Well, that’s summer just about over. A record-breaking heatwave, some muggy, humid weeks and now into September – rain. And more rain. Feels much more traditional now.
Accompanying the change, a good dose of lurgy has landed in this house and every couple of hours I’ve been alternating between teeth-chatteringly cold and slowly cooking in my own seepage. Not covid though so the D-Squads haven’t got to me yet. Hussein suggested that I must be possessed and there’s a battle going on between good and evil jinn for control of my weak human flesh.
I just wish one of them would hurry up and win or at least come to some form of compromise, the shirty fuckers.
Anyway, I used these past few days to do a lot of reading. Most of it bad. I was curious about the novelisation of Alien Isolation (although a video game, it is for my money the best tie-in/spin-off from the Alien franchise). As I’m a mug for a bargain I picked it up in a pack of 7 Alien tie-in novels and, long story short, they’re mostly incredibly mediocre. The exception is Alien: Cold Forge by Alex White, largely by dint of the fact that the central conceit is – what if a financial auditor visits a remote research station to cut costs and streamline operations. On top of that, what if the auditor is essentially Patrick Bateman in space.
It just so happens that, as I was ploughing my way through them, Ted AKA @tedankhamen sent me a link to his blog sharing his thoughts re gaming within established IPs (in this case Star Wars). His take really resonated, particularly given our previous shows on gaming, but I think those points apply across all expanded fiction based upon established IPs. Those Alien tie-in novels are a great example and they reinforce the beliefs Clarky, Dave and I expounded in the last show – make new shit. Take the themes and tropes and flavour, but freshen it up. Those Alien novels all revolve around the same tired, rote elements. Weyland-Yutani… colonial marines… ‘bug hunts’…
MAKE NEW SHIT!
I am of course guilty of this myself. The first section of The Journal of Gerard Arthur Connelly is set in Tragic Millennium Europe. In my own defence though, that was a write-up of a couple of Hawkmoon RPG gaming sessions so it is faithful to that at least. But I’ve tried beyond that point to diverge a bit. Wait… am I comparing my nonsense to licensed, published fiction? No. I’m just trying to not be hypocritical I suppose. And I’m not a writer. I’m a hobbyist. So I’m giving myself a pass.
That said, I entirely understand that being commissioned to operate within a juggernaut IP means that one must tick boxes. I do wonder if that’s why the Alien Isolation novelisation, based upon a game that does a nice job of expanding some universe details and features no mention whatsoever of colonial marines or any trappings thereof, introduces colonial marines elements by the fourth chapter.
All of this also leads me to a long sigh of sadness and some regret.
Ridley Scott’s Alien deservedly led to an initially modest but eventually pretty enormous expansion of the canon and a multi-billion dollar IP. Sequels, comics, video games, novels, cross-overs (Judge Dredd vs Aliens!) and an upcoming TV show.
Meanwhile, Britain’s (the world’s?) greatest living fantasist can’t catch a break in any medium outside of comics and tabletop games, and in the case of the latter only currently in France. The Runestaff TV show is apparently still in development but the Elric project appears to be dead in the water. Unsurprising given that The Witcher and GOT/House of the Dragon have effectively taken screen ownership of so many of Moorcock’s trappings (sadly, whilst entirely jettisoning the themes). If a Warhammer 40,000 show or movie ever emerges then the gig is truly up.
That’s something to explore on a future show for sure.
Anyway, I’ve obviously had too much time on my hands (and brain).
Fucking germs. As a result I had to postpone a couple of visits to Derry and Toms this past week, so apologies to Derek and Steve. We can hook up in the future ASAP.
On a positive note, two shows are already in the can. The first is the second part of our summer gaming diptych, recorded with the aforementioned Ted, where we look at his extensive take on Moorcockian gaming. That will be out in the next day or two.
The second is Book Two of The Mad God’s Amulet with Dave. That will follow in a couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, our patron poll for the looming Halloween episode has been live for a couple of weeks and James Herbert’s The Fog maintains its healthy lead. Still plenty of time for patrons to vote though and Shaun Hutson’s Slugs finally got a couple of sympathy votes.
Right. My Lemsip is wearing off.
Stay safe, avoid lurgy, see you again soon…
…on t’Moonbeam Roads.