The Return of Johnny Bornewald

After a long hiatus, I’m finally back to normal fiction writing. A few weeks ago, I began looking closely at the planned stand-alone sequel to the dieselpunk spy adventure The Ice War. After deciding that it would deal with protagonist Johnny Bornewald’s experiences after the end of the Republican Rebellion (after all, every war must end one day), when he is a decorated badly injured veteran living modestly at the German North Sea coast. I soon rediscovered Johnny’s “voice” and the story began telling itself in my mind.

Today I finished chapter 1 with a quote from the Book of Job: “[The warhorse] paws in the valley, and rejoices in his strength. He gallops into the clash of arms. He mocks at fear, and is not frightened.”

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My Ruby Jubilee as a Game Designer

I played a role-playing game for the first time in May 1977 at the first Gothcon (Swedish post about that event — link >>> ), Sweden’s premier game convention. Little did I know … etc.

Purple prose aside, it was a momentous experience but I did not realize that it redirected the course of my life: that day, I discovered a fountain of suspense and of never-ending joyful creativity. My first game was Dungeons & Dragons, the off-white box with three nigh incomprehensible rulebooks. I quickly acquired my own set plus a copy of Jim Ward’s science fiction RPG Metamorphosis Alpha (adventures in the lost starship Warden with mutants and monsters). After all, I preferred SF to fantasy.

In that autumn, I made my first attempt to design an RPG. The rules were based on Dungeons & Dragons and the setting was an SF cosmos inspired by Edmond Hamilton’s Star Wolves novels. And no, the nameless game was a dud. I ran it once and then consigned it to oblivion. In 1978 I instead discovered Traveller, and immediately started creating house rules. (Read more about that here — link>>> )

Forty years have passed and I am still an RPG designer in my spare time, even though these days I prefer to create setting while using already well-established rule engines. But the creative enthusiasm is still there. Jim Ward and Marc Miller opened the gates to Never-Never-Land for me and I rushed past them, and in there I still reside.

Nowadays I am the grizzled veteran, who gets interviewed by young gamers who want to hear what it was like in that legendary First Age of RPGs, but rest assured: I intend to go on writing games and novels as long as I keep my wits about me. My father was a vital chap until he turned 86, so hopefully I will follow in his footsteps and have another 20+ years of creative work ahead.

However, man proposes and God disposes.

Podcast: Funderingar kring ång- och dieselpunk

Summary in English: A Swedish podcast about what is steam- and dieselpunk. My debut in podcasting.

Den gångna helgen var min dotter Elin och jag på Silwersteam, en steampunkkongress i Eskilstuna. Där blev vi ombedda att delta i Fandompodden #49 som tar en titt på företeelserna ångpunk och dieselpunk. Bland annat använder jag Miyazaki-filmerna Howl’s Moving Castle och Laputa som exempel på vad de två genrerna kan erbjuda, och förklarar varför jag gillar att författa dieseläventyr. Länk till podcasten >>>

Artist: Ian McQue

Podcast: Sorgeveden till Hjältarnas Tid

Summary in English: A Swedish podcast about my most recent Swedish RPG project.

Rollspelspodcasten Syndikatet intervjuar Krister Sundelin om Sorgeveden, en kampanjmiljö som han och jag håller på att utveckla till fantasyrollspelet Hjältarnas Tid. Han förklarar bland annat hur vårt samarbete har utvecklats från Lemuria (länk >>> )  2004 tills nu, och hur det kommer sig att Ronja Mellin illustrerar både Hjältarnas Tid och Järn.

Klicka på länken nedan för att gå till podcasten och lyssna. (Tyvärr kan jag inte lägga upp MP3-filer här pga tekniska begränsningar hos WordPress.)

Samtalspodcast: Krister Sundelin

Venus Exploration: Thinking Outside the Box

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, one of NASA’s top research facilities, is currently investigating whether it is feasible to design a wind-powered clock-work rover for Venus, tentatively named Automaton Rover for Extreme Environments (AREE). The basic concept was conceived by Jonathan Sauder, a mechatronics engineer at JPL.

AREE is designed to function on Venus’s surface without electronics, because the searing (470°C) and crushing (92 bar) atmosphere destroys such components quickly. Fortunately, the planet’s forceful winds can power Savonius wind turbines that provide the required mechanical energy for ground propulsion and on-board devices, for example a mechanical computer. Ergo, AREE is a clock-tech design made of hi-tech materials able to survive in that hellish environment for months.

AREE communicates with a Venus orbiter by a contraption of radar-reflective panels that can be set at various angles. The orbiter broadcasts a radar signal that is reflected back from those panels; the received “image” is then decoded by the orbiter. This simple device is comparable to Morse code or 18th-century semaphore telegraphs. (Also, check the movie The Martian where a stranded astronaut devises a similar method to communicate with Earth.)

Click on the AREE picture for a larger version.

Read more about the AREE studies here — link >>>