When we’re little, we’re all taught a few basic truths. In my house, those truths were as follows: The Mets are the best baseball team on the planet, UCONN is the only basketball team worth rooting for, and the Vulcan salute is how you greet people.
The original draft of my tribute went on for about a page and a half about how I grew up watching Star Trek, how I made friends through Star Trek, how the show was one of the few things my dad and I shared while I was a kid–but I think that sentence sums it up in all its meta-elegance.
I don’t really want to talk about me. It feels wrong and selfish, when a man’s amazing and inspiring life has come to an end, to focus on my own that’s barely begun. Leonard Nimoy has always surprised me. His performance as Spock was consistently challenging and fascinating to watch, but more than that, every time I learned something new about the Man, I found myself grinning. He never stopped working, and learning, and trying new things. He never shied away from the role that bought him international fame and his status as a pop culture icon. He never appeared as anything less than dignified and wise.
A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP
— Leonard Nimoy (@TheRealNimoy) February 23, 2015
Even as I read through his obituaries today, I was finding out things about Leonard Nimoy I never knew–but somehow none of them surprised me. It would seem that here, at the end of his life, he truly took his Vulcan signature to heart. Here’s what the rest of our team had to say about Leonard Nimoy’s life and death.
“He taught me that being weird was normal, that science and logic were magical. He taught me that in a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. He taught me that ‘Live long and prosper’ could mean so much more than a television catch phrase. Not being able to meet him is one of the biggest regrets I’ll always carry. Live Long and Prosper Sir, you’ve taught us all so much. I wish you well on that final frontier.”–Samuel Lee Smith
“I was never exposed to the original Star Trek, so Leonard Nimoy came in to my life way past the acceptable date for most geeks. Even then, he was only vaguely associated with Spock, more of a nerd Demigod like Bruce Campbell than the blue-sweatered half Vulcan. Instead, Mr. Nimoy’s most well-known work for me is the Bilbo Baggins song. If you haven’t seen the video, be prepared for a lot of cringe-worthy 60s nonsense and overacting, but in such an energetic and offbeat way, that you can’t help but laugh. And be forewarned, this song will plant its hooks in your brain and you’ll find yourself singing it weeks later.”
“I grew up all Star Wars, and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I found a place in my heart for Star Trek. Leonard Nimoy called out to the melancholy teenager still inside of me with his gorgeous photography, and touching poetry, so when he was slated to appear in Dallas, I made it a goal to sit in on his Q&A. It was miraculous. His voice and presence oozed wisdom, and I felt at peace listening to him speak. I made it a point to check his Twitter every day, just to see the little life tidbits he would throw up, ending in a loving LLAP. I bid you farewell, sir. It was life changing being in your presence, and all of space and time will never be the same”–Leia Calderon
“Leonard Nimoy was one of the true geek OG’s and one of the stars of a series that was well ahead of its time. Though he did a lot of things in his life he was always Spock to me – the hyperlogical intellectual that was an archetype I was drawn to since I was a kid. And he accepted that status as geek idol – maybe reluctantly at first – but eventually – purely and whole-heartedly, he *was* Spock in the end. I remember reading an article a while ago about how when he found out Nichelle Nichols was getting paid less than other cast members, that he made it a point to correct that with the front office because it wasn’t right. Geek culture and entertainment at large took a big hit today.” –Tushar Nene
“Loss of life should be mourned, but only if the life is wasted.” –Spock
News broke earlier today of Leonard Nimoy passing away. Here are the facts, presented in cold, Vulcan-approved format:
- Nimoy was 83 years old. That is below average for a healthy man born in 1931, but Nimoy was not healthy and therefore his expectancy would be considerably lower.
- Nimoy suffered from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease, caused by a heavy smoking habit that he gave up over three decades ago. The disease affects ones lungs, with a decreased ability to breath, and frequent cough and mucous buildup.
- The news was delivered by Susan Bay Nimoy, his wife. She had also announced he was going into the hospital several days ago, and many suspected this would be the end for the pop-culture icon.
- Leonard Nimoy was human, as are we all. Humans have not been able to manufacture nor evolve into a form that benefits from immortality, therefore it follows that Nimoy would have to die eventually. Likely this death would be caused by complications due to his chronic illness.
These facts should make us feel better. We should be unsurprised by this news, which seems only the logical conclusion to the recent turn of events. However, we at Sub-Cultured feel varying levels of confusion and upset, and if social media is any indicator, we are certainly not the only ones.
The Human Side
So we know that half of Spock–the Vulcan half–would simply acknowledge the news and move on. But the other half would grieve, likely in a deep way, and likely in a way never full expressed. Spock is an essential character to the science fiction canon. He was the lone alien on a ship full of humans. He was the center of the crew’s conscience, and certainly the character who grounded Kirk one wacky adventure after another.
But more than that, Nimoy was a beacon of wisdom. He completed his college degree in his 40s, proving that it’s never too late to finish what we start. He sang his heart out regardless of criticism. He took his turn behind the camera, directing two Star Trek movies and Three Men and a Baby (yep) among many other projects. He published books of his own writing, across genres and formats, illustrating his poetry with his own photography. He worked tirelessly on voice-overs for television and movies, and returned to his most famous role in 2009 when Star Trek returned to the big screen. It wasn’t just Spock that inspired us–it was the man who portrayed him, too.
Later today, we’ll post our personal tributes to the man who would be Vulcan, but for now, we hang our heads with grief and raise our hands in salute.
Live Long and Prosper, old pal, wherever you might be now. We still don’t think it’s logical that that’s anywhere but here.
Leonard Nimoy’s New York Times Obituary.
So you watch Game of Thrones and maybe have delved into reading the five published books of A Song of Ice and Fire. At an average of a thousand pages each, the casual reader probably wouldn’t be able to survive a round of trivia on Quiz-Up. Luckily for the future George R. R. Martin scholars, there are some pretty serious A Song of Ice and Fire fans here at Sub-Cultured who want to help you on your first, second, and third re-read. Collectively we’ve probably read the whole series over 20 times and have spent hours discussing and analyzing our favorite theories and characters. It’s too much, we know, but it does mean that we’ve accumulated some good tips on how to digest the infamously dense series.
1) Get the Audio Books
To the purists who love experiencing books as word on a page, I’m one of you, I promise. But the audio books as narrated, nay, performed by Roy Dotrice (who had a small role on Game of Thrones as the pyromancer Hallyne) are an experience unto themselves.
The masterful actor gives each and every one of the 200+ characters their own distinct voices with accents to match their origins as well as melody to the many songs in the series. If the HBO adaptation disappointed you because of its deviations from the text, the audio books will bring the words and world just as alive as watching a multi-million dollar production. Plus, if re-reading the whole epic seems daunting, maybe 100 hours of audio is less so. Ok, maybe not. But the audio tracks will free your hands up to go about your life while taking in the saga in a new way. For a sample, check out the recording of the infamous fight between Gregor Clegane and Prince Oberyn.
2) Pick up the short stories and The World of Ice and Fire.
While waiting for the 6th book of the series, The Winds of Winter, stay in-universe with several novellas about some long-dead Targaryen royalty.
Tales of Dunk and Egg
So far this is a trilogy of short stories that take place about 100 years before the events of Game of Thrones and includes the adventures of Ser Duncan the Tall and his Squire, the future King Aegon V (brother of Maester Aemon). The current novellas are The Hedge Knight, The Sworn Sword, and The Mystery Knight, but Martin has promised that more are coming after the trilogy is published as a single collection later this year.
There are also two novellas, The Princess and the Queen and The Rogue Prince (both originally published as part of separate anthologies) about the oft referenced Dance of Dragons, a war between Princess Rhaenyra and her younger half-brother and future King Aegon. Both are “written” by Archmaester Gyldayn.
The World of Ice and Fire
These are all excellent additions to the canon, but the real cornerstone to any dragon-obsessed fan’s collection is the World of Ice and Fire compendium. While, disappointingly, it only includes sparse information about the houses of Westeros and lands beyond, the devotion the book has to the Targaryen kings and kin makes it a must-read for those who want to track the many instances of repeated history in the main series. Plus, the art is unbelievable.
3) Get a map
The next few tips will be devoted to developing your own theories and analyzing the most popular ones. For this, a map is essential. Westeros and Essos are huge continents. So some of what you hope will happen or could happen in a certain time frame is simply impossible because everything and everyone is so damn far apart. It’s taken 5 books to grow a rideable dragon and without one, it may take an entire novel for a character to get from The Wall to Dorne.
The Lands of Ice and Fire map collection is beautiful. I have the full map of Westeros hanging on my wall for quick reference and also because I’m a bit nuts. The collection came with maps of several major cities as well as a second world map, which tracks all the major characters’ movements in the first five novels. But you may want make marks of your own to do incredibly necessary things like tracking the estimated sightings of long-lost Nymeria’s wolf pack. There are so many pieces in this game to win the Iron Throne; keep track of them!
4) Check out this fan-compiled timeline
Obviously there is so much going on in Westeros at once that it can be difficult to keep in mind the fact that many of the point of view chapters in each book are happening simultaneously. There are often clues in the text, but we can only imagine how difficult it would be to keep track of the events of A Feast for Crows and A Dance of Dragons, which run on parallel timelines. Luckily for re-readers, you don’t have to! A Song of Ice and Fire‘s fandom is a huge and devoted community, and several fans were nice enough to work together to make an estimated timeline of every event from the first five books and available chapters from the sixth book available to us.
5) Remember these essential questions when developing theories: What characters know about it and what purpose would it serve?
Do you think Maggie the Frog will be revealed as Jon’s true mother? Have you theorized that character X is probably Syrio Forel in disguise? WHO IS COLD HANDS?
Listen, it doesn’t matter how wacky your theory is, but remember that these are novels, so twists and turns must serve some sort of narrative or produce a bit of character development.
For example, one of the most popular theories is that Prince Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark are the parents of Jon Snow. One of the many reasons that this theory is so solid is because it passes these two qualifications: it keeps up the “ice and fire” motif, it opens up a whole lot of possibilities for Jon and if it’s true, some living characters could definitely know about it. For one, the two Reed children, whose father was at Ned’s side when Lyanna died, are in the perfect position just beyond The Wall to let Jon know that everything he knew about himself was a lie (kidding!). And honestly, what is the purpose of revealing Jon’s parentage if he never finds out?
6) Join a Discussion Community
Maybe if, after every time you finished the series, you started from the beginning again, you’d catch every prophecy and clue and hint for things to come. We think that’s a little much. We love A Song of Ice and Fire but it doesn’t have to be the last books that you ever read. For that reason, different online communities are perfect. You’ll never remember everything, but re-reading with a horde of other fans will make the whole thing a lot more fun. We’re fans of the Reddit of Ice and Fire and the discussion boards from Tower of the Hand (which hosted a big re-reading event not too long ago)
There are some pretty serious writers out there who love dissecting the text way more than we’d ever be willing to! Below is a list of our favorite blogs
The War and Politics of Ice and Fire for some unparalleled in-depth analysis of military strategies and political moves.
ASOIAF University A collection of metas (critical essays or analysis), gathered from across tumblr
GRRM’s Blog Goes without saying that checking in with the big man is a good idea
The Great Northern Conspiracy Begin with this popular and in-depth theory, but beware how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Inn at the Crossroads Ok, not a critical blog, but one that has created detailed recipes for the dishes that are described in the books.
7) Pay attention to dreams and prophecies
Most readers are usually just as surprised as Ned was to find out that the main character in the first book was beheaded and then completely shocked to read the events of the Red Wedding two books later. However, as most people who have re-read the series are eager to point out (whether you invite them to or not), there’s tons of foreshadowing, including dreams and loaded conversations between characters, that should have warned you that something was going down at The Twins. Unfortunately, that means you probably shouldn’t skim through Bran’s 10th wolf dream, even if it means having to suffer through a description of Summer chomping down on a small animal for the 10th time.
What about you, ASOIAF community? Any advice for your fellow fans?
I’ve been a self-proclaimed fan of fans for a while now. I’m especially in awe of those who fuel their passions with their talent in order to create amazing projects to the delight of their fandoms. It is my pleasure then, to feature the masterwork that is the online version of Cyvasse, the chess-like strategy game from George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. The game was developed by Alex McRitchie, who was nice enough to answer some of our questions about his process and inspiration for the game.
A quick summary first: Cyvasse, as it is mentioned in the series, is a two-player game that is very popular in Essos and with characters like Tyrion Lannister and Myrcella Baratheon. The game is played with ten pieces with different move sets, which the players can arrange in whatever configuration that they wish. The goal, like the goal of many of our favorite characters from Game of Thrones, is to kill your opponent’s king. In order to claim victory, you must set out with a good strategy in your initial set-up but also be able to make quick tactical decisions based on your opponents moves. Gee, sort of seems like an allegory for winning the Iron Throne, no?
Check out our interview with Alex below to learn more about the game
SC: First, how would you explain the importance or role of Cyvasse in the A Song of Ice and Fire series?
AM: Cyvasse only plays a minor part in the forth and fifth books of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, being a board game played in Dorne and Essos. Like many board games, it can reveal aspects of a person’s nature, which makes it a good medium for filling in details of characters.
AM: I strived to make the rules reflect all cyvasse quotes in the books, and this is what we know about the game.
- The names of all the pieces used
- There are two players that create their army’s opening array in secrecy
- Dragons may fly over mountains and are the most powerful piece in the game
- Trebuchets can take dragons
- One player has multiple elephants
- The goal is to kill your opponents king
It should be noted that there a quotes about a catapult taking a dragon, and a fortress existing, but the quotes did not validate that these events can happen.
With this foundation to cyvasse, I created the rest of the rules based on my philosophies on game design.
SC:We really love the design and the neat features in the online version ofthe game! Do you have any plans for updates or maybe an app for iOS and android?
AM:It is important to me that cyvasse.io is as fun as possible to its users, as I believe the A Song of Ice and Fire community is one of the greatest, so I will totally keep updating it. As for an app version, that is while off, but I bet I get it out before Dany gets to Westeros.
SC:We’ve noticed a fairly active player presence. How have you promoted the game and tried to get it out there to fans What has been the response from players so far?
AM: Thank you, the community has been super supportive of cyvasse.io. I really enjoy reading the emails from fans, and they all have really great ideas! As far as promotion goes, a friend of mine, posted cyvasse.io on a couple reddit threads and it took off from there.
SC: How are your cyvasse skills? Is there a strategic set-up that wins every time? (If there is, we certainly haven’t discovered it)
AM: I would say I’m about a 7 out of 10. There are much more talented people than me playing on cyvasse.io, and there is no perfect set-up by virtue of the mystery of your opponent’s set-up.
AM: That’s a though one, my guess has not appeared on Game of Thrones yet, but book readers/listeners will know him by the alias Young Griff.
Thanks again, Alex, for talking to us! We hope to see an update with a player chat and auto-refreshing homepage soon!
What about you, readers? Will you play Cyvasse? Is there a Fan Masterwork that you think deserves to be featured? Let us know!
(catlynsnow on cyvasse.io)
Before I get into it let me just start by saying this – I don’t generally do formal game reviews. But titles like this are why I will always have love for video games.
Back in October at New York Comic Con I had the pleasure of attending Square-Enix’s press party, where they graciously fed me and kept me on a steady stream of vodka cranberries as I made the rounds to check out theirr new wares. There were things I expected to see like the new editions of their mainstays Final Fantasy and Tomb Raider, but there was an interesting demo they had over in the corner. The demo was down at the time, but they have me some links to the demo online. And a few minutes of demo was all it took to sell me on Life is Strange. Check out the release preview just below:
What you just saw? This is what the game feels like while playing it.
Released in late January, Life is Strange represents S-E’s first foray into episodic adventure games, a genre that his been picking up steam since 2012 saw Telltale’s The Walking Dead hit consoles. Since then they’ve exploded with titles, and this style of game found continued success with the formula, with Telltale having just released opening episodes of Tales from the Borderlands and Game of Thrones late last year, with episode 2 of the latter being just released on February 3rd.
But this is altogether different.
Life is Strange puts you in the shoes of 18 year old Max Caulfield, a high school student in the photography program at Blackwell Academy, having returned to her home town of Arcadia Bay, Oregon after five years. A shy and introverted young woman, she can always be found toting her vintage polaroid camera while avoiding the race of being one of the cool kids. It’s while hiding in the bathroom to get herself together after a particularly rough morning that she witnesses a violent crime – and learns that she can rewind time in the process.
This mechanic is available at every juncture in the game where Max has to make a decision, informing the player each time that their selected action has consequences. The twist to it, however, is that even after rewinding time, Max retains the knowledge and any inventory she picked up. In this way the player can choose an action, find that it has horrible consequences, and with that knowledge rewind time to change their path.
As an example, in one scene Max is taking folders from a high shelf to rummage for information. When she gets the files they fall into an oil slick on the floor. So do you read the files and leave them, as well as evidence of your snooping? Rewind time to not take them at all? Or read the information then rewind time to hide the evidence? And that theme is what fuels the game. Are you happy with the choices you’ve made in life? What would you do if you could go back?
Throughout the narrative Max is challenged with obstacles that we’re not used to seeing in a lot of other games. There’s her classmate Kate who has more secrets than she lets on, teenage drama with the school’s “mean girls,” the school security guard that never seems to cut her any slack, and the entitled trust fund babies that can buy life on easy street at the expense of others (Max included). We’re not knights of the realm, we’re not hiding from dragons or trying to scavenge for another night running from zombies. This is an ordinary high school kid that has discovered something extraordinary about herself. And it’s that aspect of the game that makes it easy to buy into. Everyone has memories of rough times in high school – whether it be fitting in, finding one’s own way, dealing with being an outcast or problems with authority. Everyone at least once has imagined they were invisible or that they could take back the things they’ve done. Regardless of when your graduation was, there’s a simple nostalgia to Life is Strange, almost dark and sweet at the same, that gives players a connection to Max and the story. Max also keeps a diary recounting all of her exploits and decisions as they are made. The diary itself serves as a great vehicle for developing Max, putting her thoughts to the page and giving the player a bit more insight into the character.
As the plot progresses, we find Max reunited with her former best friend Chloe who she can barely recognize, the mystery behind the disappearance of Blackwell student Rachel, and what can only be described as blackout premonitions of impending doom. This first episode gave us a small taste of Max’s life in Arcadia Bay and I’m hoping sets us up well for Episode 2 in March.
The game itself is painted on a beautiful hand drawn backdrop depicting the Pacific Northwest in a way that’s colorful and dark at the same time. That’s accompanied with songs by Syd Matters, Mogwai, and alt-J as part of a soundtrack that sets the mood of every scene on every level. The whole experience makes it nearly impossible not to be drawn into it all. And I’m hoping for more of the same in Episode 2 in March.
Square-Enix and Dontnod deliver an enthralling title with a deliciously indie feel that leaves players with questions and the desire to play more to find the answers. Here’s a few more shots that make good use of the Unreal engine before i sign off.
3rd of the Endless, Changeable, The Dreaming
I am Morpheus, Dream of the Endless and Lord L’Zoril. We have met. Perhaps when we did you named me Lord of Stories, The Sandman, Wesley Dodds or interim master of Hell. No matter. You have known me intimately, if only from a certain point of view. Welcome.
What I’m Doing With My Life:
I have many responsibilities and little time or interest in enumerating them to you. My realm is infinite and my service is endless.
You’ll have to excuse my brother, though I never will. Let me warn you, admirer, that he is stuffy, stupid, and thinks he knows everything, and there’s just something about him that gets on my nerves. But step forward, any being who thinks that they can distract the Lord of Naps from his work, and I shall make him want you.
I’m Really Good At:
An inane question. I am and do what I am. I am “good” at no more than is my responsibility.
Hi There! We most likely don’t know each other! I’m Death.
Nice of you to drop by my little brother’s profile (full disclosure: I made him make one). He just gets so wrapped up in work sometimes that it’s like he forgets that he’s a multi-aspected personification of unreality with real needs. He’s very well spoken, loves stories and travel, and is one of the most creative people that I’ve ever met after maybe my sister, Delirium. Plus, if you’re into that whole tall, dark, and brooding thing, you probably couldn’t find anyone more that type.
Oh, due to a few uh…sort of bad endings to some of his past relationships, don’t message if you’re a mortal from any galaxy, plane, or sentient form of matter. It just wouldn’t work out between you and Morpheus, even though I’m sure that you’re very nice. By the way, if you are mortal then I’ll be seeing you :)
Favorite Books, Movies, Shows, Music, and Food:
All inspiration comes from The Dreaming, which is of course, myself. Therefore all art that is made or never made springs from my realm. How then could I select one from of many?
Though I do suppose I enjoy some of the work, both written and never to be written, of a dreamer whom I took great care to inspire called Neil Gaiman. Even if fully appreciating several of his more allusive works requires far too much time cross-referencing in Lucien’s Library.
The Most Private Thing I’m Willing to Admit:
You Should Message Me If:
Um yeah, It’s Death again. Morpheus needs a moment. He’s very in touch with him emotions, which is great if you’re looking for a really committed and deep relationship, don’t you think? So don’t let the downpour turn you off. He’s also got a castle!
Quite the catch is our Lord of Dreaming. Be warned, he’s not into long distance relationships, so if you’re not ready to move in he may just toss you in a cage in hell for just under 10,00o years…