First, here's the embed for ease of listening if you're interested in the show:
Lots of reference was made during this episode to Dr. E. Michael Jones' book Monsters from the Id, but I neglected to provide a link. Don't buy it from Amazon where they're asking for something like $70 for a used copy. You can get a new paperback version for $24.95 from Fidelity Press: http://www.culturewars.com/books.htm
The main thesis of his work is that, the moral order, when suppressed,
reasserts itself in the form of an avenging monster. The eponymous alien from the film is the epitome of this -- the unstoppable, remorseless reassertion of order. One of the guests mused that the characters in the film hadn't done anything wrong to merit this wrath, but it occurs to me that they simply represent modern humanity. This would be subconscious on the part of the movie-makers, their very purposeful imagery otherwise, notwithstanding.
I tried to do a more obvious and straight-forward take on this in All the Gods of the Gentiles, where characters' sins lead directly to the unleashing of the monsters.
A busy week at Swords and Space this week:
- I've been trying something different with my writing. Instead of waiting for the ever elusive hour of time to write, I've decided to take what I get (which is usually 20-30 minutes) and write what I can. It makes for slow but steady progress. I've written more in the last week than the past several months this way so hopefully new fiction will soon be in the offing.
- Tonight I'm back on the air with a show on 1979's Alien. I'll be discussing the film with Matthew Zepf of Brav's Index and Jason Frazier from The Culture of Comics. Aside from discussing the aspects that make it classic sci-fi, we're going to delve a bit "deeper" by taking a look at Dr. E. Michael Jones' analysis in his book Monsters from the Id (a fascinating read):
Swords and Space XI: Alien 06/18 by AMDG Radio | Blog Talk Radio
- Later this week, on Thursday, I'll be broadcasting again, this time doing the Warhammer 40,000 show that was scheduled a few weeks back, but had to be postponed due to family duties:
Swords & Space XII: Warhammer 40,000 06/20 by AMDG Radio | Blog Talk Radio
On 29 July, I'll be hosting an evening of epic gaming -- TWILIGHT IMPERIUM. I say epic because this game truly is, and I'm expecting 6-8 hours of interstellar warfare, trade, politics, and technological research.
I'll be joined by a couple of my regular Swords and Space Radio co-hosts, Stephen Heiner and Matthew Zepf, along with some other good friends. It will be everyone's first time deciding the fate of the galaxy, so I wanted to put together a quick summary of the races from the core game.
My plan is for everyone to choose their race ahead of time. The rules actually call for random selection, but I think it would be a lot more fun for everyone if they get to play a race that matches their personality/play style. And since I went to all the effort of writing this up, thought I'd share it with the inerwebs so that others can make use of the summaries:
In a word: Military industrialists
Background: Proud and fierce underground dwellers on the polluted, heavily industrialized world of Arc Prime, who seek to impose their strict, elitist military rule to bring order to the galaxy.
Pros/Cons: Can have a bigger fleet than others, can exchange trade goods for a temporary boost in combat, poor trade agreements, excellent home system, good starting fleet.
Style: For the player militarily aggressive to the maximum with little regard for politics and trade (except maybe by coercion).
In a word: Mercantilists
Background: Generally laid-back and peaceful inhabitants of three desert-swept planets who developed a space presence when offworlders discovered a ravenous hunger for the many exotic goods and spices on said homeworlds.
Pros/Cons: Can trade action cards, don't need trademaster's permission to forge trade agreements, get bonus trade goods, excellent trade agreements, good home system (3 planets!), decent starting fleet.
Style: For the player who wants to forge an economic powerhouse, doing lots of wheeling-and-dealing on the diplomatic stage, but still nothing to sniff at warfare-wise, since all that filthy lucre can be used to build massive fleets.
In a word: Colonizers
Background: One of the newest races to enter the Imperium, and also one of the first to rebel against it; the Twilight Wars were touched-off when a Sol fleet opened fire of the Barony of Letnev's blockade of the Quann wormhole. The humans represent the most numerous and most diverse species of the galaxy.
Pros/Cons: Can deploy free ground troops each turn, receive bonus command counters, good trade agreements, decent homeworld, mediocre starting fleet.
Style: For the player who isn't entirely sure what his style is, or who likes to be a jack-of-all-trades; well-rounded, flexible, and adaptable. Probably a good pick for rookie gamers.
In a Word: Warlike cyborgs
Background: The remnants of the Lazax, ancient rulers of the Imperium, returned in cyborg form thirsty for revenge. They come from their remote, wealthy world, a nightmare planet of technology ready to reclaim the empire they fled from generations ago.
Pros/Cons: Cheaper and more powerful dreadnaughts, twice as much starting techonology as everyone else (save the Universities of Jol-Nar), poor trade agreements, good home system, powerful starting fleet.
Style: For a player who wants to play a military aggressive style, but without the need to be quite as aggressive as Letnev since you've got good technology and buff to capital ships. Come recommended on the interwebs for the less experienced gamer.
In a word: Space pirates
Background: The rag-tag inhabitants of a prison-planet who overthrew their Lazax masters when the Imperium began to crumble, and now terrorize the space-lanes with lightening raids, taking what they want then leaving.
Pros/Cons: Can steal trade goods from other players, get free shots before battle begins, poor trade agreements, decent homeworld, strong starting fleet.
Style: For the player who doesn't mind pissing-off the other players via dirty tricks like stealing trade goods and striking out for aggressive raids with their cruisers (which get a sneak attack before enemy can shoot back).
In a word: Warrior bugs
Background: Repugnant insectoids who inhabit massive skyscrapers on their crowded homeworlds surrounded by great network of orbital space stations and massive complements of fleet units.
Pros/Cons: Get +1 to all combat rolls, decent trade agreements, mediocre home system, weak starting fleet.
Style: For the players who likes the idea of swarming the enemy with lots of cheap ships that hit harder than anyone else's ship-for-ship.
In a word: Technologists
Background: Although physically weak and aquatic, the Hylar (inhabitants of the twin planets Jol and Nar) are a proud people, often to the point of abrasiveness and arrogance. In the Imperium of old they were the chief technologists and now utilize the resources of they homeworlds building a secret force with which their will replace the Lazax as rulers of the galaxy.
Pros/Cons: -1 to all combat rolls, can re-roll dice, can get free tech everytime the Technology card is played, twice as much starting techonology as everyone else, good trade agreements, mediocre home system, mediocre starting fleet.
Style: For the "brains over brawn" player who doesn't mind commanding weaklings in combat who will eventually lay the smack-down with lots of fancy toys.
In a Word: Politicians
Background: Ancient race of space turtles who would rather smoke water-pipes and discuss philosophy and politics under the giant trees of their arboreal villages, but after one of their twin homeworlds was decimated by the Letnev and humans, they've vowed "never again!"
Pros/Cons: Can veto political agendas, enemies get a -1 to hit in the first round of combat against them, good trade agreements, mediocre home system, weak starting fleet.
Style: For someone who prefers political wrangling to brute force, but with a decent stick to beat people with using a defensive military, waiting for that perfect moment to strike.
Last week, Commander Chris Hadfield returned to Earth and, true to form, continues to Tweet and gave a press conference full of interesting information (especially for writers) about how it felt being back under gravity after 5 months weightless. Here are the highlights:
- "Right after I landed, I could feel the weight of my lips and tongue and had to change how I was talking. I didn't realize I had learned to talk with a weightless tongue."
- He "Tweeted": Return to Gravity, so many things. It is strange to talk and feel the weight of my lips and tongue! Dizzy too - would fail any sobriety test
- ''My neck is sore and my back is sore ... It feels like I played a hard game of rugby yesterday or played full-contact hockey yesterday and I haven't played in a while.''
- Since he hasn't walked in over five months, his feet have lost their callouses "so I was walking around like I was walking on hot coals ..."
- Under his clothes, he had to wear a "G-suit", with inflated trousers that squeeze his legs to help sustain blood pressure in his upper body for several days. He "tweeted" that on Friday (17th) he didn't have the wear it anymore (he landed on the 13th).
- He's been tottering around like an "old duffer", shuffling and with poor balance. As of 18 May he reports on Twitter that he doesn't "have full breath yet" but balance is better.
Anton Yelchin, who portrays Ensign Pavel Chekov in the rebooted Star Trek films, is baffled by Russian history. He says:
It is one of the most complicated histories. It produced Dostoevski and Rachmaninoff. And then it produced Stalin and Lenin. It is such a strange combination. I could go on about this forever ...
Well, firstly, I think it bears mentioning that neither Stalin nor Lenin are, strictly speaking, Russians. Stalin (Dzhugashvili) was born and raised in Georgia. He attended Georgian Orthodox seminary in Tbilisi in his early days. Lenin (Ulyanov) was the son of Kalmyk (Mongol) and Tatar parents, although he was born and raised in Russia. So it could be argued that they're not products of Russia although they are a part of Russian history.
Russia's "complicated history" isn't really all that unique when one looks at the history of other nations. To follow Anton's lead and look at musical beauty versus tyrannical ugliness, one need look for further than Austria for Mozart and Hitler or Germany for Beethoven, Bach, and Himmler.
If anything, Russia's is actually less complicated or contradictory than others -- the characters Mr. Yelchin speaks of are from completely different spheres of life; Dostoevsky and Rachmaninoff being artists and Lenin and Stalin being rulers. And Lenin and Stalin are pretty much in the mould of many a Russian ruler from Ivan the Terrible, to Peter the Great, to Catherine the Great, (even to Putin, to a lesser degree) butchers and tyrants are pretty par for the court. Whereas their artists have generally been very good any they have not devolved to the Western extremes of Marilyn Manson and Lady Gaga. So from a certain perspective, Russia seems pretty straight-forward.
France, on the contrary, has much more contrast among its rulers. Russia never had a Charlemagne or St. Louis IX like France, which also had blood-soaked monsters like Robespierre. England had St. Edward the Confessor, and on the other hand Henry VIII. Yet even so, while history in never completely cut-and-dry, one may note that all of the worst tyrants listed were revolutionaries against the old order of their respective countries. So it's not all as complicated as young Mr. Yelchin thinks, in my view!
Had a blast this evening chatting with three other certifiable nerds about the latest Star Trek film. You can download/listen to the podcast below:
Okay, the updates have fallen by the wayside, as has much else on this blog. Hopefully that will improve but I promise nothing! Unfortunately we had to postpone the Warhammer 40,000 show that was scheduled last week on Swords and Space Radio, due to some stuff at home. Family always comes first. That said, I've still got some stuff going on:
- Went to see Star Trek: Into Darkness with the missus on opening night. Thanks to Empire Extra, we strolled in 5 minutes before the show and took our seats second from the top and in the centre. I thought the film was really well done, and liked it quite a bit more than Abrams' 2009 original. Purists might scoff at it, but I like the reboot. My wife, who was never a Trekkie, but did watch The Next Generation when she was young, loved the film so much that on the drive home she suggested we start buying the original series on iTunes and watch it along with the original films. Check out the trailer:
- As such, you know what the topic of the next episode of Swords and Space Radio is going to be! On Tuesday at 8pm Central/9 pm Eastern, we'll be setting the geek levels to maximum as I'll have my co-host Stephen on board along with two enthusiastic guests do discuss the film in detail. The first half of the show will contain no spoilers if you want to listen to decide whether you want to watch, and the second half will be a more detailed and spoiler-ridden autopsy of the film:
Swords & Space X: Star Trek Into Darkness 05/21 by AMDG Radio | Blog Talk Radio
- All this Trekkiness has gotten me inspired about Rex Caelestis again so I've done a bunch of brainstorming this weekend. Aside from working on the man storyline anew, I'm going to pull down the first two parts of "The Sleepers" and rework that. Plus, since inspiration seems to beget inspiration, the ever-fickle Muse has returned to me as regards some other works, too.
- HAPPY VICTORIA DAY! Interestingly, a distinctly Canadian holiday, despite Queen Victoria having been the monarch who reigned over the British Empire at it's height when the sun never set upon it. The celebration actually predates the very existence of Canada by about 20 years, when enthusiatic and patriotic British North Americans fêted the 35th birthday of their queen. God save the Queen!