Watch a Chariot of the Gods Playthrough by Web DM Plays

Attention, Marines! This is a special presentation of the preorder adventure of the Alien RPG by Fria Ligan. It was supposed to be a one shot, but, well, just watch it. But be careful….they mostly come at night…mostly Please like, subscribe, comment & share! DM – Rudy – http://www.twitter.com/RudyBasso Lysa – http://www.twitter.com/mercyfuldm Jim – http://www.twitter.com/therealjimdavis Pruitt – http://www.twitter.com/jpruinc Travis – http://www.twitter.com/producertrav Play better D&D! Subscribe to our Wednesday videos: http://youtube.com/webdm Get the Web DM Podcast – http://bit.ly/2g49sUV Facebook – http://bit.ly/2oGKLOg Twitter – https://twitter.com/WebDMshow

Thanks for playing!

—Andrew E. C. Gaska

An author, designer, game-writer, and graphic novelist with twenty years of industry experience, Gaska is the creative force behind BLAM! Ventures and 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 game division and their licensing team. 

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

All images are ©2017 20th Century Fox and are used for the purposes of commentary or review only unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.

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CHARIOT of the GODS author to be at GenCon, ALIEN RPG pre-orders closing August 11th!

alien3.png“A survivor… unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality.”

AUGUST 1st4th. GENCON is here! I will be at the show to help promote the work I did on Free League’s new ALIEN RPG game. You can find me at on panels and at the Free League booth (#2664). Feel free to message me on Facebook to connect while I’m there—I‘m looking forward to hearing about gamers’ ALIEN RPG: Chariot of the Gods RPG experiences!!

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ALIEN-RPG-Set-Fria-Ligan-1024x768Also, I this went out today in the ALIEN RPG Newsletter from Free League and wanted to remind people to pre-order now!

Pre-Order ALIEN RPG Before August 11 to Gain Early Access

Hello!

This is just a friendly reminder that the end of the exclusive pre-order of the upcoming official ALIEN roleplaying game is approaching fast. The revised deadline is  August 11. If you didn’t already do so, hurry over to at ALIEN-RPG.COM and pre-order before it’s too late. And if you already did–tell your friends!

When you pre-order, you get access to a 168-page Cinematic Starter Kit PDF including the complete cinematic scenario Chariot of the Gods by sci-fi author Andrew E.C. Gaska within days after purchase and can start playing immediately – no need to wait until the official release in December!

PS. If you’re coming to Gen Con this weekend, swing by the Free League booth (#2664) to say hi and discuss all things ALIEN with the design team!

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Gets yours now or wait an eternity.

Hope to see you at GenCon!

—Andrew E. C. Gaska

An author, designer, game-writer, and graphic novelist with twenty years of industry experience, Gaska is the creative force behind BLAM! Ventures and 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 game division and their licensing team. 

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

All images are ©2017 20th Century Fox and are used for the purposes of commentary or review only unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.

ALIEN: COVENANT REIMAGINES A FAMILIAR EVIL AS A NEW VILLAIN FOR OUR TIMES… AND IT’S NOT THE ALIEN

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This article, replete with typos, was written by me and originally published by Slice of Sci-Fi May 26, 2017. I’ve updated it and attempted to clean it up for inclusion on this essay site.

Warning: two-year-old article is two-years-old. Two-year-old spoilers ahead.

Just in case you have been living on the barren wastes of LV-426, Alien: Covenant is the 2017 follow up to Ridley Scott’s 2012 Alien non-prequel, Prometheus. A film described by the filmmaker himself as having the DNA of Alien while being its own animal, Prometheus promised to explore the origins of the beloved Alien he first introduced to moviegoers nearly forty years earlier. Instead, it left confused viewers with more questions than answers. In contrast, Covenant is full of solutions.

Regardless, the film is somewhat puzzling in its own right. In a conscious attempt to rectify Prometheus’ conundrums, Covenant leaves almost no mystery. It is rife with exposition, and while many of the reveals are intriguing, most of them are told rather than shown to us. At the end of the film, we are still left with one question:

Why?

In Covenant, David has taken it upon himself to murder his creators, as well as their creators before them. In the process, he has taken to tinkering with the xenovirus and hybridization of the creatures that are the result of it in order to create the perfect killing machine.

But again, why?

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ANDROIDS DREAM OF XENOMORPHIC SHEEP

David is not only narcissistic but psychopathic to boot. His confusion over the works of Shelley and Byron show his programming is corrupted, his mind unraveled. In addition to the Engineers, he murdered Shaw and experimented with her bodydespite proclaiming his love for her and remarking repeatedly on her kindness. Murderous androids are not unknown in the Alien franchise. Ash begat Davidor is it the other way around? Additionally, the themes in Covenant mirror those of Scott’s other masterpieceBlade Runnerbut with a Shyamalan twist.

Ridley has suggested that Blade Runner and Alien might inhabit the same universe. In both franchises, human replicasin Alien machines, in Blade Runner, more organic alternativesstruggle to come to terms with their creators. In David’s case, barring permanent damage, he will live foreversomething that Blade Runner’s Roy Batty would have coveted.

It is this longevity that makes David as arrogant as he is, that makes him consider himself more god than his gods or their gods as well. David is far more than mortal. David is something far more sinister.

The Covenant’s interim captain, Oram, tells David that he saw the face of the devil at a very young age. Ironic that he then allows the devil that is David to lure him to his own demise. If the Engineer’s homeworld (or colony, it is never made clear) was indeed paradise before the xenovirus altered it, then David is indeed the serpent in the garden.

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THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS

The original title for Covenant was to be Paradise Lost, named after Milton’s 17th-century epic poem. In the poem, Satan is a sinister yet somewhat sympathetic protagonist, determined to take what he considers an arrogant God down a notch. He manages to corrupt mankind, but his coup in heaven is ultimately put down by God.

In Alien: Covenant, the devil has won.

David has positioned himself as Lucifer–and he and his Xenoshis fallen angel followers–-have not only beaten god (the Engineers) but have begun the corruption of mankind as well.

Covenant is the story of Paradise Lost with another twistSatan and his hordes have already defeated god, only to find themselves trapped in the Garden of Eden. Here, it is man’s entrance into the paradise that provides Satan with his means of escape, and the chance to bring his corruption and demons to a new world.

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AN IDLE ANDROID MAKES FOR A DULL ANDROID

David, in this manner, is responsible for the entire Alien saga. We live in an age when villains often serve as protagonists, offering an alternative view on our belief systems. Like Satan in Paradise Lost, David is a fully developed and relatable figure, despite his obvious Machiavellian tendencies. Also like Satan, he offers his brother android, Walter, a choice postulated from Paradise Losteither reign in Hell or serve in Heaven. When the film ends with David in control of the Covenant, you aren’t sure if you should cheer or jeer.

Prior to the Covenant’s arrival in paradise, David wasn’t just sitting on his hands. After murdering mankind’s gods, he experimented with the Engineers’ xenovirus for a decade to create that perfect organism. It’s not an easy task. The virus created by the Engineers mutates life into obscene parodies of it, but there is no rhyme nor reason to its transformations. In Alien, the transition from egg to chestburster to adult Xeno was logical, for all its alien-ness. This is not the case with the Engineer’s black goothe creatures it creates in Covenant are very different than the random permutations in Prometheus. David appears as intrigued by the xeno-virus’ chaotic nature as the audience is perplexed by it. His experiments seem determined to make sense of and bring order to it. And despite initial appearances, the fruits of his labors are not as alien as you might hope.

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ALIEN BESTIARY

Call them what you will–protomorphs, neomorphs, ultramorphsthe aliens appearing in Covenant are animals. They react like a rage-filled tiger and are not the cold calculating stalkers from the original three Alien films. As such, they are easier to kill. Take the film’s climactic scene of the new “alien” being tricked into the truck hangar on the Covenant. The beast hesitates upon entering the room. As soon as it realizes female protagonist Daniel’s location, it hisses like a rabid animal and leaps toward her in a frenzy. The alien we know from the past would have tilted its head and blended into the shadows creating an element of fear and terror rather than shock.

Much to the die-hard fans chagrin, the alien-ness of its behavior is gone.

Behind the scenes, there is a reason for the difference in behavior. As it turns out, the way the Xeno in Covenant moves is exactly the way Ridley had originally wanted the Alien to act.

“…when Dallas first sees [the alien in the air ducts],” Scott told Cinefex, it [was going to be] standing on the roof of this giant wind tunnel, suspended upside down. Then I was going to have it roar down the tunnel toward him, running and jumping full-circle around the walls.”

They couldn’t make it workthe problem was in the limitations of the suit. There was little flexibility in the costume, and that led to the deliberate and, quite frankly, alien movements of the original Alien.

“Ridley was forced to stage around the physical awkwardness of it,” Alien writer/creator Dan O’Bannon said in an interview with Fantastic Films, “but the visual appearance of power and grace was retained, quite striking.”

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Alien screen test, 1979

One must wonder if the creature would have become as iconic had it behaved more animalistic than just odd.

From an in-universe perspective, it appears David hasn’t quite achieved his goals yethis alien still has some growing to go.

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Unlike H.R. Giger’s original biomechanical nightmare, there is no mechanical influence on any of the creatures in Prometheus and Covenant. While the final creature in the new film does have a carapace, its body appears to be all flesh and acid. Its size and position of its dorsal tubes are different than the original Xeno, as well. Nor does it have metal teeth.

It’s not the same animal.

David’s been working towards the perfect killing machine, but he isn’t there yet. One might postulate that the key to successand the creation of the Alien we all know and love, is to create a synthesis of flesh and machineif David himself must somehow meld with his creations to achieve their ultimate form.

An evil android’s work is never done.

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JUST LIKE THE CREATURES APPEARING IN THE FILM, ALIEN COVENANT IS A NEW ANIMAL

Ultimately, the answer to the question ‘why’ is a bitter drive to be a better god than God himself. It is what drove Satan in Paradise Lostthe idea that he could govern heaven better than God could. David wants to create life that destroys the life that created him.

Ridley Scott has broken new ground with Alien: Covenant. On the surface, however, it is ground that the fanbase had preferred left undisturbed. Covenant is not a horror film despite the promotional material promising that it was returning Alien to its roots. In many ways, it felt like a space adventure film that just so happened to have our favorite Xenos along for the ride. This is not necessarily a bad thing, simply an unexpected one. While there were many enjoyable moments in Covenantnotably David and his machinationsI found myself less than satisfied upon the first viewing. Once it was available for home consumption, however, I saw it in a different light. It’s not the first Alien film to delve into different genres. While the original Alien was space horror, Cameron’s follow-up was, in fact, a space action flick, the third movie was apocalyptic, the fourth a dark comedy (shudder), and Prometheus was about faith.

The beauty of the Alien saga has always been its ability to support multiple genres and Covenant is no exception. It opens up new possibilities for the Alien Universe. It may not be the Alien film we wanted, but depending on what comes next, it may be the Alien film the series needed.

—Andrew E. C. Gaska

An author, designer, game-writer, and graphic novelist with twenty years of industry experience, Gaska is the creative force behind BLAM! Ventures and 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 game division and their licensing team. 

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

All images are ©2017 20th Century Fox and are used for the purposes of commentary or review only unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.

TWELVE BEST FRANCHISE NOVELS—PART ONE: A SHARK, A WORM, AND A LIZARD

20565010335_a4fd33fb4f_k-e1559271020858.jpgSo here’s the Thing… no seriously, here’s the Thing. Image is from the cover of Alan Dean Foster’s adaptation of John Carpenter’s the Thing. Don’t look at me like that.

I was contacted by Steven Shinder on Facebook and asked to participate in a one-a-day top ten favorite books challenge. While I won’t be posting every single day (work and all), I will reveal twelve of my favorite books instead of ten (basically because I couldn’t narrow it down enough). I’ve decided to post them here split over two entries and link back to Facebook. The plan is to nominate a new person each time who will then post their top books on their page. The books are posted in no particular order, they are just twelve of the best genre books I’ve read. Each has had a profound effect on me and helped shape me as a writer.

Disclaimer. The purpose of this list is to encourage readers to, well, read books they might have otherwise passed on–specifically franchise fiction. As such, no favorite literary classics will be covered. Otherwise, the entire list would be full of said classics. In no way is this meant to indicate that something like V: East Coast Crisis is a better novel than, say, Catcher in the Rye or To Kill a Mocking Bird. This list is mostly an exploration of beloved franchise fiction.

10264922_662790273757730_3643788207372427732_n-e1560062898835.jpgThe Visitors are our friends.

BOOK 3. V: EAST COAST CRISIS

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Author(s). Howard Weinstein and A.C. Crispin 

This particular review—as with many others here—is just as much about the book in question as it is about the series of novels it comes from.

Exposure. On a field trip to Philadephia in elementary school during the 1980s, one of the historic stops our teachers decided to have us visit was… a mall. It was actually more to have us catch our breaths and have some downtime after the long day of site seeingnone of which I remember. The lasting impression was that mall, and the book series I found in the little B. Dalton’s thereV.

I had been a huge fan of the Kenneth Johnson created TV series. And not only did I find one V book thereI found NINE. I called my mom from a payphone (’80s, everyone) and she reluctantly gave me permission to use the money I had been given to buy some historical souvenir to instead buy the nine books.

One of my favorite sci-fi TV series of all time, V had a human looking Nazi-like regime of aliens coming to earth in fifty massive motherships and claiming to be mankind’s friend. They offered us cures to terrible diseases and technological enhancements in exchange for the production of an environmentally safe chemical needed for their homeworld. In reality, they were rat-eating lizard people wearing fake skin who had come to steal our water and abduct humans to use as food and troops for a battle with an unseen enemy. It was an allegory for Nazi Germany and a quiet sacrifice of our ideals for the promise of a better life (something a little too relevant to today’s politics). Martial law was imposed. Scientists and their families, the only ones who could expose the Visitors, were persecuted and hunted down. Both suspected guerilla fighters and innocent civilians were rounded up and kept in concentration camps awaiting questioningquestioning that they either came back from brainwashed and converted or did not come back from at all. And with the help of a fifth column of visitors that opposed the invasion, a small resistance grew against these alien conquerors. Mike Donovan, Juliet Parrish, Ham Tyler and their alien allies Martin and Willie faced off against the lizard armies of Diana, Lydia, Steven, Charles, and the mysterious Leader.

Good sci-fi stuff.

East Coast Crisis was not the V I was expecting. Rather than a sequel, it was a companion to the original two television miniseriesV and V the Final Battle, taking place during them but showcasing the United State’s east coast struggle rather than the TV series west. Plus, Dan Rather and Isaac Asimov are characters in it, so win-win.

Many of the V novels did not star the TV series cast but instead developed different areas of the struggle to reclaim our world from these alien invaders. I was hooked, eventually hunting down the rest of the books (there were a total of sixteen).

Lesson. Expand your universe. Novels are a fertile playground to explain and enhance a franchise. Several bizarre moments and concepts introduced in the TV series by TV writers who didn’t necessarily understand sci-fi were explained and clarified by talented sci-fi prose authors within these pages. It taught me to think of other stories that take place during the events of an established movie or novel and give the “bigger picture.” My Planet of the Apes “inbetweenquels” follow this philosophy.

Conclusion. This series did an amazing job of expanding a universe and included some top name authors. I prefer Crispin’s style to Weinstein’s, and don’t recall the tale of how they came top be co-writing this book. Independently they both are prolific sci-fi authors and have written several Star Trek novels. I recommend the entire series. You can find out more about them on the long un-updated fan site here.

Show me more: A sixteen novel prose series tie-in with two fantastic TV miniseries, a season-long television series (not the best), an eighteen issue comic series from DC Comics, and a Hardcover novel direct sequel to the novelization of the original miniseries that ignores everything that came after it (huh?). Also, a reimagined reboot TV series that strayed too far from the premise.   

Available? Long out of print. Only available used on Amazon and eBay. On eBay, search for ‘V Series Novels’ or the like. A plain and simple ‘V’ will get you anything with a roman numeral five in it. Good hunting.

Nominated next for this chain letter. Kim Perrone

kapook_world-182947Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…

BOOK 2. JAWS 2

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Yes, this is one of the best novels I have ever read. Much better than Peter Benchley’s original. Don’t judge me. You don’t know.

“He heard the faint subway roar. He did not care. He stopped moving. He was too tired to fight his sleepiness, though the boat was only three strokes away. He would doze like a basking seal, and swim the last few feet later.

Then he was borne aloft.  He sensed his ribs, lungs, spleen, kidneys, bowels, duodendum, were being firmly squeezed together as if in some giant hydralic press.

He felt no pain at all.”

Author. Hank Searls

Exposure. My mom had a bookshelf with “grown-up” novels in my parents’ bedroom. When I was bored and she wasn’t home, I would raid those books, looking to read something I wasn’t allowed to read.  In this manner, I was exposed to the novelizations of Alien, ET, The Shining, Christine, The Amityville Horror, Poltergeist, It, and even the Flowers in the Attic series. It was in the fourth-grade that I stumbled upon mom’s copy of Jaws 2.

I was always tentative with these horror novels. I didn’t want to scare myself, so I would pop a book open to a random page, hope for a dirty scene, read a paragraph out of context, and then decide whether or not I was going to stay away from that one. I flipped through Jaws 2 and read a vignette about an embryonic male shark struggling to survive against his equally unborn but bigger sisters who were trying to eat him in their mother’s womb.

What?

It got better. I realized that I was reading the mother shark’s point of view. She was aware of the conflict in her uterus and was driven to eat to stop her unborn children from eating each other. My nine-year-old mind was blown. This one went in my backpack and made its way to school with me.

Jaws 2 is a classic example of the old adage that the book is better than the film. Thing is, the book was based on the filmbut a version of the film that didn’t make it to the screen. The Jaws 2 movie that almost was was much darker than what we got, and that’s a topic for a future essay.  But even though this novel is based on an unshot script, Searls nonetheless owns this storythe shark’s internal musings and the in utero fight for survival is all him.

I remember pouring over the book under my desk when I was supposed to be reading textbooks in class (I’m a fast reader, so I always finished before the allotted time). The descriptions were vivid, the horror was real, and it made me look at the world in a different way. I’m paraphrasing here, but instead of saying something like, “the sun was setting,” Searls would write something to the effect of, “the sun was a lazy red ball bouncing on the horizon.” I use it to teach creative descriptors in my creative coaching sessions and on my writing panels. It inspired my future writings, and at the time it opened my eyes to new ways of looking at the world.

It also probably helped me down the road towards becoming the continuity freak I am today. In Searl’s Jaws 2, the pregnant mother shark is traveling up the gulf stream as her kind is wont to do, searching for food to satisfy her developing young. She realizes she’s come to a place she’s been before, an area of ocean where two years before a large male shark had wrestled her to the bottom, had his way with her and swam off towards a nearby island. She remembers the pain of the moment, and that her unborn offspring were in fact sired by him. Angrily, she changes course, heading towards the island in search of revenge.

Damn.

A connection between the sharks and an explanation as to why another giant great white comes to Amity. Did Searls have to do that? Nope. he did anyway. On top of that, he must have realized that another Jaws film was likely to come down the road and set up a potential hook for the inevitable sequel (the hook itself I won’t ruin for you, read the bloody book). He filled in continuity gaps in a film franchise, very much like what I now work at doing with franchises like Planet of the Apes and Alien. He made me look for answers to things that didn’t need answering.

Hank Searls ruined my life, and I love it.

Lesson. Perspective in storytelling. Sometimes a cigar is a dirty smoking shark. Or something.

Conclusion. Underrated. The most influential novel I’ve ever read. Deal with it. Then read it.

Show me more. The four movies—although I only recommend the first two. This book is technically a sequel to the original JAWS novel—not the Spielberg flick, and as such contains references that might confuse some readers—such as Hooper’s affair with Ellen Brody. Searls also wrote the novelization of Jaws: The Revengewhich makes that lightyears better than that film, but still can’t save it.

Available? A thousand times, yes. It’s long out of print, but you can get previously owned copies for dirt cheap on Amazon and in plenty of used book stores. I’ve got it in hardcover and paperback. I even wound up with an unedited reviewer’s copy my ex-fiancée found at a convention (see cover below). You look, you will find.

Nominated next for this chain letter. Amy Irene

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 This next book is seminal, and with the new movie franchise about to begin, it’s a good time to brush up on your Herbert…

Thewaytoedenhd0108No, not that kind of Herbert. Trek nerd.

dune-messiah.jpgThe Spice must flow.

BOOK 1. DUNE

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The cover of the edition I read in 1984. It wound up looking worse than this in my backpack.

“Fear is the mindkiller. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me.”

Author. Frank Herbert

Exposure. In the sixth-grade, this sci-fi nerd was given a three-book boxed set for his birthday. It wasn’t Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, or even Vit was something I hadn’t been exposed to yet. It was Herbert’s masterpiece, Dune.  I didn’t see the movie out that same year, but I dove into the books. There was something called spice (Kessel?) that opened your mind to a new world of mental abilities, warring houses, strange creatures called Navigators, rebels, an empire, and a desert planet.

Oh, and there were worms. Massive monstrous behemoth worms.

The desert winds of Arrakis swept me away as young Paul Atradies outmaneuvered death and betrayal to find his strength and purpose.

11-year-old me thought Herbert had ripped off Lucas, but later discovered George had been inspired by Frank. Later series I enjoyed that also clearly drew inspiration from Dune were Battletech and Warhammer 40K.

I had only read the first three back then and wasn’t aware there were more. On top of that, I hadn’t reread them until after the SyFy channel miniseries was released in 2000. Watching the miniseries, I found myself spouting dialogue along with the characters on the screen from a book I hadn’t picked up in 16 years.

It stayed with me.

Lesson. Philosophy.

Conclusion. Masterful. If you are a sci-fi fan and haven’t read this, son I am disappoint. Feel shame. Then pick up a copy and know bliss.

Show me more: An endless stream of sequels and prequels set int he same universefirst by Herbery himself and then by the likes of his son and Kevin J. Anderson. There are two TV miniseries, a bizarre 1980s major motion picture with Sting and Captain Picard in it, and a new movie franchise on the way.

Available? Always. Several editions over several years. Hardcover, paperback, digital, too.

Nominated next for this chain letter. Timothy Ellis

—Andrew E. C. Gaska

An author, designer, game-writer, and graphic novelist with twenty years of industry experience, Gaska is the creative force behind BLAM! Ventures and 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 game division and their licensing team. 

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

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

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.

15.Scenario Locations

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.

Alien_RPG_cover

 

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 1: 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 2: 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.

tenor

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.

 

LV 4.26 ALIEN DAY

Happy Chest Burstday.

57-2-e1560484672392

The Big four-oh.

1979-2019

An author, designer, game-writer, and graphic novelist with twenty years of industry experience, Andrew E.C. Gaska is the creative force behind BLAM! Ventures and 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 game division and their licensing team. 

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

All images are ©2019 20th Century Fox 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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gettyimages-515220084-1024x1024
“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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screen-shot-2019-01-27-at-1.43.58-am.png
The real reason Star Trek fans don’t want to pay for Discovery
screen shot 2019-01-27 at 2.38.44 am
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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.”

majqqci

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.)

dsc-klingons 2

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:

genesis-worf-monster

“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)

k't'inga_class_studio_model

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

 

 

DEATH OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

After seven years of development, my second Planet of the Apes novel has finally been released:

deathoftheplanetofheapesNew adventures revealing secrets stemming from Beneath the Planet of the Apes.

FROM THE BACK COVER

In Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Col. George Taylor (played by Charlton Heston) disappears into the Forbidden Zone, only to return in the film’s climactic scene. For forty-eight years, the question has remainedwhat happened to Taylor?

Finally, the truth is revealed. Beneath the irradiated wasteland, the astronaut faces the deadly wonders of a gleaming city and its inhuman citizenry. On the surface, the gorillasled by General Ursuslaunch an all-out assault to exterminate the savage animals known as humans.

And out in the desert, the chimpanzee scientist Milo strives to reconstruct the spacecraft that brought the humans from the past. Events spiral at a breakneck pace, with the fate of a world at stake.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND PUBLISHER

Andrew E.C. Gaska is the Senior Development Editor at Lion Forge Comics and Animation. He is a freelance franchise consultant to FOX on ALIEN and Predator and founder of the guerrilla integrated media studio BLAM! Ventures. His authored works include Critical Millennium, Space:1999, Buck Rogers, and Planet of the Apes.

Titan Publishing Group is an independently-owned British publishing company, established in 1981. It is based at offices in London’s Bankside area. The books division has two main areas of publishing: film and television tie-ins and cinema reference books; and graphic novels and comics references and art titles.

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.