By Nigel Findlay (unsurprisingly)
So this is role playing game fiction, and at least twenty years old at that, re-released into a digital only format by the current publisher of the Shadowrun line. Catalyst Game studios ran into some problems last year, and needed to raise some cash fast, and I suspect they had this lying around, and could release it easily for some quick cash. To be fair, they also released a newly commissioned anthology, ‘Spells and Chrome’, in ebook format only, which I also bought (but won’t review because it was fairly unremarkable (although, to be fair, it did take up the 9 hour flight back to the UK) and doesn’t have some of the other factors that made this worthy of a review).
I bought this while sitting in a hotel room in Mumbai last year, and immediately uploaded it to my old Elonex ebook reader (I still can’t believe I read the entirety of ‘System Administration with Perl’ on that thing – iPad has made eBook reading so much easier), marvelling at being able to do so – this as before the launch of the Kindle in the UK and the iPad. While I then went on to read the other ebook anthology I bought from Catalyst immediately, Findley’s omnibus languished unread until a few months back, when I was between books, and waiting for a new delivery to arrive.
I started it with the idea it would be a quick distraction, as game fiction doesn’t have the best reputation as high quality work at the best of times, and I hadn’t read any of his work in the Shadowrun line (although his Earthdawn fiction had been quite good, hence the impulse purchase).
I quickly became glued to the book – all 1000 pages of it, and had to force myself to pick up other books in-between the four books that made up the anthology. This is now the second eBook I’ve read cover to cover on the iPad (via eBooks this time, as the Goodreader App was able to load it into that, following the latest IOS update), and it was certainly a pleasant experience. I expect more of my fiction reading to be done this way (my technical how now almost entirely shifted now that I have access to Safari online library – just waiting for the iPad App to come out and allow off-line reading and I’m set).
Findley was a good author, and made the world come to life, with decent plots, even with the handicap of the game jargon and faux swear words. I was also amused at the obsolescence – the first book was written in 1991, and the game world is 2020 – yet no mobiles or even Internet (poor research by the game authors perhaps, as I was on the Internet myself at that time?). In many ways, the books with the character of the private eye translate very well into this genre with no mobiles. Still, march of technology and time and all that.
So now I have a problem. I’d like to lend at least one of these books to someone, but its digital only. Kudos to Catalyst, though, no DRM, but ePub only. With no library loan possible, how do I share this? An intriguing problem for the eBook age..