This is the second book in this series about a small-town police chief in the Dordogne. I’ve already started the third. These are effective, light English-countryside-style murder mysteries recast in a French setting. The central drama in this episode ties together anti-GMO activism and the international wine market. A satisfying quick read.
This volume collects four novellas around themes of radicalization in contemporary and near future U.S. politics. The first story about refugees in subsidized housing enacting resistance through hacking their DRM-crippled home appliances will likely be the most familiar for those who have read Doctorow’s other work. It is also the most affirming in its way. The final installment about a group of survivalist preppers was a surprise for me because its anti-hero central character serves to demonstrate the futility of his ideology on a cul-de-sac off the main path of history, reversing Doctorow’s typical rhetorical tactics.
I have enjoyed all of the Boss Fight Books volumes I have read. The approach for this one is pretty straightforward reportage on the process of how the game came to be and some biographical explication of its creator’s unique trajectory through the tradition-bound Japanese videogame industry. It is an interesting investigation of the difficulties posed in trying to work outside of genre conventions in videogame design and of the benefits of whimsy and constraints in design. While some of the volumes in this series can stand alone, this one may be of most interest to readers who have at least some familiarity with the game.
This was the founding entry in the Boss Fight Books series and lays a good foundation for the idiosyncratic editorial approach of the series. Baumann weaves the narrative of the game with memoir, connecting topics ranging from a small-town upbringing to the career of a child actor to a life-threatening health scare. A third, less-continuous narrative thread follows the game development process itself and provides opportunity for Baumann to interrogate the relationship of creators and consumers of games in the same way that the primary thread connects the way fictional narratives can help us to process the trajectories of our own experience. I think the result is a little uneven—there are parts that feel like they reach a little too far in an immature way. However, there was far less writing about videogames in this mode available when this book was written, and as a demonstration of stretching the boundaries of what one can write about videogames, it’s a great first step in this now five-year-old series.