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Frost Giant

Werthead's page

2,021 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists.

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Krensky wrote:
Werthead wrote:
You really didn't pay attention to either film then, did you?
I paid attention to both films far more than you did, apparently.
That's manifestly false based your comments, but if it makes you feel like one of the cool nerds to hate them for things that are just as much part of the other Trek movies or only exist in your complaints, have at it. have no firm rebuttal in mind or possible?


Very, very cute.

That's fine. Some people enjoy the lolz, or explosions, or superficial gloss. Knock yourself out. Some people enjoy mindless candyfloss which does not engage the intellectual process in any way, shape or form.

But do not, under any circumstances, step up and say, "Haterz whatevs" and do not offer a single firm rebuttal, or argument, or piece of evidence to back up your position. Argue your position or retreat. There is no inbetween.

let us do battle werthead!

I would do. But you're still in the Mutara Nebula and I'm over Vulcan's decaying orbit.

Bring. It.

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Not really a spoiler, but some information on a much-discussed rumoured cameo:

The stormtrooper Force-convinced by Rey to release her from her cell was apparently played by Daniel Craig, visiting from the SPECTRE soundstage over the lot.

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You really didn't pay attention to either film then, did you?

I paid attention to the nihilism and lack of logic or consistency. I paid attention to the execrable scripts written by some of the biggest hacks in the industry. I paid attention to the poorly-thought-out battle and action sequences that ignored plausibility, logic or basic physics (when the new STAR WARS movie has better science than the latest STAR TREK ones, something has gone very wrong somewhere).

I paid attention to the haphazard and illogical character development. I paid attention to Captain Kirk's completely illogical and implausible career path. I paid attention to the initially laudable decision to completely remove themselves from the original mythos and then the very weird one to instead steal ideas from a film far superior to anything they could dream up themselves.

I paid attention to the development of interstellar transporters which made starships obsolete and then their complete failure to follow up on it in any logical manner. I paid attention to their complete, outright curing of death in the second movie, and look forward to what will no doubt be a thorough and convincing exploration of the ramifications of such a shocking, galaxy-shaking, paradigm-shifting discovery in the third movie in the sequence.

I paid attention to both films far more than you did, apparently.

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It was very decent, althought not flawless. Certainly superior to the prequels, not quite as good as the OT, although not far off JEDI in quality.

My spoiler free review.

My biggest complaint (SPOILER!):

When they test Starkiller Base they blow up a star system identified only as "The Republic". The main planet that gets blown up has a massive world-spanning city and the shots on the planet's surface sure as hell look like Coruscant. Certainly most of the audience I was with thought Coruscant had just been vapourised.

Twenty minutes later they very casually mention the planet that was destroyed by name and it wasn't Coruscant, at all. But it's very low-key and a lot of the audience I was with - and from looking online quite a lot of people talking about the movie - left thinking they'd blown Coruscant away in the film.

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Star Trek is undergoing the kind of change that any show MUST undergo when it's been around as long as Dr. Who.... reinventing itself for a new audience raised in a different time, with a very different set of worldviews.

That's not a problem. The issue is that at its core STAR TREK presents a vision of the future that is utopian, peaceful and rooted in diplomacy and avoiding war. The reason for that is made clear in DEEP SPACE NINE when we finally see a full-scale, all-out interstellar war which lasts for years and the results are apocalyptic, but handled with weight and gravity.

You can update that view for modern audiences and riff off other inspirations and ideas, but what you can't do with the franchise is completely ignore or destroy that core set of values. Levelling San Francisco, slaughtering millions of people, and then not even addressing that is a problem. Destroying Vulcan and killing billions of people and not addressing that is a problem. Having the Enterprise have the consistency of toilet paper and get blown to pieces every movie but then be absolutely fine is a problem.

If you look at STAR TREK VI, that movie is all about avoiding war. That doesn't mean you can't have some exciting battle sequences and well-rooted moments of characterisation along the way, but ultimately the film (and the franchise) is about the value of life and preventing bloodshed. The new Abrams movies, on the contrary, seem to revel in bloodshed, explosions and death but then not exploring the consequences of that in any adult or meaningful way.

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A magnificently terrible trailer that sums up the complete and total failures of these new TREK movies in one go: a total lack of weight, substance, depth and integrity, all bombast and fury, no wit or intelligence in sight. The poverty of ambition in these film-makers is impressive: EXPLOSION! PEOPLE JUMPING! CONTEMPORARY MUSIC! INANE WITTICISMS!

As usual, the best thing in it was Karl Urban as McCoy, who will almost certainly not have a particularly big role in the film at all.

Sigh. The only hopeful thing is that it cannot possibly be as bad as INTO DARKNESS...can it?

JJ didn't direct this one...

Yeah, I dunno why. I think he was working on some tiny, avant-garde project?

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Bethesda open a second studio for purposes so far unknown.

Apparently this is going to be a support studio for Bethesda Game Studios themselves (i.e. it's not another dev team like id and Arkane). Current fan theories are raging from a dedicated tech team who will be building a whole new engine for their games going forwards to a team who will be simultaneously working on the next big open-world game while the core team are doing their stuff, and sharing things like writers and directors between them. That would allow them to get new ES and FALLOUT games more quickly (say every 2 years rather than every 3-4 as now).

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Will the fanfare play now that Disney owns the franchise?

I was thinking more of the actual STAR WARS fanfare/theme rather than the Fox one, which I'm pretty certain won't appear.

Doesn't 20th Century Fox still own the distribution rights?

No. They only own the distribution rights to STAR WARS (aka Ep 4) in perpetuity. Eps 5 and 6 revert to Lucasfilm and hence Disney in a couple of years.

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baron arem heshvaun wrote:
We also see the female pilot Jessika Pava.

Played by Jessica Henwick who was in GAME OF THRONES last year. Unusual for a STAR WARS actor to be playing a character with the same name.

Should we guess the plot?










"I've got a bad feeling about this."








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Alex Martin wrote:

While I wouldn't mind Obsidian doing more on Fallout, I'd prefer they not muck up the mythology being told on the East Coast by Bethesda. Having played all the Fallout games (and DLC's), I kind of like the degree of difference you see - it gives the feeling of a distinct world despite the common apocalypse and technology.

Obsidian has crafted the Fallout history of the western states; Bethesda has created it's own environment on the east coast. Each is distinct and I'm not sure Obsidian can play in that sandbox without making their adjustments to the game. I'd rather see something that explores something like The Pitt, than another ramble into the politics of the wasteland aka New Vegas of the East.

Obsidian pitched a new FALLOUT game to Bethesda a few years ago. Apparently it was going to be set in the ruins of Los Angeles and would expand on the little seen of the city in FALLOUT 1. The outcome of those discussions was never disclosed. But yes, Obsidian and Bethesda have marked out areas of territory they want to explore in future games and Bethesda have firmly said they want to stay on the east coast or nearby. That raises the possibility of FALLOUT 5 being set say in New York, Charleston or maybe Miami (although it'd be interesting if they used the abandoned FALLOUT TACTICS 2 plans for the city, which were pretty interesting).

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Freehold DM wrote:
shouldn't have done the crime if he couldn't do the time.

I think the problem wasn't that he did it and got fan hate mail, but his brother died just before the book came out and he was struggling through grief at the same time hundreds of people were demanding his head on a stick. It was pretty rough.

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Direct ramifications for this could end up with million of people being affected, with hundreds of thousands dead.

Well, millions of people are already being affected and hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in Iraq, Syria and (on a vastly tinier scale) other countries over the past twelve years.

Europe could very well perceive this as their own version of the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. No country will stand idly by and wait to see if the next mass murder is happening in their capital city or that of their neighbors. This may very well be the end of an era.

As mentioned above, the death toll in Paris is a bit more than twice what was in London on 7/7, but less quite a bit less than in the Madrid train bombings. Horrible and a large death toll, but not on the scale of 9/11. Also, it's not coming out of the blue as 9/11 was (to most Americans). Britain, France, Spain and other European countries have recent experience of large, long and sustained terror campaigns and post-imperialist crises (France's issues with Algeria in the 1960s were horrendous).

Certainly there will be policy and security changes and this may be a gamechanger of a moment in that it galvanises some kind of additional military response, but it's not quite the casus belli for some kind of massive, disproportionate international response.

Yes. Even disregarding the likely increase in hate crimes against them across Europe, I'd assume governments will be forced into action. I can easily see a wave of right wing parties taking elections so long as they promise a more forceful handling of immigrants. And there's no humane way to be forceful at an immigrant.

Certainly right-wing wingnuts will seize on this as an excuse to push anti-immigration and racist policies. But they were doing that anyway.

There are millions of Muslim in Paris.

In France, yes, not Paris.

This attack means that every French citizen is now in constant danger. It is a serious escalation of events.

No. At least, not an escalation of the danger. The danger was there before, it's now been actualised. We've been living with this danger in Europe for generations. I grew up knowing every time I went to London there was a risk of an IRA bomb going off. You have to accept those risks or stop being able to live your life and then the terrorists have won.

Also, carrying out this kind of attack against the French is pretty dumb. The French are even more resiliant and philosophical about these things than we in the UK are, and we're pretty bullshy about it.

You have to do something when this kind of attack happens. Just shrugging it off isn't an option. The truly tragic thing is that whatever you do in reaction is likely to cause a whole lot of suffering and extremely unlikely to actually solve the problem. It's a really sh**ty position to be in.

There will be a response, either an escalation of the current air strikes or accepting certain things that a few weeks ago were unacceptable (probably allowing Assad to remain in Syria in a transitional mode). This in turn will allow for a more coordinated push and attack on ISIS.

The big problem is that the only current ground forces having any serious successes, the Kurdish Peshmerga, are also bitterly opposed by the Turks and some of the Syrian government and other rebel groups. The Kurds can't do everything by themselves, although their recent recapture of Sinjar could be a huge strategic movement, as it threatens to cut off the primary Syria-Iraq supply route for ISIS and will help in the siege of Mosul that the Iraqi army is preparing to launch.

Since Putin is fighting them in Syria openly, I wonder why they haven't targeted them...

There are Chechen groups who'd happily help ISIS (vice versa is less clear, as ISIS are way more hardcore about not helping other groups who won't swear loyalty to them, unlike al-Qaeda) and those groups have bombed Volgograd (twice) and Moscow in the last five years, killing dozens. Certainly Russia isn't immune from this sort of thing.

Plus an alleged affiliated group shot down a Russian airliner a couple of weeks ago.

A good question is why the NSA did not stop this. After all, with all the information they have, they must certainly have been aware of such a complex scheme.

Despite how it is protrayed on film and television, the American NSA isn't very good. It's intelligence has been largely awful, its ability to liaise and infiltrate local groups in the Islamic world is almost non-existent and it relies on signals and electronic transmissions to the point where Islamic terror groups know how to avoid them (meeting up in a house in the middle of nowhere or going outside for a walk and putting nothing on an electronic device is all it takes).

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At Level 12 I was also getting caned by Super Mutants, but then got a modded rifle which does 4x the damage of my next best gun and that one-shots Super Mutants and two-shots tougher variants. Excellent.

Anyone done the Super Mutant-infested skyscraper mission? That was brilliant fun with the tougher weaponry.

Also met a lunatic raider gang called the Forge. Was attacked by their leader (in power armour) and six minions at the same time. I was way too low a level to handle it, but fortunately I had a Fat Man and one single Mini-Nuke in the inventory. That vapourised everyone in the (fortunately quite big) room but only took the boss down to about 50% health. Still an epic fight to kill him with Piper's help, but at least it was doable.

I'm really liking the greater presence of the companion characters. They butt in during cut scene conversations with other characters, they sometimes stop you to talk and occasionally flirt. Which is a bit weird given that from your POV your wife died like a week earlier, but okay. Unfortunately, although they're a bit more lively than FO3's companions, they don't seem to have the tragic through-arcs and more developed characters of the NV companions.

Also, I started off liking the armour system and now hate it. I'm tracking half a dozen armour stats instead of one and it's getting really annoying.

I have like 8 Fusion Cores (I opened a random box somewhere and found SIX OF THEM), but I don't want to use the Power Armor for everything. Or anything, really.

Perennial RPG problem. You get a superweapon (which is what the power armour really is) and then hold off on using it until you really need it. Then you finish the game and realise you never needed it.

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My buddies will argue against that. He complains that they don't use the Boston subway system and the roads aren't screwed up enough.

More accurately: parallel universe, far-future, post-apocalyptic Boston, where they didn't get as much of a chance to screw up the roads.

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He was the editor and wrote a few stories, but wasn't really responsible for most of where the story went and so on, right? At least the omnibus I have credits him as editor, but not writer (or he wrote one story? Something like that.).

If you think of WILD CARDS as a TV series, GRRM and Melinda Snodgrass are effectively the "showrunners" who are in creative control of the series, plan where the story is going to go next and make all the final decisions, but the actual writing is then given to other writers to do.

I frankly don't think he's nearly as good of a writer as Sanderson.

I like Brandon and his books, a lot. But if you look at the variety of richness of Martin's career, his achivements in multiple genres and in both book and TV, there's really no comparison between them. Especially in areas like dialogue, where Sanderson is only rarely effective, and sometimes is a bit wince-inducing, whilst Martin is probably the most quotable living author writing in fantasy.

I think it's fair to say ASoIaF has been spinning its wheels in books 4 and 5, and most likely because they weren't supposed to happen. After the end of book 3 we should have skipped forward 5 years, but for some reason he decided to write them out. The result was two books in which not much happened... Now he's got that out of the way, hopefully the pace will pick up again in the next one.

Sort of. The five-year gap was never supposed to happen, was introduced because the kids weren't growing up fast enough (the first three books last about 18 months but were supposed to cover more like 4-5 years between them, which ironically the TV show has done instead), was then pulled when it didn't make sense, and then Books 4 and 5 basically became a combination of material that should have been skipped in the gap, new material and material from after the original gap. Straightening all that out has been a problem for George (massive understatement).

I enjoyed shadows, but mistborn is still probably the best trilogy of all time.

MISTBORN is a very fine, tight and nicely-designed series, and the sequel books have been pretty good. I think STORMLIGHT is definitely better-written, but it's also less well-paced and I don't think the STORMLIGHT characters are as vivid and on the same level as the MISTBORN team. Part of the problem is that Brandon is building up a whole 10-book series here and he has a lot of characters, subplots and chapters in Books 1 and 2 which are not going to become relevant until much (much) later in the series. STORMLIGHT is also going to cross over with the rest of the COSMERE mega-setting. Some will likely see them as features more than bugs, but these are things that can bog down the STORMLIGHT books and it's why they are so absolutely massive when they really don't need to be.

Having said that, they are still really good books. It's also worth remembering that ALL of Sanderson's solo, non-YA fantasy is set in the same universe, with crossovers and Easter Eggs between the books. That means that ELANTRIS, MISTBORN (all of them), WARBREAKER, THE STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE and quite a lot of his short fiction is all set in the same universe, as is the forthcoming WHITE SANDS graphic novel. In fact, characters from MISTBORN and ELANTRIS actually show up in STORMLIGHT (under new names), there's one character who appears in every book (if fleetingly) and you really need to have read WARBREAKER before the second STORMLIGHT novel for it to entirely make sense.

For comparisons with MALAZAN (another 10 book series), THE WAY OF KINGS is certainly better than GARDENS OF THE MOON, but DEADHOUSE GATES is comprehensively, comfortably and utterly better than WORDS OF RADIANCE. Erikson got a hell of a lot better between his first two books (to the point where I sometimes suggest to people that they skip GARDENS, as you don't necessarily need to read it first).

For "Best Fantasy Trilogy of All Time", the only real claimant to that title I think (given that LotR is actually a single novel) is Jack Vance's amazing LYONESSE trilogy. For recent fantasy works, I'd also rank Joe Abercrombie's FIRST LAW trilogy as on the same level as MISTBORN, with a far weaker opening but with a much better ending. Elizabeth Bear's ETERNAL SKY trilogy from last year was also incredible.
It's also only very arguably fantasy, but Bernard Cornwell's WARLORD CHRONICLES trilogy is also utterly fantastic.

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ASoIaF is dark, but nowhere near as dark and unrelentingly harsh as some other fantasy worlds (see Scott Bakker's, arguably Steven Erikson's as well). If you look at the peacetime scenes in the first book, and more notable in the prequel novellas, you can find a world that when it's actually at peace is actually a perfectly fine medieval fantasy world to live in. It's just the fact that ASoIaF takes place at a time of brutal civil war that makes it seem to suck a lot more than it actually does.

Reading the books is an interesting experience as you can see the foreshadowing laid in for things later on. The Tower of Joy dream in the first book and the House of the Undying sequence at the end of Book 2 are particularly brilliant for this. You can see plot elements that don't come to fruition until the fifth volume being laid down.

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Novella 4: Winterfair Gifts


Winterfair on Barrayar and the unthinkable is happening: Miles Vorkosigan is getting married. For his family this is a time of great happiness and joy. For Armsman Roic, one of Miles's long-suffering security officers, it's a time of paranoia, vigilance and stress. When things start to go wrong, Roic joins forces with one of Miles's old Dendarii comrades to ensure that the wedding goes off without a hitch.

Winterfair Gifts is a short novella set after the events of A Civil Campaign. It centres on Roic, a minor supporting character most notable at this point for engaging in combat with overzealous offworld security officers whilst half-naked and covered in butter (produced by insectoids from another planet, but that's another story). The novella actually feels a bit like an apology from Bujold to her character, giving him a chance to shine in his own story.

It's an enjoyable piece, with some laughs, some drama and some pathos in the relationship between Roic and Taura, the genetically-engineered soldier Miles rescued from Jackson's Whole. The drama part of the novel - including an assassination attempt and a dramatic arrest - feels almost tacked on, with much of the pivotal action happening off-page. Bujold's focus is on the two main characters, their development and their unexpected relationship, which is effective and touching.

A minor interlude in the overall Vorkosigan Saga, then, but one that is enjoyable and worth reading. It is available now as part of the Miles in Love omnibus (UK, USA).

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sunbeam wrote:

In that thread that got closed I made the point that according to historic vote totals you could have apparently won a Hugo by spending 10 to 20 thousand dollars by making up fake people and voting for yourself. Or having a lot of friends or employees who could be persuaded to vote. I think you could have done it for about 5 thousand in a number of years for certain awards as well.

Seems to me that a lot of publishers along the way would have had some kind of interest in putting "Hugo Winner for 19XX" on the dustjacket.

No way this thing wasn't gamed along the way, and fairly frequently at that.

The only other time it was gamed was in 1987, when Scientologists bought up memberships to block-vote for L. Ron Hubbard's novel BLACK GENESIS. It was clear they were doing it, they didn't particularly deny it, but when it came to the awards themselves it got curb-stomped, came in last and the bulk of the winning votes went to Orson Scott Card's SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD (genuinely a good novel, and this was also before Card went off the deep end).

Other attempts to game the award have been minor compared to the number of votes required to actually win anything.

It's also counter-productive to spend $10K on gaming the awards when the likely financial rewards of getting the award are negligible: the Hugos used to result in a minor sales bump in the USA and absolutely nowhere else at all. Now they barely register in the USA either. Some Hugo winners from the last decade or so - most notably SPIN and RAINBOW'S END - couldn't even get a publishing deal in many countries outside of the USA, regardless of their awards.

And he's won three Hugos? He seems remarkably dull to me. Where's the big idea? Do he write like Jack Vance or Gene Wolfe? Plot out stories like Alan Moore?

Scalzi isn't that great a writer, to be honest. He's a good blogger and critic, but REDSHIRTS (his novel that won the Hugo) was extremely mediocre. It's certainly the poorest novel to actually win a Hugo in many years, and actually spurred some of the current issues.

He's also Tolstoy, Proust and Tolkien rolled into one compared to Vox Day's excruciating writing abilities.

I'd love to see sales figures for the books mentioned in this piece.

Scalzi's sold a couple of million. He also made a bit of side-money (and won a lot of new fans) by being an advisor on STARGATE UNIVERSE and had film rights to his books sold a few times.

Time to split things up. Then everyone can be happy.

That's not really the problem. Fandom has splintered before: the David Gemmell Awards were started in 2008 at least in part due to the feeling that other awards (including the Hugos) were not rewarding the field of epic fantasy despite huge sales and tons of readers. The Nebulas, the Arthur C. Clarke and the World Fantasy Awards are all regarded as more prestigious than the Hugo because they are juried.

The issue is that Hugo is still the big one because of momentum, continuity and history. You can start another award tomorrow, but it simply won't have the prestige that 75 years of history gives to the Hugos.

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One of the best arguments against DragonLance I heard was when a friend offered to run a game in that setting (we wanted to play with 2E rules for a while), and another friend said "I don't want to be a side character in someone else's story"

And it struck me as completely correct. You can't really do anything important. It's already been done.

That was the difference between DRAGONLANCE and FORGOTTEN REALMS: DL was really one big narrative (the War of the Lance, with Raistlin's misadventures in the following three books as a major side-story) and attempts to extend the universe beyond that story have been patchy, at best. FORGOTTEN REALMS is one big world with room for absolute tons of stories with the idea of lots of adventurers doing stuff built into the fabric of the setting. The FR started going downhill when WotC decided to keep piling big epic events on top of one another so it made the "normal" adventurers feel small and pointless.

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Krensky wrote:
Oh, and Lucas is fine with it since he still has creative control of Star Wars.

Lucas gave up creative control of Star Wars when he sold Lucasfilm. He gave them outlines for Eps 7-9 but they've pretty much ignored them. He's available as a consultant, but it sounds like they didn't use him much, or at all, based on his comments that he's looking forwards to seeing 7 in the cinema and has no idea what to expect.

iirc, there was some confusion at the end of rotj because the imperial fleet was far, far larger than the rebel one, and a war of attrition would have easily gone to the imperials.

The size of the Imperial Fleet was a problem, as they couldn't fire on the rebels without hitting one another, so the rebels were able to take out Star Destroyers by focusing the full strength of their fleet on small parts of the enemy line at one point (the Roman Battle of Pharsalus, where Caesar defeated a larger enemy force by focusing his strength on the enemy's weakest point, was similar), i.e. knocking out the Executor. Combined with the destruction of the DS2 and the loss of the Executor, Vader, Emperor and most of the command staff for the fleet, it's quite plausible that the Imperials would retreat, especially the senior admirals in the fleet who realised they could build up their own power base.

The novels had it that the Emperor was reinforcing the fleet through the Force (+2 Leadership Bonus, I guess), and his death removed that and left the fleet disoriented. I'm not a massive fan of that idea, but it does sound like the sort of thing the Emperor would do.

I don't really care if they discontinue most of the EU and other things, but I think if the general public starts saying...WTH is going on with this...I think the Star Wars films may have one first really good profits, and then it will die a VERY HARD, QUICK death

Well, we'll get three regardless: 7 is in post, ROGUE ONE is filming now and 8 is in pre-production to start shooting in a couple of months. If 7 and ROGUE ONE absolutely bomb, maybe they'll cancel 9 and the other stand-alones but...they're not going to bomb, clearly.


I'm just amazed at how much people criticize Lucas...but when someone else who isn't even the original creator does worse...they cheer him.

They forget that without Lucas, there wouldn't even be a Star Wars...

Yes and no. Without Lucas we wouldn't have STAR WARS, clearly, but a lot of other people worked on hard on the original movies. Lawrence Kasdan and Leigh Brackett wrote THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, Irvin Kershner directed it and Gary Kurtz produced it both EMPIRE and the original film. Lucas had the least to do with it and it's, by a country mile, the most popular and critically-acclaimed STAR WARS movie. Lucas was irked by this and seized back control for JEDI, cancelling his original (and much more interesting) story outline, which so annoyed Kurtz that he walked out on the franchise despite the millions he could have made by staying with it. Kasdan was retained to write JEDI, but Lucas fiddled around with the script a lot more (which is why JEDI seems to alternate being awesome and then irritating with almost every other scene).

The prequels were garbage because Lucas did pretty much everything himself. The plurality of voices and perspectives on the original trilogy were not present and were replaced by a ton of yes-men who never put the brakes on Lucas's crazier ideas.

So yes, without Lucas there wouldn't be STAR WARS. But without a ton of other people, there wouldn't have been any really good STAR WARS.

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Red Eagle de-escalate the situation.

Red Eagle are no longer suing Robert Jordan's widow, but discussions remain "ongoing" about the ownership of the film/TV rights.

My guess is that Red Eagle either 1) deliberately launched the lawsuit so they could withdraw it later on as a pre-emptive bargaining chip, or 2) realised they were on a hiding to nothing and quit whilst they were ahead.

At the moment I'm going to guess that the Jordan Estate technically get the rights back, but the Red Eagle company retains a nominal producer's credit. If the WHEEL OF TIME TV series does end up with Sony, that would at least make sense because Red Eagle set up the deal, even if it falls to the Estate to execute it.

So hopefully a final end to this mess is in sight, because WoT is in danger of missing the boat as other fantasy properties are picked up all over the shop.

One thing that is interesting: Universal may also be back interested since they missed out big time in the recent D&D legal shenanigans. If they want a slice of the fantasy pie, this is their best bet.

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I doubt very much the third D&D movie had $12 million. Even $1.2 million seems high for the production quality they got, especially considering that the third film was almost certainly made for the sole purpose of retaining the film rights for another few years.

If it was $12 million, they must have flushed 90% of it down the toilet. Movies like CENTURION and IRONCLAD had budgets in that region and looked reasonably decent. The most expensive episode of GoT ever made was more like $8-9 million and looked even better.

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They're going to spend money on it. Certainly more than $100 million and probably closer to $200. Maybe not more than that, Hasbro probably learned its lesson from BATTLESHIP and Warner Brothers aren't quite as crazy as Universal (who actually made BATTLESHIP). But OTOH a D&D FR movie is going to have an enormous amount of stories, characters and lore to draw upon and has a lot more franchise/sequel potential.

I can see them going fairly crazy with the money for this film if they really want.

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I think we can safely say this is definitely happening: both sides have spent way too much money in legal fees alone to wimp out now, and Hasbro clearly want (rather unedifyingly in their desperation) a DC/Marvel/Star Wars-style mega-franchise, which D&D rather uniquely fits.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not hopeful of the end product being any good, but we are going to see a big-budget movie based on an RPG hitting the screen, which is kind of crazy. In fact, if Hasbro were bonkers enough to help raise $220 million for the Battleship film, I wonder what they're going to bet on a movie based on something that has actual stories attached to it. It'd be rather insulting if it was much less.

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Tremble mortals, and despair. The mighty armies of Hasbro and Warner Brothers have lined for battle. Their lawyers prepare to unleash litigious fury and, oh, hang on, they've all kissed and made up.

So yeah, Warner Brothers and Hasbro have unexpectedly joined forces with the redoubtable Courtney Solomon and have greenlit an official D&D movie set in the Forgotten Realms, with proper money and (hopefully) a decent director behind it.

That just happened.

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Harebrained Schemes have announced that a new BATTLETECH video game is in the works.

This game will feature turn-based strategy and RPG elements, allowing you to build your own mechs and take part in an open-ended campaign where you choose which mission to take on next (this feature is partially inspired by the MECHWARRIOR MERCENARIES games). There'll be a Kickstarter in the autumn.

The game is being made by the same team behind the SHADOWRUN RETURNS games (the last of which, HONG KONG, arrives on 28 August), including of course Jordan Weisman, co-creator of the BATTLETECH/MECHWARRIOR franchise. Based on the quality of SHADOWRUN RETURNS, this should be good.

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Just a few female SF authors and key works:

Nancy Kress: BEGGARS IN SPAIN and its (increasingly unnecessary) sequels. This book was based around what happens when you genetically engineer people to survive without sleep, and the unexpected consequences of that.

C.J. Cherryh: DOWNBELOW STATION is a political-military SF thriller set on a space station caught between two warring factions. There are many, many prequels and sequels set in a complex shared universe.

Ursula K. LeGuin: THE LEFT HAND OF DARKNESS is about a planet with gender-changing aliens and challenges gender assumptions. THE DISPOSSESSED is a (slightly) more traditional story about politics and cold wars between two neighbouring planets.

Jaine Fenn: PRINCIPLES OF ANGELS and several sequels are set in a coherent future universe full of bizarre technology and various alien threats. The first book is the best, coming off as China Mieville-lite, but the sequels are a bit more traditional.

Connie Willis: THE DOOMSDAY BOOK is a time travel story in which a research travels back to Medieval England during the Black Death whilst the society she travelled back from is battling its own futuristic plague.

I haven't read them, but Liz Williams and Elizabeth Moon seem to be well-regarded.

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In-engine game trailer. Featuring Karl Franz laying down some pain on the greenskins.

Looks promising so far. Flying units and magic are going to certainly change up the TOTAL WAR gameplay.

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Release date: 28 August 2015


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Aranna wrote:
It may have been inspired by Lord of the Rings but it certainly isn't the same.

THE SWORD OF SHANNARA is a plot-by-plot, character-by-character knock-off of LORD OF THE RINGS. No-one, certainly not Terry Brooks himself, seriously argues with this and it is clearly the reason that SWORD is not being adapted.

The second book is reasonably different, which is why they've started with it, and they've played up the post-apocalyptic Earth setting (which is much more subtle in the books) to differentiate it from the usual fantasy cheese. I daresay they'll jump on the later books' leanings into proto-steampunk as well.

So to be fair, the complaint that SHANNARA starts off as a rip-off of LotR is completely accurate. However, the defence that it starts off that way but soon finds its own path is also accurate. The later books (or arguably just all of the books after SWORD) are certainly not ripped off from Tolkien or anyone. None of the books are very well written - Brooks is a cheesy, obvious writer a lot of the time - but there's certainly far worse fantasy around (some of it, like Goodkind and Paolini, already adapted for TV or film).

There are other reasons why they've chosen SHANNARA. It's one of the biggest-selling fantasy series of all time: only Middle-earth, Narnia, DISCWORLD, WHEEL OF TIME and A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE have sold more copies, and they're all tied up in rights disputes or have already been made. SHANNARA has sold roughly the same as Raymond E. Feist, David Eddings and R.A. Salvatore, so it's a big deal. It's also historically important, with SWORD being one of the first books to kick off the modern epic fantasy genre.

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I think the general idea is that a BG3 would not be a sequel to BG1/2, although there would be scope for characters to show up, but would be a new adventure in a similar vein.

In fact, Black Isle spent some time working on BALDUR'S GATE 3: THE BLACK HOUND (before Black Isle tanked and BG3 was cancelled) and it was a stand-alone, new adventure set in the Dalelands. I think there were hints that Minsc might show up but otherwise the links to the first two games were fairly slender.

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I must admit, the fact that Korhal somehow transformed from a burned-out radioactive desert to a Coruscant/Trantor-style world-girdling megalopolis in four years was rather more concerning to me lore-wise than the character portraits being updated.

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New VORKOSIGAN novel for 2016.

The title is GENTLEMAN JOLE AND THE RED QUEEN and the book is set after CRYOBURN. It will focus on Cordelia as the main character, for the first time since BARRAYAR.

2016 is also the 30th anniversary of the series (SHARDS OF HONOUR, THE WARRIOR'S APPRENTICE and ETHAN OF ATHOS were all published in 1986) and apparently there'll be some other stuff going on to celebrate it.

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ALIEN: RESURRECTION did do one thing right: the rewrites and mishandled direction annoyed Whedon so much that he decided to revisit the "misfit space pirates in space" concept five years later, resulting in the creation of FIREFLY. So that was one positive outcome :)

ALIEN 3 is a pretty good movie. It's just not a very good ALIENS movie, and was a step backwards when the franchise should have been looking for another way forwards. The "Aliens loose on Earth" concept seems solid, but I've never seen a real way for that story to go that doesn't descend into lots of shoot-outs and then nuking the planet.

Also, Ridley Scott was right when he said that the alien was no longer scary. It's too familiar a force now, we know how dangerous it is and how to kill it. That limits its potential for true horror, although you can still make a good war/suspense film with it.

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The first legal shots are fired.

The outcome of the initial legal clash between Hasbro and Sweetpea (backed by Universal and Warner Brothers, respectively) was inconclusive. Both sides employed sharp lawyers, arguing that Courney Solomon has had twenty years to turn D&D into a movie franchise and failed and that Hasbro now deserves the rights 'back' (slightly inaccurately, as the movie rights were sold long before Hasbro bought WotC, or indeed before TSR was absorbed into WotC), whilst Solomon's lawyers pointed out they have a script in development with WB as a 'tentpole' project right now. The judge seemed rather annoyed by the whole thing and asked both sides to settle out of court, but that's not happened.

Both Universal and WB can see the big franchise potential here: a franchise that can generate not just big character films like the DC and Marvel things, but a whole universe where you can dramatically switch genres between films. Neither side are going to give up that potential - however remote of actually being successful - easily.

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Fey'lya's poltical career was essentially built on him saying to anyone who argued with him, "Many Bothan spies died so I could sit my backside here, and I'm not budging".

Not the best bit of the series (that was Ganner Rhysode in TRAITOR) but still a reasonable end to a character who'd been really annoying for about a decade by that point.

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but the idea that the Vong could get that much intelligence on the rest of the universe without anyone else finding out and moving to counter it is a bit much for me.

The Empire did get wind of the Vong, although not the size of their invasion force or their true objectives. It was enough for the Emperor to prepare contingency plans. Unfortunately, he didn't tell anyone (possibly apart from Vader) so those plans were lost when he died.

there was nothing in story to suggest that the protagonists could do anything but constantly retreat and hope for a miracle before the Vong took over the entire universe.

That's not quite what happened. The Vong had limited military forces. They only succeeded as much as they did because they made use of conquered/allied forces, used blitzkrieg tactics and used diplomacy to keep the Empire and the Hutts out of the war. Once that failed and the Empire and Hutts entered the fight, the Vong became both seriously outnumbered and out-resourced economically. There was also the fact that the Vong were counting on a knockout blow. The heavily centralised Empire half-collapsed when the Emperor was killed and most of the reset followed when Coruscant fell and then Thrawn died. The New Republic, OTOH, was much more decentralised and Coruscant's capture did not have the same impact on the organisation, which the Vong were not expecting.

Ironically, the Vong's major advantage - their invulnerability to the Force - was completely useless because the number of Jedi and other Force-users around opposed to them was so tiny that it mostly fell back on traditional fighting, and in that arena the Vong's lack of numbers was always going to result in their defeat.

There's nothing to get excited or invested in because any solution was obviously going to come out of nowhere and when it did, the invasion would be over in the course of a single book (or at best, a half way decent trilogy) and the rest of the books in the middle had virtually no impact on the storyline whatsoever.

Again, that didn't really happen. STAR BY STAR, in the middle of the series when Coruscant fell, also showed the New Republic and their allies the way of fighting back. It was in that book that the Vong suffered a calamitous defeat and the Republic discovered that the Vong had lost over a third of their forces just getting to Coruscant, and then a hideous number more taking the planet. For much of the second half of the series the Vong are stalled because of their lack of numbers, allowing the new Galactic Federation to gain the initiative and then win. By the final couple of books, it's clear that the Vong are doomed, and Zonama Sekot showing up and convincing them to surrender simply prevents a final Gotterdamerung annihilation of the species (oddly similar to the Dominion's final defeat in DS9, actually).

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Well, at least a pilot, anyway. Amazon Prime have released it to see the response before going to series.

The good news is that the critical and popular acclaim for it has been universal, so it's quite likely to make it to series.

For those not in the know, THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE is considered one of the greatest SF novels ever written. It's written by Philip K. Dick, who also gave us (by way of movie adaptations) TOTAL RECALL, BLADE RUNNER, A SCANNER DARKLY and MINORITY REPORT and is often said to be his finest novel (although this is disputed). The book is set in an alternate history where Germany and Japan won the Second World War (helped by Germany developing nukes long before the USA) and have occupied the United States, partitioning the country along the Rocky Mountains.

Based on the clips (being in the UK, I can't see the full pilot yet) it looks absolutely excellent. If this makes it to series, I'll be a day one viewer.

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The Creative Assembly have - rather accidentally - confirmed that their next game will be based on the WARHAMMER fantasy licence. It's the first game in the long-running strategy series to be based on a licence, and their first move outside real history.

The game will likely be released in late 2016.

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That the Vong knew the Republic better than the Republic knew itself plus needless infighting in the face of an enemy that really wants to destroy everything (I consider the type of biotechnology the Vong implement to be a form of scorched earth tactics) isn't even barely plausible to me.

Why? The Vong had been scouting the Star Wars galaxy for c. 60 years before the main invasion fleet arrived. The amount of intelligence they had gathered themselves was enormous, and then of course they captured Vergere and extracted a vast amount of info from her, particularly about the psychology of the various races working together.

It's also said, quite a few times in the series, that the Vong got lucky in that the New Republic was undergoing some serious democratic crises when they arrived (although some of them had been instigated by the Vong's agents). If the unified Empire had faced them, especially with a Death Star or two (to one-shot the worldships from millions of miles away, which would have made life a hell of a lot easier), the outcome would have been dramatically different. The Imperial forces smugly point that out a lot.

As for the infighting, that is completely plausible. Even in the face of overwhelming threats, vested interests continue to fight one another. You can see that right now, from nations shying away from dealing with terrorists or rogue states because they don't want to pay the price, or governments and corporations choosing to continue (or even accelerate) wrecking the planet in the interest of short-term monetary gain. Quite a few of the races in the NJO don't believe in the Vong until they're quite far advanced, and then consider themselves out of the firing line as they're too far away, or can barter with the invaders, or benefit whilst the invaders and the Republic fight one another to mutual destruction.

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Sanderson is indeed a great guy. There's a couple of my blurbs floating around on his books and we've swapped emails and tweets a few times.

However, I think the main criticism stands: he comes up with cool magic systems and enjoyable worlds (although his planet-by-planet worldbuilding can be sketchy and variable, his universe-building is superb), but that's the window dressing. The main course has to be the prose, which in Sanderson's case varies from clunky to reasonable, and the characters, which in Sanderson's case rarely venture above the "okay". For lack of a better term, there's a missing link in his work to date which is the ability to pull the excellent settings together with better prose and characters and deliver something incomparably good.

His plotting is also fairly straightforward, he just tends to put in twists resulting from the magic system or from starting his narrative in a different place to where writers normally start, like for example MISTBORN being set on a world where the Dark Lord won and ruined the world. That's clever and to some extent original, but not quite as mindblowing as is sometimes claimed. He does seem to be getting better at it, though: the plotting and structure in the STORMLIGHT books is a lot better than in MISTBORN, even if the characters are less well-realised.

To follow up on the comparison, the Cosmere is indeed a much more fleshed-out and fully realised setting than GRRM's Thousand Worlds (although you'd hope so, with 8 big novels and several novellas compared to 1 short novel and a few short stories). But nothing Sanderson has written compares in terms of lyrical prose or memorably-defined characters to some of those Thousand Worlds stories like A SONG FOR LYA, SANDKINGS or THE WAY OF CROSS AND DRAGON.

It sounds like I'm down on Sanderson, which isn't the case. I think he's one of the stronger fantasy authors around at the moment, certainly a lot better than the likes of Peter Brett or Pat Rothfuss (Rothfuss is a somewhat better prose writer, but his glacial pace and inconsistent characterisation are much bigger weaknesses), and has an extraordinary imagination. But there are better writers around than him who don't get as much coverage.

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It helps to see the NJO in the context of when it came out. For almost decade beforehand, Bantam had run the book franchise into the ground. They got off to a brilliant start with the Thrawn books, but then hired Kevin J. "Franchisekiller" Anderson who dealt a series of blows to the franchise with some beyond-awful novels. Allston and Stackpole did some good work, but the books descended into horrible, repetitive messes with rogue Imperial generals, Force-using bad guys and superweapons tougher than the Death Star showing up on a near-monthly basis.

When Bantam lost the licence, the new guys decided, supported by Lucasfilm and even Lucas himself, that they were going to shake things up. Lucas had decided that Eps 7-9 were never, ever going to happen so he gave the writers permission to really go nuts with the setting and do a really big story and they went for it.

In that context the NJO worked, at least to start with. It was different, it genuinely developed and changed characters and events rather than returning to a status quo at the end of every book, and it had some different and interesting ideas. It eventually went too far into grimdark territory, with the war against the Vong eventually killing dozens of times the combined casualties of the Galactic Civil War and the Clone Wars combined, which was totally insane. Some of the books were also really bad, though quite a few were pretty good.

Also, fun trivia: Mark Hamill's sole appearance as Luke Skywalker post-Ep. 6 and pre-Ep. 7 came in TV spots for the first NJO book coming out.

Also, the senior editor on the NJO was James Luceno, possibly better-known as one half of the writing team Jack McKinney who wrote the ROBOTECH novels. There are some very strongly ROBOTECH-like aspects to the NJO that are quite amusing to ponder, from the massive fleet battles involving thousands of ships to the fact that the Vong feel like being somewhere between the Invid and Zentraedi, and the Force occasionally feels treated like a less corporeal version of protoculture. The parallels are certainly interesting.

Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:
Matthew Stover's "Traitor" is worth the entire series all on its own, one of the best SW books written.

TRAITOR is one of the best bits of STAR WARS in existence. The only things batting at the same level IMO are KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC, EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and, on a good day, Ep 4. Ganner Rhysode's last stand is jaw-dropping stuff.

In fact, it's so good it even got George Lucas (who is apathetic about most of the EU) to hire Stover to write the Ep. 3 novelisation, which just about everyone seems to agree is vastly superior to the film itself.

That said, it had some great books (both Allston books, the one by Stackpole, and Greg Keyes did one great book and one good one, both featuring the best young character of his generation, Anakin Solo (and Tahiri Veila, also a very good character). Whom then was killed off in the most stupid Star Wars editorial decision since, I guess, the Star Wars Holiday Special.

This was down to Word of Lucas. The original plan was to kill Jacen and keep Anakin. And then Lucas decreed that it was too confusing to have two Anakins running around (the NJO books came out alongside the prequel trilogy) and ordered him killed off. It apparently threw the plans for the series and the following books off-kilter, and it shows.

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Hama wrote:
I'm sure they'll honor their grandfather's wishes.

If anything, JRRT was a lot less maniacal about the books than his son was. Tolkien was up for different adaptations/alternative versions of the books and even fanfiction, as long as no-one tried to make money out of it.

Christopher has a strained reputation in Tolkien fandom because he hasn't done what JRRT said he wanted, the canon opened up for different people to take a look at.

I gotta say not knowing where those goats came from just really ruined the movie for me.

The Extended Edition :) When Dain shows up some dwarven cavalry (!) on war-goats (!) are also supposed to be shown, so later on we know where they've come from. There's also supposed to be a longer sequence with Radagast and Gandalf where Radagast gives Gandalf his staff and there's more on Radagast going to recruit Beorn. Also, a funeral sequence with Thorin, and more of a reflection on what happens at the end.

I haven't been moved to get the EEs of the other two films, but this one sounds like it'll have a lot more stuff in it that's actually important and relevant to the story.

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Ed Reppert wrote:
Jackson may want a different timeline, but screw him. :-)

Different canons. The film canon omits the 17-year-gap between Bilbo leaving and Gandalf returning to kickstart the Ring quest. It all happens in a few weeks. Coupled with the 60-year gap to THE HOBBIT mentioned in FotR (it should be 60 until Bilbo leaves and 77 to the start fo the quest), that bumps Aragorn's age up by 17 years as well.

Apparently Aragorn was even going to have a cameo, but Viggo said no and that he didn't want to continue acting against tennis balls.

For Christopher Tolkien...never going to happen.

For 90-year-old Christopher Tolkien, it's never going to happen. What happens after his time is up remains to be seen. Not to wish ill on him (my own grandfather is actually a lot older and still going strong), but this decision will be in another generation's hands at some point.

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Been playing this a bit so far. The flight model is fantastic (a good blend of fully Newtonian and X-WING/FREESPACE-style space dogfighting), the spacecraft and space station designs are amazing and the game does a good job of updating the take-no-prisoners design of the previous games in the series with something more accessible. It's still not an easy game to get into though. You need to play the tutorials and get a feel for the vagaries of combat (particularly reverse and down-thrusting to get pursuers to overshoot) and supercruise, which takes an hour or so.

With a HOTAS set-up, the game is particularly amazing, although it is playable with a gamepad or even just the keyboard.

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Jackson can probably eke out another trilogy from the story of how Legolas loses weight between the events of THE HOBBIT and LotR.

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"Don't like the ball droid."

* Remembers Jar-Jar *

"Meh, can live with it."

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Could have been worse. How about Michael Bay?

No word of a lie, the person who was working on the project before HBO swooped in and bought the rights was Roland Emmerich (INDEPENDENCE DAY, 2012, THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW, the 1998 GODZILLA movie etc).

Well, Syfy are on the highway to being an actual SF channel, and if they can pull off even half of the ambitious shows they have lined up for the next few years, no reasonable person will have much to complain about. Of course, this is all a speculation about the future based on the present, which I do find appropriate when discussing SF ;)

Some of those projects seem interestingly weird, like ASCENSION. THE EXPANSE looks really, really good and it helps that it much more readily adapts to TV than other SF book series. And CHILDHOOD'S END and RINGWORLD will work as long as they stick closer to the books and don't try to wreck everything.

Tangentially, I wonder if Foundation is one of those shows that George Martin helped HBO do in his role as a consultant . I mean, they did hire him, and we have yet to hear anything about that in a long time, so it seems to make sense.

It's possible he might take a look at the scripts or something, but Martin is not a huge Asimov fan. Of the Big Three, his favourite was by far Heinlein, and then his next favourite SF author was Zelazny. Actually, his favourite author of all time was Jack Vance. So if Martin was going to throw some classic SF at HBO, it'd be more likely something like DYING EARTH, DEMON PRINCES, THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS, STARSHIP TROOPERS (the rights have to have expired on that by now, right?), THE CHRONICLES OF AMBER or LORD OF LIGHT.

I think what Martin was more involved in discussing with HBO (speculation only, no inside knowledge here) was his own projects. A TUF VOYAGING series was definitely discussed, but my personal guess is that HBO wants the WILD CARDS franchise. SyFy's option on it can't have much longer to run and then I'd be shocked if HBO didn't swoop on WILD CARDS like a bird of prey. Superheroes (remember that HBO's mission is to try something in every single genre), sex, messed-up and morally dubious characters and period piece flashbacks? HBO would be lunatics if they didn't grab it. It's right up their street.

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You can continue to avoid Dragon Age games for no good reason, but you're hurting no one but yourself.

Whilst I agree that it's highly improbable* that DA specifically caused the hard drive to explode, I think this response is overstating things a bit. It's not exactly 'hurting' anyone not to play DRAGON AGE. It's hardly the pinnacle of RPG design and in fact is probably the most overrated modern gaming franchise around.

The first game was above average, fun but cheesy and lacking either storytelling coherence or decent gameplay mechanics (the combat, which for some reason is lauded in some quarters, can go and die in a fire for its hideousness). The characters were fairly weak by BioWare standards and it used almost exactly the same storytelling structure every single BioWare game since BG2 used (only nowhere near as well), making the thing diabolically predictable. The end of game battle was underwhelming to the point of being anticlimactic and BioWare were so desperate to make the game 'long' that they poured in every bit of padding they could think of, resulting in a 50+ hour game that was at least 50% tedious fetch quests and even more tedious pointless combat. The worldbuilding was pretty good, but buried in codexes rather than displayed on screen (if you don't read the codexes and miss Sten, you have zero clue as to what the hell the qunari are which is unforgivably bad storytelling given their importance to the world). The game also did the bizarre thing of giving you a large number of characters to play with, but then only making two of them (Morrigan and Alistair) really important to the plot, making the narrative feel weirdly unbalanced if you played with anyone else.

DRAGON AGE II, on the other hand, had even worse combat, a tiny number of actual gameplay areas that were over-used to death and some story turns that made no sense. However, it had much more interesting characters (even if most of them were total twonks) and it did the worldbuilding a hell of a lot better, which is weird given how it's focused in one city. For a badly rushed, under-funded quickie project designed to help alleviate the crippling costs of the first game, DA2 was reasonably decent. But still hardly a top-tier roleplaying game.

I'll get DA3 eventually and probably enjoy it. But certainly not until I've finished D:OS and WASTELAND 2, and the price drops to something reasonable (£50, EA? I think not).

* Although it is possible for software to affect hardware: STARCRAFT 2 infamously caused certain graphics cards to overheat on release until Blizzard rushed out an emergency fix.

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I own x wing vs tie fighter- should I get this version for my netbook since it's better than my windows box?

If you don't own the original X-WING or TIE FIGHTER, sure :)

Also there was a whole story line in x wing vs tie fighter that I don't think is in these games.

XWvTF is multiplayer only. You might be thinking of its expansion, BALANCE OF POWER, which added a single-player storyline about the squadron trying to take down a rogue Super Star Destroyer (and was inspired by the X-WING books by Michael Stackpole). That's not in this initial wave of releases, but should show up in the rest of the games GoG has the rights to (alongside the underrated X-WING ALLIANCE).

Still waiting for my new joystic as well before diving back into these :)

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