Tuesday November 5, 2013
Tristan Morris of Proxy Army Games contacted me a while back to tell me a story. I won't tell you the whole story, but the upshot is this: they're licensing some Schlock Mercenary characters to include in the future as bonus packs. Those aren't ready yet (I'm in the design loop, so I should know) but other models are.
Their Kickstarter just went live.
Proxy Army is a service that enables you to design and customize tabletop miniatures, and then get them 3D-printed and mailed directly to you. You'll select from among thousands of cataloged parts--torsos, weapons, limbs, equipment, mutations, and powers--and clip together just about any miniature you can imagine.
Maybe you want your RPG character rendered exactly as equipped and statted out, or maybe you're just hankering to paint up a platoon of custom-equipped, space-borne SWAT folk. And hey, if that's how your game is rolling you may want Tagon, Schlock and Kevyn in that mix.
I'm excited to see how their Kickstarter does, and I look forward to my involvement in the design process for the Schlock Mercenary minis. I'll definitely be picking up a few of these. I don't have enough on my painting table right now. There is still empty space for paint pots.
Tuesday November 5, 2013
Free Birds isn't nearly as bad as I expected it to be. I laughed lots of times!
Also, it gave me hope that we'd get another strong animation studio in the field. The director is a Pixar veteran, and the animation had character.
That said, a strong script was wrapped around an uninteresting premise, and much of the footwork in the plot was comprised of dance steps we've seen before in other, better films. Should I complain about originality, or a lack thereof? Kids who haven't yet been immunized with the Pixar library or How to Train Your Dragon will likely enjoy this film just fine. Jaded adults who have seen lots of animated films will likely look at Free Birds with clinical interest, indicating on their mental clipboards where the formulae show through.
The best part of the show, for me at least, was George Takei as the voice of the time machine. Second best? The fluff-off between a pair of buff, male turkeys. Very well-done. As I said above, this film gives me hope that we'll see great movies from this group in the future. They need to start with great stories, though. This one wasn't that.
Free Birds didn't disappoint, but certainly wasn't awesome. As of this writing it comes in at #23, adding to the unusually shallow mid-field I've had this year.
Monday November 4, 2013
Saturday, November 2nd, Sandra and a dozen volunteers shifted about ten tons of material from the two Hypernode Media storage units into the new Hypernode Media Warehouse and Office Space. (It needs a better name, yes. Sandra is on that.)
What this means is that as of right now our shipping system is broken. Like a car in the yard, it's up on blocks and the engine is dangling precariously from an a-frame and a winch. This week Sandra will be putting new wheels on it, dropping in the rebuilt engine, ripping out those busted-up seats with the bead covers, and this metaphor has kind of gotten away from me.
Sandra needs to hustle, because on November 11th we'll be opening pre-orders for the Schlock Mercenary 2014 Calendar.
It's a gorgeous calendar, easily my favorite of the three we've done so far. Note, however, that there will not be as many sketch editions as there have been in past years. If you have your heart set on one, you should pencil something into your current calendar for November 11th.
Will we have a Warehouse-Warming sale at the same time? We may. We're still waiting on the leather bucket seats from the broken metaphor. Watch this space.
Monday November 4, 2013
I saw Ender's Game on Friday, courtesy of my friend Rodney and some of our mutual friends in the IT field. The most uncomfortable part of the show was the tech presentation at the front of it. I remember doing those in front of an audience of people who would much rather just watch the trailers. I'm glad that's not my job anymore.
The film itself was gorgeous, emotionally-charged, and told the story well. I had fun, but the movie definitely did not live up to the expectations the book set for it.
It was a solid film: Harrison Ford chewed the scenery, and the rest of the cast chewed back. The young man who played Bonzo was convincingly frightening, and the special effects were gorgeous. For all that, however, the movie just can't be to movie-goers what the book was to readers. Still, it was a very moving story, and while it fell short of impossible expectations, it easily cleared my threshold of disappointment. Ender's Game comes in at #15 for me this year, just shy of the Threshold of Awesome.
I have some thoughts on where it fell short for me. Battle School went by too fast, and the final scenes of discovery and connection weren't well enough supported by earlier material to pack the punch they needed to. Okay, I have a lot more thoughts than those. I suspect thousands of fans of the novel will argue for tens of thousands of hours about how the screenplay could have been better written, and that's fine. If there's one thing SF/F fans love to do it's discuss these kinds of things at great length.
Should you see it? Indulge me for a moment as I address the elephant in the room.
Unless you've been living in a vacuum, you know that there are people boycotting the film in protest of Orson Scott Card's very public political positions. There are also people seeing it as a show of support. It's been pointed out that Card is not in for producer money--he got paid when the option was exercised, and won't see more money regardless of how well the film does. On the other hand, judging by Ender's Game's position on The New York Times Bestseller list (#1 on November 10th for mass-market paperback) this movie has sold some books, and those will cut Card some royalty checks.
Here's my take: If going to the movie will make you angry at Orson Scott Card, you should not see the movie.
I have good friends on both sides and on multiple angles in this particular debate. I go to movies because I hope to enjoy them. My only regret in seeing the film is that I know a few of my friends will feel personally hurt that I went. Of course, I also have friends who are dismayed by the gusto with which I consume the flesh of mistreated animals, and that doesn't keep me from enjoying tenderloin in my breakfast wrap.
I went because I hoped to have fun, and I was very interested to see whether or not a project that has spent fifteen years in movie development purgatory could emerge as a successful piece of cinema. And frankly, it fell short of that. Was it good? Yes. But I don't think it succeeded.
Moderator Note regarding the comments section: Other forums have seen plenty of writing about Orson Scott Card's polarizing political statements. While I'm sure many of you have things to say in that regard, let's limit our discussion to what went right and what went wrong with the movie. I think that will be more fun.
Monday October 28, 2013
Last year at about this time some friends and I released a collection of sci-fi-horror stories with a bit of Lovecraftian flavor to them. My own contribution, "Flight of the Runewright," was quite popular.
This year that same group of friends, plus some newcomers, has turned Space Eldritch II: The Haunted Stars loose upon the world. We hope you enjoy it.
I've only read a couple of the stories, but they were both suitably horrific -- good writing, good storytelling, horrible... um... things.
The anthology closes with my novella, "Fall of the Runewrought," which is set in the same universe as "Flight of the Runewright," but you don't need to have read the first story to love the second. I'm quite pleased with how it turned out, and my early readers* have been as well.
Both titles are available from Amazon and from Smashwords. Here are links!
There is no print edition for this newest volume yet, but I'm sure that's coming.
Lots of people ask me where they should buy my stuff so that I make the most money. There are two answers:
1) Buy from whichever bookseller makes you the happiest, and the most likely to actually read the book.
2) For this volume? Amazon, through the links I've provided. But don't let that stop you from using Smashwords if that's where you want to shop.
I unashamedly adore the above cover, which was lovingly rendered by my friend Carter Reid. I have a poster of his first Space Eldritch cover (pictured to the left, and which I really do need to get framed) and I suspect posters for this cover will begin to circulate sometime in Februrary, likely at the Life, The Universe, and Everything symposium in Provo, Utah.
(*Note: Okay, one of my beta readers, an author for whom I have great respect, said, and I paraphrase, "quit screwing around with novellas, turn this into a novel, and send it to my agent." So there's that.)