Friday, April 17, 2009

Don't Panic, Neil Gaiman

Don't Panic
Neil Gaiman

Subtitle: The Official Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Companion.

This was written in 1988, after So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, but before Mostly Harmless, and long before Adams died.

I can't find an ordered list of Gaiman's works all that quickly, but this one feels a tad off. Perhaps it was an early work, or maybe he just didn't take it all that seriously. Regardless, it doesn't feel like he put a lot of effort into it.

That said, there is still some good info in here for Hitchhiker's fans everywhere. I learned a few things, and seeing some of Adams's wit on display again was good. I need to acquire the BBC radio series, though, and listen to them. Believe it or not I haven't done that yet.

As always, I miss Douglas Adams. A lot.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Order of the Stick, Rich Burlew

Titles: Order of the Stick
Vol 1: Dungeon Crawlin' Fools
Vol 2: No Cure for the Paladin Blues
Vol 3: War and XPs
Vol 0: On the Origin of PCs
Vol -1: Start of Darkness
Author: Rich Burlew
Rating: Good

What is The Order of the Stick?

Well, I'd never heard of it either until recently, but my gaming past is somewhat limited. In any event, OOTS is a webcomic that follows a party of D&D adventurers as they try to accomplish a large and difficult quest.

The books are essentially graphic novels. The art is deliberately simplistic - stick figures, in fact - but Burlew uses that to his advantage and lets the story shine with it.

If you were ever a gamer you'll get a good laugh out of the D&D rules jokes, particularly if you had campaigns cross rules editions. But beyond the rules jokes - which actually diminish over time - the story gets bigger and grander. At the end of War and XPs you've watched a huge battle - on the scale of things seen in the LOTR movies - and the outcome was not good for the heros. Still, there are lots of laugh-out-loud moments in these strips. Burlew is a good writer, and knows how to tell a story.

These are recommended, and you don't even have to buy them. you can read them all online at:

Suggestion: The titles above are listed in proper reading order, at least so far.

Woken Furies, Richard K. Morgan

Woken Furies
Richard K. Morgan

Woken Furies may be the best Takeshi Kovacs novel so far. Once again it's a cyberpunk novel set in the fairly distant future, but this time I feel like Morgan has really hit his stride. The writing is crisp, the settings interesting, and the story well thought out. We learn a lot more about the motivations of the hero this time, which I found intriguing.

A short summary that doesn't give things away: Kovacs is on Harlan's World on "personal business" (my phrase, but I don't want to give away what he's doing there) when he gets involved with a group of people who specialize in destroying mechanized, semi-intelligent warfare equipment left over from a previous conflict. Each member of the team he falls in with has a slew of modifications to help them perform this work, and the commander is particularly well linked in with just about anything networked. She, however, goes down during a skirmish and Kovacs finds himself protecting her. He also learns that someone is coming after him, someone he knows very well and has reason to fear. And that's saying a lot for an Envoy. Soon, however, he discovers that he's not actually the primary target, and things get even more complicated.

Morgan covers a lot of ground here. Philosophy, violence, technology, surfing, weapons, rock climbing, sex, diving, you name it.