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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Book Three Preview

A couple of pieces of stuff from the forthcoming Lords of Kobol - Book Three: The Final Exodus.

First, a little glimpse at Lord Zeus' virtual temple services:


“It warms my heart to see so many of you here,” Zeus said from his raised marble platform.  “Yet again, you have broken records for participation in these temple services.”  The crowd cheered and Zeus raised his arms.  “The Lords of Kobol thank you.”

The crowd cheered again and Zeus bowed.  He motioned toward the banners that fluttered near him.  “You will see these on streets and buildings near you.  They are to serve as a reminder.  We have been here for you and we will continue to be here for you.”

Each of the banners was colored differently with stylized versions of each Olympian silhouetted on them.  Under the image, the banner stated the god’s name, and then Zeus’ newest invention, his catchphrase, “Power in Many.”

“’Power in Many,’” Zeus said.  “With all of the gods at your disposal, we cannot fail.”  The crowd cheered and Zeus bowed, saying, “So say we all.”

“So say we all!” came the thunderous response.  

Zeus’ image blinked away and he rubbed his temples.  The Streamchip gave him headaches but he knew that was a side effect.  


Those banners he's talking about?
That's what I have in mind.  There was an earlier post where I presented the few of these posters I made before my own lack of skill drove me to stop:

Now here's a bigger piece.  An entire chapter introducing an important secondary character:


MITHRAS
37 Years Before the Final Exodus

Walter Mithras didn't feel like going to school today.  He sat slumped over his desk with his hand pressing the Streamset on his face while a virtual teacher droned on about vocabulary.  The ten-year-old was beginning to nod off when the woman said, "That's all for right now.  Come back in twenty."

Walter removed the headset and laid it on his desk.  He left his room and went into the hallway, wondering if his parents were about yet.  Quietly, he stepped into the hall, trying to minimize the creaks from the floorboards.  He stepped close to the wall and moved toward his parents’ bedroom.  With a single finger, he pushed open the door just enough for one eye to see inside.

He saw his father first, still in the clothes he wore last night.  He was propped up on the bed wearing his Streamset.  His fingers were twitching so Walter assumed he must be playing a game again.  He moved over a little more and caught sight of his mother.  She was sitting on her side of the bed, also wearing a Streamset.  She was breathing heavily and moaning.  Walter rolled his eyes knowing she was having sex.

Since they were otherwise engaged, he didn’t bother trying to conceal his movements in the hallway.  He walked on down toward the kitchen and opened the cupboard.  He sighed as he did, remembering there was little there this morning.  Another day, another missed opportunity for his parents to have gone to the store to cash in some points for food.  “The shit’s free …” he mumbled to himself.  Why don’t they bother?

He walked back to the living area and just stood.  There were clothes piled up all over.  His toys were tossed in a corner.  The shades were drawn.  Walter decided to let some light in so he went to the windows and pulled them wide.

“Good day, sir,” a small Cylon said.

“Hello, Rick,” Walter replied.  He stepped over the small robot and plopped onto the couch.  He watched the blue eye of the device sweep back and forth as it seemed to await instructions.  Before his father quit working, he used what little money he had saved up to buy the Cylon to help around the house.  Of course, Rick was too small to do much housework.  It could provide reminders, though.

“Rick,” he said, “when my parents come in here later, can you remind them to go to the store for food?”

“As you command,” Rick said.  The half-meter tall conical robot then rolled away from the couch.

“Hey,” Walter said, leaning over the couch to catch the device, “where is my brother?”

“Master Lawrence was greeted by friends two hours ago.”  The Cylon turned to finish speaking, “He has not been back since.”

Walter grinned, “Did he say when he would be back?”

“No, Master Walter.  He did not.”

“Thanks, Rick.”  Walter jumped off the couch and ran into the hall.  The Cylon followed him.

“Do you have any further instructions for me?”

Walter rolled his eyes.  Sometimes, the neediness of the Cylon annoyed him.  “Um ...  Pick up as much trash as you can and vacuum everything else.”

“As you command,” it said again in its mock-human voice before it turned and rolled away.

Walter stepped into the hallway and put his hand on Larry’s doorknob.  He was careful and quiet; not because he wanted to avoid disturbing his parents, but because his brother had been known to booby trap his room.  He turned the knob slowly and opened the door.  He didn’t take a step inside.  Instead, he looked at the floor in front of him and to the nightstand near the door.  He didn’t see any strings or other tell-tale signs.

Slowly, Walter walked inside.  Larry had been cleaning his room rather well lately.  The bed was made, there were no papers or school books scattered about.  A few dirty clothes were on the floor, but it was still a far sight cleaner than Walter’s room.  He moved quickly over to the desk and sat down.  He pushed the Streamset aside and began to leaf through a few papers on the desktop.

“Where was I?” he said to himself.  He pulled out one compaper.  When he activated it, he saw some science homework.  He turned it off and put it back into the stack.  He pulled out another compaper … no, this was regular paper.  It didn’t activate when he pressed the corner and it just had a few doodles on it.  Walter shook his head and replaced it as well.  When he reached for a notebook, a box with coins fell off the desk and opened on the carpet below.

Walter slid off the chair and picked up the box.  He quickly put the coins inside and, without leaving his crouched position, he put the box back on the desk.  He looked up and studied the shelves in front of him.  Being at this low angle, though, he saw a sheet of paper under a shelf above some books.  He crawled over, pulled out a few of the books and carefully removed the paper from under the shelf.  It had been taped there.

When he looked at it, he saw that the sheet had some pencil marks on the front.  No letters or numbers.  Not even doodles.  Just random marks.  Thinking it may have been compaper, Walter pressed the corner and it lit up.  Red swirls appeared and they bounced from pencil mark to pencil mark before settling into letters.  Walter’s eyebrows shot up and he smiled until he realized he couldn’t read the letters.

He stood and sat back down at the desk.  He held his forehead in his hand while he turned the paper around and around, tried pressing different parts of it … anything.  He blew air through his mouth and flapped his lips, rotating the compaper one more time.  He saw something that caught his eye.  One of the “letters” looked like a doodle he saw earlier.

He pulled out the sheet of paper from before, the one with doodles on it.  He laid it on the desktop next to the compaper and both pages now sprung to life.  It hadn’t seemed like compaper before, but now the doodle sheet glowed with blue streaks, dashing from doodle to doodle and then crossing from one sheet onto the other.

“Cool,” he said.  After a few moments, the sheet on the left contained text written in the red letters he couldn’t recognize.  On the right, after additional swirling, the blue lights resolved themselves into words he could read.  Walter started to read aloud, more excited to have solved a puzzle than anything else. 

“’And when you pray, do not pray as the heathens do.  Standing in the streets, on the steps of their temples, before the altars of their false gods.  When you pray, enter your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray like this, …’”

Walter pulled his head up from the pages and scrunched up his face.  He wasn’t sure what he wanted to find in his brother’s room … something salacious, he guessed … instead he finds some religious stuff about false gods?

He stopped reading aloud, but he did continue reading, “O Prometheus, holy messenger of the Great One, guide our lives according to Its will, support us and bless us as we seek to do your holy work.  Forgive our offenses and provide us with defenses against those who would deny yours and The One’s power.  These things we ask most humbly, amen.”

Walter was confused again.  He had never heard of an Olympian named Prometheus.  And what was the Great One?  He placed his finger on the side of the compaper to scroll down when he heard someone in the hallway behind him.

“Wally, what are you doing?” his mother asked.

He turned around in the chair quickly, blocking her view of the desk.  “I’m just messing around.”

She shook her head, “You know Larry won’t like that.”

“I know.”  Walter thought about turning back to the pages but his mom wasn’t leaving the doorway just yet.  “Where’s Dad?”

She rolled her eyes and stepped away from the door, “Zeus started his temple service and shut down the whole Stream.  You know your father, he thinks it’s important.”

Walter turned back around, nodding.  If Zeus was on, that meant no more school for at least another half an hour.  He scrolled down the pages, looking for anything that caught his eye.  He scrolled and scrolled.  And scrolled.  All he saw was, “heathens,” “idols,” “false gods,” “one whose name cannot be spoken,” blah-blah-blah.  Finally, he saw something about a sword, but he heard the front door open.

His head whipped around and he heard Larry’s voice.  He pinched the corners of both pages, shutting them off.  He slid one into the stack of papers on the desk and jammed the other under the second shelf atop some books.  He knew he wouldn’t be able to tape it back, but maybe he could sneak back in later to take care of it.

He quietly ran to the door and peeked into the hall.  He heard Larry speaking in the kitchen.  “Mom, when are you going to the store?  There’s nothing to eat.”

Walter ran from the room and tripped over Rick, which was rolling toward the living area, presumably to tell his mother about the reminder he programmed it to deliver.  Walter stubbed his toe on the wall and he flopped into his room and onto the bed.

He laid there for a moment, quietly cradling his foot and trying to catch his breath.  A second later, Larry was standing at his door.  “What are you doing?”

Walter shook his head, “I hurt my foot tripping over Rick.”

Larry squinted his eyes and then went into his room.  Walter stood up and walked to the door slowly, trying to not even breathe.  He listened to his brother’s every move, hoping to decipher where he was and what he was looking at.  He knew he would be found out.

A moment later, Larry stormed out of his room, looped into the hall and into Walter’s room, pushing him on the chest and knocking him back to the bed.  “What were you doing in my room?”

Walter had been beaten up by his brother before.  He was the little brother so he understood his lot in life.  Something, though, was different this time.  Larry didn’t seem as much angry as he was … afraid.

“I was … just looking around.”

Larry pulled back a little and closed his eyes.  “What did you see?”

For whatever reason, Walter felt the need to be honest.  “I saw the papers about false gods …”

Larry pushed him onto the bed again and leaned in close.  “Listen to me,” he said, whispering, “you cannot ever – and I mean never – tell anyone about those papers or … read them again or anything.  Do you understand?”

Again, Walter had to note the fear in his voice.  He nodded wordlessly and Larry stood up.  Walter was going to stand up, too, but Larry stayed there.  Staring at him.  “Never,” he said.

Just then, their mom walked by and said, “I told you to stay out of his room.”  


Next week, Book Three will be available for download.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mapping Kobol, Part III

Usually I post the maps for each book after the book itself is out, but, hey.  I'm trying to pass the time before the first week of October.  The book includes the maps, but they're small and in grayscale.  The first two books only had one map each, but I made three for Book Three.

(In case you're wondering how I devised the maps of Kobol in the first place, check out this older post.)

The first one is one you've seen before.  It's the City of the Gods (aka Theonpolis) taken from a screencap of BSG when Roslin's tripping balls on chamalla:
(As always, you can see bigger versions by clicking on them.)

The next one is of the suburbs of the City of the Gods.  Well, not really.  It's the surrounding area, including the mountains (such as Mt. Olympus and the Gates of Hera) and the Tomb of Athena:

Lastly, here's the now-familiar map of the whole world, but with Book Three points of interest:
Hmm.  Lots of military bases.  I wonder what that implies?  Did you notice that the symbol for Cylon facilities is a pentagon?

QUIZ: who can tell me the one place name, other than City of the Gods, that does not come from ancient Greece or other ancient places, languages, etc.?  Tell me the place name and whence it came and I'll give you a copy of Book Three before anybody else.  (Leave your answer in the comments below, along with your Twitter or email address.)

Lords of Kobol - Book Three: The Final Exodus will be available for download in the first week of October.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Star Wars Blu-ray and A Better Alternative

(NOTE: This post refers only to the Blu-ray of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, because that's the only one of the six I've watched so far.)


I'm of the generation that saw Star Wars in theaters before "Episode IV, A NEW HOPE" was added at the top of the crawl.  Pre-1997 Special Edition, Aunt Beru's voice was changed, Death Star alarms were added, Leia's blaster was made to sound like a .44 Magnum, Porkins' scream was lost ... so I know that George Lucas is apt to change things from time to time.  That's why these newest changes don't really anger me.  (Yes, I think Vader's newly vocal contrarian nature in Jedi is pointless, but I'm only talking about Episode IV here.)  In fact, I'm going to plant myself firmly in the minority by saying Lucas didn't change enough things.

OK, Obi-Wan's new yell to frighten off the Tusken Raiders.  That alteration is dumb.  If you haven't heard it, go stand in a long hallway and scream, "WhooOOOOAARRRRGHHWOOOOOOOoooo!"  There.  You've just done a better job than whoever did it at Skywalker Sound.  I don't know what was wrong with the original Krayt Dragon roar from so long ago, but the new sound seems only likely to incur laughter from Tusken Raiders and not fleeing.

Here are the high points of the Blu-ray: fantastic visuals and fantastic audio.  Uniform film grain throughout and the tiniest of details that I have never noticed before suddenly pop from the screen (this is saying a lot, because I've seen this film a lot).  The music mix is finally corrected after the 2004 debacle and the effects are great (save for Obi-Wan's yell).  Good special features, too.

But here's what I meant before, that Lucas didn't change enough.  There are still points when Luke's lightsaber aboard the Falcon looks green.  C3PO alternates between being off and on in Kenobi's home.  The graphics of the Death Star on the Rebel Base look just like the early designs, but not like the final version.  Pondo Baba's wrong arm is on the floor and it bleeds.  The wrong dialogue is used on a few different occasions (example: Biggs says he's coming to help Luke and then Luke says, "Blast it, Wedge, where are you?").

My point is, George, if you're going to fix it, frakking fix it.

The 1997 Special Edition stuff on the Blu-ray often looks fuzzy.  You know what I mean.  That "early CGI kinda blurry around the edges" fuzzy.  It's very evident in the entrance to Mos Eisley sequence with the stupid rats and droids, the Rontos with the Jabba scene especially.  I like a lot of the other Special Edition adjustments, but again, he didn't fix enough.

If you're a fan, get the Blu-rays and enjoy the audio and visual superiority.  But if you want a truly fixed version of the film, I have a recommendation: Adywan's Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope Revisited.

Adywan's real name is Adrian Sayce (here's his Twitter).  With the help of the online community, he culled as many official and unofficial Star Wars resources as he could to make Episode IV what it should be.

Example time!  (He did loads of little things I don't want to spoil, not to mention color correction that was sorely jacked up in the 2004 DVD.  What follows are a few highlights.)

One of my favorite little touches.  In the Cantina scene, many of the aliens wore simple rubber masks.  Well, Adywan makes many of them blink, sniff, etc.  It's not distracting and you might not have even noticed if I hadn't told you.  He also makes Greedo blink, as you can see.

Oh, and Han shoots first.

Some of you might have wondered "Who is Pondo Baba?" when I dropped his name a while back.  That's Walrusman, in case you wondered.  He wore an orange jumpsuit and had flippers.  That's right.  Flippers.  So, in the film when Obi-Wan cuts his arm off, why does he have a furry hand?  I have no idea.  Also, why would Obi-Wan cut off Baba's arm when it's Dr. Evazan ("I don't like you either!") who we can see pulling a blaster?  Adywan fixes this by putting Evazan's arm on the floor and removes the blood, because, as we all know, lightsabers cauterize wounds.

Oh, look at that.  Luke's lightsaber is actually BLUE, thanks to Adywan.

Also, the scene at Kenobi's home when he is given the weapon has been re-edited and therefore fixed.  The conversation flows better and once C3PO turns himself off, he stays off.

This is one of my favorites.  The Millennium Falcon's departure from the Death Star is now more dynamic and far more exciting.  When I was watching the Blu-ray, it really stood out to me how stationary the Falcon felt and you rarely see Luke and Han's laser fire against the TIEs.  Adywan has made this a full out battle sequence and it's great.

Right after that battle, Vader tells Tarkin that the Falcon has jumped into hyperspace.  But in the very next scene, nearly static stars are all we see outside the cockpit, even though they should be in that blue tunnel we saw before.  Oh, Adywan fixed that, too?  Awesome.

See that?  Why would Lucas after three decades not fix the graphics of the Death Star in this scene or in the Rebel briefing scene?  Why would there be an outdated version of the Death Star in those databanks?  There wouldn't.  Fixed.

Here's a fun one.  Instead of the visually helpful but ultimately unnecessary 2D graphic we see at the bottom in every version of Episode IV, Adywan has given us a 3D holographic representation of the battle more in line with other Rebel tactical technology.  (I say it's ultimately unnecessary because there are announcements as to when the Rebel base is in range and Tarkin has his own tactical display showing the same thing).

So there's that part of the Death Star battle when Rebel base informs the pilots that enemy fighters are on their way.  Red Leader says, "Here they come!"  And it's six TIEs.  That's all.  The Death Star has hundreds, perhaps thousands of TIEs, but they don't launch an overwhelming force against these few dozen Rebels?  Pah.

Adywan (and his online CG community) have really earned their accolades with the Death Star battle.  It is tremendously exciting and adds so much more to the climax of the film.  And the music when the TIEs come? Perfect.

Speaking of, throughout this sequence, he's added great effects outside the windows of the Rebel pilots.  Whereas before you only saw starfields (mostly), Adywan gives us Death Star landscapes, distant X-Wing/TIE battles, the curvature of Yavin (that big red planet) and more.

He also seeks to unify this film with the remainder of the saga in a way that I'm surprised Lucas hasn't even tried yet.  The Death Star is given a grander introduction and we hear "The Imperial March."  When Tarkin announces that the Emperor has dissolved the Senate, we hear the deep choir of Jedi's "Throne Room."  And, most effectively, when Obi-Wan is fighting Vader, Adywan has inserted Episode III's "Battle of the Heroes," dramatically tying this battle to the one from the previous film.

Is it perfect?  No.  There are two alterations I found unnecessary.  One, he gave the syringe of the interrogation droid some electrical arcs.  Second, he turned off Vader's light saber when Obi-Wan found him (it was far more menacing to have Vader standing there, waiting).  Also, an attempt to smooth out a jump cut when Luke first ignites his lightsaber doesn't really work.  But that's it.

Now, how do you get it?  Brother, I don't know.  I got mine before there was a big crackdown on fan edits a few years ago.  There are tips in this humongous forum thread (along with a list of many changes).  If you're curious, here's his Facebook page, too, which has hundreds of comparison shots.

If you can find it, get the full disc image version.  That includes a text commentary that points out everything he changed like subtitles as the movie plays.  And there are sweet Easter Eggs, like this:


He's working on Episode V now, Episode VI after that and then he'll go back to Episode IV to make a 720p version.  I can't wait.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Of Pythia and Her Book

Pythia is, of course, a frequently referred to person in BSG.  Her contribution to the Sacred Scrolls influences much of what happens and she's the only named author of those Scrolls in the show.  Since my books take place during the time of the Lords and that's when Pythia lived, I knew I would have to include her as a character.

As you've seen in Lords of Kobol - Book One: Apotheosis, I decided to use her as a framing device, for all intents and purposes.  I depict her as a young woman in the priesthood, high off her ass on chamalla so she may channel whatever powers she has and being visited by her ex-fiancĂ©, who is intent on dispensing loads of information for her to transcribe.  (If you've read it, you likely already know the truth of Ino, the fiancĂ©.)  She also bookends the forthcoming Book Three: The Final Exodus.  Some might be disappointed to know that she's not more heavily featured, but I believe she serves her purposes well in these small doses.

Now, about Pythia.  The show vacillates a bunch on how much she wrote, what she wrote, how much was prophecy and how much wasn't, did she write all that stuff about the Thirteenth Tribe, etc.  I had to make some choices and I decided to draw from real-world history when it comes to religious texts.

You ever hear of the Council of Nicea or the Council of Trent?  These were two conventions (among others)  of Christian leaders as they huddled up to decide what they really believed.  As they decided what they liked about their church's history, they tossed aside a bunch of stuff they didn't (look up Lost Gospels).  Point being, even Holy Bibles and Sacred Scrolls have editors.  In order to make Pythia get credit for writing stuff she couldn't have known about (like Athena's suicide) and not simply saying, "Oh, she's a prophet," I thought the most credible thing to do was say that she was an editor and compiler of the Sacred Scrolls, like a one-woman Council of Trent.  That way, even with her own contributions to the Scrolls, it's easy to see why people might make the mistake of assuming she wrote all of it.

Long winded, I know.  Here's the fun stuff.  You saw in a previous post how I used Propworx to find a good Kobollian eagle for my art.  I used them again to find awesomeness in the form of the Sacred Scrolls, namely the Book of Pythia:

If you click that pic, you'll see that someone added a pullquote referring to the Temple of Five (nee Temple of Hopes) for use in those Algae Planet episodes.  But if you read the stuff around it, it's all Final Exodus stuff.

Even though the screen-used prop states that this is from the Book of Pythia, I don't necessarily believe that means it's purely canon.  And if it is, then my editor/compiler excuse can come into play.  Here's a portion of that text, which appears only very slightly altered in Book Three:

They huddled together on the shores waiting to board the Great Ship Galleon.  They brought with them as much of their worldly possessions as the could hold.  Most had nothing but for what they had in their hearts.  Large and small they began to move, lining up they spoke aloud of their name and heritage one at a time as if this were their sole possession, a final piece of KOBOL that they were not to leave behind.  They were ready.
And on the Cliffs of Aragon, the Gods gathered and bore witness to the gathering below.  They watched as each member of each tribe walked up the gantry, turning only once to say farewell to the lords they knew they will never see again.  Though heavy of heart, they continued to board all through ...

Again, I placed that whole passage (with only minor tweaks) in Book Three, so credit to the writer or props guy who came up with that.

Since I'm standing by my interpretation that Pythia herself did not write these very detailed passages on the Final Exodus 1,600 years before it happened, someone had to be there to witness it and survive to write about it later.  Thus, I created the character Alexandra Gideon.  She's named "Gideon," and not after the Old Testament bloke who needed a bunch of proofs from YHWH, who slew pagan hordes and even his own people, who destroyed places of Baal worship, who bore lanterns and blew horns, etc.  No, she's named "Gideon" because that name popped up a couple of times in Caprica and was the name of a transport ship in the ragtag fleet of Battlestar Galactica.  I figured it bore some significance.

Another Pythia-related tidbit on Earth I (that's Cylon Earth and not Earth II, on which we reside): in the Sacred Scrolls there is a picture of the Temple of Aurora, and since that's the only god mentioned in relation to the Thirteenth Tribe, that's why I have Aurora playing such a large role with the Thirteenth Tribe's exodus in Book One.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Funny Galactica Video & Song


Thanks to everyone who visited the site last week for my BSG/Trek birthday post.  Lots of great pictures and nice comments, too.

In case you didn't know, I'd appreciate it if you guys could 'like' me on Facebook.  CLICK THIS, please.

Secondly, Lords of Kobol - Book Three: The Final Exodus is still on track for release the first week of October.  Please download Books One & Two at the various links scattered around this page.  Also, let me know what you think.  I appreciate reviews and thoughts but I haven't gotten nearly enough.

OK, enough with the felgercarb.  Click the JUMP for a great and hilarious BSG Season 3 gag reel.  Also, you MUST stay until the end so you can hear the song, "I Wanna Frak."  Let's just say the video and song are NSFW.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Great Trek & BSG Pics

There are some truly awesome pictures out there from Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica that you've probably never seen.  They come from three blogs operated by visual effects artists who have worked on the shows and films.  In honor of Trek's 45th anniversary today and BSG's ... general greatness, I present a healthy sampling of these pics (many of them huge enough for desktop wallpaper).

JUMP for more!




Tuesday, September 6, 2011

When an Asteroid Hits a Planet

There's going to be some spoilers for Lords of Kobol - Book Two: Descent, so if you want to remain completely virginal, please stop reading now.

The spoilers in question, though, are not major and don't really compromise any enjoyment of the story.  (In my opinion.)

3

2

1

OK.

I'm going to start with a quote from Gaius Baltar and the fourth season episode "The Hub":

"Pythia talks about a flood that wiped out most of humanity. Nobody blames the flood. The flood is a force of nature. Through the flood, mankind is rejuvenated -- born again."

And with that line, we discover that Kobol's history is not terribly different from our own.  There are dozens of ancient civilizations with flood myths so why should Kobol be any different?

I decided early on that I wanted the gods to descend to Kobol in a very dramatic fashion.  This, coupled with the need for a flood myth, gave me plenty of options.  The vast majority of flood myths on Earth involve some level of divine retribution so I thought it would be interesting to make it so that the gods try to save mankind from the flood instead of the other way 'round.  (Plus, what better way to endear yourselves to potential followers?)

Scientifically speaking, we know that there has been no singular worldwide deluge on Earth and I had no desire to craft some sort of tale like that here.  In fact, many scholars believe that ancient flood myths are derived from local events that cause widespread damage and in the telling of the tale, the speaker believes that the whole world was affected.  So why not have a catastrophic local event in which the Lords save many people?

Without spoiling more stuff, let me just say there is a gathering of some 30,000+ people near the base of Mount Olympus, before the gods have descended and revealed themselves.  The Lords discover that an asteroid will soon crash into Kobol and they feel compelled to help as many people as they can.

Now.  An asteroid impact in the nearby ocean sounds awesome, but I wanted to get the science as close to right as I could.  What, oh, what can I do?

I found this great website: Impact: Earth!

Put together by the folks at Purdue University (and thanks to Jay Melosh for answering a few of my questions), it's a fun, Flash-based site where you just punch in a few numbers, play with some variables and see what happens when an asteroid hits the planet.

I knew what I wanted to have happen: asteroid hits offshore, an impact wave (or tsunami) washes over the coast, into the valley and wipes away most of the settlement that the gods couldn't save.  So, it was a matter of playing with the variables on the site.  But, there were loads of other little details I didn't think about.  Details that make that part of the book that much richer.

There's the sight of the asteroid, breaking up as it crosses the sky and disappearing over the horizon.  The flash and with that flash, searing radiation that can cause first-degree burns for almost three minutes.  While your skin is burning, the earthquake begins (about a 7.5 magnitude).  Three minutes later, a fine dust ejecta, like gray snow, drifts and blows onto the village.  Eleven minutes after impact, the sound of the asteroid entering the atmosphere and impacting finally reaches your ears.  Twelve minutes after impact, there's the airblast, a rush of 90mph wind that knocks down trees and destroys what huts weren't already trashed by the quake.  As if all of that wasn't bad enough, the tsunami comes about half an hour later with waves higher than one hundred feet.

You see?  All I wanted was an asteroid and sea surge.  Instead I get a treasure trove of detail that I can use to flesh out what could have been a simple action beat.

If you want to plug in the numbers of my asteroid, here you go: 1,000 m in diameter; density of 3,000 kg/m^3; angle 50 degrees; impact velocity of 18 km/s; distance from impact 243 km; impact in water of depth 1000 m.  You may not end up with exactly the same thing I used in the book, but it's close enough.

In the end, it's an awesome scene that does more than have a cool bit of action.  It sets up a LOT as far as the relationship between the gods and mankind.

If you want to know more, download and read the book.

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mapping Kobol, Part II

As I showed you back in July in a post titled Mapping Kobol, quite a bit of effort went into plotting the geography of the world for me to place my characters and events.  That was Book One; this is Book Two.

The majority of Descent is a flashback that takes place some 5,600 years before the Final Exodus of mankind from Kobol (as detailed in the forthcoming Book Three, due in October).  The arrival of the Olympians comes at a time when much of humanity existed as tribes scattered across the main continent.  These individual groups were organized into tribal confederations (not unlike Native Americans did).  Oh, and there are twelve of these groups.  So, I had to place the Twelve Tribes around the continent, each identified as they were in Book One (Capricorn, Aries, etc.), but with an ancient name.

I decided early on to "explain" the alternate names for the gods (Zeus/Jupiter, Ares/Mars, etc.).  These alternate names would, in fact, be an ancient name for them, from the native language of the humans on Kobol, with the Greek names being from the language of the Lords themselves.  In-universe, this language would be called Kobollian and it was a tongue shared by four tribes in close proximity in the western part of Galatia.

Sorry.  At any rate, the native names for the Twelve Tribes are actual names for the zodiac from Sanskrit.  Capricorn is Makara, Gemini is Mithuna and so on.  Also, you'll see the lands of the Draco in the South.  They play a big part in Prometheus' story and the later growth of the Twelve Tribes.

And you can't help but notice the insert map for the Battle of the Elysian Fields.  Hundreds of thousands of soldiers on the Draco side; nowhere near as much for the Olympians.  Originally, the size of the Draco army was smaller, but I decided to study up on the Battle of Philipi and saw that both sides had 200,000+ men, tens of thousands of cavalry, etc.  The gods are still outmatched, though.  The story is brutal and exhilarating.  I see camera moves and action beats in my head when I read it.

So.  Here's the map.  A smaller, black-and-white version is included in Lords of Kobol - Book Two: Descent, which, if you haven't noticed is available for free download now.  Click the image for a much bigger version.

(In case you're wondering, "200 PD" is how all dates are measured by the Twelve Tribes in the books.  "PD" means "Post Diluvian," or "after the Flood."  The Great Flood (as recounted in Book Two), marked the descent of the gods from Olympus and the assumption of their dominion over humanity.  Just so you know, the Final Exodus of mankind happens in the year 5,610 PD.)