Showing posts with label H G Wells. Show all posts
Showing posts with label H G Wells. Show all posts

Friday, April 03, 2020

A New Edition of H.G. Wells' Classic LITTLE WARS is on the Way from Peter Dennis' Paperboys Line of Books

Peter Dennis is republishing H.G. Well's seminal LITTLE WARS rules as a part of his "Paperboys" line of game books. Like other books in the series, this includes pages and pages of wonderful illustrations meant to be copied and cut out to make armies of paper men. I own most of the books in the series, but have only done a little bit of construction using his English Civil War book.

It's a marvelous series.

This book contains a reprint of H.G. Well's book LITTLE WARS which is a cornerstone of the modern wargaming hobby. Whether you play Warhammer or Bolt Action, you owe a debt of gratitude to Wells. You can see some elements of modern game rules in Wells' simple rules set in a lot of places, but the resolution of combat isn't one of them. Wells' rules are based on the use of a pea shooting toy cannon.

This book looks fantastic and I cannot wait for mine to arrive via Amazon.

Friday, October 18, 2019

The H.G. Wells Inspired TRIPODS AND TRIPLANES by Ares Games Looks Like a Good Time

The Wings of Glory pre-painted miniatures wargame has been the go-to game for those who want a simple and visually appealing introduction to simulations of WW I dogfights. I first encountered the game when Fantasy Flight Games held the license to produce the game in the United States. The first edition of the game lacked the beautiful pre-painted biplane and triplane miniatures that followed, but the mechanics and components were sound and appealing. Now that my daughters are older, I'm planning on breaking out my relatively large (and far too neglected) collection of miniatures and movement cards to play the original game. My hope is that I will be able to use it as a gateway game for Richthofen's War.

One of the reasons my interest in the game was rekindled was Ares production of an H.G. Wells inspired version called Tripods & Triplanes which simulates the fictional combat between brave pilots and the sinister machines of an invading Martian army. This particular combination sparked my interest for two reasons. The first, and most obvious one, is that I've long been a fan of H.G. Wells and the War of the Worlds storyline is rich for simulation in games. Not to mention the fact that H.G. Wells is one of the founders of the miniatures gaming hobby. As significant as that reason was, it was the fact that this setting will partially save my daughters from having me interrupt game play in order to force them to watch my favorite WW I movies or from being required to listen to me guide them through several Google searches to learn about the historic aces who participated in the Great War. Don't get me wrong they'll still have to suffer through those "learning experiences," it's just that these experiences are less likely to interrupt game play now.

The staff over at Wargames Illustrated have put together a wonderful unboxing video of Tripods & Triplanes that shows how nice the components are. The reviewer commented that he wished it had included a playmat in addition to the terrain pieces. I agree that would have been nice, but I've still got my beautiful playmats for the base game.

I can't wait to play this game and I love the design of the Tripods.

Monday, December 07, 2009

War of the Worlds: Goliath -- Coming in 2010

Next year will see the release of Tripod Entertainment's animated Steampunk film WAR OF THE WORLDS: GOLIATH. The film's premise is that 15 years after the Martian's failed attack on the earth in 1900 the aliens return to continue their attempted conquest of Earth. Much has changed in the intervening 15 years, as the industrious have reverse engineered a substantial amount of Martian technology. This sets the stage for a more evenly balanced conflict between the two worlds. The film's trailer hints at what the film will offer. The film will star geek favorites Adam Baldwin, Peter Wingfield, and Adrian Paul.

GOLIATH isn't the first WAR OF THE WORLDS sequel to make its way through the Hollywood entertainment assembly line. In 1988, there was a 2 season syndicated television series based on the premise that the Martians who invaded during the George Pal film merely went into hibernation and didn't die when they collapsed. The series aired in the US on Fox, and it too starred Adrian Paul (during the 2nd season).

The narrative premise of GOLIATH is a promising one and the show looks to have combined the best of the Steampunk genre with some elements of the classic animated television series STAR BLAZERS. Instead of a giant space faring WWII battleship, we have a giant sky spanning battle-zeppelin. I think the battle-zeppelin wins hands down.

Steampunk is a genre that has been gaining some momentum over the past few years. It combines "Vernian" futuristic technology with a Victorian/Edwardian time frame. I would posit that the first iteration of Steampunk was the Castle Falkenstein roleplaying game by Mike Pondsmith of R. Talsorian Games (publishers of the Cyberpunk rpg) and that the genre gained real traction with the novels The Difference Engine by Gibson and Sterling and The Prestige by Priest.

It has been noted in the comments that I am in error with regards to the origin of the term and genre of Steampunk. I will concede the term's origin, but I would take issue with some of those items retroactively classified into the genre. One could classify Spenser's The Faerie Queene as Epic Fantasy, but one would be misapplying a term for fantasy fiction in the post-Morris era. The same holds for Wild, Wild, West which shares as much with James Bond as it does with Steampunk (specifically). One might as well classify Ian Fleming's brilliant Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as Steampunk. Wikipedia and "internet citations" from Locus be damned!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Titan Books to Release The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: War of the Worlds

In 1975, Warner Books released two wonderful, but tragically overlooked, volumes of Sherlock Holmes inspired speculative fiction. The first was Avram Davidson's The Enquiries of Doctor Eszterhazy, a distinctive character of charm and grace who is an original creation for all that Davidson was inspired by Doyle's Consulting Detective.

The second book is a collection of tales by Manly Wade Wellman featuring Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, and Professor Challenger as they deal with the Martian invasion previously chronicled by H.G. Wells entitled Sherlock Holmes's War of the Worlds.

This "fix up" novel collects six short stories and combines them into a novel length adventure. The first of the stories, "The Adventure of the Martian Client" was originally published in the December 1969 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The other stories in the volume either appeared in later issues or were written specifically for the Warner volume.

"The Adventure of the Martian Client" begins brilliantly with Watson informing us of how tragic it is that society has chosen to follow H.G. Wells' account of the Martian invasion while totally neglecting the contributions of Sherlock Holmes and Professor Challenger. As Watson puts it, "H.G. Wells's The War of the Worlds is a frequently inaccurate chronicle by a known radical and athiest, a companion of Frank Harris, George Bernard Shaw, and worse. He exaggerates needlessly and pretends to expert scientific knowledge which he does not possess. Yet scientists and laymen applaud him, while scorning the brilliant deductions of Sherlock Holmes and Professor George Edward Challenger."

I initially found Watson's tone to be a little stronger than I am accustomed to reading, but quickly caught on to what Manly Wade Wellman -- and his son Wade Wellman -- were up to with the story. It is really quite brilliant. The Wellman's are using the lens of Holmes pastiche through which they are applying the modern scientific understanding of Mars over the representations of the Martians and their technology in the Wells novel. By doing so, they eventually add a greater possibility to further stories of Man vs. Martian than would have been allowed under the Wells model. The Wellman team do a good job of presenting the strengths of both Holmes and Professor Challenger, and of conveying the tension of the Wells story while still following the Holmes model of "a client arrives."

In the post script to "The Adventure of the Martian Client" published in the December 1969 issue, the younger Wellman sites a viewing of A STUDY IN TERROR as the inspiration for writing a Holmes meets the Martians tale. In A STUDY IN TERROR Holmes applies his detective skills against Jack the Ripper. The younger Wellman also expresses a certain amount of disdain for the 1953 WAR OF THE WORLDS film. His primary complaint was that it was unnecessary to update the classic story to place it in contemporary circumstances and by doing so the movie makers overlooked the point of the story. I disagree that the 1953 film is weak, but agree that "updating" the story changed the underlying philosophical discussion. Wells' underlying message was one of the possibility that mankind might meet a being who thinks of us the same way we think of farm animals. The filmmakers of the 1953 story were grappling with the destructive power of nuclear weapons and had an opportunity to demonstrate their "ineffectiveness." I would argue that the most recent Spielberg version, which also updates the tale, keeps Wells' original philosophic statement, but is a worse translation of the story even so.

The stories in the Wellman Holmes vs. Mars cycle are entertaining and we can be thankful that Titan Books is releasing a new edition of this collection of the stories on the 17th, timed to feed off of the upcoming SHERLOCK HOLMES motion picture starring Robert Downey Jr. Hopefully a large number of people will read this collection of stories and discover the joy that is Manly Wade Wellman. He was one of the great voices in Fantasy fiction, a voice that wandered roads not typically encountered by the modern Fantasy reader.