Aug 27, 2015

Ubisoft's Official Announcement of New York Collapse

Here's the official announcement of New York Collapse, a book I wrote related to Ubisoft's upcoming game The Division. It's not your run-of-the-mill licensed novel, as you'll see from the announcement. The book and the game are coming your way March 8!

Jun 17, 2015

New York Collapse

Today at E3 Ubisoft was showing around this excerpt from my next book: New York Collapse. It's a companion/backstory to their upcoming game The Division, taking the form of a survival guide filled with marginalia and diary entries from a survivor experiencing the pandemic that devastates New York. And as she reads, she starts to discover that maybe the book is more than what it appears to be at first glance...

Here are the front and back covers. I'm stoked to be part of this game world. 

May 19, 2015

Batman: Riddler's Gambit cover

Pretty slick, no?

Scribe Awards Nominees 2015

I'm very pleased to count myself among the nominees for the 2015 Scribe Awards, for my novelization of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Congratulations to all the other nominees! The whole slate, from the IAMTW website:

24: Deadline by James Swallow
Murder She Wrote: Death of a Blue Blood by Don Bain
Mike Hammer: King of the Weeds by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins
Homeland: Saul’s Game by Andrew Kaplan
The Killing: Uncommon Denominator by Karen Dionne
Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution by Keith R. A. DeCandido
Grimm: Chopping Block by John Passarella
Star Trek: Disavowed by David Mack
Star Trek: Foul Deeds Will Rise by Greg Cox
Grimm: The Killing Time by Tim Waggoner
Pathfinder: The Redemption Engine by James Sutter
Fringe: Sins of the Father by Christa Faust
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes by Alex Irvine
Noah by Mark Morris
War of the Worlds: Goliath by Adam Whitlach
Spirit Animals: Blood Ties by Garth Nix and Sean Williams
Battletech: The Nellus Academy Incident by Jennifer Brozak
Penguins of Madagascar by Tracey West
Pathfinder: Hunter’s Folly by Josh Vogt
Mike Hammer: It’s in the Book by Max Collins and Mickey Spillane
Stargate: Perceptions by Diana Botsford
Pathfinder: Queen Sacrifice by Steven Savile
Tales of Valdemar: Written in the Wind by Jennifer Brozek 
Dark Shadows: The Darkest Shadow by Nev Fountain
Dark Shadows: The Devil Cat by Mark Thomas Passmore
Blake’s 7: Fortuitis by George Mann
Doctor Who: Iterations of I by John Dorney
Pathfinder Legends: The Skinsaw Murders by Cavan Scott

Apr 16, 2015

A Connie Willis Story

I just remembered this story after reading Connie Willis' heartfelt (and to my mind absolutely correct) assessment of the Sad Puppies debacle, which might more accurately be termed a hostage situation, since the Hugo Award--and by extension the question of how the science fiction field wants to be perceived by itself--is being held hostage by a few people who...well, read Connie's thoughts on the topic.

Anyway, the story:

In the late 1990s, while living in Denver for grad school, I was a member of the Northern Colorado Writers Workshop, an august institution to which I frequently brought stories. The practice was to bring a story to the group, hand it out, and then workshop it the next month. I did this with a story called "Intimations of Immortality," and then I got antsy. I couldn't wait. I put the story in the mail to F&SF even though it was still waiting for the workshop.

The workshop came around, and when it was over, "Intimations of Immortality" had been so thoroughly savaged that I slunk home with my tail between my legs, thinking I really shouldn't have put it in the mail, questioning whether I really knew what I was doing, et cetera. At this point I'd only ever sold one story, "Rossetti Song," and whatever confidence I had as a writer was sporadic and fragile.

Before I went inside my house, I checked the mail. In it was a check from F&SF.

Talk about a mood swing. I went from a funk of self-doubt to (I'm not going to lie) a brief frenzy of imagined I-told-you-so gloating. Then I settled down a little and just enjoyed the fact that I was going to have another story published! Maybe I was getting this writing thing figured out after all!

At the next workshop I told everyone about this and we all had a good laugh. Then a couple of months later, MileHiCon rolled around, and I was on a panel or something, and while I was standing around with a couple of NCWW colleagues who should walk up but Connie Willis. I had never met her before, and have never spoken to her since, but I was and am a long-time admirer of her fiction.

One of the other NCWW people--I think it was Ed Bryant, but I don't remember for sure--told Connie the first part of this anecdote and then handed it off to me so I could add the big finish about coming home to find a check in the mail for this story that they had so mercilessly annihilated.

She looked me dead in the eye and without missing a beat said, "Well, just because you sold the story doesn't mean it doesn't suck."

Which is technically true, but jeez, Connie. Anyway, she's exactly right about the Hugos, I think, and I'm glad she spoke up the way she did.

Mar 13, 2015

Mars One and "Pictures from an Expedition"

2003: I write a story called "Pictures from an Expedition," in which a private-sector Mars expedition is partially funded by entertainment licensing and degenerates into a reality-TV spectacle.

2015: The PBS Idea Channel makes this video, asking the question "Is Reality TV the Future of Space Travel?"


This means James Cameron is going to call me up so he can make a movie out of "Pictures from an Expedition," right? 

Feb 3, 2015

In Which I Get to Know Batman Again

Since it's listed on various web sites, I guess I can say that I have a Batman novel coming out in June from the swell folks at Titan Books! It's called The Riddler's Gambit, and it takes place between Arkham City and the forthcoming Arkham Knight video game. Here's a not-final cover:

It's been almost ten years since I wrote Batman: Inferno (eek), and it was good to get back in touch with Bruce...and cook up some fiendish Riddler plots. Also, don't forget: Once you read The Riddler's Gambit, make sure you check out Marv Wolfman's novelization of Arkham Knight next.

Jan 14, 2015

Off-the-Cuff Thoughts on a Tweet About Video Gaming and Childhood

This tweet by the estimable Leigh Alexander got me thinking...

...and I think she's getting at something generational in the way people love/appreciate/experience games and gaming. Or at least what she said framed something about my own personal childhood experience of gaming -- which isn't empirically true for anyone but me, of course, but I think I'm not the only one who feels this way.

When I was a little kid, video games were brand new. Me and my friends who played them were doing something nobody had ever done before. Our parents (with rare exceptions*) didn't do it. Our teachers didn't do it. Lots of other kids didn't do it. It wasn't a subculture, because it hadn't existed long enough to be a subculture yet. Video games, from Pong and Combat and Space Invaders and Asteroids right up to, oh, maybe Gauntlet (but even that's too late)** -- those games, when they were new, were markers of being in a place and time to experience something completely different as it was born and began to grow, just as we were beginning to grow. If you have that experience as a kid, every game you ever play hearkens back to that, and every game you ever play is measured by the standards of that childlike amazement.

I just reacquired (thanks to my sharp-eyed wife) an Atari 2600, and even though those games are rudimentary by contemporary standards, I still love them in a way I'll never love Fallout or Skyrim or Diablo. Gamer culture, as it has evolved in the past 15-20 years, is a completely different thing than what we experienced in the late 70s and early 80s. If you aren't old enough to have seen Pong on your neighbor's black-and-white TV, the thunderclap of that experience isn't easily relatable. Younger people grew up waiting for the next game in a long line of games that stretched back into their prehistory, and have a shared experience of online gaming that has bred (for better and worse) a tight (insular, defensive) community. For people my age, that sense of community is very different. There is no game prehistory because we predate games, and the birth of video gaming coincides with and is part of our experience of childhood. Games, to me, still mean wonder. So if people -- particularly people who are, say, over 40 -- cling to the games of their childhoods, maybe that's one reason why. And I think it's okay.

Now back to Dragon Age: Inquisition and Avengers Alliance and Kingdom Rush...oh, and some work.

*One of my dad's (post-)hippie friends had a computer, and they played a moon landing game on it. The game was hard as hell. You had to calculate your burn rates and angles of descent, and get your speed just right or your lander would be destroyed. I remember seeing that game around 1980 or so, but I have no idea what it was called. My attention was divided because the guy whose house it was had a bunch of M-80s and we went outside to blow stuff up.

**By this time, video arcades had spread widely enough that there wasn't anything special about them anymore. When all the cool kids started playing them in the arcades, video games acquired all of the same social markers and pressures as everything else in adolescence, and that early wonder was overwritten by those pressures. That was my experience, anyway. But it didn't stop me from spending all my money at the Putt-Putt on Washtenaw, or Mickey Rat's Video Circus upstairs off William, or the side-door place on Packard and Platt where the older kids divided their time between playing games and scoring weed in the alley out back.

Jan 5, 2015

Two New Books Out Tomorrow

Behold the slick cover art for Thor and The Incredible Hulk, the next two books in my series of junior novelizations of Marvel's Phase One movies. They're out tomorrow!

...and in a couple of months you'll be able to add The Avengers to your collection.