Dec. 11th, 2010

mithriltabby: Rotating images of wacky theories (Teach More Controversy)

In the sequel to Counting Heads, Marusek picks up the story several months later with several continuing viewpoint characters and a few new ones. He doesn’t spend a lot of time getting new readers up to speed, and I wish I had re-read the first book before I’d opened this one, to get all of the characters and their agendas fresh in my mind. The intrigues surrounding Earth’s first fleet of interstellar colony ships continue, and we get to see them from high-level maneuvering as well as the front lines. Marusek begins to weave in a few posthuman themes, highlighting different branches that superhuman intelligence could take, and continues to explore the ramifications of clone labor forces. The book leaves one of its larger themes unresolved, so expect this to grow into a trilogy soon.

mithriltabby: Buddha zen-zapping Slick (MAX ZEN)

On Twitter, BuddhistHulk has been making a number of LOLisattvas lately. The LOLisattva depiction of Palden Lhamo reminded me that Buddhist Hulk introduced himself as a “MODERN DAY FIERCE DHARMA PROTECTOR”, a dharmapāla— a notion out of Vajrayana Buddhism that there are wrathful deities (which could be anything from an ancient hill spirit to an emanation from a powerful bodhisattva) ready to battle the opponents of Buddhism. Buddhist Hulk takes his icon from a Tibetan artist depicting pop culture icons in traditional form, including one picture of the Incredible Hulk as a dharma protector. So we have ancient deities and modern superheroes reflecting off one another here— we can take it one step further for use in a role-playing game.

In a supernatural timeline, the exile of the Dalai Lama from Tibet in 1959 might have caused a number of dharmapālas that had previously been tied to monasteries to be turned loose upon the world, just in time for the Silver Age of Comic Books. A spirit might take on a human form with mask and cape initially, then pop out in their most terrifying form when the time comes to strike fear in the hearts of criminals. The open-ended goal of a bodhisattva to liberate all sentient beings provides an easy plot hook for bringing in such a character as a good guy or helpful NPC. A character could be portrayed as ancient and worldly-wise, or freshly arrived from the hinterlands with lots of chances to make comical mistakes about modern culture. In a game like Feng Shui, the character would probably be a Supernatural Creature with the Transformation schtick to allow them to pretend to be a human being when not actively battling evil.

Regarding LOLisattvas, BuddhistHulk and I had an exchange:

* This is a reference to “All dharmas are Buddha-dharmas”, a quote from the Diamond Sūtra.

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