Sean Cunningham - Author

Epic adventure. Vivid characters. Amazing worlds.

Category: inspiration

Collected Links – 11 January 2019

No maps, this time. Fictional worlds and fandoms instead.

Orbital interior by Hill

Why the Culture Wins: An Appreciation of Iain M. Banks: I may never know if it was intentional or not, but there was an argument of sorts across the body of Banks’ work. The Culture might be what you imagine as the ultimate endpoint of cultural evolution if you’re a socialist. But he doesn’t go straight to it. Certain stages of culture go hand-in-hand with certain levels of technology. When the Culture intervenes in a primitive species’ development, they just nudge them along to the next level. Not “Here, abandon government and scarcity and become near-immortal.”

This is a very long post and I’m bookmarking it here so I can read the whole thing and find out if it says anything about this.

The Only Good Online Fandom Left is Dune: By contrast, a far-future feudal society with giant deadly sandworms. I re-read the first novel a few years ago, after not looking at them since high school. I did not appreciate the sheer cold-bloodedness of the Bene Gesserit eugenics program. I mean, blimey.

Dead Fandoms: The link is to part 3, but it contains links to parts 1 and 2. Fascinating discussion of fandoms that were once alive and vital, but have fallen by the wayside. Were any of these yours? Can you see their influences in later works? Or is a reboot on its way?

The revamp of the Star Wars franchise has, I think, relegated one of my favourites to a slow decline. The Expanded Universe has thousands of years of history fleshed out before the movies. I found it all far more interesting than what came afterwards.

Collected Links – 14 December 2018

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Ainulindalë: A stunning visual adaptation of the first chapter of the Silmarillion, in which Tolkien’s world is created. I first came across this a couple of years ago and recently found it in my inbox while digging through old emails.

World Axis Cosmology: Sticking with cosmologies, this one belongs to the fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons. When a new edition comes out and there are drastic changes to the rules, they create an in-story cause for it. From third edition to fourth edition, it was the Spellplague. It means that all the planes where the gods lived were … redistributed.

I like to think this cosmology covers my apparent requirement to always have a map link in these posts.

God Checker: Your Guide to the Gods: When I was probably about eight years old, I pulled every volume of my family’s encyclopedia set down from the shelf and read about every Greek god there ever was. Got all the way down through the demigod heroes to the kings before I called it. I should really dig into other mythologies some time.

Collected Links – 30 November 2018

The Railway Mania of the 1840s: Railway company after railway company, a speculative bubble that eventually burst. All the usual foolishness and ruin of a financial bubble, but unusually with one tangible result: an extensive British railway system.

What did the Earth look like X million years ago? See the continents shift across millions of years. I always thought it was just a couple of basic big moves, the supercontinent Pangaea, which broke up into Laurasia and Gondwanaland, then kept breaking up into the continents we know today. But the shifts are cyclical, with many supercontinents and break-up cycles before Pangaea.

You should always be careful when you give me a map.

Artist Illustrates His Battle With Depression as a Mystical World of Spirit Animals: Beautiful and haunting. Also on Instagram.

Collected Links – 19 October 2018

The Real Reason Women Love Witches. (Requires sign-in.) The witch is a survivor.

Monster Monocles. See the world through the squamous eyes of Cthulhu.

‘Goblin’ world found orbiting at the edges of the Solar System. Ever since I started reading Lovecraft, I enjoy imagining cold, alien intelligences watching us from silent, icy worlds, far out in the dark. At 65 AUs, could you even see our Sun?

Medieval Fantasy City Generator. I really am just a sucker for maps and map generators.

Collected Links – 28 September 2018

A map of London as it was during the era of the Tudor monarchs, which I could basically play with all day.

The Volcano That Shrouded the Earth and Gave Birth to a Monster: Eighteen-Hundred-and-Froze-to-Death.

Quotes on Mental Health and Mental Illness: “Don’t make a permanent decision for your temporary emotion.”

On the psychological value of “griefbots”: Replacing the empty chair in the empty chair technique with a bot given a script of things the person you’re imagining yourself talking to might say.

Never Mess with a Robot Rhinoceros

Transformers Beast Wars was a show that surprised me.

It was a show for kids. But the writers went to some trouble to ensure can also be enjoyed by adults. With memorable characters, villainous infighting, clever plots and references to the old 80s cartoon that us now-adult Transformers fans could pick up, it was a show that drew me in.

The graphics have not aged so well.

And the episode that got me was Dark Designs, in which the good guy Rhinox is captured and reprogrammed to be a bad guy.

It sounds like a preachy storyline intended to teach children a lesson in loyalty and being true to yourself, doesn’t it? I certainly thought so the first time I saw the start of it. I switched it off. But the second time it came on I gave it a go and it both surprised and delighted me. Because when Rhinox is captured and his friends find out he’s been reprogrammed, they don’t rush in to save him. Their leader, Optimus Primal, decides to wait.

He knows Rhinox. He thinks Megatron’s bitten off more than he can chew this time.

Rhinox’s Holy Chainguns of Primus +50

The series establishes Rhinox as the engineer, short on words and slow to anger. But when he does let his temper show he does so with his two mighty Chainguns of Doom. When Rhinox is reprogrammed into a Predacon, he really does become a Predacon. He decides he wants to be in charge and starts taking out all the others.

He’s become the worst of the lot. He’s being true to his new self.

The episode ends with Megatron himself turning Rhinox back into one of the good guys. If there’s a lesson for children in the episode it’s “Be careful what you wish for” or maybe “Never mess with a robot rhinoceros.” Disney this is not.

Never mess with a robot rhinoceros

When I first heard about Beast Wars my reaction was “What? Optimus Prime is a gorilla? Ugh!” But Beast Wars was inventive and fun and a wonderful return for me to a childhood hobby I hadn’t realised I still loved. The writers of Beast Wars knew I was out there, a twenty-something computer programmer who was still up for some robot mayhem. They were clever enough to make a show the Transformers fan in me could enjoy. I watched all three seasons.

They turned Rhinox into a bad guy and it worked. I wish I’d been there when they thought that one up.

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