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: 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. 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 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?