Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts

Saturday, September 10, 2022

The Witcher

 My history with The Witcher was the video games first (1,2,3 right in order), then the show on Netflix, and now finally the first book.  Here are some thoughts on the experience.

When I first watched the show version of The Witcher on Netflix the first season was difficult to follow as far as a storyline.  Still it was an amazing show with near perfect casting, great acting, and the gritty feel of the video games.  I can imagine no other actor than Henry Cavill as Geralt to which the author, Andrzej Sapkowski, agrees.





“I was more than happy with Henry Cavill’s appearance as The Witcher.” The novelist added, “He’s a real professional. Just as Viggo Mortensen gave his face to Aragorn [in The Lord of the Rings], so Henry gave his to Geralt — and it shall be forever so.”


 Having read the first book, The Last Wish, I realized how faithful the show's first season was.  Reading the book helped me better understand the narrative arc and what it was trying to convey.  Which then helps set up the story in season 2 and now I'm hooked even more into the world.  I am not sure I will read much more of the series, but man I can't wait for season 3 of the show and hopeful for many seasons beyond.

This has also brought me back to remember my times in the video games.  I will admit the story lines of the games is not fresh in my mind, but I feel like parts of the games fit together better.  It's actually surprising how the games, show, and books really fit together.  Again, Henry Cavill just nails it as Geralt and when I drop back into any of The Witcher games he is who I see in Geralt.  Visually as well the world has consistency across mediums.  Specifically the Nilfgaardians are spot on from book to game to show.  Amazing work by all the teams involved.

It's fun getting to see properties like this take off and have success in the main entertainment areas I have interest in.  I hope The Witcher sets a blue print for others to follow.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Dancing with Dragons

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

MUST WATCH: A Game of Thrones HBO teaser trailer and more

The A Game of Thrones series being produced for HBO is in full swing and today we get a pair of teaser trailers.  This looks amazing already and I can't wait for the series to hit!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Why I bought The Way of Kings by @BrandonSandrson

I don't get excited about many new book releases.  I'm too backed up on books I've never read to care.  However, Brandon Sanderson's up front and always on promotion for his writing (from finishing The Wheel of Time to Mistborn), has made me a fan.  With his new novel, The Way of Kings, releasing today, I wanted to share a blurb from a post on about why this book is worth buying:
The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive, The)Well, finally—after two decades of writing—Tor has given me the chance to share The Way of Kings with you. They’ve taken a risk on this book. At every juncture, they agreed to do as I asked, often choosing the more expensive option as it was a better artistic decision. Michael Whelan on the cover. 400K words in length. Almost thirty full page interior illustrations. High-end printing processes in order to make the interior art look crisp and beautiful. A piece of in-world writing on the back cover, rather than a long list of marketing blurbs. Interludes inside the book that added to the length, and printing costs, but which fleshed out the world and the story in ways I’d always dreamed of doing
If that doesn't make sense, let me use a gaming analogy.  This is essentially an indie developer going to EA and telling them that they will release his indie game the way he wants it released.  It's not saying that Brandon was rude or out of place making these demands of Tor (his publisher), but made the case that this will make the experience better.  Tor believed him and made at least one customer happy by doing so.

I am excited to get my copy.  Get yours via Amazon or your favorite local book retailer.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

HBO greenlights 'A Game of Thrones'

Great news for George RR Martin fans, HBO has greenlighted the highly anticipated fantasy series "Game of Thrones."
The premium network has picked up the project for a first-season debut next spring. Nine episodes plus the pilot have been ordered. Production will begin in Belfast this June.

The pickup comes on the heels of another HBO big ticket series order, for Terence Winter and Martin Scorsese's drama "Boardwalk Empire."

From the moment "Thrones" was first announced in development, the series based on the George R.R. Martin novels has generated enormous, perhaps unprecedented, online interest for a series at such an early stage.

The sprawling tale set in the mythical land of Westeros tells the story of the noble Stark family who become caught up in high court intrigue when patriarch Eddard (played by Sean Bean) becomes the king's new right-hand man. The four-and-counting books in the series would each be used as one season of the series.

Unlike many fantasy novels, the "Thrones" series largely avoids relying on magical elements and instead goes for brutal realism -- think "Sopranos" with swords. Martin, a former TV writer ("Beauty and the Beast"), writes each chapter as a cliffhanger, which should lend itself well to series translation. David Benioff and Dan Weiss are the series creators. (Source)

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

1205 Pages Complete: A Dance With Dragons Update

Not Done Yet is the title of George RR Martin's latest blog posting.  In it he reveals that he has reached 1205 manuscript pages for A Dance With Dragons.  Suvudu makes the comparison, in manuscript pages, of the series:
As a reference, A Game of Thrones is 1088 manuscript pages, A Clash of Kings is 1184 manuscript pages, and A Storm of Swords is 1521 manuscript pages.
Its been a productive period for Martin and it appears that the story that is A Dance with Dragons may finally be winding to a conclusion. Then its onto the waiting for the next book!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Dancing with George RR Martin: Update on A Dance With Dragons

Its ironic that I found this post from George RR Martin this morning as I sit snowed in as well:
Snowing like hell in Santa Fe today. I feel like Jon Snow on the Wall. White everywhere I look, and still coming down.

Of course, I'm writing about Meereen, where the weather is hot and muggy, oppressive. If the snow keeps falling, I better take it as an omen, switch to a Jon chapter tomorrow.

The good news: finished a chapter today.

The bad news: it's one I've finished at least four times before.

This time, though, I think I finally got it right. We'll see. Still whacking at the Meereenese knot.

I took an especially vigorous hack two days ago, by switching to a new POV. It seems to have helped. Helps to have a pair of eyes on the inside rather than the outside here. And back story works better in recollections than in dialogue.

Let's hope that when next week comes, I still like what I did this week.

Writing, writing...
This is not an earth shattering update, but its an update none the less. And for George RR Martin to talk about finishing something, anything with A Dance With Dragons is good news.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Game Developers Should Play Games :The Lesson Learned From Reading George RR Martin

There's a great post over at Suvudu: The Lesson I Learned From George R. R. Martin. The author explains how they've taken lessons from exploring some of Martin's smaller works:
The lessons I learned from reading three straight George R. R. Martin novellas played into my own short story writing process, George a silent mentor whether he likes it or not.
The lesson to be learned from this: Most authors, when giving craft advice, tell hopeful writers to read almost as much as they write.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Gathering Shipping

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FINALLY, the Wheel of Time series is concluding (this is book 1 of 3 of the last 3 that will be released). Yay, go fantasy!
Update: 30 Oct 2009 - It has arrived (now I need to catch up on books 4-11)

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Book Thoughts: The Name of the Wind

Title: The Name of the Wind
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: DAW Trade; Reprint edition (April 7, 2009)
Quick-Hit Thought: Quality writing, minus a few WTF moments.

I debated how to write this review. Should I review the book, or should I review the reviews of the book? To me, the more interesting option is to approach the reviews, as they influenced my decision to get the book. The reviews for The Name of the Wind are split; some people love it, some people hate it. For some, Patrick Rothfuss, is the next big name in Fantasy. To others, he is a self-centered arrogant jerk. Personally, I fall in the middle and have no opinion on the Mr. Rothfuss himself.

Looking at the reviews on Amazon, we get the following gem from Robin Hobb (an accomplished author himself):
It seems to me that every year there are more books I want to read and less time for me to read them. Because my time is limited, I'm guilty of picking up the books by my favorite authors first, and fitting in new authors only when it's convenient.
Due to a stroke of luck, I've had an advance copy of The Name of the Wind by my bedside for over six months, just waiting for me to open it. Unfortunately, deadlines of my own kept getting in the way. But in a way, it's lucky that I didn't crack this book until just a few days ago. If I'd had this tale to distract me, I'd have been even later getting my work done.

I loathe spoilers, so I'm not going to discuss the plot of this book. I will say it has all the things that I demand of a book. The characters are real, the action is convincing and it has a compelling story to tell.

One of the things I like best about this book is that the magic is absolutely rooted in the book's world. Nothing seems contrived; the consistency is excellent.

The characters are very well realized. That means that when the protagonist does something clever, it's believable. And when he does something youthfully dumb, it rings just as authentically true. Because the characters are real and the magic is true to its own world, I closed this book feeling as if I'd been on a journey with an entertaining new friend, rather than sitting alone looking at words on a page.
This one is well worth some of your precious reading time. I'll wager that the books to follow it will also be.

Robin Hobb
From the peanut gallery, we get:
Like so many here I was suckered into this. Before you buy this book, read all the reviews. Read the honest 1 and 2 star reviews, read the others. Do notice how many reviewers gush praise but don't actually discuss the book. Or how many of the reviews all sound alike? Mention of the main characters, three to five sentences, all proclaiming how this is the best thing ever. Are we really supposed to believe this over the top hype? The funniest, and I mean laugh out loud funny, is the recent review that proclaims "next biggest thing since Tolkien". Or how about the laughable "I hope to be witnessing history on par with Herbert, Tolkien, etc."
I'll admit I bought the book based on the above two reviews. One, because Robin Hobb is a trustworthy review source. Two, because I wanted to know why so many felt the book was overrated.

I tend to agree that the book is overrated. If I rated things in little stars, TNotW would be a 3/5. Its enjoyable and well written, but it lacks the consistency of better novels. The core story is great and I enjoyed the main character Kvothe throughout. What I didn't enjoy was senseless meandering to the side. Situations in which some pretty stupid shit happens; *SPOILER* as stupid as dragons getting high on drugs spurring our hero into action. */SPOILER*

The book is about a man telling another man his life's story. The book starts with the hardened adventurer settled down as a tavern owner, adventures almost long gone. A happy-go-lucky scribe stops by and asks for the hero's story. What ensues will take three books to tell, but this first book covers the entire first day of story telling.

This approach leads to an interesting look into the events that make up the main character's life. As anyone who talks too much about themselves, Kvothe tends to embellish his stories a little bit. Unfortunately, it is hard to tell whether Kvothe is intentionally embellishing them or whether Rothfuss just writes that way. Unfortunately, this spills over (as mentioned above in the spoiler) into some pretty WTF moments.

I would have enjoyed the book a lot more and laughed a bit less at the situations had Rothfuss cut about a hundred or so pages of side story and focused on Kvothe's main storyline at the University (and area around it) and chasing information about the Chadrian. I was really intrigued by the way Kvothe interacted with the Masters at the University and was a bit disappointed when he left to chase ghost stories. I didn't mind that he had left the University, but I was very displeased at the reasons Rothfuss chose to keep him away. At one point, I almost put the book down because I couldn't stop laughing at the situation the characters were in. Seriously, read the above spoiler and tell me it doesn't sound stupid.

I tend to rate things on a 0 to 1 scale. 0, no. 1, yes. In this case, TNotW is a 1, because it is worth reading and deciding if the second book is worthwhile to the reader.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Faith in Humanity: Really Good, Really Big, Really Cheap Book Sale

I just got back from the "Really Good, Really Big, Really Cheap Book Sale". Seeing tens of thousands of people show up to shop through hundreds of thousands of books warms my heart. Reading, in a society so bent on instant gratification, sometimes feels like a lost art. However, today I was reminded that people still read: from little old ladies sorting through the Nora Roberts table, to the throng of geeks grabbing everything off the Sci Fi and Fantasy table.

Enough with the pontificating and on to the books I was able to snag:

Michael Crichton - Sphere, Jurassic Park, & Eaters of the Dead

Isaac Asimov - The Currents of Space (1962 paperback edition), Foundation, Foundation and Empire, & Foundation's Edge

Tad Williams - Shadowmarch, The War of the Flowers, River of Blue Fire (Otherland, Book 2), Mountain of Black Glass (Otherland, Book 3)

Terry Brooks - Sword of Shannara, The Black Unicorn

All for a total of $12, mixed paperback and hardcovers. Most were gently used and in the case of Sword of Shannara and Isaac Asimovs, 1st printing mass market paperback editions from the 70's and 60's respectively.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

George RR Martin Interview: Update on A Dance with Dragons

A new interview with George RR Martin has surfaced and with it, updates to A Dance With Dragons (Book 5 in The Song of Ice and Fire). Listen to the audio/podcast here or catch the notes below.
Key points:

* George has over 1000 finished manuscript pages for his next book, A Dance With Dragons.
* His previous four books in the series have come in between 1100 manuscript pages and 1500 manuscripts pages.
* He thinks the book will be around 1200, although he will not put an expected finish date on the project
* HBO is moving forward with the Ice & Fire pilot. It is going to be shot in October in Ireland.
* Originally, the story of A Dance With Dragons was meant to be the second book of a trilogy, but the first book grew in the telling.
* Sean Bean has been cast as Ned Stark.
* George talks about why Dance is late, due to the complexity of the series and the amount of rewriting he does.
* Listen to the podcast for the rest!
Good news all around.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Google Library's Book Recommendation Gadget = Genius

Logging onto the Internet this morning, I checked my iGoogle homepage and saw a new recommendation topping my Google Library gadget.

Don't get me wrong; I love to read and I've spent some time with the Air Force, but... nevermind. Google, who the hell would want to read a phone book? Google wasn't kidding when they stated the wanted to scan the entirety of the written word onto the Internet.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Book News: Wheel of Time, A Dance With Dragons, and Crichton writes from the Grave

Boy has there been some big news in the book world lately.

First, the final chapter of the Wheel of Time has grown from one book into three. The final books of the series are being penned by Brandon Sanderson.
This morning Tor-Forge announced that A Memory of Light, the conclusion volume of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, will begin publishing in November 2009. That’s the good news!

The bad news? A Memory of Light is going to be broken into three separate books released one year apart each, the first of which is titled The Gathering Storm.
I'm still on Book 4, The Shadow Rising, so this gives me a reason to procrastinate. I'll still catch up before the last book is published.

Secondly, George RR Martin has delayed A Dance With Dragons, book 5 in his Song of Ice and Fire series. The most important thing I can do in regards to the delays is have everyone read this: In Defense of George RR Martin.
This long article is about author George R. R. Martin and, more importantly, the misgivings and negativity some of his more vocal fans have concerning the lateness of his forthcoming book, A Dance With Dragons.
Trust me, it is worth the read. Personally, I can wait. The end product will be worth it.

Lastly, Michael Crichton, recently deceased, will have a couple novels published posthumously.
New York, NY (April 6, 2009) - HarperCollins is proud to announce the global publication of two posthumous Michael Crichton novels. The first, Pirate Latitudes, will be published on November 24, 2009; the second, as yet untitled, will be published in Fall 2010.
Crichton's Lost World was the first "real" book I read in my youth and I can not thank him enough for the road that reading has lead me down. Ironically, that is the only book of his that I have ever read.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Book Thoughts: Elantris

Title: Elantris
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Fantasy (May 30, 2006)
Quick-Hit Thought: A one volume epic fantasy worth reading.

I have to admit the only reason I picked up Elantris was due to the announcement that Brandon Sanderson would be writing the twelfth, and final, book in the Wheel of Time series. Along with favorable reviews, and the fact that the story begins and ends in a single book, really sold it to me as a book worth reading to get a measure of Sanderson’s abilities.

The main point to understand about Elantris is that it is an epic fantasy tale wrapped up in under a thousand pages. It covers the gambit as far as epic fantasy goes. There is the hero, the villain, the princess, a story, and most of all, the fantastical world.

Elantris, located in the nation of Arelon, is more than the title of the book, it is the name of a magical city that ten years prior stopped being magical. Outside of Elantris is the smaller, non-magical city of Kae, newly revitalized in the wake of the downfall of Elantris and now the center of Arelon’s monarchy.

Elantris serves as a prison, housing those unfortunate enough to be afflicted by the magic that once made the city and the Elantrians great. The book begins as Raoden, the prince of Arelon, becomes afflicted with this magic and is cast into the crumbling city of Elantris. The story excels from that point forwad. Every chapter spent in Elantris is well worth the reader’s time.

Outside of Elantris, two other points of view are followed: Raoden’s widowed-before-the-wedding wife, Sarene, and Hrathen, priest sent to convert the non-believers of Arelon. While Raoden struggles within Elantris, Sarene and Hrathen battle politically in the city of Kae.

I thoroughly enjoyed the chapters involving Raoden and the overall story line of the book. However, the chapters involving Sarene and Hrathen take a while to become enjoyable. Sarene is just too much of a stereotypical feminist, while Hrathen is the obvious conflicted bad guy. I did enjoy Hrathen overall, but the most interesting aspect of Hrathen was his back-story which I would not have minded more of.

Fortunately, towards the end of the book, the three characters become entwined together in the chapters and the pace picks up significantly. The plot spins down quickly and an expected, but well-executed, ending unfolds.

Overall, the book serves its purpose as a one-book epic fantasy tale. More back story on Hrathen would have been nice and the pacing could have been smoother. It was refreshing to read a book without having to worry about the next book in the series. Elantris tells a great story that begins and ends within a thousand pages. Quite a feat in an otherwise bloated fantasy genre, especially for an author tagged with the responsibility to conclude one of the most bloated epic fantasy series out there.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Book Thoughts: Black Powder War (Temeraire, Book 3)

Title: Black Powder War
Author: Naomi Novik
Genre: Fantasy, Alternate History
Publisher: Del Rey (May 30, 2006)
Quick-Hit Thought: If you weren't sure after Book 2, don't continue. Worth reading if you've enjoyed the series.

I'm very conflicted about the third book in the Temeraire series. With a title such as Black Powder War, I thought I may finally see some dragons put to use in the massive battles of the Napoleonic era. Unfortunately, whether it be ship, sickness, cargo duty, or weather, dragons sit on the sidelines.

Once again, the strength of the book is Novik's ability to place dragons admirably into the time period. The way they operate in the military and society makes absolute sense. The difference between various countries and their dragons is well detailed and refreshing.

However, past the melding of dragons into the military and society of the time period, there isn't much to this book. Our hero and his dragon are on their way back from China (a far more interesting country in this alternate universe). They receive urgent news to detour and pick up some dragon eggs purchased from the government of Turkey. Some traveling ensues, blah, blah, blah.

Actually, there is only one thing that saved this book for me: Tharkay. Tharkay is by far the most interesting character in the book (maybe even the series) and is first introduced as a messenger delivering the orders that would eventually spur the journey into Istanbul, Turkey. Tharkay is a classic rogue character, remaining a mystery until the end of the book.

Unfortunately, the truth of Tharkay is wasted on a horribly trivial "save the day for people we don't even care about" ending. The entire end of the book is a let down. At least in Throne of Jade, the long painful journey lead up to a wonderful climatic ending. Not so in Black Powder War. I was absolutely bored by the scenario that ended up playing out, almost angered at the way Tharkay was brought back into the storyline.

Overall, the book reads as well as the first two, but is about as engaging as the paragraph noted on the back of the book. The story isn't what kept me reading through this series. It was the dragons, how they lived, and how people lived with them. However, by the third book I guess I expected some sort of story to conclude. Nothing concluded, and a true good vs. evil plot line just began to emerge. Unfortunately, not enough of one to spur me on to the next book in the series.

My honest opinion: this series is best finished at the end of Throne of Jade.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Book Thoughts: Throne of Jade (Temeraire, Book 2)

Title: Throne of Jade
Author: Naomi Novik
Genre: Fantasy, Alternate History
Publisher: Del Rey (April 25, 2006)
Quick-Hit Thought: Good read for those interested, but slow pacing in the middle.

The phrase, “it’s all about the journey” perfectly describes Throne of Jade, book 2 in the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik. The book chronicles the journey to the far off lands of China by the dragon Tremeraire, his crew, and his Captain; Will Laurence. Once again, Novik does a wonderful job of weaving dragons into a period of history best known for ships, soldiers, and war. As in the first book, the strength of Throne of Jade lies in the detail of dragon interactions within society and the military, boosted by the fact that this book partly takes place in a very different Chinese society.

Unfortunately, getting to the immense and interesting nation of China takes some time and by the end of the book China feels wholly unexplored. While I do appreciate a more detailed account of the journey to China, via a sea-faring dragon carrier, I can’t help but admit I was longing for Novik’s “and a few weeks later” approach of the first book. There are definite flat spots in both action and pacing, with a tacked-on-feeling action sequence at the beginning of the book.

Fortunately, the plot is solid and ties together in the end. This makes up for the boring reading in the middle. It took me a while to get through that middle, but I feel rewarded for sticking it out. Throne of Jade introduces a wonderful new enemy into the mix outside of Britain’s current nemesis of Napolean and France.

The next book in the series, Black Powder War, picks up shortly after where Throne of Jade leaves off and I am ready to see it through to conclusion. If there is any sign of a good book, it is in the Throne of Jade’s ability to intrigue me enough to pick up and read the next in the series, just as book 1 brought me to Throne of Jade.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Book Thoughts: His Majesty's Dragon (Temeraire, Book 1)

Title: His Majesty's Dragon
Author: Naomi Novik
Genre: Fantasy, Alternate History
Publisher: Del Rey (March 28, 2006)
Quick-Hit Thought: Fast, good read for those interested.

His Majesty's Dragon is the first book in a series by Naomi Novik that injects dragons into the Napoleonic era. The main character, a British Naval captain, finds himself in a pinch when his crew captures a dragon egg in transit to France. Pinched further by the egg hatching and the baby dragon being able to speak, the captain is pressed into harnessing the creature and therefore becoming bonded to it. The story follows the captain, named Laurence, on his transition into the British aerial corps with his extraordinary black dragon, Tremeraire.

The story was compelling to me as I am both a history fan and a member of the Air Force. As a member of the Air Force I picked up on the subtlety levied between the various British military branches, during a time in real history that navies dominated. The British Navy is rigid and structured, where as the aerial corps is often portrayed as open minded.

In the corps, women serve equally as men, subordinates are more likely to protest, and all because the dragons are the most important military tool available in the book's alternate history. This makes for some very fresh reading as Laurence transitions from rigid sea captain to rigid dragon pilot in a less-than-rigid aerial corps. I actually had to laugh a few times in the book at the way aviators are treated versus the ground crews that maintain the dragons, as it is very similar to how pilots and ground crew are treated in my experiences within the Air Force.

The book delights for the history buff as well. I haven't checked the time line of the book against actual events, but all seems to be in order from a cursory glance. The rigid life of the British Navy is well detailed and much thought is put into how the various dragon breeds fit into the period and available technology.

My criticisms of the book start with the action sequences, which are short and not very gripping. The characters are wonderfully built up, but feel fairly forgotten in favor of dragon slashing during battle. Unfortunately, the focus of the books is not on action, but more of how society and the military has formed around the presence of dragons. It is equitable to my experiences with the dragons of the Pern series, where the author spends a lot of time crafting a wonderful dragon-based society instead of detailing the raw damage that the beasts can deploy in battle.

Secondly, time passing is often left up to the classic "Six weeks later" approach. I'm a subscriber to "the journey is just as important as the destination" line of thinking and the book falls down on that point. However, this does make it for quick reading, which is always a plus when enough detail is leveled to ensure graceful flow.

Overall, His Majesty's Dragon is a pleasure to read for history and dragon buffs alike. I wouldn't recommend it to someone who was uninterested in both, but for any casual fans in either area I give a hearty thumbs up.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

I hath returned!

The week long raid concluded with the following pile of loot:

Star Wars Episode 3 DVD
War of the Worlds DVD


Two heavy duty frying pans. Afterall, working on that oh-so-important cooking skill!

Long sleeved Green Bay Packers shirt with +5 Fanboi enchant!

Air Force plaque with medallion and US flag stamp.

Mini-nativity set.

Update: 25 July, 2008 - Edited post and applied labels.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Reposted Book Review : Smart Bomb

Title: Smartbomb: The Quest for Art, Entertainment, and Big Bucks in the Videogame Revolution
Authors: Heather Chaplin, Aaron Ruby
Genre: Gaming
Publisher: Algonquin Books (October 12, 2006)
Quick-Hit Thought: Great read for those interested.

I'm just a gamer. I don't develop games. I have no grand dreams of magically breaking into the industry. However, there are many developers in the industry who have done just that. This is a review of the book, Smartbomb : The Quest for Art, Entertainment, and Big Bucks in the Video game Revolution. This is a review from the side of a gamer, of a book about the rock star developers that make my world go.

At the heart of Smartbomb is a collection of stories about the rock star developers of the video game industry. The pacing of the book is defined by the first developer we meet, Cliff Blezinski. "CliffyB", as he is known around the offices at Epic Games, is known for his once flashy pimp-like attire, back when he burst onto the scene with the Unreal and Unreal Tournament series.

CliffyB is a recurring character in the book. He is considered to be one of the last home-grown programmers who has truly broken into the industry. In a day where developers arrive with college degrees built upon game development, CliffyB is a throwback to such legends as Will Wright of The Sims fame and John Carmack of Doom fame. Wright and Carmack don't have game design degrees, but they have some of the most influential video games in history under their belts. They developed games, because there was no other outlet for their creative talents.

However, CliffyB has gone from flashy pimp to laid back front man for Epic. There is a tantalizing connection where we see him at the same parties and conferences as Wright and Carmack. While CliffyB catches the audience's eyes with a new dazzling hair color, Will Wright drops a bomb as he displays his latest effort known, Spore. Wright's presentation ends in a standing ovation. Smartbomb shows us where these visionaries came from.

The husband-and-wife team of Heather Chaplin and Aaron Ruby connect many dots amongst a varied background of gaming history. Reading through the book will have you hitting Google for more information on such subjects as the Tech Model Railroad Club of MIT, and the Stupid Fun Club. Their writing style has a dramatic flare that drives the book, and readers will find themselves wanting to know more about the topics covered.

While there are many eye-opening insights into several facets of the gaming industry, there are also several reproductions of well known gaming history tidbits, such as Nolan Bushnell and the early days of Atari. For the seasoned video game historian, this is all information covered in other books, such as Steven Kent's "The Ultimate History of Video Games'', and Dean Takahashi’s "Opening the Xbox: Inside Microsoft's Plan to Unleash an Entertainment Revolution.''

However, there are enough new connections and flavors amongst the entwined stories that the reiteration of information is not overwhelming. Also, being a relatively newer book in a growing industry, it serves as a great starting point for the new-age video game historian. The driving point, the reader will know more about gaming and where gaming is headed after reading this book.

It is very interesting that most of the gaming scene was covered. At one point, you're in the “gaming room” of an Anarchy Online addict before you are whisked away to the sweltering hotel basement in Dallas, where the latest Cyberathlete Professional League tournament is underway.

Smartbomb drags you into the rock star life of the game development industry and then firmly plants you back with the core of the industry: the gamers themselves.
Update: 7 Nov, 2006 - Reposted from old Heartless Gamer Reviews section and applied labels.

Update: 2 Apr, 2007 - Edited labels and article.

Update: 28 July, 2008 - Added info section.

Update: 15 Dec, 2009 - Reposted to new Heartless_ Gamer Reviews.