Women, Cars and Spaceships … A Retrospective

While driving to work this morning, I was listening to classical music and musing on the design of cars and spaceships. I don’t mean real spaceships, of course – I mean the kind you see in movies, comic books, pulp fiction and television – the good stuff. I also started thinking about mens’ taste in women, and how the styles of disparate things tend to conflate at different times. With that in mind, I decided I was going to put together some images from different years (or small spans of years) of the top spaceship of that time, the top car of that time and what were considered the top sex symbols of that time to see if they clicked.

Here we go …

We’ll begin with 1929 and Buck Rogers. The spaceship was still in the “could have been designed by lonely housewives” era. Fairly sleek and only a few doodads stuck to the outside of the ship. For our car, we have a 1929 Duesenberg – also pretty sleek, formal and yet also sporty. Whether Buck’s spaceship had leather seats, I don’t know. For our sci-fi beauty, we have Col. Wilma Deering, Buck’s erstwhile companion and drawn as a classic beauty of the era – rounded face and graceful lips.

By 1936, Flash Gordon has burst onto the scene in the first of his film adaptations. The spaceship isn’t much different than Buck Rogers’ craft, though perhaps a bit sportier (check out the chrome!). Dale Arden, as played by Jean Rogers, conforms pretty closely to the earlier beauty standard, and the car isn’t terribly different from the 1929 Duesenberg, though you’ll note the nose is slanted back a bit.

1950 brought the film classic (?) Destination Moon. Destination Moon at least played at being hard sci-fi, though the design was definitely of the moderne period, with the sleek spacecraft. The beauty of 1950, Erin O’Brien-Moore was pretty sleek herself, and shows how tastes were changing at the dawn of a new decade. The car is a bit more compact than in the 1930’s, but in this case it looks like the spaceship designs are beginning to presage developments in automobiles.

In 1956, Forbidden Planet put earthlings in a flying saucer (guess those captured German scientists were finally earning their keep). Beauty isn’t much changed from 6 years ago, and the car, a 1956 Chevy Bel Air, is not yet exhibiting the giant fins that will grace vehicles in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.

By 1966, Star Trek has premiered. The Enterprise is unlike any spaceship audiences have seen before, and also notable is that the sole beauty of the cast (unless you include Sulu) is a black woman! Nichelle Nichols typified late ’60s beauty – curves and tall hair. The cars are becoming more slick as well – away from the tail-fins and into the muscle car era.

The next big leap, in this case back in some ways and forward in others, was 1977’s Star Wars (you might have heard of it). For the first time on film, we get a real sense of the “starfighter” – fighter aircraft in space. Yeah, the Star Destroyers were pretty iconic as well, but you really can’t beat the X-Wings and TIE Fighters for capturing the imagination of kids in that era. Our beauty is, of course, Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher), who really found herself thrust into unfamiliar territory in her slave girl costume. The 1977 Ferrari pictures seems to have a similar profile to those X-Wings.

One last stop, and a leap forward to one of my favorite sci-fi series – Red Dwarf. Not American, and played for laughs, it introduced a completely utilitarian (and grandiose) spacecraft in the eponymous Red Dwarf. By 1994, we had maybe my favorite of all the sci-fi beauties introduced on this post – Chloë Annett as Kristine Kochanski (I like my women smart, beautiful and with a wry sense of humor) and the fairly utilitarian Rover. Substance over style in 1994 sci-fi.

Okay, there’s many more I could do – various incarnations of Star Trek, Alien, etc. I’ll leave further explorations to others.

Dragon by Dragon – October 1978 (19)

Hey – almost have my months synced here! October 1978 and Dragon blows in with what appears to be a pretty full issue. Let’s begin …

First thing I see this issue, other than the editorial, is “The Battle for Snurre’s Hall”, the tournament for the Origins ’78 D&D Tournament. Good recap of the winning team’s tactics, and reminds you of the game aspect that I think sometimes gets buried under the “role play” aspect.

How Many Ettins Is a Fire Giant Worth: Competitive D&D by Bob Blake

And then this article reminds me of the importance of role play in the game. Basically, this is an article about scoring competitive modules. Given my intense interest in such things …

A Compendium of Diverse D&D Player Personalities by Mike Crane

Hmmm … maybe the next article holds something interesting …

Gamma World – A New List of Treasures To Be Found by Gary Gygax

Thanks EGG! A nice random table (1-100) of relics for Gamma World. We have a home donut maker, wire cutters in fair condition (an amazing find), a plastic box of 50-100 assorted screws (you know these are going to be used to stud a club, right), a leather bag of dice, etc.

Gamma World – More Excerpts from the Journals of Hald Sevrin by Gary Jaquet

This one covers the history of Gamma World in the Black Years. Apparently, it was hard, but people adapted.


Or “Wormy 8 Ball” to my 12-year old brain.

Wormy swoops in (thank God) and provides some light entertainment – if you consider a tree troll being ripped apart light entertainment. Beware blue demons!

The thing that always made me wonder about Wormy was the trolls. Trolls were supposed to be complete bastards, right? But these guys were pretty cool. As a kid, the Monster Manual was as canon as it came, and this was the first introduction I had to “it’s my world, I can do whatever I want”. Good training for a young DM.

The Lowdown on Wishes by Kevin Thompson

The thing is, wishes have absolutely no place in a game. In a story, they’re fine. But in a game, nothing but trouble. Great line …

“Most DM’s want to be fair about wishes but don’t want Player characters to take undue advantage. So they kill them.”

The article tries to get into the science behind wishes. Mildly interesting, but very “campaign world” specific in a way. The idea is that wish spells are empowered into devices by wizards to allow non-wizards to use magic. They may vary in strength, and might have alignment restrictions as well (i.e. a lawful wish cannot be used for something chaotic). Thompson divides wishes into four classes:

CLASS I: Creates purely physical (mundane) objects or occurrences

CLASS II: Creates living, non-magical beings, weak magical equipment and duplicates magic-user spells up to 5th level

CLASS III: Creates living, magical beings (but only the weakest type), moderately strong magic items and can duplicate any magic-user spell and cleric spells up to 4th

CLASS IV: Can do almost anything except granting more wishes in any way, shape or form.

Not a bad schema, really.

Planning Creative Treasurers by Dave Schroeder

Dave gets into thinking more about treasures – why is that orc carrying a bunch of gems, for example, or using a theme with a treasure horde. He refers to these as toolkits, for example …

“A thief’s toolkit could contain a +1 dagger, a gem that glows in the presence of traps, a set of Gauntlets of Dexterity, a skeleton key that would raise its user’s chances of opening locks, or a pair of “waldos”, that would allow him to open trapped chests from a distance. Don’t forget a periscope for peeking around corners, or perhaps a bag of holding for the loot. Disappearance Dust would be useful, as would a Gauntlet of Etherealness that would let pouches and pockets be picked tracelessly.”

The Mythos of Australia by Jerome Arkenberg

Another in the line of mythos articles, and if you’ve ever dipped your toes into the Australian myths, you know they are quite interesting and tough to adapt to D&D. The beauty of the Greek and Norse myths is that so many of them read like comic books.

Systematic Magic by Robin W. Rhodes

I love it when geeks begin “rationally” explaining why it makes no sense that a magic-user with charm person in his book could ever earn enough gold/experience to figure out hypnotic pattern, since charm person is clearly a control spell and hypnotic pattern a mental spell.

Spells here are divided into these different categories, which have different prime requisites. Control spells, for example, have charisma as a prime requisite, while nature spells have constitution as their prime. Holy spells only have the lawful alignment as their prime requisite.

Lawful characters begin with two holy spells. Neutrals get one 1st level spell from (I guess, the language is confusing) the category that matches their highest ability score. Chaotics aren’t mentioned, and a character can never have more than two new spells at any one time.

The chance to miscast a spell is equal to the level of the spell divided by the prime requisite. So, dispel magic, a 3rd level defense spell, would have a 3/15 chance of miscast if the caster had a constitution of 15, i.e. 20% chance of miscast. DM determines the side effects of a miscast spell.

Casting a spell costs one point of its prime requisite per spell level – so that dispel magic spell would cost 3 points of constitution. One point is recovered for every turn (minute or 10 minutes, depending on the version of the game) not spent in melee.

A new spell must be successfully cast once per spell level before the caster can learn another spell of that level.

Only two fields of magic can be learned at a time.

A bit fiddly, but a neat idea. Wonder how it works in real play. Again, though, you can see the future divides of gaming even at this early stage – more rules vs. fewer rules, “logic” vs. gonzo, etc.

The Fastest Guns That Never Lived, Part III by Allen Hammack

This third in a series examines several more characters from western shows and gives them Boot Hill stats, including Bret, Bart and Beau Maverick, Will and Jeff Sonnet, Eli Wallach, Charles Bronson, James Coburn (fuck, I want to play James Coburn in a game of Boot Hill), Robert Vaughn, Tim Straum, Kid Shelleen and Jason McCord. I love that the article mashes up characters and actors.

A Mixture of Magic and Technology: Gamma World Review by Robert Barger

When people say magic and technology don’t mix, it really burns the author. Hallmark of a geek – being annoyed at differing opinions. He mostly covers the ease with which one can combine Gamma World and D&D, which is something I like as well. Moving on …

Spell Determination for Hostile Magic-Users by Steve Miller

This is a quick article to randomly determine what spells an NPC magic-user might have, inspired by a bunch of players bitching when a randomly encountered enchanter threw and ice storm and fireball at them and wiped out their PCs. My response to this problem …

Honestly, it is good to vary the spells a bit, but on the other hand, do players ever apologize for destroying the kick-ass villain you designed in some dungeon you worked all month to stock? No, they don’t. You shouldn’t either.

Charts for Determining the Location of Treasure by Ronald Guritzky

Nice random table of treasure locations – very helpful when you write a lot of this stuff.

1) The location of the treasure
1-6 Chest
7-9 Urn
10-12 Bag
13-13 Pot
16-17 Loose
18 Carried
19 Hidden (Wall, Floor, Secret Compartment, etc.)
20 Ref’s Choice

2) There is a one in four chance that a treasure has a trap in it.

3) Traps
01-20 1-8 Daggers (1 in 6 poison)
21-36 1-6 Arrows
37-46 1-3 Spears (1 in 6 poison)
47-62 Gas
63-78 Poison Lock
79-88 Monster in Chest (Pay attention to monster’s size)
89-92 Exploding Chest (2-7 dice of damage)
93-95 Chest Does a Spell At Person
96 Chest Acts as Mirror of Life Trapping
97 Intelligent Chest (2nd -7th Level Magic User)
98 Lose One Level of Experience
99 Lose One Magic Item
00 Roll Twice

4) Gasses (Roll 6 sided die for first digit and 4 sided die for second digit)
11-12 Obscures Vision (Players run into each other, miss treasure, etc.)
13-14 Blinds Player 01-100 Hours
21-22 Fear During Next 2-9 Fights
23-24 Sleep 6-36 Rounds
31 + 1-4 Points to Random Ability (8 hours) (1 in 10 permanent)
32-33 Sick: Return to Surface (1 in 6 in coma)
34 Paralyzation
41 Stone
42 Death!!
43 Polymorph to Monster or Animal 10’R.
44 Amnesia (1-20 days, 1 in 6 permanent)
51-52 Change Alignment
53-54 Slow (As slow spell)
61-62 Haste (As haste spell)
63 Cloud Kill
64 Go Berserk! Attack Friends!

I dig this ad for Star Trek miniatures. Even though Star Wars gets more notice, I think Trek, being born of episodic TV, might be a better fit for RPG’s

Footsteps in the Sky by ???

Fiction …

“All he could do was walk on the air as normals could walk on land and his four older brothers repeatedly told him that it was the most useless of all mental mutations. After Reveral’s long training sessions for manhood, he was finally beginning to believe his brothers’ taunts. His oldest brother Fer-in and his next oldest, Serpt, both could teleport themselves vast distances and had easily passed their tests of manhood. Karn, the brother closest to him in age, could read minds and, with great effort, control them, given time. He was even now on his test of manhood, but no one doubted that soft spoken Karn would do anything but succeed. Reveral was starting to be concerned with his own chances at surviving the test.”

Wormy Again …

He’s back, and that blue demon just bit a giant pool cue hard.

And that does it for October 1978. A few nice articles, a few that did nothing for me at all. Have fun this weekend!

Deviant Friday – Brohawk Edition

TGI Deviant Friday. Today, a mini-gallery of David Williams, AKA BroHawk. Williams is one of my favorite artists in comicdom – he does great color pieces, great black and whites, with clean lines and an ability to make the heroes equal parts real and fantasy. He is defintely one of the Toth-iest illustrators working in comics today. Enjoy some of my favorite BroHawk pieces.

















The Unpublishables

Just about every GM / DM / Referee, over the course of their “career” stats up monsters inspired by sources protected by that pesky little thing called copyright – monsters you can feel free to use in your home campaign, but that you couldn’t otherwise put in print. Well, instead of throwing out the next installment of the Gods of the Motherlands (which I will do tomorrow), I’m presenting my thinly veiled (one so thinly veiled that its positively indecent, and a couple others working entirely in the raw) unpublishables. Since I can’t publish them, I didn’t go to the trouble of making them particularly compliant with any set of rules.

Astral Knight
Astral knights patrol the dimensions fighting evil, particularly the undead. Their armor increases their strength and gives them the ability to fly. It can seal itself from the depredations of hostile environments, allowing the astral knight to ignore extreme heat and cold and the absence of air. An astral knight can seal its systems for a full day, after which they must resupply their air supply.

Astral knights have three special items they can employ, all of them being stored in a pocket dimension (per a bag of holding). All of an astral knight’s weapons resemble guns. The “neutralizer” fires a ray that acts as a dismissal spell against extra-planar and undead creatures or deals 2d6 points of energy damage against normal corporeal creatures. The analyzer fires a ray that acts as both a true seeing and know alignment spell. The universal translator acts as a tongues spell when held by an astral knight and pointed at a speaking creature. Astral knights speak the cosmic tongue and their alignment language.

If stripped of their armor, they lose all access to their abilities and are merely humanoid warriors with 2 hit dice.

| Astral Knight: HD 4+1; AC -1 [20]; Atk 1 slam (1d6) or 1 weapon; Move 12 (Fly 24); Save 13; CL/XP 5/240; Special: Sealed system, special items.

Astral Ninja
Astral ninjas are descended from elves enslaved millenia ago by the alien thulids, from whom they long ago won their freedom. They are related to the astral pirates, with whom they war constantly. The astral ninjas are governed by an undying wizard-king. Being monastic creatures, the astral ninjas use very plain weapons and equipment. They maintain a few strongholds in the material plane. These squat towers are quite strong, being constructed of adamantine and housing 500 ninja. Astral ninjas are rarely encountered outside their strongholds.

Outside of their strongholds, most astral ninjas are encountered in groups of four. Each of these groups will consist of two astral ninjas, a warlock and a sensei.

Temporary lairs will contain 1d10+10 astral ninjas, 8 warlocks, and 2 sensei. Astral ninja lairs will contain 2d8 magic items.

Silver Sword: Silver swords are powerful magical weapons employed by both astral ninjas and astral pirates. Silver swords are +3 two-handed swords, which, if used astrally, have a 20% chance each round of cutting the silver cord (does not affect psionicists using psychic defense). The supreme leaders use more powerful versions of this weapon that are +5, vorpal, and can cut the silver cords of psychics using psychic defense.

| Astral Ninja: HD 2; AC 6 [13]; Atk 1 two-handed sword (2d6); Move 15; Save 16; CL/XP 4/120; Special: 50% magic resistance, powers (mind blast, obfuscation, telekinesis).

| Warlock: HD 5; AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 two-handed sword (2d6); Move 15; Save 13; CL/XP 9/1100; Special: 50% MR, powers (mind blast, obfuscation, telekinesis), 5th level magic-user.

| Sensei: HD 7; AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 silver sword +3 (2d6+3); Move 15; Save 9; CL/XP 11/1700; Special: 50% MR, powers (mind blast, obfuscation, telekinesis), 7th level magic-user.

| Wizard-King: HD 16 (120 hp); AC -6 [25]; Atk 2 vorpal sword (4d6); Move 15; Save 3; CL/XP 24/5600; Special: 75% magic resistance, powers (mind blast, obfuscation, telekinesis), 16th level magic-user.

Astral Pirate
Astral pirates are descended from elves enslaved millenia ago by the alien thulids, from whom they long ago won their freedom. They are related to the astral ninjas, with whom they war constantly. Astral pirates have levels in fighter, wizard or fighter/wizard. They are led by a lich-queen. Astral pirates use baroque armor (splint mail +4) and weapons. They dwell in mighty castles on the astral plane or aboard astral pirate ships. All astral pirates are capable of manifesting themselves in the material plane at will.

Outside of their castles, most astral pirates are encountered in groups of four. Each of these groups will consist of two astral pirates, one sergeant, and a knight.

Temporary lairs and astral pirate ships will contain 1d10+9 astral pirates, 10 mates and 5 captains. Material plane lairs will contains 1d6+4 magic items.

Astral pirates have a special pact with a group of large red dragons. In return for food and shelter, the dragons allow the astral pirates to use them as mounts; each can carry anywhere from 5 to 11 pirates depending on their size.

Silver Sword: Silver swords are powerful magical weapons employed by both astral ninjas and astral pirates. Silver swords are +3 two-handed swords, which, if used astrally, have a 20% chance each round of cutting the silver cord. The supreme leaders use more powerful versions of this weapon that are +5, vorpal.

| Astral Pirate: HD 2; AC -1 [20]; Atk 1 two-handed sword (2d6); Move 15 (100 on astral plane); Save 16; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Powers (astral travel, mind blast, telekinesis).

| Mate: HD 5; AC -1 [20]; Atk 1 two-handed sword +1 (2d6+2); Move 15 (100 on astral plane); Save 12; CL/XP 6/400; Special: Powers (astral travel, mind blast, telekinesis).

| Captain: HD 8; AC -3 [22]; Atk 1 silver sword +3 (3d6); Move 15 (100 on astral plane); Save 8; CL/XP 11/1700; Special: Powers (astral travel, mind blast, telekinesis), protection from good, cause disease 1/week.

| Lich-Queen: HD 12; AC 1 [18]; Atk 1 vorpal sword +5 (3d6); Move 15 (100 on astral plane); Save 3; CL/XP 2/30; Special: Powers (astral travel, mind blast, telekinesis), 12th level magic-user.

The doloks are a race of aberrations dedicated to the destruction of all life. Outside of their vehicles they look like anemic little squids and can be destroyed easily with a single weapon blow. Inside their vehicles, however, they are quite formidable. Doloks will instantly attack any living creature that crosses their path, shouting endlessly “destroy, destroy” in their high, metallic voices. They attack by firing a disintegration ray from their forward cannons. This ray works like the spell disintegrate. Doloks are immune to fear and other mind-affecting effects. Doloks can be encountered on the astral plane.

| Dolok: HD 6; AC -6 [25]; Atk 1 ray (disintegration); Move 6 (Fly 9); Save 11; CL/XP 10/1400; Special: Disintegrate ray, fearless.

Dune Raider
Beyond the shallow, black seas of the moon and the fungus forests that crowd those shores are the windswept lunar deserts. These deserts are frightening places; broiling hot in the daytime and freezing cold in the night, with fine, choking gray dust. The beasts who dwell in these deserts are fierce survivors, and the barbarians who hunt them are doubly fierce.

The dune raiders live in small hunting tribes. They live their entire lives wrapped in silk scarves and thick, woolen cloaks meant to protect their skin from the elements and their lungs from the lunar dust. They are built as humans, but have deep, croaking voices that betray their alien nature.

Dune raiders use massive woolly lunar caterpillars (10 HD, AC 18, MV 30, SV P, slam for 2d6 damage) as their mounts. These creatures are larger than elephants and exist in their caterpillar stage for over one hundred years before burrowing in the sand and emerging a century later as a lunar moth. The caterpillars are mostly inoffensive creatures capable of sustaining themselves on nutrients sifted from the sand. The raiders use their silk to weave their scarves and their hair to weave robes and cloaks.

Dune raiders use morningstars made of petrified seedpods found beneath the lunar sand. They are as effective as metal weapons and affect lycanthropes as though they were silver. The light weight of the seeds allow their wielders a +1 bonus to initiative.

They also arm themselves with ancient jezzails (rifles), the origin of which are unknown. An explosive powder and metallic balls are procured somewhere in the desert. These weapons have a range of 200 ft and deal 2-16 damage with a successful hit. They jam about one time in ten, and have such an explosive recoil that their firers must succeed at a CC 15 strength check to avoid being knocked prone.

The most important device the dune raiders have at their disposal, and another mystery for wizards, is their breathing tube. Anchored beneath their necks, these copper tubes sneak beneath their scarves and provide them with cool, dust-free air.

All dune raiders have the abilities of 3rd level rangers. If the dune raiders have a religion it is unknown, and spell casters have never been encountered among their kind. They make their way hunting the sands and raiding small settlements. On rare occasions they will seek to trade their silk and wool for seemingly worthless baubles; they are especially fond of glass and copper.

| Dune Raider: HD 3; AC 7 [12]; Atk 1 weapon (1d6); Move 12; Save 14; CL/XP 4/120; Special: 3rd level rangers.

Jeeps are rare, dog-like creatures that live in Africa. They originate in the 4th dimension, and their extraplanar origin gives them the ability to use the following spells at will: dimension door, ethereal jaunt and spider climb. Jeeps eat only orchids, making them expensive pets to keep. They never tell lies and are loyal to the end.

“A Jeep is an animal living in a three dimensional world-in this case our world- but really belonging to a fourth dimensional world. Here’s what happened. A number of Jeep life cells were somehow forced through the dimensional barrier into our world. They combined at a favorable time with free life cells of the African Hooey Hound. The electrical vibrations of the Hooey Hound cell and the foreign cell were the same. They were kindred cells. In fact, all things are to some extent are relative, whether they be of this or some other world, now you see. The extremely favorable conditions of germination in Africa caused a fusion of these life cells. So the uniting of kindred cells caused a transmutation. The result, a mysterious strange animal.”

| Jeep: HD 2; AC 5 [14]; Atk 1 bite (1d4); Move 15; Save 16; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Dimension door, ethereal jaunt, spider climb.

Klingens are a race of humanoids with swarthy skin and black hair. Both males and females have hard features and thick eyebrows. Male klingens usually cultivate beards and mustachios. Although klingens live in a highly regimented society, one should not come to the conclusion that they are lawful. Advancement in their society is through murder of those of higher rank, and klingen groups are rife with factions and double-dealing. All klingen warriors (and most civilians) can back attack for double damage.

Klingen warriors wear mail shirts and wield ray guns and daggers. Their ray guns fire a beam that can either inflict 2-12 points of subdual damage or 2-12 points of lethal damage. For every 10 klingen warriors there is a commander with 2 HD and the ability to back attack for triple damage. For every 5 commanders there is a 3 HD lieutenant with the death attack ability of a 2nd level assassin. For every 5 lieutenants there is a 5 HD captain with the death attack ability of a 4th level assassin.

Klingen player characters have a +1 bonus to wisdom and a -1 penalty to charisma. Typical classes are assassin, fighter and rogue. Klingen player characters have a +1 bonus to making rear and flank attacks, over and above normal bonuses. Their thick skin and unique physiology gives them a +1 bonus to armor class.

| Klingen: HD 1+1; AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 weapon (1d4) or 1 ray gun (2d6); Move 12; Save 17; CL/XP 2/30; Special: Backstab x2.

| Commander: HD 2+1; AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 weapon (1d4) or 1 ray gun (2d6); Move 12; Save 16; CL/XP 3/60; Special: Backstab x3.

| Lieutenant: HD 3+1; AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 weapon (1d4) or 1 ray gun (2d6); Move 12; Save 14; CL/XP 4/120; Special: Death attack as assassin.

| Captain: HD 5+1; AC 4 [15]; Atk 1 weapon (1d4) or 1 ray gun (2d6); Move 12; Save 12; CL/XP 6/400; Special: Death attack as assassin.

Deviant Friday – Benito Gallego Edition

Yes indeed, 15 images again, because choosing my favorites from the work of today’s Deviant, Benito Gallego, was tough. Gallego‘s style is reminiscent of Buscema and Chan’s work on the old Marvel Conan comics. I’m leaving for Ottumwa, IA today to visit family, so no posts this weekend. See you next week!



Love this one – gives Star Trek a pulp feel

Pinball Magic-Users

In the days of D-n-D’s infancy, it seems as though fantasy art had three main avenues of presentation – softcover, digest-sized reprints of ’30s pulp stories, the sides of vans and pinball machines.

Last weekend I visited the local Pinball Hall of Fame and snapped a few shots apropos to the blog.

I’ve mastered this one on the Wii, but the real machine eludes me.

Just noticed the alternate name at the base of this machine …

Centigrade 37 – get it? get it?

With a name like Abra Cadabra, you’d think he was a magic-user. Trust me – he’s a thief.

Not pinball, but still …

Quick Review – Star Trek 2

I finished reading Star Trek 2, adapted by James Blish. Now, this is not a novelization of the Wrath of Khan, but rather an adaptation of several Star Trek episodes (including “Space Seed”, from which we get Khan) originally published in 1968. Apparently, there are multiple volumes of this series. The volume contains the following adaptations: “Arena”, “A Taste of Armageddon”, “Tomorrow is Yesterday”, “Errand of Mercy”, “Court Martial”, “Operation – Annihilate!”, “The City on the Edge of Forever” and “Space Seed”.

I’ve seen all of these episodes of course, so you might wonder the point of reading them. While adaptations of books to film are often lacking, primarily because of all that has to be left behind and the penchant of Hollywood for re-writing the source material, I have often found novelizations of movies to be an improvement. The written word has an unlimited special effects budget for one thing, and the writers of adaptations usually fill in the gaps of characterization in interesting ways.

The fun of this book is that it predates the fan-boy “canon” of modern Star Trek, where everything has been organized, classified and filled in. In 1968, Star Trek was still something of an unknown quantity, much as Star Wars was in the late 1970’s, when we had only seen one film and were still able to fill in the details with our own young imaginations.

Since it predates canon, we discover some interesting details that might be fun to explore in a role-playing game set in a more pulp sci-fi Star Trek setting. A couple that spring to mind are the description of the gorn in “Arena” –

“The first thing he saw was the Gorn. It was a biped, a reptile, a lizard that walked like a man. It stood about six feet four, with tremendous musculature, dully gleaming skin, a ridge of hard plate running down its back, and a strong, thick tail. The tail did not look prehensile; rather, it seemed to be a balancing organ, suggesting that the creature could run very fast indeed if it wished. The head was equipped with two tiny earholes and a wide mouth full of sharp teeth.”

Not terribly different from what we saw on screen, except for the “run very fast indeed”. The adaptation gives you a much better sense for the fact that Kirk was supposed to be completely outmatched physically by the gorn, and that his only hope for winning was to use his brain.

In “Errand of Mercy”, we learn about the Klingons –

“The Klingons were hard-faced, hard-muscled men, originally of Oriental stock.”

Surprise – the Klingons are humans, though obviously separated from the rest of humanity at some point in the past and thus of slightly different stock, larger and more militaristic. In effect, hobgoblins to the Federation’s humans.

Kirk comes off as more of a Flash Gordon-type in the book and Spock is more half-human than Nimoy portrayed him. The book contains other little notions that might make old Trek fans see the series in a new light, and for that reason the book is worth reading. Understand, it is a thin volume (112 pages) and a very quick read, but since I picked it up for $2.80 at a used book store, I would say I got my money’s worth.