First, I must mention an edit I made to yesterday's post:
PUZZLE QUEST: CHALLENGE OF THE WARLORDS:
This is my one, true win. Puzzle Quest is a great puzzle-RPG fusion, and one of the finest games on XBLA. I've spent more than 50 hours in this gem of a game on the road to all 250 points.
Somehow, I forgot I had Puzzle Quest wrapped up. So, I have a whopping 2 RPGs on Pants... both from XBLA. Yeah, he's still totally kicking my ass =P
Now, today I wanted to talk about something not related to gaming. Every once in a while, after all, the controller has to be put down in favor of something else. As an English major and avid reader, it troubles me how little people seem to read anymore. I'm going to do my tiny part in rectifying this by offering you three excellent authors to read when you're not playing.
1. Timothy Zahn
Best known for his legendary novels in the Star Wars universe (he created Grand Admiral Thrawn, who's clearly my favorite character), Zahn writes more than just Star Wars novels. Zahn is brilliant at plotting novels out. I can't think of anyone better at layering elements of a story together, and stringing along the mystery and suspense for some excellent endings. I highly recommend The Icarus Hunt as a starting place for reading Zahn's work, if you're not a Star Wars fan. He's not a prolific as I'd like, but everything he puts out rocks. I'll take the quality over quantity.
2. John Ringo
He's been described as the Tom Clancy of Sci-Fi, and it's not a bad description. Ringo writes both sci-fi and fantasy filled with epic military struggles. I started reading his work with Gust Front, which told the story of how a modern US would deal with an alien invasion... with a little alien assistance. His depiction of events struck me as incredibly realistic, if you can buy the premise, and kept me glued to the book from start to finish. While Gust Front is actually book 2 in that series (read A Hymn Before Battle first if you're a stickler for chronology), prior events were explained enough that I really didn't feel like I was missing much. For those with stronger leanings for fantasy, check out There Will Be Dragons. That novel was truly food for the imagination. Ringo cranks out books at an amazing pace, so if you like his stuff, there's plenty of it.
3. Osamu Tezuka
Do you like manga or anime? If so, you owe Osamu Tezuka a debt of gratitude. There's a reason he's known as the God of Comics in Japan, and has a museum in his honor in his hometown of Takarazuka (I've been to that museum, BTW). Tezuka was instrumental in spreading manga's appeal, and helping shape what it is today. He had a distinctive art style influenced by theater. He viewed all of his characters as actors playing different roles in different stories, so you'll frequently see identical characters playing different roles in different stories. That may sound like artistic laziness to some, but trust me, it truly lends his work its own charm. Tezuka was not afraid to approach serious themes, making his material infinitely deeper than modern crap like Naruto... I challenge you to read Apollo's Song and not be moved in some way. At last, all of his material is being translated into English for mass release, which means you can read his great graphic novels like Apollo's Song, or start picking up volumes of his most popular series, Black Jack, about a rogue doctor who can heal nearly anything... for a price. If you are an anime or manga fan, you owe it to yourself to check out his work. He was a product of his time, so there are some racist and sexually essentialist notions in some of the stories, but if you can forgive and look past that, there's some incredible and thought provoking material to be had here.