Linda CodegaLinda Codega, who lives in Beacon, is a reporter and reviewer for io9.com, which covers sci-fi/fantasy pop culture.

Much of your writing focuses on role-playing games, or RPG. What do you find appealing about them?
I like stories — games, books, movies, podcasts — anything that tells a story. I enjoy having a commonly accepted framework for people to sit down and create a story together. You can have a game with just one player and the author, or there are massive multiplayer games — games so popular that collective fandoms have created an accepted canon, like, “Of course everyone knows that Bones knows that Kirk and Spock are lovers.”

How did you encounter RPG?
I was introduced as a teenager through text-based role-playing online. When I was 13 or 14 we had the family computer and I found forums for Neopets and avatars and things like that where you could create characters. “My character does this. What does your character do?” My mother was in the military and we moved around a lot, so I didn’t have a consistent group of friends until I was in high school. It was easy to find communities online.

With RPGs today, do you still roll dice? Or is it all digital?
You can play with your physical click clacks, like your magic rocks. Or you can use a calculator that comes up with a random number between one and 20. There is also software called virtual tabletops, so even if you don’t have the $50 rulebook or the $20 dice or the $30 character sheet, you can log on free to Roll20 or Astral TableTop and find a game.

You write “speculative” fiction? What is that?
It’s an umbrella term for fantasy and science fiction that includes niche genres such as “near-future fiction” and “magical realism.” I love epic fantasy — the classic in that genre, of course, is Lord of the Rings. Recently I loved the Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin. She’s a Black woman, so she understands a wider scope of the world than I do. Another fun one is the Serpent Gates series by A.K. Larkwood. The main character is a lesbian orc assassin. In a fantasy world without bigotry, everyone would be bisexual. That makes sense to me.

You’ve written that you had to come out to your parents twice. What happened?
I had just moved to the Hudson Valley and my family was passing the LGBTQ Center [in Kingston]. My dad said, “I don’t understand why all these letters are happening. Wasn’t LGB enough?” And I said, “Well, T and Q are important.” Later, at a cafe, just him and me, I said: “Dad, I don’t know if you knew this, but I’m queer.” And he said, “Oh, OK, cool.” Then my mom comes over with drinks. My dad says, “Robin, did you know Linda is Q?” And my mom says, “Yeah, she is cute.” So I had to explain. The second time was after I had become comfortable with the fact that I am non-binary and transgender. That was just a phone call. “Hey Mom, I just wanted you to know I use they/them pronouns now. So I will be sending you a book in the mail. I love you. Bye.”

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

A former longtime national magazine editor, Rowe has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Idaho and South Dakota and has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from Northwestern University. Location: Philipstown. Languages: English. Area of Expertise: General.