Friday, October 28, 2011

Matt Forbeck's Amortals

Last week, after I finally started reading this book, I tweeted that it read like a cross between Robert Heinlein and Rudy Rucker. Now that I have finished the book, I think that I am going to stick to that analogy and broaden it a bit.

This book represents why I like to read Science Fiction. It had a wild energy that drew me into it's world of the future, and the way that Forbeck breathed life into the personalities of his characters kept me interested in the world and the actions of the plot. If Matt Forbeck's Amortals had come out in 1986, I would have been grouping it along side of some of the greats of the cyberpunk movement. I think this is a book that can stand beside Gibson's Neuromancer, Sterling's Islands in the Net, Rucker's Ware novels, or Williams' Hardwired. Anyone who knows me, and knows my tastes, knows that those are some of my favorite science fiction novels and not names that I toss around lightly.

Amortals takes place within a couple of hundred years from now. The central concept of the novel, and the world, is that the rich and powerful of the world have managed to take advantage of a form of serial immortality where, after death, they are brought back through a form of cloning technology called the Amortal Project. I don't think that the similarity of the name to amoral is unintentional. The ultra-rich, popular celebrities and powerful politicians have all become amortal, meaning that when they die (from some reason or another) they come back in a cloned body that is younger and stronger than they were when they died. Because of the ultra-rich and ultra-powerful having an end run around death and illness, healthcare has lagged behind...because even if an amortal catches a terminal illness they will get better when they come back. The earth of Amortals is classic cyberpunk...a great place if you are rich and powerful, but not so great for everyone else in the world.

Forbeck's eyes for the reader into the world of Amortals is a Secret Service agent named Ronan Dooley. Dooley has lived for nearly two-hundred years, and was the first amortal. Dooley is the only amortal who is not a part of rich and powerful, but he was given amortality for giving his life to save a president...and because the Amortal Project needed a heroic poster child to get the funding and governmental approval they wanted.

The action of the book starts with Dooley "waking up" from the dead and given a special murder case to solve...his own. This draws Dooley into a web of crime, political intrigue, and amortality that reveals shadowy goings on behind the scenes, and reveals dark secrets of the amortality process itself.

Now, I don't want to give much more than that because this novel is every much a thriller, and a big part of the driving force of the plot is the slow reveal of what is secretly going on behind the scenes of politics and the Amortal Project. This book was a page turner as I read it and more than a couple of night's worth of sleep were "ruined" because I needed to read "just one more chapter" of the book before bed. I can't, however, recommend this strongly enough. I do admit to knowing the author through professional circles, we have met a few times through role-playing game designer events over the years, but that did not impact my review of this book.

If you like noirish science fiction novels, or really even mystery fiction and you're willing to put up with some science, I suggest tracking down a copy of this novel  (there's a publisher's link at the top of this review as well) for yourself. I enjoyed it thoroughly and want others to do the same.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

RCRD LBL Free Halloween Mixtape

As long as I am posting "mixtapes," here's one of Halloween-type music compiled by the fine folk over at RCRD LBL. Like music? Like free music? You should check them out.
For me, Halloween is strictly about screams and sweat, straight up thrills, nightmarish parties, and sweet sweet (ear) candy. The louder, the weirder, the filthier, the better. Between witchy Purity remixes, Hussle Club dubstep, blinded-by-blood Atari Teenage Riot cries and Koralleven’s rave horsewhip skinning Britney Spears, our Halloween Thrillers playlist will prepare you for the darkest day of the year. And when it comes, you best dance ‘til you die.

Akira The Don Puts Out Manga Entertainment Tribute Mixtape

Artist, musician and our buddy Akira the Don has released a new mixtape, titled Manga Music, featuring “a tribute to the monumental works of Manga Entertainment, who this year celebrate 20 years of serving us Westerners with the very finest anime.” Each song samples and is named after one of their releases, such as Evangelion, Full Metal Alchemist, Crying Freeman and, naturally, Akira.

Or click over to Soundcloud directly here

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Talking About D101 Games' OpenQuest

OpenQuest is a game that readily admits to standing on the shoulders of giants. Much of the foundation of it, as a game, were laid by the multitude of designers from Chaosium and Mongoose working on Basic Roleplaying and the games that it inspired. That does not, however, make this a knock off by any stretch of the imagination. Like many games being put out today, particularly those among the retro-gaming and Old School Renaissance movements, OpenQuest is first and foremost a labor of love by its creator Newt Newport.

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Necronomicon 2011 Schedule

Necronomicon 2011 (the 30th anniversary of the convention) starts today in sunny St. Petersburg, FL. This is my schedule for the weekend (I added myself to a couple of panels because I didn't have anything to do during that time, and the panels had openings). Stop by and say hello at some point. I'll also be hanging around the table of an author friend, selling some PDFs of HeartQuest and another game book.

I've put up the spreadsheet onto Google Docs and highlighted my panels in yellow. Sadly, there was no pretty way to past from the spreadsheet into the blog post. If you want to contact me direct while I'm at the con, try my email. That's a "work" email.