January 16th, 2014


The Mask of Fu Manchu / Secret Ante

Sax Rohmer's novel is at least 75% less racist than the film. It's also interesting that while the film Fu Manchu is trying to revive the legend of Genghis Khan, in the book his goal is to gain control of Islam (or at least an Islamic sect) by impersonating the Mahdi. Fu Manchu is portrayed as an honorable gentleman (if a ruthless criminal mastermind), and it's very much a plot point that he's a man of his word -- explicitly contrasting with a rather bombastic British archaeo... er... privileged private tomb raider, who ransoms his daughter with fakes of the antiquities he has promised. And the book actually ends with Fu Manchu deviously infiltrating a very generous wedding gift into the wedding of the daughter and her young swain. (Fu is probably exceedingly relieved that the wedding prevents the young swain from becoming his own son-in-law, since his just-as-evil-genius-y daughter improbably ("I have tricked you many times; for, although I love you, [swain], you are really not very clever.") has taken a fancy to him. (But it's ok, the swain only sexed her up while he was under the influence of a mind control drug.))

I also read through aaronjv's Secret Ante (aka Soul Strip Poker), a larp of revealing characters (souls, if you like) through poker. In effect, you use memories or character aspects as chips to bet with. If you win someone's 'Fear' chip, you can get them to reveal their Fear to you, or reveal it publicly. I think my favorite sentence in Secret Ante is: "It's probably more intellectually challenging to play a fictional character, and more emotionally trying to play You." OK, I'm also partial to the part where he thanks me for providing some dim inspiration in the form of Casino Arcane/Arcana.