Saturday, 20 April 2013

Life Isn't Like A Video Game - Bugger!

Hi Guys,

Once more apologies for the delay in posting - but this time I have a legitimate excuse. I'm on dial up and something went badly wrong with the line a couple of weeks ago. As usual I blame the electric fence of the farmer next door, though the telecom man didn't seem so sure. Either way the upshot is that having had a repair done I'm now on a temporary patch, there's noise on the line, and an already diabolically slow connection has slowed to a crawl. (You don't want to know how long it will take to post this post!)

Anyway progress is being made elsewhere. Of Dark Elves and Dragons has been put out in paperback through CreateSpace, and while I'm pleased with it I'm in two minds about the cover. To my eyes it looks great, especially the text, but that's in full size. As a thumbnail the text looks blurry simply because the shadow I added to the text is unable to be seen clearly. So I have a decision to make I guess. Whether to sacrifice a text effect that adds punch to a full size cover or to accept that the effect will make the thumbnail sized text look out of focus. - The trials of self publishing! (I'll bet Terry Pratchett never has to worry about these things!)

The next book to go through the process of editing in preparation for printing to paper is Dragon, which is already with my sister.

In the meantime I've found myself with a little free time these past few days, and have fallen back into bad habits - otherwise known as playing RPG's. (Mostly Skyrim and Neverwinter Nights, but also some Arcanum - a brilliant game that doesn't seem to run too well on any OS more recent than 98.) And while playing and watching my fingers getting shorter from all the button mashing, I suddenly realised that I wish life should be more like some of these games. Maybe not the monsters, but there are some brilliant ideas in gaming that are lacking in real life. Things that I think we need to start working on.

First of course, and here I speak as a red blooded male, why do we not have a lot more highly attractive babes in tight fitting, skimpy leather outfits walking down the streets? For me at least this would be a welcome improvement in reality. Of course I may not be the most photogenic of people myself, and I doubt anyone would want to see me in a skimpy, body hugging leather outfit! - Not even me!

Then there's the health potions. Here I get sick I have to see a doctor, take pills, maybe have an operation, spend lots of time recovering etc. How much simpler would it be to just drink a health potion and be done with it! Come on scientists get inventing - we need this.

Naturally there's the superhuman aspects of your characters. In real life I doubt I could even crawl up a mountain. In Skyrim I can just run up one. I love that. And I love the long floating jumps you can make as you sail off walls and staircases. It's not flying but if someone could invent that for real it'd be almost as good.

Roller skating monsters - players of the Neverwinter series of games will know what I mean. Not that I want monsters in real life, but seriously how cool is it to watch an orc simply roller skating towards you, axe in hand.

Disintegration! Grief any magic would be awesome, but of all the spells this one from Arcanum is the coolest in my view. Simply watching your PC standing there, the circle of light forming around his feet, running along the ground, and then zapping your enemy so that there's nothing left - it's brilliant. Of course if I had this spell I'm not sure I could be trusted not to use it every so often - so brilliant for me, not so much for everyone else!

Playing with weapons. In real life they're heavy and I'm clumsy, not to mention completely untrained in swinging a sword. But anyone whose played Dungeon Siege will now how impressive it is to simply be able to pick up say a quarterstaff and swing it around like a martial artist with the push of a button. No training or fitness required. I so want to be able to do that, but I don't want to spend years training to do it.

And then of course how simply wonderful would it be to wander down the streets and see elves and orcs and dwarves and gnomes walking the streets with you? Seriously someone needs to get to work on inventing these races for real!

So anyway, that's my short list of some of the things in RPGs that have real life beat. I'm sure you all have your own.

Cheers, Greg.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

The Man Who Wasn't Anders Voss - The Idea.

Hi Guys,

To start April off with a bang I published a new book - The Man Who Wasn't Anders Voss and I thought I'd share something about the book with you. Mostly I thought I'd share where the concept for the book came from.

As a writer I sometimes get asked where I get my ideas from, and in this case it is - and I'm proud to admit it - Star Trek.

This book began with one of the unexplained and potentially unexplainable mysteries about the show - the transporter. How does it work, and more importantly if it does work how is it that the guy being transported, having his atoms scattered through space and reassembled somewhere else, survives?

As a trekkie this has been one of the questions that has puzled me for a very long time. I mean it's fairly obvious that if you disintigrate someone into their composite atoms, they die. But then somehow when the atoms get put back together somewhere else, they live again. And that of course leads to the next question - how do you know that the person assembled elsewhere is the same person that was dissassembled?

So my take on this was that they aren't. That the transporter in fact kills the person sent and a completely new person with the old person's memories and features is created. In short a copy.

Naturally this wouldn't make for a good story. Not if the copy was in fact completely convinced that he was the original. Then as far as he was concerned and the rest of the universe, he would be the original. Only the original woul know better and he of course would be dead.

So that lead to the next key idea in the book. What if the copy in fact knew he was the copy? Then we end up in a whole new world of possibilities and plot elements, and key among them, identity.

All of us are blessed with one certainty in life - we are who we are. It never occurs to us that we might in fact be someone else. Other works have touched on this idea, that we might in fact be someone other than the person we think we are. That we might have say been brainwashed, or had amnesia. But the transporter gave me a whole new vehicle to examine this possibility, and to look at the conflicts it creates.

Identity is crucial to us. It is who we think we are. It is the one thing we never consider we could be wrong about. But if we were a copy of a man, perfect in every way, and so every memory we have is of being the original, but at the same time we also have the additional memory of the original having died and of being created from his remains, what would that do to us? Could we call ourselves by the name of the original even though we know we aren't him? Can we consider his family as ours? What about his actions, both good and bad? Can we truly be held responsible for the crimes the original migt have committed? Can we accept the credit for the good things he did?

So in large part this book is an exploration of those questions. Of the struggle of a man to decide whether he is in fact the original or is a new man.

And then of course I threw in some aliens, a transporter that doesn't work perfectly, and a rather nasty scientist with a God complex!

So that's where the book goes, and I hope that those who read it will find themselves asking many of the same questions as I have in writing it.

Cheers and as always, be good or don't get caught! (And if one is ever invented do not step into a transporter!)