Game Write is a recurring series dedicated to the fiction of game industry veterans. From the best-selling titles of Drew Karpyshyn and Austin Grossman, to the obscure classics of Jane Jensen and Sheldon Pacotti, this series hopes to unearth both the gems and the trash we tend to leave buried in the credits. In this entry, we review N.K. Jemisin & Mac Walters’ Mass Effect: Initiation, a tie-in novel to the newest — and possibly last — Mass Effect game set in the Andromeda galaxy. A welcome, exciting addition to the series, it provides some valuable background information on the mysterious Andromeda Initiative, as well Cora Harper, one of Andromeda‘s more underdeveloped heroes.
The last quarter of Forever Free ruins all the good qualities of this otherwise enjoyable sequel. The Forever War — not quite my cup of tea — is a classic of ’70s sci-fi; a hard anti-war response to America’s involvement in Vietnam. It’s a novel of brilliant ideas stilted by the simple progression of time — hippie naivete / sexuality does not look good in 20XX.
From the outset, Forever Free is not really needed, but creates a thick, addictive atmosphere on the planet Middle Finger — one honestly lacking from even the classic prequel. Man (with a capital M) and the Taurans, both hive-mind species of the future, have pushed the surviving remnants of humanity to the planet of Middle Finger, where they live in relative isolation and freedom. Some of the surviving soldiers, including William Mandella, decide to hijack an FTL ship and escape 40,000 years into the future.
Mallworld is a brilliant playground for stories. Between 1979 and ’81, S.P. Somtow published a slew of seven stories set in the titular Malllworld, a mall 30 kilometers long situated near Jupiter, floating in the void. Somtow’s vision of consumerism gone amok was simultaneously ahead of its time and forgettable. His ideas helped lay the groundwork for what would become cyberpunk (and the Mall of America): A grimy marriage of technology and class division, with extensive corporate intrigue and rebellious no-care attitude.
Part of me suspects the Secret History of Twin Peaks was written just for me. During the weeks I devoted to reading Mark Frost’s novel, I spent my days looking forward to digging comfortably into the couch and getting lost in the world of Twin Peaks again and again, of getting a preview of the show we’d all be watching come May. This book devours you, with its layers of mystery, layers of implication — it makes you simultaneously an accomplice to ‘the Archivist,’ dutifully collating Twin Peaks’ historical records and connecting supernatural dots, and an investigative FBI agent along T_____ P______, reviewing and studying the mysterious Archivist’s dossier.
Bloodchild and Other Stories was my introduction to Butler’s writing, and it reflects a masterful (and masterfully-thoughtful) writer. This collection features every short story — and two essays — that Octavia Butler wrote between 1971 and 2003. At just over 200 pages, it’s not many, and she herself admits to not being a writer or fan of short stories in her comments.
Game Write is a recurring series dedicated to the fiction of game industry veterans. From the best-selling titles of Drew Karpyshyn and Austin Grossman, to the obscure classics of Jane Jensen and Sheldon Pacotti, this series hopes to unearth both the gems and the trash we tend to leave buried in the credits. In this entry, we review Anthony Huso’s Bone Radio, a thrilling, if undercooked, post-apocalyptic adventure within the New Union: A country not too dissimilar from our present U.S., but built on the ashes of remnant cities and borrowed technology.
10. Stephen King’s the Dark Tower I : IV (1982 : 1997)
A somewhat difficult one to include, Stephen King’s writing, while always entertaining, is similarly always bothersome. The King-isms build and bug me. The Dark Tower series has been no different so far, with the Drawing of the Three and the Waste Lands, in particular, being hampered by bloated writing and awkward pacing. Wizard and Glass, the fourth of an eight-part series (including #4.5), and the last I read this year, was an absolutely engrossing and addictive fantasy yarn. The horror and post-apocalyptic settings were mostly removed in favor of straight fantasy in an extended flashback story — which was worrisome — but Roland’s tale was so focused and wonderfully-told that it alone puts this series on the list. I hope 2017 lets me finish the the final four books.
I feel obligated to like the Difference Engine a whole lot less than I did. People really dislike it, and the usual round of complaints makes a long, valid list. It’s a dense 450 pages — most of it spends time on world-building chit-chat and important ideas rather than a coherent plot.
While the reader questions if the story’s going anywhere, the world itself is fascinating, so complete in its details and sense of accuracy that it’s difficult to leave the polluted, industrial-analytical world. The Difference Engine is cut into three sections following the lives of Gerard, Mallory, and Oliphant on the trail of Gibson’s usual macguffin — a collection of programming punch cards: The explanation and importance of which is buried so deeply that many readers never understand why they’re important. All three heroes only spend a fraction of their pages worrying about punch cards and social turmoil — mostly we follow paleontologist Edward Mallory in his day-to-day business as he bumbles into characters and conspiracies that are vaguely associated with the plot.
a series of 12 novellas
During the peak of the ’90s Goosebumps craze, LucasFilm contracted John Whitman, then an editor for HighBridge Audio, to tap into this rich market with a six-part series of Star Wars-themed horror novellas. Whitman’s work on adapting countless classic Star Wars stories into audio dramas, complete with John Williams’ scores, sound effects, and multiple actors, was counted as a boon for the YA market, where the audio-drama format would have contributed to framing quick, punchy stories full of action and suspense.
The result was Star Wars: Galaxy of Fear, a quirky combination of classic Star Wars tropes ‘n’ cameos, original characters that can best be described as Saturday Morning Cartoons,* and untethered gore. Six books turned into 12, and the series lasted with modest (but decreasing) success through 1998 when John Whitman and LucasFilm both decided to move on.
Game Write is a recurring series dedicated to the fiction of game industry veterans. From the best-selling titles of Drew Karpyshyn and Austin Grossman, to the obscure classics of Jane Jensen and Sheldon Pacotti, this series hopes to unearth both the gems and the trash we tend to leave buried in the credits. In this entry, we look at Sheldon Pacotti’s newest novel, Gamma — the first new piece of fiction from Pacotti since he entered the game industry with Ion Storm’s Deus Ex in 2000 — and a fascinating look at a near future ruled by biotechnology and growing social unrest.