The time has come again. It's time for the weather to spike up over the 90 degree mark and for people the country over to go on summer vacation and pick up books from libraries, book stores, and airport news-stands. To best build on this increased interest in casual reading book sellers and critics the world over start to put together their "Summer Reading Lists". We here at the Fantasy Shop are really no different, and the comics industry is glad to provide us with plenty of quality material as the days grow warmer and the nights grow shorter. So, first off I would recommend checking out the following Best of The Summer 2010 lists (here, here and here), and then you should read on and check out some of the upcoming reads, re-issues, and forgotten classics.
I couldn't wait to read the first item on my list, and so it's the only item that I can tell you about from experience. It's a prose novel from one of my favorite writers over the last several years: Cory Doctorow. Cory's gift for future-now fiction is the kind that many writers wish that they could achieve and his ability to teach the future of tech is one part professor one part prophet.
His newest novel is a Young Adult novel called For The Win which is an amazing story of young gamers the world over who find themselves in the unenviable position of being a part of a new generation of sweat shops: Gold Farms. The novel follows characters from all over South East Asia and the West Coast of America as they suffer the trials and travails of a world that wants to grind the most value out of a game instance with little care for the health and wellbeing of those who do the work. The characters are as diverse in their experience with MMORPG's as they are in their geographical locality, from Mala who is only just getting into gaming and finds herself recruited into the world of Gold Farming, to Matthew who has worked in one of China's hardest working Gold Farms only to venture out on his own in an attempt to make money while having more fun, to Big Sister Nor who comes from the world of Unionized Labor in Factories and knows less of gaming than she does of leading people, to Leonard who'd rather you call him "Wei Dong" who lives in California and is fascinated with Chinese culture. It's a brilliant book that kept me enraptured from the first page through the end. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep even the most jaded of readers on edge and it provides a look at the future of our economy while looking back at the ways of the past.
A great book for readers of all ages and an instant recommendation for those who love the works of Orson Scott Card and Warren Ellis.
One of the books on my stack of "To Be Read" that I've been dying to get around to is Farscape. I really wanted to re-watch the series before I dove into the comics in order to get the stories and the characters refreshed in my mind. Thanks to Netflix I've been able to go through and rediscover the many wonders that is the series of Farscape. The tale of John Crichton is one of truly epic proportions and one that I have greatly enjoyed watching. So when BOOM! Studios announced that they would be bringing the series back in comic form under the oversight of series creator Rockne S. O'Bannon I was utterly thrilled. I've kept myself from reading much of the books since it's launched in my meager attempt to re-digest the series as it had been but I must admit that from time to time I have slipped and that the comics are everything I had hoped that they would be and more.
The art captures the characters as they were in the series without feeling stale and posed. The writing grasps the nuances of the relationships as well as the depth of the personalities. And I can only say that if you haven't ever checked out Farscape that you are doing yourself a great disservice. Even though the series is a bit older now I can assure you that it is the kind of classic that keeps itself from feeling dated.
So get over to Netflix and watch the series. I can guarantee that you won't regret it.
Another item on my "To Read List" isn't fiction, it's a game. From Evil Hat Games comes The Dresden Files Roleplaying Game. In an attempt to keep myself from going stark raving mad a few years back when I was living in Saint Charles and working in Fairview Heights, IL I decided to start listening to audiobooks during my commute and based on the recommendation of one Mr. Mark Finefield, I decided to check out the Dresden Files series. And I couldn't have possibly been more pleased. The life and times of Harry Dresden are amazing. Author Jim Butcher has a talent for combining the modern world and the world of magic and wizards.
The game is based on the underground hit The FATE System, the game which the currently available Spirit of the Century is based on. Everything about it seems like it's going to be right up my alley and I can't wait to get my hands on it.
While I'm at it I should also recommend Spirit of the Century, from Evil Hat Games, just recently available for retail and in all 4 stores of the Fantasy Shop.
It's going to be a great Summer.