Kickstart This: 3D Settlers of Catan Resource Hexes

This is a really cool Kickstarter Project for those of you who like Settlers of Catan. Justin Gonyea has created a series of laser-cut pieces for Settlers of Catan that allow players to add some additional terrain to their game.

Three dimensional resource hexes for your Catan game! Designed for maximum fun and playability, these laser cut wooden pieces will take your game experience to the next dimension, literally!

The pieces are made out of birch, and allow players to add on forests, deserts, fields, and other features that enhance the game. Gonyea has taken to Kickstarter to fund his project, and he’s already surpassed his goal of $1,000. Backers can get a set for $40, which gets them a set of 100 pieces.

Back it here.

Katherine Arden event – Middlebury

Katherine Arden has a new event to promote her new novel, The Bear and the Nightingale, which will take place tonight at the Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury. The event will take place at 6:30.

If you haven’t read the book yet, it’s really good. Here’s what it’s about:

At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn’t mind—she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse’s fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.

After Vasilisa’s mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa’s new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.

And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa’s stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.

As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed—this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse’s most frightening tales.

RSVP here.

The 2017 UVM Tolkien Conference has been announced

UVM will hold its annual Tolkien Conference this coming April 8th, with Romances in Middle-earth as its theme. This year marks the 14th year that the conference has run.

The event will take place in UVM’s Lafayette Hall L207 from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm. The deadline for abstract submissions has passed, but here’s the description on the website:

Tolkien wrote that he had the romances of William Morris in mind when writing The Lord of the Rings. We also know he was inspired by the Arthurian romances of England, Wales, and France. Tolkien’s own interlacing narrative style is very much derived from this medieval genre (while also anticipating the Post-modern). Additionally, Tolkien wrote of numerous romances of great intensity and poignancy within his narrative framework. Papers might consider these within the context of miscegenation, gender fluidity, or the homo-erotic, or they might explore other areas of interest.

Richard West of the University of Wisconsin-Madison will headline the event with a talk, and a full schedule of events will come later this spring. The event will cost $25, $15 for students and free for UVM students.

I’ve presented at this conference a couple of times: it’s a really neat way to take a deep dive into Tolkien fandom and academics.

RSVP here.

Howard Frank Mosher has died

Earlier this week, Vermont author Howard Frank Mosher announced on his Facebook page that he was suffering from cancer and had entered hospice care. In a new post, his wife, Phillis Mosher, announced that he passed away on Sunday. He was 74.

Various tributes have been pouring out since the news from Vermont writers and readers. According to Vermont Public Radio, his “stories celebrated the Northeast Kingdom as the last bastion of a people and a way of life that has all but disappeared from Vermont.”

He was known for books such as Disappearances, Where the Rivers Flow North, andStranger in the Kingdom. His final novel, Northern Borders is expected to hit bookstores later this year.

Katherine Arden: The Bear and the Nightingale Event

Like fantasy literature? Vermont author Katherine Arden will be stopping by Phoenix Books in Burlington tonight to talk about her debut novel, The Bear and the Nightingale.

Here’s what it’s about:

In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, a stranger with piercing blue eyes presents a new father with a gift – a precious jewel on a delicate chain, intended for his young daughter. Uncertain of its meaning, Pytor hides the gift away and Vasya grows up a wild, willful girl, to the chagrin of her family. But when mysterious forces threaten the happiness of their village, Vasya discovers that, armed only with the necklace, she may be the only one who can keep the darkness at bay.

The event will take place at 6:30pm in Burlington’s Phoenix Books. Tickets are $3, and include a $5 coupon for the novel.

RSVP here.

Howard Frank Mosher announces that he has cancer

Vermont author Howard Frank Mosher, known for his novels A Stranger in the Kingdom, and Where the Rivers Flow North, announced on Facebook earlier today that he learned that he has an aggressive form of cancer, and has entered hospice care.

In less than two months, though, I have gone from feeling pretty good to being in hospice care. Our kids and grandkids have been with us, and I’m comfortable. I’m also grateful for all my bookseller friends, writer friends, reader friends and friends in general who have been so supportive of me and my work over these many years.

Mosher’s next book, Points North, was expected to be released later this year, which would bring his Kinneson family (featured in A Stranger in the Kingdom and God’s Kingdom) into the present day. “Jim Kinneson is now editor of his late father’s newspaper, his attorney brother Charlie is now a judge, and more is revealed about the Reverend Mr. Pliny Templeton.” He noted that his wife would provide updates to fans in the days to come.

This is particularly tragic news: Mosher is one of the best known authors from the state and captures the character of the region and its inhabitants. His novel A Stranger In the Kingdom was filmed by director Jay Craven, who later also adapted Disappearances, Where the Rivers Flow North and Northern Borders to film.

Our best wishes are with Mosher and his family during this time.

Kickstart This: Pigs vs. Monsters!

A couple of Burlington gamer designers have put their latest project up on Kickstarter: Pigs vs. Monsters!

The game takes place three decades after a global nuclear war that transformed a whole lot of animals into “nasty, ill-tempered monsters,” and which uplifted pigs into sentient beings.

The game is a deck-building and strategy game for 2-4 players, and is designed by Matt Malenczak and Griffin Lussier. They’re looking to raise $8,000, which will go to printing the game. $25 will get you a copy of the full game.

Vermont Steampunk Expo is coming to South Burlington

The people behind Vermont Comic Con, the Green Mountain Comic Expo and the Vermont Renaissance Faire are teaming up to bring a new geeky show to Vermont: the Vermont Steampunk Expo.

The event will be held on November 4th and 5th in South Burlington’s Sheraton. According to its Facebook page, the event will “showcase artisans, crafters and performers from across Vermont and New England.”

There’s no details about pricing or vendors just yet; the site promises that that information will come soon.

This isn’t the first Steampunk-styled event to hit Vermont. The Springfield Steampunk Festival has been held for the past two years in Springfield, with a third iteration scheduled to be held on September 15th and 16th.

However, the Springfield event ran into financial troubles last year due to low attendance: it had to make up for lost revenue with a GoFundMe campaign that allowed them to cover their bills. Part of that might be due to location (Springfield is a bit out there), but it does beg the question: is there space for two similar events?

Green Mountain Gamers’ Winter Weirdness is this weekend!

The Green Mountain Gamers will be hosting their annual Winter Weirdness microcon this weekend in Barre: it’ll be a day of gaming for all ages!

The event is free, but the Gamers accepting donations, which will be split between The Circle: Ending Violence Against Women and Green Mountain Gamers. Attendees can also join a raffle:

Everyone who attends gets one free ticket. Additional tickets can be purchased for $1 each or 6 for $5. Half of the donations of tickets sales benefit The Circle: Ending Violence Against Women.

The event will be held in Barre’s Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, and will run from 10am to 10pm on Saturday, January 15th.