Robert A. Heinlein consistently tackled social themes through the framework of his speculative fiction in such a way as to force to reader to confront his own opinions on the subject at hand. Though Heinlein’s work is generally considered to be “hard” sci-fi instead of space opera, the author seldom delved into the fundamentals of the science or problem solving behind the technology of his stories. Instead, Heinlein tended to focus on the evolution of society, the individual’s role within society, and the responsibility of individuals towards their society. His protagonists are nearly always adventurers, philosophers, or engineers of some sort instead of natural or mathematical scientists of the kind favored by Asimov.
Just to be clear…. This is supposed to be a prison game. Your characters are hardened convicts surviving in a self-contained and self-sustaining environment that happens to have been ideally placed to survive a 1951 nuclear apocalypse. But great pains have been taken to remove or de-emphasize those story elements that characterize not only stories about prisons, but the way prisons function in real life. To be specific, this setting does its level best to ignore or downplay: gang violence, prison rape, segregation, and racism (p. 2). These are the prime motivators of tension in this kind of setting, instead the text encourages themes exploring claustrophobia (p. 5) along with “institutionalism, culture, and aggression” (p. 23).
Atomic Robo premiered in 2007 as a six-issue mini-series, quickly gaining a cult following and branching out into the two ongoing titles “Atomic Robo” and “Atomic Robo: Real Science Adventures”. The story chronicles the adventures of Atomic Robo, a self-aware mechanical man created by Nikola Tesla. Each story arc focuses on a different era in the life of Robo, beginning in the 1920s and continuing to the near future. The stories imitate the pulp action novels of the 30s and 40s, with a healthy mix of Tom Swift in the recipe. Robo’s foundation, Tesladyne, employs “Action Scientists”, which pretty much sums up the book’s approach to storytelling. Recurring antagonists include Dr. Dinosaur (an intelligent deinonychus) and the ghost (phasically fluxed corporeal entity) of Thomas Edison. The creators premiered a free webcomic release for the entire series in January 2015 as a promotion for the tenth volume of the series, “Atomic Robo and the Ring of Fire.” The creators are currently running a Patreon campaign to continue support of the Atomic Robo comic.
Freeport has been Green Ronin’s signature setting of pirate adventure and Cthulhoid madness since the early days of the d20 System boom. The setting launched with the ENnie award-winning adventure “Death in Freeport”, and has seen several other adventure modules as well as multiple setting expansions centered around the flagship title “Freeport: City of Adventure”. In 2006 the setting went “system agnostic” with the publication of the “Pirate’s Guide to Freeport” which contained no system stat blocks at all. This book was followed (slowly) by a series of “Freeport Companions” for different systems, all containing similar information tailored to different game systems. At this point, the line includes companion books for True 20, 3rd Era (d20 System), Savage Worlds, Pathfinder, and Fate.
“Experience Roman noir firsthand in Eagle Eyes, the latest Fate World of Adventure from Pete Woodworth. Battle cynicism, corruption and murder in the shadow of the Coliseum. Play Eagles, the Senate’s private investigators, and use every means at your disposal to get at the truth behind everything from “ordinary” murders and robberies to high treason, noble intrigue, military coup attempts, and perhaps even the strange and terrible excesses of the Emperors.
Cosmic Patrol from Catalyst Game Labs appealed to me the instant I saw the book. Such classic iconography with the rocket ship surrounded by orbiting bodies. A name so evocative of the pulp stories and radio serials that I love. Elegant graphic design in an attractive digest-sized hardcover. Wait. Digest size? I suppose that’s when I knew that something was about to go terribly wrong. After all, RPG books are supposed to be the full size of a 8.5×11 sheet of paper. It’s only reluctantly that Savage Worlds and Fate won me over to the 6×9 novel-sized format. Certainly Palladium’s decision to publish the new edition of Robotech: the Shadow Chronicles in manga-sized trade made the book completely undesirable from my point of view.
Shark 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!
Well, not quite. But we do have a B-movie double feature for you. One of them is Hercules, and the other is in space! Curt and I fire up the reaction chamber for two new released from the Asylum. Age of Tomorrow blends elements of Armageddon, Ender’s Game, and Independence Day. Hercules Reborn seeks to merge Conan, Gladiator, and Robin Hood. Both of them are solid movies that we enjoyed well enough. The final rating for both of them is “Borrow.” We close up with a quick review of a trip to the comic book store where we stumbled upon hidden treasures in the form of Ogre Pocket Edition and Atomic Robo the RPG! Woot! Both of them deserve an episode of their own, and we’ll get to that!
That sweet, sweet cover art for AE Apocalypse Earth by the Asylum is a total lie. Don’t get me wrong, we really liked the film. But the movie poster totally sold us a bill of goods. This episode is a B-movie double feature review: Ghost Shark – exactly what it sounds like – and AE Apocalypse Earth, a movie which was both disappointing and satisfying. I think it’s just that we were so let down by not getting any of the scenes promised on the poster. Still, great movie!