April 6, 2008
Charlton Heston, dead at 84
Charlton Heston, a.k.a. Moses, a.k.a. Judas Ben Hur, a.k.a. the Soylen Green dude, a.k.a. the Planet of the Apes dude, a.k.a. El Cid, a.k.a. the NRA Prez, a.k.a. Andrew Jackson is no more. A living monument of Hollywood, Heston played larger-than-life figures with vim and gusto throughout his career.
Paramedics called to Heston’s Los Angeles home late last night confirmed that he had passed away, then took the shotgun he clutched from his cold, dead hands.
March 18, 2008
Arthur C. Clarke, dead at 90.
Clarke’s three laws
- When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
- The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
- Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
The last of the ‘Big Three’ is no more, a great loss for real-life visionaries everywhere. Arthur C. wasn’t merely known for his great contributions in the realm of science fact and science-fiction — he was perhaps one of the first humans (along with Olaf Stapleton) to fully grasp the impact technology would have on the future of our species. While most SF writers of his era happily focused on rocket ships and rayguns, Clarke examined the evolutionary implications that would come with the harnessing of science and the colonization of space. Childhood’s End explored themes of transhumanism and evolutionary ascension. His First Contact novels such as 2001 and Rendez-vous with Rama hypothesized greatly advanced civilizations that exemplified his Third law.
He also predicted that apes would function as house servants by the 1960’s.
Oh well. You can’t be right all the time.
March 6, 2008
Gary Gygax, dead at 69.
To nerds everywhere, he’s THE original DM, the man most responsible for all those long Sunday afternoons spent in dark basements, rolling odd-shaped dice and drinking Coke. In the early 1970’s Gary Gygax co-authored “Chainmail” and “Dungeons & Dragons” by making several critical INT checks. His high CHA among medieval aficionados also allowed him to bring many friends together for the very first Gen Con, where he cast a Charm Gamer spell. Then he founded the “Game designer” class and accumulated a great deal of XP. The rest, as they say, is history.
With the advent of TSR, Gygax cemented his central role in the development of RPG’s. In those years he made several levels and gained many hit points in the process. He also opted for multi-class development, becoming a 10th level Corporate Manager and a 7th level Editor. In 1977 he acquired a Plume of writing +3, which greatly increased his output as a producer of modules which were impossible to survive. Unfortunately, not even his -2 Armor Class could protect him from the blows of competitors and partners in the nascent and cutthroat gaming industry. In 1983 Gygax had to Save vs. Corporate Takeover at a minus 2 penalty; he rolled a 3 and was forced out.
For years afterwards he wandered the Astral plane, teleporting randomly at conventions and casting Mass Nostalgia spells, or announcing he would conjure new game systems. His untimely death leaves a great power vacuum on several planes of existence.