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Monthly Archives: October 2010
Thrilling Tales: Yet Another Mad Scientist’s Laboratory

Filed under Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual, Works in Progress

Yet Another Mad Scientist's Laboratory

I’ve got a small backlog of neat things I haven’t yet linkblogged to because once again I’ve got my nose pressed to the wheel, which is sort of uncomfortable, and honestly, a little embarrassing, should anyone notice… but I digress. That sentence was meant to end with a description of what I am doing but you can see a little piece of that above: click on it to see a bigger version of the whole scene.

This is a work in progress view of Lew Stone’s laboratory for his story in The Lair of the Clockwork Book. I guess it’s my third mad scientist’s lab for Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual. I’m enjoying the way they each have a different atmosphere because all three scientists are such different people. Cornelius Zappencackler’s lab (even more fireproof!) has a cozy and cluttered character; Doctor Rognvald’s lab is shadowy and sinister; and Lew’s lab, shown here, is a bit lighter and more… well, rational, because Lew’s greatest problem as a student is that he isn’t really insane enough for his vocation.

I have a couple of devices to add, all part of Lew’s experiment in progress, and then some additional set dressing after that – and just to make things more interesting I’ll also need a demolished version of this room. Because, you know, that’s just what happens.

In other news, I took a few hours off yesterday to explore. I was looking for a good used book store in my adopted area – after six years I’ve yet to find one that makes me want to take a deep breath of dustiness and mustiness, make myself at home, and trade in my excess books. I think this is the biggest thing I miss about living in California: near pretty much any of my old neighborhoods in Long Beach, San Luis Obispo, San Francisco, Ventura, or Los Angeles I always had a fantastic assortment of used book stores to haunt. Here, on the other hand, I’ve found just one that was sort of interesting. It’s a sad state of affairs, I can tell you.

There’s just one more possibility I know of, out toward Cleveland, that sounds promising: but I’m not sure if I’ll get there before Winter sets in.

Please consider helping me to continue my creative work and deal with the financial aftermath of cancer
 
 
More Enhancements to the Retropolis Mug-O-Matic: Now with Optional Randomness

Filed under Works in Progress

Atomic Brain of DoomI’ve been welding enhancements onto the Mug-O-Matic with no regard for my personal safety, and lots of regard for automatically generating the strangest pulp sci fi titles in history… on coffee mugs. Because coffee is important. And it gets all over your lap if you don’t use a mug.

The Mug-O-Matic now has a panel you can use to enter your very own, not-random titles; also, I’ve added a selection of premade mugs with some of my favorite titles, like "Vengeance of the Librarian of Chaos", "The Atomic Brain of Doom", and "The Astronomer That Misplaced the Galaxy".

I’m thinking about decaf now. It might be a good idea.

[tags]random title generator, title o tron, retropolis, mug o matic, pulp science fiction, coffee mugs[/tags]

 
 
Thrilling Tales: Clockwork Book Update

Filed under Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual, Works in Progress

The Lair of the Clockwork Book

I don’t do a lot of analytical thinking about where a story is between its first draft and the point where the changes I can make aren’t making the story better any more. What I seem to get are these stages:


1. First Draft! Woooo!

2. OhMyGodWe’reAllGoingToDie

3. All done


Number 2 can go on for quite awhile.

But today The Lair of the Clockwork Book has come out of the OhMyGodWe’reAllGoingToDie stage and hovers at what I guess is about Step 2.9: I’ve made all the big changes, medium sized changes, and tiny polishing changes that I’ve ever meant to do. So the sensible thing is to leave it alone for a day and then give it another complete read-through (it’s always difficult to read it like I’ve never read it before) before what I think will be a final polishing stage. Of course, my mileage may vary.

But the upshot is that I’m now very close to the point where I can start in on the illustrations. Once I’ve got about 24 of those done the story can go live, a page at a time, at the Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual site. And I can then turn back to Part Two of The Toaster With TWO BRAINS – until I start to run low on Clockwork Book illustrations, anyhow.

The interesting ride that is that plan will be starting… sooner, now, if not yet soon.

 
 
More Retro (ish) Sci Fi Interactive Adventure at Epicsplosion

Filed under Found on the Web

Epicsplosion Graphic Adventure

Tauhid Bondia, formerly of the webcomic Good Ship Chronicles, has now embarked on a graphical multiple-choice adventure series called Epicsplosion.

This is so much like my own Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual that it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside even though feeling warm and fuzzy inside is kind of a scary thought, when you think about it, which now that I’ve done it is something that I discourage.

Epicsplosion uses animated gifs for its illustrations and can be a little harder (as in ‘more likely to be fatal’) on the characters than what I do in my stories. What really interests me here is that Tauhid seems to be posting updates to the stories live. I ruled that out because it wasn’t possible for me to keep up with all the possible threads in anything like a timely way. So I’m really interested to see how that works out over there.

Tauhid’s also either bravely or foolishly using the trademarked phrase "Choose Your Own Adventure". We’ll see how that works out, too. I’m in your corner, buddy.

So pop on over and sit in the driver’s seat of Tripp Roguestar’s Space-filled Adventure!

Note that there’s some language there that may not be safe for work or for religious fundamentalists, each of which will have to take its chances.

 
 
Igor Sez: The Mug-O-Matic ith Online and Ready to Make Mugth, Mathter!

Filed under Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual, Web Development, Works in Progress

The Mug-O-Matic

Through the liberal use of lasers, faceted coprolites, sub-aetheric rays, and a 3/8" open end wrench, I’ve now completed the MUG-O-MATIC edition of Cornelius Zappencackler’s Pulp Sci-Fi Title-O-Tron. It’s glowing where it ought to be glowing and it doesn’t make that high-pitched noise that attracted the squirrels any more.

Though I always liked that part, myself.

So you, too, adventurer, can now harness the awesome power that is the Mug-O-Matic: it randomly generates the titles of pulp science fiction stories that don’t exist, but often ought to*, and then it slaps your favorite titles onto coffee mugs, travel mugs, and mugs of other mysterious and malevolent kinds that it were not well to mention here.

Okay, not really: I just got tired of listing them. Fun little toy, though!


*every now and then it manages to re-create a title that does, in fact., exist. Which is even stranger than the thing with the squirrels.

 
 
Coming Soon: Custom Random Title Mugs from the Title-O-Tron

Filed under Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual, Works in Progress

Random Sci Fi Titles Generator MugsThis isn’t online yet, but I’m sort of jazzed about it anyway: I worked out a way to connect my Thrilling Tales Pulp Sci Fi Title-O-Tron to my online shop, so that by clicking on a title you can automagically generate a coffee mug with that title on it.

So soon you’ll have a chance to create mugs with a Thrilling Tales logo and, say, "The Astronomer That Misplaced the Galaxy", or "The Airship of the Phantom Horde", or even "The Great Cephalopod of the Moon". Which (as I calculate it) will make your life complete. No thanks are necessary: I do this for the good of Humankind.

I’ve got practically no control over the typography, unfortunately, but when I’ve spiffied up the mug backdrop and made a pretty web interface for it this should be going into my Retropolis site in the coffee mugs section.

This picture’s from a screen grab of the whole astonishing mechanism in action. It’s aliiiiive!

UPDATE: The Mug-O-Matic is now live!

 
 
World’s Greatest Megalomaniac T-Shirts: Go Forth, My Robot Minions!

Filed under Works in Progress

Worlds Greatest Megalomaniac T-ShirtsYep, they’re here: the Worlds Greatest Megalomaniac T-Shirts, in both a Girly Edition and a Manly Edition.

I have to admit that I’ve got some reservations about this. I’m still not sure what would happen if TWO World’s Greatest Megalomaniacs were to show up in the same place; like, for example, well, anyplace.

There’s this implicit logical problem with there being two of the World’s Greatest anythings: but if, say, two World’s Greatest Dads show up, it seems mostly harmless.

If two World’s Greatest Teachers show up, well, that’s a little more serious, and some frightening eyebrow arching is likely to happen.

But if two evil geniuses, each bent on world domination, should show up at the same party in these shirts…. I’m just afraid that the fabric of spacetime would distort and rip and something with too many tentacles would arrive from the Dungeon Dimensions.

I can’t wait to find out!

 
 
In the 1950s, Little Johnny Could Have His Own Nuclear Test Lab

Filed under Found on the Web

Atomic Toys. Don't Try This At Home.

From Gajitz: an article about an early 1950s "Atomic Energy Lab" toy kit with nifty experiments, a Geiger counter, and… wait for it… real uranium.

 
 
Thrilling Tales: Lair of the Clockwork Book Draft is Done!

Filed under Thrilling Tales of the Downright Unusual, Works in Progress

Lair of the Clockwork BookPardon me while I dance the happy dance: I know it’s not a pretty sight, but humor me, please.

This morning I finished the first draft for my Thrilling Tales story The Lair of the Clockwork Book.

You can continue to visualize the happy dance going on, here, though I honestly can’t recommend it. Now "finishing" the first draft really means that now I have to go through it and destroy everything that makes it a first draft. With a notable lack of mercy and steely determination, if not thews, for which, I’m afraid, it is too late to hope.

And it’s only once I’ve done those things that I’ll start the main event, which is working on the… um.. roughly 120 illustrations, which I’ll be doing a couple of dozen at a time.

In spite of my worries about my page count it’s come in at pretty much the right length: at two updates a week the story will run for about 60 weeks on the web and come in at just about the right number of pages for the print edition. So it’s all good.

Anyway, the short version (too late!) is: first draft done, lots of work to do, then pictures, which take forever, and, of course, happy dance. I’ve gotta quit doing that.

 
 
Zork for the Kindle: Text Adventure Games on an E-Reader

Filed under Found on the Web

You are in a maze of twisty e-readers, all alike:

Text adventure games for your Kindle

This is possibly the coolest use I’ve heard of for an e-reader device.

As I said previously I have two strong feelings about e-readers: first, that the devices are inherently neat and desirable; and second, that the licensing restrictions on e-books make them a terribly stupid thing to buy.

This is something else: it’s a Kindle-formatted web interface to several of the old Infocom text adventures (as I write, Zork 1-3). Kindle users can connect to the web site and type their way through the craziness. Of course I used to rely so heavily on my scribbled maps when I played these that the player might also want to pack a notebook along.

It’s truly interactive because it’s communicating with an interpreter on the Internet. It would also be possible to convert a multiple-choice adventure game for the Kindle by starting with one long HTML file with internal anchor links, and converting from there: that end product, though, would be an actual e-book. This is something else, and it’s a great idea!

Via Ars Technica.

 
 
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