Guest Posts, New Releases, Science Fiction, Short Fiction

The Authors of Press Start to Play on the Video Games That Made Them Players

pressstartThese days, the video game business is bigger than Hollywood, with the latest installments of major franchises like Call of Duty and Destiny raking in hundreds of millions within days of release. But plenty of us—the Atari kids, the Nintendo kids, heck, even the Playstation and Xbox kids—remember when gaming was given the same side-eye by the mainstream as big fat fantasy novels (hello, HBO’s 20-million-viewer-strong Game of Thrones) and sci-fi books covered in spaceships (*cough* Guardians of the Galaxy *cough*). Gaming is the future. The future is here.

Press Start to Play

Press Start to Play

Paperback $16.95

Press Start to Play

Daniel H. Wilson , John Joseph Adams

In Stock Online

Paperback $16.95

Press Start to Play, a new SF/F anthology from editors Daniel H. Wilson (Robogenesis) and expert short fiction curator John Joseph Adams, is both of-the-minute, “exploring what happens when sci-fi and video games collide,” and alive with the exuberance of authors who came of age in an era when playing video games wasn’t something everyone did, but was an identity. Among its contributors are some of the biggest names in speculative fiction—Charles Yu, Seanean McGuire, Charlie Jane Anders, Austin Grossman, Andy Weir, Holly Black, Hugh Howey, Catherynne M. Valente—and, in honor of the book’s release, we asked them to share with us the games that made them players.

Press Start to Play, a new SF/F anthology from editors Daniel H. Wilson (Robogenesis) and expert short fiction curator John Joseph Adams, is both of-the-minute, “exploring what happens when sci-fi and video games collide,” and alive with the exuberance of authors who came of age in an era when playing video games wasn’t something everyone did, but was an identity. Among its contributors are some of the biggest names in speculative fiction—Charles Yu, Seanean McGuire, Charlie Jane Anders, Austin Grossman, Andy Weir, Holly Black, Hugh Howey, Catherynne M. Valente—and, in honor of the book’s release, we asked them to share with us the games that made them players.

Loosed upon the World: The Saga Anthology of Climate Fiction

Loosed upon the World: The Saga Anthology of Climate Fiction

Paperback $17.99

Loosed upon the World: The Saga Anthology of Climate Fiction

John Joseph Adams

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Paperback $17.99

John Joseph Adams (Loosed Upon the World)
“My favorite game series is unquestionably the Fallout series. Post-apocalyptic fiction is probably my favorite genre, and I’ve been a huge fan of Fallout’s amazing world-building ever since the first one came out in 1997. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’m also a huge Skyrim fan; it would likely be more of a competition for Fallout for the top spot, except that I never really got into Elder Scrolls until Skyrim—not even Oblivion, which is pretty close in terms of ‘game engine vintage.’
All that said, I suspect my actual favorite game of all time is Portal; it’s got a fantastic story that just sort of lives in the background and has an absolutely wonderful antagonist in GLaDOS, but what sets it apart for me is that the level design is so damn clever. (Also, props to the level designers of Portal 2, who made those intricate two-player puzzles—kind of mind-blowing from a design POV.) I’ve got to give a shout out to the Civilization series; I’ve lost many hours of my life to those imaginary empires. Did you hear about the guy who’s been playing the same game of Civ II for ten years? You know you’ve built an amazing game when something like that is even possible. I’d better stop there; I could go on and on (and do, in the introduction to Press Start to Play).

John Joseph Adams (Loosed Upon the World)
“My favorite game series is unquestionably the Fallout series. Post-apocalyptic fiction is probably my favorite genre, and I’ve been a huge fan of Fallout’s amazing world-building ever since the first one came out in 1997. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’m also a huge Skyrim fan; it would likely be more of a competition for Fallout for the top spot, except that I never really got into Elder Scrolls until Skyrim—not even Oblivion, which is pretty close in terms of ‘game engine vintage.’
All that said, I suspect my actual favorite game of all time is Portal; it’s got a fantastic story that just sort of lives in the background and has an absolutely wonderful antagonist in GLaDOS, but what sets it apart for me is that the level design is so damn clever. (Also, props to the level designers of Portal 2, who made those intricate two-player puzzles—kind of mind-blowing from a design POV.) I’ve got to give a shout out to the Civilization series; I’ve lost many hours of my life to those imaginary empires. Did you hear about the guy who’s been playing the same game of Civ II for ten years? You know you’ve built an amazing game when something like that is even possible. I’d better stop there; I could go on and on (and do, in the introduction to Press Start to Play).

All the Birds in the Sky (Signed Book)

All the Birds in the Sky (Signed Book)

Hardcover $25.99

All the Birds in the Sky (Signed Book)

Charlie Jane Anders

Hardcover $25.99

Charlie Jane Anders (All the Birds in the Sky)
“The original Elevator Action was a jazzy, exciting spy thriller where you run and jump around a building, shooting everyone who crosses your path…and riding up and down in elevators. A lot. But the 1990s sequel, Elevator Action Returns, is a gritty post-industrial grungefest, where you fight mutants, robots, and tons of other enemies.
All of a sudden, there is political propaganda everywhere: the walls are scrawled with messages like “CRUSH THE OLD ORDER!” and “CREATE A NEW SOCIETY.” It’s a much darker, more dystopian Elevator Action, in which you can get a rocket launcher and light half a dozen opponents on fire at once, while exploring a downed aircraft, a warehouse, and a ton of other settings. Society is doomed, but at least we’ll have fun in the ashes.”

Charlie Jane Anders (All the Birds in the Sky)
“The original Elevator Action was a jazzy, exciting spy thriller where you run and jump around a building, shooting everyone who crosses your path…and riding up and down in elevators. A lot. But the 1990s sequel, Elevator Action Returns, is a gritty post-industrial grungefest, where you fight mutants, robots, and tons of other enemies.
All of a sudden, there is political propaganda everywhere: the walls are scrawled with messages like “CRUSH THE OLD ORDER!” and “CREATE A NEW SOCIETY.” It’s a much darker, more dystopian Elevator Action, in which you can get a rocket launcher and light half a dozen opponents on fire at once, while exploring a downed aircraft, a warehouse, and a ton of other settings. Society is doomed, but at least we’ll have fun in the ashes.”

Wool

Wool

Paperback $14.99 $16.99

Wool

Hugh Howey

Paperback $14.99 $16.99

Hugh Howey (Wool)
“I gauge my favorite video games by how much they wrecked my grades. By this metric, Wing Commander: Privateer was my favorite video game of all time. I dropped out of college because of that game—it was released in 1993, the year I graduated from high school :::shakes fist:::. All I ever wanted to be in life was Han Solo, and with a PC, a joystick, and a copy of Privateer, I could escape into the galaxy on my very own starship and pretend that I was a likable smuggler who occasionally engaged in acts of compassion.”

Hugh Howey (Wool)
“I gauge my favorite video games by how much they wrecked my grades. By this metric, Wing Commander: Privateer was my favorite video game of all time. I dropped out of college because of that game—it was released in 1993, the year I graduated from high school :::shakes fist:::. All I ever wanted to be in life was Han Solo, and with a PC, a joystick, and a copy of Privateer, I could escape into the galaxy on my very own starship and pretend that I was a likable smuggler who occasionally engaged in acts of compassion.”

A Red-Rose Chain (October Daye Series #9)

A Red-Rose Chain (October Daye Series #9)

Paperback $8.99

A Red-Rose Chain (October Daye Series #9)

Seanan McGuire

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Paperback $8.99

Seanan McGuire (A Red Rose Chain)
“Classically speaking, I’m a Pokémon sort of girl. I have battled the Elite Five on continent after continent in my never-ending quest to catch them all. I appreciate the world-building, the weirdness, and the fact that my lack of highly refined twitch reflexes doesn’t mean that I am doomed to linger forever in the early levels. I’ve even talked, not entirely jokingly, about making a run at the World Championships. Pokémon is a way of life, and I am a Pokémon Master.
Currently, although still within the Nintendo family, I am enjoying Splatoon more than I would have ever thought possible. I am a squid who is also a kid, and my goal is to turn everything orange. EVERYTHING ORANGE FOREVER. It’s a brilliantly low-learning-curve shooter, suitable for all ages, and I could not be more impressed, or more delighted.  With my paint roller, I shall rule the world!
At least until my Pokémon need me.”

Seanan McGuire (A Red Rose Chain)
“Classically speaking, I’m a Pokémon sort of girl. I have battled the Elite Five on continent after continent in my never-ending quest to catch them all. I appreciate the world-building, the weirdness, and the fact that my lack of highly refined twitch reflexes doesn’t mean that I am doomed to linger forever in the early levels. I’ve even talked, not entirely jokingly, about making a run at the World Championships. Pokémon is a way of life, and I am a Pokémon Master.
Currently, although still within the Nintendo family, I am enjoying Splatoon more than I would have ever thought possible. I am a squid who is also a kid, and my goal is to turn everything orange. EVERYTHING ORANGE FOREVER. It’s a brilliantly low-learning-curve shooter, suitable for all ages, and I could not be more impressed, or more delighted.  With my paint roller, I shall rule the world!
At least until my Pokémon need me.”

The Grace of Kings

The Grace of Kings

Hardcover $27.99

The Grace of Kings

Ken Liu

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Hardcover $27.99

Ken Liu (The Grace of Kings)
“I’m going to suggest something a bit unusual in this age of ever-more-powerful consoles and graphic cards: an old fashioned text adventure (much like my story!). The game I recommend is Photopia, by Adam Cadre. This piece of interactive fiction, which you can play through the browser at the author’s web site, allows you to piece together what happened in the aftermath of a momentous event in the lives of a family. No matter your experience level with interactive fiction, I think you’ll find it moving and enjoyable.”

Ken Liu (The Grace of Kings)
“I’m going to suggest something a bit unusual in this age of ever-more-powerful consoles and graphic cards: an old fashioned text adventure (much like my story!). The game I recommend is Photopia, by Adam Cadre. This piece of interactive fiction, which you can play through the browser at the author’s web site, allows you to piece together what happened in the aftermath of a momentous event in the lives of a family. No matter your experience level with interactive fiction, I think you’ll find it moving and enjoyable.”

Clarkesworld Magazine Issue 106

Clarkesworld Magazine Issue 106

NOOK Book $3.99

Clarkesworld Magazine Issue 106

Sam J. Miller , Kay Chronister , Natalia Theodoridou , Yoon Ha Lee , Neil Clarke

In Stock Online

NOOK Book $3.99

Yoon Ha Lee (“Snakes”)
“My favorite CRPG of all time is Planescape: Torment, for its combination of eerie world, fascinating NPCs, and great storyline. In the interactive fiction realm, I love Dan Schmidt’s For a Change, Emily Short’s Pytho’s Mask, and Andrew Plotkin’s Shade.  I’ve also enjoyed the rogue-like variant OAngband (although I don’t think it’s being developed anymore), the Crysis Wars mod Mechwarrior: Living Legends (first-person shooter, but with mechs!), and the chess-like turn-based strategy game M.A.X. (Mechanized Assault and eXploration), with its attention to logistical details—which makes it sound boring, but it’s one of the most engrossing and rewarding games I’ve ever played. In college, it’s a wonder I didn’t flunk out playing Diablo II during finals week (I played a Vehementazon). These days, I play the occasional spot of League of Legends (I like Jinx, but am very bad at her) and the web-based ‘pet’ game Flight Rising, which is completely different; my daughter got me into it because she loves all things dragon, and I’ve developed an affection for the pixel beasts!”

Yoon Ha Lee (“Snakes”)
“My favorite CRPG of all time is Planescape: Torment, for its combination of eerie world, fascinating NPCs, and great storyline. In the interactive fiction realm, I love Dan Schmidt’s For a Change, Emily Short’s Pytho’s Mask, and Andrew Plotkin’s Shade.  I’ve also enjoyed the rogue-like variant OAngband (although I don’t think it’s being developed anymore), the Crysis Wars mod Mechwarrior: Living Legends (first-person shooter, but with mechs!), and the chess-like turn-based strategy game M.A.X. (Mechanized Assault and eXploration), with its attention to logistical details—which makes it sound boring, but it’s one of the most engrossing and rewarding games I’ve ever played. In college, it’s a wonder I didn’t flunk out playing Diablo II during finals week (I played a Vehementazon). These days, I play the occasional spot of League of Legends (I like Jinx, but am very bad at her) and the web-based ‘pet’ game Flight Rising, which is completely different; my daughter got me into it because she loves all things dragon, and I’ve developed an affection for the pixel beasts!”

Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football, and Assorted Absurdities

Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football, and Assorted Absurdities

Hardcover $27.00

Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football, and Assorted Absurdities

Chris Kluwe

Hardcover $27.00

Chris Kluwe (Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies)
“My favorite video game of all time has to be Final Fantasy VI (FFIII in the U.S.), for one simple reason—the writing. I was 12 when it came out, and up until that point, I enjoyed the stories of video games, but had never really been sucked into one like a good book or movie. That all changed with FFVI. From the opening sequence, with Terra striding through the snow while World of Ruin (foreshadowing!) played over the credits; to gathering a diverse cast of party-members, all of whom had their own, fleshed out reasons for opposing the Empire; to Kefka cracking the world, what would normally be the end of any lesser game…well, to say I was enthralled would be putting it mildly. I cared about the characters, and I wanted to know how their story ended (a story that could end in a variety of ways based on my actions throughout the game). The graphics aren’t much compared to what’s available now, but FFVI is still the one game I can play over and over again, because it was so well written—something I wish more games strove for.”

Chris Kluwe (Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies)
“My favorite video game of all time has to be Final Fantasy VI (FFIII in the U.S.), for one simple reason—the writing. I was 12 when it came out, and up until that point, I enjoyed the stories of video games, but had never really been sucked into one like a good book or movie. That all changed with FFVI. From the opening sequence, with Terra striding through the snow while World of Ruin (foreshadowing!) played over the credits; to gathering a diverse cast of party-members, all of whom had their own, fleshed out reasons for opposing the Empire; to Kefka cracking the world, what would normally be the end of any lesser game…well, to say I was enthralled would be putting it mildly. I cared about the characters, and I wanted to know how their story ended (a story that could end in a variety of ways based on my actions throughout the game). The graphics aren’t much compared to what’s available now, but FFVI is still the one game I can play over and over again, because it was so well written—something I wish more games strove for.”

The Price of Valor

The Price of Valor

Hardcover $26.95

The Price of Valor

Django Wexler

Hardcover $26.95

Django Wexler (The Price of Valor)
“This is a really hard question, there’s so many! At best this is a partial list. From the good old days, there’s Total Annihilation, a real-time strategy game whose elegance and depth of strategy have perhaps never been equaled, and Unreal Tournament, which was my introduction to late-night LAN party shooter madness. A lot of my favorites mix good gameplay with great writing and story—standouts there include Disgaea, a snarky jRPG with interesting mechanics that’s laugh-out-loud funny, especially for anime fans; the Mass Effect series, which, in spite of the botched ending, has some of my favorite video game characters of all time; and Borderlands 1 & 2, which are great examples of how good writing turns a more-or-less standard shooter into something spectacular. (And Portal, of course, but everyone’s going to say Portal.)  In terms of actual time devoured, recent winners would have to be the endlessly replayable Civilization V, and Blizzard’s Diablo III, which raises the art of monster-smashing to something almost zen.”

Django Wexler (The Price of Valor)
“This is a really hard question, there’s so many! At best this is a partial list. From the good old days, there’s Total Annihilation, a real-time strategy game whose elegance and depth of strategy have perhaps never been equaled, and Unreal Tournament, which was my introduction to late-night LAN party shooter madness. A lot of my favorites mix good gameplay with great writing and story—standouts there include Disgaea, a snarky jRPG with interesting mechanics that’s laugh-out-loud funny, especially for anime fans; the Mass Effect series, which, in spite of the botched ending, has some of my favorite video game characters of all time; and Borderlands 1 & 2, which are great examples of how good writing turns a more-or-less standard shooter into something spectacular. (And Portal, of course, but everyone’s going to say Portal.)  In terms of actual time devoured, recent winners would have to be the endlessly replayable Civilization V, and Blizzard’s Diablo III, which raises the art of monster-smashing to something almost zen.”

World of Warcraft: Curse of the Worgen

World of Warcraft: Curse of the Worgen

Paperback $12.00 $16.99

World of Warcraft: Curse of the Worgen

Micky Neilson , James Waugh

Paperback $12.00 $16.99

Micky Neilson (World of Warcraft comics)
“Video games have influenced me throughout my life. Growing up, it was arcade games like Missile Command, Star Wars, Tron, Space Ace and Dragon’s Lair (yep, I’ll be dating myself here). Later came the PC games: some of my faves include adventure games like Full Throttle and the Monkey Island series, early first person shooters like Doom, Descent, Heretic and Star Wars: Dark Forces (Boba Fett scared the crap outta me) and Duke Nukem.  Of course, you can’t leave out the consoles: the ones I played most were Metal Gear Solid and Tenchu. At work, throughout the early years of Blizzard, the fighter game to end all fighter games was Samurai Shodown. Pretty much the entire company stepped up for that one, and I’m happy to say it still holds up today (and I can still play a pretty mean Kyoshiro). Last but not least are the Blizzard games: Warcraft, StarCraft, Diablo, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch. I love ‘em all!”

Micky Neilson (World of Warcraft comics)
“Video games have influenced me throughout my life. Growing up, it was arcade games like Missile Command, Star Wars, Tron, Space Ace and Dragon’s Lair (yep, I’ll be dating myself here). Later came the PC games: some of my faves include adventure games like Full Throttle and the Monkey Island series, early first person shooters like Doom, Descent, Heretic and Star Wars: Dark Forces (Boba Fett scared the crap outta me) and Duke Nukem.  Of course, you can’t leave out the consoles: the ones I played most were Metal Gear Solid and Tenchu. At work, throughout the early years of Blizzard, the fighter game to end all fighter games was Samurai Shodown. Pretty much the entire company stepped up for that one, and I’m happy to say it still holds up today (and I can still play a pretty mean Kyoshiro). Last but not least are the Blizzard games: Warcraft, StarCraft, Diablo, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch. I love ‘em all!”

Vignettes From the End of the World

Vignettes From the End of the World

Hardcover $34.99

Vignettes From the End of the World

Jacob Haddon

In Stock Online

Hardcover $34.99

S.R. Mastrantone (“Nothing Can See You”)
“I’ve loved a lot of computer games in my time, but it was Dizzy that saved my Grandmother’s life. Dizzy, an egg wearing boxing gloves, starred in a series of platform games in the late ’80s. In each adventure, Dizzy would be trapped in some strange place (Treasure Island, Magicland, Fantasy World) and could only escape by solving a series of puzzles scattered around the landscape. (You plant the magic bean. A lovely beanstalk grows.) Some of the puzzles were hard, especially for a 10-year-old. My two brothers and I were really struggling with the underwater skeleton beast on Spellbound Dizzy, so we gave in and decided to phone the premium-rate Dizzy Helpline. Having been banned from the Dizzy Helpline at home, we had to wait until we were staying at my grandmother’s. We got up at 5 a.m. (just to be safe) and snuck downstairs to make the expensive call, but found my grandmother on the sofa in the lounge talking incoherently to herself.
You call your parents and wake up Grandad to tell them about Granny. A lovely ambulance arrives.
She’d suffered some sort of dreadful stroke/hypothermia/gangrene combo, then in hospital, she had a massive heart attack.
But she lived, although had we not found her when we did…
So while I’ll always have soft spots for games like Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, Operation Genesis, Football Manager and Kingdom Hearts, the crown belongs to that intelligent, boxing-glove clad egg, Dizzy, King of the Yolkfolk.”
Marc Laidlaw (The 37th Mandala)
“I believe this URL says it all.”
What games define you?

S.R. Mastrantone (“Nothing Can See You”)
“I’ve loved a lot of computer games in my time, but it was Dizzy that saved my Grandmother’s life. Dizzy, an egg wearing boxing gloves, starred in a series of platform games in the late ’80s. In each adventure, Dizzy would be trapped in some strange place (Treasure Island, Magicland, Fantasy World) and could only escape by solving a series of puzzles scattered around the landscape. (You plant the magic bean. A lovely beanstalk grows.) Some of the puzzles were hard, especially for a 10-year-old. My two brothers and I were really struggling with the underwater skeleton beast on Spellbound Dizzy, so we gave in and decided to phone the premium-rate Dizzy Helpline. Having been banned from the Dizzy Helpline at home, we had to wait until we were staying at my grandmother’s. We got up at 5 a.m. (just to be safe) and snuck downstairs to make the expensive call, but found my grandmother on the sofa in the lounge talking incoherently to herself.
You call your parents and wake up Grandad to tell them about Granny. A lovely ambulance arrives.
She’d suffered some sort of dreadful stroke/hypothermia/gangrene combo, then in hospital, she had a massive heart attack.
But she lived, although had we not found her when we did…
So while I’ll always have soft spots for games like Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, Operation Genesis, Football Manager and Kingdom Hearts, the crown belongs to that intelligent, boxing-glove clad egg, Dizzy, King of the Yolkfolk.”
Marc Laidlaw (The 37th Mandala)
“I believe this URL says it all.”
What games define you?