• The Contagion has spread

    Well, it had to happen sooner or later. Today, my son has taken his first step into the world of Harry Potter.

    From his reaction so far, I guess he will spend many happy hours in that particular universe.

    If you want you children to grow up to be geeks like their parents, you have to infect them early!


  • And then I noticed I am the resident Tech-Priest / Technomage

    For the past almost four months I have been working as a teacher and it has thus been the best time of my working life (not counting university and actually eclipsing my time with Games Workshop).
    Before that, I spent the last ten years working with, in, and on the internet. Mostly SEO-related stuff, but also some social media and some backend development and programming. Of xourse, I learned a few things and tricks during this time and I know some tools which are not common knowledge or not as commonly known as I would like.

    As I state on my personal portfolio site, I am a proponent of using the internet in the class room and now there is something I noticed:
    The majority of my colleagues are not really internet-savvy, which is something I hope to change.
    For example, I used the service of Animaker to create this video, which I used as an opener for a lesson recently (and which really impressed my tutor):

    Time to do this: About half an hour.

    Then we had the problem that we needed some listening-comprehension material for the novel all the 8th graders are reading at the moment, so I did the following (please click the file):

    Again, my tutor was rather pleased with the results I delivered.
    There have also been instances of teachers being concerned that pupils were using the Darknet. All that was happening was, as we found out a bit later,  that the pupils were chatting via a service provided by a certain website where you can purchase things. Steam.com.

    I have not felt so much like a tech-priest of Mars or a technomage from the Babylon 5 universe in my life…

    What is even better (or worse), there is a pupil in one of my classes they call „The Hacker“ (his classmates do). So, when I casually started a conversation about Linux and the benefits of dual-boot machine (we were talking about the Internet and social networking sites during sociology) he told me he knew some JavaScript and that was it. So no, no hacking potential there, yet.

    So, the next steps I think I have to take is spread the knowledge of useful tools on the web to my colleagues (and pupils) and cure some of my other colleagues of their fear of unknown sites and/or the internet in general.

    The internet is an excellent pool of ressources for teaching and also a great medium for teaching in and of itself, to neglect this in this time would do our pupils a severe disservice and it should not happen.

     


  • Non-Euclidean Æthercast #45 – RPC 2017 Recap

    An unbroken line of four years and four podcast episodes (small hurray)!

    I went to the RPC in Cologne four the fourths time this year and again, it was epic! This time I think I also broke my personal record of legwork on a convention, since I walked around for about 6-7 hours straight.

    So, here is my happy-rant recap of the event (day one anyway). Please enjoy!


  • Steampunk Writers Around the World – Teaser!

    A long time ago, a cabal of writers from all around the world hatched a plan to write an anthology of Steampunk short stories. Each author would write a story focused on their country of origin and the result would be a truly multi-facetted anthology going beyond the limits of usually rather Anglo-centry Steampunk fiction.
    I am a member of that cabal, and here is a teaser regarding the interior art of the anthology.

    More info soon!

     


  • RPC Cologne 2017 – Recap #1: The photos

    Yesterday and today nerds, gamers, cosplayers, and others from all over the world congregated in Cologne for the RPC 2017, I was one of them and oh my Cthulhu did I have a good time.
    I arrived early (09:30 to be precise, doors opened at 10:00) and the line already stretched, and I mean, stretched… But when I finally got in, I was greeted by a most awesome sight: The 501st Legion had lined up along the escalators and the entrance area of the main convention area (see images below).
    The first thing I did was say hello to the wonderful people of Brazen & Bold Productions and MonSoon Cosplay and collect my harness to complement my ranger helmet and to make my ranger costume more complete.
    I then went on a scouting trip around the premises (for about 5 hours actually), met a most charming Weeping Angel and many more awesome people (and a TX-225 GAVw „Occupier“ combat assault tank with the cutest crew member ever).
    I actually did not notice the time pass until it was almost too late, because at 16:00 there was a Fallout/Wasteland photoshoot I had been invited to participate in but I made it in time.

    More details will follow soon, there will be a podcast, now here are some photos I took, fewer than I would have liked:


  • About Goth and, well, Goth

    Have you ever wondered why we find goths everywhere? From the darkness of the lands beyond the borders of the Imperium Romanum, to medieval Cathedrals to literature, music and a thriving subculture that has outlasted many others, Goth and Goths are everywhere.

    But what is the reason for that? Are there immortal Gothic overlords operating in the background? Guiding the development and course of humanity from ancient castles and hidden lairs? Is the greatest conspiracy in the history of mankind and lizardfolk alike at work here?

    The answer may well shock you to the core and then again, it may not…

     


  • Pre-Convention Anxiety

    It is that time of the year again: The RPC in Cologne is coming up in three weeks and I am having a case of pre-convention anxiety. To be more specific, I have a case of not-being-able-to-go anxiety. I have lready purchased the ticket and everything, I have my NCR Ranger helmet ready and I am good to go, but I fear I will catch larynxgitis or something just in time to be prevented from attending.

    Of course, the chances of something like that happening are not particularly high, but you all know what it’s like:

    You look forward to something for ages and then BANG! just the day before the event, the universe grins and decides to ruin your day.

    The reason why I am so anxious is polyfold (Is that a word? I mean I have many resons but not enough to make them manifold).

    • I am going to collect the chest armor for the NCR Ranger costume at the RPC
    • Therefore I will meet up with some friends from Vienna again ( Brazen & Bold Productions)
    • Diedl, who made my helmet, will be there cosplaying as the Mechanist from Fallout 3, so we can team up
    • The RPC is one of the few occasions I get to see A LOT of my friends in one place
    • Just the stuff that is there to discover every year
    • Some Doctor Who related reasons

    So, plenty of reasons to go and a video to shoot (I actualy purchased some equipment for the occasion to make the video quality better). Hopefully, the anxiety is unfounded and we all get a video from the RPC and some pictures (many pictures, coming to think of it).

    Oh yes, and by the way, this is the NCR Ranger helmet, or rather (because of the „Fhtagn!‘) the Innsmouth Ranger Helmet (you may remember it from a previous post):

     

     


  • The Bane of Vairos – A Sword and Sorcery Vignette

    This entry is brought to you by my latest patron Mariam Behman. Thank you so much for your generous support, very much appreciated!

    As I mentioned previously, the world of my German novel Das Obsidiantor keeps growing. Recently I wrote a 2500 word short-story set in the future (about 1,000 – 2,000 years) of the original story line. I submitted it to an upcoming anthology in honor of Robert E. Howard. Today I was informed the story went through several rounds but did not make the final cut (which explains why I got the message so late).

    Well, it is a bit of a shame since I love Robert E. Howard and would have been immensely pleased to find it in the anthology, I also only wrote it for a laugh and it was great fun writing it, so I just share it here:

     

    The Bane of Vairos

    Moonlight danced on the gentle waves brushing against the hull of the trading vessel. Bornt, the captain, looked on, as the little boat was lowered down into the water and his two passengers, both mercenaries and adventurers of the worst kind, climbed in.
    „The gods be with you. I come past here again in two days. If I do not see you on the shore, I sail on.“
    „We will be there, Bornt.“ the taller one answered, a black-maned beast of a man who went by the name of Gorth, with a chest like a bear and an ax slung over his back.
    „The ghosts of the past won‘t scare us.“ declared the other one boldly. His short hair was the color of fire, and fire was also the source of the scars on his hands and face. But it was no misfortune or cruel torture which had caused those scars: This man, who had never revealed his name to Bornt, was a rune-smith of Cyth. He bent fire and metal to his will to perform his magic, but fire always demanded a price .
    And with that, the two started rowing towards the shore were Vairos, the fallen city of the slain witch-king Syrces, slumbered in the dusk as it had done for the past three hundred years. Its secrets were guarded by scorpions and darker things. Gods willing, he and is Cythian friend would bring an end to the darkness. It was Gorth’s destiny and birthright.
    The two adventures did not wait for the break of dawn to enter the accursed city that had swallowed many an adventurer with its ghosts and traps, but strode dauntlessly on into its night-shaded and bramble-choked streets, the moon‘s pale light enough for them to find their way.
    Whatever phantoms and beasts had claimed the lives and souls of others, they left Gorth and the Cythian rune-smith alone and they reached their destination unmolested by ghost or creature.

     
    In the very center of the abandoned city stood an ancient watchtower of basalt, almost untouched by time. The pair climbed it swiftly, and on its platform, high above the streets of scorpion-infested Vairos, they rested until the break of morning.
    With the first beams of light reaching over the horizon, Gorth, who never slept more than two or three hours, woke his companion, then took a look around. To the north lay the ruins of the place his father had told him about: The palace of Syrces, where his accursed line began three hundred years ago in the womb of a fleeing slave girl. He knew some of the palace’s secrets and today would purge the darkest.
    When the vile sorcerer had been slain, his palace had been plundered and razed, and yet, there were secrets left to be discovered. Secrets hinting at treasures of gold and magic which had led many brave souls to their doom.
    As they reached the outer wall of the palace, the rune-smith raised his hand, cautioning his companion to not take another step. „Something is waiting for us, here. It feels like a spider, lurking in her web.“ he declared.
    „It is as we were expecting, friend. Some demon of the past still haunts this ruin.“ Gorth took his ax in one hand and traced the sigils on its head with his finger. Then he whispered to his weapon as one lover to the other: „You have slain many a foe in my hand, today, our greatest battle awaits.“ As if in answer, the sigils gave a faint, silver-blue shimmer.
    „The web is closing around us, great Gorth.“ the Cythian announced with a wave of his hand, indicating the shambling forms that had appeared among the ruins. They were dried-out, shriveled and gaunt things, shambling forward but instilled with a terrible purpose, still bearing the wounds which slew them. „Look, the ones who came here before us!“
    Some brandished weapons and gave hollow and meaningless cries of challenge. Others rushed at the adventurers with their bare claws. Lesser men might have been frozen in shock of the sight of the undead horde, but not Gorth and the Cythian. They stood back to back. Fire scorched the first undead, and those who escaped the wrath of the smith’s magic met the cold steel of Gorth’s mighty ax. The black-maned warrior clove their undead flesh, and a single blow was enough to relieve them of their pitiful mockery of life, yet, they kept coming at him. The Cythian burned them with his fire and flames jumped from one withered husk to the next. They fell and yet, the smoking ruin of shattered bones and mangled corpses kept coming, driven by an unholy, iron will.
    „There are too many.“ said the rune-smith breathlessly, exhausted.
    „No, they are always the same, coming again and again! We cannot slay them for long.“ remarked Gorth coldly, cleaving through yet three more shambling warriors.
    „So it is true, the one your father has told us about controls them still!“ The Cythian reached into a pouch on his belt, withdrawing a small lump of iron inscribed with a single arcane rune, the sign of the Sun-Father’s wrath. „This will buy us the time we need! You owe me for this, Gorth Black-Mane!“
    „I swear by my lineage, I will repay you!“ the warrior hissed between yet more blows he struck with his ax, shattering bodies.
    „Your lineage is what brought us here.“ the rune-smith commented dryly. He cupped the lump between his palms, then choked in pain as the iron glowed red hot before he hurled it into the air. It turned into a giant ball of flame that burst with the heat of a thousand bonfires, scorching everything around except for the warrior and the spellcaster, and in doing so created a wall of fire that encircled the two and shielded them from the undead haunting the city.

     
    They hurried deeper into the ruins of the palace, to a place that had been described to them by Gorth‘s father. Their path was littered with charred husks, scorched by the elemental fire the Cythian had summoned. These now rested forever, but other ones killed by lesser means were sure to rise in their stead.
    Behind a half-crumbled wall, they found the remains of an iron table. The top was supported by three beasts: An elephant, a horse and a rhinoceros.
    Gorth quickly knelt down and pressed the eyes of the elephant. Mechanical groans could be heard from beneath their feet, then, the ground shuddered slightly and the table turned aside, revealing a hole in the ground,
    „This was far too easy.“ observed Gorth.
    „Yes.“ agreed the rune-smith. „This passage was meant to be found. Something below wants us to descend.“
    „It would be rude to keep it waiting!“ declared the black-haired warrior, lit a torch, then flung it into the darkness below. It hit the ground after only a short fall. The tunnel was only slightly higher then Gorth himself, he now saw, and jumped down. The Cythian followed more cautiously.
    The dank passage wound its way deep into the rock Vairos was built on. It was devoid of any signs of unfortunate adventurers having met their end here, as these had all crawled out again in unlife to guard this place or herd others here. The air was stale and tasted of old death. Still, Gorth Black-Mane and his nameless friend pressed on. They had not come for treasure or for arcane knowledge hidden among the ruins. Gorth had now drawn a short sword and held a small round shield in his left. His ax was on his back, since the passage was too narrow to use it. The Cythian held the torch, his magic making it brighter, so they could see clearly.
    „This leads to his lair, this is the path to Syrces‘ inner sanctum.“ Gorth observed.
    „Just like your father said it would be.“ The Cythian added.
    Soon, the passage split into two, both still leading further down but away from each other. The Cythian muttered something under his breath, than approached the left tunnel. The torch suddenly flared brightly for an instant.
    „That tunnel is a death trap.“ he declared, turning his attention to the left. Here, too, the torch flared.
    „So they are both death traps.“ Gorth observed.
    „Indeed, friend. Another secret passage is what we have to find.“
    Following an instinct honed by years of experience, the Cythian ran his hand along the sides of the tunnel they had come down, and sure enough, his fingers found a gap in the wall. He traced it, ran the torch along it, it did not flare. This was the safe path.
    „Stand back, Cythian.“ Gorth demanded, then drove the edge of is ax into the gap, pushing it deep with all his might, and with the sound of stone grinding stone, the black-maned warrior levered the secret door open. It swung inward, revealing another passage.
    The burnt sorcerer took an iron coin and flipped it. It glowed as it spun in the air and hit the ground with the side showing a skeleton facing up.
    „Our adversary lurks at the end of this passage.“ he declared with a grin.
    Gorth hefted his ax in both hands and grinned back at the rune-smith: „Let‘s go friend.“
    The newly discovered passage soon led them into a chamber, so vast, the light of the torch could not reach the end, even with the Cythian‘s magic.
    „Death awaits.“ the sorcerer whispered.
    „No, not death, friend. Something older, darker.“
    Something shambled in the darkness.

     


    „He is here, let us see him.“ Gorth told his friend.
    The Cythian lit another torch from the one he was holding and hurled it beyond the ring of light they were standing in. Guided by magic it found its mark and surrounded it with a faint red glow. A hulking, misshapen thing, formed from the bodies of many unfortunate mortals fused into one, awaited them. This dread guardian was the last thing, the witch-king Syrces had summoned before the final battle, when this city and his palace fell. The demon had come to late to turn the tide, but it had lurked in this chamber ever since, using the undead thralls above to do its bidding.
    It laughed with the sound of a thousand tortured souls and strode towards the intruders of his cave with long steps.
    „Puny mortals. Have you come to meet your fate by my hands?“ it mocked. „Do you think so highly of yourselves as to be too good to be slain by my minions above? Then so be it. I will devour your souls like exquisite morsels, for fools such as you are a rare delicacy.“
    „Heed me Ayretheriar, for I know your True Name!“ Gorth bellowed and the beast shuddered upon hearing it. „I am Gorth Black-Mane of the accursed lineage of Syrces who summoned you from the black abysses between the world of the living and the realm of the dead. And I have come to destroy you for eternity!“

     
    With a mighty battle-cry that echoed in the chamber, he lunged at the abomination, ax raised high, but the monstrosity, too, now rushed at him and caught the warrior’s weapon in its vile paw, blocking the strike aimed at it.
    Gorth stood firm, gripped the ax-handle tightly with one hand while he swiftly drew his short sword and cut the monster across its abdomen, but Ayretheriar paid this wound no heed.
    Now, the Cythian joined the fight, holding the torch aloft. Living flame snaked forth, reaching for Ayretheriar. The creature roared in pain, its other paw reaching for the Cythian with unnatural speed and knocked him aside. But this distraction was all Gorth Black-Mane had needed. He yanked his ax free, its runes and sigils now glowing brightly, and swung it in a powerful wide ark. It bit deep into the hip of the demon and its howl of pain and rage became almost too much to bear. Indeed, the creature stumbled and cowered, raising its paws in a plea of mercy. Gorth felt a sudden sense of pity threaten to overcome his desire to rid the earth of this fiend. He did not strike another blow, but instead lowered his weapon and approached cautiously.
    „Gorth Black-Mane!“ the Cythian cried out. „Beware its foul sorcery! Don‘t let it charm you! Don‘t let the demon charm you!“
    The voice of his friend reached the warrior as from a vast distance. It was almost only a whisper. He blinked. All the pity he had just felt was gone, washed away by a rising tide of rage.
    Yet, this one instant of uncertainty which had engulfed Gorth was all Ayretheriar had needed. It threw its unholy form against the warrior, almost crushing him between itself and the chamber‘s wall. Gorth could feel all wind leaving his lungs and tasted blood in his mouth.
    „Now, I shall feast on your soul and feeble flesh, mortal.“ it raged. „Your suffering for wounding me shall be legendary among my kind.“
    „Not so, abomination.“ he replied between clenched teeth, a red fog of blood, pain, and rage clouding his vision, and drove the sharp tip at the end of his ax‘s handle into Ayretheriar’s flesh. The beast jerked back, giving Gorth enough space to free himself. Seeing his friend had gotten away from the beast‘s grip, the Cythian again conjured flame from the torch, this time searing the monstrosity‘s back. It howled once more and turned to face the rune-smith, but before it could do any more, its head was cleft asunder by Gorth‘s ax and the might of the blow felled it then and there.
    „Ayretheriar, Bane of Vairos, I, Gorth of the line of Syrces, banish you and destroy you forever.“ Gorth declared and hewed each limb from its body, before the Cythian burned it with his magic.
    „Our quest here is finished Gorth. Now we have earned our reward!”
    „There will be little in this chamber, but now that the demon is slain, it should be safe to search this cavern.“
    The Cythian mumbled another incantation and drew a circle with the torch. Some sparks flew, but none found a mark. No other beast or demon was lurking in the darkness. Alas, the only treasure they found was a chain of silver on the skeleton of the only other hero who had ever found his way down here, but this one had succumbed to the might of the skulking abomination that had lurked there. So, with a mighty foe slain but little compensation for their pains save the knowledge of their victory, the pair of heroes left the vault and returned to the ruins of Vairos above.

     
    The dead did not stir as they walked past, weary and sore from the battle they had fought. On the beach, they rested until late the following afternoon, when the trading vessel returned. The captain was almost disappointed to see them, but the first mate was happy.
    „Well, you made my first mate a richer man, but it is good to see you both survived this place. Did you find what you came for?“
    „We did indeed.“ answered Gorth and left it at that.

     

     

    I hope you enjoyed my little tale!


  • May the Fourth be with you – My Study and the Force

    May the Force / Fourth be with you, always. Today is Star Wars Day and I thought I use the opportunity to give you a glimpse into my study. It has become rather Force-heavy over the past year and it happened organically. I did not plan it that way. 

    So, here is all the Star Wars decor found in my study (and a little extra):

    That’s not a moon, that’s a lamp-shade (and the most recent addition):

    And here is something to keep the Death Star in check (and my most treasured piece, since it was a gift from a friend and was not available in stores):

    Then there is this guy lurking in the corner, life-sized and covering a poster at the moment:

    And last but not least, there is this little guy keeping me company at my desk and yes, that is Rogue One running on my labtop:

    So, this is part of the Star Wars in my everyday life. What is yours, if any?

    May the Force be with You!


  • The benefits of controlling multiple bodies

    Having multiple bodies is one of the most underrated superpowers ever invented, I think. Right now, I find myself wondering how beneficial it would be if I had more than one body at my disposal. I am not talking about a clone-body with spare parts if I have an accident or to work against the effects of aging but plain simply have more than one body I can controle and do stuff with.
    At the moment I have the following things to take care of:

    And I do not have the time to fit it all in, but:

    If I had an additional body I could controle alongside this one, very much like Miss Level in Terry Pratchett’s „A Hat Full of Sky“. The reason is simple: I could so much more things done in a day, twice as much or three times as much depending on the amount of bodies at my disposal.

    So basically, while having multiple bodies is not a particularly powerful superpower, it is an exceptionally useful one for daily life, simply because it doubles, triples etc.the stuff you can get done and I mean not simply at your job but also getting more of the things done you love and enjoy the most.

    Oh yes, and of course, you can use one of your bodies for the sole purpose of binge-watching all the stuff you never have time for and then read all the books, ebooks etc. you got at one time or another and never really got around to reading them (and then you bought another book anyway).

    In my case, the books on my „want to read“ list that are either on my kindle (or in the cloud) or actually on one of my shelves have already passed the 100 mark. One of my other bodies would or could do nothing for a year or more but reading books.

    As you can see, having multiple bodies really is a great advantage for everyday life. Now I have to go and find a suitably mad scientist…