18 May 2015

Luther Arkwright and the Tyrant of New Toronto


The Design Mechanism has released a preview PDF for their forthcoming RuneQuest 6 book, Luther Arkwright: Roleplaying Across the Parallels.  Check it out here (link opens the PDF directly).

This is the basic premise of the setting:
"The Characters are agents of the Valhalla Project, people aware of the existence of the multiverse and possessed of talents and qualities the Valhalla Project needs in its bid to safeguard and preserve the fundamental structure of the parallels. Other forces, principally those known as The Disruptors, seek to destabilise or control the multiverse for their own ends. The Valhalla Project’s agents oppose these plans and frequently work in the shadows, frequently alone, to target Disruptors and ensure that each parallel is free to develop without a malign, external influence."
I’ve only skimmed the preview PDF, but it exudes a strong Moorcock-ish and steampunk-ish vibe.  And the book looks to be loaded with game material that will be helpful for RQ games independent of the Arkwright setting.

But as someone who has spent much of his adult life in Toronto, and continues to do so, I could not help notice that the book’s main scenario is set in a place called “New Toronto.”  New Toronto apparently is located in a parallel universe enduring a horrific ice age following the misuse of terra-forming technology. 

Here is a snippet from page 135:
“Only a few hundred years since the last glaciation, society has already reached an early industrial age with ice-clippers carving paths across the ice from settlement to settlement.
The largest settlement, with over 10,000 people is New Toronto, built on the remains of the Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto megaplex. The settlement’s leader is Mayor Frode, a massively corpulent man, assisted by a clockwork exoskeleton. More and more people flock to New Toronto when word spreads of the available work and relatively plentiful resources.”
Mayor Frode?  Sure, the new ice age is horrible and everything, but another Ford, er, Frode regime in Toronto is just too terrifying to contemplate – even in a fantasy role-playing game!

[Behold, the eyes of pure evil]

03 May 2015

Scientists Dig Tolkien


Did you know:
  1. There is a region in Australia called "Mordor Alkaline Igneous Complex"?
  2. There are a pair of asteroids named "Tolkien" and "Bilbo"?
  3. This is a 900-pound ancient crocodile named "Anthracosuchus balrogus"?
More such info here!

25 April 2015

Book of the New Sun: the television series?


I’ve recently posted links to articles on Gene Wolfe and The Game of Thrones television series.  A good friend of mine (this guy), who is a massive fan of Wolfe’s ‘New Sun’ stories, recently explained to me why The Book of the New Sun would make an amazing GoT-style televisions series.  

Here it is:
I really think it would make a great HBO series! Here's why: 
1. It is completely episodic
2. The characters are amazing:
A giant and his fox-faced companion
The most beautiful woman in the world (until the augmentation-magic wears off)
A resurrected woman who coughs up the lead slugs that were forced down her gullet to sink her body(!).
A robot who has repaired himself with found biological human body parts.
And a professional torturer who turns out to be Jesus, but not before he consumes the flesh of his aristocratic girlfriend and absorbs her memories and personality. And then proceeds to have sex with literally every woman he encounters in the story....and then becomes the king. 
3. The settings are amazing:
Buenos Aires in a million years is quite a different place.
The citadel in the middle of the city is actually a spaceship, but no one realizes it.
The city is surrounded by a mile-high wall to protect it from rampaging giant aquatic aliens who are currently quiescent and laying in wait in the oceans deep.
The mountain ranges to the north (the Andes) have been under the rule of this particular civilization so long that every single one of them has been carved into the likeness of one king or another.
Further north the "rotting jungles that circle the waist word' divide our heroes land from the "Ascians", their sworn enemies and Ascia is the ultimate totalitarian state: people may only speak by quoting from a collection of approved texts. 
4. Mysteries abound:
Is the hero's lover really his grandmother?
Is the injured robot actually from North Korea in our era (not kidding)
Is the giant actually a baby version of the giant evil aquatic aliens?
Is the fox-faced guy actually the giant's homonculus-slave? 
5. And finally, like "Lost"...there are no answers!
Fair enough!  (Although I'm not sure about #5.  Years later, I still get annoyed when I think about "Lost".)

I personally would love to see such a television series.  But I’m not holding my breath…

24 April 2015

Gene Wolfe and The Book of the New Sun

There is an interesting (and thankfully succinct) piece on Gene Wolfe in the current issue of The New Yorker.

I vividly recall reading The Book of the New Sun fifteen years ago.  It is probably the most difficult fantasy series I've ever read.  Yet I enjoyed it thoroughly, and am grateful that I worked my way through the five books (the original tetralogy plus The Urth of the New Sun).

16 April 2015

Class Struggle in Westeros

“Wildlings of the north unite!  You have nothing to lose but your cumbersome furs!”

Okay, here is another short post with a slight political philosophy flavour.  Fans of the Game of Thrones television series (and/or novels) may enjoy reading: “Can Marxist Theory Predict the End of Game of Thrones?”  (Don’t worry, gentle readers, you don’t need to be a Marxist [I’m not] to enjoy it.)

This part struck me as especially quote-worthy: 
Westeros needs capitalists – such as those who frown puritanically at us from Dutch portraits in the 17th century. And they should, as in the Dutch Republic and the English civil war, launch a revolution.
But that can’t happen in the secondary world of fantasy fiction…
There is a reason so much fantasy fiction adopts the conceit of a feudalism that is always in crisis but never overthrown. It forms the ideal landscape in which to dramatise the secret desires of people who live under modern capitalism.
‘Secret desires’ indeed!  (Am I wrong for wishing that I could be Jaqen H'ghar more than any other character in the series?  Ah well, "valar morghulis"…)

15 April 2015

John Rawls the Orc?!?


A somewhat surprising look for the author of the 20th century's most important work in political philosophy, A Theory of Justice.  I guess that behind the 'veil of ignorance' one simply does not know whether one is an orc, troll, elf, dwarf, hobbit, or human...

(Okay, okay, so this guy is not the same person as this guy...)

About Me

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I'm a Canadian philosopher, fantasy gamer, and procrastinator extraordinaire, who divides his time between Milwaukee WI and Toronto ON. I lived in Dublin Ireland 2005-2008, and still miss it very much! At least I still have Guinness.