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Friday, August 22, 2008

Cool buzz from the Hero boards

I've got several blog entries planned and haven't gotten to them yet, so I'll try just knocking one out whenever I get a chance, even if it's slightly outdated (gee, isn't that how blogging is supposed to work)?

I've been a big Hero Games fan for years and my love of the Champions game in particular is one of the roots of Devil's Cape.

A couple of nice items came up on the Hero discussion boards about Devil's Cape and I thought I'd share them here. The first is the cool animated-style image of Bedlam that my old buddy Noah created. I've posted it to the left (or above, depending on how your browser window is set up).

The second is that some nice reviews have been posted there. I wanted to share one in particular, from forum member Log-Man. If you're a board member, you can read the post here. In case you're not (and if you're a gamer, it's a great community!), then I'll include the review in its entirety after the jump.

And here it is:

I finally finished the book last night. I know. I started reading it as soon as it came out, but I've had myriad distractions. Long story short: I was finally able to devote time to reading Devil's Cape. Before I move on to the review let me just say this: I generally hate reading stories written by people I know, even online acquaintances, because if they're awful I don't know what to say. Generally, if the writing is awful, I just don't say anything. That is not a problem here. Please believe me when I say this book is good. Damn good. In fact, I was blown away.

There are generally two types of supers prose out there: fan-fiction and mockery. I am pleased to see that a third category, genuine storytelling, is emerging at last. Devil's Cape is a real novel that supers fans can sink their teeth into. (This is a very good sign for supers prose readers when combined With Soon I Will Be Invincible in my mind.) The book logs in at over 400 pages, which is very long for this genre. The overall story being told is very complex, though, and requires a lot of space to explain the relationships, sub plots, and character development. I loved the framework for the novel with the clippings and the timeline at the beginning of each chapter.

The characters are intriguing and genuine. There are a lot of characters here, with many receiving long stories individually. There are heroes; legends of the past, a modern super team from another city and a trio of new supers. The three new heroes embody a number of myths and legends, from ancient Greece to Camelot to Voodoo. Each one is given plenty of time to develop into a character that we can sympathize with and root for.

Of course there are villains, too; a mysterious mastermind, squabbling mob bosses, the freakish circus of mercenaries, a sexy vampiric psychopath, street gangs, and even the city of Devil's Cape itself. While some of them are quite developed, there are others I really wanted to know more about. The Cirque du Obsurite is a wonderful collection of villainy. They are bloodthirsty killers with incredible power, yet they have spent their lives on the run, fearful of what may happen when anybody catches up with them. (The Behemoth is a great character, a ten foot monstrosity of muscles upon muscles that distort his tattoos. He eats raw meat and quotes Faulkner. Awesome.) We don't get time with the entire Cirque, though, and that would be my main quibble with the book. These characters have a lot of potential (Gork? What the hell is that??) but we really only see inside the heads of a few.

The setting is amazing, both the world in general and the city of Devil's Cape specifically. Most fictional cities give you a place for the action to occur. Devil's Cape is a fully realized character in the novel. The details and descriptions are just delicious. You can feel the humidity as you read. The best part, though, is that the images aren't forced down your throat in overly wordy passages. It's more like a puzzle being revealed piece by piece through to the very end. The final picture of Devil's Cape is one of true, complex realism.

My imagination was piqued by the fantasy level in play. There is no invulnerability, for example. Take Argonaut. Argonaut is Greek for "punching bag." He takes some massive damage without dying, but as he learns the hard way, gunshots can hurt like hell. Poor guy. And he's the hardest to hurt, apparently. Then there's Doctor Camelot. If I didn't know better I would swear that this book was written after the Iron Man movie came out. The level of detail with her battle armor is incredible. However, I find Cain Ducett's story the most fascinating, personally. His hyper senses make Daredevil look blind…umm, you know what I mean…and the descriptions of his awareness really help to get inside his head. His is a redemption story that fascinates long before he becomes Bedlam.

Ok, this review is going on too long. A final note from a gamer's perspective. The instinct is to wonder when we'll see this information in game form. The city is just rife with possibilities. I'm not sure I want to see the characters converted, however. Sometimes attempting to quantify something like this can lessen the wonder. I say leave the characters in the novel…even though I would love to see the Cirque du Obscurite take on Eurostar Just my opinion, of course, but we know the author is a gamer and it's being published by WotC (whom I imagine retain gaming material rights as well) so it's quite possible we'll see Devil's Cape: The Setting at some point in the future.

Rob, this is an incredible book. When the worst thing I can find to say about it is that I don't like the cover art, you know you have something special. Congratulations!

Due to the anonymity of the Internet, I'm not sure who Log-Man is, exactly, but I appreciated the kind review (and Noah's Bedlam picture as well).

Click here to read the full post with comments.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Jack Kilby, Texas Instruments, and the 50th anniversary of the integrated circuit

One of the many reasons I've been slow to post lately is that I've transitioned into a video production job at work. This is all new territory to me and that learning curve has meant extra hours at work and some extra exhaustion after work.

But I'd like to share one of my first major projects with you here: a video that I produced about the fiftieth anniversary of the integrated circuit (or microchip) and its inventor, Jack Kilby, who has become something of a hero of mine. Our world would be a very different place without him. This project took a lot of hours of work (from me and many others), and I'm proud of the result. The video is also on TI's web site and playing at a couple of local museums. One really cool benefit of working on the video was the opportunity to work with an old, old friend of mine (like since fourth grade), Traylor Woodall, who did the outstanding animated opening.

It's 8 minutes and 39 seconds long. If you don't feel like investing that much time now, then I'd recommend at least reading a bit about the life of Jack Kilby here or elsewhere. He was an astounding man with an impact on our world comparable to Thomas Edison's.

Click here to read the full post with comments.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Stop in the name of corporate America

Not up to regular blogging yet, but this video is a must see.

Yes, some of my projects seem like this.

http://view.break.com/542649 - Watch more free videos

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Back from vacation

I seriously overestimated the amount of time and energy I would have to catch up on blogging and correspondance while on vacation. And of course now that I'm back, I'm busy playing catchup (and getting ready for the ArmadilloCon convention this weekend).

I'll try to post some more soon. I do have some reviews and other fun stuff I want to share.
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