I had noble intentions to post up the Deborah Biancotti review tonight, but I have kids who feed off the sleep deprivation of others. The squamous little fatiguovores. So instead I will direct your attention, all sleight-of-handishly, to a handful of rather awesome creative projects currently in need of sponsorship.
The Dinocalypse Trilogy by Evil Hat, Chuck Wendig and now a bunch of other people. To kick off the fiction line of their rip-roaring pulp-action Spirit of the Century game, Evil Hat Productions have invited funding for a trilogy of novels by Chuck Wendig. I will say only this: Time-travelling psychic dinosaurs invade New York. If that sentence is not enough to absolve these books of the presumed sin of being gaming tie-in novels, your tastes and mine may fail to correspond at a primal level.
BUT this being a project orchestrated by the inestimable Fred Hicks, the Dinocalypse Kickstarter blew through its initial targets in, I dunno, three or four minutes. Now they’re aiming for the stars, tacking on another novel for every five grand or so raised. So for the minimum buy-in of ten bucks, you can currently pick up SIX novels, written by a variety of young people who are extremely hot right now . I told you that so that I could tell you this – the next stretch goal is for pledges totalling thirty grand. If they hit that target – and they will, in another couple of days probably – the next novel down the pipeline will feature Professor Khan, the intelligent gorilla who lectures at Oxford, in an adventure on Mars.
THAT IS A BOOK THAT I NEED TO EXIST!
(Ahem). If you like ridiculous high-octane pulp action with airships and jetpacks and sorceror-detectives and international dames of intrigue, consider slinging this one some bucks. The minimum pledge reward represents stunningly good value.
Shadowrun Returns by Harebrained Schemes. When I was still at uni I played the absolute hell out of tabletop Shadowrun. In summary the setting sounds pretty weak: in the near cyberpunk future ruled by megacorporations, the Mayan apocalypse arrives and heralds the return of magic to the world. A whole bunch of people find they can work spells and a whole bunch of others get turned into elves, dwarves, orcs, trolls and so on. Everyone plays edgy criminals with smart guns, stealth motorbikes, armoured trenchcoats and monofilament katanas and they all get together to steal corporate data from heavily fortified research labs and to blow the shit out of dragons or an attack chopper or whatever.
Shut up, it’s awesome. No, YOU’RE old!
Whatever, grampa. Anyhow, anarchic criminality, gun fetishism and stickin’ it to the man-who-might-be-a-dragon would seem like a good fit for a computer game translation, right? For some reason none of the attempts to date ever managed to capture the appeal of the original setting. That sense of the improverished street renegade struggling not to draw the attention of insanely powerful enemies; the wonder of ancient elf conspiracies and creepy alien shamanism; the clash of cultures, corporate and criminal, Native American and Elven, Orc Underground and (boo!spit!) Humanis Policlub. Back then I think we never quite got at the meat of what made the setting interesting (we were too busy playing it like a reskinned D&D with machine guns and hand grenades).
I’m kind of hoping that this game – a turn-based 2D interative story-telling game for PCs and tablets – will manage to find the sweet spot between immersion, in what was to me a fascinating setting, and the technoporn of smart-linking your Ares Predator to your combat reflexes and ocular implants. It’s back with at leats one of the original designers, so I have some reason to be optimistic.
And finally, Jess Nevins, an uber-historian of American pulp fiction, is compiling an Encyclopedia of Golden Age Superheroes. Okay, so this is a pretty obscure subject, but I do think this kind of cultural anthropology is both cool and valuable. Where else in this day an age are you going to find a detailed accounting of the careers of luminous creations like Captain Future, Mister Amazing and, I dunno, Lady Zap or whoever. The point is, we’d never know how many of those three I just made up without a useful reference resource like this book and website. Unless I told you that it was two.
So that’s where my Kickstarter addiction has wandered this month. There’s obviously a wealth of stuff on there that it would be dangerous for me to explore any further given my apparent inability to suppress the urge to impulse-support neat stuff. If you seen something cool out there (or at Indiegogo or wherever else) shout it out in the comments.
 One of whom is a chap named Brian Clevinger, who writes a comic called Atomic Robo (art by Scott Wegener). As an aside, remind me one day to tell you how frickin’ great it is.