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Sunday Six for May 18

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Copying from the Friday Five on Quinn Murphy’s Patreon, I’m going to do a Sunday Six, referring to six pieces of media or news items which drew my attention last week.

1) Flash Gordon. I stayed up late because I made the mistake of clicking on a banner on Netflix (the Canadian version) for the 1980 Flash Gordon movie. I’m a fan of this movie, and it may be through a filter of nostalgia, but who cares? This movie is so amazingly campy but filled with science fantasy goodness that I can’t help but get carried along with a great big smile on my face.

2) Queen’s soundtrack to Flash Gordon. This deserves it’s very own listing. I have listened to this soundtrack more than I have seen the movie, and like the movie itself, it never fails to bring a smile to my face. And this is not just its linkage to a beloved movie. This is an evocative soundtrack, one of the very few taking rock and melding it to SF or fantasy (in this case, both!) This is no Ladyhawke soundtrack (the orchestration was good, but oh, how I hate the Alan Parsons Project pieces!), but a coherent, enjoyable collection of linked and powerful tunes.

3) Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed. The uber-talented author Howard Andrew Jones – whom I can proudly call a friend – pointed me toward this book more than a year ago. It’s depressing that it have taken me this long to start it, but I finally did. It is awesome. If you like Howard’s The Desert of Souls and Bones of the Old Ones – which I love – you will like Throne of the Crescent Moon. This is not just because of the Arabian setting, but because both hearken back to pulp-era sword & sorcery, but with both modern sensibilities and very tight writing. I’m only two chapters in, but I am a huge fan and will be seeking out more of Saladin Ahmed’s books ASAP.

4) A World of Dew. An amazingly successful Kickstarter that has not yet finished (so go check it out), this game caught my fancy due to references to noir, chanbara and Kurosawa. Yeah, that checked all the boxes. Hearing that Mark Diaz Truman is involved, gives me utmost confidence that this project will see itself through to completion and delivery, so I am very jazzed to see the final work. I’m roping the author, Ben Woerner, into an interview on Accidental Survivors, so expect to hear more.

5) Great Battles of the Ancient World. This is a lecture series offered by the Great Courses. The Great Courses are not free, and I have paid upwards of $65 (always buying stuff on sale) for lecture series and have very rarely been disappointed. Dr. Garret Fagan’s Great Battles of the Ancient World is the latest I picked up, and it has pushed almost everything else out of my freetime and commute activities. He does an amazing job of discussing the military of the periods, the events, and then the actual historiography – how our understanding of the events have changed and current debates. I’m almost done the series, which is depressing in one sense, however I have found these courses to be almost infinitely repeatable, kind of like watching Star Wars or Raiders of the Lost Ark – if I want to listen to history, they are always there and always enjoyable.

6) “Fall In Love” by Phantogram. This turned into an ear-worm of an enjoyable sort after hearing on the radio a few times over the last week, so I went and grabbed the single from iTunes. I find it very atmospheric and expressive. It’s one of those tunes that I can’t help but put to a scene in my head if I am walking or on the bus. That’s the best, because those often turn into entire projects, just like Nefertiti Overdrive started from “Warrior’s Dance” from the Prodigy.