The great old stories break and bend rules modern audiences take for granted. For example: Journey to the West, which I talked about last month, is a story of high-flying magic, transformation, kung fu, divine war, and so on—that, for all its epic scope, reads more like Sword and Sorcery.
That is, to borrow Liz Bourke’s definition of S&S: Journey to the West is a story of encounter, in which central characters going about their daily business keep running into strange, fascinating, terrifying things—and befriending them, or beating them about the head and shoulders, or both.
By contrast, let’s talk about one of the best war-and-intrigue novels of all time, the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. At first glance, Three Kingdoms seems an epic fantasy, in that it describes the fall of a massive empire through the lens of central characters with dynastic ambition. But, though set in a time of miracles, Three Kingdoms relies on the traditional Sword & Sorcery mix of cleverness, combat, and betrayal rather than prophecy or magic. Continue reading
Fantasy should be the broadest genre in existence. Fantasy writers get to create and transform to our hearts’ content. Not even the laws of thermodynamics bind us. Our imaginations are our only limits.
The problem is, the imagination’s limits are often harder than physical law. Writers are formed by experience, and interpret that experience into story using instincts developed reading, and hearing, stories, from early childhood. So, when a lot of Western folks turn to writing fantasy, Arthurian and Greek and Norse myths are the seeds they use to people and structure their imaginative worlds.
Which is fine! Each generation needs to remake the myths received from the previous generation. But sometimes writers and readers feel the limits of their traditions, and wonder, what else is out there, other than kings and earls?
In this three-part series I’m going to be writing about stories I think all fantasy writers and fans should know, other than the standard Celtic, Greek, and Norse sources. If you know these stories already, then good! I hope there’ll be something cool for you here anyway. If these stories are new to you, maybe these few posts will expose you to some amazing worlds. Continue reading
Since the Fall 2012 release of the Wii U, Nintendo has been trying to convince gamers to make the switch from their tried-and-true PlayStation 3s, Xbox 360s and Wiis, for a new, shiny Wii U. The problem, those systems are already in gamers living rooms/dens and have a ton of good games, many still to come. It’s never safe to count Nintendo out, especially when you’re an long time fan of their mainstay franchises, and they’ve certainly taken a big step towards winning over gamers with today’s announcement of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, a full-HD remake of the classic Nintendo Gamecube game. Unlike many HD ‘remakes’ release on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, which are little more than uprezzed versions of classic games, with little attention to detail given to updating the gameplay for a new audience, this appears to be a full remake. Think, if you will, the remake of Resident Evil released for the Gamecube, rather than the recent remake of Okami for the PlayStation 3. Both are terrific games, but the ideals behind the remakes are entirely different.
These screenshots are gorgeous. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker is known for its bold and (at the time) divisive art style. Though it’s 10 years old, the original release holds up better graphically than games released five years afterwards. To see Nintendo giving such care and attention to the game makes me feel all warm and tingly inside. The bloom lighting is a little much, but I’m banking on the idea that it will look more organic and impressive during gameplay. I’m waiting anxiously for video of this remake.
Set 120 years in the future, the premise revolves around a plausible future Earth, one that has developed near space flight, but nothing much faster. The story opens with Earth discovering a signal from an alien life. This discovery kicks off something called the Morning Star protocol, an agreement that outlines what to do if alien intelligence is discovered. The research vessel MSRV-Joplin is outfitted with military weapons and sent to Saturn, where the signal is coming from, to explore.
It’s not so much an announcement, as knowledge of Scalzi’s involvement with the creation of a videogame has been floating around for a while, but this is the first concrete information about the title. Scalzi reports on the project:
As most of you know, for the last year or so I’ve been working on a video game with Industrial Toys, the new video game studio formed by former Bungie founder Alex Seropian. We’ve been quietly chugging along in the background putting the game together; my job has been working with them to create an overall game concept as well as the narrative that fits into that concept. It’s been a hell of a lot of fun, in no small part because my co-workers at Industrial Toys are some of the smartest and most creative people in the video game business.
As the trailer notes, the video game is a first-person shooter, but with a bit of a twist: It’s designed specifically for mobile gaming on tablets, which means that everything — gameplay, controls, story — was put together incorporating both the physical layout of tablets and the gameplay dynamic of mobile gaming. It’s not a port from another video game medium, in other words: It’s at home in mobile. Which is also very exciting.
Internet sleuths, generally being videogame enthusiasts on the side, have unearthed the first images of Destiny, the first game developed by Bungie since they handed the reins of the mega-popular Halo series to 343 Industries. While not gameplay or in-engine screenshots, this collection of concept art is gorgeous and gives fans a good idea of what they might expect from Destiny, an MMORPG for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. Continue reading