Persepolis Rising Review

So, book 7 of the Expanse series came out yesterday and, to no one’s surprise, I burned through it, finishing it really late (like 3 a.m. … which explains why I was late to work.) Overall, I enjoyed it but the two writers did a thing in it that I’ll go into more detail below that really made it feel like I was missing a book. In every one of the books thus far, there has been time between the installments – which makes sense as space is big – and this one was no different, but yeah … I still feel like I missed a chapter. Just like book 5 (“Nemesis Games,” still my favorite of the series), this one ends without the major threat fully resolved which will play into the next book and I’m generally okay with that. So yeah … good book, very interesting, looking forward to the next one.

And now, for spoilers.

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The Laundry series by Charles Stross

Just recently discovered these books and I’m now reading the second one – “The Jennifer Morgue” – which is giving me all sorts of awesome ideas for gaming. In the simplest terms, the main character is a British “operative” (though honestly, he’s just a tech guy who knows some spell stuff) who has been caught up in a “destiny entanglement geas” that is modeled off the Bond mythos stuff setup by the bad guy. The “Bond girl” in this question ends up explaining it to the main character late in the book like this:

“It’s not about you, Bob. It’s about plot. The way the geas works, he’s set himself up as the evil villain in this humongous destiny-entanglement spell targeted against every intelligence agency and government on the planet. The end state for this conjuration is that the hero – which means whoever’s being ridden by the Bond archetype – comes and kills the villain, destroys his secret floating headquarters, stymies his scheme, and gets the girl. But Billington’s not stupid. He may be riding the Villain archetype but he’s in control of the geas and he’s got a good sense of timing. Before the Hero archetype gets to resolve the terminal crisis, he ends up in the villain’s grasp under circumstances such that nobody else is positioned to deal with the villain’s plan. Ellis figures that he can short the geas out before it goes terminal and makes the Bond figure kill him. At which point Billington will be left sitting in an unassailable position since the only agent on the planet who’s able to stop him wakes up and suddenly remembers he’s not James Bond.”

This is brilliant to me and gives me a really neat idea for one of my Red Sky adventures. I’d already planned on having volume 8 taking place in an alternate “fantasy land” caused by a Fae Lady sort of rewriting reality around them, so it occurs to me that what I can do here is have her spell be wrought in such a way that there is a big honking loophole in it: she’s the Evil Queen who is terrorizing the land and there must be a Young, Untested Hero who must rise up to throw her down. And conveniently enough, there’s a PC in the group who fits that definition perfectly.

Yeah. That’ll work nicely…

Neil Gaiman’s “Neverwhere” and Gaming…

I’ve had this book for a while on my Kindle, but for some reason or another, I kept stalling out on it, which is kind of weird because I generally love Gaiman’s work. American Gods, for example, is a fantastic book (and the TV show isn’t half bad either, although I did have some problems with the first season finale – book Wednesday never comes out and identifies himself in such a way. He’s far more subtle than that.)

Anyway, as I’m reading through Neverwhere, I’m realizing how potentially useful it is for my Red Sky game. Admittedly, Oklahoma City doesn’t have cool district names like Knightsbridge or Earl’s Court or Blackfriars like London does (which immediately become really interesting locales if their name is used), but we’ve got a few tiny ones (e.g. Kingsridge and Wildewood and Lyons Park and Westgate) that could be contorted into a proper use. The notion of London Below becomes “the City Below” and is likely a sort of mini-slice of the Nevernever.

My current thinking is that, during Colin’s escapades (from episode 2 to 5) will involve him traversing through the City Below and encountering some of the denizens therein. What I have to figure out now is who to populate these regions with and what kind of visuals to utilize. Clearly, Kingsridge should appear really Camelot-like and Wildewood … well, that’s pretty obvious, I’d think. I also need to determine what his objective is: right now, it’s kind of unclear as the most I have is that he Does A Thing…

Agent of the Imperium

Started reading the Traveller book, “Agent of the Imperium,” and its kind of weird. Based on my reading of this, the universe has more of a 40K feel than I would have expected. Honestly, the 40K Inquisitor-based Eisenhorn and Ravenor books by Dan Abnett wouldn’t feel out of place in the setting based on this book…

Cibola Burn

Nope. Didn’t watch even a moment of the Super Bowl this year. Instead, I finished Cibola Burn, the 4th book of The Expanse series. I’d started this book before – got about 1/4 of the way through it before something happened and I forgot about it for some reason – but once I got over that point this time, I sort of raced through it. Really enjoyed it, but I still think #3 (Abaddon’s Gate) is my favorite of the series thus far.

Have started #5, Nemesis Games this morning.