Ken Newquist / April 13, 2007
Cover: Munchkin Bites

This week's Game Day sees us returning to role-playing with Khelez-Mar: The Dwarven Imperative. If memory serves, our last adventure saw the dwarves at the cusp of entering the Obsidian Maze, a sprawling subterranean dungeon in the Drachensgrab Hills of the Pomarj in the World of Greyhawk. It's been years since our campaign ventured back into one of Greyhawk's largest death traps, and the last expedition was run by me. I'm looking forward to seeing what our current game master, Evil Genius, does with the old dungeon.

Work Ethic vs. Workouts

by Ken Newquist / April 13, 2007

It's been a tough two weeks, with a lot of long hours at work, which caused me to fall back on my old bad habits ... namely skipping lunch (or rather, eating at my desk) and not exercising. The excuses are legion -- working too late, exhausted from wrangling the kids into bed, tired from a day of trying to do too much, etc. -- but all have managed to throw me off my game. Having two kids doesn't help -- they add a burst of exhausting confusion to the end of the day, and 12 hours spent with the kids can make Sue as stressed as me.

Signs & Portents Roleplayer and Wargamer #43

by Ken Newquist / April 13, 2007

Issue 43 of Mongoose Publishing's twin PDF magazines Signs & Portents Roleplayer and Wargamer is online and ready for download from Writeth Mongoose:

Signs & Portents Wargamer 43
Another packed issue for wargamers this month! For A Call to Arms, there
are experimental rules on utilising Hyperspace, Tactics for the Frontline,
full rules for the Techno Mage Pinnace and the other newly released ships, a
battle report pitting the pak'ma'ra against the Dilgar, and a complete
in-depth preview of the forthcoming second edition of the game. Whew! Our
other games have not been abandoned either. For Victory at Sea, there is a
complete mini-campaign , Hunting the Beast, featuring the Royal Navy hunting

CNN: Novelist Kurt Vonnegut Dies at 84

by Ken Newquist / April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut, author of Slaughterhouse Five, The Sirens of Titan and Cat's Cradle, died Wednesday, April 11 at age 84.

I was never a huge fan of his work -- I read both Slaughterhouse Five and The Sirens of Titan in college, but found them too disjointed to be really enjoyable. Reading Timequake in the '97 only confirmed that Vonnegut wasn't for me.

Top of the Pile: Amazing Spiderman, X-Factor, X-Men, New Excalibur, Conan, Batman

by Ken Newquist / April 11, 2007

Despite the fact that I've been buying comics regularly for over a decade, I've only rarely reviewed them on Nuketown.

That changes starting this week with the debut of my "Top of the Pile" column where I'll be running down why I'm reading … and in what order. Almost every geek I know shuffles their comics once they get home, rearranging them into their preferred reading order. I'm no different, but in addition to talking about what's at the top of my comic stack, I'll also be talking about my kids' picks as I search for (and occasionally find) comics for my four-year-old daughter to read.