Familiar Notes, New Instruments-The Fantastic Four Trailer

The trailer for the new, rebooted version of Fantastic Four was released yesterday. That’s it up there. The production’s been a whipping boy for the geek press for months with persistent rumors it was in massive trouble. Even now, it’s going back for reshoots that are either exactly the sort of pickup material most movies do or a horrifying descent into the kind of last minute third-act do over that the paint’s still drying on when you see the movie.

Everyone’s thrown some doubt this thing’s way. Me included and I’m normally Mr ‘…Cool, I’ll give it a shot.’ with stuff like this. So when the trailer was released yesterday it got a lot of attention, mostly very good attention. It’s an interesting take on the characters and, stylistically, as pointed out by io9’s always great Meredith Woerner, it plays a lot like Interstellar. I really liked Interstellar and I really like the look of this. Especially as some of it’s familiar.

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Dragon Age: Inquisition-Tavern Songs Released For Free For Now

We have a system with Bioware Games. Marguerite plays them, I provide regular backseat support/audience and where needed an extra ideological viewpoint. It worked like a charm for the Mass Effect playthrough she did in 2012 and it’s been going well for the excellent Dragon Age: Inquisition.

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about it is the depth of the world. There’s a ton of characters, all with their own backstories and all able to interact with each other very differently. None of them are entirely whole people, all of them are differently broken and seeing them interact with each other plays like a really good longform TV series that occasionally you need to save, quit out of and go to bed. Also, Varric’s fantasy film noir past, the beautifully written and performed Krem and the magnificent, seven-foot Qunari dudebro that is The Iron Bull are worth the price of admission all by themselves.

The music is one of the major highlights too, both the instrumental score by Trevor Morris and the songs that play in the Tavern you spend a lot of time in. Those are especially fun, giving you an idea of the current mood in the game as well as in one, especially catchy case, a musical sketch of a particular character. They’re all witty, subtle pieces of music that help make the game what it is.

And now, they’re free, as well as the sheet music for them

So, go grab them and get a small piece of a colossal, and remarkable, game. If nothing else it’ll give you something to listen to while you’re planning your next playthrough…

Criminal Thoughts: Season 10 Episode 6-If The Shoe Fits

Image copyright Entertainment Weekly

 

Welcome back to Criminal Thoughts. I’m doubling up the next couple of weeks to catch back up, so, here we are with episode 6, If The Shoe Fits. Once again I’m joined by the magnificent VC Linde and these talks are crossposted on her blog too. She’s in Italics, I’m not, and this episode’s a doozy so off we go.

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Sunday Moment of Zen: Beagle 2

The Beagle 2 Mars lander deployed on Christmas Day 2003. The hope was that the small ship would make it through the atmosphere, land and unfurl an array of sensors to being studying our nearest planetary neighbour. The project’s principle investigator was British scientist Colin Pillinger who threw himself headlong at both the science and the chance to connect with an audience about it. He commissioned Damien Hirst to produce the image that would calibrate the probe’s cameras and had a song by Blur lined up as the probe’s aural handshake once it landed. He was, briefly, the leading figure of Britpop science.

That changed when Beagle 2 never made contact. The probe was assumed destroyed and the usual, comfortable beige duvet of ‘Well, at least we tried’ that gets drawn over any kind of British endeavour that isn’t an instant success was drawn over Beagle 2. Pillinger passed away last year.

He was vindicated last week.

The HIRISE camera system on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has not only found Beagle 2, but proof that it reached the surface intact and attempted to deploy.

 

 

A dustbin lid sized piece of science, found over a decade presumed dead. A final success, and a little closure, for a team of scientists who deserved much more than the pop culture ridicule they’ve suffered for a decade. I’d say that qualifies as a Sunday Moment of Zen.

 

Criminal Thoughts Season 10 Episode 5-Boxed In

I staggeringly failed to get these up on time before Christmas so I’ll put them up regularly now until we’re caught up. These are regular conversations my friend Vic Linde and I have about Criminal Minds, the world’s most impressively nasty FBI Profiler show. I’m in plain text, Vic’s in italics. Enjoy. But maybe don’t look at the icky parts. I often don’t.

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Al Dente: Haddock Pesto is the Best…o

Picture a blog going on a journey beyond sight and sound. It’s left the comfy, sort of like Blake’s 7 like pseudo utopia of Milton Keynes and fallen, back down the time stream, to Waterloo Promenade in Nottingham. It may have passed a monster along the way and, for some reasons, William Shatner shouting at a plane. Welcome to…

The Al Dente Zone

Yep, an entire intro justifying the old photos I’m using. I work hard for this stuff (And the money, So HAAAARD FOR THE MUNEH! ahem, sorry). In fact I bleed for this blog.

No, really…I do.

Or did.

Or anyway, Victor!

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Every Day Carry January 2015

I’m a stuff junkie. I love kit, the stuff you use to get the job done, whatever the job is. As a result I look at posts like this the same way I tend to look at a new cookbook; enthusiastically and making notes as I go on one of the numerous notebooks in the house. So, in case you’re a stuff junkie too, here’s what I carry every day.

So, working from left to right we have;

-2 Moleskine plain Cahier-These are grid pattern exercise books that I picked up when Blackwells in London was clearing out for the big move. They’re also the toughest notebooks I own, and a joy to work with. The top one is currently being used for Fiction School, which I’ll be blogging about later in the year. The bottom one is being used to plan out the SPARK RPG setting that’s this month’s big project. Blog also forthcoming. The stickers, and the shark one a book over, are by my fellow Traveling Man veteran, the fiercely talented and wonderful Jess Bradley.

-George Orwell’s Why I Write. This year I’m trying to consciously learn more about what I do and how to do it better. Orwell’s a good place to start.

-Blue Maglite. Marguerite’s from Earthquake country so she’s never more than about ten feet from a flashlight. It’s good practice, and I’ve been carrying one since I moved over to the US and back in 2012.

-Half Crown. Marguerite carries one too. They’re from the first time she visited and I got them in St Paul’s the day she left the country. We carry them partially as a nod to Elizabeth Wilkinson Stokes, British female boxing pioneer and one of Marguerite’s pantheon, and partially because we are in fact adorable.

-Black Leather-looking notebook. No clue where I got that from but it’s got a nice bendy spine and it’s become my review notes notebook. That’s something I’ve started doing recently; making notes as I read or watch something. I’m trying to combat my tendency to Columbo all over the place and stay on target. It’s helping a lot. The sticker on the front is from the Utilikilt company who do amazing, roomy work. Just, take it from me, don’t wear it on the front row of the Matterhorn.

-A very cheap multi-tool.

-Small black leather notebook with Sharks! sticker on the front-A handout from a Legal Job Fair, that’s my ‘Oh shit, I need to write this down book.

-2 USB sticks. One’s a 4 gigabyte Data Traveler and the other is Captain America’s shield. It holds whatever amount of data is heroically necessary. Or 32 gigs. Which is a lot of heroism.

-A rubber Cult Pens pencil case. I keep looking at stuff like the Maxpedition range but this thing’s recycled out of an old tire and is basically indestructible.

-Various pens. There’s a Sharpie in there and a rollerball, but the ones I use most are the Pilot Frixions. The black one with the unnecessary tribal dudebro artwork on the body? That’s the Frixion. Ignore the ridiculous branding, they’re lovely pens and erasable with the right ink, which comes in useful.

-The weird little black rectangle is a travel battery, that, again, is Job Fair swag Marguerite bartered for. It’s a useful little device too, doesn’t carry a ton of charge but it’s small and portable. When I upgrade, it’ll be to this, recommended to me by the magnificent Mur Lafferty.

-Charging peh, the Apple user’s bane. That’s a standard Apple plug at the bottom there with a flat charge cable. Those tend to last a lot longer than the standard ones. Cheaper too. The smaller white cable is to charge the travel battery. There’s a ‘Who charges the Watchmen’s iphones?’ joke there but you’re all smart, clued in people. I trust you to build it yourself.

-A Joker keyring LED torch. A birthday present from the always magnificent Naz and Ewa, this is a kickass little torch that fits in the pencil case and, most importantly, makes me feel better about never replacing the batteries in the other one.

 

That’s my stuff. Aside from my Batman style utility keyring of course but that’s a whole other post…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interstellar and the Astronaut Myth

 

When I was 12 I wrote to NASA. This was pre-email and pre-commercial internet. So, when I say wrote, I mean it; paper, stamps, return address. I decided I wanted to learn more about space because, if I didn’t know enough, I might not be able to become an astronaut.

Nothing happened for three months.

Then I got an envelope, thick and waxed and crammed full of leaflets about the Galileo mission, the shuttle, full technical breakdowns and reports of flights, press notes, the whole bit.

I can still remember the way the grin spread across my face. Somewhere I’ve still got the leaflets. The NASA Myth settled into my mind that day and never left.

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Life After Ashes-Donate to help Greg Campbell

I wrote a piece of a book. That’s the cover. Isn’t it great? It’s called Life After Ashes and it’s been put out by my friend Steven Saus as a backer reward for the campaign to help out Greg Campbell. Greg, an author and single father, lost his house and everything aside from the clothes he and his children had on a few days ago.

The campaign is here.

Pledge $25 and you get an anthology crammed full of authors like Nisi Shawl, Lucy A. Snyder, Gary Braunbeck, Tobias Buckell, Laura Resnick and me. But you only have until the 2nd of February to do it. That’s when the campaign ends and the book is taken off sale.

So, please, go help and prove just how generous and compassionate this community can be when one of its own needs a hand.