Under the Geek Tree 2017

The rocketship-spangled skirt of the Geek Tree is once again covered in geeky Christmas and birthday presents.

Books

I got three books off of my winter reading listArcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson (Amazon), Artemis by Andy Weir (Amazon), and The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley (Amazon).

Artemis tempted me greatly, but I decided to focus on reading the novella “Edgedancer” from Arcanum Unbounded, mostly because I’m listening to Sanderson’s Oathbringer, and “Edgedancer” offers some helpful background information for that novel.

Even without reading the other books, I can tell you the best one I got this Christmas was Berkley Breathed’s Bloom County Episode XI: A New Hope (Amazon). The book collects Breathed’s 2015-16 run of the resurrected Bloom County and it’s simply awesome. The comic is every bit as good as it was in 1989 and exactly what the world needs given the current political climate. Bloom County played a huge role in the teenaged me’s world view … having it back is like a dear friend returning from the dead.

Camping

The Outdoor Geek Gear Closet will soon include a battery recharger for my essential electronics (namely my phone and watch), a water filtration unit, and a metal spork (the last of which replaces the two plastic sporks I shattered while camping).

Roleplaying Games

Blades in the Dark, a role-playing game about thieves trying to stay alive in an industrial fantasy city, was high on my wish list, and I’m super happy I received it for my birthday. Now I just need to convince a few friends to play it with me. Another RPG birthday present is the Companion Guide for Deadlands: Hell on Earth. It’s a gonzo source book for a gonzo setting: imagine a post-apocoylptic western with ghost-infused nuclear bombs, and you start to get the idea of what this book is about. I also got How to Draw Fantasy Art & RPG Mapsby Jared Blando. It’s packed with practical advice on drawing overland maps; I plan on taking some time over Christmas break to put it to good use.

Card Games

The card game version of Akrham Horror and the back-stabby game Cutthroat Caverns are both nestled under the Geek Tree. Akrham Horror, a “living card game” by Fantasy Flight Games, can be played with one-to-two players. Paging through the manual it looks like it’s got all the flavor of the original Akrham Horror, but in a more manageable format. Cutthroat Caverns was a surprise gift from one of the guys in my gaming group — it’s all about a band of adventurers fighting their way to the treasure deep in a cavern … and then betraying each other at the end. It’s collaborative-until-it’s-not approach sounds like fun.

Ornaments

The Geek Tree’s constellation of ornaments grew again this year with three “Storyteller” ornaments from Hallmark: The Death Star, the X-Wing, and Darth Vader’s TIE Advanced Fighter. These are far, far cooler than I expected. To start, the Death Star glows with LED-light, slowly shifting colors as it does so. The X-Wing’s cockpit does the same. (the TIE Fighter isn’t here yet, but I expect it will be similar). The coolest part though is how the ornaments interact: if you fire off one of them, all three respond by recreating scenes from Star Wars: Episode IV.

Other geeky ornaments include my first-ever Firefly ornament: the “Reavers” version of the Serenity ship (as seen in the Serenity movie). The hunt for the Serenity herself continues, but this is an excellent addition to the Geek Tree. There’s also an X-Files ornament featuring Mulder and Scully; I got goosebumps when I pressed the ornament’s button and the series’ theme song played. I also snagged a Ripley-in-cargo-lifter from the movie Aliens, which is a nice addition to my growing Alien/Aliens collection. Finally there was the U.S.S. Franklin, this year’s Star Trekornament. It’s a nice sculpt and lights up prettily, but it can’t compete with the “Storyteller” Star Wars ornaments.

Movies

Two new Marvel movies joined our collection: Spider-man: Homecoming and Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. While not a great double-header on their own, a Civil War/Homecoming match up sounds grand, as does Guardians vol. 1/Guardians vol. 2.

And the rest

My parents got me the Sanctum Sanctorum LEGO set from Doctor Strange. Naturally I’m planning on assembling it during one of the aforementioned double-headers. I also got a cool 3D planetscape blanket; it normally looks like a 2D scene of different three-color planets, but when you where 3D glasses, it pop out into an extra dimension. It’s nifty; I don’t know where I’ll use it, but I’m sure I’ll find a place. At the very least it’d make for a great alternative Geek Tree skirt.

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