KTEP - El Paso, Texas

Jason Sheehan

Sometimes, in the dark, a book will talk to you. The words stop crawling on the page and become music. Its voices whisper in your ear.

For years now, some of the best, wildest, most moving or revealing stories we've been telling ourselves have come not from books, movies or TV, but from video games. So we're running an occasional series, Reading The Game, in which we take a look at some of these games from a literary perspective.

Imagine for a moment that Hercule Poirot was a robot. Cyborg, really. Armed and armored against all the evils that men do.

Imagine that Agatha Christie or Nancy Atherton woke up one morning and decided to set their newest ticking-clock, cozy mystery not in some quaint English seaside village but in a quaint, progressive orbital station; that Angela Lansbury's Jessica Fletcher was hurled forward a thousand years to find herself tutting over the body of a dead spaceman dumped in a hallway — no fingerprints, no DNA, no record of how he got there or who did him in.

For years now, some of the best, wildest, most moving or revealing stories we've been telling ourselves have come not from books, movies or TV, but from video games. So we're running an occasional series, Reading The Game, in which we take a look at some of these games from a literary perspective. Warning: If you haven't played The Last of Us Part II yet, there are some spoilers ahead.

For years now, some of the best, wildest, most moving or revealing stories we've been telling ourselves have come not from books, movies or TV, but from video games. So we're running an occasional series, Reading The Game, in which we take a look at some of these games from a literary perspective.

Persephone Station is many things. It's a samurai story told in shades of horse opera space-western. It's a rough-and-tumble mercs-in-trouble story that tries (really hard) to give almost everyone a redeeming heart of gold. It's an overclocked action novel with a lot of pudge in the middle and a political novel wearing the shirt and pants of an old-fashioned pew-pew shoot-em-up. There are dogfights and bar fights, battle mechs and assassins.

"Burn Corpo Sh**"

That's what it says on my jacket. My weirdly puffy, annoyingly yellow, impressively armored and oh-so-very cyberpunk jacket. Because Cyberpunk 2077 operates almost exclusively in a claustrophobic first-person, I can't actually see the slogan sloppily written on my super-cool popped-collar jacket except when I'm tinkering with my loadout on the inventory screen. But I know it's there. I know it's there all the time.

"Burn Corpo Sh**"

I was in Mira HQ and all the lights were out. The reactor was failing. No one was doing any tasks because the doors were on the fritz and there were only three of us left: Brown, Pink and me. We ran in tiny circles in the dark, rotating around each other in small, panicked orbits, waiting to see who would make the final move ...

Cixin Liu's To Hold Up The Sky is a 1974 Chevy van with icy moons and swirling nebulae painted on the side that you saw for sale by the side of the road in a snowstorm. It is a copy of Heavy Metal you found stuck in the back of the rack at Empire Comics when you were looking for old Savage Sword of Conan issues to read on a long road trip with your parents.

Nora Seed wants to die.

This is where we begin, in Matt Haig's new novel, The Midnight Library: with a young woman on the verge of making a terrible choice. She's lost her job, her best friend, her brother. Her relationships are in shambles and her cat is dead. More importantly, she is just deeply, seemingly irretrievably, sad. She can't imagine a day that is better with her in it. Living has become nothing but a chore.

So she ends it. Overdose. Antidepressants. The world goes black.

Okay, sit still. I have a lot of things to say about Maria Dahvana Headley's new book, Beowulf, and I'm gonna try to say them all right now.

You know how sometimes people say, Oh, it's okay. You don't have to read the first book in this series to dive right into the second.

This is not that kind of book.

You know how sometimes people say, It's like everything you loved about the first book, only MORE.

This is not that kind of book.

I like a small book. I trust a small book. I appreciate a small book for all the things it doesn't do, for all the stories it does not tell.

Big books? They're dangerous in their excess. Bloated (often) with words they do not need and larded (often) with detail that no one asked for. You can slip into a big book and lose your way too easily. But a small book is intimate. Close. Every word it says matters. The writer of a small book knows that every page has to count.

From the very first page of Paul Tremblay's new book, Survivor Song, you know exactly how it's going to end. You know because you know. Because you've seen this movie before, read these books before, heard these stories before. You know because it is in your bones to know how certain stories end even before they've really begun.

Samanta Schweblin is not a science fiction writer. Which is probably one of the reasons why Little Eyes, her new novel (translated from Spanish by Megan McDowell) reads like such great science fiction.

Ken Liu does a lot of things as a writer. He creates big, doorstopper novels of his own (the Dandelion Dynasty series), and translates works from some of the best Chinese genre writers working in that language (Liu Cixin, Hao Jingfang, others).

You have to be careful. Claire North's The Pursuit of William Abbey is not the book you think it is.

Grungy magic is the best kind of magic. Grungy, dirty, street-side magic — hard-earned, poorly understood, wild and dangerous. I have little use these days for old beardos in pointy wizard hats, for powerful ancient necromancers or prancing elves.

A riot grrl concert. First loves. An alt-future Manitoba. Belly dancers at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago, 1893, and senior year of high school, Irvine, California, 1992.

This is Annalee Newitz's new novel, The Future Of Another Timeline. The basics, anyway. The bones.

In the myriadic year of our lord — the ten thousandth year of the King Undying, the kindly Prince of Death! — Gideon Nav packed her sword, her shoes and her dirty magazines, and she escaped from the House of the Ninth.

There's no good way to start a critique of Quichotte, Salman Rushdie's new novel. There are, depending on how you look at such things, either too many ways in or no way in at all.

Is it a book that needs to be examined in the light of its author's existence? Of his own life as a British Indian novelist, his past, his family, his love life, his various (quite real) adventures? Or is it one that demands all that be ignored — to be taken simply for the sum of words inside it, evincing no exterior life at all?

Any illusions of rescue that my return may have awoken now dispel. I cannot wave my hands and whisk them back to Mars.
This is no tale of salvation, it is one of sacrifice. This is our Thermopylae.

Yeah, the Reaper, Darrow of Lycos, (arguable) hero of Pierce Brown's epic Romans-in-space saga Red Rising is back. And he is furious.

Imagine an alternate world with me for a moment — one where Mario Puzo's The Godfather didn't define crime drama for half a century, where mob stories and their relentless imitators didn't hog all the oxygen in the market. Imagine a clean slate. A place of no comparisons and no rules.

So there's the one about the puma in the airplane toilet. The one about the time traveler who doesn't feel like saving the world. The one about the fake-woke boyfriend. The one about the woman hiring the Ultimate Assassin to kill her husband and how it all goes wrong.

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