Friday, February 24, 2006

Friday Frazzlery

It's Friday, and I don't feel like applying myself, so here's some miscellany:

Gaming: seems when it comes to gaming, the critics have the most fun with the James Bond franchise. I've fiddled a bit with some of these offerings, and there are good games and bad games. Critics jumped all over From Russia With Love, but it's not as bad as all that. I enjoyed its sense of play -- its action is clunkier than some of the other 007 games, but I thought it worked within its retro-environment. I think it would have garnered higher praise had it been released before 007: Everything Or Nothing, surely one of the most layered games in the franchise. EON has so many wonderful little nooks and crannies and options to explore, it seems almost impossible to exhaust. Lots of fun, both of them, but I'll keep singing my one-sour-note refrain: gaming animators are a listless, uninspired bunch. Pierce Brosnan and Sean Connery (to say nothing of their sexy eye-candy) get the usual Disney Hall of Presidents treatment, an approach that makes the animated segues either boring or unintentionally comic. C'mon, people: instead of exploring the absolute limits of the form, why not acknowledge them at the outset, and play with expectations? Consumers realize the animation is going to be stiff, so why not surprise them and make it psychedelic and herky-jerky? That's just one option available to you gaming geeks, but consider it -- would you? Heck if you use it, you don't even have to acknowledge your source.

Critic At Large: BookNinja has frequently sung the praises of lit-crit Alex Good, but it's taken me some time to actually tune in and turn on (dropping out is overrated). Good Reports ("Canada's Premiere Independent Book Site"!) is loaded with goodies galore (*ahem*). I whiled away an hour eating up the reviews and articles, and left the site feeling invigorated and ready to write fiction -- an unusual response to criticism, but Good is the sort of critic that makes an ideal reader. Excelsior!

Dennis Danvers: most writers of Speculative Fiction fall into two categories: those who take technology seriously, and those who take human yearning seriously. Dennis Danvers belongs to the latter school, which makes his spec-fic eminently readable. I've been a fan since Circuit of Heaven first came on the scene, and I've just come to the realization that Danvers is one of those writers whose work I seek out because every new novel indicates he's still alive and productive.

It's been three years since The Watch, his latest novel, so I expected to see something new under his name. Quick trip to Amazon, and ... nothing. What did this mean? The Stand was, perhaps, his riskiest work: resurrecting Peter Kropotkin, a Russian anarchist, and placing him in the environs of late-20th Century Richmond, VA was cheerfully provocative, but unlikely to expand his readership in the post-9/11 gloom. Had Danvers despaired, and quit writing?

Not at all. Further googling revealed that the man has simply adopted a nom de plume and given us The Bright Spot, by Robert Sydney. Danvers remains alive and productive -- good news, indeed.


Trent Reimer said...

I hear you on the game thing.

One of the things I loved about the original Tomb Raider ("original" because each of the following versions is worse that the one before - the cup size goes up while the game gets flatter) was the animation. At the time computers wouldn't support high resolution characters. Instead of pushing resolution as far as it would allow Eidos even lower resolution, low polygon characters who were made recognizable through general shape (ahem) and animation. The stylized characters really worked.

The end result could be seen in a shark that in a screen shot looked like a grey lump with a big mouth and a couple of fins but when you saw that thing swimming toward you your pulse jumped because it *swam* like a shark. For that moment it WAS a shark. Green lump with long jaws? A giant crocodile, wonderfully menacing. You were scrambling to get out of the water before the jaws clamped down on you.

Talk about more with less.

Whisky Prajer said...

That's exactly what I'm talking about. Where did the brain trust fund of the early Eidos generation disappear to? Perhaps this missing brain trust is what's inflating dear Lara...

Duke said...

WP, I just read Danvers' Circuit of Heaven and found it to be great sci-fi. He does know how to deal with humanity's big questions. Sci-fi that makes you think and question your assumptions. He's got a new fan in me.

Whisky Prajer said...

kewl! COH is still my favourite Danvers book, but his other titles are compelling reads, too.