Reaction Chamber

The Invention of Lying

l_1058017_8af16772Weren’t expecting this, were you? Based on the trailer, my impression of the movie was that it was going to be a lighthearted romp about people who misunderstand each other and then find each other emotionally, surrounded by a materially improbable setting. I expected the very embodiment of two words I have come to dread.

“Chick Flick”

Don’t wait for the part where I relent and say I was sadly mistaken. This is a chick flick. Snag a notepad and watch it anyway.

The materially improbable premise is that “people never evolved the need to lie.” The phrasing is important. Relationships between people are based on their potential for a positive genetic match in their children. Wedding vows consist of the words, “Do you promise to stay together as long as you want to and to protect your offspring?” A man on the street screams to nobody in particular, “Why are we wearing clothes and living on top of concrete? We’re just animals!” read more

Forward the Foundation

"Isaac Asimov on Throne" by Rowena Morrill
“Isaac Asimov on Throne” by Rowena Morrill

Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series is most well known as the winner of the Hugo Award for “Best All-Time Series” in 1966, the only series to date to which the award has been given. Asimov himself assumed the award had been created to honor J.R.R. Tolkien and was surprised to receive it. The original short stories were published between 1942 and 1950 in the pages of Astounding Magazine. These were later collected, and additional material added to form the novels known as the Foundation Trilogy. read more

Dungeons & Dragons 5e Starter Set

DSCN1944Summer of 2014 saw the release of the fifth edition of Dungeons & Dragons in a box set designed to introduce new players to the game. The box includes a rule book, an adventure book, pregenerated character sheets, and a full set of dice. It retails for $19.99.

Create Your Character +0: The production quality of the box is fairly average. The dice are a nice, marbleized deep blue with bright white numbers. The rule books use thick, glossy presentation pages, and the character sheets are on heavy-weave linen. Both books are coverless, saddle-stitched jobs. A 64-page rulebook and a 32-page adventure book. The included rules are meant to take characters as high as 5th level, and the adventure booklet maps out this structure very well. The box set plays as a quaint little self-contained game that will provide four or five complete gaming sessions. read more

Fox Fall part 2: Sleepy Hollow

sleepy hollowIf Gotham’s mythology weights it down from sheer volume, then Sleepy Hollow is hopelessly submerged in the deluge of a mythos not its own. Every single bit of this series inspired by based on using the names from Washington Irving’s eponymous ghost story borrows in the loosest since from vaguely supernatural-sounding events, history, and publications from throughout time.

The first season pulled names and references haphazardly from the Bible to populate a wholly original end-times scenario, sprinkled with a dash of Colonial American and European lore. I am generally in favor of wholly original mythology, and I think that CW’s Supernatural has done an excellent job of presenting new mythological construction. Sleepy Hollow has other problems. read more

Fox Fall part 1: Gotham

Gotham-TV-Show-Fox-LogoFox television groans with the weight of mythology. And you thought it was the audience.

It probably says something significant that the fall season premiered without so much as a by your leave, and I didn’t even notice. That may only be that I’m oblivious, but it may equally be that I’ve become jaded to the very idea of network television as being something worth watching. Still, I’ve been looking forward to the premiere of Gotham and the return of Sleepy Hollow. Get it right this time, Fox! read more

Post-GenCON GURPS Showdown

It took a bit to gather the time and energy to decompress after GenCON, but Curt and I finally review our convention experiences. Add in a little music from The FUMP, and close out with a cage match between GURPS 3E and 4E. It’s all gaming this time around.

Music from The Fump. Nuclear Bubble Wrap’s cover of Rich Fantasy Lives.

Discussion topic: GURPS by Steve Jackson Games.

Shark Week

fakeumentoryShark Week and GenCON 2014 all in one sitting. We’ve got some things to say about the fakeumentories on the Discovery Channel. Last year it was Megalodon, and this year it’s Shark of Darkness: Wrath of Submarine! We share our excitement over GenCON, dish out a new life lesson from the Disney-Pixar film Finding Nemo, and serve up a B-Movie Double Feature review. This time around: Sharktopus and Tw0-Headed Shark Attack. Both films get positive “Buy It” reviews. Finally, Isaiah talks about the book he read, “Armor of God” by Phil Elmore. It’s a great story about a real-life superhero. See you in the reaction chamber! read more