This week I read:
Fairyland by Paul McAuley
This was weird, it feels like cyberpunk, but also pretty different at the same time. You’ve got the aesthetics of immoral megacorps, downtrodden masses, and high technology (including cyberspace), but the focus is on biotechnology. This is a world where nanotechnology really took off, and devices (and drugs) which rewrite your memories and even your genome are ever-present.
The story is in three parts spread across decades, with a consistent core of main characters who shows up in all of them, but are otherwise in different places and with different casts of secondary characters.
One slight criticism I have of the book is that the gap in themes and setting between the first part and the rest of the book is pretty big: the first part is about awakening sentience in the dolls, and then the second part begins a decade or two later, with there being a significant subpopulation of these awakened dolls, who are kind-of-human-but-not and who have evolved their own nanorobots to make them appear beautiful and mysterious to regular humans (hence, “fairies”). There’s a lot that wasn’t really explained, and I felt the story would have benefited from a small intermediary section about the rise of the fairies, rather than ending one part with there being one fairy and then starting the next with them being a large population.
Look what came in the post this week:
Wow, this really arrived much more promptly than their previous book, Into the Wyrd and Wild, it’s only been like 7 months since the crowdfunding campaign ended!
I’m pleased to see that the art is much higher resolution than in the PDF. When I first saw the PDF, I wondered whether it was placeholder art they’d somehow forgotten to update before sending the files out. Just low resolution, and not great colours. It’s a shame the PDF is so bad, but the physical book looks nice.
This week we started with the new PCs, I introduced three of their NPC contacts, the players got a slew of potential jobs, and then most of the session was a heist where the PCs had to break into an office building for an arms company to look for evidence that they were selling weapons to the corsairs.
I prepared a map, using the Starship Geomorphs pack which is a nice collection of rooms that, with a little editing, works just fine for buildings as well (close up some external doors, remove some iris valves, etc).
Fun was had by all, the players have several things to follow up on next session, and I’ll also introduce a couple more NPC contacts.
To generate new jobs, I’ve got two plots going on: firstly, there’s a band of corsairs who I’ve decided have fallen on bad times and so are becoming increasingly desperate and daring, who I hope will be the primary antagonists in this region of space (the players have already run into them a couple of times); and secondly, I’ve added in a mad scientist making dangerous psionic drugs, who one of the PC’s criminal contacts has asked to investigate (dangerous drugs are bad for business). Those should be a fine way to generate both planet-based and space-based jobs (and complications to other jobs).
The schedule is decided! I’ve let the players know that I was thinking of ending Sylea Rising and starting Impossible Landscapes in June, and we’ve also decided on a date for the next one-shot.
So, we have:
- Four sessions of Sylea Rising (mostly focussing on the Vargr party)
- One session to play Tomb Robbers of the Crystal Frontier
- Six sessions of Sylea Rising (evenly split between the Vargr party and the original party)
- One week off
- And then we start Impossible Landscapes on the 11th of June!
I got some monitor arms this week.
I’ve been moving my monitors around, rotating them, tilting them, moving them up and down, side to side… this is a game-changer.
Normally, I have one landscape monitor on the left, and two portrait monitors on the right. It works well for reading and writing. But I’ve now found that for running RPG sessions, having two landscape monitors is pretty nice: I can have the virtual tabletop open on one, and multiple pages of notes on the other. I’m not sure yet what to do with the third monitor in that set-up though, I’ve been putting it landscape but above one of the other landscape monitors, and using it to have two PDFs visible.
But even if I couldn’t adjust them, just getting rid of the big bulky monitor stands has given me so much more desk space. I can’t believe I let monitor arms languish on my to-do list for so long!