22 Feb 2012

Maintaining order post apocalypse - what would be your first law?

This is something that I normally discuss on my Zombie Fitness Fridays posts, but I've just come from a training session at work where we were tasked with rebuilding society after a cataclysmic event has wiped out all most of the human race and you are the leader of a group of about 100 survivors (I work in an awesome place).

One of the questions that we were given was "what are the first laws that you would impose?". This was the one question that got the most discussion, and the one that had us arguing with each other a lot. What do we focus on? What's most important?

We figured that murder was a complete no-no, but with a population of as little as 100, mere assault can be just as damaging as murder if the victim can't contribute to the group. Even, what punishment would be given out? We agreed that capital punishment was out of the question, and so settled on banishment. It was a really tough set of decisions to make, but we made the best of the situation.

In a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction, attempts to rebuild society are balanced with the presence of cruel and barbaric men who do what they please. The breakdown of society turns these people into monsters. It makes me wonder: if any kind of law had been established, would it have gotten to a state where monsters like that were permitted?

If you were the leader of a group of survivors, what would be your first law, and what punishment would you give to those who broke it?

20 Feb 2012

Some pretty awesome publicity stunts from The Walking Dead and Mass Effect 3

I'm always a fan of unusual approaches to marketing and publicity, and these two publicity stunts are the best I've seen in recent months. The first is prior to the release of Mass Effect 3, where publisher Electronic Arts are dropping copies of the Mass Effect 3 from near space. The games can be tracked via GPS so that everyone knows where and when they fall. Those lucky enough to nab a copy will own the game a week before general release. Mmm, space game.

The second is in line with the release of The Walking Dead Season 2, where a packed-out South African cinema was treated to a fake rom-com trailer with a live zombie in the audience. Check out the video below, it's awesome.

What marketing stunts have you enjoyed?

15 Feb 2012

Working with a cast of thousands

What happens when you add too many characters
I feel sorry for the producers of Ben-Hur, Cleopatra and the like. Getting a suitably epic feel for the movie meant that a lot of people had to be hired. A LOT. You couldn't have one guy walking in the background and then digitally multiply him a thousand times. These guys did it old-school.

As much of a logistical nightmare as that must have been, I can imagine it being a very similar thing when working with multiple characters and plot threads. George R.R. Martin is a good example of this, where he has several characters traipsing all over Westeros and beyond, each with their own fully formed story. Juggling all of these viewpoints and plots, as well as intertwining them successfully, is no mean feat.

I've read a good number of fantasy novels that attempt very much the same thing, but end up being nothing more than a succession of plot points broken up with someone else's name. Characters begin to merge rather than story threads, and at the end you have little more than a flash fiction anthology set in the same world.

 I must confess, I've not read any of the Song of Ice and Fire books, but from what I've seen of the TV adaptation and from reviews, Martin manages his characters very well. I have yet to come across an author who works with so many main characters and still maintains coherency in their plot. Based on that, I can only assume that it's damned tough to do. It seems that it's much ore of a safe bet with multiple characters to keep them together and only have one or two offshoots to the main plot (as in Lord of the Rings split the Fellowship into three groups, and only after the first book had firmly established the characters and the story that they were following).

I imagine that a lot of it has to do with the attention span of readers. Not enough characters and you've got a linear, uneventful plot (and if you don't like the character, there's a high chance you'll stop reading soon after picking it up). Multiple characters shake things up and allow us to alternate perspectives a little, but add too many characters and the whole thing becomes too complicated for your average reader to follow. There has to be a balance.

How many characters is too many? Is there a 'golden number' for a story? And do you prefer multiple plot threads or a single main plot?

6 Feb 2012

One brick to rule them all - LEGO Lord of the Rings to hit this Summer

Lord of the Rings Lego promo pictures
by .

LEGO have announced that they will be releasing a Lord of the Rings LEGO theme this summer. The timing is well done, as it gives fans time to pick up sets from the original Rings movies before The Hobbit hits the cinemas in December. Well played, LEGO.

Not much official material has surfaced, though there are a few leaked images of Lego Lord of the Rings box art making the rounds. Officially, we've been given some promo shots that LEGO-ify the teaser posters for the movie trilogy (as you can see on the left) and we also get to see what the Fellowship will look like in LEGO form. It's shaping up quite well. The sets to be released this Summer are:
    Lord of the Rings Lego characters
  • Attack on Weathertop
  • Battle of Helms-Deep
  • Gandalf Arrives
  • The Mines of Moria
  • Shelob Attacks
  • Uruk Hai Army

What scene from Lord of the Rings would you most like to see made into LEGO?