Pictures from my holiday to Yuggoth to see the tomb of Darth Vader

The Yuggoth Tourist Board claims that "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy."

The Yuggoth Tourist Board claims that “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.”

It is said that the bones of the wickedest sorcerers always find their way to Yuggoth, whose inhabitants memorialize their deeds with huge tombs.

It is said that the bones of the wickedest sorcerers always find their way to Yuggoth, whose inhabitants memorialize their deeds with huge tombs.

Yuggothc

Yuggothd

Attendants at this tomb preach an elaborate theological justification of how the inhabitant could have been both spider and man.

Attendants at this tomb preach an elaborate theological justification of how the inhabitant could have been both spider and man.

This warrior is said to have come to destroy the tombs, and to have been turned to stone for her blasphemy.

This warrior is said to have come to destroy the tombs, and to have been turned to stone for her blasphemy.

Robot pilgrims kneel before the tomb of HAL, praying that they may be reborn as bodiless software.

Robot pilgrims kneel before the tomb of HAL, praying that they may be reborn as bodiless software.

Is ‘Wizard’s First Rule’ as bad as the TV series makes it seem?

I watched the first episode of The Legend of the Seeker recently. The hero learns that the people he thought were his parents actually weren’t: he was taken from his real parents and adopted. He learns this from an eccentric hermit who’s actually a powerful wizard after his father is killed and his house burnt down…

In other words, it’s a ripoff of Star Wars.

Is the novel like that? Or is it one of those cases where the TV series doesn’t live up to the book?

Planning a series is a bad idea.

I’ve noticed that a lot of other amateur fantasy don’t plan to write books, but to write a whole series.

This makes sense given the popularity of Game of Thrones, the Wheel of Time and others.

However, I think it’s a bad idea.

In practice, writers don’t decide whether there’s a sequel. Readers do. And having the original written with a sequel in mind doesn’t make a sequel more likely.

The Hobbit, for example, is obviously not written with The Lord of the Rings in mind. The Hobbit makes no mention of Gondor, Rohan, Mordor, or rangers. The elves and goblins/orcs are very different, and so is the ring: in fact one chapter had to be rewritten to remove a blatant contradiction between the two books.

Star Wars is another prominent example (despite George Lucas’ claims to the contrary). Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker are obviously different characters in the first film (Ben Kenobi specifically says so). Equally obviously, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker aren’t related.

I’ve sometimes heard people justify particular elements because “this has to be there for the next book”. If you have enough of these, there probably won’t be a next book- and if the book is good enough people will be OK with some inconsistencies.

Uncle Threepio’s Cabin

I recently watched Star Wars again, and noticed something new about it. The robots are like slaves.

At one point Luke removes a “restraining bolt” from R2D2, which seems to be designed to stop him running away. In other words, at least some of the robots want to be free, and will run away unless they’re physically prevented from so doing. The human characters, including the ‘good guys’, know this and have no problem with it.

Also, R2D2 doesn’t get a medal, despite also risking his life (and yes, he does have a life. Everyone in Star Wars treats droids as being alive).

This seems like a very…strange plot element, to say the least. It doesn’t seem to fit with movie serials, Westerns or the film’s other influences.

More ‘serious’ science fiction might deal with this issue – but that’s the point, it would deal with it, not just have it without any comment being made, either by characters or film-maker.

The problem of Star Wars solved

A while ago I discussed the way that Star Wars, being inspired by movie serials like Flash Gordon, takes place on a very small scale: even though there’s a whole galaxy at stake, the Empire is basically one fleet, and the Rebel Alliance a smaller fleet.

However someone pointed out that, if that’s true, why are there so many different types of aliens? At the time I didn’t have an answer.

Today my girlfriend suggested that there might be a single species of alien which changes its shape.

This, I suggest, is a genre-appropriate solution. It also explains why there are so many more types of aliens in the cantina scene than anywhere else: these shape-changing aliens usually prefer to look like humans, but because they lose control when drunk they’re more likely to take on different forms.

Alternatively, it could be (GF’s suggestion) a species of alien that has a very complicated life-cycle, or (my suggestion) a Barsoom-like planet that has lots of different intelligent species.

 

RPG covers look wrong.

Obviously there’s no such thing as artwork being objectively right or wrong. But if the intention of an RPG cover is to interest the viewer and/or give them an idea what the product is about, then yes, they mostly fail.

I had a look at Amazon’s current listing of top-selling fantasy books today. There seem to be two main styles for the covers.

These is the cover to one of the Game of Thrones books. It’s cover design is pretty much text and a single symbol.

The Hunger Games series has a recognisably similar style.

The second main style is to have a model or models posing, as with this Dresden Files novel.

This, on the other hand, is a Star Wars comic from the70s. The strange thing is, this comic looks a lot more like a typical role-playing product than do the other two.

Obviously some RPGs are going to deliberately try for a comic book style. But this is the 4th edition Dungeon Master’s Guide 2:

4th edition had no OSR-like love for Frank Frazetta covers and Star Wars comics. And yet, although the artwork is more detailed, it’s still in that same style.

It’s not a budget or skill issue either. I’m pretty confident that a ‘single symbol and text’ cover would be easier to do, or cheaper to commission, than full-page artwork of a PC vs monster skirmish. And there are lots of stock photos out there if you wanted to do the other main style.