Friday, July 30, 2010

A few sci-fi links for inspiration (or diversion)

Here's a few fun little items I've stumbled upon in the past week.

This morning I learned that Triceratops doesn't exist--or better put--never did. While doing "research" I discovered this impressive shrine to Dino Riders! Seriously, what's not to love here? We should all be so lucky to have a therapod with thermo-beam eye sockets. But like all things in life, it just takes a little moola to make things happen.

Secondly, I've been enjoying this blog Beam Me Up which has some great posts about space news, science fiction, and more. They have a podcast channel now, but I've not had opportunity to listen.

Finally, a quick note about a book that I began paging through up on a whim last winter at a book store in Minneapolis called "Boilerplate History's Mechanical Marvel".
The book is written as a historical nonfiction account of our first robot citizen--who you of course all remember--that fought in the Spanish American War along side Teddy Roosevelt (and had many other adventures). It's a WONDERFUL idea, deftly executed and imbued with incredible"photos" and paintings. It's a true labor of love and a real gem for lovers of both robots and those Time-Life style of books that sadly seem to have gone the way of the triceratops.

My wife was so amused by the idea, and my drooling over the pages, that she bought it for me. Well, J.J. Abrams must have had a similar experience because he's now making a movie about the lovable automaton.

Though technically this wasn't Boilerplate's first affair with the silver screen. If I get the chance, I'll upload some images of my copy this weekend.

Until then, Expiscor Eternus!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Spacegirl is taking the Interwebs by storm!

The fantastic single-panel Spacegirl web comic by Travis Charest is getting a lot of love online (props to Concept Ships for the heads up). Charest is a phenomenal artist and illustrator with a real pulptastic/gonzo-go-for-it style meets hard edge sci-fi. He's definitely no stranger to the genre, with titles like Star Wars, Star Trek, Green Lantern, and more under his belt.

It's completely ridiculous how awesome these are and how unabashedly fanboy-in-love I am over them. Feast your eyes on few choice selections:

Here's a few color selections...

Seriously, LOOK at the glass on Spacegirl's helmet. That's freakin' crazy!!! Supposedly there was a first volume of Spacegirl printed, but I've not been able to track it down. I'd give my first clone to have it though.

So now that you've seen it, the question is, what are you still doing here? Hurry over to Charest's blog and follow Spacegirl's latest adventures!


UPDATE: This link is actually Charest's Spacegirl companion blog, the link above has been corrected to go to the Spacegirl web series link. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Random Space Finds #24, Book'em Dano Edition

Floating flotsam and jetsam, tumbling slowly in the void (1d12):
  1. Case of a dozen button-sized spy cameras (wireless transmitter range up to 100 meters)
  2. Four dozen canisters (4 liters each) of anti-traction gel
  3. Cornershot accessory for laser rifle
  4. Handheld breathalyzer unit
  5. LED stun light also known as a "puke light" (stun or poison save required for target)
  6. Hyperstasis tube containing one sleeping narc who was on her/his way to witness protection, is wanted by authorities and gangsters alike
  7. Carton of six magnetic homing devices, 300 km range
  8. Beam-deflecting vest
  9. Pair of 17th Century manacles and iron mask, used
  10. Three anti-personnel capture nets (each capsule fires a single net big enough to down a 2 meter humanoid)
  11. Sargent Sidrone's Beatcop Rations(1d4) 1-Cup'a joe pill, one cream, one sugar; 2-jelly filled donut fast-acting gel cap, 3-Arcturian bear claw tablet, 4-Pepto pellet
  12. Paper shredder

Monday, July 19, 2010

Random Space Finds #23

Floating flotsam and jetsam, tumbling slowly in the void (1d10):
  1. 50 cases of loaded casino dice
  2. 10-gallon Stetson, with writing on inside band, "Warning: the owner of this hat always comes looking for it."
  3. 4,000 cases of ShamWow!™ towels
  4. Wrecking ball and rig, pin up girl painted on one side
  5. Utility belt
  6. Intentionally misplaced trade route navigation buoy
  7. Four pairs of in-line rocket skates
  8. 22,010 tons of glittery paint (1d4) 1-Precious Pink! 2-Ruby Red! 3-Purple Passion! 4-Rainbow-rama!
  9. A mink stole, eyes glow when worn, alien whispers heard
  10. Space elevator carbon nanotube ribbon, one end severed

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Far Out Finds: Utilty Belt

A utility belt has compartments in the following sizes and configurations:

Compartment Sizes (for reference)
  • Small (big enough to hold a roll of dental floss or two large marbles)
  • Medium (big enough to hold an X-acto knife or carton of cigarettes)
  • Large (big enough to hold a flare gun)

STEP 1: Compartment Combinations (1d8)
2 small = 1 medium
3.5 small = 1 large
Chart below is generous with sizing
  1. Six small
  2. Four small, one medium
  3. Three small, one large
  4. Two small, one medium, one large
  5. One small, three medium
  6. Two medium, one large 
  7. Three large (third must be in back)
  8. Select any 1-5 but one small compartment is missing 

STEP 2: Contents 1d20
Anything really, but below are some suggestions that you can select from or choose to roll randomly. Be sure to stock compartments with the correct sizes or you risk rolling on the Mishap Chart at bottom. Oh, and you can of course opt to keep as many pouches as you see fit empty until you need them in play.

  1. Matches
  2. Bionic eyeball
  3. Compass
  4. Multi-use tool
  5. Rare Earth magnet
  6. Two vials of liquid (poison, medicine stims, etc.)
  7. Votive candle
  8. Two smoke bombs (explode on contact)
  9. Sewing needle or eyeglass repair kit
  10. Dental floss
  11. Pencil sharpener
  12. Robot restraining bolt
  13. Lucky rabbit's foot
  14. Lighter
  15. USB drive
  16. Gas pellets
  17. Woodwind reeds
  18. Pocket lint
  19. Power crystal
  20. Flavor crystal gum or breath mints

  1. One grenade
  2. Two clips of ammo
  3. Bag of marbles or jacks (but not both)
  4. Nutri-ration bar
  5. Pack of cigarettes
  6. 35 meters of grapnel wire
  7. Hypodermic needle kit
  8. Lucky flask
  9. Pack of cards
  10. Infravision glasses
  11. Lockpick tools
  12. Mini ARC reactor (single-game use only)
  13. Rebreather mouthpiece
  14. Memory neurolizer
  15. Communicator
  16. Detonator with timer
  17. Discarded cellophane wrapper
  18. Two flat shuriken
  19. Small flashlight/torch
  20. Two roach motels/one D-CON rat bait

  1. Flare gun
  2. One-way grapnel
  3. Two-way zipline grapnel (back compartment only)
  4. Pair of tube socks
  5. Two mini-boomerangs
  6. Medium flashlight/torch
  7. Sub sandwich
  8. Diving goggles
  9. Universal remote
  10. Single brick of plastique
  11. Data pad with port cable (.3 meter cable)
  12. Surgical tools
  13. Universal translator
  14. DNA sampling kit
  15. Holy relic or totem
  16. Belt hoops for two 12 cm stakes
  17. 80 meters of grapnel cabling
  18. Single adult diaper
  19. Neuro-wetwire skull cap
  20. Pair of boot crampons

Select appropriate situation and roll for mishap on 1d4.

Too many undersized objects in an oversized compartment
  1. cannot free objects for this round (too full or object is "stuck at the bottom" of a large compartment)
  2. opening causes overstuffed objects to tumble to ground, lose initiative this round
  3. same as 2 but enemies roll to see if you are detected
  4. same as 2 and 3 but objects cause tear in compartment making it useless

Oversized object(s) in compartment
  1. object tears whole in bottom immediately, rendering compartment useless
  2. opening causes oversized objects to tumble to ground, lose initiative this round
  3. same as 2 but enemies roll to see if you are detected
  4. same as 2 and 3 but objects cause tear in compartment making it useless
 Comingled objects in compartment
  1. wrong object selected, improvise or miss turn
  2. wrong object selected, miss turn, improvise not allowed
  3. correct object selected, drop second object of GM's choice
  4. correct object selected, take no penalty


Friday, July 16, 2010

Hardcover Flash Gordon Anthologies Coming in August and December!

Dark Horse Comics is releasing its first FULL COLOR hardcover anthology of vintage Flash Gordon comics, Flash Gordon Comic Book Archive 1, on August 11! That's less than a month away people!! This is great news for pulp and sci-fi fans as these editions include art by classic writers/artists like Jack Lehti, Paul Norris, Frank Thorne, and more. (Thorne also worked on Mighty Samson which is getting it's own anthology in September.)

Here's the cover and some details:
  • Release date: August 11, 2010 
  • Vintage Flash Gordon from 1947 through 1953
  • Full color,
  • 312 pages
  • Hardcover
  • 6 5/8" x 10 3/16"
You can can also pre-order the book from Amazon.

The second installment is scheduled at the tail-end of December (really, after Christmas?!). Book two is the one that's probably going to ring familiar with people--it sports quite the creator pedigree: Al Williamson, Archie Goodwin, Gil Kane, and Mac Raboy. The look of these hearkens back to Flash's roots in the 1930s and Williamson's broad appeal instigated a bit of a resurgence of interest in the character.

Here's the cover and lowdown on Volume 2:
  • Release date: December 29, 2010
  • King Comics issues from 1966+
  • Full color
  • 312 pages
  • Hardcover
  • 7" x 10" 
Both books retail for $50, which is steep for any book, so pre-order if you can and get them for around $30.

I've collected several original comics, mainly from the King series over the years and I have to say they are a real treat. We've put them in heavy-duty slip cases and propped them up around our kitchen (which has kind of a retro sci-fi/space theme) along with some of Al's later work with Marvel.

I'm missing several issues, so these new anthologies will be a great way to see the whole series in one book and with a consistent presentation. These babies are going straight to the TOP of my wishlist!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Rebel Alliance should know better than to take the subway!

...but considering the book their fearless leader is reading, that should tell you something...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tangents, Dodges, and Sideways Sojourns for SciFi Settings (d6)

Here's a few adventure hooks--or curveballs, rather--that you can throw into your games for those times player character complacency and carelessness crests and the GM seizes the moment.

1. A found device, weapon, or spaceship awakens to send a signal to mated piece with which it intends to combine. If successful, this process will dramatically alter the object's properties/abilities. Examples include: a spaceship that combines with other technology and takes on new functions; a ring that combines with its twin to give the wearer new-found superpowers--or terrible curse; or your last trip to the starship repair shop included a few "upgrades" only your mechanic knew about, like your ship is actually part of a giant super robot. Or, ya know, it could just be your everyday alien cube seeking its long lost key to unlock a dimensional gate to who-knows where/when in the spacetime pony show.

2. Speaking of inter-dimensional superdickery, the heroes begin inexplicably popping back and forth between locations (local, intergalactic, or otherwise) at inopportune moments by a dimensional portal, disguised as an everyday object. Involuntary teleportation runs unchecked until they figure out what the item is and how to deactivate it. Or worse, how to appease it--as it's actually a sentient lifeform and it's not happy!).

3. Speaking of self-aware, seemingly innocuous space objects--take a natural object in space and bring it to life! An asteroid that's perturbed by an infection of parasitic Earthmen trying to colonize it's backside; a tennis ball-sized, loudmouth of blackhole with an insatiable appetite for densely-packed matter and bad puns; a well-meaning quasar just dying to reveal the secrets of the universe to anyone who will listen, but unintentionally annihilates anything (Chris-Farley-style) in it's output path (Augh! So sorry! Did I blast you just then? I'm such an IDIOT!); or maybe it's fickle photon particles that guide heroes when they need light down a darkened tunnel or concentrate into a laser when they're too close to discovering the ancient crystal that powers them.

4. Mushrooms! Worked in D&D--they're the ultimate psychedelic/weird plot device. Why not make an entire planet of fungus that hates people? Make them glow in the dark and really smelly, per standard cliches. But perhaps space spores piloted by small blue aliens are invading all civilized planets and planting giant mushrooms that churn out billowing toxins to de-terraform your homeworld into something more habitable for themselves.

5. Check your looks in a mirror universe. The heroes find themselves in a world where an enormous, gentle Cthuloid overlord is caretaker to his fanatical human "children" who want to kill everybody who doesn't "love him" (that'd be you and your buddies). Perhaps Emperor Palpatine's efforts to establish the first Galactic Republic are in desperate need of your assistance when a band of imperialist Jedi swine make for a coup d'etat. Or the Atlanteans rise to share their enormous kelp crop only to find to surface dwellers are launching an invasion force and start by drilling into the seabed (don't scoff, it could happen!).  

6. And then there's the everyday, ho-hum, conventional weirdness: the frog plague is really raining hypnotoads; the latest mutagenic radiation/biologic agent is spread by computer virus or hilarious viral YouTube video (don't ask me how that works--it's sci-fi!); or the fabric of Vulcan society breaks down and they launch a massive, psychic, holy war on all inhabited worlds with greater efficiency and devastation than the Borg. Oh, and Yoda is their president. And when 900 years old Vulcans turn--they all look exactly like him. (Seriously, it makes a lot of sense doesn't it?).

There's some ideas. Now go and be fruitful and multiply your rolls by a factor of 4. I'm exhausted and going to bed!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Random Space Finds #21 (Time Tunnel Edition, 1d10)

Lost curiosities from a bygone age, cavorting clumsily in the aether:
  1. Pedal and propeller-driven, flying bicycle built for two, handlebar-mounting bells for each rider
  2. A half-dozen (1d4) 1) tins of barrel-chest inducing boiled sausage and potato mash for +1 vigorous constitution; 2) jars of delectable anise marmalade for infravision in pitch-dark predicaments; 3) packages of ginger biscuits for pleasing disagreeable alien-types +1d6 success; 4) flasks of Haskell's Heartening Moonwater (space gin) for +1d6 HP replenished
  3. A hand-crank, radiologic oscilloscope with telescoping triangulation node and leather-bound grip
  4. Two samples of Dr. Velmondt Von Veight's Vigorous Vials of De-frightenment, An Ammonium Carbonate Cure and Remedy for Those Overcome by Sudden Astonishment of Otherworldly Bewilderments", one whiff is an instant saving-throw victory against stun, fear, or fault by insanity! 
  5. Indestructible pith helmet, former proprietor still occupying (note: only wearer's cranial case is rendered unsmirchable when donned)
  6. Personal diary containing maps, diagrams, notes, and incredulous claims about a "hidden world" beneath the geologic outer crust--also includes a smattering of guttural phrases in a tongue known as "Accala"
  7. Cavoritic aethysphere, gravity deflecting panels still operational, bar fully stocked
  8. One asbestos petticoat, +2 protection vs. all attacks by heat and flame
  9. 2.5 ounce tin of Commodore Pennington's Mustachioed Gentleman's Wax
  10. Handkerchief, hand-stitched initials: HGW, laden with a map made of lip-smacked kisses that can only be seen by moonlight (any olde moon will do)

At war with the Trojan army

In the last 2 weeks my computer has been besieged by trojan viruses--about 4 of them. I've slowly been blasting them to atoms using every antivirus program I can get my hands on. The result has been fewer posts than usual for all three blogs. My computer is finally showing signs of recovery and regular posting will resume once I get through a backlog of other work and correspondence.

I also realized I'd skipped a Random Space Finds--so you'll see a post or two out of order. Perhaps it's time for time-travel themed RSF.....

Expiscor Eternus!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Random Space Finds #22 (July 1d4th Edition!)

Floating flotsam and jetsam, tumbling slowly in the void (1d4):
  1. LGM-30 Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missle with "Red Betty" painted on the side
  2. Zaphod for President! campaign button
  3. Bayonet with laser rifle attachment
  4. Pocket edition of the US Constitution, translated in 1,776 alien languages
Have a Happy and Safe Fourth! 

Friday, July 2, 2010

Speaking of books--here are some classic sci-fi covers!

Find more at the Flickr SciFi Books picture pool. It's got a healthy mix of fantasy covers as well. If youv'e got a Flickr account they're always taking submissions. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The birthday loot has landed!

So it was my birthday today and I was the lucky recipient of the above swag. The credit goes to my patient and enduring wife who is always happy to indulge my inner-geek. There's lots of reading in my future, and I have my work cut out for me.

Since I'm loaded with gaming stuff, I received a bevy of books to enhance my Jedi mind powers and comic chic--plus some incredible art books, including one on the history of Pixar that is truly amazing.

I'm fortunate to have such an understanding better half!