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Weekly Book Buzz: A Review of All Your Base Are Belong to Us

Shirley Jackson Awards Nominees

By Tim Janson     April 18, 2011

All Your Base Are Belong to Us by Harold Goldberg
© Three Rivers Press


Not much in the way of new releases this week so I’ve got everything in one category this week. As usual it’s the calm before the storm as next week is huge. 
The nominees for the 2010 Shirley Jackson Awards have been announced. The awards are given out annually at Readercon for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic. Here are the highlights:
  • Dark Matter, by Michelle Paver
  • A Dark Matter, by Peter Straub
  • Feed, by Mira Grant
  • Mr. Shivers, by Robert Jackson Bennett
  • The Reapers Are the Angels, by Alden Bell
  • The Silent Land, by Graham Joyce
  • The Broken Man, by Michael Byers
  • Chasing the Dragon, by Nicholas Kaufmann
  • “Mysterium Tremendum,” by Laird Barron
  • One Bloody Thing After Another, by Joey Comeau
  • Subtle Bodies, by Peter Dubé
  • The Thief of Broken Toys, by Tim Lebbon
  • “–30–,” by Laird Barron
  • “The Broadsword,” by Laird Barron
  • “Holderhaven,” by Richard Butner
  • “The Redfield Girls,” by Laird Barron
  • “Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains,” by Neil Gaiman
Short Story
  • “As Red as Red,” by Caitlin R. Kiernan
  • “Booth’s Ghost,” by Karen Joy Fowler
  • “The Foxes,” by Lily Hoang
  • “six six six,” by Laird Barron
  • “The Things,” by Peter Watts
Out this week…
The River of Shadows Robert V. S. Redick [Del Rey TPB]
In the gripping sequel to Robert V. S. Redick’s acclaimed epic fantasy novels The Red Wolf Conspiracy and The Ruling Sea, the crew of the vast, ancient ship Chathrand have reached the shores of the legendary southern empire of Bali Adro. Many have died in the crossing, and the alliance of rebels, led by the tarboy Pazel Pathkendle and the warrior Thasha Isiq, has faced death, betrayal, and darkest magic. But nothing has prepared them for the radically altered face of humanity in the South.
They have little time to recover from the shock, however. For with landfall, the battle between the rebels and centuries-old sorcerer Arunis enters its final phase. At stake is control of the Nilstone, a cursed relic that promises unlimited power to whoever unlocks the secrets of its use—but death to those who fail. And no one is closer to mastering the Stone than Arunis.
Desperate to stop him, Pazel and Thasha must join forces with their enemies, including the depraved Captain Rose and the imperial assassin Sandor Ott. But when a suspicious young crewmember turns his attentions to Thasha, it is the young lovers themselves who are divided—most conveniently for Arunis. As the mage’s triumph draws near, the allies face a terrible choice: to break their oaths and run for safety, or to hunt the world’s most dangerous sorcerer through the strange and deadly dream kingdom known as the River of Shadows, and to face him a last time among the traps and horrors of his lair.
Mercy Burns (Myth and Magic, Book 2) Keri Arthur [Dell]
Mercy Reynolds is a reporter in the San Francisco Bay area, but she’s also more—and less—than human. Half woman, half air dragon, she’s a “draman”—unable to shift shape but still able to unleash fiery energy. Now something will put her powers to the test.
Mercy’s friend Rainey has enlisted her help to solve her sister’s murder. Then a horrible accident claims Rainey’s life, leaving Mercy only five days to find the killer: If Mercy fails, according to dragon law, Rainey’s soul will be doomed to roam the earth for eternity. But how can Mercy help when she herself is a target? With nowhere else to turn, she must join forces with a sexy stranger—the mysterious man they call “Muerte,” or death itself, who’s as irresistible as he is treacherous. But can even Death keep Mercy alive for long enough to find her answers?
After Dark Vol. 1 (TPB) Peter Milligan [Radical Graphic Novel]
An amoral drifter guides a gang of damaged souls into the dark places of the ruined planet, and the even darker places of their own pasts. They journey this post-apocalyptic terrain in search of a woman who may be the key to saving the world. The real question still looms if the people who still inhabit this world are even worth saving.
After Dark is a story of hidden demons and unleashed devils set in a future that could very well be ours.
Star Trek: Khan - Ruling in Hell Scott Tipton [IDW Graphic Novel]
When the most infamous villain in Star Trek history is last seen in the Original Series episode "Space Seed," Khan Noonien Singh's an elegant, proud warrior-king. When he's next seen in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, he's a grizzled maniac, twisted by loss and an unquenchable thirst for revenge. What has happened between these two points in time to so radically alter what seemed to be an unbreakable will?
Transformers: Sector 7 John Barber [IDW Graphic Novel]
Spinning out of the hit movies Transformers and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - witness the secret history of SECTOR 7 and their torrid connections to the alien Transformers in this century-spanning tale that follows a cursed family as they protect the planet from invaders far more advanced than anything on Earth!
Bernie Wrightson's Frankenstein [Dark Horse Hardcover Graphic Novel]
Few works by comic-book artists have earned the universal acclaim and reverence that Bernie Wrightson's illustrated version of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein was met with upon its original release in 1983. Twenty-five years later, this magnificent pairing of art and literature is still considered to be one of the greatest achievements made by any artist in the field. Now, Wrightson and Dark Horse Books are collaborating on a beautiful new hardcover edition of the book, published in a larger 9' x 12' format intended to show off the exquisitely detailed line art of one of the greatest living artists in comics today. This book includes the complete text of the original groundbreaking novel, and the original forty-seven full-page illustrations that stunned the world with their monumental beauty and uniqueness.
Historical Lovecraft: Tales of Horror Through Time Silvia Moreno-Garcia [Innsmouth Free Press]
Historical Lovecraft, a unique anthology blending historical fiction with horror, features 26 tales spanning centuries and continents. This eclectic volume takes the readers through places as varied as Laos, Greenland, Peru, and the Congo, and from antiquity until the 20th century, pushing the envelope of Lovecraftian lore. William Meikle's inquisitor tries to unravel the truth during a very hostile questioning. Jesse Bullington narrates the saga of a young Viking woman facing danger and destruction. E. Catherine Tobler stops in Ancient Egypt, where Pharaoh Hatshepsut receives an exquisite and deadly gift. Albert Tucher discovers that the dead do not remain silent in 10th century Rome. These are tales that reimagine history and look into the past through a darker glass. Tales that show evil has many faces and reaches through the centuries. Tales that will chill your heart. Join us in our journey through horror and time, if you dare.
The Complete Peanuts 1979 – 1980 Charles Schulz (Fantagraphics Hardcover)
I always look forward to the latest collection of Peanuts Strips from Fantagraphics and with the newest offering, the Peanuts moves into the 1980s. In general, Charles Schulz’ strips can fit in any era. Especially as he got old he seemed careful to try and not make Peanuts too topical so they wouldn’t become outdated. Like old friends, the Peanuts hits a tone of familiarity. How can you ever tire of Linus’ philosophies, Snoopy imagining himself fighting the Red Baron, Peppermint Patty’s academic struggles, and another dismal season for Charlie Brown’s baseball team.
One interesting plot that took place over a couple of week’s of strips is Charlie Brown checking himself into the emergency room of a hospital after he feels dizzy playing baseball. The running joke is that he’s been hit in the head with one too many fly balls. Peppermint Patty and Marcie hold a vigil outside the hospital since they are too young to visit him. Lucy even promises not to pull the football away when he tries to kick it if he gets better. True to her word, Lucy holds the football and Charlie Brown proceeds to kick her in the hand and break it! Great stuff! 
Oddly the October strips from 1979 completely ignore the Great Pumpkin or any Halloween themes for that matter. Perhaps Schulz wanted a break for a year as Linus’ quest to meet the Great Pumpkin returned in 1980. There’s something so simple and yet so complex about Peanuts strips. Not matter how many you read you can never tire of them. Grade A
All Your Base are Belong to Us Harold Goldberg (Three Rivers Press)
The unusual name for this book comes from 1991 video game called Zero Wing which had, obviously, a poor translation from Japanese to English. The phrase became a pop culture phenomenon. It’s appropriate though as Harold Goldberg’ book is a history of videogames from the perspective of the games, companies, and creators who become phenomenons in their own right. It might be hard for some people to believe but there was actually a time when there were no such things as videogames. Some people…ahem…are old enough to remember those prehistoric days. While the earliest development goes back to the late 1950s, mainly by bored programmers coming up with their own games to entertain themselves, the first game that truly kicked off the video game craze was Pong, first a hit as an arcade game in bars, bowling alleys, and stores, and later with a home console. 
As interesting as many of the games are, they pale next to some of the characters involved in the videogame industry. Take Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari. It was his deal with Sears that got Pong into homes and alter Bushnell would roll out the Atari 2600. Just as famous as his successes were his failures. An agreement to license a game based on the film ET: The Extraterrestrial essentially sunk the first wave of home videogames. There is the legendary tale of how millions of the unsold cartridges were dumped in New Mexico desert.
There is the story of Trip Hawkins who founded software giant Electronic Arts and developed their landmark franchise John Madden Football. But Hawkins failed miserably when trying to compete in the console market with his powerful but overpriced 3DO system in the early 1990s. It is the story of Roberta and Ken Williams who created Sierra On-line and turned it into a powerhouse with titles like the King’s Quest and Leisure Suit Larry franchises. They sold the company for a huge sum of cash and stock only to find later that the company that bought Sierra On-line was inflating their earnings with fraudulent business statements resulting in two executives going to prison and ordered to pay over $3 Billion in restitution…the highest restitution order ever imposed until it was overtaken by the $170 billion restitution order against Bernard Madoff in June 2009.
Goldberg does a good job of hitting on the industry’s most influential games, systems, and trends such as the NEW and Super Mario, The Sega Genesis, Multiplayer games like Everquest and World of Warcraft, Grand Theft Auto, The Sims, and many more. He concludes with a look into the future of the videogame industry. This should be required reading for any fans of videogames. It’s vitally important to know the kinds of risks, challenges, rewards, and losses that went into creating the industry that we know today. Grade A


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