(Disclosure: I have been a friend of the author from some 20 years.)
Mountain's second novel, available (so far) only as an ebook and as far as I can t(Disclosure: I have been a friend of the author from some 20 years.)
Mountain's second novel, available (so far) only as an ebook and as far as I can tell only directly from him, was a rather pleasant surprise. Having long admired his skill as a lyricist, I was not at all surprised to find myself enjoying his prose, and yet long-form prose is a rather different animal than lyric poetry, and rather few people seem to master both.
That said, while I greatly enjoyed it, I can't quite bring myself to say that he has (yet?) mastered the prose novel—but then, I don't think he ever made any claim to be writing "hagh literitchah." This is, in essence, entertainment, just as one might surmise from the title, and I was highly entertained.
The plot focuses on the CEO of a Bayeria electronic game company, and their next release is the sort of ultraviolent timewaste that would have greatly appealed to Alex of A Clockwork Orange were he stuck at home with his pee and em instead of going out with his droogs for a more visceral horrorshow nochy with a chasha of Moloko plus and a bit of the old in and out with a real devotchka. Here, however, the violence is both more and less glorified; it remains shocking in certain ways, but somehow also distant, even when it comes in close.
This may result in part, not only from the subject matter itself, but from the author's—and thus the protagonist's—dry, acerbic, cynical tone. Conveniently, as a cynic myself, I was readily able to connect on this level, though I imagine it may leave certain readers cold. From what I know of the world of tech start ups and venture capital, this is not nearly as out of place as one might imagine for Bayeria, with all its left politics and sensitivity training and workshop language. Yet, as much as this may make it the wrong book for some, the one true hurdle I encountered (and the only real reason I couldn't bring myself to grant the fifth star) was the shifting of points of view. It works, in a sense, in that it puts the reader appropriately off-balance, and it is a stylistic choice that seems integral to the plot itself, and nevertheless I found myself on more than one occasion halfway or more into a chapter before I figured out who it was about and had to go back and start the chapter over as a result.
Final analysis: well worth it, if you're into that sort of thing and can get your hands on it. Maybe drop an email here and see if he'll sell it direct—feed the starving artist before he decides to go postal himself. ;-)...more
Extremely derivative, but that would be expected by anyone familiar with the Ravenloft series or setting. Seems like handy background material for anyExtremely derivative, but that would be expected by anyone familiar with the Ravenloft series or setting. Seems like handy background material for anyone getting set to run the game, though....more
This is far better than it has any right to be. Such corporate pulp is not supposed to come this close to literature, much less art. King's style hereThis is far better than it has any right to be. Such corporate pulp is not supposed to come this close to literature, much less art. King's style here borders on post-modernism, while still retaining the overall style specific to and expected of the PlaneScape multiverse, with touched of meta-narrative and wry humor, along with subtle and sometimes arch alliteration that seemed to me to lift this well beyond the genre to which is nevertheless clearly belongs. Exceedingly well done, and a fitting end to the trilogy....more
Fairly extensive coverage of the very early days of table-top role-playing games in a working-class region of the UK, in a narrative autobiographicalFairly extensive coverage of the very early days of table-top role-playing games in a working-class region of the UK, in a narrative autobiographical style. The author was clearly scarred, and seems in part to blame the gaming culture, though he was clearly no less of a mess before discovering D&D, and not much less of a mess after moving on. "Bitter" doesn't begin to cover it though; his deprecation of both self and other quickly passes mere cynicism and speeds on into obnoxious prat. Nevertheless, I found it a marginally amusing, somewhat worthwhile look back at an era of which I was part in a region I never encountered....more
While you can't exactly "hear the dice falling," this is definitely a gamer's book about a game. Drawing, perhaps too heavily, on the famous "non-playWhile you can't exactly "hear the dice falling," this is definitely a gamer's book about a game. Drawing, perhaps too heavily, on the famous "non-player characters" of the Greyhawk world of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, the book seems almost gratuitously explicative of the mechanics of the world, frequently adding in detail none of the characters could possibly know simply to explain to the reader (and presumed player) details of the game world.
All that said, for anyone who is a fan or veteran of the venerable Greyhawk milieu, this book does provide a wealth of flavor and detail absent from the official game materials, in a format far more fun to read than, say, World of Greyhawk Advanced Dungeons Dragons, which makes The Silmarillion look like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. If, however, one is unfamiliar with or uninterested in the world or the game, the story is almost certainly not quite good enough to make up for tired lists of "barbicans and machicolations" and lengthy explications of the habitat and breeding differences between losels and orcs....more