Playing It, Buy The Book
I’ve been spending the morning pulling images together for one of the main features for the new issue, which if you must know is on the subject of novels based on games and whether they happen to be a good or bad thing for science fiction in general – which as a subject is a little different to whether the novels themselves are bad. Anyway, in searching through the obvious books based on Star Wars, Mass Effect and Halo – of which there appear to be thousands, I came across a couple of novels I’d not heard of at all.
I had no idea for instance that there had been a Star Control novel, or indeed two based on the old X-Com games (one of them by Diane Duane, the author of The Wounded Sky, which just so happens to be one of my absolute favourite Star Trek stories).
Though I was less surprised to discover a trilogy of Dawn of War tie-ins – since of course there is an entire library of Warhammer 40K books out there – it did strike me as odd there wasn’t a direct Space Marine book to lead into the recent shooter of the same name. Then it occurred to me that there had been one, in name at least, which I’d read back in 1993 during the dark days before I’d bought my first PC; when I read little else but serial Star Trek trash.
These days I have a love-hate relationship with SF tie-in novels. I love the idea of slipping into familiar surroundings without too much effort, but end up hating the paper-thin characters that seem unable to fill the page as they do the screen. I recall picking up the first Halo novel at an airport and only managed 30 pages before declaring it the worst book I’d ever acquired. More recently I tried out an Old Republic book and tossed it away soon after. The only tie-in I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed was Mass Effect: Revelation, but it’s hardly up there with the classics of modern science-fiction.
And yet, there must be some good example of game-to-book SF writing out there that I would like. Maybe I’ll start a new and infrequent blog series to discover it. If I could justify picking up an old copy of X-Com UFO Defense: A Novel I might start there.