Roleplayers Recruitment Fair 5.15pm 10th November Lecture Block A Could GM?s turn up 5.00pm, please ?
VIDEO NIGHT 8.00pm 12th November Lecture Block B CHARADES 8.00pm 18th November DOCTOR WHO video night check posters for details SOCIAL EVENING check posters for details
Hello and welcome to another issue of "The Rune!!? (Ta-daa!). I'm sure you weren't expecting to get another issue so soon, but now you have, so there! Hopefully you'll find the same mix of articles as before (hopefully with fewer spelling mistakes), but if you do have any complaints, then let either me or Phil know your gripe. We won't change it if we don't know it's broke (If we do know it's broke, we'll just sweep it under the carpet, and jump up and down on the lump). As always, any articles you want to write will always be welcomed for submission, so get those pencils out and exercise your nib. Then, if you've enough time, you could always try writing us something as well.
Something which may be puzzling you is why we keep calling the Science Fiction Society IFIS. There is a reason for this (though God knows why!). Way back in the dim and distant past, before many of you were glints in Ernie the milkmans eye, some bright spark had the idea of a Sci-Fi society, but being the spark that I said he (or she, I dunno) was, they decided to call it the Institute For Impure Science, and thus begat the society to which you now belong (unless you're a stingy git who only joined GAMESOC).
Finally, a few quick reports. First, the theoric meeting. IFIS were awarded £100 (65 quid more than last year), as was GAMESOC originally, but after asterling effort by Richard Mines, that was bumped up to £150! Well done Richard! In addition to this, we still have a fairly healthy Social Fund. (Huzzah! Hic!)
Next, the first video evening of the year. About 30 odd people turned up to this, where we showed DS9:Emissary, Lawnmower Man and Spaceballs. Apart from the TV set hired from the college AV department having incredibly ropey tuning, there were no major problems. Hopefully this setback will be cured for the next one. Incidentally, if any of you have any ideas what to show at the next one, please let us know.
Well, I've gone on longer than I intended, but then I'm the editor, and can do what I bloody well like! (Only joking!)
OK, we've had one or two teething troubles this term. Apologies (many) to all those who turned up for the intro do or the quiz and found that we weren't there : Double bookings and failure to book rooms have abounded. Yes, OK, maybe the TV at the video night left a small bit to be desired on the quality front.
But all in all things haven't gone too badly, and you have got a new mag and it is only November. Lots of things happening soon. Keep your eyes on the noticeboards for information.
So what do we do at GAMESOC apart from getting regularly drunk ?
Well over the past year we've mainly had events run by members, but this is set to change now that we've got more than 50 pence out the Union this year. We've already expanded our stock of board games with some new titles, and hopefully the collection will continue to grow throughout the year.
We're hoping to (& probably by the time you read this will have) restart the regular weekly games playing sessions when all the games will materialise. If anyone thinks they can help by carting the games about then I would be glad to hear from them.
Last year's trip to Laserquest was popular and if transport can be organised (anyone know how to hotwire a Union minibus ) we're bound to go and who knows we may beat the six year olds this time.
During the warmer months (???) we also have regular live action role-plays, so if running around in the woods at the back of Kingswood in the middle ofthe night hitting people with rubber swords is your scene, you're in luck.
Finally need I mention the 48 hour LRP ? We have a sequel coming this year although I wouldn?t stake (sic) my life on it, and all I'll say is "Come back you blacks!!"(It should be noticed that this last sentance was in no way intended to be taken as a racist or otherwise derogatory remark. If have offended then I'd liked to apologise. l'm sorry. I really am sorry. I'm so fucking sorry). (Scouse Accent : "Ay! Are you telling me that you're sorry? Ay? Ay? - Sean) Simon will be bringing a list round in the very near future to take names for players / monsters etc.
Oh and need I add the gross amounts of money in the social fund just crying out to be spent on wild parties? No, thought not.
What the bloody hell's this I hear you ask. A Games Soc article? Whatever next. Well what with all these campaigns (hopefully) starting up around now I thought it would be a good move to have a 'Campaigns' sections (catchy title eh?) in all mags from now on. I'll post info on games which are seeking players and as we seem to have a fair few GMs there will hopefully continue to be some spare places throughout the year. Obviously I can't do this without the GM's co-operation and so if you are intending to run a campaign please contact me. If you want to get involved as a player then come along to the RPG info evening on Wednesday 10th in Lec A at 5.15pm (GM at 5.00 please) where you can chat to the GMS and hopefully get onto a campaign. Please note that these games are being run by members of Games Soc but that they are organising them and thus the decisions on who they do or don't want on their game is theirs.
GM's name: Paul Watson (Classics)
System: Vampire: The Masquerade
GM's experience: Experienced
Places available: 1 - 3
Currently in party: 4
Day(s): Sunday, 1.00pm till late
Description: All adventures are written by me, so none of the plethora of supplimentary books / modules / pamphlets etc are being used. Emphasis is (I think) on diplomacy and politics, with the occasional psycho killing binge. (Sort of Cthulhu-ish). Role playing experience would be nice in potential players, a sense ofhumour and willingness to take things less thgan seriously would be advantageous. Rules knowledge is very non-essential.
GM's name: Simon Richardson (Computer Science / Physics)
System: RuneQuest (bastardised)
GlVl's experience: Experienced
Places available: 1
Currently in party: 7
Day(s): Friday, 8.00pm
Location: Englefield Green
Description: Spies who are on a covert mission to subvert a government. Stealth and subtlety are needed. Brains a severe advantage. Campaign ia improvised in my own world, and no modules are (namely) used. Regular play and characterisation are the important issues here.
GM's name: Edward Sheldon (English)
System: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
GM's experience: Experienced
Places available: Some
Currently in party: 0
Day(s): Monday and Wednesday
Location: Unknown at present
Description: This adventure is suitable for players new to AD&D or new to ropleplaying, as well as experienced players wishing to start new characters. There are no restrictions on class, and players can be any of the common races. The optional rules for proficiancies will be used, but language will not ? use the language slots as extra proficiancies. Contact via Richard Taylor's pigeon hole in Zoology (top of Bourne).
GM's name: Chris Turner (Computer Science)
System: RuneQuest / Dungeons Ez Dragons
GM's experience: Not much
Places available: 6
Currently in party: 0
Day(s): Any except Wednesday, Thursday or Friday
Location: Unknown at present
Description: Middle ages setting. Anything goes.
GM's name: Steven Lowe (Biology)
GM's experience: Lots
Places available: 4
Currently in party: 0
Day(s): Unknown at present
Location: Unknown at present
Description: Emphasis on destruction, thinking, politics etc.
GM's name: Jim Van Wijk (Social Science)
System: Dungeons 8c Dragons
GM's experience: Some reifereeing experience
Places available: 3 - 5
Currently in party: 0
Day(s): NOT Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays
Description: I could run a campaign in typical D&D style, but it would mean starting from scratch. I make my own campaigns in ???? fashion. I don?t particularly like modules.
GM's name: Andrew Palmer
System: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons
GM's experience: 2 years
Places available: 6 - 8
Currently in party: 2 ? 3
Day(s): Not Thursday
Location: Unknown at present
Description: Forgotten Realms, about 5 years after the time of troubles. High fantasy, AD&D campaign. Politically based with the PCs being the main movers and shakers.
GM's name: Andrew Palmer
System: Starfleet Battles
GM's experience: Playing SFB for 6 years
Places available: 6
Currently in party: 4
Day(s): Not Thursday
Location: Unknown at present
Description: Star Trek. Tactical space combat. Not a campaign.
Description: MERP campaign with RoleMaster components. Campaign now in its fourth year, and a party just beginning to acquire power. The only player/character surviving from the beginning has now reached the dizzy heights of 4th level. Power play, this is not. Things do happen, and some of them are reasonably important, but almost all of them occur by accident. Half the party are sensible, intelligent individuals, and the others are chaotic psychopaths. The Necromancer is at the height of his power, and this party would really rather not know about it. Tough. Most commonly asked question: "Excuse me, are you dead?" Please do not apply if you have any inside knowledge ofthe following ICE modules, as it would irritate me enormously. These modules form a base for the remainder of the campaign, l onto which I shall endevour to add touches of sickness and depravity. Haunted Ruins of the Dunlendings Erech and the Paths of the Dead The Necromancer's Lieutenant Southern Mirkwood, Haunl. of the Necrormncen
GM's name: Dominic Thomas
GM's experience: Over 6 hours
Places available: 1 - 4
Currently in party: 5ish
Day(s): 2-3 sessions at weekends for most of a day each.
Location: Unknown at present
Description: AMBER adventure of entirely my own creation, based on a thorough understanding of Roger Zelazny's books. Knowledge of the books isn't essential, but l'd much prefer players who've read them. lt'll involve diplomacy, tact, and a spot of detective work. There will also be a fair amount of well planned violence, and a few surprises just to disorientate you. I've tried to write an adventure that should feel like another Zelazny story. Have I succeeded? I've no idea. The AMBER system is entirely DICELESS. That's a rather novel concept, and it relies on all participants to enter into the spirit of the thing. Players may actually have to describe their actions very convincingly. Characters will be of a similar nature to the almost demigods ofthe books. You already have more power than you really know what to do with, so let's try a. spot of Role-Playing, and leave the Wargames for someone else.
Description: There are also a number of players wanting to start up a Star Wars campaign but need a GM. They have players who could GM if absolutely necessary but they'd rather play. If anyone is prepared to GM for them then they'd be extweeemwy grateful. lf you are interested in ref'ing or playing in this campaign then see Richard Taylor at the Ascot or mail him in Zoology.
TELEVISION BBC I are showing the 1973 Doctor Who story "Planet Of The Daleks" as their contributions to the 30th anniversary. Radio Times also have a special issue. BBC2 have had Red Dwarf VI, and Star Trek repeats. ITV started SEAQUEST DSV (or seaQuest DSV if you want to be pedantic! ? Sean) a week early, and are showing it on Sundays at 6:30pm. Channel 4 have bought Babylon 5 for next year and are reshowing Planet of the Apes (sometime).
VIDEO In addition to the already reported releases, next year's Doctor Who's include Tenth Planet & Reign of Terror, with the missing episodes linked by one of the shows stars, and Attack of the Cybermen, making a complete collection of available Cyber episodes on video.
BOOKS Terry Pratchett has a new Hardback, Men at Arms, out; Mr P. also has released in Paperback Lords & Ladies, which has been re-rejacketed, a graphic novel of The Light Fantasic and a curious book entitled The Streets Of Ankh-Morpork, which I know nothing about !
ln November 1963 the world was suddenly and unexpectedly changed in ways that are still felt today 30 years later, leaving a memory of mystery, fear and horrid squishy things descending from the sky indelibly stamped on the nations conciousness. Then the day after JFK got a bad case of cranial dispersal Doctor Who appeared.
As with the presidential assassination it is often said that you always remember what you were doing the first time you saw Doctor Who. Extensive research has revealed that this is in fact true, with 87% of the population answering "Yes, I remember what I was doing, I was watching Doctor Who". But how things have changed since those days of cosmic binliners, fat extras in rubber suits and huge egg carton monsters from outer space". or have they?
It all began with an old man who lived in a magic box and had a habit of putting up teenage schoolgirls and showing them a good time in outer space. The theory that the Doctor was just a dirty old man is given credence by the odd moments when he slipped up; several times as he and his young companion stood in the console room watching his column rise and fall he has been heard to mis-pronounce "fault detector" and instead say "Susan, fetch the fornicator". Coincidence or something more sinister? Ultimately wearied by struggles with Daleks, Zarbi, Cybermen and a broken spring in "Edge of Destruction" eventually the inevitable happened: he turned into Patrick Troughton (as you do!).
Soon after began his legendary partnership with Jamie "Monster in my Kilt" McCrimmon, leading to such famous catchphrases as "Doctor it's enormous" and "Quick, Miss Waterfield, up your passage". When the Time-Lords rumbled this cosy three-way jamboree (as typified by the episode "Zoe lives with Jamie and Patrick") and had his companions taken into care the Doctor was sentenced to three years of horrid frilly shirts, huge flares and strange men with goatee beards.
Only one thing has to be added to last issues affectionate tribute to the Pertwee years and that is to ask why, in the closing credits after "Lighting Supervision Barry Spod" (or whatever) we suddenly see the words "ACTION BY HAVOC" emblazoned across the screen. What does this mean? Who is Havoc, and what sort of action does he supply? I think we should be told.
Next up is dear old Tom Baker whoose era, whilst being the most popular, was marked by controversy over first excessive horror (The giant rat in "Weng-Chiang", the horrific transformations in "The Ark in Space" and Harry Sullivan's dreadful sideburns) and then it's rather smug, silly sense of humour (as in the episode "Lalla Ward Gets On Your Nerves").
Continued success went to Baker's head and he seemed to go through a phase much like the Beatles "Bigger than Jesus" period where in fact the only thing bigger than Jesus about the show was Tom Baker's hair, ever expanding to contain his ego.
In the end, he regenerated again, after jumping off a giant radar dish in the belief he could fly, into the unassuming figure of Peter Davison. The fifth Doctor was another popular choice, the character marred only by his fondness of Cricket. Davison spent most of his time trying to get rid of gratingly loud Australian Tegan: once he even managed to leave her behind, in "Timeflight", only to have her pop up again in the next story, "Ark of Infinity"! He was however rather more successful in ditching the pudding bowl inflicted Adric in the popular Cyber jamboree "Earthshock".
Ironically it was just as he managed to get shacked up with a nice companion that he was forced to regenerate once more. Unfortunately the new Doctor's debut story was a script Davison reportedly came across whilst filming "All Creatures Great and Small" during a scene involving a cow and the thickest pair of rubber gloves available. It wasn't very good at all.
Colin Baker wasn't so much Doctor Who as Doctor Who? Not that he couldn't have acted the flares off of Nicholas Courtney (not to mention that definately-not-fake moustache of his), he just never got the scripts he needed, and then there was the strike which didn't help at all. His Doctor was distinguished by his chromatically challenged dress sense and love of cats (as typified by the story "The Cybermen Unravel a Ball of String").
Colin met his end not by deadly decree but by falling over in the console room, his legs having evidently been giving him jip and bruising himself slightly (Next!).
Enter Doctor McCoy. He's short, he's Scottish, his prowess with the spoons is beyond compare, plus he had the sense to get rid of Bonnie Langford as soon as he possibly could, which is more than can be said for Colin.
McCoy highlights include the Haemovore onslaught in "Curse of Fenric", the Daleks use of a Ronco chairlift in "Rememberance of the Daleks" and the brutal slaying of Ken Dodd in "Delta and the Bannermen". Then the BBC decided they were going to stop making Doctor Who "because we just are! Alright'?" after twenty six seasons and have been dithering over what to do on the subject ever since.
Thirty years of corridor running have, however, left one important question unanswered. Why, in defiance of all statistifred probability, does the Tardis ever materialise somewhere that is besieged by blobby space monsters, Lemon Fresh Fairy invasion fleets and has been celebs with time to kill before their annual ten weeks as Widow Twanky at the Bognor Regis Civic Centre and Bingo Emporium? In fact, I can exclusively disclose that after budget cuts a one part story was written for season 24 by favourites Pip and Jane "La-di-doo" Baker but never filmed. Here's an extract from "Doctor Who Saves a Bit of Money".
Doctor : Notice anything strange Mel?
Mel (being irritating) : No Doctor!
Doctor : Me neither. I'm giving the alien monsters 10 minutes to turn up then I'm off to scare some more small children and old ladies with my dress sense.
This time the Doctor may have to wait a little longer.
30 years ago (aren't so many things 30 years old at the moment) Marvel comics started publishing The Uncanny X-Men.
Now Uncanny has passed the 300 issue mark, which is no mean feat for any comic book, it has spawned (Image fans forgive the pun) a whole range of comics: The X-Men, X-Men Unlimited, X-Factor, X-Force, Excaliber, Wolverine & Cable, the last two of which concentrate on specific characters in the series, and a host of Limited Series (a series with a limited number of issues) (You don't say - Sean)
The X-Men are a team of mutants, humans that are born with some ability beyond that of normal humans. The team was formed by Charles Xavier, a world renowned geneticist, and one of the most powerful telepaths on the planet. The original team pitted themselves against a variety of foes, Magneto the Master of Magnetism, The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, The Juggernaught and even the Fantastic Four & The Avengers. But the book didn't sell, and issue 93 in 1970 was to be the last.
Then in 1976 Marvel decided to revive the X-Men. To write the book, they brought in Chris Claremont, then a young writer, and fan favourite artist Dave Cockrum. The book was an instant monster hit, the first appearance of the "New" X-Men, X-Men Giant Size 1, now being worth well over £200 in mint condition, and X-Men 94, the issue in which the regular book was revived, not being worth an awful lot less.
The popularity of the book has grown since that point, Chris Claremont wrote the book from then until very recently and maintained a high level of characterisation, and high class scripting, dealing with some very interesting characters. The book has always had a reputation for the best art as well, attracting the likes of John Byrne, Paul Smith, John Romita. Jnr, Marc Silvestri, Jim Lee & Whilce Portacio to draw it.
By far the most popular member of the team over the years is Wolverine, a Canadian mutant. Wolverine, who's real name is Logan, has healing powers, but some as yet unnamed agency kidnapped Logan and used him in an experiment to bond adamantium, an immensly durable metal, to the human skeleton. After the experiment Logan found that he now had three one foot long metal claws which he could extend from each hand (as you do! - Sean). Until recently Logan believed that the claws were inserted during the operation, but has since discovered that he did in fact possess bone claws to start with. Six years ago under mounting pressure Marvel were forced to give Wolvie his own title.
But before then in 1982 Marvel tried an X-Men spin off title, The New Mutants. It initially succeeded, then floundered, until in the late eighties it was looking as if time might be up on the book. Then young aspiring artist Rob Liefield took over, and decided to introduce a new character to be a guiding light to the team. He called him Cable, and made him a very big guy with very big guns. The character went down a storm (but not with her, eh? - Sean), and now has his own title.
X-Factor was originally an attempt to reunite the original members of the X-Men, but a couple of years ago a reorganisation of the X-Men saw the originals return to the team, and the now massive X-Men team split in two and the second X-Men book was started. X-Factor then became the alias of a new team formed from various X-Men and their associates that works for the American government. Excaliber are some ex X-Men who have gone to Britain and joined with some British heroes. Unlimited is a new title which is spotlighting various members of the team in longer stories, and from the two issues out so far appears to be a class comic.
In recent events, which have been written to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the team, Magneto, the X-Men's arch enemy, has returned from the dead. He's collecting mutants to join his community on a futuristic space station orbiting the Earth in an attempt to save mutant kind from the virus which is devastating the mutant population. Magneto has knocked out many critical electric systems on Earth in response to an attack by many of Earth's governments who perceive him as a threat. The X-Men have stopped him, but at a massive cost. Wolverine has had his adamantium skeleton removed by Magneto, and has been very fortunate to survive the experience. He has now taken a leave of abscence to recover from his injuries, and is unlikely to return for some time. Collosus, a long term X-Man, has defected to Magneto, following the death of his sister. The teams face many new challenges in the coming months following the loss of two of their key members. The following months and years will reveal if they meet the challenges and survive.
If you have never read comics, or haven't for a long while pick up any of the X-titles and enjoy.
Here is a guide to some of the terms and phrases used by those strange people who roleplay. Each entry has two sections - one for the beginner and one for the more experienced player.
An Object with many faces which if thrown will display a random number. The dice normally have 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 or 20 sides, but 16, 32 & 100 sided dice are also availible. The number of sides is often prefixed with a D eg D20, D6 and so on. An object that when "skillfully" thrown will always lead to it's highest or lowest value.
Throw two D 10, one for tens, and one for units. State which is which before they are thrown. These are combined to give a number between 1 & 99, with 00 being either 0 or 100. Throw two dice, swap the numbers around and make up the result.
A sheet of paper on which all the details of your character are written. That bit of paper you give the GM. It doesn't include the machine gun, the ring of 5 wishes & the 10,000 gold pieces.
The figures that deline your character's mental and physical attributes. The figures you once used to justify being able to use that great two handed sword.
A Chance to escape some dire circumstance that might harm your character, often made on a D20. Low numbers are usualy considered bad news. See Luck Roll. Last chance to throw a good number before your character cops it.
A roll to see if you do something out of pure luck. Rolled on a percentile dice: Low being good, "00" being bad. The time you always roll "00".
A measure of how much armour you are wearing: Either a number from -10 to 10 (-10 being very good) or 0 upwards (0 being bad). The other thing that preoccupies all characters. See To Hit Roll.
TO HIT ROLL
Made as a percentile roll, or on a D20. This tells you whether you have hit something. The other major preoccupation of all characters, see Armour Class.
A character controlled by the DM. Either cannon fodder, a major plot element or party nemesis.
A measure of how much damage you take before dying. Never enough.
Reached when hit points reach 0 or some other number like minus constitution. Sometimes fatal.
The choice of weapons affects damage, speed and effectiveness. These fall into three classes: BIG swords, LARGE bows and Uzi 9mms.
A good attack throw resulting in extra damage on the monster. Not often enough.
A bad throw resulting in the character either looking silly, damaging himself or someone else or even dying. These occur only when the character is doing something important.
An ability of a character to do something most often given by a percentile skill on the character sheet. Normally you need to roll below this to succeed. How unskillful your character is.
The reward a character gets for his adventuring. Normally gold coins with which you can buy more armour and bigger swords.
A person who worships a god and is granted spells in return. The party medic.
A person who has researched magic and can cast spells. The wimp with the fireballs.
The party member who has all the thief skills used to steal equipment from your enemies. The party member who has all the thief skills used to steal equipment from your party.
The standard with the big sword and good armour. Boring character with lots of hit points.
A spell which creates an explosion of fire. A "nuke it" spell.
Small room for taking a piss in. Last place to cast a fireball.
Extremely evil creature of the living dead. DM's retribution.
Looking at the title and author of this piece you may think that it's another Red Dwarf article, but it isn't. Nope! This is a piece on the current new trend of special effects in Sci-Fi type series, so if you want to know how to go about creating a complete new universe, read on. If you don't want to know, then don't read it, (I guess you can work that out for yourselves), but it is interesting, honest!
The traditional approach for FX involving spacecraft etc. is to build a scale model of the ship using sticky back plastic and loo rolls ? (if you're working on a "classic" BBC sci-fi series. (mentioning no names)) or plastic, moulded fibre-glass etc. on any other programme or film. This method can produce some outstanding effects, as the Star Wars trilogy demonstrates to amazing effect even now. However, now there is a new kid in town, and already it has become established on two prime-time shows. You've probably all seen , seaQuest DSV by now, being on ITV, and many will have seen the pilot episode of the now in production Babylon 5, so you will have seen the products of the system I am about to describe.
These two series are put together on a system called The Video Toaster, an add-on board for the Amiga (a great machine, which wipes the floor with... but I digress) produced by the American company NewTek. Without going into all the computery details, the Toaster allows you to produce broadcast quality video images at a fraction of the cost of big dedicated special effects computers. (i.e. 10 grand versus 100 grand plus).
So how do we get a computer to produce these lovely vehicles? Well, you've no doubt seen pictures of cars etc, being designed on computer, where you can produce the basic shape of the car, then spin it round in pseudo 3D on a monitor, and tweak bits here and there. This is basically the first step. Say you want a mini-sub. After making initial designs on paper of what you want the ship to look like, you transfer this into the computer using a 3D Modelling program. This allows you to use common basic objects such as spheres, cylinders etc. as well as defining your own more complex shapes, and stretch, squash, rotate, chop up, explode, and generally abuse until you get the shape you want. These are then joint together to produce a "model" of a mini-sub (see the analogy with the traditional method). Each part of the model can be made shiny or dull, reflective, coloured etc. at this point. This process is repeated for every vehicle you require.
Next, you must construct a "scene" (there's the analogy again!) by placing copies of each model (more than one copy of each model is allowed) on a screen in the positions that you want them. At this point you can also tell the computer if you want a backdrop picture (such as the sea bed) and also define the attributes of the surrounding "empty space" (more on this later). Next you tell the different models of the craft where you want them to move to, the type of path they will take (straight, curved etc.), how fast they should move and so on. All of this process is done using a "wire-frame" representation of each of the models.
Now we enter the real time consuming part. The scene information is now used to produce the final solid looking image. This is done using a process called Ray Tracing (on a computer program called Lightwave fact fans) which involves tracing the paths of rays of light around the scene to see how much they reflect etc. off of the various models in the scene. This is why the above mentioned empty space can be given attributes. For example, water will bend light due to refraction, and can affect the colour of light etc. and all this information can be given numerical form and fed into the computer. Armed with this, the computer goes off and works out where all the light goes in the scene to produce a still of the required motion. This is then repeated about 25 times for each second of movement, with the models gradually moving for each still shot required. This can take several hours just to produce one still, so it takes a long time, but luckily it is an automated process and requires no more human input.
Finally, when all the stills have been produced, they are recorded to video tape, and in the best tradition of Rolf's Cartoon Club, the submarines and spacecraft appear to move realistically across the screen. As you can see, this method has many advantages, and allows many more effects per programme because it is a damn sight quicker than the traditional method once you've designed all the vehicles etc. that you require. It also allows things such as proper distance scaling of objects, no noticable fringes around objects where they've been filmed for chromakeying (you know, where you stand in front of a blue background) and little things such as spots of reflected light which play across your view of the proceedings.
As a last point, for those of you who know a bit about computers, this method is very very very memory hungry. As an example, the model for the Babylon 5 Space Station is over 30MB in size! Now that's big!
Despite their appearance in the last issue, we haven't had any Next Gen reviews for quite a while, So without further-a-do here's a quick run through all the episodes released since the last review was printed. (TA-DAH!!!)
MASTERPIECE SOCIETY : Headline: 'Genetically engineered society threatened by big rock".
CONUNDRUM : The Federation at war with the Lysians?
POWERPLAY : Headline: "Aliens borrowed my body!"
ETHICS : Worf has back trouble.
THE OUTCAST : Riker cops off (not again!)
CAUSE AND EFFECT : 'Boom, Boom, Boom'
FIRST DUTY : Wes Crusher on trial (must've heard about the goats!)
COST OF LIVING : Lwaxana's back and this time she's feeling old.
PERFECT MATE : Schwing! I'd give her one. Picard refrains "Oh, no I've just blown out a definite shag!"
IMAGINARY FRIEND : A little girl's imaginary friend threatens the Enterprise-D (don't they always!)
I, BORG : Excellent (excellence is futile!)
THE NEXT PHASE: Ro and La Forge dead?
THE INNER LIGHT : Picard lives another life (in 25 minutes).
TIMES ARROW (PART 1) : Headline: "Time-travelling aliens invade 18th century Earth".
TIMES ARROW (PART 2) : The TNG crew fight back.
REALM OF FEAR : Barclay's transporter paranoia.
MAN OF THE PEOPLE : Troi ages (wow, mid-life!)
RELICS : Cpt. Montgomery Scott (say no more).
SCHISMS : Headline: "Subspace aliens kidnap Enterprise-D crew".
TRUE Q : Guess who?
RASCALS : "Smeg, it yoofed us" (Picard, Ro, Guinan & Keiko pre-teens).
FISTFUL OF DATAS : Sheriff Worf & Deputy Alexander hit Deadwood, Arizona. Draw!
QUALITY OF LIFE : Headline: "Self improving machines alive?"
CHAIN OF COMMAND (PART 1): Picard is replaced!
CHAIN OF COMMAND (PART 2) : "THERE ARE FOUR LIGHTS!!"
SHIP IN A BOTTLE : Moriarty at liberty on the Enterprise-D?
AQUIEL : Who killed what or who (no, it wasn't the butler).
FACE OF THE ENEMY : Troi wakes up as a Romulan!
If these don't make any sense then my work is done. And now, a man with three buttocks.
Now, for a change, we have some Deep Space Nine reviews.
Tape 1, The Emissary, has been covered already, ad infinitum (and with all the spelling mistakes!). So here we go:-
PAST PROLOGUE : Major Kira helps an acquaintance, from the Bajoran Terrorist Organisation the Tal Shiar, to defect.
MAN ALONE : Odo's loyalty is questioned when an old adversary is found murdered, with no suspects but Odo himself.
BABEL : Babble more like! The station suffers from a replicated virus which affects speech and comprehension.
CAPTIVE PURSUIT : Tosk comes to DS9 from the Gamma Quadrant - but who or what IS Tosk?
Q-LESS : Guess who? (is a game by MB) Yup, Vash. Oh, and Q, of course.
DAX : Jadzia Dax is tried for the murder of an old friend, whilst in her previous host Curzon Dax! Who gets it - host, symbiont or both?
THE PASSENGER : Spooky, keeps you guessing. Won't spoil it for you.
MOVE ALONG HOME :Visitors from the Gamma Quadrant- an unusual first contact! Another one not to be spoilt.
THE NAGUS : Quark inherits the title of Nagus (and the business empire associated with it) and suddenly everyone wants a piece of him. Literally.
VORTEX : Odo recieves clues about his origins but "the source is less reliable than Quark"!
BATTLE LTNES : The Kais' first visit to the Gamma Quadrant is somewhat eventful...
STORYTELLER : O'Brien is the last hope for a village threatened by a mystical beast - gift of the gab required.
PROGRESS : An old farmer prevents an energy tapping proceedure from starting on schedule and Kira takes it upon herself to deal with the problem...
IF WISHES WERE HORSES : Highly amusing, see it and giggle.
Okay, so not all of the above are strictly speaking reviews (if any), but if it entices you to watch any of them I'm content (but feel free to buy me a drink to show appreciation). Now the serious stuff; the above are MY idea (no-one else to blame), I feel it better to give a teaser than to disect the episode. Other reviewers may yet cover some, if not all, of the above - read it all, assimilate it, watch the episodes and form your own opinion.
Well it's November again, there's a new Terry Pratchett book out. Let's see what Chris, our Pratchett correspondant, has to say about it. Oh Dear, he appears to have graduated so I guess I'll just have to do. The Guards are back. Captain Vimes is two days from his retirement and wedding to Sybil Ramkin, richest woman in Ankh-Morpork and owner of the sunshine home for sick dragons1. The Watch has been forced to take on new recruits to reflect the ethnic background of the city, hence the welcoming into the ranks of Lance-Constable Cuddy2, Lance-Constable Detritus3 & Lance-Constable Angua4. There's been a murder, Lewis, a clown is dead, and there's likely to be a few more deaths because the "gonne" has been stolen from the assassins.
I am a Terry Pratchett fan, guilty as charged me lud, so, therefore have a certain amount of bias, but this book certainly is one of his best. He manages to reunite the City Watch from Guards, Guards, and continue certain plot threads from that book. Plot is a bit similar with someone trying to bring about the restitution of a "Golden Age" by putting a King on the throne, and disposing of the Patrician who naturally isn't too keen on the idea.
Naturally the regulars show up for their obligatory appearances. Death shows several times, the Librarian crops up, as do Arch Chancellor Ridicully, having now outlived many of his predecessors and appeared in 4 books and the Bursar5, Cut Me Own Throat Dibbler (from Guards,Guards, Moving Pictures & Reaper Man) is still trying to sell sausages in a bun, Mr Silverfish (Moving Pictures) is in the process of demolishing his Guild building again in an attempt to make ivory without elephants, the quality of Sham Harga's House of Ribs has not improved and we also have the return of Gaspode the Wonder Dog. New characters include Dr. Whiteface, the head of the Fools Guild, and Dr. Cruces, the chief assasin.
Thrill as the watch seek to quell ethnic unrest and catch the murderer
Marvel as Detritus discovers Calculus!
Wtness Death's attempt at a "KNOCK, KNOCK" joke.
But above all read this book.
Samuel Delany, in my considered opinion (opinionated consideration) wrote two books. Yes, he wrote others, but these two stand head-and-shoulders above the others.
the two the one that I prefer is Nova. (The other is Babel-17.)
Nova is a simple story of a driven man sailing to the edge of his world in search of treasure. He seeks treasure not for it's own sake, but for love and vengeance. Vengeance for him and his clan against a rival clan, and love for the leading lady of that clan. The journey itself expands through a strange and remarkably human world, while flashbacks and tales tell us about the journey itself and the forces that shake the web of their civilization. A sort of "road-movie" set in the 26th Century. The journey itself is explored at all levels, from the mundane SF level to the level of high fantasy: the Grail motif can be seen again and again throughout the book.
This is a book that I would not count as "Good SF", it is a book that I would count "Good Literature."
Harry Harrison is a writer of consistently excellent quality. Most of his work is lighthearted: much of it lighthearted in the extreme. From the utterly silly "Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers" to the terrifying (and remarkably green for 1966) "Make Room! Make Room!" he covers a wide range very well. There are none of his books that I have read that I would not recommend.
"Technicolour Time Machine" is somewhere to the silly side of the middle. A film studio specializing in B movies is running out of money. One of their set-designers, a professor, has built a time machine from spare parts of a Frankenstein's Mother-in-Law film set, and attempts to convince the management of the studio that he can make a film quickly and cheaply using his time machine. The story is told of how the script for "Viking Columbus" was written in the Cretacious Era (spelling, any Geologists?) and filmed on location in Norway and Newfoundland. The Vikings are plenty more believable than most SF writers of this time would make them, getting quite blase about time technology and refusing to be impressed by the machines and weapons of these weaklings from the future. All in all it is a good yarn, with a few more thought-provoking moments that suggest that Harrison has considered his plot a bit more carefully than some other humourous SF writers seem to have done.
Larry Niven is a clever writer in his own right: his SF is not hard, but his characters are well thought out and deep. If I was recommending an example of his writing it might be the short story "The Deadlier Weapon", which is not SF at all. But it is good, and it normally comes bundled with a whole collection of SF short stories. The remarkable thing about Niven's SF, though, is his aliens. They seem to be understandable, and understandably alien. This makes any of his "Known Space" stories well worth reading.
Jerry Pournelle I am less sure about. He is certainly a knowledgeable writer on spaceflight, and he tends to write his SF hard, which is generally to my taste. His characters seem to be somewhat right-wing politically, all of them; I have a feeling that they would all vote the Republican ticket. Pournelle is not the only writer to carry his politics into his writings: for instance Robert Heinlein's anarchist tendencies tend to come-over loud and clear. But with Pournelle it tends to come over a bit too strongly.
The combination, however, is jam all the way. I have read two of their combined efforts, "Footfall" and "The Mote in God's Eye". Footfall I am describing because I have read it more recently. They are both excellent books.
Footfall is a "first contact" novel. (So is "Mote".) It is set in about 1995, and uses the knowledge that Pournelle has of spaceflight and space research to create a world that most engineers can understand and believe in. There are a few pieces of technology that are just out of our range (free-electron lasers and plasma fusion) but no physicist should have difficulty believing in them. The aliens are skilfully hidden from human view until about halfway through the book (if the one in the IFIS library is the Del Rey publication (blue cover do not read the blurb, or look at the excellent picture just inside the front cover until you have read to P200 at least) which is good, because the first person to speak in the text is an alien. All the technology used by the humans has been the subject of NASA evaluations at one time or another. Honest. (Even the ship called "Michael", which was prototyped then abandoned with various arms limitations treaties).
Other than that, read anything by Niven, or "The Mote in God's Eye". If you can stand the blatant capitalism of it all, try "High Justice" or "Janissaries" both by Pournelle. (Neither of which are in the IFIS library. But don't buy them. At least not until you have read them, and are sure you like them.) Also, you might look out for "A Step Further Out", which is a collection of Pournelle essays on non-fiction subjects, and is certainly well worth reading for an insight into the mind of a space engineer.
Don't buy this it's a complete load of rubish, and at £35 a bit steep. Save your cash and buy Two Doctors and Resurection of the Daleks in November.
It's one redeeming feature is Lord Brian of Blessed being his usual self, i.e. a big loud man with a beard.
How do you make a cat go "Woof"?
Soak it in petrol.
Your commitees are listed below. They can be contacted by placing a note in the relevant department pigeon holes.
Chairman: Colin Goswell, History
Secretary: Philip Ayres, Computer Science or Maths
Treasurer: Richard Taylor, Zoology
Publicity Oflicer: Sean Scaplehorn, Computer Science
Terminator: Sandie Brown, Mathematics
Chairman: Richard Mines, Computer Science
Secretary: Mike Collins, Physics
Treasurer: Jim Smart, Classics
Publicity Officer: The Lemming
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I would like to see these videos at the video night:
When they say "Here be Dragons" on maps THIS is where they mean
Not only a woman but also Undead (webeditor: Actually a Werewolf)
And pass the dried frog pills