Top 10 – Rocks and Stones
Hey, it looks like we’re on a roll. Whilst you may be rocking away, things are going to get a little cold, a little stone cold! Ahh, I crack myself up, so whilst we boulder towards this week’s list, let’s get some ground rules out of the way with. This list must at least feature the rocks, stones, boulders or otherwise in a fashion that they stand out. That’s about it, so let’s get ready to rock and roll!
10) Unnamed Stone – Former Home of Excalibur
The best version of this story I have ever found featured Sam Neill as Merlin and Miranda Richardson as Queen Mab. Look it up, Merlin 1998, it’s amazing, and I have very fond memories of one particular fan forum…
Anyway, in this version Sam Neill’s Merlin goes up to a sleeping stone giant by stabbing his hand and says (and I’m paraphrasing here), “Hey, this sword is important, can you hang on to it until someone half decent comes to collect?” and the giant is cool with it, and holds on to it while moss grows over his face. That’s the single best explanation I can think of for a stone being able to make an informed decision about who can and cannot take a sword from it, and also makes this giant the sole decider on Britain’s monarchy… which I am also fine with because I’d rather that to decision making cutlery.
Oh, and guess who played the mountain in this film? It’s James Earl Jones, of course it is. Big, deep voice? Late 90’s? Obviously it’s James Earl Jones.
9) Falling Rocks – Boulder Dash
If I were to tell you that I knew a lot about this game, I’d be lying. It’d have arguably been easier for me to argue for Dig Dug, but really that game is more about moving earth than it is running away from boulders. Fortunately, Boulder Dash is quite literally what the game suggests it is. You have to run away from boulders that are falling down, trying to splat the player character.
Okay, trying to is a bit of a strange term. In truth, the boulders couldn’t care less; they’re not sentient in any way, but they are dangerous! The thing that baffles me is that this isn’t just a standalone game; there’s a whole series of these games. The first was released on the Commodore 64 in 1984, the most recent being called Boulder Dash-XL from 2011. You could say that these games rock. Hah! See what I did? I said… Rock…
8) Infinity Stones
Do these technically count as minerals? Arguably these collectable nuggets are distilled and solidified concepts, components required for the creation, destruction, and radical alteration of an entire universe, and present in their various forms in all universes within the wider Marvel mythology. Though the naming scheme and basic functions differ from set to set, the most common versions include:
Space, granting the bearer the power to fold and warp space, creating portals, teleporting, and evading capitalism.*
Time, allowing for full blown time travel, or simple manipulations of the age of objects, and screwing over cosmic, timeless beings.
Power, which explodes things too weak to withstand them, and corrupts the weak of will.
Reality, that can break the rules of physics but can’t save a questionable script and a bad portrayal of… no, no, that’s another article.
Mind, making all living things question what free will means in a universe where such a stone exists, and can also create a machine to answer the question.
and Soul, which… makes for an interesting and compelling plot point? Got to be honest here, not sure on this one, opportunities may have been missed.
7) Boulder Dash – Crash Bandicoot
Not too long ago, we wrote our Top 10 Charging Beasts. In that list, we mentioned the dinosaur chases from Crash Bandicoot. These chase levels are arguably amongst Crash Bandicoots more inventive, as it had the player run towards the camera, so you couldn’t see what was coming up. This influential chase has been seen not just in Crash Bandicoot, but also games that were clearly inspired by it.
And that dinosaur chase was inspired by this, the original, the Boulder Dash. Run away from a huge boulder before it flattens Crash Bandicoot. This style broke conventional norms for action platformers, it became a staple of the series in the form of dinosaurs and other beasts and it’s just memorable. Who doesn’t remember the first time they ran away from a boulder chasing them?
6) Kirk’s Rocks vs Gorn’s Rocks – Star Trek
Some people think of this scene as one of sci-fi’s greatest mishaps. Some people actually really like this scene, too. I’m not here to cast judgement over which side is right, because I think it’s actually a great scene. Perhaps for all the wrong reasons, but it’s basically Captain Kirk vs a Gorn. This, lizard-esque-thing is able to keep up with the martial artist within Kirk, no problem.
However when rocks get added to the mix, you know the Gorn is at a distinct advantage. Kirk is able to nimbly avoid disaster, avoiding the huge rocks being thrown at him. Kirk, meanwhile, has some deadly accuracy and surprising strength, throwing huge rocks at Gorn, making contact with the beast. Alas, this fight would not be the same if it wasn’t for these totally heavy looking rocks, that definitely don’t seem like they’re polystyrene.
5) Sgt. Detritus – Discworld
Trolls in the Discworld are rather different to most that you’ll find in fantasy fiction. Time spent under bridges is an optional pastime, and cellular regeneration is rather difficult when you are instead comprised of silicone and mineral structures, taking on aspects and names of the surrounding geography. Initially it may be worth pitying poor detritus, sedimentary leftovers of life, but rising ever upwards through the ranks of Ankh Morpork’s city watch.
With the aid of a dwarf-made helmet with a fan that cools his silicone brain, and a hand-held siege weapon for a side-arm, he’s proven to be a shockingly effective officer, towering above most common criminals, out-thinking and liaising with the troll populous. He may still be dimwitted, but the watch is a place for those who don’t quite fit in to any single part of society, sitting somewhere outside the norm for the species (See Corporal Nobbs), and Detritus something of a force of nature, being smart for a pile of rocks, and tough compared to the flesh and bone criminals he apprehends.
4) The Philosopher’s Stone
Not necessarily the Harry Potter version, although consider lip service paid because that one does have fundamental ties to the real semi-mythic substance, a verbal placeholder for the substance sought by alchemists. While it’s been firmly debunked alongside the rest of the field of research, the ideology still exists, and oddly it’s always depicted as red. The substance has the ability to mutate base elements, classically lead to gold, and is often portrayed as being panacea for all conditions like dismemberment, de-corporealisation and death.
This was divinity distilled in some fashion, the perfect substance, something mysterious and – for some reason – completely unobtainable. However, it has firmly entered the standard fantasy lexicon in a similar fashion to dragons and giants. Literature, film, games, and anime, draw from the concepts of alchemy and inevitably bring up the stone here and there. As Above So Below, Fullmetal Alchemist (duhh), The Flash, D&D, and a few dozen others besides use the stone as a catch-all multitool for sciencemagic.
3) Geodude and Onix – Pokémon
While we have dozens, possibly hundreds of rock type Pokémon to pick on here, it was all too easy to draw upon the classic duo used by gym leader Brock, the very first boss-fight, and the best secondary character that the anime ever had (haven’t watched any of the later stuff when the cast starts changing, but I will die on this hill).
Geodude, literal floating boulder and awesomeness in its most space-effective format, starts one of the most immediately recognisable evolution chains in the series history, with Graveller and Golem following. Craggy edifices of rock with a standard move-set to go with it, and if a Golem wasn’t a lynch-pin in your Elite Four run then you… I mean you probably had something better, but no sense of style.
Onix – later becoming Steelix with the addition of steel type in gen 2 – is the menacing snake made of landscape. Looking like it could have been torn straight from a D&D monster manual, Onix still ranks in the top ten largest Pokémon, being knocked out of the top five by it’s own evolution, mega-evolution, two actual whales and the mega-evolution of the sky dragon. You want that Boulder Badge? You’d better come up with something more than a pikachu and questionable logic.
2) The Rock – Rock of Ages
Ever wanted to go through history and just smash it apart? Yeah, I wanted to do so too. When I found out about Rock of Ages, the video game, not to be confused with the film, I had to play it. I had to know, just how much could one boulder, or rock, tear apart history? How could the great philosophers lose to a simple rock? How could armies be crushed by a boulder? How did this all happen?!
Turns out throughout the years, it doesn’t matter who loses – The winner is always the one with the greatest rocks. They hurl them towards their opponents at great speeds, watching them crash and tear through the opposition with ease. A house? No problem. A horse? Neigh, not a problem! An enemy rock? That’s a lot more problematic. Just be sure to be careful of all of the armies attacking your rock – That’s the only way they can survive your onslaught.
1) Rock Biter – Neverending Story
Oh man, we never get to talk about Neverending Story! The mountainous refugee fleeing from the all-consuming force, the Nothing that threatens to eradicate existence, riding through Fantasia on his colossal wheeled contrivance that rolls all things flat before it. The Rock Biter is a literal gentle giant, and while he’s a sloppy eater with very dangerous crumbs, he’s generally polite, friendly, and loyal.
Pyornkrachzark in the original novel, he was sent forth to tell the Childlike Empress about the coming apocalypse, along the way he befriends a bunch of far smaller and squishier people and their pets. But despite his monstrous size, his monumental strength… his good, strong, hands, he simply cannot hold on to his friends, or his hope. He simply sits and waits for the Nothing to consume him. Perhaps he would have been better there, because if we start taking the sequels into account, Rock Biter starts to rockslide all the way to the bottom of the list.
Now that we’ve hit Rock Bottom, more on that in a moment, it’s time for us to think about more rocks. For today’s honourable mentions, we decided to pick rocks that are decidedly not minerals.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Yes, Dwayne, we smell what you’re cooking. Of course we do, because you’re always asking us if we smell what you’re cooking. We’re now highly attuned to smelling what The Rock is cooking, because we’ve had years and years of watching The Rock. Whether he was in a squared circle, or if he was in a huge Hollywood blockbuster, it’s fair to say Dwayne Johnson is one of the most entertaining actors out there today.
Whether he’s dropping his Rock Bottom (That’s not an euphemism), or he’s speeding like a madman in The Fast and Furious franchise, Dwayne has been a rock of the industry for years. I don’t think we’ve seen his best work yet either, as this superstar is always looking to improve and expand his repertoire. Now, don’t forget to raise your eyebrow, hold a Rock Concert and start a feud with your local wrestlers in the name of The Rock.
Relegated to honourable mentions, because he’s not actually a rock… He’s just a rock of his industry.
Obsidian – Minecraft
Obsidian is made in Minecraft by having Water and Lava flow into the same spot. This is useful to know, as you can create Obsidian generators fairly simply. I used to make them using a glass case, insetting lava into a chute, then inserting water through a separate chute. Now with the two liquids flowing, the water and lava reacts, creating Minecraft’s original toughest breakable block, Obsidian.
You need Obsidian to get into The Nether. It’s also a really good stone type to build as a foundation for your houses (due to the fact it has an exceptionally high blast resistance). Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not the prettiest block in the game, but the fact it has so many strange properties definitely makes it worth investing in your own Obsidian generator; you can even generate Obsidian into the shape you’re looking for, because trust me, digging it is a pain.
Relegated to honourable mentions, because Minecraft decided to make this exceptionally tough, when in reality it’s exceptionally brittle.
Rock – Rock Paper Scissors
Some might argue the lazy man’s choice, where a stylish pair of scissors or the tactical wit of paper involves a great deal more effort on the part of the player, but Rock is a viable strategy, being solid, dependable, easily besting the more offensive strategy, and only bested by expending the maximum amount of effort and straining the logic of the game. Seriously, paper… covers Rock? Note that most old-hands at the game still resort to Rock first over scissors, knowing that for most players this will force a tie, and allowing for valuable information to be gained before launching for a Paper gambit.
A stalwart of the game’s many expansions, and immediately recognisable as a hallmark of the classic version, although it should be noted that Rock only becomes recognised within the appropriate context, and can be readily mistaken for a show of political affiliation, a gesture of solidarity or approval, or a faint attempt at reenacting the “Arthur’s Fist” meme.
Stop rocking back and forth, this list wasn’t that bad was it? In any event, before we roll out the red carpet to next week’s list, we will need you to choose what our next Top 10 list should be on. As ever, below are three votes; choose wisely, as it’ll affect the future. No really, we’ll write the most popular list from the below trio.
Now that we’ve gotten the stones to write this list, I hope you’ve been rocked by our findings. We think we’ve found the best rocks and stones out there, but what do you think? Did we forget a brilliant rock or stone? Did we find the right ones, but get the order completely wrong? Tell us what you think in the comments below, or reach out to us on Facebook and Twitter. Let’s rock!
* With thanks to the three readers who got that joke.