Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Hobbit Titles

Bilbo by Binoched
The Hobbit films' titles have been revealed. An Unexpected Journey and There and Back Again. Also, release dates. Den of the Geek reports:

The Hobbit: movie titles revealed, release dates announced

Simon Brew

The names of the two movies of The Hobbit have been revealed, along with the dates we can expect them…

Published on May 31, 2011
Gandalf and Bilbo by FreakingArg

The shoot won't be finished until early next year, which will then fold into some extensive post-production work, and reshoots if necessary. But we now know what the two films are going to be called, and exactly when to expect them.Production on the two movies of The Hobbit has been underway for a fair few weeks now, with director Peter Jackson embarking on a year-long shoot to get both films in the can.
First up, then, will be The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. That, it's been announced, will be released on December 14th 2012.
And then a year later we get the second film. This one's going to be called The Hobbit: There And Back Again, and it's been earmarked for a December 13th 2013 release.
Both films will be released in 3D, and we'll keep you posted on them as production continues...

link

Monday, May 30, 2011

Buck Rogers

25th Century by jimmymcwicked
Who knows how my weird obsessions work? The latest? Buck Rogers!?!?

There have been a few instances where I have been surprised the quality of what I always took as some cheesy sci-fi franchise until I actually set my eyes upon it. One of the greatest surprises was several years ago when I finally actually watched the original Planet of the Apes. I was awed by the film quality many older films have, the feel that old westerns have.

My most recent realization came after taking time to actually watch the 1979 Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Until this recent viewing I'd written Buck Rogers off as nothing better than a campy Star Wars rip off. Getting into the original comics, discovering it was in many ways the first major sci-fi setting, rediscovering the TSR RPG, I've developed a respect for the character, the franchise and it's history. TSR actually produced two versions of the game, but we'll get into that at another time.

It's a strange show. There are many times the script is clearly simplified, seemingly dumbed down for some reason, and there are other times that through setting up the plot things get rather complex. The writers seem to have a duel agenda. It's either an interesting conflict or a brilliant marketing technique. The pattern seems to be where scenes that feature Gil Gerard are the scenes that are excessively dumbed down. The character, Buck Rogers, insisting on continuing to speak as they did in 20th Century, almost nodding to the audience, sort of breaks the 4th wall and gets old incredibly fast. Another aspect of '79 television series I never noticed before was all the beautiful women! Clearly a product of the era.

Recently, Gil Gerard and Erin Gray made an appearance in a web series called Buck Rogers Begins. Unfortunaely the series project is now dead according to Gil:

Gil Gerard: 'Buck Rogers' reboot is dead

In the age of remakes and reboots, a Buck Rogers project would seem like a no-brainer. Unfortunately, after speaking with Erin Gray and Gil Gerard, I cannot offer fans any hope.
"Buck Rogers Begins" was set to be an origin story as laid out in the comics, explaining how Lucas ‘Buck’ Rogers was propelled from World War I, into a future Earth in the 25th Century. Gerard and Gray were set to play Buck's parents and Bobby Rice will be Buck.
"My daughter was set to be Buck's girlfriend", Erin Gray referencing her daughter Samantha portraying Madison Gale.
"The story begins in the early 1900s, pre-World War I and then continues to the modern time to remake the series", Gray continued.
Gray cited "lack of funding" and "production savvy" as reasons the project fell apart. Gil Gerard wasn't as kind:
"It's done. Done. It's the victim of incompetence."
His harsh words continued stating that "The trailer is all to show of it. I don't hold any hope for it."
This is a long way from Gerard's original comments when the project began: "This is the story I wish we had been able to tell."
Buck Rogers appears to be stuck on the sideline as Hollywood cranks out superhero and sci-fi adaptations for newer audiences.
link

They did get as far as making a promotional scene... seen here:



However, there are reports of Frank Miller taking on Buck Rogers!


FRANK MILLER HELMING BUCK ROGERS

Frank Miller and Odd Lot Entertainment, the creator and production company behind upcoming The Spirit are close to teaming again on the classic sci-fi property Buck Rogers, says The Hollywood Reporter.

Odd Lot is in negotiations to option the rights to "Rogers" from Nu Image/Millennium, which obtained those rights this year from the Dille Trust. Millennium is expected to get a credit on the movie but won't be involved in day-to-day production.

Miller will write and direct his own big-screen take on the comic serial; while the creator has only begun to sketch ideas, it's expected to be a darker take, with many of Miller's signature visual elements and themes, such as corruption and redemption.

It's likely to be a priority project for Miller, though he has been mulling a Sin City sequel.

One of the first pop-culture vehicles to tackle the issue of space exploration, the story of Buck Rogers began life as a comic serial in the late 1920's and early '30's and has seen numerous film and television versions over the years.
link

So, Buck Rogers has not been forgotten. I'm excited to see what will happen in the end.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Flavia de Luce

Flavia de Luce by VanaVanille
Allow me to introduce Flavia de Luce.

She is eleven years old, obsessed with chemistry (specifically, poisons) and an able detective. She is the protagonist and voice of the 2009 mystery novel The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Allen Bradley. Written in 1st person we are with Flavia as she unravels the mystery that involves her father's past, stamps, and that dead guy in the cucumber garden. Set in England in 1950 the book is a full fledged mystery novel refreshingly without violence or sex. Yet, this is not a young adult novel. I don't see that there'd be any problem for younger audiences reading it, other than many of the things Flavia observes or talks about would probably be over a younger reader's head. She is a genius child that seems more able than any contemporary eleven year old today. She is a young, female Sherlock Holmes (and knows it!). The narrative is extremely heavy with wonderful and almost random adjectives that fully flesh out the history of Flavia's world. She seems on the verge of A.D.D. and yet we seem to remain on the tracks while all the descriptive tangents disguise the rails.

I was happy to discover there are two more books in what has become a series- The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag, and A Red Herring Without Mustard. Bradley's website lists three more books on the way!- I Am Have-Sick of Shadows, Seeds of Antiquity, and The Nasty Light of Day. More information can be found at Allen Bradley's site here.

A Q&A with Alan Bradley

Question: With the publication of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, you’ve become a 70-year-old-first time novelist. Have you always had a passion for writing, or is it more of a recent development?
Alan Bradley: Well, the Roman author Seneca once said something like this: “Hang on to your youthful enthusiasms--you’ll be able to use them better when you’re older.” So to put it briefly, I’m taking his advice.
I actually spent most of my life working on the technical side of television production, but would like to think that I’ve always been a writer. I started writing a novel at age five, and have written articles for various publications all my life. It wasn’t until my early retirement, though, that I started writing books. I published my memoir, The Shoebox Bible, in 2004, and then started working on a mystery about a reporter in England. It was during the writing of this story that I stumbled across Flavia de Luce, the main character in Sweetness.
Q: Flavia certainly is an interesting character. How did you come up with such a forceful, precocious and entertaining personality?
AB: Flavia walked onto the page of another book I was writing, and simply hijacked the story. I was actually well into this other book--about three or four chapters--and as I introduced a main character, a detective, there was a point where he was required to go to a country house and interview this colonel.
I got him up to the driveway and there was this girl sitting on a camp stool doing something with a notebook and a pencil and he stopped and asked her what she was doing and she said “writing down license number plates“ and he said “well there can't be many in such a place“ and she said, “well I have yours, don’t I? “ I came to a stop. I had no idea who this girl was and where she came from.
She just materialized. I can't take any credit for Flavia at all. I’ve never had a character who came that much to life. I’ve had characters that tend to tell you what to do, but Flavia grabbed the controls on page one. She sprung full-blown with all of her attributes--her passion for poison, her father and his history--all in one package. It surprised me.
Q: There aren’t many adult books that feature child narrators. Why did you want Flavia to be the voice of this novel?
AB: People probably wonder, “What’s a 70-year-old-man doing writing about an 11-year-old-girl in 1950s England? “ And it’s a fair question. To me, Flavia embodies that kind of hotly burning flame of our young years: that time of our lives when we’re just starting out, when anything--absolutely anything!--is within our capabilities.
I think the reason that she manifested herself as a young girl is that I realized that it would really be a lot of fun to have somebody who was virtually invisible in a village. And of course, we don’t listen to what children say--they’re always asking questions, and nobody pays the slightest attention or thinks for a minute that they’re going to do anything with the information that they let slip. I wanted Flavia to take great advantage of that. I was also intrigued by the possibilities of dealing with an unreliable narrator; one whose motives were not always on the up-and-up.
She is an amalgam of burning enthusiasm, curiosity, energy, youthful idealism, and frightening fearlessness. She’s also a very real menace to anyone who thwarts her, but fortunately, they don’t generally realize it.
Q: Like Flavia, you were also 11 years old in 1950. Is there anything autobiographical about her character?

Flavia de Luce by LeelooKido
AB: Somebody pointed out the fact that both Flavia and I lacked a parent. But I wasn’t aware of this connection during the writing of the book. It simply didn’t cross my mind. It is true that I grew up in a home with only one parent, and I was allowed to run pretty well free, to do the kinds of things I wanted. And I did have extremely intense interests then--things that you get focused on. When you’re that age, you sometimes have a great enthusiasm that is very deep and very narrow, and that is something that has always intrigued me--that world of the 11-year-old that is so quickly lost.
Q: Your story evokes such a vivid setting. Had you spent much time in the British countryside before writing this book?
AB: My first trip to England didn’t come until I went to London to receive the 2007 Debut Dagger Award, so I had never even stepped foot in the country at the time of writing Sweetness. But I have always loved England. My mother was born there. And I‘ve always felt I grew up in a very English household. I had always wanted to go and had dreamed for many years of doing so.
When I finally made it there, the England that I was seeing with my eyes was quite unlike the England I had imagined, and yet it was the same. I realized that the differences were precisely those differences between real life, and the simulation of real life, that we create in our detective novels. So this was an opportunity to create on the page this England that had been in my head my whole life.
Q: You have five more books lined up in this series, all coming from Delacorte Press. Will Flavia age as the series goes on?
AB: A bit, not very much. I think she’s going to remain in the same age bracket. I don’t really like the idea of Flavia as an older teenager. At her current age, she is such a concoction of contradictions. It's one of the things that I very much love about her. She's eleven but she has the wisdom of an adult. She knows everything about chemistry but nothing about family relationships. I don’t think she’d be the same person if she were a few years older. She certainly wouldn’t have access to the drawing rooms of the village.
Q: Do you have a sense of what the next books in the series will be about?
AB: The second book, The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag, is finished, and I’m working on the third book. I have a general idea of what’s happening in each one of the books, because I wanted to focus on some bygone aspect of British life that was still there in the '50s but has now vanished. So we have postage stamps in the first one... The second book is about the travelling puppet shows on the village green. And one of them is about filmmaking--it sort of harks back to the days of the classic Ealing comedies with Alec Guinness and so forth.
Q: Not every author garners such immediate success with a first novel. After only completing 15 pages of Sweetness, you won the Dagger award and within 8 days had secured book deals in 3 countries. You’ve since secured 19 countries. Enthusiasm continues to grow from every angle. How does it feel?
AB: It's like being in the glow of a fire. You hope you won't get burned. I’m not sure how much I’ve realized it yet. I guess I can say I‘m “almost overwhelmed”--I’m not quite overwhelmed, but I’m getting there. Every day has something new happening, and communications pouring in from people all over. The book has been receiving wonderful reviews and touching people. But Flavia has been touching something in people that generates a response from the heart, and the most often mentioned word in the reviews is love--how much people love Flavia and have taken her in as if she’s a long-lost member of their family, which is certainly very, very gratifying.
(Photo © Jeff Bassett)
link

I took The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie in via audiobook and was just enamored with the voice talent. Jayne Entwistle skillfully became Flavia de Luce. What a brilliant performance on her part and an absolute win for whoever cast her for the job.

One thing this has inspired me to do is run a short mystery game for my captive audience here at home using my beloved Top Secret/S.I. rules only to discover there has never been rules for young characters written. Based on what the rule book says for optional rules for older characters I played around with reverse engineering some and came up with this- Top Secret/S.I. Younger Character Rules.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Poison Belt

Today is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's birthday. With that we'll talk about Professor George Edward Challenger and The Poison Belt. There might be spoilers within...

I've said before how unlikable Professor Challenger is portrayed, yet as the reader you can't help but love the character. What an interesting writing technique. It seems most authors aim for their protagonists to be the best of the best or the most likable possible, perhaps with an eye bent towards marketing to audiences. I feel that pull if put to the task of writing fiction. But Doyle uses the everyday man as the eyepiece (Dr. Watson for Sherlock and Mr. Malone for Challenger) to observe a protagonist who is abrasive and often unpleasant. This is remarkably more realistic, in my opinion.

The Lost World was wonderful. It set me on the course to follow the adventures of Professor Challenger straightaway. The Poison Belt was strange. The themes in the short novel rang so familiar that I was often imagining scenes exactly described before from the likes of The Stand, etc. Except that Poison Belt predates them all, pretty much. It's remarkable how dark the story is.

The ending leaves us with redemption. The world is reborn unawares. Challenger and his crew are the only people in realize the truth even though the world feels a renewal of life.

One thing that is remarkable about Doyle's Challenger stories are that the scientific discoveries are so Earth shattering (almost literally!) that the world would be changed by them. Yet Challenger's bane is that the proof, although often pretty strong, isn't enough to shake the world's common mis-beliefs. It seems the world is more comfortable believing Challenger is a crazy mad scientist. And unfortunately for him, his manner often fits that bill.

There are only a few stories featuring G.E. Challenger. The Lost World, The Poison Belt, The Land of Mist, and two short stories- When the World Screamed, and The Disintegration Machine. I hope to find and enjoy them soon. We'll meet back here and talk about it when I do...

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Old West

Old West is a fan-made variant setting of Hollow Earth Expedition using the Ubiquity system. The setting and a few adventures are all available for free at the Mythic Eras website. All of this fine work is written by Ingo Kvalø-Hamann.
  • Old West (v2.2) - Rules Supplement - A full Old West setting. Everything you need to take HEX to the wild and woolly West. From character types to Indian mysticism. From gambling to prospecting. You can play it straight or drop in some magic.
  • El Brujo - Adventure - A dangerous gang of outlaws is terrorizing the area of Southern New Mexico, settlers and ingenious tribes alike. These bandits prey on young women, which they abduct from isolated farms or settlements and sell south of the border as slaves.
  • Ivory Trail - Adventure - Once upon a time in the Old West, three men robbed a bank and got away with a fortune. But the men started quarreling and finally the two underdogs shot their leader. They took the money and a pair of ivory-handled silver Colts. To avoid suspicion, the two men decides to hide the money and return to their jobs and families, waiting for the right time to fetch their reward. On their flight they stumbled over an ancient artificial cave complex. As the men explored the complex they decided that this would be an excellent place to hide their loot.
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events - Adventure - Finally, the successful prospector Angus McAvoy made enough money to realize his dream of starting a ranch. With over $50,000 in is wallet, he came to Clearwater, a town in the territory which is known as Colorado, to buy himself a ranch. The future rancher placed his money in the local bank and started to investigate his possibilities. Then a series of unfortunate events began...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Raiders of Adventure

A new Hollow Earth Expedition book came across the radar today. Raiders of Adventure appears to be a supplement for the French version of Hollow Earth Expedition. The publisher, Sans DeTour, offer a 13 page preview PDF full of art which looks pretty good.

Here's a link to the Sans Detour HEX page

The Exile Games forums provide a description of what the book will be about:

Generic articles about pulp adventures:
Serial Players (8 pages) presents the kind of serials, after a dozen to twenty episodes of 15 minutes, which is known as Flash Gordon. The plot is essentially an action and a cliffhanger of an episode to another.
Cliffhanger (6 pages) is devoted to this particular device which is to stop the episode at a time when at least one of the heroes is a very difficult situation, even in the case of Serials, in a situation where the viewer thinks death . It includes both a description of this mechanism but also advice on how to incorporate some role playing.
The Epic of Gilgamesh (1 page) for the second episode of this legend, a crossing endless depths of a mountain.
The Mysterious Ica Stones (4 pages) traces the history of stones representing the missing animals or modern scientific techniques, which have been engraved several millennia ago. There are more than serious doubts about their authenticity.
The story of Admiral Byrd (4 pages) is that of an explorer who flew an airplane poles, and wrote it had discovered a fertile world. Historical figure, he said he was held incommunicado by the military authorities.

Articles and aids that clean be played with Hollow Earth Expedition
The origins of the Hollow Earth (1 page) is a discussion on the myth of the hollow Earth and the various legends that populate the interior of the earth to hell or to other worlds.
Pellucidar (4 pages) is an extract of Tarzan at the Earth's Core, featuring a hollow earth.
The doors of the Hollow Earth (8 pages) discusses some of the 12 entries in the Hollow Earth: Easter Island, north and south poles, the Maëstrom, flaw in the Sahara, etc.
The cycles of time in Hollow Earth (10 pages) begins by explaining what regular natural phenomena can serve as an indicator of time in the Hollow Earth: cycle of growth and death of plants that have an effect on climate, cyclical journey of herds dinosaur, tidal influence, ... Then a few benchmarks are examined temporal companies, such as rites of passage or streaks of the shellfish.
The moonless sky (6 pages) examines the question of werewolves, and then presents an explanation of their presence, Hollow Earth, despite the absence of the moon in this world.

Adventures:
The Golems of Thule (16 pages) sees the characters during the filming of a serial, rush to the rescue of the heroine was kidnapped. They foil the plans of the Nazis to use a giant drill to destroy the cities they desire, and create an army of golems, which are a kind of organic exoskeletons which the heroine was expected to be the breeder.
The Mummy (18 pages) is an adventure in which the characters need, during an archaeological expedition, to join forces with Mexican warriors and their leader, an authentic mummy. This alliance is necessary to prevent another mummy, usurper, to awaken the god of war. They need this course to make a little trip to Hollow Earth.
Hired by his son found a missing adventurer seeking the source of eternal youth (10 pages), the characters must overtake competitors to move up a river in which they discover a fauna from the oldest to the most recent periods of history. Finding two abandoned cities with some texts engraved, they have to understand what happens before being captured and drained of their vital energy by the inhabitants of the third and final city.
3 Pulp Synopsis (8 pages) contains ideas developed adventure, with themes including a tree flowering occurs only every hundred years, the thirteenth tribe of Israel, or of Nazi scientific experiments to create giant
The ruler of Agartha (2 pages) is an excerpt from a book referring to Agartha, a subterranean kingdom.
In The Last King of Shambala (20 pages), the characters must thwart the plans of the Nazis who have appropriated the mines of King Solomon and the city of Shambala, a city that can travel through time. Such travel will also need to get to change the course of history and prevent the hegemony of the third reich.
Raiders of Adventure - China Sea 1937 (14 pages) changes from traditional enemy: it is not the Nazis but the Japanese who are the antagonists in a series of chases to retrieve the urns containing the ashes of Buddha. 
link to Exile Games forum

I do hope we see an English edition. Any HEX is good.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

They're Working on Sherlock Series 2

Sherlock watercolor by Nell the Swedish Elephant
If it came down to the Doctor vs Sherlock, I pick Sherlock.

Sherlock series 2 stories revealed

Simon Brew


Work has begun on the next adventures of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ Sherlock. And the details of what we can expect have been revealed…


Published on May 17, 2011

Steven Moffat, co-creator of the show along with Mark Gatiss, has revealed that we can expect A Scandal In BelgraviaThe Hounds Of Baskerville and The Reichenbach Fall. And it's the same three writers as last year who are penning the stories.Filming has now officially begun on the second series of Sherlock, starring Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch. And the BBC has announced just which stories will be arriving in this year's run.
Thus, Stephen Thompson (who penned the recent Doctor Who adventure, The Curse Of The Black Spot), will take on Reichenbach, which is poised to be the series finale. Moffat, meanwhile is doing A Scandal In Belgravia, while Gatiss has taken onThe Hounds Of Baskerville.
It's great to see, too, that Paul McGuigan, who directed two of the three adventures of Sherlock's maiden run, is back on helming duties this time around. And he's being joined this time around by Toby Haynes, who has Being Human and Doctor Who on his CV.
Sherlock will return to our screens in the autumn. And we, like many of you, can't wait to have it back...
link

A Study in Pink by SakariSingh

Saturday, May 14, 2011

All For One on Game Geeks

The YouTube series, Game Geeks, covered the All For One game from Triple Ace Games in their episode #169. Nice review. I look forward to looking at the game.



In episode #173 Game Geeks' Kurt Wiegel looks at three games. Hell Frost, Sundered Skies (both for Savage Worlds) and the All For One supplements. If you wish to skip ahead to the All For One coverage, forward to 5:15 into the video. I am pleased at the support Triple Aces Games is giving to the All For One and hope to see it continue.

The Doctor's Wife by Neil Gaiman

The Doctor's Wife was a neat and touching tale about the TARDIS.  This series- post David Tennant has had an energetic and psychedelic spirit all about it which I'm enjoying quite a bit. I am over Tennant. Matt Smith is my Doctor now. In this episode the Doctor (and we the audience) actually meet her, the TARDIS. Lots of Time Lordy stuff and a few old consoles make an appearance. What is really cool about the episode was that it's the first episode written by Neil Gaiman. I thought it was pretty obviously Gaiman's work. The story had a touch of creepy braided in with an emotional end. I'd like to see more Gaiman episodes. I think he's a great fit for Doctor Who.

While we're on Neil...
One day I was listening to the television audio as my kids watched Arthur. I couldn't believe my ears as I heard Neil Gaiman's voice and his name in the show! Sure enough, my kids kind of know who he is. But they think he has rabbit ears.

I met the man years ago at a screening of Princess Mononoke with The Cinema Judge. He sat behind us and I was able to sneak a word of praise for all his work I'd seen. He was quiet and humble and seemed eager to leave before the theater started to leave. Perhaps I'll run into him again since he lives not even an hour from my residence.

And with that, we'll leave you with this...
 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Lost World and Starclimber

After finishing Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World I jumped right into the third and last book chronicling the adventures of Matt Cruse and Kate de Vries, Starclimber., by Kenneth Oppel. Both books share similar themes: they are pulp adventures set in around the same time, they feature the discovery (or rediscovery) of new and dangerous animals. Yet these two books are very opposite in their writing styles. And one pays homage to the other in a huge way, which came as a funny coincidence.

There may be spoilers beyond this point...

One of the opening scenes of Starclimber paid homage to the ending of The Lost World. I read these two scenes just hours apart from each other with no foreknowledge of it. It was remarkable how exact  Oppel recreates the ending with only the biggest difference being the creature revealed. In The Lost World, Professor Challenger presents evidence as proof of the discovery of extinct animals found on his expedition to the lost world saving the most irrefutable one for last- a living pterodactyl, which then escapes and terrorizes the audience humbling Challenger's scientific rivals. In Starclimber, this scene is almost exactly recreated as Kate de Vries does the very same thing with a creature she discovered and named Aerozoen, from the previous book, Skybreaker- also humbling her scientific rival. Oppel's version was almost parody and much light hearted as the series is aimed at young adults. In the Oppel version, it is right at the beginning of the book and Kate's rival provides an antagonist for Kate's sub-plots through out the story. This scene served as The Lost World's climax.

The difference in style between The Lost World and the Starclimber (and the rest of the Matt Cruse/Airborn series) is extreme.

Kenneth Oppel writes as if he read a how-to-write-perfectly manual and follows it to the letter. His writing is so well rounded and polished his work, in itself, could be used as a how to manual. The disadvantage to this style of writing is it removes a lot of the unexpected. I anticipated almost every twist. Perhaps this isn't as critical with young adults, but as a reader with some writing training, one knows that if the author mentioned something, it is sure to reappear later in the story. The formula becomes apparent sometimes. It feels like we could take the story and replace the tropes with a different genre and it would work just as well.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's writing style, on the other hand... Perhaps I do Oppel an injustice comparing him to a writer so renowned. One interesting thing about Doyle's writing, his protagonists are quite unlikable. Professor Challenger is a pompous ass. Even Sherlock Holmes, if you knew him for real in real life, would be annoying as hell. It's John Watson and Ed Malone who are the ones we really like and relate to. The Lost World sometimes starts down paths that end up nowhere. For example, one challenge the protagonists had was how they were going to get up and out and down from this plateau. Professor Challenger test flies a make-shift balloon constructed out of rope, branches, bubbling methane, and a giant fish's stomach. There is a great deal of detail around this plot device, but then they find a cave and leave that way! What!? Didn't see that coming! And that was totally refreshing and dare I say, a little more realistic.

I recommend both books and both series. The Lost World is part of a series, actually. Professor Challenger went on from there to be in two more of Conan Doyle's novels- The Poison Belt and The Land of Mist, he also appeared in two short stories- When the World Screamed and The Disintegration Machine. Kenneth Oppel's trilogy starts with Airborn, then Skybreaker and ends with this article's Starclimber. I'd love to hear what you think.

All For One Nominated

Triple Ace Game's Swashbuckler RPG was nominated for Best Roleplaying Game for the 2011 UK Games Expo. All other nominees for this category are from Cubicle 7. The contenders are:

All For One RPG Triple Ace Games
Legends of Anglerre Cubicle 7
Clockwork and Chivalry Cubicle 7
ICONS Cubicle 7
Interface Zero Cubicle 7
The Laundry Cubicle 7





Good luck Musketeers! 


...and one for all!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Dark Tower Update

R O L A N D by J-Estacado
All is not totally well with the Dark Tower film project. Here's the latest:

U weighs 'Dark Tower' turnaround

Movie trilogy and interlocking TV series could be shopped

Universal's "Dark Tower" movie trilogy and interlocking TV series, seen as a hugely ambitious project from the start, may wind up being too big for the studio's appetite.
Sources tell Variety that in the past few days, the project, based on Stephen King's sweeping seven-book-and-counting series, has run into budgetary complications that have caused Universal execs to rethink original plans. Insiders expect U brass to meet in coming days to decide whether to put the project into turnaround, whereby producer Imagine Entertainment could shop it to another studio, either to partner with Universal or take over entirely.
To be clear: Sources tell Variety that as of Thursday, Universal is moving ahead as if the project is going forward. The studio had no comment.
Ron Howard unveiled plans in September to adapt "The Dark Tower" for three films -- at least the first of which he plans to direct -- bridged by a pair of TV series. Universal soon came on as a distributor, given Imagine's production deal with the studio; NBC (or an affiliated cable net) was expected carry the TV component.
Javier Bardem's deal to play the lead role of Roland Deschain is nearly closed, while Howard is still eyeing thesps for other roles. Howard and Brian Grazer are producing through Imagine, while Akiva Goldsman is set to write the script.
With a project of this size and scope, it wouldn't be unusual for any studio to weigh its risk-sharing options -- or pulling out -- at this stage of development. And "Dark Tower" isn't the only major project that Universal has recently reconsidered. "At the Mountains of Madness," which had Guillermo del Toro set to direct and Tom Cruise circling to star, was scrapped on the brink of lensing after U calculated that it would struggle to make money with its $150 million budget and R rating.
That project went into hibernation in March, not long after the newly minted NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke was in Universal City for meetings with NBC and Universal Pictures brass.
King's "Dark Tower" epic has been long pursued for screen adaptation, but the series' length and scope -- rooted in a post-Apocalyptic realm resembling the Old West as well a parallel modern-day world -- has been a tough nut to crack for scripting and production planning. Before Imagine announced its adaptation plans, J.J. Abrams and "Lost" co-creator exec producer Damon Lindelof had optioned rights from King for $19 (a key number in the "Tower" universe). But they weren't able to find a take on the material that satisfied their ambitions.
Nonetheless, the Imagine team and U felt confident they had a workable vision. In announcing their plans for "Dark Tower," companies set a May 17, 2013 target date for release of the first film.
link

Sports Page

Wow! Something in the sports page I actually found interesting....

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pathfinder Beginner Box

We have official news about what was known as the Pathfinder Basic Game.

The Beginner Box

Thursday, May 5, 2011
For many months now, a good portion of the staff here at Paizo has been slaving away in secret, working on a project that has only been mentioned in hushed tones and vague inferences. While its existence has become common knowledge, few outside the halls of Paizo know much about this rumored product. Well, the time for secrecy is over! Now it is time to take our first look at the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Beginner Box!
Personally, I have wanted to do this project since the early days of the Pathfinder RPG. A beginner set not unlike this one is what got me into gaming over 20 years ago. While I can't go into all the details of this impressive box just yet, it is time to give you some of the basic details about what to expect from the Beginner Box and what it will contain.
First off, this box is designed to contain everything that a new gamer needs to begin playing the Pathfinder RPG, from dice and pawns to a simplified rules set and an exciting starter adventure. There are enough rules in this box to take characters all the way up to 5th level, and plenty of tools for the GM to create countless hours of play. But that's not all. Take a look at this list of components.
  • A 64-page Hero's Handbook, detailing character creation, spells, equipment, and general rules for playing the game
  • A 96-page Game Master's Guide packed with adventures, monsters, magical treasures, and advice on how to narrate the game and control the challenges faced by the heroes
  • A complete set of 7 high-impact polyhedral dice
  • More than 80 full-color pawns depicting tons of heroes, monsters, and even a fearsome black dragon
  • Four pregenerated character sheets to throw you right into the action
  • Four blank character sheets to record the statistics and deeds of your custom-made hero
  • A durable, reusable, double-sided Flip-Mat play surface that works with any kind of marker
Suffice it to say, that is a lot to pack into one box. I am going to have a lot more to say about this particular product in the coming months (especially during the banquet at this year's PaizoCon). Until then.
Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
link

I say this looks pretty darn cool. Dice included!

Conan the Barbarian trailer

Last week we spoke of Conan the Barbarian. Today we have a proper trailer.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wilderness Kids Adventures

Since becoming a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs, I naturally stumbled into Pellucidar and became rather fond of the Hollow Earth setting (which some people strongly and passionately believe is true, by the way). I found there are a handful of similar settings, all to which I've become a fan. Enough of a fan to start an additional blog... Hollow World.

Being a geek I took note of the 2006 RPG Hollow Earth Expedition by Exile Games which is set in a Hollow Earth setting. I've finally started looking at the game, studying the rules and exploring the resources. Its doing this that lead me to Wilderness Kids Adventures. It appears there was a more official proposal which changed the name around to Wilderness Adventure Kids.

Here is a description from the above linked site:
The Wilderness Kids Adventures is a HEX-variant series of adventures designed and written to be easily accessible to young adults and children, or adult players that wish to experience the joy of childhood again. The scenarios that are offered in the Wilderness Kids series are not watered down adult adventures, but instead are fully realized adventures that play to the abilities and likes of a younger audience. The Wilderness Kids adventures are not necessarily traditional Hollow Earth Expedition scenarios in terms of setting. The Wilderness Kids find adventures in their neighborhoods, on camping trips, or just going for a bike ride to the lake. They might not be fighting dinosaurs or Nazis all the time, but that’s not to say that they couldn’t come face to face with saboteurs, evil scientists, or Thule agents that are skulking about their neighborhood.
It has been mentioned in this blog before that I've been on a long search for a suitable RPG system and setting to introduce and run games with my kids. Accidently stumbling upon this one was a delight as it seems to have a great deal of promise for what I'm looking for. As of now the product list is as follows:

Movie Mayhem
The characters have received a special reward for their hard work cleaning up a park, and repainting all the benches and picnic tables in the park. For their efforts they’ve been given passes to the grand opening of a new movie: MIND-SUCKING ROBOTS FROM OUTERSPACE, in MIND-BLASTING-O-VISION!
The word on the street is that the movie is in 3-D, and has actors actually come out of the screen! The Wilderness Kids are being accompanied by their Pack Master, Robert Bree, who is a good friend, mentor, and father figure to the kids. Robert picked up all the kids, and told their parents he’d have them back right after the movie.  Also a GenCon version. Maps and Counters for Movie Mayhem.

  

The Wilderness Kids have just gotten off from Elf duty from the annual Wilderness Kids Santa’s Booth. Downtown Kokomo has been transformed into Santa’s Village with the WK’s Santa’s Booth as one of the premiere attractions.
Santa has been kidnapped and the WK must rescue him to save Christmas. Well, what did you think?
Wilderness Kids Adventures Character Sheets

Update:
Wilderness Kids Adventures apparently make their appearances at GenCon each year. There are more adventures introduced at the convention than there are available at this time on the Mythical Eras site. Here's what has come out at GenCon in the last couple of years:
the following is the list of Wilderness Kids adventures and their first appearance at Gencon:
  • Movie Mayhem ('08)
  • Haunted House ('09)
  • Jewels of Prometheus Falls ('10)
  • Mummy Menace in the Museum ('10)
  • Monkey Menace at the Zoo ('10)
  • Revenge of the Saucer-Men ('10)
  • Tentacles of Terror ('10)
  • Treasure Trouble ('10)
  • Save Christmas ('11)
So far, only Movie Mayhem is complete at the Mythic Eras Site. My draft version of the WK Save Christmas is also there. The original and my "alternate" version of the PC's are also at Mythic Eras site.
link
I hope more talk about Wilderness Kids Adventures and more people that know about it will increase demand for more. I believe it to be a wholesome endeavor.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Black TARDIS

TARDIS Scribble by woodian
This blog post will contain spoilers.

Last summer there aired the 11th episode of the 11th Doctor in Doctor Who, an episode called Lodger. It was a delightful episode and a departure from more typical plots. We were still kind of getting to know who this Matt Smith guy was that dethroned David Tennant. I think this is the episode that allowed me to embrace Smith. The episode had something to do with a house that had an extra dimensional spaceship attached to the roof and the Doctor moves with Craig to investigate the house. What we did not know at the time was that this was laying down some serious clues to what is coming in the current series. At the climax of the episode we're shown the interior of the spaceship. It was curious at the time that there seemed to be no one using the ship, like it was abandoned. We may have some answers to that.

This weekend the 2nd episode of current Doctor's 2nd season aired wrapping up the premiere's introduction to the new (or maybe not so much) villain- the Silent. While the events and twists are so mind-numbing, it didn't dawn on me while viewing the episode that I'd seen the set before. It was the same control room from said Lodger episode! It was the coffin looking pods that triggered the quiet memory. While the episode seems to present far more questions than it does answer, here is one small mystery solved, maybe.

The internet is afire with fans talking about this. The spaceship perched on top of Craig's flat has been unofficially dubbed the Black TARDIS. It was in the Lodger episode that the Doctor mentioned something about the spaceship being an attempt to build a TARDIS with stolen tech. That always did feel a bit left open. When now it's clear why.

Here's more about the Back TARDIS from Siskoid's blog:
Black TARDIS
Some have started calling the TARDIS from The Lodger the "Black TARDIS", so I will too. We now know (or guess? the Silents DO steal technology rather than make it) it belonged to the Silents. It was abandoned presumably because the Silents had left Earth or been killed. We see the same set in this story, but get a little more information. River's scan reveals its tunnels go all around the surface of the Earth. What does that mean? Did they turn the entire Earth into a TARDIS? Take control, then send the planet through space and time looking to expand their empire? A bizarre idea, but they wouldn't be the first to try and turn Earth into a big, inefficient spaceship, would they? And maybe this is a coincidence, but the pilot's limited vocabulary of "Help me", sure sounds a lot like the little girl hologram used by The Lodger's Black TARDIS to attract passing souls. That's where it took its template or I'm reading too much into things?
The Scream by Edward Munch
Danny writes a nice review of the episode on GESWEB Blog providing a comparison of the Silent's appearance to Edward Munch's painting, the Scream.

Seems to me we can rest assured the Doctor is in the hands of a brilliant and competent production team. Can't wait to see how this all pans out.
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