Sunday, May 4, 2014

Convergent Evolution & Sci Fi In My Fantasy

The other day, the new episode of Spellburn was very generous to the DCC zine scene. One thing it made me notice is how much in common all of the zines have. Obviously, we're all involved in the very inspiring, very energetic, very creative and enthusiastic DCC community, enough so that we all can't just keep our ideas contained to blogs or G+ communities or (shudder) forums and want to share them with the wider DCC player base by publishing. Yes, we have all that in common, but we have something else in common, too.

Here's the secret: we all seem to grasp the real truth of the Appendix N: That there is no fantasy without sci fi. That fantasy necessarily descends from a basis in sci fi. 

I know that in today's post-genre world (the world once fantasy became accepted as its own genre rather than a subsection of the larger category of sci fi), it's hip to whine about someone "getting sci fi in [your] fantasy." Back it up, pal, you've got it backwards. You tried to take your fantasy out of the sci fi that created and informs it and got all huffy when someone reminded you where your schtick came from in the first place. 

Deal with it.

The DCC zine scene does.

Actually, it seems like we kind of own it.

And so, something else seems to be going on in the DCC zine scene that I can only explain by the fact that we - and please forgive me for speaking on behalf of my esteemed colleagues like +Tim Callahan and others - get the "there would be no fantasy without sci fi" angle. In our various publications, certain themes keep popping up and, if someone weren't careful, they might blame one or another of us for plagiarizing each other. I assure you, that is not the case. Take the following case: 

The zine Crawling Under a Broken Moon by +Reid San Filippo just hit the market. Notice that title. Particularly the "Broken Moon" part. Then look at the cover of Metal Gods #1. What's that hanging up in the sky? A broken moon? Why, yes, yes it is. Did Reid steal that idea from me? No freaking way.

Issue #2 of the Metal Gods zine will feature an adventure tool kit called "Secrets of the Serpent Moon," in which the players get up to some nonsense in space. Eventually, they'll have to wrassle up some space travel method or another, if only to get home. Now look at Crawljammer issue #1. Pretty much the whole thing. Now, I know you don't have MGOUH#2 yet, but when you'll get it, you might notice a similarity or two. Did I steal my ideas from +Tim Callahan? Again, no freaking way. (In fact, folks who attended the Goodman Games meetup at GenCon last year can attest that these ideas have been screaming to get out of my skull for awhile now.)

Reid and I are both influenced by the Thundarr the Barbarian cartoon (Reid wears that on his sleeve), and so each of us giving a shout out to that prominent feature of the show (the broken moon) seems a natural fit. Despite the inevitable comparison due to its name, Crawljammer has less in common with the TSR campaign setting Spelljammer than it does with the planetary romance and planetary adventure genres which spawned both the zine and the setting (and, in many ways, sci fi and fantasy in general); when I do anything about space travel, that's my influence as well.

And so, the point is not that "DCC zinesters are stealing from each other," but rather that "DCC zinesters are all cribbing from the same sources."

Which I think is really neat. It makes picking up Crawljammer more useful; I'm already running a game that has some planetary adventure in it, so if Tim's work inspires some more stuff in there, all the better.

Rock on, DCC zinesters, rock on.