Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Short Time Periods, Briefly

Last year, I expressed the hope that there'd be a live album derived from the Alison Moyet tour of that time. The good news, in brief, is that there is.

"minutes and seconds live" is just a CD when all's said and done, of course, well put-together and clear on the ear but not the same as being there. Still, it preserves the interesting rearrangements of some of Moyet's classic songs, and it's a decent memento of an excellent tour. Recommended to those to whom that means something.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Time is Relative (I Guess)

Gosh, Christopher Nolan really, really wants to have made 2001: A Space Odyssey, doesn't he?

It's difficult to say much about Interstellar without either giving away large parts of the plot or going on at similar length to the two-and-three-quarter-hour movie, neither of which I'm much inclined to do here, but I'm not certain that there was one moment during that time when I wasn't asking myself which other movie this frame was borrowing from, and usually the answer was easy. (Okay. towards the end, there was a scene where I was just trying to remember which SF novel cover the image was based on.) And I'm really not a movie geek, at all. It wasn't always Kubrick's creation - actually, that point of reference didn't become blatant until some was into the movie - but Nolan's naked adoration for 2001 was clearly what made Interstellar happen. He then inflated the result into a love letter to a whole bunch of SF movies. However, he replaced Kubrick and Clarke's sometimes desperate scrabbling for the numinous with a lot of rather more Hollywood-conventional explanation, most of it unconvincing.

But I'll leave it to other people to break down the flaky astrophysics, highly dubious planetology, inexplicable spaceship design, and protracted sentimentality. The fact remains that "If you're going to steal, steal from the best" remains a pretty sound rule to live by. I don't know how much it helped that I saw this movie in a cinema with a 35mm projector - I'm really not a movie geek - and maybe IMAX would make it even better, but anyway, I'm not begrudging those three hours of my life. Sometimes, you just have to go along for the ride.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Expand, Contract (44)

Oops, I almost forgot to note - I had a fairly substantial article in last month's Pyramid, entitled "Dungeons of Mars" - the subject matter being crossing dungeon fantasy over with planetary romance.

And on a more substantial note - while one of my short Transhuman Space supplements moves through the production process towards publication, I've just signed a contract for another.

Monday, October 27, 2014


I appear to have acquired a Wikipedia page. Or had one imposed on me, I suppose. Vanity tends to the first. On the other hand, "This biographical article relating to a role-playing game designer is a stub." Well, yes. It's not very complete. Kind of a strange feeling, being a stub.

(If anyone with Wikipedia-editing habits ever wants to expand it, without engaging in the dread Original Research, I can think of a number of places to find out things about me that I've put in the public domain myself. Most of them are only slightly frivolous and not actually untrue, even.)

Friday, September 26, 2014


The question has to be - how long did John Allison spend designing this? And how many of those comics would one love to see to exist?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Expand, Contract (43)

The Sinbad the Sailor book mentioned in the immediately preceding post is now officially on sale - and yes, I've got my paper copies, and they're gorgeous. I guess I should look for my name on Osprey spinners in bookshops. It's available in paper and electronic formats.

By way of gamer-geek celebration, I even created a GURPS treatment of Sinbad.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Expand, Contract (42)

(This is now listed on Osprey's 'Web page as an upcoming book, so I guess that I can talk about it here.)

A little while ago, I received one of those pleasing e-mails (as in, "an offer of paying work") from Osprey Publishing, of "military history with amazingly good art" fame. They have recently expanded into coverage of myths, legends, and other branches of the fantastical, they wanted to do a Sinbad the Sailor book, and somebody had pointed them my way.

To cut the long story short, the book is now scheduled for release in September. I'll leave it to others to comment on my work (in this case, a lot of clarifying paraphrase and some notes on the work of the likes of Tim Severin and Ray Harryhausen), but I will say now that the main illustrations, by ªRu-Mor, are absolutely gorgeous. I'm looking forward to having a paper copy in my hands.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The NHS and care.data

A matter that may be of interest to UK readers; the NHS may be trying to pull a bit of a fast one, and make the sale or release of personal patient data - not adequately anonymised - to outside organisations look like a patient care arrangement. The name "care.data" seems to be frankly misleading. See http://www.care-data.info/ for more on this, http://brief.care-data.info/ for a shorter version, or https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/14156524/caredata_trifold.pdf for an explanatory leaflet, including a form for those who want to refuse permission for their data to be released.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Expand, Contract (41)

Suddenly, we have a positive plethora of Transhuman Space publications. David Chart's Wings of the Rising Sun (edited by yours truly) is now available from e23.

It represents, I think, a cool extension of the setting. I sold the demo game I ran at conventions using this material as "Transhuman Space meets anime, with a touch of Supermarionation", and I think that I'd stand by that. It also offers the possibility of extended campaigns where the objective is to help people, rather than the RPG-traditional picking of fights. Though you still get to pilot hypersonic ramjets down from orbit.