Monday, November 16, 2009

Riese the Series: Steam Punk Continued:

This web series created by Ryan Copple and Kaleena Kiff, starring Christine Chatelain dovetails nicely with my previous post on the Steampunk genre. This series has the steam punk elements as well as the pulp feel that I love so!

According the website The true horror of the world is not in how it ends, but what will become of mankind as it fractures. And yet, despite the impending doom, a single beacon of light shines in Riese. A mysterious wanderer, she travels with her wolf Fenrir across this barren land. Branded as heretics by The Sect, Riese and Fenrir will pause to aid those in need as they travel, but they must evade capture at all costs. As she flees, she’ll piece together her past and her destiny, in a conflict that will hold the fate of this world in the balance - and the once peaceful kingdom of Eleysia will be the battlefield.

I am there! This series is only into the second episode and I am already into it. They are ten minutes long, and both have ended on the cliffhanger, so like the old Saturday serials, you come back for more. The series has all ready established the strong feel of peril and pursuit for Riese as well as laying the ground work for the underlying plot, introducing the main villains quickly and seamlessly. For ten minute bites there is a lot of plot and story packed into every image.

The steam punk scenery is very cool. Cybernetics are all gears and cogs, exposed, and primitive looking. The sets are shot ingeniously against real world sites, like simple streets that are turned into something more with just a few well placed crates and barrels. The costuming is much the same, blending elements to give it a unique feel. There is a heavy fantasy feel that accompanies the series, with Riese's animal companion, and the fantastical feel of Asgard, the imperial capital. In a background shot in the capital one sees several airships. The whole taken together creates a setting that is intriguing, making one desire to explore more of it.

I just need to see more out of Riese herself. Admittedly there have been only two episodes, twenty minutes of film at most, with plot and characters to establish. Still, I would like to see more out of the character, she appears wide eyed fearful most of the time to me, which, while appropriate, is not what I want to see out of a hero. She has little in the way of lines so establishing her through dialogue has not occurred yet. I am more than willing to sit and watch several more episodes to see this character develop.

The mystery is established and the plot set, and I am ready to watch. I am looking forward to the next installment. I am excited to see how the series progresses and what will unfold for Riese. This is for anyone who enjoys the steam punk genre or fantasy. Hey this is for anyone who enjoys a good story!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Jasper Morello: Steam Punk Animation

The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello is a visionary piece of animation that came out of Australia around 2006 and just recently came on my radar, thanks to fellow blogger Shane Mangus.

The story is of a young airship navigator named Jasper from a country known as Gothia, grounded after an error of one degree in his calculations causing the death of another man. This one degree is the focus of Jasper's existence. He is given a second chance on a voyage to set up wireless communication buoys, leaving behind a young wife and a city ravaged by plague. Upon the journey the ship collides with a derelict during a storm with the remains of her crew and the only clue being an uncharted island on the ships maps. Jasper and company investigates the island discovering a terrible race of beasts whose blood actually holds the cure for the plague. From there the tale grows truly dark and compelling.

The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello Directed by Anthony Lucas with a screenplay by Mark Shirrefs, is animation done in a shadow or rather silhouette style, which fit the story brilliantly and added a compelling element in of itself. The steam punk element was well rendered with the clockwork airships and modes of transportation. The shadow animation allowed the world and the machinery to be brought to the fore with greater complexity and detail.

The story is compelling, becoming increasingly darker; the score for the animation is perfect accompaniment. The voices used for the charcters fit them creating another level of emmersion for the viewer, with Jasper voiced by Joel Edgerton.

I really enjoyed this short movie for all the aspects brought together in one place. The only issue I could possibly have with The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello is the fact that it is only on DVD in Australia and New Zealand, which means the layering would not play in American DVD players. So one has to watch it here:
Also check out the web site for more interesting tidbits about Jasper's world.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Self-Promotion Time Come on!

Okay time for a little self promotion, then I will get back to writing about other people's stuff. Untold the Game, is a new card based role playing game created by a group of friends of mine called the Wandering Men. These guys are writers and geeks like me. They get the idea of pulp fiction and the importance of story. So they created a game for role playing the story.

Role playing games have been with us all since we were kids. Cops and robbers, House, Tea Parties….not that I ever had tea parties….superheroes for me! And I think everyone has heard of Dungeons & Dragons and many of the games that followed it. Well, Untold is such an animal, but it uses a non-collectable card system to handle character creation to combat to magic with one basic mechanic. Those interested in the game can find it here:

What is great about Untold is the story that surrounds it and the world heroes adventure in. Splintered Serenity is a sci-fi future where three realities, universes are colliding. There is the Apoc-Earth, a dark shadow of our reality some three hundred and more years into the future after what is simply referred to as the Event when a new world rises from the old.... with a humanity far superior to the one that had come before. Churls: giant barbarians with mystical abilities and the High-bred, pure super soldiers trying to revive there lost civilizations and survive this chaos. They are not alone for the races of the other realities now call Earth home, the Klik, sentient mechanicals that look as if they were created by a mad Victorian era scientist, they hail from a place they call the Great Machine, a world of clock work gears and logic. The L'Na, animalistic creatures from Ai, a world of magic have found their way to Earth with their mystical ways and are now experiencing one far different than their own.

So this is the world that needs stories to flesh it out and The Wandering Men were desperate enough to want me to help with it. So the guys have given me an opportunity to create brief back stories for characters like Oru, a L’Na who is at his heart an archeologist, a raging Churl in Helm, and a water-borne protector in Cetacious.

These characters were given artistic form by some very talented people, so that there might be a picture to hang my words around. I have also created monsters for heroes to fight in the form of the Sand Sniper, and fleshed out the lives of other creatures like the Gree Gree.

Sarge’s Tale is a serialized, pulp style novella by me; based on an adventure written by Brannon Hollingsworth and Nathan Ellsworth. The guys were once again desperate for some content so they were willing to let me use their adventure as a blueprint for my own.

So take a look if you want, if you see something you like shout it out. The Wandering Men and I would love if you come by for a visit.

Here is the beginning to Sarge’s Tale:

Chapter 1

The sun, a white ball in a steel blue sky scorched the parched earth, creating a shimmering haze in the distance. Sergeant Alisa McGraw scanned the hardpan that became the broken mesas and small canyons that served as the seat of Base LANS. A seat of science and military might before the Apoc, LANS was now one of the cells of High-bred civilization spread across the blasted continent.
"What is it, Sarge?" asked Corporal David Miguel, a dark skinned massively muscled man that dwarfed her by almost a meter. The sergeant suspected her second of being a Churl. He wore a helmet with a polarized visor over his close shaven head. Though standard issue, the helmet was too claustrophobic for McGraw to wear over her own tightly braided red hair.
The sergeant lowered her electron-binocs, her blue eyes squinting, unprotected by the flare-compensators. She looked to her second and back to the ten man patrol under her command. The feeling of dread that gnawed at her spine would not abate, only increased as she took in the no-man's land before her once more. Scrubby brush, large boulders, and smaller rocks broke up the washed out browns and grays that merged with the colorless blue horizon. Something was out there waiting for them. What it was or where? That was the question that made her pause. She handed the binocs back to the corporal. "Not sure, Miguel, but lets take it by the numbers, skirmish line, ten meter spread, covering fields of fire."