What’s Going on With Half-Life 3?

Remember when we posted that Half-Life 3 t-shirt a while back?  That shirt and a few other subtle rumors (including tweets from people allegedly connected to Valve Software, the makers of Half-Life, led to an increasing conviction on the interwebs that the release of Half-Life 3 is imminent.

A few days ago, Chet Faliszek, a Valve writer, wrote on the official Steam forums that all of the rumors were false.

So the question remains: what is going on with the Half-Life franchise?

ForeverGeek has a great summary of the happenings, but unfortunately for fans, no one has the real scoop.  It’s getting to the point where Valve needs to seriously consider whether their lack of communication of any kind with fans is good for the franchise, particularly on as long a timeline as this.

Ridley Scott’s ‘Prometheus’ Trailer


Easily one of the most anticipated science fiction movies of all time.  And this, the first trailer, looks incredible.  Ridley Scott has said since the beginning that the movie would involve the “space jockey” race from Alien, and the teaser doesn’t disappoint: the horseshoe-shaped spacecraft is the vessel from the beginning of the 1979 Scott film.

One thing I absolutely love is that Scott kept the look and feel of the original film: the production design manages to retain the late ’70s future noir of Alien, but in a way that seems totally modern.

The Hobbit Trailer

It’s already old news, but here’s the first official trailer for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  This is part one of two films telling the story (with some additions) of Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

The Hobbit was the first real book I ever read, and the one that made me fall in loving with reading.  More importantly, it led me to The Lord of the Rings, the discovery of which was undeniably one of the most influential experiences of my young life.  There are Hobbit people (those who prefer this earlier, more whimsical story) and Lord of the Rings people (those who prefer the more adult-oriented masterpiece).  Hobbit people generally view The Lord of the Rings as a somewhat dry, overlong epitaph to the simple adventure story that made their young eyes sparkle with wonder; Lord of the Rings people generally view The Hobbit as a children’s book, a delightful story that nonetheless pales in comparison to the grandeur of its epic successor.

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Battlestar Galactica Addiction

The worst part is, the exaggeration is minimal:io9 is showing an episode of the show Portlandia about the destructive effects a newfound Battlestar Galactica addiction can have on one’s life.

Unfortunately I can’t post the video here because it doesn’t seem to be available anywhere else online yet and io9 doesn’t provide embedding functionality.



Recently Overheard at Jim’s House

Jim: Did you know they’re going to clone wooly mammoths!?!?

Jim’s wife: Are they going to give them a lysine deficiency?

Jim Butcher’s ‘Storm Front’ Really Satisfies

When you get recommendations from several, unrelated sources, repeatedly, you start believing that they must be true.  After years of being told by my wife and several friends that I needed to read The Dresden Files, Jim Butcher’s series of urban fantasy mystery thrillers, I finally bought a copy of Storm Front on Audible and listened to it over a few days’ commute to work.

Storm Front is, in many ways, the first of its kind: a forerunner of the urban fantasy craze that I was always wary of and in which I am still poorly read.  The premise of Storm Front and The Dresden Files in general is Raymond Chandler meets fantasy — a surprisingly natural crossing of classic detective fiction with the all of the aggregated trappings of wizardry and magic to be found in the world of fantastical fiction.

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‘The Jedi Path’: The Perfect Holiday Gift for the Star Wars Fan in Your Life

The holidays make me think of my favorite books and movies, for some reason; maybe it’s the magic in the air, or maybe it’s a necessary bit of escapism during a hectic season, but there’s nothing I enjoy more during the Christmas season than sitting down with a good fantasy book or a great sci-fi movie.

My wife and I are expecting our first child, and despite the fact that it’s probably too early to be doing a ton of book shopping, we couldn’t help but pick up a few books for the baby recently.  Wandering through the children’s book section of our local bookshop, I came across The Jedi Path, written by an uncredited Daniel Wallace.  The book’s subtitle, “A Manual for Students of the Force,” is accurate: it’s a fictional textbook for students of the Jedi Order.  Even better, it’s intended to be an old, used textbook of the Jedi Order, and is filled with colorful inscriptions from all of its past owners, including Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin, Luke, Ahsoka, and more.  The book succeeds because it takes itself seriously: it presents the tenets of the Jedi calling with respect and reverence, and doesn’t pull any punches.  It will be years before my son’s old enough for any of it to really make sense to him, but I look forward to reading him to sleep with it.

It’s the perfect stocking stuffer for the Star Wars fan in your life, young or old (it doesn’t write down to children), and the deluxe “Vault” edition would take a place of honor under the tree (or menorah, or Festivus pole, etc.).  Give your family the gift of the Force this holiday season.

Fantasy Rules of Magic Errata

io9’s impressive chart of the nature and rules of various magic systems in fantasy fiction’s most popular series (click the image to the left for a full-sized version) has been one of the most-linked fantasy topics in the last few days.  This being Geekus, I thought rather than just repost the link, I’d take the time to obnoxiously point out a few errors I saw in the Rules.

1.  In the Lord of the Rings entry, the section on hereditariness implies that the Maiar and Ainur are two separate, mutually exclusive sets of beings.  In fact, “Ainur” is an umbrella term that encompasses all of the angelic, godlike begins subservient to Illuvatar, or Eru, the One: the Valar are the higher choir, if you will, and the Maiar are the servants of the Valar.  All existed before Creation, and in fact the Valar and Maiar are merely those spirits who chose to enter the world they had created; other Ainur chose to remain outside of it.

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Putting Down ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell’

I put down Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell today.  For good.  Let me give you a little history.  I’ve had the book on my shelf since 2005, when it was published.  I tried to read it back then, unsuccessfully.  I tried to read it again recently, and got 300 pages into it this time before admitting to myself, guiltily, that I simply found it boring.

This is not a review of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, because you can’t properly review a book without finishing it.  However, it is a brief summary of the problems I had with the novel up to approximately page 300 in the hardcover version.  It is also a brief exploration of the larger question: when is it time to simply admit defeat, put the book down, and acknowledge that you just don’t like it enough to finish it?

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Richard Morgan’s ‘The Cold Commands’

Richard Morgan has a rare but precious talent as a writer: the ability to redefine, expand, and perfect literary genres.  Better known for his Takeshi Kovacs books, a series starting with his 2002 debut novel Altered Carbon, Morgan started right out of the gate with a unique,  engaging literary mashup.  He described the Kovacs novels in a 2008 interview with The Book Swede as:

“Fast forward, furious future noir with a cinematic bent. Think The Big Sleep, The Good, the Bad and the UglyKelly’s Heroes, The 39 Steps, North by North-West, all wrapped up in the glittering post-cyberpunk heritage of William Gibson and Bladerunner. With an admixture of underlying political rage, and a seasoning of space opera alien expanse. Something for everyone, really.”

His description is apt.  In 2008, Morgan began his first foray into fantasy with A Land Fit for Heroes, a planned trilogy beginning with The Steel Remains, a successful first fantasy novel that not only continued his paradigm-shifting influence on genre but cemented him as an important member of fantasy’s new guard.

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