SPACE IS HELL: ALIEN TABLETOP RPG IS COMING

 

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Free League has announced an ALIEN Tabletop Role Playing Game series and I am proud to be integrally involved with this project. Free League explains my role as thus:

FROM THE FACEBOOK ANNOUNCEMENT:

The lead writer of the setting chapters is Andrew E.C. Gaska – author, senior development editor at Lion Forge Comics, and franchise consultant on ALIEN, Predator, and Planet of the Apes for 20th Century Fox.

With total attention to the minute details of the ALIEN lore from decades of movies, games, books, and comics, Drew’s work is to preserve the essence of the expanded material and bring it in line with hardcore canon, filling in gaps where needed. In addition to his setting design, Drew is the lead writer of the introductory scenario Chariot of the Gods.

For more information, sign up for Free League’s free newsletter at alien-rpg.com. The ALIEN universe is dear to my heart and I can not wait to see you clutching this massive book in one hand with your motion tracker in the other. Until then, enjoy some beautiful art from the upcoming game, as well as the official press release below.

—Andrew E. C. Gaska

An author, designer, game-writer, and graphic novelist with twenty years of industry experience, Gaska has worked as a freelance consultant to 20th Century Fox and Rockstar Games. In addition to being the Senior Development Editor for Lion Forge comics and animation, he is a contributor to both their Quillion gaming department and their licensing team. 

blamventures.com | Twitter: @andrewecgaska | Facebook: AndrewECGaska

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All images are ©2019 Martin Grip, Free League Publishing and 20th Century Fox and are used for the purposes of commentary or review only unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.

FROM THE PRESS RELEASE:

LOS ANGELES, CA (April 26, 2019) – Forty years ago, Alien shocked and inspired the world with a horrific sci-fi universe that forever changed the genre. In celebration of its 40th anniversary, Free League Publishing has announced today that fans can soon explore that iconic universe for themselves with an official line of tabletop role-playing games.

The long-term licensing partnership with 20th Century Fox Consumer Products will kick off in late 2019, launching an ongoing tabletop RPG series drawing upon four decades of world-building within this beloved universe. Free League is renowned for its own world-building in science fiction, with their best-selling sci-fi RPG Tales from the Loop sweeping the 2017 ENnie Awards for Best Setting, Best Writing, Best Art, Best Game, and Product of the Year. Tomas Härenstam, Free League co-founder and game director of their sci-fi RPGs Tales from the Loop and Mutant: Year Zero, will oversee game design, with original artwork from esteemed artists Martin Grip, John Mullaney and Axel Torvenius.

Taking place shortly after the events of Aliens, the first RPG will propel players into the vast possibilities of the Outer Rim Frontier. From the pioneering colonists and scientists to the ever-present Company reps and Colonial Marines, the game promises a diverse range of characters and gameplay experiences far beyond the staple cat-and-mouse suspense and survival horror of the franchise.

“The Alien saga isn’t about superheroes with superior firepower,” says game director Härenstam. “It’s about placing ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances and testing the endurance of the human spirit against inhuman atrocities and impossible odds. Such a harsh yet hopeful universe has captured our imagination for 40 years with good reason, and we’re excited to explore new stories and perspectives as players must face their demons (in a true and metaphoric sense) and brave the horrors of the unknown.”

To best capture the Alien experience, the RPG will provide more than the framework for continuous, open-world campaigns. Beyond the sandbox campaign game mode, Free League is also designing a “Cinematic” mode, with pre-generated scenarios that players must complete within a single session. Emulating the dramatic arc of an Alien film, these survival challenges promise escalating stakes and fast (often brutal) gameplay where most players aren’t expected to last the night. Their first cinematic scenario, Chariot of the Gods written by sci-fi novelist Andrew E.C. Gaska (Death of the Planet of the Apes), is included in the core manual. Gaska is also the setting writer and canon consultant for the RPG series. More cinematic modules and game expansions are already in production, with direct tie-ins to Fox’s future plans for the franchise slated for 2020 and beyond.

The Fox-Free League licensing deal was brokered by Joe LeFavi of Genuine Entertainment, who will manage the license on behalf of Free League and serve as an editor on the game series. Alien is the latest in a slew of high-profile tabletop deals by LeFavi, including the master tabletop gaming license for Dune, the tabletop RPG series for Altered Carbon, and multiple brand extensions of World of Darkness.

For more news and previews on the Alien RPG series, visit alien-rpg.com. Then follow Free League Publishing on Twitter and Facebook, where fans can discover art and gameplay development ahead of the game’s release.

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ABOUT 20TH CENTURY FOX CONSUMER PRODUCTS

20th Century Fox Consumer Products licenses and markets properties worldwide on behalf of 20th Century Fox Film, 20th Century Fox Television and FX Networks, as well as third party lines. The division is aligned with 20th Century Fox Television, the flagship studio leading the industry in supplying award-winning and blockbuster primetime television programming and entertainment content and 20th Century Fox Film, one of the world’s largest producers and distributors of motion pictures throughout the world. For more information on all Alien products and activities, go to www.AlienUniverse.com.

ABOUT FREE LEAGUE PUBLISHING

Free League is a critically acclaimed Swedish publisher of speculative fiction, dedicated to publishing award-winning tabletop role-playing games, board games, and art books set in strange and wondrous worlds. Our best-selling RPG Tales from the Loop swept the 2017 ENnie Awards, winning five Gold ENnies for Best Setting, Best Writing, Best Art, Best Game, and Product of the Year. The game is inspired by a series of iconic art books published by Free League – Tales from the Loop, Things from the Flood, and The Electric State – exploring artist Simon Stålenhag’s original sci-fi universe soon to be realized in the upcoming TV series from Amazon Studios. Most recently, our fantasy RPG Forbidden Lands became the 3rd most successful RPG Kickstarter of 2017 and dubbed one of the best RPGs of 2018. Other tabletop work includes the post-apocalyptic RPG Mutant: Year Zero, the sci-fi RPG Coriolis – The Third Horizon, the fantasy RPG Symbaroum, and the Crusader Kings board game. To learn more, visit freeleaguepublishing.com.

ABOUT GENUINE ENTERTAINMENT

Genuine Entertainment is an award-winning producer and paladin in genre entertainment, specializing in strategic licensing for entertainment franchises and fandoms that demand quality and authenticity in equal measure. It’s our mission to build brands by building worlds and fan communities, making meaningful contributions with premium content and consumer products that extend brands into new markets and genuinely connect with fans across multiple categories. Recent collaborations include such genre greats as Alien, Altered Carbon, Avengers: Infinity War, Blade Runner 2049, Dune, Game of Thrones, and World of Darkness. For more, visit: www.genuineent.com.

ABOUT ANDREW E.C. GASKA

With over two decades of experience in the comics and video game industries, author Andrew E.C. Gaska is the Senior Development Editor at Lion Forge Comics and Animation. He is the founder/creative director of the guerrilla integrated-media studio BLAM! Ventures and a freelance franchise consultant to 20TH CENTURY FOX, writing series bibles for the legacy franchises of ALIEN, Predator, and Planet of the Apes. He served as a visual consultant to Rockstar Games on GTA and all other releases. His written works include Space: 1999, HAWKEN, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and the new novel Death of the Planet of the Apes. For more info visit blamventures.com.

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SELF-IDENTITY AND SHAME IN A POST ENDGAME WORLD

17--russo-brueder-reagieren-auf-die-spoiler-panik---16-9---spoton-article-719655Thor is about to do a very bad, bad, thing.

WARNING: IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN AVENGERS: ENDGAME YET, MOVE ON. THERE ARE CHARACTER SPECIFIC SPOILERS IN THIS VERY PERSONAL COMMENTARY. 

I have body dysmorphia.

For years I was pushing 280lbs.

Most of that was due to a pain and depression medication I was taking for seven years. Cymbalta can cause extreme weight gain and its not something you can just stop taking without the risk of seizures. It took me five months of sweats and night terrors to get off of it. Within those five months, I dropped from 275lbs to 196lbs. A few months later I was down to 185lbs. I went from XXL to a Medium.

I looked in the mirror after dropping all that weight and saw a whale. Keep in mind I have overweight friends and don’t look at them that way. I don’t take lightly to people fat-shaming people and I can tell you I would be devastated if someone did it to me. But this was different. This was me, and all I saw was fat.

I fat-shamed myself.

I didn’t register the weight loss. l thought I looked terrible. I didn’t. It took me a while to adjust to that. It took other people telling me all the time for me to finally see it.

Since then I’ve fluctuated a little.  At 196lbs I feel my best—but would sometimes still see a fat person in the mirror.

Since moving to St. Louis from Pensacola and having, to quote Captain Kirk, “no beach to walk on,” (points if you get the double meaning of the reference), I’ve moved back up to 220lbs. Something to do with being in an office setting and there being donuts. Lots and lots of donuts. I’m now somewhere between a large and a medium, with a Large looking a little too big and a Medium making me look like a plump sausage.

bca482d7-9b6c-4561-b64a-efabeac49948_4.6830efcb7a3b157ecc72bbb5734d4002Damn you, Unicorn Donuts. Damn you all to hell.

People tell me I still look great, but I don’t feel my best, and long to see that 196 on the scale again. It’s something I am very sensitive about. 

WARNING: HERE COME THE SPOILERS.

Now, for Avengers: Endgame. In the film, Thor can’t accept that he failed to stop Thanos from wiping out half the life in the universe. He then kills the man in cold blood, gives up on being a superhero and on leading his people, sinks into depression, and becomes an alcoholic.

Oh, and he gets fat.

He gets very, very, fat.

Recently I read an article or two accusing Endgame of fat-shaming Thor. These reviewers accused the audience of mocking Thor for being overweight and went as far as to say Marvel encouraged this with lingering shots of Thor’s belly.

I’m going to go with no on this one.

What we saw with Thor wasn’t fat-shaming. Quite simply, Thorsomeone who prides himself for being at the height of physical fitnesshad let himself go.

In many ways, it is simply a ‘fish out of water’ scenario. Facebook friend Patrick Izzo says, “It’s finding humor in seeing our character the opposite of what we know him to be. It’s a little like Ant-Man in Civil War. No one laughed when he shrunk, but when he became Giant-Man it was pretty funny because it was the opposite of what we were used to.”

Size MattersSize-shaming. Also, yes, I know this isn’t a shot from Civil War. Thank you for pointing that out.

While Thor’s problems run a bit deeper, the Ant-Man comparison is a good call. The goofy but lovable Scott Lang is often in over his head and outside of his element. We laugh at his ineptnessbut we aren’t incompetence-shaming. Scott is us in a superhero world. He’s relatable. He is a regular dude who is going to pull through anyway and we love seeing heroes with flaws.

That’s what it was about. We aren’t used to seeing Thor like he is in Endgame. Even though his role in both Ragnarok and Infinity War have shown that Marvel wants to break the status quo and take the character in new directions, we never would have expected them to take Thor this far. He is now more relatable than ever before. It was funny to think of a superhero—a god, no less—who usually keeps himself at peak performance no longer caring about that and living a sedentary life. 

THE TIP OF THE SCALE. As I stated above, Thor was also in the depths of depression, something myself and many close to me suffer from. He couldn’t handle his failures. Was this depression-shaming, and were his drinking binges alcoholic-shaming?

No.

All this was only funny because it was Thor not being the god of thunder we were used to—someone who was cocky and arrogant about his looks, powers, and physique. He was at a crossroads. It was funny because we knew he was going to overcome what was plaguing him. And interestingly enough, in the end, he stayed overweight except for when he transformed into his super-self.  After that, he went back to his out-of-shape self, something that was a bold and welcome move on Marvel’s part. 

REDEMPTION. Thor struggled to be what the others wanted him to be and couldn’t handle that. He was accepted by his mother regardless of his appearance and redeemed when he realized he didn’t need to be anything but himself, whatever that entailed. She didn’t even draw attention to his weight (which I assure you is atypical for someone’s mother when facing her unexpectantly expanding offspring). The Thor who joins the Guardians of the Galaxy at the end of the film is an amalgam of the god who let himself go and the hero who craves a new adventure. He is a changed man.

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WHO’S SHAMING WHO? I am a self-proclaimed social justice warrior. Comic books and sci-fi taught me diversity, honor, and to do the right thing. Gene Roddenberry, George Lucas, Larry Hama, and Dennis O’Neil were amongst my guides. I believe we must fight for people to be accepted for their character and who they are rather than judging them by sex, race, creed, preference, or appearance.

But part of me has to wonder if some of us are taking things too personally. Conversely, part of me has to wonder if we are being taken advantage of here. I wonder if articles accusing popular films of insensitivity are simply designed to rile us up and to bait clicks. 

The movie was made by Disney, people. They are sensitive to inclusiveness. I have to believe that very few in the audience would have laughed at an overweight character just for being overweight. Certainly, no character in the film was laughing at Thor for being fat. They were shocked to find him as he was, felt pity for his despair and downward spiral to the bottom of the bottle, and tried to rally him to become a hero once more. They also gave him a few steady doses of reality. Dealing with all these flaws, comical or not, worked because it was someone we knew this wasn’t the norm for.

Someone like Thor.

Maybe I’m wrong, but to me, it showed that these heroes are human as well—even if they are gods. It was funny, it was heartfelt, and it was a highlight of the character’s journey.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a box of donuts to throw out.

—Andrew E. C. Gaska

An author, designer, game-writer, and graphic novelist with twenty years of industry experience, Gaska has worked as a freelance consultant to 20th Century Fox and Rockstar Games. In addition to being the Senior Development Editor for Lion Forge comics and animation, he is a contributor to both their Quillion gaming department and their licensing team. 

blamventures.com | Twitter: @andrewecgaska | Facebook: AndrewECGaska

All images are ©2019 Marvel Studios and are used for the purposes of commentary or review only unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.

 

SWIMMING UPSTREAM: A PARADIGM SHIFT IN NETWORK ENTERTAINMENT

STAR TREK: DISCOVERY
A look at Star Trek on TV, Discovery, streaming services, paid vs. ‘free’ content, and how we consume 23rd Century entertainment in the 21st Century.
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On CBS All Access, Discovery is breaking new ground in Star Trek storytelling. While Season One told a continuing story arc of epic proportions, many Star Trek fans felt something was missing. The sense of hope and wonder that is integral to Trek was subdued and/or nonexistent, depending on who you ask.
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Discovery’s producers heard what the fans had to say, and have made changes accordingly. The show is no longer quite so dark, has a damn-likable captain, is dealing with Star Trek-like questions about purpose and existence, and is showcasing a developing crew who work together as a team. Like every Trek sequel series before it, Discovery stumbled out of the gate but is now finding its footing as it moves forward within its second season.
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So, with the prospect of getting most of what they want from a Trek, why are some fans still refusing to watch?
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Principle.
OK, and money.
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Ten bars gold pressed latinum. Some complain that televised Star Trek has always been free. With the advent of CBS All Access you have to pay for a subscription (either $5.99 a month with commercials or $9.99 without) in order to see Discovery. On the surface, that complaint seems valid. Why should we pay for something that has always been free? However, let’s put that into perspective.
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Nothing is ever really free. In order to watch what you want in your home, at one time in your life, you may have paid for pay-per-view.
You might pay for HBO.
Right now, you could be paying for STARS, SHOWTIME, or other premium networks.
Maybe you pay for sports channels.
You pay for Netflix.
How about Hulu?
You might even pay for Amazon Prime.
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Watching ‘free’ stuff on Youtube? You’re at the least paying to access the internet, and if you want to say goodbye to those annoying commercials, there is a monthly fee. Most importantly, you likely pay for cable (I assure you that 99.9% of you are not using rabbit ears to get a free TV signal. I guarantee that the younger half of you just thought to yourself, “What are rabbit ears?”)
$This. We used to watch shows like this. The pointy things are rabbit ears. They sucked.
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The ins-and-outs of TV have changed. The old television network model doesn’t work anymore. In the past, companies would pay good money to advertise during a show’s broadcast, generating the revenue needed to create original programming. With so many channels to choose from today, not enough viewers tune in to any show to make advertising worth what it used to be. In short, commercials no longer pay the bills. At the end of the day, Star Trek, like everything else in entertainment, is a business. The streaming service model generates the income networks need to survive and to continue to bring us the shows we want to see. This is the new reality of delivering quality long-form entertainment.
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And so dies the cable box. Broadcast network channels are going away. Each network is going to have their own ‘all access.’ DISNEY is doing itthey are pulling their content from other providers (which is why Marvel Netflix shows are going away) and are planning new Marvel shows and at least two Star Wars television series. NBC is next. Better get used to it, Netflix and Amazon Prime proved there is more money to be made this way than on TV. Eventually, the concept of cable will go away, replaced with providers that offer access to a number of streaming servicesfor a price (Personally, I currently have CBS, HBO, STARS, and SHOWTIME as add-ons for my Amazon Prime). New technologies always beget new forms of entertainment. Remember when that damn tube-box ruined radio serials? No? Well, it did.
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“Why do you need special effects? Why can’t you just listen and see them in your mind? Why isn’t everything always the same? Why are things different?”
“Shut up, grandma’s grandma.”
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Remember when suddenly you had to have cable to have a decent TV signal? Or how about when you paid to go see a Star Trek in a movie theater?
d3849350ea3e66ec074d7f6b964097f2
“You want me to pay money to go see this Star Trek Moving Picture? In my day, Star Trek was on the TV and was free!”
“Shut up, Grandpa’s grandpa.”
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Special Note: the verbal abuse aimed at the elderly as depicted on this page is intended for educational purposes only. Stay kind to your seniors and stay off their lawns. No old people were harmed during the writing of this essay. Thank you.
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The real reason Star Trek fans don’t want to pay for Discovery
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What am I paying for? The production quality of Discovery is that of a feature filmyou are getting a lot for your buck. If you pay $9.99 a month for CBS All Access in order to watch Discovery, and you are getting one episode a week, that’s four episodes every 30 days.  That means you are paying a whopping $2.50 per episode to watch new Star Trek. Better still, if you can stomach watching commercials, it’s only $5.99 a month! Break it down and it’s $1.50 an episode.
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This is a great price even if you hate Discovery. If you are actually watching DISCO when you complain about it all over facebook, you can back up your claims with empirical evidence. That’s $1.50-$2.50 for a week’s worth of trolling material! Like the show or not, that’s not bad, no matter how you slice it.
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Or you can wait until Season Two is over, join, and watch the entire show in one month. With two seasons and about thirty episodes at that point, you’d be paying between .19 and .34 cents an episode depending on your subscription plan.
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To reiterate.19 cents an episode.
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And the cost efficiency is getting better than that, even. With at least four planned Star Trek shows coming to All Access, your actual cost per content will soon be negligible.
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I’m sorry, why are you complaining, again? Just as entertainment itself evolves, the form in which it is delivered does as well. As always, the times are changing.
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TV is dead.
Long live TV.

—Andrew E. C. Gaska

An author, designer, game-writer, and graphic novelist with twenty years of industry experience, Gaska has worked as a freelance consultant to 20th Century Fox and Rockstar Games. In addition to being the Senior Development Editor for Lion Forge comics and animation, he is a contributor to both their Quillion gaming department and their licensing team. 

blamventures.com | Twitter: @andrewecgaska | Facebook: AndrewECGaska

 

CANON, INTERRUPTED: THEORIES ON KLINGON DEVOLUTION

0_0aaafwuxqa8qxtw9“Just as there are different races of humans, there are different races of Klingons, and the Klingons seen in Star Trek: The Motion Picture are not the same race as the ones we saw on The Original Series.

 —Gene Roddenberry, The Great Bird of the Galaxy

“I wanted to lend a little more ferocity to their overall appearance, so I asked Rick Berman and Gene Roddenberry to let me try something different from what ‘had gone before.'”

—Michael Westmore, The Next Generation Make Up Artist

Star Trek: Discovery offered up a different look for the Klingons than audiences had previously been exposed to, causing an uproar in some factions of the fan community. Their proclamation—Discovery isn’t canon and it doesn’t take place in the Prime Timeline (i.e. the universe that the previous Trek TV series occur in).

“Not my Trek!” is the oft-used battlecry.

Truth be told, this isn’t the first time there have been multiple types of Klingons. For 25 years the difference between the smooth-headed Klingons in the original series and The Motion Picture cranial ridged Klingons went unexplained on film and TV—with only an acknowledgment of the differences in the Deep Space Nine episode, “Trials and Tribble-ations.” The explanation was simple, its execution flawless. “We do not talk about it with outsiders!”  said Mr. Worf, Son of Mog.

star-trek-worfNot a Merry man.

So, why the change?

“Gene Roddenberry wanted to redesign the look of the Klingons. That’s the real reason for the change in appearance.”

—Rick Berman

CH-CH-CH-CHANGES. The Klingon makeup has been altered or redesigned for The Motion Picture, Star Trek III, The Next Generation, and Star Treks V and VI before Discovery. All of these show different types of Klingons than the Original Series did, and all are considered canon by Star Trek’s masters. This essay explores what it means to be prime universe Klingon over five decades of Star Trek.

klingons

NORTHERN KLINGONS vs. SOUTHERN KLINGONS. Roddenberry himself once famously joked that the ridgeless Klingons were “Southern” Klingons and the ridged ones were “Northern” Klingons. That comment alone shows how much of a non-issue he felt it was. He later stated, “the original show had simply never had the budget and makeup technology to envision the species as it should have been seen, so the apparently new Klingons were just Klingons as they were always intended to have been.”

klingon_3_variants.jpgEssentially, the advice of Mystery Science Theatre 3000:  “Just repeat to yourself it’s just a show, I should really just relax.”

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RUFFLES HAVE RIDGES… BUT THEY DON’T FALL DOWN. The ridged brows on the Klingons were inspired by the alien race called the Kreeg as they appeared in Gene’s failed pilot ‘Planet Earth.’ Just like engineers love to change things, Gene loved to recycle them.

The bald and more reptilian look of the Discovery Klingons, as well as their layered armor, comes from Robert Fletcher’s extrapolation of the Kreeg designs for Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek: Planet of the Titans. (more on that aborted Star Trek film in the link above). Indeed, it was Gene himself who suggested that the Klingon ridges wrap around their skulls as extensions of their spinal cords, just as former showrunner Bryan Fuller chose to explore on Discovery.tkumva-1Fletcher’s design vs. Discovery Klingon T’Kuvma. One of these things is much like the other.

THERE IS NOTHING IN THE DESERT, AND NOMEN NEED NOTHING. Another possible inspiration for The Motion Picture Klingons may have been the Borellian Nomen from the 1978 sci-fi television series Battlestar Galactica.  The Nomen were part of a fierce nomadic warrior tribe and came replete with bushy beards on their faces and bony ridges on their foreheads. They had customs, codes, and rituals that were integral to their aggressive culture, and physically looked to be the missing link between the Original Series Klingons and their Motion Picture compatriots.

ab1ab4bb84003e66a67c258100cde242Klingon cousins.

Battlestar alumni, actor and novelist Richard Hatch (Captain Apollo) also played Klingon Commander Karn in the Star Trek independent film project, Prelude to Axanar. Diving into the Klingon culture for the part, he often commented that he believed the Nomen and Klingons to be conceptually linked in appearance, culture, and demeanor. Whether or not it was a conscious choice made behind the scenes on Star Trek or was just a coincidence is unknown for sure. SFX wizard John Dykstra, illustrators Andrew Probert and Ralph McQuarrie, and other production crew all worked on both Trek and BSG in the 1970s, soto quote Spock—it is, “a distinct possibility.”

REFLECTIONS OF THE FASA FUSIONS. Sources such as the excellent Trek novel, The Final Reflection, by J.M. Ford, and the also excellent FASA Star Trek: The Roleplaying Game, explained the Klingon differences as the result of genetic experiments designed to help the Klingons face off against their various racial foes. There were Imperial Klingons, Human-fusion Klingons, and even a Romulan-fusion Klingon subspecies. According to these sources, such things eventually became frowned upon by the Empire, and the experiments were discontinued.

klingons

The appearance of classic Klingons Kor, Koloth, and Kang in DS9—sporting cranial ridges they never had in The Original Series—dispelled that theory, however.

dThe same three Klingons, twice. Second set of pics taken on a bad hair day.

A DIVERTING AFFLICTION. Ford and FASA’s theory was a pretty good one, and one that was accepted behind closed doors for decades.  It would be modified for the purposes of the final explanation of the Klingon change in appearance, offered during the Star Trek: Enterprise episode ‘Divergence.’ The Klingon race as we have mostly known it—let’s call them the Imperial Klingons—were the victims of a genetically mutated virus in the 2150s. The virus was accidentally created when ambitious Klingons got their hands on Human augment DNA—yes, the same stuff of Khan—and used it to try to create Super Klingons. It would have wiped out the entire Klingon Empire if not for the fast work of Dr. Phlox. Unfortunately, the cure had side effects—the familiar ridge-headed Klingons were genetically altered to look like the Klingons from The Original Series. Their cranial ridges dissolved and they became a little bit human and a lot less than Klingon. Phlox’s cure saved the race from annihilation but was an embarrassment for certain.

http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Klingon_augment_virus

As was suggested in the episode, it would be a long time until the Klingons could figure out a way to restore their Imperial appearance—and their offspring would likely be born with the same affliction. It was suggested that cranial ridge reconstruction might become a thing.

startrekenterpriseinamirrordarklyparti.0102Ridged Klingon is ridgeless. Thanks, Space Obama.

WHAT’S OLD IS NEW. Where does that leave us with the previously mentioned Discovery looking Klingons? You can take them as a visual reboot, which is pretty much what Discovery’s producers were going for, or you can sprinkle some sci-fi magic in to ease your canonical woes. Here are a few theories this humble author has hypothesized (that fit with the overall Trek universe) to maintain what some fans consider precious visual continuity.

0bc1c52be585e668-2048x1024Ceiling Klingon is judging you.

HYPOTHESIS No. 1: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE NEANDER-KLINGON. After the Imperial Klingons were altered by the virus to assume a human-like appearance, they were seen as less than Klingon. At this point, what was previously considered a lesser offshoot of their race—the Proto-Klingons, as seen in Discovery—begins to gain power. Considered the Klingon equivalent of Neanderthals, the Proto Klingons had previously been occupying comparatively menial roles in the Empire—such as mining or maintaining outposts on harsh worlds in the Klingon sector equivalent of Siberia.

The reason for my use of the term Proto-Klingon: Visually, Discovery Klingons fit as a missing link between the Prehistoric Klingon creature seen in the TNG episode ‘Genesis’ and The Imperial Klingons we have come to know.

worf-genesisPrehistoric, Proto, Imperiala Study in Klingon. Evolution’s a fickle bitch, am I right?

The irony in this scenario is that the Proto-Klingons are now more Klingon then their previous lords—the Imperial Klingons that had been altered by the human augment virus. This offshoot rises in dominance because their genes were in fact pure. Disgusted by the fact that a human virus (nevermind that the Klingons had tried to use it on themselves and almost killed their entire race with it) had changed the purity of the Klingon line, the Proto-Klingon battle cry of “Remain Klingon” became their rallying point.

Screen Shot 2019-01-21 at 3.16.02 PM.pngMAKE AMERICAN GREAT AGAI—er, I mean, REMAIN KLINGON!

HYPOTHESIS No. 2: GENETIC MANIPULATION RUN AMOK. The time again is post Enterprise. Not knowing when to quit, Klingon scientists begin developing a retrovirus to restore Klingons to their once glorious appearance. It doesn’t exactly work correctly, however, and the Klingon race who are treated are accidentally reverted to a proto-Klingon appearance. The Empire goes into seclusion for almost 100 years because of this. Still, being proto-Klingon is better than being a Klingon altered with human DNA. Because of propaganda, Klingons like T’Kuvma see the virus as the Federation’s attempt to make the Klingons more like them. Hence, an alternate explanation for the rallying cry, “Reman Klingon!”   

klingon-stidI like this armor. Someone is going to be pissed I used a Kelvin Klingon here. Just you see.

HYPOTHESIS No. 3: DIVERSITY IN KLINGON. The simplest one. The Klingon Empire stretches over at least hundreds of worlds over a vast amount of space. There could very easily be species of Klingon we haven’t seen yet. We have never seen all 24 houses. As Gene suggested at one point, it’s possible that variant species of Klingons are spread across the Empire. In fact, rumors abound that future issues of Star Trek magazine might confirm as much.

bing-klingon-translator (1)Smiles, everyone. Revenge is a dish best served cold, and today is a good day to die.

WHICH WAY DID THEY GO, GEORGIOU? So, why no Proto-Klingons in the other Trek series? After the Proto-Klingons—whether the result of Hypothesis 1, 2, or 3—cause the war with the Federation and lose abysmally, they fall into disgrace. The altered augment Klingons reclaim control of the Empire. But where do the Protos go?

The Klingon Empire is not beyond genocide.

39868995094_503afedf40_bProto-Klingons, say hello to our little friend…

DARWIN WAS RIGHT. The Imperial Klingons could have decided that this subspecies was dangerous, and wiped them out by the time of Star Trek: The Motion Picture—the same time the means were discovered to undo the damage created by the augment virus and restore Imperial Klingons to their rightful appearance.

battle_of_the_binary_stars_fleets.jpgBattle of the Binary Stars. The Feds face an armada of atypical Klingon proto-crewed ships.

This would also explain the discontinuation of the ship designs the Klingons use in Discovery and the return to Imperial design lineages. The amazing Trek resource site, Ex Astris Scientia, has compiled a size chart of the Proto-Klingons’ ship designs. You can see that chart on that site. As for some insight into the difference in design philosophies…

dis-klingon-chartA tale of two Birds of Prey: gothic vs. classic—Proto-Klingon vs. Imperial. Who will win?  

AN EMPIRE TORN. Something else that will likely come up in complaints is the fact that L’Rell is in charge of the Klingon Empire. In the Season One Finale of Discovery, L’Rell holds the fate of Q’onoS in her hands—-literally. She forces the Empire to call off the war, and she assumes leadership. What’s wrong with that?

Fans will point out that “Women may not serve on the council,” was stated by Gowron in the TNG episode, “Redemption Part 1.” What if L’Rell is the reason for that? She forced the empire to listen to her, and the male council may not have been too happy about that. 

azetburWomen cannot serve on Coun—-oh wait…

In Star Trek VI, Azetbur was chancellor for a brief time after her father’s death, but, as was suggested in the Star Trek VI novelization by J.M. Dillard, that was likely a set up by the council who wished to have an easy patsy.  

(Dillard even went so far as to include Klingon cultural touches from TNG that STVI forgot about—as soon as Kirk and company are escorted away from the recently deceased Chancellor Gorkon, Chang and the other warriors present perform the Klingon death ritual, warning the dead that a Klingon warrior is about to arrive.  Originating on The Next Generation, the same ritual has been shown on DS9 and in Discovery. Incidentally, fans arguing that Klingons discard the bodies of their dead and do not prepare them for interment should check out Spock’s mention of a Klingon mummification glyph in Star Trek IV. It’s pretty clear in Discovery that more progressive Klingon factions see the body as nothing but a shell, but religious groups such as T’Kuvma’s follow older traditions and revere the bodies of the dead. When L’Rell finds that Kor has been piling Klingon corpses in the rubbish, she is horrified.)

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klingon_death_ritualThese two acts? Same difference.

CONSULT THE FORTUNE COOKIES. As Season 2 of Discovery develops, it appears that L’Rell and the other Klingons will be undergoing yet another transformation—this one bringing them more in line with the Imperial species—and implying Hypothesis 2 as an answer (a shame, really, as I am partial to Hypothesis 1). It has been said that the Klingons in Season 1 had shaved their heads for war, although why the leaders of all shown houses heads were bald before the war started leaves me scratching their heads about that one.

43550480_475758626279197_2719868874753857383_nBecoming more Imperial every day. Viva L’Rellvolution!

THERE’S ALWAYS SOMETHING. In science fiction, almost anything can have a workaround. All it takes is a little bit of imagination.

screen shot 2018-02-12 at 1.24.20 amAll images are ©2019 CBS Paramount or NBC Universal and are used for the purposes of commentary or review only unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.

I’ll leave you with a closer look at the lovely Prehistoric Klingon as seen on TNG as well as some more pertinent Klingon quotes and information from both Discovery’s production team and those who worked on Treks of old:

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“If you look at the Klingons, there is something fairly gothic and art deco about them,” Rodis pointed out. “If you notice, they never wear simple, undecorated costumes; it’s all kind of metallic and leather, with piping and stuff [….] Also, even though the Klingons aren’t green, they are definitely not blue. They lean more toward gray/green.”

—Nilo Rodis, Star Trek III Art Director

“The empire is very big. They don’t all grow up on Kronos. They don’t all live on the same planets and certainly, those different planets would have different environments. So how would the cultures have evolved differently? …we tried to come up with cultural axioms for each house so each looks different and they bear a cultural patina like our cultures do here on Earth.”

https://trekmovie.com/2017/08/03/stlv17-designers-explain-why-star-trek-discovery-klingons-are-bald-and-more/

“What can you say to reassure us that we’re not losing the Klingons we know and love?” a furtive audience member asked during the Q&A portion. Mitchell assured the crowd that the recent publicity still image released was of one Klingon, from one house. “We will see all 24 houses and the leaders among them,” he revealed. The houses will be explored, and the physical and ideological differences between them. L’Rell is part of two houses, Chieffo explained, and the conflicts arising therein, as well as how she is viewed by the Federation versus her own people, will be explored in depth.”

http://www.treknews.net/2017/08/03/star-trek-discovery-cast-klingon-houses-stlv/

From Memory Alpha:

Fred Phillips expected that the fans would wonder about how the Klingons could possibly have head ridges newly added to their faces, he and Roddenberry came up with the explanation of there being a variety of Klingon races, even before the release of The Motion Picture. Despite this, the transformation continued to be regarded as a mystery for decades to come. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 145, pp. 71-72)

Roddenberry also stipulated that the Klingons would preemptively attack any foreign entity discovered within Klingon space, such as they do to V’Ger in The Motion Picture. (audio commentary, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (The Director’s Edition))

Richard Snell was relieved that, in Star Trek VI, Nicholas Meyer gave him leeway to design the Klingons as slightly more diverse and grotesque than they had been in previous films. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 22, No. 5, p. 33)

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The once and future Klingon D-7. Just sayin’.

—Andrew E. C. Gaska

An author, designer, game-writer, and graphic novelist with twenty years of industry experience, Gaska has worked as a freelance consultant to 20th Century Fox and Rockstar Games. In addition to being the Senior Development Editor for Lion Forge comics and animation, he is a contributor to both their Quillion gaming department and their licensing team

blamventures.com | Twitter: @andrewecgaska | Facebook: AndrewECGaska

 

 

Everyone is losing their sh!t over Batman’s penis.

4A01F7CE-72EE-469F-B54D-FF7F893A094A The heft of his ample member weighs heavily on the Dark Knight ’s brooding soul.

Comics, like movies and games, is an ever-evolving form of entertainment. As society changes, what is and isn’t considered acceptable changes with it. Sometimes, it seems, people feel things go too far. This isn’t the first time Comics has pushed the envelope, however.

Do you remember in the ‘60s when those amateurs Lee and O’Neil brought drugs into Spider-Man and Green Lantern comics? 

 

Disgraceful.

And then in the mid-‘80s when Squadron Supreme, Watchmen, and the Dark Knight Returns made politics, even more predominate in comics than they already were? Those books even introduced mature themes—and one even showed a blue penis—repeatedly. They were written by some hacks named Gruenwald, Moore, and Miller. 

 

0B7E3FDA-E236-41E7-A3F2-D3CE986C40D0SJW vs. Far Right shenanigans.

Miller’s book was just the start of the end for Batman. What about that Arkham Asylum graphic novel that came out in 1989, wherein Clayface explains his tortured life by proclaiming he was not born, but instead was “shit into existence?“

1B4A9652-A524-4F62-81E1-832F10CD75C6 Oh, the humanity.

That one was written by some nobody named Morrison who I’m sure never went anywhere. Remember how that mature readers’ book ruined Batman, forever?

Oh, wait.

In this age, everyone has to be outraged about what is being done to their beloved characters (“Not MY Luke Skywalker,” anyone?) Social media helps facilitate this because everyone feels powerful while hiding behind their computer or phone screen. There are no obvious consequences (although that seems to be changing).

Comic and film franchises can and should try new things without violating the old ones. A mature line doesn’t detract from the regular one and vise-versa.

Here’s how it works—you don’t like it, don’t buy it. 

AECG

P.S.

…and now, the batarang:

 

6B3CD29E-EFBC-4B5F-A956-E31D53461550Peniacal.

UPDATE: Due to public outcry, DC has neutered the Batman. All reprints will no longer showcase his penis—it has been erased from existence.

Good job, heroes. I hope you’re happy.

—Andrew. E. C. Gaska

An author, designer, game-writer, and graphic novelist with twenty years of industry experience, Gaska has worked as a freelance consultant to 20th Century Fox and Rockstar Games. In addition to being Lion Forge’s Senior Development Editor, he is a contributor to both Lion Forge’s Quillion gaming department and their licensing team.
blamventures.com | Twitter: @andrewecgaska | Facebook: AndrewECGaska

By Your Command—So Say We All

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Yesterday was the 40th Anniversary of Battlestar Galactica. 

More than a sci-fi shoot’ em up in any incarnation, Battlestar Galactica has always been about both the struggle to escape overwhelming odds and a people’s right to survive. It’s about those being persecuted for their race—be it human or Cylon.

Frighteningly, there are still a lot of lessons to be learned from that in today’s world. Busy with my new job and reflecting on the loss of the ineffable Richard Hatch (from a year and a half ago), I forwent any formal post until now.

This morning, I feel renewed and inspired—so have chosen to post a piece of Battlestar art that is often overlooked—created by the late great Frank Frazetta as concept art for the show some 40 yahrens ago.

Happy Belated, Battlestar.

May we see you continue to spread your message of hope in television and film form, as well as all other media. Remember, there are always be those who believe. As Richard would no doubt now say, Keep the Faith.

Yours,

Andrew E. C. Gaska

An author, designer, game-writer, and graphic novelist with twenty years of industry experience, Gaska has worked as a freelance consultant to 20th Century Fox and Rockstar Games. In addition to being Lion Forge’s Senior Development Editor, he is a contributor to both Lion Forge’s Quillion gaming department and their licensing team.
blamventures.com | Twitter: @andrewecgaska | Facebook: AndrewECGaska

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Remember that time 19 years ago when the moon blasted out of orbit?

6AC98CBC-5C47-4567-A407-742DC7353C05Sept 13th, 1999:

A nuclear accident on the moon blasts it out of orbit, through a space warp, and careening into the cosmos.

311 brave souls survive on Moonbase Alpha, searching the stars for a new home.

SPACE:1999 was a 1974 Sci-Fi television series starring Martin Landau (of Ed Wood fame) and Barbara Bain (of Mission Impossible, along with Martin).

The show had a lot going for it. The special effects efforts by SFX wizard Brian Johnson led to his work on Star Wars. Along with Landau and Bain, it had the amazing Barry Morse heading up the cast. Joan Collins, Christopher Lee, and Peter Cushing all guest starred.

It was to be a Star Trek-like series with a 2001 aesthetic and tone. While the first season contains many gems, the show was too cerebral for most audiences of the time and was transformed into an action-adventure format for season two. At first too adult and then too child-like, the series couldn’t find its footing and was canceled after year two.

My first graphic novel based on the series was released in 2012 and was called Space:1999-–Aftershock and Awe. The second is sold out and getting harder to find every day.

And yes, there is a new series of SPACE:1999 graphic novels by me on the way.

I have limited copies of Aftershock and Awe available at the $25 cover price plus $6 domestic shipping (FB message me for foreign shipping). All books direct from the author are signed. Please remember to include your shipping address and whatever dedication you’d like. You can order by PAYPAL at soniamexcite@paypal.com.

And please, take a moment to celebrate the 44th anniversary of this sci-fi classic, and the 6,935th day since the moon left earth orbit.

—Andrew. E. C. Gaska

An author, designer, game-writer, and graphic novelist with twenty years of industry experience, Gaska has worked as a freelance consultant to 20th Century Fox and Rockstar Games. In addition to being Lion Forge’s Senior Development Editor, he is a contributor to both Lion Forge’s Quillion gaming department and their licensing team.
blamventures.com | Twitter: @andrewecgaska | Facebook: AndrewECGaska

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ANDREW GASKA JOINS LION FORGE AS SENIOR DEVELOPMENT EDITOR

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FROM THE PRESS RELEASE:

ST. LOUIS, MO—Lion Forge continues to expand in original content development for both publishing and entertainment with the announcement that franchise continuity and development veteran Andrew E.C. Gaska has joined the Pride as senior development editor.

“Over the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of contributing to and creating several series bibles for projects in development at Lion Forge,” says Andrew E.C. Gaska. “In the process, I’ve enjoyed a great synergy with the company, and we decided it was time to take our relationship to the next level.”

“Andrew’s work with Carl Reed and our Labs team has earned him respect throughout the organization, and we are thrilled he will be joining us full time as we step up our development efforts,” says Lion Forge founder and CEO, David Steward II. “With his extensive background in caring for some of the most beloved franchises in science fiction, there is no one more qualified to lead the efforts in creating and developing our own properties to ready them for audiences around the world.”

“In this newly created position, I’m responsible for the creation and development of new intellectual properties at Lion Forge. I will not only be writing for these projects but also guiding the creative process through to completion,” says Andrew E.C. Gaska. “Tackling animation and comics from an author’s perspective and with an artist’s approach, I’ll be working closely with the creative teams and studios involved to ensure that both our vision and theirs are not lost in the translation.” That is not all Gaska will be doing at Lion Forge. “Because of my longtime experience working directly with licensors, I am also now part of Lion Forge’s Licensing team,” he says. “Our goal is to bring both new and legacy franchise projects to life under our banner. Additionally, I’ll be working with [Lion Forge director of education outreach and collections] Jill Gerber to bring historical and educational projects to life as graphic novels. This is an exciting time at Lion Forge and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it.”

DREWbioPIC

Andrew E.C. Gaska is founder/creative director of the guerrilla integrated media studio BLAM! Ventures and has worked as a freelance franchise consultant to 20th Century Fox for the past three years, writing series reference bibles, maintaining continuity, streamlining in-universe canon, and creating detailed timelines for the legacy franchises of Alien, Predator, and Planet of the Apes. Andrew was a production assistant and colorist for Vanguard Productions, where he restored valuable comic and genre artworks for archival reproduction. He was also a sequential storytelling instructor at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and he served as a visual consultant to Rockstar Games for seventeen years on the Grand Theft Auto series, Red Dead Revolver, and all other releases.

Lion Forge Labs is a creative services group that specializes in storytelling using comics, animation, and gaming. A sister company to Lion Forge Comics, Labs partners with clients to develop branded content, communications, and educational programs, in which the central story delivers their audiences both key facts and an emotional connection in a fun, highly memorable way.

BUCK ROGERS NOVELLA 2 TEASER

Screen Shot 2018-05-12 at 6.42.35 PM

Life finds a way—to get in the way. As a novelist, sometimes projects get delayed. Sometimes it’s for good reasons, other times it’s not. As Book 2 from my first Buck Rogers trilogy has been delayed again until the end of the summer, I thought it prudent to share the teaser with an anxious audience.  These three novellas take place between the first and second season of the 1979-1981 television series and mark the transition between the vastly different format of each season.

Please enjoy a taste of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: Draconian Fire Book 2—”Who Mourns for Theopolis?”.

—Andrew E.C. Gaska

Screen Shot 2018-05-12 at 6.31.04 PM

Pulse cannons flared and disappeared in the inky abyss.
_________Seconds later, there was searing light.
_________The long-range blasts had found their mark—the earth starship Aniello. Balls of fire erupted along her peppered metal body.  Her blemished skin ruptured and exploding atmosphere dashed to the stars.
_________The void blared violence.
_________Defiant, the Aniello wailed.
_________Her hull blistered and boiled under the onslaught. Milium burst and vented both men and ambuquad into space. Still, she would not die alone. Her assailants zigged about the starry battlefield, zagging to and fro. The pale green coppery starfighters were fast—too fast to get a lock on. And the Aniello wasn’t their only prey. Double pontooned Thunder fighters also blossomed in fiery death spasms under the aliens’ assault.
_________Inside, things were no better.
_________Cast in crimson hues, the starship’s bridge was in chaos. Alarms blared and klaxons burned. Aniello’s steadfast captain sat at attention in the command chair, helpless as the battle unraveled before him.  Bridge displays birthed sparks and unconscious crew slumped over their consoles. As medical teams pulled the wounded from their stations, the other craft in his caravan blinked off of his tactical screen one by one.
_________The Aniello would be the last.
_________Reserve batteries destroyed and power conduits crippled, there was no way to bring pulsars back online, raise the shields, or do much of anything. Holding thrusters were at his command, but they would do very little under these circumstances. Listing forward, the Aniello began to shudder.
_________The battle was lost.
_________The ship’s captain depressed a button on his command pad. He rose. Pulling at the sides of his indigo tunic, he straightened his military uniform and brushed any debris from his shoulders. Finding himself presentable, Commodore Efram Asimov squared his shoulders, set his jaw, and prepared himself to deliver one final order to his crew. Two decades earlier, he had made a similar decision. He had been but a young lieutenant, in command of his first squadron of light cruisers. An unfortunate accident had forced his hand then. It was an order he had hoped he would never have to give again.
_________Yet here he was.
_________The channel was open, all he had to do was speak the words.
_________Those words. For the second time in his life. He hoped it was the last.
_________“Now hear this,” he began. “All crew make way to the lifeboats.”
_________Efram drew a deep breath.
_________“Abandon ship.”

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From the back cover:

The year is 1987, and NASA launches the last of America’s deep space probes. In a freak mishap, Ranger 3 and its pilot, Captain William ‘Buck’ Rogers, are blown out of their trajectory into an orbit which freezes his life support systems, and returns Buck Rogers to Earth, 500 years later…

The next chapter of the first original Buck Rogers in the 25th Century® adventure in over three decades! Set in the continuity of the original series, Draconian Fire Part 2: ‘Who Mourns for Theopolis?’ is the second of three novellas that fill in the gap between the first and second seasons of the 1979 disco sci-fi TV show Buck Rogers in the 25th Century®. Join Buck, Wilma, Twiki, Princess Ardala and Commander Kane as they face a threat that will either unite the known systems or instigate all-out war.

 Part of the BLAM! Noir’s Dime Novella line, the three-part Draconian Fire saga sets the stage for BLAM! Ventures’ Buck Rogers in the 25th Century® Season 3! 
BLAM! Noir™ and Retrograde™ release of a Dime Novella™ presentation.

A BLAM! Ventures™ Production. Buck Rogers and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century® © and ® 1979-1981 and 2017 Dille Family Trust and are used under license. Published by BLAM! Ventures, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Book 1 is available now, and Book 2 and Book 3 are available for pre-order on Amazon.

Oh Captain, my Captain

In Memoriam27858677_1984686931545855_5320544511332479266_n

One year ago, the stars lost a captain, and I lost a good friend.

Richard Hatch
May 21, 1945 – February 7, 2017

This was one of his favorite pieces of art.
This song fills my heart with him.

I jumped in the river and what did I see?
Black-eyed angels swam with me
A moon full of stars and astral cars
All the things I used to see
All my lovers were there with me
All my past and futures
And we all went to heaven in a little row boat
There was nothing to fear and nothing to doubt

There was nothing to fear 
and nothing to doubt 
There was nothing to fear 
and nothing to doubt

Pyramid Song
words by Thom Y.
art by Ralph M.

One year now without you, and it isn’t any easier, my friend.
Safe journeys.

Andrew E.C. Gaska