Sunday, September 30, 2012

That Hideous Strength

“Fellows of colleges do not always find money matters easy to understand: if they did, they would probably not have been the sort of men who become Fellows of colleges.”

Described as perhaps the spiritual companion of 1984.

Sorry for the spoilers...

This book is about a husband on one side of a covert sociological and spiritual war, and the wife on the side of the angels... literally.

The N.I.C.E. (National Institute for Coordinated Experiments) is a demonically influenced organization that stands to eventually and systematically remove organic life; ultimately sterilize the planet!

The book is interesting in it's humor as well as it's horror. It lightly flips from one to the other with ease.

I personally love how this book ties itself and the trilogy right into J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth mythology as well as the Arthurian legends. It does this quite well. If you consider that scope, there isn't much that can beat that. Pretty darn cool.

Dr. Ransom from the first two books has ceased aging due to his visit to Venus, where he received his never-healing injury. Ransom is the modern-day Pendragon

The book sets up the character of Merlin as quite a big character (in stature as well as importance). It's interesting, however, how quickly Merlin realizes that he is quite insignificant compared to the experiences Ransom has had.

One aspect of this book I wasn't expecting was how much Lewis has to say about sex and marriage. Mark and Jane Studdock are newly married and moderately happily. Through the story Mark finally becomes wise to the real circumstances of why he is involved with the N.I.C.E. and at rock bottom finds himself as well as real love for his wife. Meanwhile Jane gets a proper conservative training on what it really means to be married from Ransom's Logres crew.

With the rather seamless inclusion of the Lord of the Rings series as well as Arthurian legend, this trilogy becomes somewhat of a Wold Newton Family ordeal. And if we're going there (and we are) I say we include the books in Madeleine L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time series. What a wonderful science fantasy saga that would make, with kids and interesting adults all fighting evil on the side of the angels (literally).

The curse of Babel and the climax of the fate of the leaders of N.I.C.E. felt like it might have contributed to scenes of Jurassic Park. It's always nice to read the bad guys getting theirs.

We'll wrap this up with this humorous letter found at the Inklings blog:
Your discovery of 'Numinor' in C.S.L.'s That Hideous Strength is discovery of a plagiarism: well, not that, since he used the word, taken from my legends of the First and Second Ages, in the belief that they would soon appear. They have not, but I suppose now they may. The spelling Numinor is due to his hearing it and not seeing it. Númenóre or Númenor means in High-elven simply West-land. As for the shape of the world of the Third Age, I am afraid that was devised 'dramatically' rather than geologically, or paleontologically.  I do sometimes wish that I had made some sort of agreement between the imaginations or theories of the geologists and my map a little more possible.  But that would only have made more trouble with human history.

J.R.R. Tolkien
#169 From a letter to Hugh Brogan 11 September 1955


Saturday, September 29, 2012


Everblue is a wonderfully fresh web comic. It is a nautically themed fantasy adventure presented with very clean and consistent artwork. Written and art by Michael "Blue-Ten" Sexton.  He describes the comic as such:
Everblue is a story about adventure, camaraderie, and exploration in a world with a potentially bleak fate.
In a world of endless ocean, a young shipwright named Luna meets an odd and cheerful drifter when he crashes his flying boat on her city’s dock. When strange circumstances force Luna to leave her home, her once quiet life quickly takes a turn for the unpredictable. In an instant she is swept up in an adventure that will take her beyond the bounds of the charted world and into the Everblue, following the path of an ancient legend with the potential to change the world forever.

At the time of this writing the story is a nice way into it's first volume. That is three chapters of maybe eight, about half way through the first of four volumes.

You can find the comic here > Everblue < updated weekly (usually on Sunday).

The setting is being revealed little by little as we follow the characters through the story. This works wonderfully as opposed to a lengthy opening description about the world it's set in. So far we've seen only humans populating world covered almost entirely by water. There are elements of magic or sorcery and a medieval-ish tech level. Not a lot of steampunk, surprisingly (and somewhat thankfully, as it's getting to be a bit cliche in web comics).

Some of the elements that struck me I'll compare with other favorite settings of mine. Luna reminds me of Fio Picollo from Porco Rosso with her innocent integrity and her gift with engineering. Also a lot of water and aquatic vessels. Ten reminds me of Pazu from Castle in the Sky in appearance mainly. My only complaint is one of the villains name's- General Shar. I couldn't help but think of Mobile Suit Gundam. I'm very impressed with the comic and I'm on board for the duration.

Everblue belongs to a growing club of web comics of extraordinary quality art and very creative story telling. The first of these I came across was The Meek, which has been stated as an influence for Everblue. It's hard to formulate what exactly it is these comics have in common (besides the art), but it is something quality of spirit that is also found in Ghibli/Miyazaki films and comics. I am thoroughly enjoying these comics and I anticipate seeing more emerge in the future.

At the very start, Everblue reminded me of the Pinnacle Savage Worlds RPG setting- 50 Fathoms. That could be easily hacked to run a campaign set in the Everblue world.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Star Wars anime fanfilm

Fistful of Dollars music unavoidable, I guess

Here's a strange coincidence.

We recently watched the Doctor Who episode- A Town Called Mercy which was set in the wild (weird) west. Pretty good episode. The Doctor pulling the iron on the guy was a surprise. The wild west with a cyborg is cool. A bit of a Deadlands feel and maybe a West World homage. The Doctor in a stetson is always a win.

One of the most striking elements of the episode was the musical score, which naturally was drenched in Ennio Morricone themes along the lines of his Sergio Leone film scores.

Other than Doctor Who, we are currently watching the fine espionage drama, Covert Affairs. The show is pretty good, better than I expected and we're really enjoying it. The theme song is the focus for this blog post. The first thing one notices about the theme is the whistling which immediately brings a western/Clint Eastwood frame to mind. But then the song continues in a pop/rock anthem with a female vocalist. The guitar does continue with a little bit of that western feel remaining.

Save Me Mix 6 by Apple Trees and Tangerines on Grooveshark
The band that performed the song was originally named Apple Trees and Tangerines and then changed their name to POWER. Then it appears that they changed their name again to Flint Eastwood (which, as you'll see in a moment, kind of makes sense) 

Here's the theme from A Fistful of Dollars. Obviously the whistling... but listen to the guitar at about 2:05 into the theme. It sounds like that bit serves as the foundation for "Can You Save Me/Covert Affairs' theme.
'A Fistfull Of Dollars' Suite by Ennio Morricone on Grooveshark
It seemed an inevitable discovery. Now I'm reading Deadlands game books, Jonah Hex comics and listening to the soundtrack to Outlaws!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Spycraft cover art by Veronica V. Jones

Spycraft was a ground breaking modern spin on the, at the time, wondrous 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons RPG. The game was published by AEG and featured toolkits for generic espionage gaming as well as a spy-fi setting called Shadowforce Archer. While the game was pretty solid and still revered today, one of the most stunning aspects was the gaming books' cover art. The covers were created by Victoria V. Jones. She writes:
In 2001, Alderac Entertainment Group had a paranormal superspy game in development. They had a style in mind which would be black and white on black and would look gritty. The art director, Jim Pinto, sent out an email call for artists. I quickly put together a sample piece of what i had in mind and was happy to get the job.

What followed was a surprising run. The two books I was initially contracted for turned into a run of 19 books as i did the covers for the entire first edition of the game, with additional books for licensed companies who wanted "the Spycraft look".

The following represent some of the best work I did for the line, including the licensed books. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Thirlby loves Anderson

Judge Anderson by chriss2d
The lovely Olivia Thirlby recently co-starred as Judge Anderson in the new Judge Dredd film. She has fallen in love with her own character!

Actress Olivia Thirlby attends the The Hollywood Reporter TIFF Video Lounge Presented By Canon on Day 1 during the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival at Brassaii on September 7, 2012 in Toronto, Canada. (Todd Oren/Getty Images For The Hollywood Reporter/AFP)
Olivia Thirlby is in love. It's a complicated love, though, because the other person isn't real. And the other person is, in a manner of speaking, Thirlby herself.
Thirlby co-stars alongside Karl Urban (Dr. McCoy in the Star Trek reboot) in Dredd, a gritty adaptation of the long-running UK comic book series about all-powerful police officers - called Judges - in a dystopian future America.
She plays Judge Cassandra Anderson, a rookie assigned to Judge Dredd (Urban) for evaluation. And while the slums of Dredd's Mega-City One are a long way from the high school hallways of 2007's Juno, in which Thirlby played the best friend of Ellen Page's titular pregnant teen, Judge Anderson might be her best role yet.
"I am obsessed with this character. I love her," the 25-year-old New York City native said in an interview at the Trump Hotel in Toronto, the day after Dredd kicked off the Midnight Madness program of the Toronto International Film Festival.
"I think I've only realized that in hindsight, seeing the film and having to talk about it," Thirlby said. "I realize how much I love her and how much I love playing her and how much she excites me."
In the most perilous training day since Ethan Hawke was paired with Denzel Washington, Thirlby's Anderson accompanies Dredd into a 200-storey slum to investigate a triple homicide, only to be hunted by the forces of the tower's resident drug queen, Ma-Ma (Game of Thrones' Lena Headey).
Beautiful, poised and surprisingly petite in person, Thirlby is the literal face of the good guys in Dredd. Since Urban's Judge Dredd never removes his helmet (Sylvester Stallone doffing his helm in 1995's cheeseball Judge Dredd is one many things fans hated about that movie), she's the film's emotional touchstone by virtue of the fact her face is never covered.
"In the world of Judges, I don't think that sensitivity is something that's prized or helpful," Thirlby said. "What I love about her is it's that which could be construed as her weakness which ends up being her strength, and ends up making her an exceptional Judge."
Written and produced by Alex Garland (28 Days Later), Dredd is a faithful, and thus violent, adaptation of the source material. For Thirlby, that meant long days of training on sweltering sets in South Africa, learning how to shoot guns and do roundhouse kicks. In head-to-toe leather, no less, with lifts in her boots to offset her five-foot-three frame.
"My hands are incredibly small, so I can't change a magazine or cock my gun with one hand. So I had to devise ways to do it and make it look real," she said.
But it's Anderson's mind-reading abilities that are by far her greatest power.
"She's so acquainted with all the joys and sorrows of every single person she comes in contact with. She knows their circumstances, instantly. She knows the human condition," Thirlby said.
"So her world is a world of grey. There is no good and bad."

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