Lizard Brain is a shared blog about Science Fiction and Fantasy from Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.

Five Things That Don’t Suck

by Daniel Abraham

So I’ve been thinking a lot about negativity online of late (and for “of late” read: Since I first got in IRC in 1987).  I thought it would be nice to mention a few things for which I can express my genuine and unadulterated appreciation.

1) Artemis Space Ship Bridge Simulator

I’ve played this twice now, and it’s brilliant, independent, hilarious and exciting.  Imagine that you’re on the bridge of the Enterprise.  Now put that in your living room.

I’m not a game designer, but I do appreciate the logic of game design.  Artemis is crafted beautifully to reward and require cooperation and communication.  And with the port to IOS, it’s easy to get enough hardware to run it.  Both the nights I played were shakedown games, and for my money, the joy of screwing up is almost as good as the joy of winning.

“Okay.  Drop shields.”

“Ah.  They weren’t up.”



It’s a lovely little wargame that works best in a place where folks can all sit together and smell the pizza.  And it’s a labor of love by Thom Robertson, who totally deserves a round of applause.

2) Phineas and Ferb

My darling daughter is 6 going on 7 (or, occasionally 3 gong on 30), and there have been an awful lot of enthusiasms that we can’t quite share.  Phineas and Ferb, God bless them, are on the short list with Mythbusters and Avatar: The Last Airbender of things that the kid loves and I can rewatch and actually enjoy.


3) bell hooks

Everyone should read bell hooks.

My first exposure to her was back when Tipper Gore was taking on 2 Live Crew. bell hooks had an essay that discussed the violence toward women in rap songs and the violence toward women in Jane Campion’s The Piano, considered who was profiting from 2 Live Crew’s success, and declined to take the easy way out of condemning the rappers.

Most recently, I read some of her work considering what our culture does to men and boys in a book called Will to Change that is one of my favorite analyses of the question ever.

“Ultimately the men who choose against violence, against death, do so because they want to live fully and well, because they want to know how to love.  These men are the true heroes, the men whose lives we need to know about, honor, and remember.”

(Also I want to throw in an honorable mention to Terrance Real, who she name checks several times, and who also doesn’t suck. And also nonviolent communication in general which, while seeming as fluffy and fuzzy headed and saccharine as humanly possible, actually has an implacable and terrible insistence on productive conflict that breaks the will of mere mortals.)

4) The Jay Lake Fundraiser

Go take a look at the fundraiser, what’s at stake, how shitty the odds are, who’s playing, and how much folks have kicked in.

When I die, I intend to have my body donated to the medical school for study.  We’re all mortal, and we’re all fragile, and the dedication to science, medicine, and going ahead and collecting all the data we can is something I honor and respect.  And sometimes give money to.

5) Whiting Coffee

They’re a little hole in the wall in Albuquerque.  They don’t have a web site.  They don’t take credit cards.  They are the best beans I’ve ever had.

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6 Responses »

  1. Love love love Artemis. We both recently got iPads so we should get to try that version soon. Have you played with the jump drive? We neglected to set coordinates and jumped to the same location we were already being hammered from. Good times!

  2. Long Price, Celebration Rock, The Wire, Arrested Development, Buffyverse…

  3. And praise God for Phineas and Ferb (mostly Doofenschmirtz).

  4. +1 for Phineas and Ferb. My wife doesn’t like it, but it’s endlessly entertaining for me and the kids. And I’m glad to hear you like Avatar: TLA.

  5. Mr Abraham… We’re talking about your latest interview on reddit fantasy… come by and say hi!

  6. Daniel I too found Bell Hook’s ‘The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love’ very inspiring and presented it to male friends, glad of the positive argumentation….the chance to offer something rather than criticize
    If I may make a parallel I found your ‘Dragon’s path’ sorted on sexism and gender*, with some good female characters….it made me celebrate and want to pursue discovering your books. and here I am on your website.
    *a better way of putting it is that it is good to read books where one forgets all the shittty prescriptive gender roles…and get a chance at breathing something different.
    hoobloodyray! catherine
    ps George R R Martin writes well in Fever Dream but does not truly wish to challenge gender perceptions, nor concepts of honour in his ‘Game of thrones’….for all that millions love them