The movie starts. The title shows up. It’s called ICE. „Oh, it’s gonna be about hackers, network, very fast computers,” I think and got a little surprised when a few minutes later it turns out it was about actual ice. Winter, snow, ice, you know. So I am sitting in my room and think what’s wrong with me. Why when I see ICE, I think computer. Why, when I see SAND, I think spice. Why, when I see ACE, I think amber. Why, when I see POTATO, I think Mars. Why, when I see PIGEON, I think Rutger. Why when I see…
George R. R. Martin, Robert Sheckley. Roger Zelazny, Robert Silverberg, all those science fiction icons are renown for their great novels, but also for brilliant short stories. Today we live in an era of thick 500 pages-long books that always are the first part of long series. The market changed. Today no one sells a good idea in the form of 20 pages short story published in a weird fiction magazine.
It was different back then. The whole genre, the golden era of science fiction, shined with brilliant concepts about time travel, first contact, weird gizmos, and all different space adventures. I was first introduced to science-fiction in 1990 thanks to the anthology Rakietowe Dzieci (Rocket Kids) that somehow ended up in my hands. I was 14 year old and I was a perfect target of this book. It was 240 pages long collection of science fiction stories. The tome collected:
Ray Bradbury – The Small Assassin
Mark Clifton – Star Bright
Fritz Leiber – A Pail of Air
Jerome Bixby – It’s a Good Life
Poul Anderson – Terminal Quest
Theodore Sturgeon – Mewhu’s Jet
Frederik Pohl – The Man Who Ate the World
Gardner Dozois – Chains of the Sea
The stories sucked me. I wanted more. I started looking for more things like that. I discovered Sheckley, Zelazny, Silverberg, and all other great sf writers. It took me less than a few months to become sf nerd.
It was 30 years ago, and although I love some thick books of the size of the brick, although I love my Game of Thrones, Dune, and other epic novels, I kept in my heart this special place for a good short story. For the brilliant idea, for the gig you sell on 10 pages and close with a clever punchline.
I mention this to provide you some context to the shoutout I am going to give today. Shoutout to LOVE DEATH + ROBOTS, the anthology of animated shorts that is a magnificent tribute to the golden era of science fiction, to the weird novels, pulp magazines, and the brilliance of the right punchline.
Do yourself a favor and watch the series. And if by any chance your story relates to mine, and you discovered sf through brilliant short stories from Sheckley, Silverberg, and Zelazny, I have good news – LOVE DEATH + ROBOTS is a time machine. Fasten seatbelts. You are going to be 14 years old again.
A few days ago, Chevee Dodd, in his daily vlog, told a story about him discovering and falling in love with the J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Interestingly enough, my experience was far different, so here I am, with my very story. Let’s get back in time. I am 14 years old. It’s 1990.
It’s one year after communism collapsed in Poland. It is the first year of freedom in Poland. I am a 14-year-old bookworm from a rather poor family, as many families in Poland back then. I heard about this famous novel that just got published. It consists of 3 tomes and is very expensive. Know nothing about it besides the fact I must read it. It’s called The Lord of the Rings.
I don’t remember how on Earth I made it and could afford to buy the book, but I precisely remember – believe it or not – the bookstore in Sosnowiec, I remember me stepping inside and purchasing the book. It was 30 years ago, but that was an important moment in 14 years old Ignacy’s life. It burned on my hard drive forever. I got the book. Three tomes. Pure joy.
It was boring like hell. I was so disappointed. Forty pages of birthday party? What the hell is that?
I put the book aside. Worst spent money ever.
It was a costly book. A few weeks later, I gave it another try. I crawled through the birthday part and ended up with two stupid hobbits walking, and walking, and walking, and walking, and walking…
I put the book aside. Worst spent money ever.
It was a costly book.
We had family in the countryside, and my parents took me for a weekend in the country. Small old hut, no TV, water only in well, chickens, ducks, and all the inventory running all around. Countryside, you know.
I had the book with me and was ready for the third attempt.
Survived the boring birthday party chapters. Survived hobbits walking. Entered The Inn of the Prancing Pony. Met Strider. Met Nazguls. A few hours later, Gandalf was dead, Boromir was dead, Merry and Pippin kidnapped, Frodo and Sam left the party, Aragorn was giving a speech about rescuing hobbits from Uruk Hai.
And I was in the middle of nowhere, in the freaking countryside village, and Two towers was left at home. I took only the first book with me.
Who could expect I’d need a second volume?
Never before I waited to come back home so eagerly. I was ready and packed in the car on Sunday morning, asking my parents if we are going home already.
It was a costly book. Best spent money ever.
Reading time: 2 min
MY DESIGN PHILOSOPHY
I strongly believe that good board game is the one that tells a good story. You play it and suddenly you are sucked into it, you feel chills on the skin. Emotions grow. In a moment you defend castle. You hear roar of warriors. You smell boiling oil. You are into it.
That's how I design my games. I always want to tell a good story. I want players to be into it. As deep as possible.
VISIT BTTS AT BGG
There is a mirror of this blog at boardgamegeek.com with lots of discussions, comments and community support. Pleas, join us here:
VISIT PORTAL GAMES
Visit Portal Games website to learn about my new releases and games I published.