Tuesday, January 17, 2012

1980s Science-Fiction Was Never Knowingly Under-Bleak

After a period of increasing tension and escalating border incidents, full-scale war erupted between the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China.
On October 7th, 1996, the Bundeswehr crossed the border between East and West Germany and began attacking Soviet garrison units still in the country.
While the political leadership of the European members of NATO debated the prudence of intervention, the U.S. army crossed the frontier.
...On July 9th, with advanced elements of the 1st German Army on Soviet soil, the Red Army began using tactical nuclear weapons.
The winter of 1997-98 was particularly cold. Civilian war casualties in the industrialized nations had reached almost 15% by the turn of the year, but the worst was yet to come. Communication and transportation systems were non-existent, and food distribution was impossible. In the wake of nuclear war came famine on a scale previously undreamed of...Plague, typhoid, cholera, typhus, and many other diseases swept the world's population. By the time they had run their courses, the global casualty rate would be 50%.
- Twilight: 2000 Referee's Manual (1984)

I downloaded the pdf of this a few years ago as part of an RPG Day promotion. It's eerie to think that people were sitting down to play this game at a time when the above seemed like a future that was more likely than not. The suggested campaign is pretty interesting, being Xenophon's Anabasis transposed to post-nuclear central Europe. If I can ever get a group together, I may even run it. I probably wouldn't use the original rules, as they're a bit too early 80s for me. I could probably kitbash something together based on  Reign, though.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

An Experiment With An Artist

Bowie, in particular, in a series of 'camp' incarnations (Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Mr Newton, the thin white duke, and more depressingly the Blond Fuehrer) achieved something of a cult status in the early 70s. He attracted a mass youth (rather than teeny-bopper) audience and set up a number of visual precedents in terms of personal appearance (make-up, dyed hair, etc.) which created a new sexually ambiguous image for those youngsters willing and brave enough to challenge the notoriously pedestrian stereotypes conventionally available to working-class men and women. Every Bowie concert performed in drab provincial cinemas and Victorian town halls attracted a host of startling Bowie lookalikes, self-consciously cool under gangster hats which concealed (at least until the doors were opened) hair rinsed a luminous vermilion, orange, or scarlet streaked with gold and silver.
- Dick Hebdige, Subculture: The meaning of style (1979) 

According to Wikipedia, one of those drab provincial cinema gigs was in my manor, just by where I went to secondary school. While I've been into Bowie for quite a long time now, my knowledge of his music comes pretty much entirely from radio play and singles collections - I know almost nothing about the albums, although some of them have excellent reputations.

For Christmas I got a copy of Peter Doggett's recent book The Man Who Sold The World: David Bowie and the 1970s, and copies of "The Man Who Sold The World" (1970) and "Hunky Dory" (1971). My plan is to listen to the albums as I read the relevant sections of the book. I may even blog about it here as I do it, although I'm pretty sure people have done that before.