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Tag Archives: mystery

Review: Zombies of the Gene Pool

876676The successor to Bimbos of the Death Sun, and the second Jay Omega “mystery” from 1992.

After this the author ran out of steam for this series and now focuses on a rather more dark series, which is understandable. Both this and Bimbos are less mysteries, and more satirical meditations on science fiction fandom with a weak murder plot tacked on. It is maybe quite telling that Mrs. McCrumb barely mentions these two books anywhere on her website, despite winning an award for the first one.

The murder in this book happens after the 2/3rds mark, and Jay solves it by going to a chat room and asking people to look up stuff in their local phone directory.

Before that happens he has to be told to switch off caps lock.

Our hero, ladies and gentlemen.

I guess in ’92 talking to people over the net seemed rather futuristic.

Not that it matters so much, there really isn’t a reason for our power couple to be involved in the plot at all. A fact that is even recognized in the story itself.


In the 1950s a small commune of science fiction writers and fans that lived together on a farm in Tennessee. At one point they decided to bury a time capsule with stories written by all of them. Then they drifted apart, and a few years later the area of the farm was flooded by a dam.

Decades later some of the people who lived there have become famous, burned out, died, or all three together. And that’s when the dam is drained for repairs. A small media spectacle follows. The time capsule is to be unearthed, and the rights to the stories contained therein to be auctioned off.

Our nominal main protagonists are dragged along by s fellow professor. Down in Tennessee they encounter the dysfunctional members of the old commune, meet some colorful Southern locals, and generally don’t do anything.

At one point one of the guys who was thought dead shows up, insults everyone, insinuates dark things, and ends up dead for real.


The worst about this book is that the plot has elements that could make a good, maybe even great book. There are so many elements in there that could have been good set pieces, shocking twists, and colorful characters, but in the end it feels as muddy as the drained lake this takes place at.

Don’t read this. And if you do, don’t complain.


[Tools] Found: GM Template for creating Mysteries

Some wonderful soul posted this on reddit/r/rpg: A template for creating Mysteries. It lets you create a story on how someone got to kill someone and why, and then lets you tell the story in reverse. Uhm, was that explanation clear? Anyway, looks like a helpful resource!

[Traveller] Ghost Ship

Ghost Ship
Belters and spacemen in the system murmur of a ghost ship that sometimes appears in the outer areas of the system. Always hovering there in complete darkness and radio silence, it never answers to calls. And then just fades away. Sometimes it appears in the local belt, on rare occasions it scares the hell out of some ship coming out of jump-space close to the local main world, yet it never comes into the range of the more popular places of the system.
It has been an old legend among the inhabitants of the system, yet every time someone tried to find it they just spend time in the icy hinterlands of the system, only to come home with empty hands (claws/tentacles/etc.). But then there were those which never came back from there at all…

People say it was:
1. an old Vilani battleship, lost here before even the Interstellar War period
2. an old Scoutship trying to find it’s way out of this system
3. a merchant, trying to calculate what system would be most profitable
4. a battleship from the 3rd Frontier war, lost, but never reported destroyed
5. a pirate, cursed to never land by an old Vilani witch
6. An ancient ship, lost in jumpspace for the last 300.000 years

Signs for the appearance of the ship might be:
1. ghost signals on the sensors; the sensors say something is there, but it isn’t
2. a ship, in the distance, slightly glowing and then disappearing again
3. a ship, flying next to the character’s, but it’s gone as soon as they take eyes of it for a second
4. strange, faint radio signals coming in, in some cases nearly understandable
5. strange smells in the noses of the crew, even though nothing can go through vacuum
6. all of the above

It might be in reality:
1. nothing at all, somebody made it up to have a laugh at some foreigners
2. smugglers to go about their business
3. the activities of a local or foreign power, e.g. Zhodani
4. a secret base for a local government agency
5. it’s a ghost. Really! Roll on the above list of rumours again to find out what it is.
6. It’s an alien, but one unlike any seen so far: a being living in space
1. A space whale! Or however else you call a giant floating thing that obviously sails the interstellar space and lives off small planetoids and other scrap floating in space.
2. An energy being from a far off part of the galaxy trying to find it’s way home
3. a vampiric energy being from a far off part of the galaxy, it likes the occasional light snack in form of a sophont ship
4. a Great Old One, just idly watching the locals as a human might look at ants before getting disinterested again. Damn, Lovecraft was so right…
5. A local colony of beings similar to the Fungi from Yuggoth
How to get the characters involved
1. A newscrew hires them to help them investigate the rumours of a ghost ship
2. as 1. but instead of a news crew it’s a well-known local kook tries to make a name for himself by finding said ghost ship
3. as 2. but the kook is a famous author of interstellar fame who hires them to gather material for his new book “Spirits of the Marches. The Unsolved Mysteries of the Spinward Marches” or something along these lines
4. as 3. but the patron wants to hire them to pretend to be the ghost ship. He thinks he can make more money if there are some carefully prepared clues that the ghost ship actually exists
5. The characters stumble into it themselves, jumping into system far off from the normal jump points, and there is something there already, something that moves…
6. The characters jump into the system and end up in the middle of the ghost hunt of 1. – 4.
What I did not realize until after I sent this to the TML was that there had been an article in Challenge Magazine 44 about something similar. After finding it it turned out that some of the ideas I had were not really as original as I thought, but at least it works as an instant adventure generator.