Much of the bi-associative strangeness of the book’s descriptions of Area X is preserved: blossoming branches act as antlers on deer, human limbs are melded into the root systems of trees, concentric rows of teeth occur inside the crocodile-like Monster that attacks the women as they explore an orchard of humanoid bushes. “A religious event? An extra-terrestrial event? A higher Dimension? We have many theories and few facts,” admits Ventress. “When you see beauty in desolation it changes something inside you,” says VanderMeer’s protagonist in the novel. “Desolation tries to colonize you.” This is, perhaps, the most important attribute of the New Weird – that it replaces human delusions of self-importance with deeper and more mysterious truths. From the Space Opera scope of M John Harrison‘s Kefahuchi Tract trilogy with its pointless repetitions of people and the monstrous haunting of humanity from the Time Abyss to the Drugs and crime (see Crime and Punishment) and photography sequence of the Cass Neary novels by Elizabeth Hand – both series of novels display their authors’ facility at counterbalancing Postmodernism with a deep comprehension of genre – the form must go beyond its delivery mechanisms to achieve its emotional payload. More often than not the weird does this by combining the real and the uncanny and making the uncanny seem more real than the everyday delusions of human assumption. Symbolism and surrealism is very often important to this process, as is a central scientific metaphor. In the case of Annihilation, this is cellular activity and its connotative capacity for communicating the implications of EvolutionClimate Change and Medicine:-


Annihilation entry




Ninth Expedition

There’s a lovely, gentle atmosphere at Concrete Cow.

My Bookhounds of London game turned out schlonky and overstuffed with clues, despite fun and enterprising players. I’d hone it and reorder the narrative were I ever to run it again.

I played Ralph Lovegrove’s Cthulhu Dark: Annihilation game in the afternoon session, which was excellent.



The Bees of the Invisible

Concrete Cow 18 is this coming Saturday 17th March in Wolverton, near Milton Keynes. You should go if you’re at all interested in roleplaying games. I’m offering the following game in the morning session:-



The Bees of the Invisible

“We are the bees of the invisible. We madly gather the honey of the visible to store it in the great golden hive of the invisible.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

Five bookhounds and a dreamhound convene for an auction of unusual items at a Welsh country house.

They are:

6 pre-generated characters
6 core clues
6 pages from a lost grimoire

Who dares bid on The Lost Library of Ynys Môn?

Please be aware that this game contains mature themes.


Henry Paget, 5th Marquess of Angelsey

Rex Whistler

It’s all been a bit of whirl since you did the scenery and the costumes for Ninette and Gavin, no time for anything; this job is immense. You know His Lordship is vexed at the overrun but you have to get every bit of it just right, for Caroline.

Nothing’s been right since the shell-shock. The sleepwalking is a bit of a worry, to be honest.

The sea is churning right there on the wall but they don’t see it: a Claudean sunset with pink clouds, fluted and pointed like the prow of boats. We live our real lives in the dream light, far from men – that’s what she says. People misunderstand you and the Lady Caroline. When she’s with you there is not one fragment of your true being, of your real personality, that does not participate unreservedly in the eternal celebration of sovereign night.



Investigator Name: Rex Whistler
Drive: Muse of Fire
Occupation: Artist
Occupational benefits: Anagnorisis – you may spend your point of Mythos to trigger the denouement of the game; you have Medium as an Investigative Ability.
Pillars of Sanity: Drive fast, die young; huntin’ and shootin’.
Build Points: 2


Architecture 2
Art: Engraving 1
Art History 4
Cthulhu Mythos 1
Dream Lore 1

Medium 4
Occult 1
Physics 1

Charm 4
Credit Rating 2

Craft 2
Photography 2

Art-Making 12
Athletics 5
Dreamscaping 8
Driving 8
Firearms 10
First Aid 5
Health 10
Instability 3
Sanity 8
Stability 8

Hispano-Suiza H6B coupe
Tweeds and sou’wester


Lady Caroline Paget

The Divine Angela

You’re in contact with a number of spirits – gypsy-girl Bathsheba, mad centurion Quintus Flavius and the shieldmaiden Brünhilda. They’re terrible people but great fun at parties.

They’re all just overgrown boys with mummy-issues, really. They collect and collect and fetishize what they’ve got because mummy was romancing the accountant or whatever.

You might not be so attached to Quintus Flavius if he were flesh and blood. He’s a bit of a brute.



Investigator Name: The Divine Angela
Drive: To the Magic
Occupation: Occultist
Occupational benefits: You know every occult collector at the auction; you may purchase Magic as an Investigative Ability from tomes.
Pillars of Sanity: Theosophy; the imagined life.
Build Points: 2


Anthropology 2
Archaeology 2
Bibliography 1
Cryptography 2
History 2
Languages 4

Occult 4
Theology 2

Credit Rating 4
Oral History 1
Reassurance 1

Auction 5
Conceal 5
Filch 5
Fleeing 2
Health 8
Hypnosis 5
Preparedness 5
Psychoanalysis 5
Sanity 8
Stability 10
Sense Trouble 4
Weapons 5

Pet Pomeranian “Pookie”
Welsh-language library of memoirs by witches


tree of life by hand



Rick the Red

The authenticity is in the act, not the provenance. Every time you knock someone off, it’s a courtship – a long, drawn-out process of getting to know someone better than they know themselves. Mind you, the money doesn’t hurt.

Art historians are free-loading pissants.

A little side-bet on which book fetches the most wouldn’t go amiss – all the better if it involves your own work.



Investigator Name: Rick the Red
Drive: Artistic Sensitivity
Occupation: Forger
Occupational benefits: You are “the last word” in four types of forged document.
Pillars of Sanity: Art is immortality; a little flutter never hurt anyone; other people’s money.
Build Points: 2


Law 1

Bureaucracy 1
Cop Talk 1
Credit Rating 2
Streetwise 2

Art: Calligraphy 2
Art: Engraving 2
Art: Printing 2
Craft: Bookbinding 2
Craft: Papermaking 2
Document Analysis 2
Forgery 4

Auction 4
Conceal 4
Driving 2
Filch 5
Health 10
Preparedness 5
Sanity 12
Stability 12
Scuffling 5
Sense Trouble 3
Shadowing 4
Stealth 5

D6 types of ID in D6 different names


VoyFo Image


Black Panther

The best Villains make sense of the paradigms they oppose; that the major antagonist of Black Panther, now grown up to become US military intelligence operative Erik “Killmonger” Stevens after being abandoned by the custodians of his Wakandan heritage as a boy, expresses everything that has gone wrong with the world and, simultaneously, everything that might go right with it in the Near Future, gives him a moral force far beyond that of any of the AliensAIs or Gods and Demons that have previously served as signifiers of large-scale Disaster in the Shared Worlds of the MCU. That he is also the agency of the Conceptual Breakthrough that persuades the Pocket Universe of Wakanda to re-territorialize as a member of the United Nations recasts the Lost World trope as one of cultural elision and false consciousness. N’Jadaka speaks the truth about Race in SF that large parts of the SF Megatext has had trouble accepting:-


Black Panther entry




Tuesday Adisa

You’re going to take it all back – mostly via translation into Arabic, Xhosa and Igbo. Nothing illegal or clandestine. Unless it’s really necessary.

Investment is transitory. Schools, universities and the Bibliotheca Alexandrina project are what will make Africa great again.

They soon back off when you show them the blade.



Investigator Name: Tuesday Naledi Adisa
Drive: Thirst for Knowledge
Occupation: Catalogue Agent
Occupational benefits: You may interact with bibliophiles at their Credit Rating.
Pillars of Sanity: Bibliotheca Alexandrina; self-sufficiency.
Build Points: 2


Bibliography 2
History 1
Languages 2

Library Use 2

Assess Honesty 4
Bargain 4
Credit Rating 2
Flattery 2

Document Analysis 1
Evidence Collection 1
Forgery 4

Auction 10
Athletics 5
Conceal 6
Disguise 6
Fleeing 5
Health 8
Psychoanalysis 3
Sanity 10
Stability 8
Sense Trouble 3
Shadowing 3
Stealth 5
Weapons 10

Ida sword
Hat, fur coat




Alun Cumming

Your elder brother is the Bishop of Bangor and you’ve heard people in the village refer to you laughingly as “The Second Cumming”.

You have a personal relationship with God; you don’t hold with all that skirt-swishing and high-and-mighty stuff.

You’ve a lot of good stock you can’t shift and all this hullabaloo about “The Lost Library of Ynys Môn” is a great opportunity to unload some of it onto another bookseller.



Investigator Name: Alun Cumming
Drive: Duty
Occupation: Bookseller
Occupational benefits: You operate with dual Credit Ratings, one for your shop and one for you; you may discover a “squiz” at the auction.
Pillars of Sanity: All of human knowledge; kindness is a cure; God moves in mysterious ways.
Build Points: 2


Accounting 2
Bibliography 4
Languages 4

Library Use 6
Textual Analysis 4
Theology 1

Bargain 2
Credit rating 3/4

Document Analysis 2

Auction 12
Driving 3
Electrical Repair 3
First Aid 5
Fleeing 5
Health 11
Mechanical Repair 3
Preparedness 6
Sanity 12
Stability 12
Sense Trouble 5

Three-wheeler van with cardboard boxes


Mercurius Image


Elspeth Cellan-Jones

You’re skint. The cads at the Glendower bookshop in Bangor claim never to have issued the chitty for the Bewick engraving you left for authentication. They won’t return the item.

You’ll have to pal-up with another buyer to act on any squiz at the auction. Shouldn’t be too difficult: those minor public-school types will buy or swap anything with a bit of phoney Latin.

Your bike is your pride and joy and will get you anywhere with a road.



Investigator Name: Elspeth Cellan-Jones
Drive: Greed
Occupation: Book Scout
Occupational benefits: Always the first to discover inconspicuous clues among books.
Pillars of Sanity: Welsh nationalism; wild swimming; healthy competition.
Build Points: 2


Architecture 1
Bibliography 2
Languages 2

Library Use 2

Assess Honesty 1
Bargain 2
Credit Rating 1
Reassurance 2
Streetwise 2

Document Analysis 1
Evidence Collection 4

Auction 8
Athletics 4
Conceal 2
Filch 6
Fleeing 6
Health 10
Preparedness 4
Riding (bicycle) 6
Sanity 12
Stability 12
Sense Trouble 4
Shadowing 3
Stealth 3

Racing bicycle and paniers