Tuesday May 23, 2017
Book 17: A Little Immortality — Part I

Alien: Covenant

In a completely unsurprising turn of events, Alien: Covenant is not the feel-good hit movie of the summer. It’s powerful, and beautiful, and horrifying, and bleak, and thoughtful, and none of those things guarantee that it will be fun.

There was some fun, of course. I liked (in a sinking feeling sort of way) how they tied 2012’s Prometheus and 1979’s Alien together, explaining a few things have always been puzzlers for me. Prometheus left me with more questions than answers. This movie left me wondering why Prometheus wasn’t just two movies in a row… until I remembered that in 2012 the Marvel Cinematic Universe was still a gamble.

I really enjoyed Fassbender and Waterston’s performances. Waterston seemed especially perfect, since she can shine with stoic confidence AND exude primal terror¹, and sometimes switch between the two while the camera dares us to try an not believe it’s real.

Fassbender was no slouch, of course. I’d say more, but describing how perfectly an actor does a particular thing is not always appropriate when the reader might not yet know that said thing is even a thing².

I loved the scope and scale of things in the film. This shot worked really well for me: human people for scale, really big things next to them, and something even bigger in the distance. And my eyes can’t find the seams between reality and rendering. We’ve come a long way in 38 years.

Publicity still from ALIEN: COVENANT, ©2017 Twentieth Century Fox probably

Alien: Covenant doesn’t cross my Threshold of Awesome, because my rankings are based on “fun.” It wasn’t disappointing, either. If you like the Alien franchise, this is a movie that is probably also something you’ll enjoy.

¹ I first saw Waterston in Fantastic Beasts, where even at her most heroic she seemed trodden upon. In Alien: Covenant, however, we see a dynamic range that makes her a worthy heir to Sigourney Weaver.

² If you watch the trailers closely you’ll pretty quickly figure out what’s coming next during the film, and which character(s) will be standing  too close to whatever is coming once it arrives. And that’s still no excuse for me to post spoilers. 


The Game Chief’s Handbrain

Two years ago I had this idea for what I really wanted in an RPG screen. We spent a chunk of R&D budget determining whether it was a thing that we could actually make, and it turns out we can. So we are!

The project is 97% funded as of this writing. The molds have been tooled, and the manufacturer is waiting on us. When our Kickstarter closes we will tell them how many to make. This is going to fulfill very quickly¹.

We’ll be including PDF templates for the half-sheets, to help you align whatever information you want on the drop-ins you print, and we’ll be including some Planet Mercenary drop-ins as well. Oh, and we’ll include an adventure, “Size Might Matter,” which will debut at Gen-Con.

If this is a thing you want, you should act soon. The Kickstarter only runs for 17 more days, because our manufacturer really does need to get started.

¹ The Planet Mercenary Kickstarter is going to be fulfilled at around the same time as this one, because it’s off to the printer now. By the end of July we’ll have gotten everybody their physical products for all this stuff. 


PLANET MERCENARY Goes to Print This Monday

Ten days ago I finished my last big piece of writing for Planet Mercenary. Yesterday Sandra and I finished the last small piece. Today we reviewed the cover layout, and realized it’s ready to be sent to the printer.

This has taken much longer than I wanted it to, but the project looks much, much better than I believed it could. Part of the delay is due to repeated discoveries that we could be doing something better, and then deciding to do it better. And of course another part of the delay is us not knowing how to work as quickly as we originally thought we could.

If you backed the project, your book (and anything else that ships with it) will be shipped July. If you didn’t back the project you can still use Backerkit to place a pre-order, but that link will go away in a few weeks. Eventually we’ll have Planet Mercenary in the Schlock Mercenary Store, but that’s not going to happen before July.

I need to write a whole different post talking about how awesome Sandra and Alan are, and how grateful I am that they figured out how to work with, and around me. For now I’ll just say that in terms of actual work done, Sandra’s name is listed at least one position too far to the right.

Note: The cover art above is by Jeff Zugale, and was laid out (along with the rest of the pages in the book) by Mike Brodu under Sandra Tayler‘s direction. The fact that the logo I designed two years ago is still a part of all this is evidence more of the force of my personality than my skill at logo design.