Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tannhäuser Tuesday - Shogunate Map Expansion


Fantasy Flight Games has announced the release of Operation Hinansho, a campaign supplement for Tannhäuser.

From the press release:

"A new campaign expansion, Operation: Hinansho transports players to the Far East where the great powers seek answers to the mysteries of the unexplained crash of a Union plane and the sudden abandonment of a Japanese research facility on the island of Hokkaido."

Additionally, "Operation: Hinansho comes with a double-sided map..." "New rules, circle types, and tokens." 

The press release mentions Locked Door circles and Sniper circles. Covert tokens are new as are Volatile rubble tokens. The latter explode if a character passes through. I am assuming that the backs look like ordinary rubble so that the characters are taking a chance every time they pass through rubble.

The press release also says that "Operation: Hinansho also gives players all the tokens they need to play the Shogunate Faction independently in any scenario and on any map in your Tannhäuser collection." So all the flags, objectives, etc are included.

"New scenarios give you many exciting ways to pit these allied forces against each other, including optional rules for fielding larger teams on multiple maps." That sounds good to me!

I am pleased with the level of support FFG continues to show for this eclectic game. We now have four full official factions and maps with four entrances, so four player games are on. If you add in my two factions, you could double up the maps and play a three on three game.



Monday, August 29, 2011

Pulp of the Week - Doc Savage #26



Here is another science fiction Doc Savage novel, this one written by Lester Dent. In The Spook Legion, a criminal genius has perfected a technique for rendering people invisible and is using it to unleash a crime wave upon Manhattan.

Doc and Monk get in on the fun and are made invisible very early in the novel. The Spook Legion cleverly gets Doc pegged as the mastermind early on and it causes Doc, Monk, and Ham no end of trouble.

Dent has a bit of fun as Doc and Monk are cavorting about New York completely naked for much of the book. It leads to a few awkward moments.

Monk utters the title of the novel in a bit of dialog, which was nice and this story also reveals a secret entrance to Doc's 86th floor headquarters via a secret ladder on the 85th floor.

The gang successfully pulls off the crime wave and all New York is on the lookout for the invisible gang. They are going to pull up stakes and head to Chicago next, if Doc can't stop them.

Well, what do you think happened?

For this review I read my quite beat up Bantam paperback #16, published March, 1967. I guess I bought it used as Carey Champoux wrote his name on the inside of both the front and back covers.

I give The Spook Legion an 9 out of 10. This is one of "the good ones." Having the rest of the Fab Five absent allows Dent to give full support time to Monk and Ham. Even Habias (Monk's pig) has a good role in this one. The pulp cover by Walter Baumhofer is quite famous as it was used for the cover of Philip Jose Farmer's biography, "Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life." The Bantam cover is by James Bama. 


Hugo Awards 2011 - Winners!


Congratulations to the 2011 Hugo Award Winners!

Best Novel
Black Out / All Clear - by Connie Willis

Best Novella
The Lifecycle of Software Objects - by Ted Chiang

Best Novelette
The Emperor of Mars - by Allen M. Steele

Best Short Story
For Want of a Nail - by Mary Robinette Kowal

Best Releated Work
Chicks Dig Timelords: A Celebration of Dr. Who by the Women Who Love It 
edited by Lynne M. Thomas

Best Graphic Story
Girl Genius Vol. 10 - Written by Phil and Kaja Foglio, Art by Phil Foglio,
Colors by Cheyenne Wright

Best Dramatic Presentation, Longform
Inception - Written and Directed by Christopher Nolan

Best Dramatic Presentation, Shortform
Doctor Who: "The Pandorica Opens / The Big Bang" - Written by Steven Moffat,
Directed by Toby Haynes

Best Editor, Short Form
Sheila Williams

Best Editor, Long Form
Lou Anders

Best Professional Artist
Sean Tan

Best Semiprozine
Clarkesworld, Edited by Neil Clarke, Cheryl Morgan, Sean Wallace 
Podcast directed by Kate Baker

Best Fanzine
The Drink Tank, Edited by Christopher J. Garcia and James Bacon

Best Fan Writer
Claire Brialey

Best Fan Artist
Brad W. Foster

Also handed out at the Hugo Presentation was the following:
The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
Lev Grossman

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pulp of the Week - Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi


Clearly I waited far too long. I have long been a fan of the Fuzzy series by H. Beam Piper. This SF adventure series follows the travails of Jack Holloway and his multiple discoveries on the corporately owned planet Zarathustra.  I have long thought about adapting and updating this public domain series into a screenplay.

Piper's original evolves into a courtroom thriller for far too much of the story and I would have liked to add a bit more with Jack and the Fuzzies. Perhaps update the city chase and add some more oomph to the resolution.

There was one thing stopping me. Ewoks. George Lucas threw the Fuzzies under the bus when he made The Empire Strikes Back. Any Fuzzy movie would forever be called an Ewok rip off. I moved on and wrote other things.

Well, John Scalzi clearly had the same idea, with one huge difference. He is a novelist, so he actually wrote the book.

Scalzi's self-referred "reboot" is a good adventure novel covering the events of Little Fuzzy but they are reworked into a modern SF novel. The themes and main beats of the story are all there, but Jack is a good bit younger and the relationships are emphasized more strongly.

The main question at the heart of Little Fuzzy and Fuzzy Nation is, "What defines sentience?" This is important because if the Fuzzies that Jack has discovered are sentient, then the native species will own the planet and the Zarathustra Corp is s.o.l. With trillions of dollars at stake, the corporation is not inclined to play nice.

Scalzi keeps the action of the climax fairly contained - I would probably have gone all Jim Cameron on this and have a huge action sequence as the Corp struggles to maintain control. But Scalzi's approach is far more in line with the original and probably for the best. Jack is a bit damaged goods than I thought was necessary, but his heart finds the right place.

I enjoyed the Fuzzy reboot and would certainly buy any future entries in this series, but on the other hand, I can always just reread the originals.

The Fuzzy series also has a cinematic legacy that includes the previously mentioned Ewoks, but additionally seems very much an influence on Avatar and the early (1970) Burt Reynolds film, Skullduggery, where a miner is put on trial for murdering one of a missing link-like intelligent species in New Guinea.

I give Fuzzy Nation a 7.5 out of 10. The Fuzzy Nation cover painting is by Kekai Kotaki. The Little Fuzzy cover is by Michael Whelan.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tannhäuser Tuesday - Uchronic Novel Announced!


I saw this first on Miah's blog, but Amazon is pre-selling a Tannhäuser novel! I find it odd that I saw nothing at the FFG booth at GenCon, but it is up at Amazon with a Nov. 22 release date. Maybe it was part of the big FFG presentation at the show. 

Anyway, here is the description from Amazon:
"The year is 1954, and in a dark and violent alternate history, the Great War never ended. The forces of the Reich, led by the occult-obsessed Kaiser, have sold their souls to demonic powers as they scour the earth in search of paranormal weaponry. 

Meanwhile, President Edison has sanctioned the use of potent alien technology recovered at Roswell, in hopes of aiding the beleaguered Union in its fight against tyranny. As the war rages on, can anything - or anyone - tip the balance of power? 

Enter the Shogunate, a far-eastern warrior sect with their own shadowy agenda. When a small force led by "The Daimyo" Iroh Minamoto sets out toward the evergreen peninsula of Kamchatka, Union Major John McNeal and the 42nd Marines must discover their plans before it's too late. 

To make matters worse, the nefarious Hermann Von Heizinger of the Reich's Obscura Korps seems to be in league with the Shogunate. The race is on to control a weapon that could finally bring the Great War to its climactic end!"

The writer, Robert Jeschonek, has a number of published novels including a couple of Star Trek tie ins and some thriller. Hopefully, the book will be good. After all, there is plenty of good worldbuilding already done in the Tannhäuser universe and a wealth of heroic characters. You can check out his website here.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tannhäuser Tuesday - The Shogunate Begins!


Fantasy Flight was selling the first two packs of units for the Shogunate faction at Gen Con 2011, so I had to buy them and here they are...

As you may or may not know, the Shogunate faction introduces a new style of play called Allied Forces. This allows you to combine the Reich and Shogunate figures into a single force. The Matriarchy and the Union are also uneasy allies.

I am hoping that once the full Shogunate faction is released, this rule will be rescinded. I like the idea of 4 unique factions and the idea that when you bring your force to the table, you are not sure just who they would be facing.

First up is the leader of the Shogunate force, Iroh Minamoto. He is the Shogun's enforcer - known as "the Diamyo." His best attack is with his Special Object - a katana called Dual Soul, or Dyuaru Kontan. When using this weapon he add an extra die to the attack roll and each Natural 10 counts for two successes.

The second pack is the Shogunate Troops - the 3rd Division Ashigaru and the Shin Agent.

Also included is a new crate token - the Land Mine:

There is also a new pack for Hermann Von Heizinger:


Gen Con 2011 - Part 4 - Final Part