Reason's Mike Godwin interviews science fiction author Vernor Vinge about the concept of Singularity, the hypothetical transhuman event in which artificial intelligence and technology transform our society beyond recognition. I reviewed Vinge's A Deepness in the Sky in Radio Active #45 and A Fire Upon the Deep in Radio Active #42.
A few years ago, I decided I wanted to try a different kind of role-playing game campaign: a medieval urban fantasy that combined traditional story telling with the sort of open-ended, sandbox-like openness of games like Grand Theft Auto.
The setting would be Obsidian Bay, the homegrown metropolis that my friends and I had spent the last seven years building and using as the base of operations for our Blackrazor Guild campaign. The city had expanded haphazardly to fit the needs of our campaign: new non-player characters arose when some new niche needed filling, or at the service of some ongoing story. Even so, while the city was home to most of the player characters, the lion's share of adventures happened elsewhere, outside the city limits.
Given the history of spider urban legends, this is sure to mutate into its own horrifying story in about, oh, 20 minutes. According to this Associated Press story (which includes a photo of the kid holding up a jar with the drowned spiders in it and quotes from the doctor involved), 9-year-old Jesse Courtney of Albany, Oregon complained of hearing crackling and popping noises in his ear.
A particularly nasty round of family colds sidelines Radio Active for a month, but the show's finally back with an update on Baby Nuke's new love of Cheerios, news of Nuketown's new Top of the Pile comic book review column, a rundown of my wife Sue's favorite crafty podcasts, and news of a new D&D utility for the Mac.
Board games return to the forefront this week as we prepare to play the game of Risk 2210 that got snowed out in March. Risk 2210 is a supercharged version of regular Risk that adds sea and moon colonies,special commander units that allow people to buy and play diplomacy, naval, space, land and nuke themed cards, and is played over the course of five turns. The game's been one of our group favorites since we first playtested it for one of my SCIFI.com reviews, I've already discussed Risk 2210 extensively in a previous column, so I'll refer you there for more Risky goodness.
The Dire Cafe is Uncle Bear's latest experiment in internet technology, offering "social networking for escapist geeks". What's an escapist geek? That's a question that's been debated ad infinitum at Uncle Bear, but the basic definition seems to come down this: escapist geeks are slightly less intense versions of normal geeks.
I'm not sure if that definition will hold up in the long run, but if you like to talk about comics, science fiction, fantasy, horror, movies, or RPGs without having the conversation devolve into mindless fanboy ranting, then you'll probably fit in just fine at the Dire Cafe.
Heroes has continued to impress since returning from its December/January hiatus, consistently delivering episodes that have answered important questions while ratcheting up the serialized tension.
For any other series, last night would have been a season-ending clifhanger of epic proportions. But in an example of why Heroes is such a damn good show, they don't play for the cheap, easy shows that end up stretching out the story's continuum for years on end (like say, LOST). Instead, they take us to the future -- five years into the future -- and show us the consequences of not saving the world.
The book review web site and blog Emerald City is ceasing publication. I'm sad to see it go -- the site featured a wide range of speculative fiction web reviews, and its blog was a useful way to stay up on the scifi literary scene.
Our brave adventurers are back in the dwarven stronghold of Khelez-Mar after nearly being consumed by a duegar-built green slime trap in the Obsidian Maze. The group argued mightily about the retreat, with the dwarves eager to press on and the others stating that a withdrawal to the stronghold was needed to restock and perhaps seek out a trapfinder. In the end, the dwarves reluctantly agreed, with Kull assigned to seek out the potential new recruit at one of the stronghold's taverns.
This Washington Post review of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Children of Hurin opens with this lede:
If anyone still labors under the delusion that J.R.R. Tolkien was a writer of twee fantasies for children, this novel should set them straight. A bleak, darkly beautiful tale played out against the background of the First Age of Tolkien's Middle Earth, The Children of Hurin possesses the mythic resonance and grim sense of inexorable fate found in Greek tragedy.
After reading the Lord of the Rings novels, after seeing the Peter Jackson movies, could anyone -- anyone -- really think that Tolkien's works were "fantasies for children"?