UVM’s 14th Annual Tolkien Conference: This weekend!


UVM will be hosting its annual Tolkien conference once again this weekend, and this year’s theme is Romances in Middle-earth.

The conference kicks off tonight at 6:30pm with a reading in UVM’s Old Mill Annex. Here’s the rest of the schedule:

8:00am: Continental breakfast with coffee and tea In Lafayette room L207

8:30am: Session 1
– Christopher Vaccaro (University of Vermont) “Freawaru and Tolkien’s Beowulf”
– Zachary Dilbeck, (Columbus State Community College) “The Broken Sword, a Meme: Beowulf, Arthur, and Elendil”

9:30am: Session 2
– Gerry Blair (Independent Scholar) “The Tale of Turin a Hapless Helpless boy with a Doom for Failed Romance”
– Katherine Neville (Signum University) “Ill-met by Moonlight: Aredhel and Eöl as the Upside Down of Beren and Lúthien”
– Dawn M. Walls-Thumma (Coventry Village School) “Thus Wrote Pengolodh”: Historical Bias, Its Evidence, and Its Implications in The Silmarillion

10:45am: Session 3
– Peter Kao (National Chung Cheng University) “Realistic or Fantastic Narratives in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings”
– Marc Zender (Tulane University) ‘I have loved you, and that love shall not fail’: Tolkien’s philological explorations of friendship, love, and romance in The Lord of the Rings
– Kristine Larsen (Central Connecticut State University) “And with him was Elrond Half-Elven”: The High King and His Herald (Still a Better Love Story Than Twilight)”

12:00pm: Keynote
– Corey Olsen (Signum University) “The Turning Point in Tolkien’s Career”

12:45pm: Lunch

1:45pm: Session 4
– Annie Brust (Kent State University) “Dispelling Misogyny in Tolkien’s Women – Through reflection of Medieval lyric and personal relationships”
– Jeffrey Bullins (SUNY Plattsburgh) “Sounds in the Dark: Assimilation and Continuity in The Hobbit: An Unexpected journey”
– Paul Fortunato (University of Houston – Downtown) “Weberian “vocation” in The Lord of the Rings”

3:00pm: Coffee & Tea

3:15pm: Session 5
– Andrew Peterson (Harvard) “‘Warm as Sunlight, Cold as Frost in the Stars’ – Tolkien’s Exploration of Courtly Relationships through the Lady Galadriel.”
– James Williamson (University of Vermont) “Romance and Romance”
– Heather Dail (University of South Alabama) “The Evolution of the Animal to Magical Beast in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings”

Admission is $25, $15 for students, and free for UVM students.

Green Mountain Comic Expo – Recap

This past weekend, Barre was home to the Green Mountain Comic Expo — an event billed as a more intimate version of the larger Vermont Comic Con that’s been running up in South Burlington the last couple of years. It’s clear that this is a bit of a test, and it seems as though Barre passed with flying colors, because the conventions’ organizers announced that they would be moving the main Vermont Comic Con to Barre in 2018.

Held in the Barre Civic center on Saturday and Sunday, the event had a bit of a festival-like atmosphere. There were a wide variety of comic book artists, authors, cosplayers, and vendors selling their goods, and a fairly steady stream of visitors picking their way through the narrow aisles. I was there with the 501st’s Green Mountain Squad, and we had a decent number of people stop by to check out our display of helmets, and pose for pictures.

The entire event was a fun weekend, but the impending move of Vermont Comic Con from the much larger Burlington area to central Vermont is interesting. It seems that there’s a couple of things at play here: Barre’s facilities are certainly cheaper than South Burlington’s Sheraton conference center, and a bit more flexible with dates. The 2018 show will go back to September, rather than August. But the tradeoff means that it’ll take place in Barre. The facilities aren’t quite as nice, there’s no on-site lodging that most mid-level and major cons really require, and it’s a bit more off the beaten path than South Burlington. So, we’ll see how that works out. Hopefully, they’ll be able to work in more local businesses, artists, authors, and organizations that populate the area, and will continue to grow the event in the coming years.

Amy J. Murphy’s Allies and Enemies: Exiles is now available!


We’ve written about Amy J. Murphy a couple of times in the recent past: she published her debut, Fallenthrough Kindle Scout a while back, (which was nominated for a Dragon Award), and the second installment of the series came out last year, Rogues. Now, you can pick up the third installment of the trilogy!

The new book is Allies and Enemies: Exiles, and according to Murphy, it wraps up the trilogy, although she’s pondering a fourth installment at some point. Here’s what it’s about:

How would you like to start a war?

Ironvale. Splitdawn. Poisoncry. Three bloodthirsty guilds that control the decaying corner of space known as the Reaches. Their precarious balance of power exists at a tipping point.

One nudge and chaos reigns.

Renegade soldier, Sela Tyron, is willing to supply that nudge to help her partner, Jon Veradin, rescue his nuisance sister, Erelah. Even if it means trusting the traitorous Asher Corsair. Or turning herself into an assassin.

You can pick the book up on Kindle now, and Murphy noted that a paperback edition is coming out soon. Along with it will be a boxed set of all three novels, with some additional, exclusive content.

Read the prologue to Brian Staveley’s Skullsworn

Brian Staveley’s Skullsworn is coming out next month, and Tor.com has posted up an excerpt for the fantasy novel.

Here’s what the book is about:

Pyrre Lakatur is not, to her mind, an assassin, not a murderer—she is a priestess. At least, she will be once she passes her final trial.

The problem isn’t the killing. The problem, rather, is love. For to complete her trial, Pyrre has ten days to kill the seven people enumerated in an ancient song, including “the one who made your mind and body sing with love / who will not come again.”

Pyrre isn’t sure she’s ever been in love. And if she fails to find someone who can draw such passion from her, or fails to kill that someone, her order will give her to their god, the God of Death. Pyrre’s not afraid to die, but she hates to fail, and so, as her trial is set to begin, she returns to the city of her birth in the hope of finding love … and ending it on the edge of her sword.

Read the excerpt here.

The Last Mortal Bond: Out in paperback today!


Brian Staveley’s last novel, The Last Mortal Bond, is now out in paperback today. If you’ve been waiting to pick it up, now’s the time; it’s a great read.

The ancient csestriim are back to finish their purge of humanity; armies march against the capital; leaches, solitary beings who draw power from the natural world to fuel their extraordinary abilities, maneuver on all sides to affect the outcome of the war; and capricious gods walk the earth in human guise with agendas of their own.

But the three imperial siblings at the heart of it all–Valyn, Adare, and Kaden–come to understand that even if they survive the holocaust unleashed on their world, there may be no reconciling their conflicting visions of the future.

His next book, Skullsworn, is due out next month.

How the Star Trek Anthology teleported into a new universe

Photo: Ken Picard

Over on Seven Days, Ken Picard has an interesting story about Jim Bray and a short internet film that he’s been working on, The Outer Rim. The project was originally a Star Trek fan film project, until a major legal hiccup occurred last year: Paramount sued another fanfilm production, and instituted strict new rules about future fanfilm projects. Bray had to drastically shift gears.

As Bray explains, their new universe is akin to those found in the films Aliens and Starship Troopers. Corporations own and operate the government, and space travel is driven more by resource acquisition than Roddenberry’s nobler themes of scientific exploration and peaceful interspecies coexistence.

The pilot episode of “The Outer Rim,” titled “Rift,” tells the story of a ragtag crew of five planetary surveyors on the last leg of a yearlong mission. Bray describes them as contractors “like Blackwater, only without the evil.”

Read the whole article here.

Kickstart This: Greetings from The Solar System

We’ve been impressed with the Kickstarter projects that designer Mark Gonyea has put together in the past, and now, he’s got a new one that we’ve been drooling over: Greetings from the Solar System.

The project is a series of nine postcards of the planets (and sun) of our solar system:

There are 9 postcards in the set. Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and a Sun/Solar System card. (Apologies to Pluto but science doesn’t consider you a real planet anymore. Maybe next time!).

Each postcard will be printed on 16pt matte card stock, 5 by 7 inches in size. Artwork is not final until it goes to press and might change slightly but only very slightly.

$5 will get you a PDF coloring book, and $25 will get you a set of postcards and stickers. Pledge here.

Spring Cleaning Games Sale

Looking for a new board game? Someone on Craigslist is cleaning off their shelves and are looking to sell off a ton of new games. Here’s what they’ve got:

  • Conan (2016) – Kickstarter King Pledge. Includes extra dice set, Yogah of Sog, Crossbowmen, Kushite Witch Hunters and Kickstarter Exclusive Vanir Valkyrie expansions. Has been opened and sorted. Played three times. – $250
  • Summoner Wars: Contains Master Set, Phoenix Elves vs Tundra Orcs, and Guild Dwarves vs. Cave Goblins. Sorted in to card boxes, never played. – $40 for everything.
  • Exodus: Proxima Centauri: Sorted, never played. – $30
  • Panic Station: Played once. – $15
  • Fire & Axe 2nd Edition: Sorted, never played. – $30
  • Conquest of Nerath: A Dungeons & Dragons board game: Sorted, never played. – $30
  • Apocalypse Chaos: Sorted, played a handful of times. – $15
  • Dungeon Saga: Dwarf King’s Quest. Contains Base game, Adventurer’s Companion & Return of Valandor. All are the retail versions. Sorted, played a handful of times. – $100 for everything.
  • City of Iron 2nd Edition: Sorted, never played. – $30
  • Rush N’ Crush: AWESOME game! Sorted, played a bunch of times. – $20
  • Xia: Legend of a Drift System. Sorted, played a handful of times. There’s a few ship flight pegs (the bases that hold the ship minis) that have broken because the acrylic’s quite fragile. I was going to just glue the ships to the bases, but never got around to it. – $60
  • Star Trek RISK: Brand new, sorted, never played. A pretty neat version of RISK, though – $35
  • Tail Feathers: Sorted, played once. Especially great if you happen to own Mice & Mystics. – $35
  • Galaxy Defenders – Includes Operation Strikeback expansion. Sorted, never played. -$50
  • Warrior Knights – Includes Crown and Glory expansion. The expansion is in the same box as the main game as the originally box is missing. – $100
  • Article 27: The UN Security Council Game. Sorted, played a handful of times. – $15
  • Last Friday – Sorted, never played. – $30
  • Claustrophobia – Contains De Profundis expansion. Acquired used. Sorted and it looks like it was played a few times. – $40
  • Geek Out – TableTop Limited edition: Sorted, played once. – $20
  • Star Trek Ascendancy: Sorted, never played. – $50
  • Magic: the Gathering – Arena of the Planeswalkers. Contains base game, Shadows over Innistrad and Battle for Zendikar expansions. Sorted, never played. – $30
  • Doomtown Expandable Card Game – Contains 2 copies of the Core Set; Faith and Fear; Immovable Object, Unstoppable Force, The Great Debate; High Stakes, Penny Ante, Double Dealin’ expansions – $50
  • Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot! – Sorted, played a handful of times. $25

Check out the post here.

Crowdfund this: Vermont Gaming Lounge

VR is on the rise with new devices like the Playstation VR or Oculus Rift, and a couple of enterprising gamers are looking to open a VR lounge in Burlington.

VGL will be Vermont’s premier place for virtual reality.  Hosting two treadmill apparatus’ equipped with the HTC Vive Virtual Reality Headset, We will be able to offer the most immersive experience available to date.  The company consists of two brothers, Jamie Danaher and Adam Fletcher, equal partners, who have gamed since they could hold a controller.  We have a combined experience of 20 years in PC repair, 10 years of Web Design and Marketing, and 50 years of gaming experience.

Vermont Gaming Lounge will be more  than a place to try out VR.  We specifically put “lounge” in the name because we want people to come and hang out.  As much as we are a store, we desire to be so much more.  Developing talent in gamers, helping them get sponsored,  and hosting local tournaments, will be key tenets of our store.

 The crew is launching their project on Indigogo, with a $6,000. $10 gets you some rental time. Back it here!