Director/writer Duncan Jones — whom you may know from his hyper-focused, small cast sci-fi films like Moon and Source Code, or the larger-scale Warcraft film that I admittedly never saw — has a new project out in the form of a graphic novel. Madi: Once Upon A Time In The Future is written by Jones and author/letterer Alex de Campi, with a huge team of artists including Ed Ocaña, Pia Guerra, James Stokoe, RM Guéra, Chris Weston, Rufus Dayglo, Annie Wu, David Lopez, Christian Ward, Matt Wilson, Nayoung Kim, Kelly Fitzpatrick, and many more. Here's a brief synopsis:
Madi Preston, a veteran of Britain’s elite special operations J-Squad unit, is burnt out and up to her eyeballs in debt. She and the rest of her team have retired from the military but are now trapped having to pay to service and maintain the technology put into them during their years of service. They're working for British conglomerate Liberty Inc as mercenaries, selling their unique ability to be remote controlled by specialists while in the field, and the debts are only growing as they get injured completing missions. We meet Madi as she decides she’s had enough. She will take an off-the-books job that should earn her enough to pay out her and her sister, but when the piece of tech she’s supposed to steal turns out to be a kid, and she suddenly blacks out... she finds herself on the run from everyone she’s ever known.
Madi is supposed to the final part of a trilogy comprised of Jones's other M-productions, Moon and Mute; while each story exists independently, they're also part of a loosely connected universe. Read the rest
It seems weird to be writing about something as frivolous as a game while the world is infected and on fire, but we do need a little distraction and joy to keep us sane, and for some of us, the gaming hobby offers just that.
Sean Sutter, the one-person game designing artistic juggernaut behind the fabulous fantasy narrative skirmish wargame, Relicblade just launched a Kickstarter for his latest product, a two-person starter set. Within 30 minutes, he had blown past his funding goal and is currently over $40,000. For those of us familiar with this game, this is no surprise at all. To know Relicblade is to love Relicblade.
While I am a huge, lifelong fan of the tabletop gaming hobby in general, I especially adore indie games that are basically the vision of one artist. Relicblade is such a wonder. Sean does nearly everything. He designs the games, writes and lays out the rulebooks, does all of the art, sculpts all of the miniatures. This would all be impressive enough, but the quality with which he does it all makes it even more impressive. His product line confidently stands next to the big dogs in the industry.
The latest campaign, called Storms of Kural, is a two-player starter set designed to provide everything needed to enter the world of Relicblade. There are two main pledge levels, one at $100 for the rulebook, minis, cards, and tokens, and one at $85 for people who already own the rulebook. Read the rest
In Search of Tomorrow is slated to be a four-hour-long love letter to the sci-fi films of the 1980s. It is currently being crowdfunded on Kickstarter and has raised almost $470,000 dollars to date, with 32 hours left to go. It is being produced by the same folks who crowdfunded and produced the documentary on 80s horror films, In Search of Darkness.
In Search of Tomorrow will take viewers on a year-by-year deep dive into the many awe-inspiring worlds of ‘80s Sci-Fi movies, breaking down the most iconic and eccentric films you know and love (and many you may have forgotten or missed), and examining the science, technology, and artistry behind the fiction.
The completed feature will be more than four hours long and feature insights and anecdotes from an extensive collection of experts and iconic talent, including filmmakers, actors, special-effects and visual effects masters, tech advisors, authors, influencers, and visionaries. Not only will they tell their own stories, but they will share opinions about their own favorite Sci-Fi movies.
Learn more of their Kickstarter page.
Image: Promotional poster Read the rest
Celebrated poet and publisher, Janaka Stucky (Ascend Ascend), has launched a very unique and promising project on Kickstarter. It's called Ekphrastic Beasts.
What the hell does ekphrastic mean? Ekphrastic writing "is the vivid, often dramatic description of visual art."
Janaka has teamed up with four illustrators, Ellie Gill, Jeremy Hush, Joe Keinberger, and Nathan Reidt. Each of them will dredge up creatures from the depths of their subconscious and render what they invoke. Janaka will then take that art and create the names, backstories, and stat blocks for each creature, suitable for play in 5e Dungeons & Dragons. Hence, Ekphrastic Beasts.
I'm in! Read the rest
Jim Starlin has drawn classic issues of many major comic book characters since the early 1970s, including Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Legion of Super Heroes, and more. But his real claim to fame is his artistic obsession — both as an artist, and a writer — with exploring mythological archetypes on a meta-galactic scale. Starlin pioneered characters like Captain Marvel and Adam Warlock, and also created Thanos, Drax, Gamora, and many other characters that were thematically fascinating but never commercially successful until the recent explosion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
One of Starlin's pet projects in the early 80s was a book called Dreadstar. Dreadstar existed in its own universe outside of Marvel and DC, and gave Starlin a vessel through which he could continue to explore the philosophical implications of literary classics with a shameless embrace of pulpy space opera, and this time without (too much) corporate meddling.
Nearly four decades later, Starlin is returning to the Dreadstar universe with a new Kickstarter-funded original graphic novel that already raised more than $50,000 in the first few days — a testament to the cross-generational appeal of Starlin's work. From the campaign page:
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The original, long-running Dreadstar series centered on the exploits of Vanth Dreadstar, newly arrived in the Empirical Galaxy after the necessary destruction of the Milky Way. Vanth attempts to live a pastoral existence on a planet populated by peaceful cat-people. That peace is quickly disturbed when Dreadstar and the crew he assembles are thrust into the conflict between the two major forces in the galaxy: The Monarchy and the Theocratical Instrumentality and its Lord High Papal.
If you've ever tried to create swapable arms and weapons on gaming miniatures, using rare earth magnets, you know what a hassle it can be. Great idea, not fun to implement.
In 2018, a Kickstarter called Hand of Glory raised $156,000 to create a line of hot-swapable fantasy miniatures. With a collection of figures outfitted with rare earth magnet wrists and a line of weapons and other accessories, you could mix and match to create unique miniatures tailored to your game. Hand of Glory is back with another campaign to add more figures and tons more weapons and accessory options to the line.
The folks at Hand of Glory were kind enough to send me a sample box of minis and weapons. The minis are wonderfully sculpted and the weapons and other components are varied and characterful. Hand of Glory 2 introduces 11 new figures and over 100 new weapons and other items. Among the new additions are chain-based weapons and animal figures on chain leashes.
I have never played a game using magnetized minis, so I can't judge how fussy the process is of changing out parts on the fly, or how often things fall off. The magnets do seem strong, but I did notice that some of the bigger, heavier weapons sometimes pivot on the magnetic wrist as you move the figure and "go limp," not something you ever want your scary, intimidating weapon to do. But this is a minor quibble.
With so many people using miniatures in RPGs these days, and so many cool "miniature agnostic" fantasy skirmish games out there, these sort of modular, design-your-own minis make a lot of sense. Read the rest
Jeremy of Black Magic Craft managed to get his hands on one of the prototype 3D printed full-color(!) miniatures that Hero Forge is currently offering in their Kickstarter campaign for Hero Forge 2.0.
As you can see from the video, the results are pretty impressive, as are the other miniature design and digital painting tools coming in Hero Forge 2.0. Given all of this gamery goodness, it is perhaps no surprise that Hero Forge's Kickstarter campaign has already racked up over $2 million, with 15 days still to go. Read the rest
Kevin Kelly and I interviewed our friend Jane Metcalfe for the Cool Tools podcast. Jane is the founder of NEO.LIFE, a media and events company tracking how digital tools and an engineering mindset are transforming human biology. Prior to that, she made chocolate on a pier in San Francisco at TCHO Chocolate. Jane is probably best known as the cofounder of Wired magazine.
The Kickstarter campaign for her new book "Neo.Life: 25 Visions for the Future of Our Species" is now live.
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Offi Mag Table ($249)
I love bent plywood! I also love magazines, so this bent plywood magazine holder/side table designed by Eric Pfieffer is a total winner. There is something just so satisfying about seeing a sweep of beautiful wood flow down into a curve and splash back up the other side. And that's not all. The table makes a perfect companion to your LazyBoy recliner for Sunday afternoon reading delight. But, you can also turn it on its end and use it as a makeshift work surface, which is great when a colleague has to come be in the video conference but also wants desk space to take notes. It's so good looking I used it this week on stage for an event we produced.
Souk Shopper Basket by Bohemia
I used to find shopping at farmers markets physically taxing mostly because I get excited and buy way more than I can carry, always. Read the rest
I grew up on RPGs, not tabletop strategy games, but the one exception was Car Wars, a dystopian science fiction game where you kit out vehicles with weapons and then fight them in giant duelling pits or in freeway battles. I loved Car Wars and played it like crazy.
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Kickstarter's workers have been trying to form a union, and they say that the company fired its most prominent union organizers under the pretense of performance issues, but really in order to get them out of the way and head off the unionization drive.
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Karen Wang launched a Kickstarter campaign yesterday for custom gaming dice with a modest funding goal of $20,000. Twenty-four hours later she's raised $1.66 million and the number continues to go up. I am especially enamored of the enamel pins she made:
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Brian Van Slyke writes, "STRIKE! The Game of Worker Rebellion is a board game about building a city-wide rebellion to stop a mega-corporation's takeover. It was created in collaboration between The TESA Collective, a publisher of games about changing the world, and Jobs with Justice (JWJ), a leading labor rights organization. It has just launched on Kickstarter.
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"Vital: The Future of Healthcare" is a crowdfunded anthology of short science fiction stories about the future of health care, with contributions from top writers like James Patrick Kelly, Seanan McGuire, Annalee Newitz, Paolo Bacigalupi and Caroline M. Yoachim (they're also open to submissions!).
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Josh O'Neill writes, "We're doing a box set edition of Dracula in which we reconstitute the novel into the primary source documents from which it's drawn: Mina's diary, Lucy's letters, Dailygraph newspaper clippings, even an actual phonograph record from Dr. Seward. It comes in a suitcase. Or a wooden casket or stone crypt, depending on the edition."
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I woke up this morning to two exciting announcements about crowdfunders for kid-oriented RPGs, which is outstanding news indeed: the first is a set of adventures for Martin Lloyd's superb Amazing Tales, a (four and up) kid-and-adult RPG that's endlessly fun and incredibly easy to get started with; the second is Destiny Dez, from Scott Wayne Indiana, last seen around here with his pacifist RPG Lotus Dimension, now back with an RPG for 3-8 year olds, in which "kids come up with their own plans to navigate situations before rolling a 20 sided die to decide their fate and move on in the story."
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Elly Blue has kickstarted a series of successful feminist bicycle science fiction anthologies; her latest is Dragon Bike: Fantastical feminist bicycle stories, for which she is seeking $6,000 ($10 gets you an ebook, $13 gets you a printed book, $15 gets you a book and a poster).
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