Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Hobbit, Comic-con PosterVia Jackson’s Facebook page:

It is only at the end of a shoot that you finally get the chance to sit down and have a look at the film you have made. Recently Fran, Phil and I did just this when we watched for the first time an early cut of the first movie – and a large chunk of the second. We were really pleased with the way the story was coming together, in particular, the strength of the characters and the cast who have brought them to life. All of which gave rise to a simple question: do we take this chance to tell more of the tale? And the answer from our perspective as the filmmakers, and as fans, was an unreserved ‘yes.’

We know how much of the story of Bilbo Baggins, the Wizard Gandalf, the Dwarves of Erebor, the rise of the Necromancer, and the Battle of Dol Guldur will remain untold if we do not take this chance. The richness of the story of The Hobbit, as well as some of the related material in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings, allows us to tell the full story of the adventures of Bilbo Baggins and the part he played in the sometimes dangerous, but at all times exciting, history of Middle-earth.

So, without further ado and on behalf of New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Wingnut Films, and the entire cast and crew of “The Hobbit” films, I’d like to announce that two films will become three.

It has been an unexpected journey indeed, and in the words of Professor Tolkien himself, “a tale that grew in the telling.”


Peter J

My concise commentary:

Oh, just fuck off. What a lame way to start the week.

A gorgeous view of the Milky Way and Earth from the International Space Station. Not bad, hey? Few images of the earth have put things into perspective for me as much as this one has.

Knate Myers, who compiled and uploaded the video, explains the process:

Every frame in this video is a photograph taken from the International Space Station. All credit goes to the crews on board the ISS.

I removed noise and edited some shots in photoshop.

Both beautiful and mind-meltingly telling about our place in the universe. The video can be fulled in full HD glory on Vimeo.

A Map for Red Country by Joe Abercrombie

A Map for Red Country by Joe Abercrombie, art by Dave Senior and Laura Brett – Click to Embiggen

Abercrombie on the map:

The Heroes was very focused in time and place, detailed, forensic almost, the ground all important – faux military history, in a sense, so the map needed to look detailed, professional and precise as well, with the positions of units added in for an extra veneer of military exactitude. This time around the story is taking place in an expanse of largely unmapped, scarcely settled wilderness so it made sense that the map be much rougher, less accurate-seeming, more woolly and suggestive without too much worry over blank spaces, a drawn on the back of a beermat by a fella with a big beard sense.

We all like a good map, don’t we? I do appreciate, too, that there is a slight red cast to the colour palette used for the map, making this, literally, a red country.

The Acacia Trilogy by David Anthony Durham

“Of course a thing that could be made into a weapon would be made into a weapon. It did not matter if it was a thing of beauty. It did not matter if their mission was holy and benevolent. It only mattered that The Song could be twisted to serve human greed. If that was so, it was only a measure of time until someone grasped for it.”

The Acacia Trilogy

By David Anthony Durham
Trade Paperback
Publisher: Anchor/Doubleday
The War with the Mein: 0307947130
The Other Lands: 0307947149
The Sacred Band: 0307739600

That quote stood out to me in the final volume of The Acacia Trilogy. I wouldn’t say it’s the theme of the series distilled down into four lines of prose, but it is pretty representative of one of the many contained there in. On the surface, David Anthony Durham’s trilogy, and first foray into genre fiction, looks like run of the mill epic fantasy. His protagonists are four royal children whose father is struck dead in the opening moments of the first novel, The War With the Mein, forcing them to scatter, grow to adulthood, and return to restore peace to the Akaran Kingdom and the Known World. It’s not quite the farm boy prophesied to save the world, but it’s not far off.

I began with this quote not because of its significance to the overall message of Durham’s work, rather because it signifies an attempt to speak to something larger than the narrative itself. I suspect that many reviews written about Durham’s series will laud it for its progressive nature (edit: after writing this post I read Neth Space’s review that does just that) and rightly so.

At the start of the story, the Akaran kingdom has been ruled by a family for generations. Their power is maintained through an arrangement with a powerful entity across the sea. In exchange for a drug called mist, the Akaran’s offer up a quota of children for an unknown purpose. Through mist they create a pliable population to work the mines and fields that sustain their reign. Unlike so much fantasy, the series ends not with the status quo (i.e. – the evil defeated), but with legitimate change and progression toward something better, brought about by the will of the characters and their own growth. Suffice to say there’s a great deal to chew on with regard to Durham’s social commentary. Read More »

"This is an Emergency Test of Your Magic System" by Josh Vogt - An image from MISTBORN: BIRTHRIGHT
Creating a new magic system isn’t all that hard. Do I hear a few dissenters in the audience? For the sake of the next exercise, let’s assume I do. Time to play a quick round of Magic Mad-libs!

Fill in the blanks:
“In a(n) adjective world populated by noun, practitioners known as made-up-word can call upon energy source to fuel a form of noun magic.”

What’d you come up with? In a forested world populated by squirrels, practitioners known as fuzzummoners can call upon mystical oak trees to fuel a form of acorn magic? Me too! Weird.

Once a basic concept is pinned down, it’s still not difficult to flesh out the system. There are so many types of magic systems swarming the shelves these days, they’ve started to lump into familiar categories. Here are a few common approaches:

  • Beakers full of fairy dust – This is magic as science. The fuzzummoners exist within a universe that has an extra level or two of physics, with established rules that govern their acorn spell-casting. (Think pretty much any book by Brandon Sanderson.) Or the fuzzummoners have stumbled across mysterious, ancient—possibly alien—doohickeys that are so far beyond their comprehension it might as well be magic.
  • The mythology wood-chipper – Fuzzummoners are just one supernatural faction alongside Norse gods, dragons, trolls, vampires, and whatever else gets thrown into the mix for variety’s sake. (Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series is a great example.) Bit of a magical free-for-all where anything goes (Also look at T.A. Pratt’s Marla Mason series).
  • Is that a D20 in your pocket? –The fuzzummoners magic originates from a roleplaying world with game mechanics complicated enough to boggle Jeopardy’s Watson. Whether a tabletop or video game, the gameplay came first, the stories came later. (Look to the Pathfinders Tales series as a current example, plus plenty of other media tie-ins.)

If creating the magic system isn’t hard, what’s the difficult part then? Read More »