Blackwood Gazette #50: Blackwood Gazette Relaunch has been A Success; Thanks for Reading!

by Maurice Merchant, Editor in Chief

31/7- When my father began the Blackwood Gazette, his vision was a humble one. He lived in a small town in The Middle of Nowhere, that thin region that separates Old Crowndon and the Alliance of Southern Kingdoms, where news of the outside world was scarce. He simply wanted to keep his community and the surrounding areas informed, so he used his meager savings to travel North and bring back stories from the Capital, and then South, to bring news from Walsh and Toring.

These stories that inspired men and women like industrialist Sean Abernathy and poet Cairistiona Ridpath to look out beyond the fens of their homeland and become important cultural representatives of the region. And along with them, the Gazette found moderate success throughout the Crowndonian Empire.

Alas, the world moves too fast for such humility, and in my father’s waning years, amongst the outbreak of the war with Nor Easter, the Gazette found itself in dire straights. On my father’s deathbed, I approached him with a bold proposal, to take the Gazette over the mountains to Nor Easter, and across the Cove to Monteddor. He was reluctant at first, but I won him over, telling him that it was merely an extension of what he began, when he first left The Middle of Nowhere all those years ago.

After three years, I’m happy to announce that the Gazette is more successful than it’s ever been. We recently opened a branch in Nor Easter (to no shortage of controversy), that has proven to be an invaluable perspective in understanding our great Triumvirate. Soon, we hope to open a branch in Monteddor as well. Perhaps someday we’ll make the jump across the Barricade Ocean, to the colonies. With Adella Chatelaine currently making her way there, it’s closer to reality than we think.

None of this would be possible without you, dear readers. Your tips, feedback, praise, and hate mail are what keep us going. Thanks for reading, and here is to several more years of success!

***On a real world note: I just want to thank everyone who has followed, read, and commented on my blog over the course of the last year. I recently hit one hundred followers, and while it may have taken me quite a long time compared to some, I’m grateful for every pair of eyes that reaches this page. Thanks!


Blackwood Gazette #50: Blackwood Gazette Relaunch has been A Success; Thanks for Reading!

Blackwood Gazette #49: La Pierre Found, Shots Fired as Pirate Captain Refuses to Negotiate

by Chester Seaton, News

30/7-It was around dawn yesterday morning that Commander Alistaire Dunsworthy  and his fleet came across the notorious pirate Roderick La Pierre, who they had spent the last week searching for.

According to official reports released by the Crowndon military, Commander Dunsworthy signaled La Pierre’s ship, the Pernicious Platitude, and broke away from the fleet. The Commander believed they had achieved the desired result, but no sooner than Dunsworthy came into range of the Platitude, two fighter planes roared past and opened fire on Dunsworthy’s ship.

As the wreckage fell to the ocean below, the planes turned their attention to the rest of the pirate hunting fleet. Two more frigates were downed before the other ships regrouped and shot down the planes. By that time, La Pierre had disappeared.

Military officials are calling this a direct declaration of war on Crowndon by La Pierre. Several officers at the scene, however, expressed doubts that the planes could possibly belong to the pirate captain. This has led to speculation that a third party was involved. Officials have dismissed this claim.

Commander Alistair Dunsworthy and over half of his crew were killed. Of the other two ships, nearly twenty percent of all hands are either dead or missing.

Blackwood Gazette #49: La Pierre Found, Shots Fired as Pirate Captain Refuses to Negotiate

Blackwood Gazette #48: Leading Aeronautics Manufacturer Announces Racing League

by Huxley Pruitt, Sports

29/7-The CEO of Pandion Aerodynamics, Mathis Galland, announced plans today to establish a racing league built around high speed air planes.

“Now is the moment to do so, I think,” Galland said in a press release. “Montpellier’s automotive racing circuit has proven to be quite successful, and with aeronautic technology starting to make some startling leaps and bounds, competition will be fierce. Public interest in aeronautics is at a high right now. There’s a ton of money to be had.”

Galland was careful to stress that his decision wasn’t motivated purely by business. As the world’s leading manufacturer of fighter planes (in conjunction with Rinkenbach Research and Development), Galland thinks that the league would provide a great opportunity to expand out of the shadow of military application.

“I want to build something that doesn’t have to do with killing people,” Galland said. “I don’t want Pandion to be the company remembered solely for the destruction of Crowndon’s fleet, and subsequent operations around the world. A racing league, like any sport, would serve to bring people together, create a community of people sharing an interest and fuel friendly competition.”

Several freelance pilots have already shown an interest in participating in the league. Many of them are former military pilots, but others are participants in small, often illegal, local leagues along the Demon’s Coast.

“Our participants are already ready and willing,” Galland said. “Right now, we are working on legalities, and compiling a rule set and infrastructure for the actual events.”

Expect to hear more on this burgeoning sport in the months ahead.

Blackwood Gazette #48: Leading Aeronautics Manufacturer Announces Racing League

Blackwood Gazette #47: Monteddorian Festival of Ancestry Ends Peacefully, Despite Hight Tensions

by Chester Seaton, News

28/7- Despite several situations which were ripe for violence, Festival of Ancestry in Monteddor has ended with no major bloodshed.

Tensions were highest over the De Santana family gathering. The recitation of Lineage was performed by Blackwood magnate Marco De Santana. After several raids on De Santana refineries the week before, authorities believed that violence at the event was inevitable. And even though De Santana’s daughter, Yolanda, is believed to be behind the attacks, they stood together during the recitation, and onlookers say they got along without animosity, even if Yolanda’s attitude toward her father was described as cold. She also left the ceremony before it ended, and has not been heard from since.

Another event that many believed would spark violence was the official induction of the Julianos name into the royal circle. Alejandro Julianos was viewed as merely an opportunistic upstart less than a decade ago, and as always, there are rumors surrounding plots against him. Even more, Julianos did not appear at the festival in person, opting to accept his position among the royal families in a letter.

What should have been viewed as an affront, we are told, has instead been downplayed in Monteddorian circles. And, as it has been for two centuries, the fifth Royal ancestral tree stands unpainted, a stark reminder of the massacre that occurred at the Festival so long ago. While some believe this was merely an oversight, others believe it is Julianos sending a clear signal to anyone who would threaten his new claim to power.

**Apologies to anyone who reads Blackwood Gazette regularly for not posting yesterday. My internet was down most of the day, and when it finally came back up it was so slow as to be unusable. Everything’s working properly, now, so…here’s yesterdays post, today! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I still need to write today’s post, ha ha.

Blackwood Gazette #47: Monteddorian Festival of Ancestry Ends Peacefully, Despite Hight Tensions

Friday Free For All: The Last of Us-Soon to Be a Major Motion Picture

We all know that movies based on video games are uniformly awful (even though I have a soft spot for the first Resident Evil, personally). But if any game can successfully make that transition, it’s Naughty Dog’s “The Last of Us”…the thing is practically a movie anyway.

Sony dropped the bomb today that such a movie is in development, and its being written by the same guy that made the game (Neil Druckmann), and produced by horror icon Sam Raimi. Even better, it’s rumored that Arya Stark herself, Maisie Williams, is a strong contender for Ellie.

That sounds like a great casting choice, so fingers crossed if it’s true. If it is, they just need to find their Joel. Lots of people have mentioned another Game of Thrones alum, Nicolaj Coster-Waldeau, and, well, see for yourself:

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Joel, The Last of Us
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones
Ellie and Joel in “The Last of Us”

Not a bad likeness at all, yeah?

If there’s an element to all this I’m iffy about, it’s Sam Raimi. I love this guy’s movies as much as any horror buff, but his movies tend to lean toward the goofy. He’s only a producer, and I think he’s the kind of guy who knows when to respect¬† the source material. Only time will tell.

Now, to play the cynic: why does The Last of Us even need an adaptation in the first place? The game itself is an excellently told tale of horror and loss, with a great cast in Ashley Johnson and Troy Baker. People have even cut all the cut-scenes together and posted them on YouTube. And there is just something about actually PLAYING the game that adds an extra layer to it all, like you’re actually making the journey with these characters, that’s a unique element to games as a storytelling medium.

In any case, here’s hoping they make a damn good movie.

Friday Free For All: The Last of Us-Soon to Be a Major Motion Picture

Blackwood Gazette #46:Workers Storm Klankenvroot Industries, Find Empty Office

by Chester Seaton, News

24/7-With tensions high over the KI workers strike and Crowndon troops preparing to move in to force the remaining protestors back to work, the workers on strike decided to make their own move early this morning.

Officials say that the protestors, led by Upton Monroe, caught wind of the impending raid, and decided to act first. They threw down their signs and marched into the building, toward Ivan Klankenvroot’s office. When they burst through the door, they found the office empty. The desk had been cleaned out, and all files had been removed. Investigators say that a metal bin was found in the center of the office, filled with smoking ashes.

Upon the discovery, Monroe and the others exited the building and surrendered peacefully to the incoming authorities. Military officials claim that they will not carry through with the threat to charge them with treason, but many believe that Monroe and other ringleaders will likely be blacklisted and put under surveillance for further signs of sedition.

As for Ivan Klankenvroot, there is no clear evidence at this time as to his whereabouts. Civilian police are expected to investigate the reason for Klankenvroot’s flight. As for the company, it is being placed under government control, and production on the Heisenberg Aircraft will continue under the supervision of military engineers.

Blackwood Gazette #46:Workers Storm Klankenvroot Industries, Find Empty Office

Blackwood Gazette #45: New Novel Imagines a World Without Blackwood

by Alex Grosset, Arts and Entertainment

23/7- What would our society be like if not for the discovery of Blackwood? That’s the question posed by author Clement Aldridge Kene in his new novel, The Gutted Earth.

The book takes place in a fantasy world, in the fictional land called Almeria. In it, humankind finds itself on the verge of a world dominated by steam based technology, only to discover such a thing would be unsustainable for more than a few years.

“The only reason our own technology has been able to develop along steam based lines is Blackwood,” said Kene in a press release. “Blackwood isn’t a naturally occurring substance, but an alchemically created one. Now, imagine a world where Blackwood didn’t exist…we’d quickly find that a steam based society could not last more than a few decades. Entire forests would be leveled for wood, coal mines depleted. Where would the world turn?”

Kene writes that his first instinct was to imagine a purely electric based world, but that idea was scrapped.

“With electricity, you’d still need a fuel source to produce it,” said Kene. “So I did some research and found a real world analogue, in Sarnwain’s recent developments with refining oil.”

In the book, humanity develops the ‘internal combustion engine’, and technology develops along oil based lines. The results are horrific.

“We know from our own failed attempts at developing oil based tech that fuel combustion is less than savory,” said Kene. “Imagine a world where everyone has an auto powered not by the soothing pops and bubbles of a boiler, but the grating, thunderous boom of a mechanical beast burning oil and coughing thick, soot ridden smoke into the air.”

What makes the novel even more disturbing, Kene warns, is that the world imagined in his book could be something that actually happens in the next two hundred years.

“Blackwood, theoretically, is a renewable resource. The problem is, the alchemical process has been lost; no one knows how to make more. And we’ve all heard the rumors that, as our influence spreads across the globe, so does the need for Blackwood. Blackwood may burn clean, and it may burn slow, but it won’t burn forever.”

The Gutted Earth will be released serially, and makes its debut next month in Stories of the Strange Monthly.

Blackwood Gazette #45: New Novel Imagines a World Without Blackwood