the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Media Tie In’ Category

Over the weekend we went to the GrandCon gaming convention in Grand Rapids, MI. See here for the photo dump post. There was gaming, there were demos, there were oversize plushy dice, there was a promise of kittens in a blender (relax! it’s a card game!), there was an excellent dealer room jammed with comics, artwork, boardgames and more, there was artwork and RPG’ing and cosplayers and epic amounts of geeky fun.

On a lark, I decided to go to the Saturday afternoon Worldbuilding panel. I haven’t read Dragonlance since junior high school, but seriously, who doesn’t want to hear Tracy Hickman, Ed Greenwood, Steven Schend, and Jeff Grubb talk about creating giant worlds for all their friends to come play in? And when I say “world they’ve created”, I mean shared worlds. A role playing world that is designed for other people to add to and build on. These guys give you the basic rules and foundations, and the other game designers get to go crazy (to a point) building scenarios.

Jeff Gruff, Steven Schend, Ed Greenwood and Tracy Hickman

Jeff Gruff, Steven Schend, Ed Greenwood and Tracy Hickman

Topics of discussion included what happens (for good and ill) when others begin making unexpected changes to your world, the difference between designers making changes to the world and gamers and DMs making changes to the world, why creators shouldn’t get too attached to anything in the space, the complexity of religion in role playing worlds, copyright and legal issues when writing tie-in novels, building sympathy for villains, and the limitations of computer games, just to name a few. The conversation was dominated by Hickman and Greenwood, which was fine, because Ed Greenwood is an excellent speaker with decades of experience. I want to buy this man a beer just so can tell me a story. Tracy Hickman as well, wonder speaker, a lifetime of experience, plus experience dealing with the publishing and marketing aspects of the industry. I’d like to buy both of them a drink so they can tell me stories all afternoon!

These two guys have been living the dream their entire life, and listening to Greenwood and Hickman bounce ideas off of each other was definitely a  highlight of the weekend.

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rising stars novelRising Stars by Arthur Byron Cover (based on the graphic novel by J. Michael Straczyinski

published in 2002

where I got it: purchased used

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Every so often we all need a fluff read. You know, something that will entertain you without challenging you? Fluff reads for me are usually media tie-ins, and the best kind of fluff read is a direct novelization of a comic book or movie that I liked.

A few years ago I read J. Michael Straczynski’s Rising Stars graphic novels, and loved them. I don’t usually go for superhero stories, but Straczynski is alittle like Whedon for me – if he writes it, I am probably going to like it no matter what the subject matter was.
The novelizations of the graphic novels are by Arthur Byron Cover, but like the artists of the graphic novels, Straczynski’s story and backstory are the star of the show. It’s a little sad, actually, that I had no idea from reading this if Cover is a good author or not. But again, that’s the nice thing about really fluff novelizations – I don’t need to worry about if the author is any good or not. Cover does flesh out the world building and a lot of the character background, which I appreciated. For example, we get much more information about the political situation of the country in the late 1960s, far more time is spent follow the children during the 1970s, and characters get more inner monologue and depth.

In the late 1960’s, a meteor crashed to earth, exploding over a small midwestern town. No one thought anything of it, until a few years later. You see, all the children who were in utero at the time of the meteor were imbued with special powers. Some kids could fly, some kids were invulnerable, some kids had telepathic powers. One hundred and thirteen Special children, all who could do something different. Or least, mostly. Some children who were born right on time never manifested anything. Who knows, maybe there wasn’t enough special powers to go around? The government descends on the town to study the children, and keeps them at a local summer camp turned boarding school.

I really liked the dynamic of that these children gained superpowers simply by being in the wrong place and the wrong time. None of them have any of the classic or expected comic book superhero youth stories. None of these kids are orphans, none of them are wealthy heirs, none of them are aliens or anything. Their parents and their older siblings and their neighborhood was completely normal. But these kids are Specials. As the kids manifest and develop their powers, the government needs to ensure the Specials use their powers for the good of the country. But who decides what’s good?

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.