East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Killer job

The toughest writing job I’ve had in ages is writing a script for a Murder Party.


This is a sort of live roleplaying game: the guests become involved in a murder, and follow the development of the story, and in the end they have to guess the name of the killer, based on the clues and the behavior of the actors laying the suspects.
Quite fun to take place in, but… Continue reading

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Back to playing Go

9781400098033I started playing Go because of a novel1.
I read Trevanian’s Shibumi when I was in high school, and I liked it a lot. I knew the man that had translated the novel, and we both were chess players (he was quite good, I sucked pretty bad).
I played a lot of chess in high school – I used to carry a small magnetic chessboard in my bag, and we’d play games during break with some of my schoolmates. We played fast, and it was good training, but I still sucked.

After reading Shibumi (that is an excellent spy story novel) I started looking for a handbook for the game of Go, but in those pre-internet days the going was tough.
The friendly gaming store where I used to buy my roleplaying games had Go boards for sale, at a crazy price, and no handbooks. Continue reading

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Strange Bedfellows

I spent last night playing Strange Bedfellows with a friend.
It’s not as bad as it sounds.

Strange Bedfellows is a parlor game inventes – as far as I know – by British novelist M. John Harrison.
It’s quite simple, but can be fun.

bookshelf-hillThe game is played indoors, wherever there are some book shelves.
The idea is to look at the books on the shelf, and pick a pair of books that sit side by side.
And now imagine: it is a dark and stormy night, and as the fury of the elements thrashes the countryside, in a small inn, two travellers are forced to share the same bed for the night.
The two authors of the two books are the two travellers.
The night is cold.
What do they talk about, laying there side by side?
Do they just talk?

It’s funny, slightly risqué, the sort of game book-lovers like to play.
Can even be played solitaire – and used as a writing prompt.
If played in two can lead to some spicy situations.
If played in a group, normally degenerates in a lot of sillyness, but fun.

Picking the fiction shelf is usually better than picking the non-fiction shelf.

The game began, last night, because my friend had been told that, on her Goodreads (virtual) bookshelf, Agatha Christie sitting side-by-side with Virginia Woolf was an unusual sight.

But then, what of Harlan Ellison and Arthur Conan Doyle, currently sticking together on my shelf?
What about Roald Dahl and the Dalai Lama sharing a bed in that lonesome hotel?
What would Louise Brooks say to H.P. Lovecraft, and what would he respond?

A messy book collection is sure to grant hours of delight, starting conversations and some quiet fun.