"Come now my child, if we were planning to harm you, do you think we'd be lurking here beside the path in the very darkest part of the forest..." - Kenneth Patchen, "Even So."

THIS IS A BLOG ABOUT STORIES AND STORYTELLING; some are true, some are false, and some are a matter of perspective. Herein the brave traveller shall find dark musings on horror, explorations of the occult, and wild flights of fantasy.

Saturday, July 25, 2020


THE SECOND EDITION of Chris Spivey's Harlem Unbound is officially the first Chaosium title I've gotten my hands on in the leatherette incarnation (well, unless you count two-volume Guide to Glorantha).  

Understand; I am a book nut.  I am an addict.  I have a problem.  Before I came to Tokyo, I had a three-bedroom apartment and two of the bedrooms were just for books.  Collector's editions.  Illustrated editions.  And yeah, a lot of leatherette.  But Japan is a nation that crams half the population of the United States into an area the size of California.  Land is expensive.  Rent is punitive.  Apartments are small.  In my two-bedroom here, I still have a room full of books...but I need to be careful.  90% of what I buy and read is in PDF.  9% are those books that I read in PDF that I knew I needed in paper.  Then you have that 1%.  Books like Harlem Unbound.  For those, you want the best.

I've already reviewed the book and will not repeat that here.  It's not only the best RPG sourcebook book I have read in the last year, but also the most timely.  Harlem gets absolutely everything right; the art, the writing, the tone, the details, the horror.  It somehow manages to be a Lovecraftain tour de force, a critique of the man's less palatable opinions, and a book that encourages us to use roleplaying as a tool of understanding.  I am still mystified how Spivey managed to fit all of that into one basket and then so deftly carry it.  As an author, it makes me jealous as hell.

But let's talk about the leatherette edition.

Like Chaosium's other hardcovers the last few years the print quality is superb, the paper high quality and silky to the touch.  The spine is impeccable and it lays perfectly flat.  It's lighter than it looks and easy to hold curled up in your favorite reading chair.  It simply looks wonderful.  The only possible criticism I could make of the design is that it doesn't have Brennan Reece's ENnie-nominated cover (good luck to both Harlem and Berlin!!!). 

No, sorry.  That was a lie.  I have another criticism.

Because sitting there on the shelf, next to Call of Cthulhu and The Grand Grimoire of Cthulhu Mythos Magic that leatherette spine looks so much more...regal.  Now I'll have to replace them with leatherette too...

...and the Malleus Monstrorum will be coming out in print down the road...I'll need that in leatherette...and Berlin, of course...

And the shelf next to it?  I can't have the Call of Cthulhu shelf outshining the RuneQuest shelf.  They will need to be replaced too...

You are evil, Chaosium.  You are evil.



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