Okay, this is seriously cool. An artist named Sillof has recreated the Star Wars cast in a Steampunk style. Click the pictures to embiggen.

Steampunk Star Wars | Heroes Steampunk Star Wars | Villains Steampunk Star Wars | Jabba's Court Steampunk Star Wars | Bounty Hunters

This line is my attempt to redesign the Star Wars universe in an antiquated Victorian style.

This line is a three part series. It features my favorite aesthetic…old. I love the clunky old-fashioned look of the industrial era. It is kind of steampunk, but not really, which is why I changed the name of the line. It is influenced by Jules Verne, HG Welles, Terry Gilliam, Guillermo Del Toro, etc. But I feel it has my own unique sensibilities as well.

There are detail shots of all of the characters over at Sillof’s Workshop, the website of the artist behind the conversions. Even more is available on his deviantART Gallery.

Best known for His Dark Materials, an allegorical look at religion disguised as a great YA trilogy, Philip Pullman is back to dissecting the Christian faith in a not-so-veiled manner. His next novel, title The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ is sure to turn as many heads as His Dark Materials ever did.

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

From Guardian.co.uk:

The book will provide a new account of the life of Jesus, challenging the gospels and arguing that the version in the New Testament was shaped by the apostle Paul. “By the time the gospels were being written, Paul had already begun to transform the story of Jesus into something altogether new and extraordinary, and some of his version influenced what the gospel writers put in theirs,” said Pullman, who last year pronounced himself delighted that the His Dark Materials trilogy was one of the most “challenged” series in America’s libraries, boasting the most requests for removal from the shelves because of its “religious viewpoint”.

His new book, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, will be published next Easter as part of Scottish independent press Canongate’s Myths series, which has also seen Margaret Atwood tackle The Odyssey from the perspective of Odysseus’s wife Penelope, Jeanette Winterson retell the myth of Atlas and Heracles and Michel Faber take on Prometheus with a modern retelling which sees an academic discover a fifth gospel. In Faber’s version, Jesus’s last words on the cross are “please, somebody, please finish me”, and one of his last actions is to urinate on the head of the gospel’s author.

“Paul was a literary and imaginative genius of the first order who has probably had more influence on the history of the world than any other human being, Jesus certainly included. I believe this is a pity,” said Pullman. “The story I tell comes out of the tension within the dual nature of Jesus Christ, but what I do with it is my responsibility alone. Parts of it read like a novel, parts like a history, and parts like a fairy tale; I wanted it to be like that because it is, among other things, a story about how stories become stories.”

It may be a departure from the Fantasy genre that launched Pullman’s career, but in a post-Dan Brown world, it’s hard to imagine that a story like this won’t hit a huge audience. Plus, Pullman can tell a hell of a story, regardless of being shackled down by real-world history. In fact, it seems the strength of this novel, and the whole drive behind the story, is exploring how history gets warped and twisted by those that record it.

I’m not a religious person, but between my enjoyment of Pullman’s earlier novels and a general interest in the history of religion (and controversial religious studies), I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on this for a rainy day when I need a break from the genre.

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Taking a page out of Hellgate: London (which crashed and burned, hard) and Maple Story (which is a huge success), Dungeons and Dragons Online is going free-to-play, with micro-transactions included for those really serious about the game. The official web site gives a little rundown:

DDO Unlimited introduces an innovative new way to play – you can download and play DDO for free! For even more action and fun, you can purchase additional adventures, convenience items, and account services at your leisure from the new DDO Store. Can’t get enough of DDO? You can even subscribe, becoming a “VIP”, to get unlimited access to all of the game’s content.

Dungeons and Dragons Online

An article on Gameindustry.biz sheds a bit of light on why DDO went free-to-play:

The US-only, free-to-play makeover for the MMO turns regular subscribers into VIP members and gives access to all game content as well as a monthly Turbine Point allowance. But, said Mersky, the company has still profited from Turbine Point sales.

“They all got a ton of points for being loyal subscribers, for being in the beta. We weren’t really expecting a ton of sales – they had no incentive to. They already had access to all of the content as VIP subscribers, and we just gave them a butt-load of Points,” Mersky told Kotaku, as reported by Eurogamer.

“They’ve gone through their points, and we’ve already sold millions more Turbine points, and we’ve not even opened up the world to the public yet.”

“The hottest selling items are the new Favored Soul class, which is unlockable in-game, but all of our subs just went ahead and spent points on it, unlocked it, and they’re playing it right now,” he added.

[…] Alongside the switch to a free-to-play model comes Module 9, which raises the level cap, adds two new storylines, overhauls the combat system and introduces the Favored Soul. Module 9 will also be released as a regular free update to European subscribers.

You can create an account and download the game HERE.

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To make the world of publishing even more confusing, Tor.com – which is not the same as Tor Books, apparently – is stepping into the publishing fray, by becoming a new imprint for Macmillan. There first title is a print-on-demand run of Year’s Best Fantasy 9, edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer.

Year’s Best Fantasy 9, edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer.

This highly anticipated release also marks something we’re particularly proud of: Tor.com’s debut as a publishing entity, distinct from Tor Books and as a separate imprint under our shared corporate overlords at Macmillan.

YBF 9 is available only as a print-on-demand book, in keeping with our mission of always exploring alternative forms of publishing. Similar to the launch of the Tor.com Store, this title is one of our various publishing projects that seek to experiment with the available alternatives to publishing’s traditional sales, distribution, and delivery mechanisms.

Year’s Best Fantasy 9 is available in the Tor.com Store, of course, as well as via online retailers such as Amazon, B&N, and more.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one who’s confused about how a website can also be an imprint of a large publishing company. In any case, the list of authors and stories included in the anthology is certainly impressive:

“Shoggoths in Bloom” – Elizabeth Bear

“The Rabbi’s Hobby” – Peter S. Beagle

“Running the Snake” – Kage Baker

“The Illustrated Biography of Lord Grimm” – Daryl Gregory

“Reader’s Guide” – Lisa Goldstein

“The Salting and Canning of Benevolence D.” – Al Michaud

“Araminta, or, The Wreck of the Amphidrake” – Naomi Novik

“A Buyer’s Guide to Maps of Antarctica” – Catherynne M. Valente

“From the Clay of His Heart” – John Brown

“If Angels Fight” – Richard Bowes

“26 Monkeys and the Abyss” – Kij Johnson

“Philologos; or, A Murder in Bistrita” – Debra Doyle & James Macdonald

The Film-makers of Mars” – Geoff Ryman

“Childrun” – Marc Laidlaw

“Queen of the Sunlit Shore” – Liz Williams

“Lady Witherspoon’s Solution” – James Morrow

“Dearest Cecily” – Kristine Dikeman

“Ringing the Changes in Okotoks, Alberta” – Randy McCharles

“Caverns of Mystery” – Kage Baker

“Skin Deep” – Richard Parks

“King Pelles the Sure” – Peter S. Beagle

“A Guided Tour in the Kingdom of the Dead” – Richard Harland

“Avast, Abaft!” – Howard Waldrop

“Gift from a Spring” – Delia Sherman

“The First Editions” – James Stoddard

“The Olverung” – Stephen Woodworth

“Daltharee” – Jeffrey Ford

“The Forest” – Kim Wilkins

An interesting business model… to say the least. I’m still not sure why Macmillan is positioning Tor Books and Tor.com as separate entities.

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A couple of weeks ago, I brought news about the Swords and Black Magic anthology, coming from Lou Anders, Jonathan Strahan and EOS Books. Well, I’m happy to also announce (via the beauty of Facebook) the inclusion of one of my very favourite authors to the anthology: Greg Keyes, author of The Born Queen and the upcoming Elder Scrolls novel, The Infernal City

The Hounds of Ash by Greg Keyes

Keyes sent me a message today, confirming his inclusion:

I saw the aside [on] Dribble of Ink concerning the Swords and Dark Magic anthology. I’ve got a piece in there, too, a new Fool Wolf story. The whole thing is shaping up to be damn cool.

That brings the confirmed list of authors to: Joe Abercrombie, Gene Wolfe, Michael Moorcock, Glen Cook, Steven Erikson, Scott Lynch, James Enge, C.J. Cherryh and the newly announced Greg Keyes. Seriously, this anthology just keeps getting better and better. Now if only we could get a George R.R. Martin story in there….