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lunes, 6 de febrero de 2012

Review of The New Death and Others

Today I will show you the review of a somewhat special book, because I will not talk about a game book or a usual novel of the fantastic genre. No, today I will talk about The New Death, a book written by James Hutchings, an Australian writer with a sarcastic but extremely funny humour sense that I’m sure will not leave you indifferent when you will read it, it can also serve you to obtain ideas for your gaming sessions.

With this work Hutchings offers poems and short histories with a fine irony that permits to think about life itself using twists in its plots (irreverent and surrealist tone used in some of these writings can remind us of the scripts of the British series The Young Ones, such as the case of the stories The End, where no one is what it seems, or The Doom That Was Laid Upon Fame, with a certainly funny ending).

The book also pays homage to classic fantastic authors like H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard and Clark Ashton Smith, adapting some of their poems and even writing a tale with a parody of the writer from Providence and the famous detective created by Arthur Conan Doyle.

The New Death and others is available in Amazon, Smashwords and Barns and Noble.

To end this review I offer a brief interview with the author of The New Death:

El Dado Inquieto: Welcome to the blog El Dado Inquieto, James.

James Hutchings: Thanks for having me.

EDI: As you might have noticed my blog is dedicated to role-playing games, one of my main hobbies, is this your case? I mean, do you also like this kind of entertainment?

JH: Yes, I have a fair bit of experience with role-playing games. When I was much younger I also played a lot of the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, as well as some others such as the Virtual Reality series.

EDI: Which are your favourite games?

JH: My current favourite is probably my house-ruled version of Dungeons & Dragons. It's similar to Swords & Wizardry (ie the 1974 rules with the first supplement, but with higher Armour Class being better as in 3rd edition). However I've added some extra elements, such as Deep Ones and orcs as character races and a new magic system.

EDI: What’s your experience with them?, are you only a player or you also referee and create stories?

JH: I've refereed a few games. I always make my own adventures when I referee, although I freely take ideas from other people. I'm actually supposed to be running a game next Wednesday, using a simplified version of the old Star Wars game.

EDI: Have you professionally published a role-playing game or supplement?

JH: No. My attempt to make one was actually how I started writing fiction (or rather, started writing again. I actually did a Bachelor of Arts majoring in creative writing, but I didn't do anything with it after I graduated).

A few years ago I made a free 'online gamebook' called Age of Fable (it's still up, but I don't update it any more). It's a game that you play through your web browser, but it works in a similar way to the old Fighting Fantasy books (if anyone's heard of the Fabled Lands series, they were a big influence as you might guess from the name).

After that I decided to make a supplement for role-playing games, which was based on the setting for Age of Fable. After I wrote this it turned out that there wasn't much demand for it. My ex-girlfriend suggested I write stories in the setting instead, and that's how I got started.

There's a cliché that role-playing game designers are would-be fantasy authors, but I've gone in the opposite direction.

EDI: Your game preferences have influenced your writing style?

JH: I think my interests in fiction have influenced my gaming preferences, far more than the other way round. However one story (The Scholar and the Moon) is specifically influenced by one interpretation of how elves work in the original Dungeons & Dragons rules.

EDI: Speaking of The New Death, this is your first published book?

JH: I put out a very short ebook called Two-Fisted Tweets several months before The New Death and others, but The New Death and others is the first full-length work that I've charged money for.

EDI: How is it that you decided to write tales in the fantastic genre but with a sharply ironic tone in some cases?

JH: I didn't really decide, they just came out that way.

EDI: In The New Death and others you have writings inspired fantastic genre authors like Lovecraft, Howard, Ashton Smith and Lord Dunsany, are these the most influential authors at writing the book or there are others worth mentioning?

JH: They're all influences. I think Tolkien and Terry Pratchett have also been important influences on me.

EDI: What will be your next book after The New Death and others?

JH: The main thing I'm working on right now is a long poem set in the Old West, called Confession of a Bounty Hunter. I'm not sure whether I'm going to put this out by itself or as part of a collection.

I've also been encouraged to write a novel set in the fantasy city of Telelee, which is the setting that grew out of my Age of Fable game.

EDI: Thank you for your time and good luck with your next works.

JH: Thank you.

This entry it's also available in the following languages:
Castellano Català

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