Written by Larry Hamilton
Stephen R. Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever series
Being transferred from our world to a world of magic, where the very land has magic was a lot of fun. The struggle of the main character to figure out what is real and how to believe in himself is powerful. The very flawed hero, physically, mentally, and emotionally is more true to life of how a real person would react in such circumstances. This world and the changes it undergoes between the hero’s subsequent returns is powerful. Time goes on and the world changes, yet trials and struggles are still the same.
Roger Zelazny’s The Chronicles of Amber series
The whole voyage of discovery of who the hero is and that magic and the ability to move between worlds is real is very creative. My brother adapted stormhounds to his AD&D world. Characters and NPCs with the right relationship/standing with an NPC wizard can acquire pups – a very rare occurrence. I’m sure the cards inspired many a magic item. All the different possibilities explored among the different “known” worlds, each with a slight change from the next is a cool twist on the multiverse idea.
Jack Vance’s Dying Earth series
I didn’t read these until last year. They definitely capture the tone and feel of what is meant when one says “Vancian Magic.” The mix of fantasy and science fiction in those clearly shows how nearly lost technology and rare magic can coexist. I’m reminded of the AD&D 1st Edition conversion between AD&D and Gamma World or Boot Hill. This has been done by a few different people in the OSR, and should not be out of reach for most game systems. DCC has a lot of this, in my experience. There a so many ideas here for adding flavor to one’s campaign world. Vance’s writing style is very evocative.
Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan
That is the best Star Trek movie. Working in a villain of the past with a powerful need for revenge made for the best space battle on screen. It gave us who grew up with TOS a glimpse into what such a battle would look like. Watching Spock make the ultimate sacrifice was very powerful. It was done in a way that one believed Spock would do, and the funeral hit all the right points. It’s in my small collection of DVDs.
Star Wars; what is now called A New Hope
I didn’t get to see that in the theater during its first run. I think I was able to see it in a dollar theater before Empire Strikes Back came out. That movie showed the potential in a science fiction movie with a decent plot and powerful special effects. It picks up in media res, with just a slight bit of text to set the scene. This movie changed the way movies are made. Junior High minds got a lot out of this. Throwing stuff at each other and blocking it with sticks was a common past time.
The Day the Earth Stood Still
The original black & white from the 50s is a powerful movie. There are minimal special effects, but the acting and each scene sets up the audience to go along for a thought provoking ride. Since it was set in the anti-communist era, one can see how that fear controlled the reactions of the authorities. Issues of commerce, medicine among technology as well as social issues are examined.
This epic movie with its weird music and awesome Robby the robot captures the imagination. Futuristic gizmos and believable special effects draw one into that reality. So many cool things, the comedic interplay reminds one of the interplay we see among the crew in the original Star Trek series. The intellectual dialogue gives one pause for thought in the issues it explores.
.[Editor’s Note: Follow along with Larry at his entertaining blog.]