Archive

Archive for August, 2011

Eclipse Phase: Panopticon & Broken Time Blues Go Live

August 17th, 2011 No comments
Panopticon cover

Eclipse Phase: Panopticon. Is that a monkey & an octopus in a pit fight? You bet your sweet ass it is, paatno-san.

The new Eclipse Phase hardcover, Panopticon: A Focused Eye on Transhumanity, Vol. I, went live for PDF sales on DriveThruRPG.net today. It’s available as both a standalone PDF and a Creative Commons-licensed hack pack so that players & GMs can mash up the art for their own use.

Physical copies of Panopticon will be available in  gaming stores (at least in the U.S.) on August 31. Support your FLGS! But if you just can’t wait that long, or don’t have a game store that stocks Eclipse Phase, it’s also available through Indie Press Revolution.

Panopticon features new material on uplifted animals, ubiquitous surveillance, and space habitats (the chapter I co-authored with Justin Kugler). Along with beautiful art and detailed setting information, it’s packed with new morphs, new gear, and new mechanics of use to both players and GMs. This is a great book to own if you’re into the high tech dungeon crawl or political aspects of the game, and the chapter on sentient animals is essential reading if your campaign involves uplifts. And the opening story, El Destino Verde, also written by me, ain’t too shabby, either… in my entirely humble opinion.

# # #

Broken Time Blues cover art

Broken Time Blues: Fantastic Tales in the Roaring Twenties

Meanwhile, on the fiction front, my story Der Graue Engel appears in Broken Time Blues: Fantastic Tales in the Roaring ’20s. It’s got a little bit of Fritz Lang, a little bit of Cabaret, and a little bit of LeGuin’s Hainish Cycle, all turned loose in a Weimar Germany that’s about to hit the skids big time. I can’t wait to get my hands on the book myself, because it’s also got stories by three of my Clarion West 2010 classmates — Frank Ard, John Remy, and Andrew Romine — as well as by Paizo’s fiction editor, the estimable James Sutter. Keen-as-hell art by Galen Dara ices the cake. Our editors, Jaym Gates and Erika Holt, themed their last anthology, Rigor Amortis, around zombie erotica, so I highly doubt they pulled any punches on this one.

All right, enough marketing. I’ve got another chapter of Eclipse Phase: Rimward to polish off tonight…

NPR’s Top 100 Sci-Fi Novels Ever

August 11th, 2011 2 comments
asimovfoundation

I really should read more Asimov. And Bradbury. And... yeah, you get the idea.

Locus Magazine reported on Twitter that NPR had done a listener poll asking people to nominate and rank the best 100 SF books of all time. Of course, this makes it a popularity content, but the 60,000 respondents were enough to represent an interesting sample size.

Here’s what they picked.

No huge surprises, although I was disappointed to see Ender’s Game, a book I enjoyed but feel is overrated, in the #3 spot. I was also surprised that Neal Stephenson’s books didn’t rank higher, and that Neuromancer, a pretty important book even in a post-VR world, didn’t make the top ten.

That said, this inspired me to collate (following NPR listeners’ rankings) my…

List of Important Fantasy & SF Books I Still Need to Read
(According to NPR Readers, Who May or May Not Be Trustworthy)

  1. The Foundation Trilogy, Asimov
  2. American Gods, Gaiman
  3. I, Robot, Asmiov
  4. The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood
  5. The Martian Chronicles, Bradbury
  6. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Heinlein
  7. The Mists of Avalon, Bradley
  8. The Once & Future King, White
  9. Childhood’s End, Clarke
  10. Cryptonomicon, Stephenson
  11. World War Z, Brooks
  12. The Last Unicorn, Beagle
  13. The Forever War, Haldeman
  14. Small Gods, Pratchett
  15. The Mote in God’s Eye, Niven/Pournelle
  16. The Road, McCarthy
  17. Old Man’s War, Scalzi
  18. The Dispossessed, LeGuin (just started reading this one a few days ago, actually)
  19. Something Wicked This Way Comes, Bradbury
  20. The Culture Series, Banks
  21. The Illustrated Man, Bradbury
  22. Red Mars, Robinson
  23. Doomsday Book, Willis
  24. Perdido Street Station, Mieville

But it shouldn’t surprise anyone to hear that I’ve got about two dozen books queued up on my shelf that I should probably get to before I run out & buy these…

…and a fine Gen Con was had by all!

August 10th, 2011 3 comments
Panopticon cover

"Two uplift enter, one uplift resleeve!"

Thing with Gen Con: it’s always been too damned short. When I was a kid, it always seemed like Sunday came too soon. And now that I’m going as a game designer, ironically, it seems even shorter (you’d think all that work would make it seem longer, but no!). I didn’t see even half of the people or things I wanted to, but it was a blast all the same.

The biggest news from my court was the release of the latest Eclipse Phase hardcover, Panopticon: A Focused Eye on Transhumanity, Vol. I. We had pre-release copies of the book on sale in the Posthuman Studios booth for those lucky enough to be at Gen Con.

Like every Eclipse Phase book to date, it’s gorgeous, with yet another Stephan MARTINIÈRE cover icing the cake (I’ll capitalize his last name, because he’s French, and that’s how they roll). The writing ain’t too shabby, either, although as co-author of the section on space habitats, I’m clearly biased. The other two sections of the book deal with uplifted animals and ubiquitous surveillance. No street date yet, but EP fans may be assured that we’ve delivered the goods on this one. Can’t wait to see the forum threads on how people use these imaginings in actual play!

ENnie 2011

Posthuman be bringin' home ENnies.

I also finally got my hands on a physical copy of Gatecrashing, and it, too, is pretty darned sweet. And Posthuman won another Gold ENnie, this one for Continuity, Marc & Leah Huete’s excellent scenario from last year’s Gen Con. Congrats to them on taking one of Eclipse Phase’s core concepts — body-hopping — and building an intense scenario around it.

Other acquisitions this year included one of Dragonchow’s beautifully made limited edition Eclipse Phase dice bags; Pathfinder: Ultimate Combat (congrats to Jason & team on another great rulebook); and, from the ENnies benefit auction, a bundle of everything currently available for the Dragon Age tabletop RPG. I have to admit I’m always suspicious of RPGs licensed from a big non-tabletop RPG product, but if you look at the names in the credits (Pramas, Kenson, Kulp, Tidball, to name several), it’s clear Green Ronin wasn’t relying on a franchise name to carry this line.

Meanwhile, my girlfriend grabbed a copy of Don’t Rest Your Head RPG and its companion volume Don’t Lose Your Mind and is threatening to run it, a development I’d welcome. We gave this game a spin at Paizo Con back in June, and it’s a great little design.

Additional awesome things I did or saw, in no particular order…

Giant Robo Rally

Giant Roborally with Mindstorm Robots. Squeee!

Some brilliant genius/maniacs who apparently live at the sweet spot between Maker Fair projects and extreme geek love brought a giant Roborally board to the con and had huge Lego Mindstorm robots tooling around it. I was running by on my way to the Posthuman booth when I spotted it, but Father Fletch (of PAX Tabletop Enforcer fame) was nice enough to let me borrow his photo of it, so that y’all may know this awesomeness wasn’t just something I hallucinated after 3 days of Gen Con sleep dep.

I ran a lot of Eclipse Phase, as Posthuman was short on GMs this year. Last year I spent almost all of my time in the booth, pitching the books, so it was great to get out and game with the fans. I mostly ran Xenovore, the fan-inspired scenario I wrote and ran at East Coast cons earlier this year. Hopefully I’ll get it published some time soon.

Jesus Store

Welcome to Indianapolis, Land of Jesus Stores & Ranch Dressing

And I pitched a board game designed by Nathaniel Dean & I. Far too early to talk about what the project is, but we felt the pitch went well. It was my first experience pitching a new game of my own to a serious potential publisher, and I think my co-designer and I took a lot away from the experience.

On Saturday, advance copies of Degenesis showed up at the Posthuman booth. Gorgeous art; weird, weird setting. I was joking with booth visitors that we only do RPGs about the end of the world. Davidson & Seth, the line developers, took a really tough translation project and made it sing. Unfortunately, I forgot my copy at the booth when I rushed off to the airport, so I’ll have to wait to read it!

Some people say Gen Con leaves them exhausted. True for me, physically, but on a creative level, I find it incredibly energizing. I went home very much revved up for another year of writin’ and schemin’.