Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Sci-mas!

All things being equal I had a fantastic holiday (and I hope you all did too) but there was a distinct lack of laser fire and psionic weirdness. That is, until my kid sister came through! She snagged a few vintage paperbacks that I plan on devouring this weekend!
So what nerdly goodness did the Jolly ol' Elf leave in your stocking?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Con of the North: Here come the Exonauts!

WELP, I REGISTERED. I'm all signed up for Con of the North, the big gaming shindig that takes place in the Twin Cities after we've all become sick of snow, the cold, and the indoors!

I'm excited, having never attended since it's been ages since I've had a chance to do some serious gamin'. Oh, and like a big dummy I went and sent a proposal to RUN A GAME. I've got no idea if it will be accepted or how this works. So we'll see I guess.

This is all only slightly terrifying as I've not run a game in a LONG TIME. I'm hoping I can get a few practice games before then.

It'll be X-plorers, since that's rules light and I can tweak the hell out of it. To make things even harder on myself, I'll run a one-shot adventure in the RAD ASTRA setting. If I'm going to go in--it's gotta be all in! I had to write a description for the listing (most listings are, thankfully, quite short) and I've not yet cobbled said adventure together--so I just gave a flavor for the source material:
RAD ASTRA: Far-out, Exploitation-style Space Opera
Take a rules-light sci-fi game and pack it with plenty of "spaghetti" space opera from the 60s, 70s, and 80s and you've got the makings of RAD ASTRA. You're part of a group of galactic troubleshooters--think: A-Team with rayguns, space yeti sidekicks, and sharp-shooting robots riding around in the Eagle-1 and taking down maniacal caped weirdos! 
So, sound like a game you'd be interested in?


Pertinent details:

  • Register for Con of the North before Jan. 5 ($25 for the weekend) or pay more at the door ($37 for the same duration). Single day tickets are also offered.
  • Con of the North - February 15-17 (Friday-Sunday) at the Holiday Inn in East St. Paul, MN

Monday, December 17, 2012

ANOTHER, new Star Trek 2 trailer!



It's been not even two weeks since the last one! Bonus though: actual shots of the Enterprise in space! Word is that this is what's being shown before The Hobbit.

UPDATE: io9.com comes through with another shot-for-shot breakdown gallery of pics(spoilers!)

More about Star Trek Into Darkness

Friday, December 14, 2012

40 years after Apollo - asteroid mining our next booster to the stars

You know the first man on the moon, but do you know the last? Do you know what he said before departing?

Today marks 40 years since we left our moon. There were many reasons why we left--most of them were issues here on Earth that were more pressing, less costly, or had stolen the zeitgeist of popular support.

In the intervening decades, space enthusiasts, astrophiles, and rocket jockies who've been heartbroken at the lack of progress to establish a permanent human presence off-world have been looking for a more commercial rationale to return to the great space race of yore. They found it in the asteroid belt.

The untapped resources that float between Jupiter and Mars (and futher out, in the Kuiper Belt) contain a wealth of metals, minerals, gasses, and even liquids with market value--that would sustain a burgeoning economy for centuries to come. And those resources would not only supply us here at home, but could propel futher exploration.

We chose to go to our moon to help turn the tide of the Cold War, but in the process opened a door to magnanimous scientific inspiration. The chore of getting living beings to walk on its surface was an engineering and technical undertaking unlike any other previous or since. But on December 14, 1972, we came home and haven't been back.

Mining.com just posted an infographic explaining how asteroid mining will soon become a neccessity, given the soon-to-peak mineral and metallurgical resources market. It's also a story and start-ups like Planetary Resources are trying desperately to convey. They're hoping to light a fire public opinion and venture capitalists alike. The windfall from these efforts could (in all likelihood, would) spur an economic and scientific revolution that would carry our species to the ends of the solar system--and hopefully--beyond.

Click to enlarge


Oh, and that last man? He was Eugene Andrew Cernan, commander of Apollo 17. And these were the words he uttered just before launching off the surface (starts at 1:12):


Sunday, December 9, 2012

VIDEO: "Oblivion" trailer - post-apoc future, action flick



So here's a Tom Cruise film I'd only heard a few whispers about until now. I'd nearly written it off it had been so long since I'd seen anything, but now this trailer pops up and I have to say it looks intriguing. Especially since there's not a huge cast.

Anyway, looking forward to hearing more. Here's the synopsis, via io9:

Tom Cruise stars in Oblivion, an original and groundbreaking cinematic event from the director of TRON: Legacy and the producer of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. On a spectacular future Earth that has evolved beyond recognition, one man's confrontation with the past will lead him on a journey of redemption and discovery as he battles to save mankind.
Jack Harper (Cruise) is one of the last few drone repairmen stationed on Earth. Part of a massive operation to extract vital resources after decades of war with a terrifying threat known as the Scavs, Jack's mission is nearly complete.
Living in and patrolling the breathtaking skies from thousands of feet above, his soaring existence is brought crashing down when he rescues a beautiful stranger from a downed spacecraft. Her arrival triggers a chain of events that forces him to question everything he knows and puts the fate of humanity in his hands.
Here's the poster:




Thursday, December 6, 2012

VIDEO: Star Trek 2 Teaser Trailer!




So, still don't know who Cumberbatch is playing (classic villian or new one?) but it looks like the Enterprise (or another Constellation Constitution class starship) is gonna get its feet wet! Star Trek Into Darkness opens spring, 2013.
Here's the official synopsis from Paramount:
When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.
UPDATE: io9 has a nice rundown of screen caps with armchair analysis (possible spoilers though). Enjoy!

UPDATE 2: Here's a list of IMAX theaters that will be showing 9 minutes from the film, via Collider.

Monday, December 3, 2012

What are your rules for Space Opera?

So I've been working on some ideas for Rad Astra, which has been rattling around in my brain since the Thanksgiving holiday, today I saw this post by io9.com on the Top Ten Rules of Space Opera. It's a good start for anyone looking to flesh out a story or campaign setting. Take a look with your macrobinoculars:
  1. Have a giant object in space.
  2. Set the action in motion by plunging us into the middle of an extremely complicated astropolitical regime change.
  3. A scrappy group of humans should be part of a rebellion that's hidden on a cool-looking moon or tricked-out asteroid.
  4. There must be an enormous mothership (which must be referred to as a mothership or maybe a base ship), and it must be attacked by a bunch of tiny fighter ships.
  5. Always fill your spaceships and intergalactic ports with random background aliens and weird-faced creatures.
  6. Your heroes should always revisit the sites of old battles, the locations of terrible accidents, and the regions of space where their people were wiped from the face of the universe. But only if they don't want to.
  7. If there is a male bad guy, he should have a ripped body or amazing weapons. If there is a female bad guy, she should have a high, sparkly collar or a sidekick named something like Tigerman.
  8. There should be at least three types of weapon and three types of spaceship, each of which will be given a name that is used repeatedly.
  9. There should be a captain. If there is not a captain, there should be a special agent. If there is not a special agent, there should be a cadet with a future. If there is no cadet with a future, there should be a mercenary with a dark past.
  10. Somebody wise should predict something, but nobody will pay attention or be able to understand the prediction.
Compare their list with sci-fi writer Brian Aldiss' own tounge-planted-firmly-in-cheek (if oft non-specific) version:
  1. Style and Mood staunchly traditional
  2. Hitherto unknown places to explore
  3. Continuity between Past and Future
  4. Tremendous sphere of space/time
  5. A pinch of reality inflated with melodrama
  6. A seasoning of screwy ideas
  7. Heady escapist stuff
  8. Charging on with little regard for logic or literacy
  9. Often throwing off great images, excitements, aspirations
  10. The Earth should be in peril
  11. There must be a quest
  12. There must be a man to match the mighty hour
  13. That man must confront aliens and exotic creatures
  14. Space must flow past the ports like wine from a pitcher
  15. Blood must run down the palace steps
  16. Ships must launch out into the louring dark
  17. There must be a woman fairer than the skies
  18. There must be a villain darker than a Black Hole
  19. All must come right in the end
  20. The future in space, seen mistily through the eyes of yesterday
Had me wondering what might they have missed? What would you add or emphasize?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fleischer Superman toons now online!



They've been in the public domain for years (and consequently in dozens of DVD compliations) but Warner Bros. has uploaded the classic Superman cartoons from Fleischer Studios.

In my totally unprofessional opinion, these are among the very best early animations of ol' Supes, bringing together the best of the early rotoscope animation style with the classic wonder of the Golden Age. There's no time-defying Kryptonian to wind back the clock by circling the Earth here--just a guy leaping tall buildings in a single bound (okay, he does fly a bit). Oh, and tearing the shiznit out of some robots!

I've stuck with a properly themed sci-fi episode, Mechanical Monsters, which later went on to inspire some even BIGGER automatons in movies like the Iron Giant and Sky Captain: World of Tomorrow.



Check out the full list of the Fleischer toons at Cartoon Brew.

Incidently, Hydra Miniatures has some excellent "warbots" that look like good stand-ins for Iron-Sky-Fleisher-bots!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Wally Wood book collects sci-fi work!

In a previous post highlighting Wally Wood in the Featured Gallery, reader Scott commented that there's a new WW hardcover hitting shelves. Wally Wood Strange Worlds of Science Fiction from Vangard Productions collects several issues of SWSF into a single volume.

Here's the cover on Amazon (and the version that I have):

There's some fantastic stories and art in this, and it's been a great inspiration for ideas for X-plorers. Really, ANY retro-future game setting would benefit from Wood's work.

It's filled with bubble-helmeted heroes brandishing ray guns, flying winged rockets, and sexy space babes. And of course, lots of grotesque looking aliens! But the single most fascinating thing for me is Wood's attention to detail when it comes to the backgrounds. Things like foliage, or a rocketship interiors are incredible. (My scanner isn't up and running at the moment, but if I get it going again I'll post some more images.)

Besides Strange Worlds, the volume also includes issues of Captain Science, Space Detective, Sky Masters, and a gallery of awesome covers. Some day I'm going to run a campaign that's literally based on covers of Wally Wood comics--I'll just point to one and say "...and then THIS happens. ROLL FOR INITIATIVE."

I believe Amazon now has a softcover version for less than $20, which is well worth it (considering the price creep for the hardcover has risen so fast--mine was about $25). Truly great stuff from one of the best sci-fi artists of the 20th!

Amazon listing


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

IMAGE: First exoplanet without a sun spotted!


Feast your eyes on that pale blue dot (lower right) folks--this is the first CONFIRMED rogue planet discovered outside our solar system! We've already detected the existence of billions of others) But this is the first one we've laid eyes on--land it's less than 100 light years away!

Just think: it's out there alone...combing it's pomador...scoping the universe for chicks.

Artists interpretation:

Wait, here's a better one:


So what do we know about the inscrutably named CFBDSIRJ2149? From io9:
Located just 100 light years from Earth, it's the nearest free-floating planet candidate ever discovered. It's big (around 4—7 times the mass of Jupiter), but not too big. Objects more than 13 times the mass of our solar system's largest planet are considered to be not planets at all, but brown dwarfs. It has company; the planet appears to belong to a traveling band of celestial objects known as the AB Doradus Moving Group. It's also very cool. In visible light, the planet would be a dim, deep-red color. In the images seen here the planet appears blue, as light at longer IR wavelengths are thought to have been absorbed by molecules in the planet's atmosphere.
Rogue planets are often dubbed "orphans" having no "parent" star. But it shouldn't be assumed that they're always frozen, lifeless hells, some scientists believe that rogue planets could have their own internal heat that might make for more habitable conditions (think bacteria or sea plankton here).



Meanwhile, back on Earth, there's an effort by space enthusiast group Uwingu to get a book published to help exoplanets get real names that don't resmble barcode vomit. Via NBC News.

Big ol' tip of the bubble helmet to io9.com.

Also, LA times, CBS News, and the BBC.

Video: Space.com

Images: L. Cal├žada, P. Delorme, Nick Risinger, R. Saito, European Southern Observatory/VVV Consortium

Monday, November 12, 2012

New Lucas video on Star Wars, some musings on possible directors

So I've finally come around to this whole Disney takeover thing. I think this might actually be the BEST thing for Star Wars since it means all new blood. Plus, Star Wars will continue to get the bankroll it needs to endure, and I'm not sure anyone other than Disney has the cash to keep a franchise this big going.

Disney obviously did well with the Muppets and Marvel's The Avengers. The Mouse excells at churning out family-friendly fantasy and fun. And THIS is key, as I'll get into a little bit later. Anyway, here's the first news item of the day...



Above is the latest video with George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy about the future of the franchise. Part one is below:



The Hollywood Reporter says that Michael Arndt has been signed to pen the script for Episode 7. This is indeed welcome news as the dude has proven with Toy Story 3 and Little Miss Sunshine that he can write with pathos and still keep things light comedically speaking. Here's hoping he can instill some rousing action scenes as well!

Also, a few of the directors being mentioned (via Collider) include: J. J. Abrams (Star Trek, Super 8, LOST), Guillermo Del Toro (Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth), John Favreu (Iron Man 1 2, Zathura), and (via EW) Matthew Vaughn (X-men First Class, Kick-Ass, Stardust).

Collider also reported that Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) is being considered, but I think that this is really lip service with looking at directors who direct more "independent films". I think he's the longshot by 12 parsecs.

Of all of those, I'd be up for Favreau and Vaughn. I think Abrams is a bit too stylized and what worked for the Star Trek reboot wouldn't necessarily translate for Star Wars. And I'm really iffy on GBT. I liked Hellboy, but didn't love it. I think he does really well on smaller, more personal films, but he made a lot of unneccessary changes to Hellboy that I think actually weakened the character. I think he too would instill too much of his own tastes into the trilogy.

The next director needs to understand why the prequels were failures--because they don't belong to the director--so no lensflares, J.J., and no grown-men with lovesick problems, G.

Lucas was under the gun and had collaborators galore to help him with the original Star Wars. Now, obviously not all films end up becoming blockbusters that redfine the genre--but the alchemical collective genius of early ILM made for success. Follow that up with Irvin Kershner (KERSH!) who invested his energies deeply into the characters for Empire Strikes Back, even more than Lucas did in his original. Kersh had the hardest job of all--to take the biggest movie of all time and make a SAGA out of it and then make it BIGGER than ever.

The director for Star Wars 7 has much the same task.

Compare that to when Lucas began on the prequels created a fortress of creatives willing to do anything to support his efforts (some would call them "yesmen" but I think that's a bit too cynical). The prequels were victims of their own beloved master. I'm sure he showed the script to some close friends--but Lucas' insular ways meant he didn't get the creative push from peer-level collaborators that made the first trilogy great. So the new director needs to take him/her self out of the equation. Here's my case for Favreau and Vaughn:


I like Favreau best of the bunch so far--he's great with getting exceptional performaces from his actors and he's obviously well-experienced with big effects. His movies always put FUN first--somethng that's DESPERATELY needed in what's beginning to feel like a tired and over-wrought franchise.


Vaughn
isn't one to be dismissed though--he's exceptional with ensemble casts and likewise has the knowledge to take on something as visually effects driven as our precious Star Wars. He also has some serious writing chops having adapted material from Mark Millar and Neil Gaiman.

More to come, I'm sure, as the Star Wars announcements are flying at light speed--far faster than they ever did between previous films!


Images: IMDB

Friday, November 9, 2012

Kevin Smith's idea for Star Wars 7...


It sounds like it would make for a better TV series than movie. No, wait! What am I saying? It would make for a GREAT RPG campaign, via GeekyRant:

With no access to the actual Star Wars films until the VCR was made affordable to the average consumer, we'd create our own Star Wars adventures. The best story (and the only one outside of the movie canon that we'd repeatedly play) wasn't about Luke and Leia: It was about inexplicable fan-fave Boba Fett -- the intergalactic bounty hunter who brings a carbonite-frozen Han Solo to Jabba the Hutt.

The plot of our backyard adventure: Boba Fett gets trapped by robotic gunslinger IG-88 in a Star Wars universe time loop, sending him through all the movies as well as moments only referenced in the flicks.

In some eras, he's a hero -- even getting to kiss Princess Leia instead of Luke (this was before Return of the Jedi made 'em relatives). Other times when the chrono-belt pulled him into another era, Fett's the villain he's always known as in the flicks. The time-travel plot allowed us to touch on the well-told stories of the movies we so adored, but it also gave us a chance to mash 'em up with the funkier flights-of-fancy Pete and I would manufacture. It was like an episode of Quantum Leap before that show ever existed, and it was our favorite Star Wars adventure.
Wow, that even seems like it would redeem Fett a little for ending up as Sarlacc mulch. I think I'd rather see an original story for the next trilogy, but there's lots to mine there for a plotline to a comic or game. It would definitely give him back a little much-needed street cred.

P.S. I'm coming around to this whole Disney acquisition of Lucasfilm, BTW. I'll do a more in-depth post soon!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

RAD ASTRA - some ideas on classes, other boring stuff



Rad Astra is short for "PER AUDAX RAD ASTRA" or, as it's more commonly translated "Awesomely, to the Stars!" is based largely on exploitation tropes from terrible movies and other detritus that I love (see previous, all-caps-shouting post).

So the base rules will be X-plorers as it's the simplest solution for anyone else who wants to pick it up and tweak for their game of choice. Plus the game is just super easy/fun to play.

I'm ripping out all the "mega corporations in space!" setting material from the game (which is like, a whole page and a half!) and substituting poorly thought out space opera aesthetics. Here are some planned classes:
  • Starbuckler (rogue/bounty hunter/pirate type, same skills but different sides of the law)
  • Astrosassin (spy, secret agent, ninja, assassin -- formal martial arts training is a prerequisite)
  • Starbarian (space barbarian, -- melee weapon swingin' grunt in a gundark loin cloth)
  • Starlocke (space warlock/witch -- magical manipulator of the physical laws of the universe)
  • Conartisan (noblemen, diplomat, gambler, grifter, huckster, companion, salesforce minion, politician, spam king, Imperial stooge--anyone who wields B.S. as an offensive strategy and manipulates others to get ahead)
  • Scientician (scientists and those who style themselves technical gurus be they mad or just pushed around in high school)
Occupations, titles, and organizations that either act as multi-class options or provide some sort of vocational guide for PCs:
  • Space Ranger Corps. (for "lawful" starbucklers and astroasassins)
  • Warrior of the Warp (space Amazonian-Vikings: highly trained and live by a code and yet very boisterous; e.g., St. Examin, Vultan)
  • Lodge of  the Lost Moon (for starbarians who reach a certain level of notoriety and influence; e.g., Masters of the Universe, Dar from Beastmaster, etc.)
  • Lasersniper League (guild for assassins, bounty hunters, and ex-military; e.g., Boba Fett, the Terminator, and let's pretend Barbarella knew how to use a laser rifle.)
  • Supreme Church of Super Science (the largest scientific research body in the known universe; i.e., Vulcan Science Academy with unlimited funding and unchecked ambition)
  • Paragon of the Power Cosmic (for starlockes of a certain level and prestige; i.e., the Jedi Order as led by Dr. Strange, the Silver Surfer, and Darkseid)
One important note about classes--there are no "pilots". Do you go out to your car and consider yourself a "driver". No, you know how to drive. For those characters who "drive professionally in space" I take no pity. Choose a class and consider "space trucker" a cover for something more interesting.

Military pilots are likely some sort of officer in a regional space authority. To clarify, Luke (circa Episode 4), Han, Starbuck, Apollo, Space Ghost, that dork from the Last Starfighter and even Jim Kirk would be starbucklers. Some might have ranks, others might work for themselves--but in the end, they all have similar skills and functions.

I had a stray thought about including a rule that PCs not revealing their class to anyone but the referee until after the first session or other characters figure it out. Just to make things interesting. Any thoughts on that?

NEXT: Androids, Aliens, and Dimensional Interlopers!

Rights: Just as FYI, I've permission from X-plorers publisher, Brave Halfling to use the game's rules and stats and intend to publish a supplement, using the class names and descriptions above. You may use them in your games, but may not use them for profit. Copyright is claimed.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Take a trip to SCIENCE FICTION LAND!



Have you seen Ben Affleck's film ARGO about how the CIA staged a filmmaking ruse for a nonexistent sci-fi film in order to rescue hostages from Iran? Well there's plenty about that story left to tell--but less than 2 days to raise the money to do it justice.


Filmmaker Judd Ehrlich is working on a documentary entitled "SCIENCE FICTION LAND" based on the real concept that inspired the CIA cover...a sci-fi theme park! The parks creators hired the King of Comics himself, Jack Kirby to design the look of the buildings. From the Kickstarter page:
In the mid-1970s, before STAR WARS, an enigmatic young inventor named Barry Ira Geller options the rights to Roger Zelazny’s award-winning novel Lord of Light, writes a screenplay and sets out to produce a sci-fi blockbuster and the world’s first science fiction theme park – Science Fiction Land. Geller dreams of inspiring the next generation of scientists and bringing the technology of the future to everyone.

A complete unknown, through his passion and determination Geller enlists an all-star team: "King of Comics" Jack Kirby; Hollywood makeup and special effects geniuses John Chambers & Maurice Stein; world-renowned architect Paolo Soleri, visionary author Ray Bradbury; and legendary futurist Buckminster Fuller.

On the verge of success, the project collapses amidst scandal, fraud, and mystery. Years later, Geller learns that his script and Kirby designs were used by CIA agent Tony Mendez as a cover during the Iran hostage crisis – his film's title changed from LORD OF LIGHT to ARGO. 
As of this writing, they're in the close-but-not-quite-there range of the $50k they need to finish the film. I pitch a little scratch their way because I'm dying to see what Kirby's designs would have looked like on a massive three-dimensional scale--and to hear one incredible real-life spy story. The CIA even went so far to create a phony production company and took out a full-page ad in Variety magazine to promote the film.

There's all kinds of great swag of course, but if you're a MEGA Kirby fan, you'll can fund the film AND get yourself a Kirby Museum membership, which includes MORE Kirby swag. (I asked and they confirmed.) I seriously considered ponying up on that one.

Alas, for a mere $5 you can help out, for $25 you get a download of the film (that's what I kicked in). Not a bad entry fee for the ultimate never-never-was-land!



Update: FUNDING SUCCESSFUL!

Images: Judd Ehrlich/Flatbush Pictures 

Friday, October 12, 2012

VICTORY at my FLGS: Pulp sci-fi returns!

So about month or so ago I started pestering my friendly local game store, The Source: Comics and Games to pick up X-plorers. To be fair, it was seemingly pre-destined to arrive there since they were already receiving shipments from the same distributor that Brave Halfling (the publisher) uses.

So while the game was on it's way, they didn't really have any retro-lookin' pulpy, science fiction minis to go with it, save for--literally a handfull--of Reaper minis that look like everything else TOO MODERN.

So I bugged them and bugged them and bugged them and bugged them and bugged them and bugged them bugged them and bugged them and professed my undying love and fandom and bugged them and bugged them and bugged and bugged them and sent them flowers and bugged them and bugged them and bugged them and....sent an email to the owner....aaaaaand...

LO and behold they set up an account with Hydra Miniatures so ANYONE in the Twin Cities (ostensibly running a retro-flavored sci-fi campaign) can pick up some of these bad boys (and girls.... and robots....and aliens....):














I've LONG pined for these guys to be available from a local retailer. So this is a really a dream come true in a sense. 

Now that there's more than one flavor of sci-fi mini available locally (as opposed to the hordes of Reaper minis taking over the walls at every game store in the area) this points to a very real possibility of me organizing an X-plorers campaign at the Source, hopefully before the end of the year.

Heck, I might even pick up a copy of War Rocket, their sci-fi spaceship combat game to supe-up the starship battles in X-plorers (which are quite light, quick, and easy, but don't include rules for things like ramming enemies, like WR does). 

If you live in the area and want these babies, check out Hydra's site and then give the Source a call and order. It'd be GREAT if they saw the potential behind this kind of game and started stocking the shelves with them!

P.S. All copies of X-plorers had sold out last week when I was there, but I'm told more are on the way. If that $12.95 is burning a hole in your space suit, order one direct from Brave Halfling.

All images are from Hydra Miniatures website. Show them some love and buy thousands of dollars of tiny space fleets and space Valkyries and live long and prosper!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

COMING SOON: Insect brains in robots!

Holy F#$%! This is insane and yet REALLY happening: researchers are working on putting honey bee brains into robotic insect bodies! How long before some madman puts his own brain into a giant robotic exoskeleton? Does nobody think these things through?

Apparently they did, in fact, as the purpose is a bit more altruistic. From io9:
The researchers hope a robotic insect could supplement or replace the shrinking population of honey bees that pollinate essential plant life.

Now, while this might sound like some kind of outlandish futurist joke, there are some serious players — and money — involved. Called the "Green Brain Project," it was recently given £1 million (USD $1,614,700) by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), as well as hardware donations from the NVIDIA corporation.
and...
The Green Brain Project could further our understanding of both artificial intelligence and the neuroscientific underpinnings of animal cognition. But also, along with the National Science Foundation-funded Robobees project (led by Harvard University), the advent of an artificial pollinator could provide a solution (either temporarily or permanently) to the problem of dwindling honey bee populations — an organism that's currently dealing with the devastating effects of colony collapse disorder. In fact, the artificial honey bee may be the first of many robots we introduce into the environment to make up for the current era of widespread extinctions.
BUT STILL. How long until we're fighting off GIANT SPACE HORNETS?


OUR LASERS ARE VASTLY UNDERPOWERED FOR THIS KIND OF THREAT!

Full article.


Monday, October 1, 2012

AN ILL-CONCEIVED, SPACEY NEW SPACE OPERA IDEA

IN A FAR CORNER OF THE PASTICHE-VERSE (B-GRADE AND EXPLOITATION MOVIES OF THE 60s, 70s, AND 80s...AND ANYTHING STARRING THE HOFF, PLUS COMIC BOOKS, AND OTHER JUNK THAT CAN BE SQUISHED INTO A NEW X-PLORERS SETTING) COMES A BATTLE FOR THE FRONTIER BEYOND INSANITY AND QUESTIONABLE TASTE...



STARRING: NICODEMUS HASSELFURY, EXPELLED SPACE RANGER AND CAD...



COL. ZYGG ZAYNE, CRASHED TEST PILOT, TURNED STARBARIAN OF AXTERNIA,...


AGENT BIKINI BARBARELLI EXPERT IN EXTRASOLAR ESPIONAGE....


ST. VAL HELLYEAH, WARRIOR OF THE FIRST WARP...

AND SPECIAL APPEARANCE BY SONNY CHIBA, AS HIMSELF!


TOGETHER THEY FIGHT FOR FREEDOM AGAINST THE MERCILESS DRUKHAR EMPIRE, LED BY...

KABUKI VADER!


...AND HIS ARMY OF DEMON GLANDROIDS WITH THEIR BURNING BILE BLASTERS!

...BLOODTHRISTY DRUKHAR DOOM SQUADS WITH THEIR INSCRUTO-RAYS!


...AND CRIMINALS OF THE COSMOS, SUCH AS.. 

THIS PAIR OF OMICRON CLASS ASSASSIN ROBOTS, THE BORON BROTHERS...

BEMA, SPACE YETI...


....AND LADY OF THE LASERSNIPER GUILD, ARCTURA LUX!


--NOT TO MENTION A CAST OF ANTISOCIAL ALIEN TYPES:

SPACE RAIDING WARGONS!


KOMODU KHAN AND HIS ARMY OF HUNGRY REPTARNS!



A BATTALION OF XOMBOID NECRON-O-TRONS!
 x 1,000,000,000+

...VALCONI BIRDMEN ABOARD THEIR "FLOCK" OF SPACE RAPTORS!

...AND THE MOST TERRIFYINGLY TENTACULAR OF ALL--MENACING MEDUZHANS!

THESE FAR-OUT, SPACEY ADVENTURES TAKE PLACE IN... 

A GLOBULAR CLUSTER, PARTIALLY POLLUTED WITH BREATHABLE ATMOSPHERES...

...INFESTED WITH NESTS OF GIANT SPACE HORNETS....

...AND TELEPORTING SPACE FORTRESSES!!!


CAN YOU DIG IT?

MORE TO COME!



While the images are just placeholders, I've permission from X-plorers publisher, Brave Halfling to use the game's rules and stats and intend to publish a supplement, using the names and descriptions above. You may use them in your games, but may not use them for profit. Copyright is claimed.