June 09, 2015

Upcoming Events

Rudy Rucker, JOURNALS 1990-2014 (Transreal Books, Trade Paperback, $24.95) Saturday, June 13th at 3:00 pm

Alex Bledsoe, LONG BLACK CURL (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99) Sunday, June 14th at 3:00 pm

Alyc Helms, THE DRAGONS OF HEAVEN (Angry Robot, Mass Market, $7.99) Saturday, July 11th at 3:00 pm

Wesley Chu, TIME SALVAGER (Tor, Hardcover, $25.99) and Helene Wecker THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI (Harper, Trade Paperback, $15.99) Saturday, July 18th at 3:00 pm

Robert Brockway, THE UNNOTICEABLES (Tor, Hardcover, $24.99, and Loren Rhoads, THE DANGEROUS TYPE (Nightshade Books, Trade Paperback, $15.99) Sunday, July 19th at 3:00 pm

Richard Kadrey, KILLING PRETTY (Harper Voyager, Hardcover, $25.99) Saturday, August 1st at 3:00 pm

Suspending Disbelief in Video Games

by Alan Beatts

I'm not, by any stretch of the imagination, an avid player of video games.  However, I do enjoy some of them quite a lot.  They serve the dual purpose of entertaining me while also engaging me enough that I forget about the external world for a bit.  About five years ago, a friend gave me a game console for Christmas and, since then, I've played several quite good games from beginning to end.  I've also tried out a number that I started, got a bit of the way in, and then put aside because they didn't suit me.  That's a process that I do with novels as well. However, it's interesting that in video games the split between "this is fun, I'm going to finish it" and "nope, this isn't for me" is close to 50/50, whereas novels run closer to 85/15.

Perhaps part of the reason for that difference is that I have pretty specific tastes in video games.  Playing virtual football or golf has even less appeal to me than playing the actual sports (for which the appeal to me is already close enough to zero that you'll need several decimal places to make the distinction).  Likewise virtual dating games or other games that simulate social interactions don't interest me.  And, while games that simulate pseudo-natural processes in accelerated time (for example Civilization or SimCity) interest me in an ant-farm sort of way, I don't really like playing god.

Consequently, what appeals to me are role-playing games, shooting games and, most of all, the child of the two, generally called open-world games (for example Skyrim and Mass Effect). Since reading serves the same purpose for me as video games (entertainment and an escape from the outside world - although video games have an advantage in exercising my twitch reflex), in the last few years, I've started thinking about the similarities and differences between the two art forms.  The idea that both genre novels and the sort of video games I enjoy are both art forms is not something that I think needs much defense or explanation but, just in case, please consider that: they both require creating a structured narrative with plot, settings, and characters that will engage the reader / player for a prolonged period of time. Even games outside of my particular interest qualify as art forms, albeit for a different set of reasons.

When I consider the current state of the art in video games as part of the spectrum of story-telling entertainment, including prose fiction, illustrated narratives (i.e. comic books), film, epic poetry, and so forth, it strikes me that it is far from the eventual potential of the medium. Which is not to say that the medium doesn't have considerable merits now, but only to say that, even within the limitations of current technology, the medium is perhaps at a spot in its evolution equivalent to comic books in the 1970s.  And, like comics in the 1970s, video games are great fun and the product of some very talented people who are doing excellent work.

May Bestsellers

1. SEVENEVES by Neal Stephenson  
2. VOYAGE OF THE BASILISK by Marie Brennan
3. OF NOBLE FAMILY by Mary Robinette Kowal
4. THE WATER KNIFE by Paolo Bacigalupi
5. UPROOTED by Naomi Novik
6. A CROWN FOR COLD SILVER by Alex Marshall
7. HALF THE WORLD by Joe Abercrombie
8. THE GIRL IN THE ROAD by Monica Byrne
9. PRUDENCE by Gail Carriger
10. WHAT IF? by Randall Monroe

Mass Market Paperbacks
1. NEXUS by Ramez Naam
2. CRUX by Razem Naam
3. THE GOBLIN EMPEROR by Katherine Addison
4. THE HERCULES TEXT by Jack McDevitt
6. THE THREE by Sarah Lotz
7. POCKET APOCALYPSE by Seanan McGuire
8. MORT by Terry Pratchett
9. SKIN GAME by Jim Butcher
10. DARK HEIR by Faith Hunter

Trade Paperbacks
3. APEX by Razem Naam
4. SILVERWOOD by Betsy Streeter

June News Roundup

* Overheard in the store:
"Luckily, you're not going to be killing zombies with bowling balls."

* The location for World Fantasy Convention 2016 has been announced as Columbus, Ohio. http://www.worldfantasy.org/

* Classic kaiju creation Godzilla has finally not only been recognized as an official special resident of the city of Tokyo, but also as a Tourism Ambassador.  This apparently coincides with the filming of a new Godzilla movie this year: http://naplesherald.com/2015/04/09/godzilla-appointed-tokyo-resident-and-tourism-ambassador/

* The Mythopoeic Society has announced their finalists for the Mythopoeic Awards for 2015: http://www.mythsoc.org/news/2015mythopoeic-awards-finalists-announced/

* One of the most critically-acclaimed comics of recent years, "The Wicked + The Divine", has been optioned by Universal TV.  It is the story of twelve gods reincarnated every ninety years, only to die within two years.  http://sciencefiction.com/2015/06/01/the-wicked-the-divine-optioned-development-universal-tv/

* The Lambda Awards announced the winners for their 2015 literary awards, and we'd like to extend our congratulations to store friend (and sponsor!) Chaz Brenchley, whose short story collection BITTER WATERS won in the LGBT S/F/Horror category.  Check out the complete list of winners here: http://www.lambdaliterary.org/features/news/06/02/27th-annual-lambda-literary-award-winners/

* io9 brings us two great blendings of fan art.  One commenter takes tv and movie posters and redraws them to look like classic vinyl album covers: http://io9.com/preview/classic-movie-posters-redrawn-as-vintage-album-covers-1709277184  And Artist Ryan May imagines the Adventure Time characters in "Mad Max: Fury Road".  Princess Bubblegum as Furiosa is everything!: http://io9.com/the-ice-king-is-a-perfect-immortan-joe-in-adventure-tim-1709400094

* Classic fantasist Tanith Lee, winner of numerous awards and accolades including being the first woman to win the British Fantasy Award, has passed away after a long illness: http://heavy.com/entertainment/2015/05/tanith-lee-dead-dies-cause-of-death-funeral-esther-garber-husband-john-kaiine/

* Sci-Fest LA, the Los Angeles SF Play Festival, has unveiled two new awards, The Tomorrow Prize and The Roswell Award, both with cash prizes.  Check out the inaugural winners here: http://www.sci-fest.com/

* The Spectrum Awards have been announced.  See the gorgeous Gold and Silver Award winners here: http://fleskpublications.com/blog/2015/05/23/spectrum-22-awards-winners-announced/

* Voting has opened on the shortlists for the David Gemmell Awards: http://www.gemmellawards.com/

* The SFWA elections have occurred and new officers include Cat Rambo as the new president and M.C.A. Hogarth as vice-president.  Check out the full list of new officials here: http://www.sfwa.org/2015/05/2015-sfwa-election-results/

* Leonard Nimoy's son Adam Nimoy has started a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of funding a documentary called "For The Love of Spock", which will trace the history of the iconic character.  Zachary Quinto has agreed to narrate the film.  http://www.blastr.com/2015-6-3/leonard-nimoys-son-wants-you-help-fund-his-spock-documentary

* In sadder Star Trek news, Nichelle Nichols, who played the transcendent  Lt. Uhura in the original series, along with many other film and television roles, has been hospitalized following a stroke.  There hasn't been any official news on her condition yet: http://sciencefiction.com/2015/06/04/star-trek-star-nichelle-nichols-hospitalized-stroke/

* Josh Trank, the director of the new "Fantastic Four" film, talks about the anger from fans for casting African-American actor Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm:  http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/herocomplex/la-et-hc-josh-trank-simon-kinberg-fantastic-four-casting-controversy-story.html