Radio Active #7: The Cold Lingers, Game FAQs, Gardens of the Moon

Radio Active PodcastIt’s been too long between podcasts — thanks to a nasty cold that hit back at the beginning of May — but with Radio Active #7, we’re back on track.

The podcast opens up with some updates about the show itself, and my plans for the future. I then go into a bit of a rant on game FAQs … or rather, the lack there of. And then finally, I’ve got a review of Steven Erikson’s Garden of the Moon, a dark fantasy novel with a militaristic edge.

Getting the Podcast

Show Notes

  • Intro
    • Finally gotten over my horrible cold, though the cough lingers on, so expect there to be more than a few breaks in the podcast.
  • Weekly Schedule
    • Going to try and get back to doing a weekly schedule, which will probably mean more, but shorter, podcasts. My plan is to review at least one book per podcast, since I have such a huge backlog of books I want to review.
  • Just the FAQs Jack
    • Frustrated when reviewing a game, and it doesn’t have a faq.
    • Even if its just a restating of the rules in a different way, a FAQ has value.
    • And there must be problem areas in a game that showed up in playtesting, even after the final draft of the rules was created. Use that as the basis.
  • Book Review: Gardens of the Moon
    • Book One of The Malazan Book of the Fallen
    • by Steven Erikson
    • Tor Books
    • 496 pages
    • Buy it from
    • Epic dark fantasy novel
    • Takes place against the backdrop of the expanding Malazan empire, which has conquered most of the world, and is looking to grab the few remaining free morsels.
    • Characters are caught up in a struggle between major players in the Empire, and must fight to avoid the corruption, treason and murder this spawns.
    • Unique magic system, in which wizards draw their power from “warrens”; which I take are something like specialized, magic-generating demi-planes. The power, strength and nature of each warren is very different. The magic tends to be of the dark and demanding kind (a la Robert E. Howard), requiring sacrifices in return for power. Definitely a far cry from the “I cast magic missile” type we see in a lot of generic fantasy.
    • Reminds me heavily of military SF; it’s probably the closest thing I’ve seen to military fantasy, in that much of the narratives involves a group of military engineers known as the Bridgeburners, who are hated and feared by many in the empire.
    • Engaging but infuriating book. Erikson regularly re-starts his narrative from a different perspective, and in a different time, while simultaneously dumping tremendous amounts of character, world and plot information on the reader. It makes it difficult to get your bearings, and I’d have preferred if he’d been more focused. It’s telling that the book begins with a glossary of people and places.
    • It don’t mind a large, complicated story with lots of plot threads — hell, I love George R.R. Martin’s work — but this is just too much, too fast.
    • Still, it’s well written, and that kept drawing me back in, all the time hoping the book would settle down into a grove, and almost every time disappointed that it did not. I’m still slowly reading it … as I have been for nearly a year.
    • Rating: 7/10
  • Outro
    • Next up: The music of the Atomic Swindlers and a giveaway contest!