Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Patrick Rothfuss Really Wants More Firefly

This blog assumes its reader is familiar with the late great sci-fi show Firefly and it's film sequel, Serenity. If that is already established then it's probably safe to assume the reader knows Nathan Fillion as the actor who played Captain Malcolm Reynolds in the show.

Recently Nathan Fillion said that if he won a lottery he'd use the money to start producing more Firefly programs. That's how much he loved working on the show.

Patrick Rothfuss isn't as well known as Firefly or Nathan Fillion. He is a newer author from Wisconsin who wrote a book called The Name of the Wind which was excellent and sold really well. He's releasing book 2 soon and it, too, will probably do very well. It seems likely that soon, Rothfuss will start to become a household name.

So with that in mind, check out his latest blog post...

An open letter to Nathan Fillion

Mr. Fillion,
First, I have to say that I admire your work. I’ve read many of your interviews and have come to respect you not only as a truly fine actor, but as an uncommonly intelligent human being.
But let’s get straight to the heart of the matter. It has come to my attention that in a recent interview, you said the following:
“If I got $300 million from the California Lottery, the first thing I would do is buy the rights to Firefly, make it on my own, and distribute it on the Internet.”
This struck a particular chord with me. As only a few months ago, I said very nearly the same thing. “If I ever get Steven King famous,” I said, “I’ll buy the rights to Firefly and give it to Joss Whedon as a birthday present.”
Here’s the deal. My second book is about to come out. My publisher tells me there’s a decent chance of us selling a truly ridiculous number of copies. If this happens, I will have more money than I’ll know what to do with.
Except that’s not exactly true. I know exactly what I’d like to do with that money. I’d like to help you buy the rights to Firefly back from Fox.
I’m only a fledgling author. But by a strange twist of fate, I happen to be a fledgling author who is also an international bestseller.
Left to my own devices, I will probably spend my royalty money useless bullshit. I will buy rare books and narwhal horns. If the book sells extremely well, I expect I’ll probably do something like buy an abandoned missile silo and convert it into my secret underground lair.
Clearly, this way lies madness.
Here is my thought. Alone, all we can do is dream wistful dreams of Firefly’s return. Together, we are a team. We can gather others to our cause. With 20 or 30 of the right people, we could pool our resources and make this shit happen.
You know where to find me.
Patrick Rothfuss
*     *     *
Those of you who don’t happen to be Nathan Fillion, there’s a new interview overhere. Rest assured, it’s spoiler-free.
On the same page, Paul Goat Allen gives The Wise Man’s Fear the best review I expect I will ever receive in my whole life. I’m serious. You’d think he wrote it after I pulled his children out of a burning building or something.
Or, if you’re in a listening mood, I’m on the Sword and Laser podcast with Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt. We talk about Jim Butcher and Cylons, among other things.
Tour FAQ will be up soon. I’m working out the last few details.
I think this is real, very cool, and one big step to making Firefly/Serenity coming back a reality. You can't stop the signal.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Roleplaying Games In the Mainstream

pic by Dave Ward
It seems like RPGs are surfacing in mainstream pop culture more occasionally. Mostly the hobby appears in a negative way either mocking the people who participate or casting them as evil and devil worshipers, probably based on the negative stigma D&D had in the '80s. Lately there seems to be a turn in the way it's portrayed. Its a new age where the nerd or geek are the cool ones. Sci-fi and fantasy reign in the Box Office and partly because it they were made by us geeks. So finally it's making its way into television in tiny ways.

I've listed a few examples here.

The most surprising one that inspired this posting was from the 2/16/11 airing of The Price is Right. The Showcase Showdown offered a trip to Indianapolis for this year's GenCon, hotel and everything. Scroll 31 minutes into the show to the Showcase Showdown. You will see the feature...
The Price is Right (sorry, you'll have to sit through an ad or two).

The Community's Dungeon & Dragons episode. More about that here...

There was an episode of The IT Crowd in which the characters play D&D. From the brief clip here, it appears they treat it like you'd expect. Not in a way that I think is great.

One of my all time favorites of these is the last episode of Freaks and Geeks. Here is a clip collecting the scenes where the boys play D&D...

Other game appearances are maybe not so obvious. A year ago the guys who create Robot Chicken produced several YouTube videos of themselves playing D&D 4e. Here are several of those clips...

It's fun. I hope this trend continues. The gaming industry needs all the exposure it can get these days.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Firefly aired again

Firefly will be airing on the Science channel, Entertainment Weekly reports. Each episode will air with a feature that looks at the science behind the fiction. Interesting concept. Not as good as new episodes, though.

'Firefly' returning to cable; Fillion says he'd play Mal again

By James Hibberd,
February 18, 2011 3:55 p.m. EST
Nathan Fillion gives the inside scoop to "Firefly's" return to cable.
Nathan Fillion gives the inside scoop to "Firefly's" return to cable.
  • "Firefly" premieres on Science Channel on March 6 at 8 p.m.
  • This will mark the first time "Firefly" has aired on a cable channel since 2008
  • "It was my favorite job ever," says actor Nathan Fillion
The Science Channel has acquired the rights to the cult-hit and will air the series in its short-lived entirety, plus some new extras. Science Channel will wrap each episode with interstitial segments starring renowned physicist Dr. Michio Kaku, who will discuss the theoretical science behind the show's sci-fi concepts.( -- Browncoats rejoice: "Firefly" is returning to basic cable -- and Nathan Fillion has something to say about it.
According to "Firefly" studio 20th Century Fox, this will mark the first time "Firefly" has aired on a fully distributed basic cable channel since 2008, when it ran on USA Network.
In honor of this occasion, star Nathan Fillion took a brief break from shooting ABC's "Castle" today to jump on the phone and answer five "Firefly" questions -- including whether he'd ever reprise the role of Captain Mal again. That interview and more details about Science Channel's "Firefly" plans below:
Entertainment Weekly: What was the part about playing the character?
Nathan Fillion: It was my favorite job ever. What wasn't great about it? I got to wear a low-slung holster. I got to ride horses. I got to have a spaceship. I got to act mean and curmudgeonly. [Creator Joss Whedon] is really good at kicking characters in the nuts so the other characters would have laughs at my expense and that was great too.
If "Castle" had its series finale tomorrow and Fox said to you and Joss: "We screwed up, let's try doing 'Firefly' again." Would you do it?
Yes. Yes. I would examine very closely Fox's reasoning I'm a little gun-shy. If I got $300 million from the California Lottery, the first thing I would do is buy the rights to "Firefly", make it on my own, and distribute it on the Internet.
What's the most common thing "Firefly" fans say to you?
No. 1, "Is there going to be more?" No. 2, "Why was it canceled?"
Why do you think the show has had such an enduring appeal?
It's a great question. We're the most story-literate society the world has ever seen. What Joss tends to do is twist story conventions into reality. Whereas the story goes like this, real life goes like this, and that's what Joss has mastered.
Do you ever watch the show nowadays or is that just weird?
It's not weird. I haven't watched it in a long, long time and I would like to revisit it.
"Firefly" premieres on Science Channel on March 6 at 8 p.m., with the two hour pilot, followed by the first episode at 10 p.m. Following that, "Firefly" episodes will air every Sunday -- and, yes, in their original intended order and upgraded to high definition.

Serenity by beautifultruth

Sunday, February 6, 2011

AD&D on Community

Everyone who blogs about RPGs has talked about the show Community which recently featured the characters playing AD&D. I watched it because of this and had never seen the show before. Just from watching one episode it seems like a pretty typical sitcom with a pretty lowbrow humor and base jokes. What was impressive was that they handled Dungeons and Dragons really well. It was one of the most, if not the very best, on screen fictional portrayal of D&D I've seen. They used the game as the tool to overcome some of the show's character's issues and demonstrated that the game is not evil or necessarily a waste of time.

Another pretty good portrayal of D&D was the last episode of Freaks and Geeks. But I think Community's handling of it was better.

Here is an interesting article from a Christian Gaming forum.

Scot Bennie writes:
Some thoughts on the D&D episode of "Community", which I watched and enjoyed, despite a bit of crudity and having never seen the series before. This is what you get when you wake up at 4 am with thoughts in your head. As having interesting thoughts is getting rarer for me as I age, I figured I'd better write them down as quickly as I can. Hopefully they're as interesting as I think they are at the moment -- early morning revelations can be liars.
The neatest thing  about the episode is that its premise is a conscious repudiation of the 80s D&D scare. This is a  Dungeons and Dragons game designed ti *prevent* a suicide, as opposed to the "Radecki/Pulling D&D causes suicide" tripe of the 80s.
The group, instead of "trying to snap Neil" back to reality, which is the usual trope of a mainstream handling of an "escape is for the weak, RPG is evil" episode, is actively trying to use his fantasy to bolster his self-esteem, even when many of them don't particularly get it. Jeff may think the game is silly, but he understands the importance of the sword to Neil, though Neil's agenda dovetails with his own when it comes to Pierce. The one person who tries to make Neil "see reality" is Pierce, who ironically is far better than adapting to the milieu than the others, despite saying the game is "gay" and "stupid', showing contempt for the trappings of the genre (his obscene acts with Neil's sword, his eventual pathetic descent to using the "rape button", at the end, when confronted with the banality of his evil).
Neil's triumph isn't his repudiation of fantasy (as in most anti-RPG media depictions), nor is it his victory in a fantasy that's solely escapist (as one might expect in a blindly pro-RPG piece), but, when presented with a fantasy antagonist that's using the game as a passive-aggressive attack on him in the real world, he manages to recognize its pathetic qualities and, via an act of pity and grace, use it to achieve a victory in both worlds. The show's not damning escape nor lionizing it, but recognizing it as having value as long as the individual is capable of dealing with the real world.
It also plays into what I've said for years is the true capacity for evil in our hobby, not content -- these players are not going to become more violent or drawn into the occult from playing this game -- but in the capacity of being a tool that someone can use to be a creep and do people serious psychological harm, to act as a vessel to give reign to our darker (as the show would call it, most dickish) impulses. The group coming together, however, is a demonstration of what I think is RPG's greatest strength: It's potential to draw people into a
communal experience that cements friendship, and reinforcing values of compassion that go beyond what's at the game table.
As a Christian gamer, I especially like that. All in all, the themes the episode brought up were a pretty nifty use of twenty-two minutes of television time and a very refreshing attitude toward our games.
Very insightful. I completely agree with Scot Bennie, it was refreshing to see the hobby used in a positive and relatively accurate way as it was in the Community.

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