Sunday April 30, 2017
Book 17: A Little Immortality — Part I

Pre-Order Prints

We have some new posters and prints available, and they’re gorgeous. Before I start in with the images, let me start the clock running. The Eina-Afa and Ships-to-Scale posters are going to be limited runs, so if you want them, you need to pre-order them this week.

We’ll print more than we need to fill the orders, but because of their 18″ x 24″ format we won’t be doing a huge run.

Image time! Here are the 11″ x 14″ the travel posters¹: the Planet Mercenary project has made some of the locations in the Schlock Mercenary universe feel so much like real places we figured we’d extend the illusion even further with a bit of sloganizing.
The images above were created by Bogdan Bungardean, who did a lot of the interior work on Planet Mercenary. The travel posters are $5.00 each, but if you order all three, it’s just $10. They’re each  11″ x 14″, a perfect fit for standard frames you can find in walled markets, targets of opportunity, and deep jungles.
Bogdan also did one of my very favorite pieces in the book, an illustration of one of Eina-Aafa’s vertical hurricanes. This one’s 18″ x 24″
The poster has the logo and the slogan down in the white-space, so if you want to crop those and frame the image without them, you can do that. It’ll mean a non-standard frame size, of course, but it’ll look really nice on your wall.
Finally,  starshipwright Jeff Zugale assembled his Planet Mercenary ship designs into a catalog poster displaying the ships to scale².
These are the same vessels that will appear on the Planet Mercenary Game Chief screen, but this is an 18″ x 24″ poster. You can pre-order it here.
Here’s a link to all our posters and prints, so you can see what’s available.
As I said at the top, the Eina Afa and Ships to Scale poster are both pre-orders, and will be a limited run. We’ll hold pre-orders for a week, then place our order with the printer. They’ll likely ship in about two weeks.

¹ I had some Star Wars travel postcards, which I think I got back in 1993. I liked them, but I found myself wishing I’d spent extra and made the space for the posters, which they also sold. Is this project inspired by that? Of course it is. 

² There are three scales. If you look closely, you’ll see that each section of the poster includes a shrink-box of the previous section. This was the only way to show a three-meter vehicle and an eight-kilometer Oafan cargo lifter on the same sheet of paper. 


Ghost in the Shell

For me, Ghost in the Shell was big-budget ‘meh.’ I liked it okay, but it didn’t clear my Threshold of Awesome despite some amazing story telling.

I think the best part of Ghost in the Shell is the implicit question, “what is truth,” in a society heavily overpainted with augmented reality. We could have hours of discussions about the issues that arise when two people look at the same thing, but see different things, and how this conceit—conflicting augmented realities—is simply an exaggeration of how real humans differently perceive the world we live in.

We can have those discussions without the film, of course, and it might be easier to do so, because most discussions spawned by the actual film will necessarily focus on why Scarlett Johannson wasn’t the right person for the part.

For me, her mainstream Hollywood looks (and race, yes) were distracting and alien, and in a way that kept pushing me out of the story. There are better ways to say “this person doesn’t fit.”

I recently re-watched Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, and loved the way some of the big scenes were presented, with slo-mo, extreme slo-mo, and odd perspective cuts, mixed in with real-time action. These methods showed me how the characters felt about the mess they were in while simultaneously delivering some stunning visuals. Compare this to shaky-cam in the Transformers franchise, which is deployed as a shortcut, telling the audience that their own confusion is what the characters are feeling.

In short, “show, don’t tell.” Wherever possible, use the full suite of cinematographical tools to communicate nuances of story, rather than taking shortcuts.

That’s why I think Scarjo was the wrong pick for Ghost in the Shell. Her race and familiar looks are like shaky-cam, and will prevent many audience members from enjoying the story for having been pushed away from it. There are far better ways to say “this character feels out of place and alone,” and the filmmakers aptly demonstrated the skill necessary to make any of those work. I wish they had been given the chance.


Seventy Maxims, Maximally Available

Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries is now available.

At this time, the book is only available from the Planet Mercenary backerkit page. The Planet Mercenary RPG is not yet shipping, so if you want your Seventy Maxims book to ship immediately, make sure it’s the only thing you put in your cart.

There are two editions, which we’re calling “Pristine” and “Defaced.” Cover-compareThey are both in-universe artifacts: the pristine version is one of the thousands of copies of the Seventy Maxims book that the average connoisseur of 31st century printed collectibles might find themselves fortunate enough to acquire; the defaced version is the copy that CDS Sergeant Edwards¹ handed to Private Karl Tagon on March 1st, 3035.

Karl’s book has some mileage on it. He made notes on the pages, and on January 28th, 3093, handed it off to his son, Captain Kaff Tagon, who had it for six years, making his own notes. He gifted it to Captain Alexia Murtaugh in 3099, and she added her notes. When Murtaugh was injured in early 3100 Sergeant Schlock went through her stuff, and borrowed the book. He found a felt-tip pen, too, and treated the existing notes as permission to deploy it.

The pages of the two books look quite a bit different.




Both books have scholarly² commentary at the bottom of each maxim’s page, and and the scholars do not always agree with the sentiment of the source material.

This book took a lot more work than we thought it would, but based on the response from people who’ve already gotten their copies, all that work was worth it.


¹ Sergeant Edwards, later Banneret Commodore Edwards of the Continuance Fleet, does not appear in the comic strip anywhere. Maybe someday I’ll tell his full story. 

² The scholars in question are all me. I had far too much fun critically pontificating on my own writing.