Video Games are Serious Business (You)

You (Austin Grossman, 2013) is a techno-thriller novel based around a video game development studio in a rapidly-growing PC gaming market. I’m not sure what the techno-thriller genre is, but if this book is indicative it can’t be all that bad!

We follow protagonist Russell as he attempts to find work at Black Arts, a video game development studio founded by four of his school friends. Russell took another path but, at a strange crossroads of his life, decides to apply at the studio. One of the co-founders, Simon, was a genius programmer until he died in a (mysterious!) accident. The other co-founders are Darren, Lisa, and Don – they manage design, tools development, and the business side of things respectively. Hired at Black Arts as a designer, Russell soon discovers a game-breaking bug that may turn out to be more than it seems…

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Sponsored by Rick James (SuperFreakonomics)

It’s time to mix things up a little at Maybe The Point. We’re going to review a non-fiction book! I wouldn’t have normally bought this one, but I left my Kindle at home before a recent holiday and I was hurting for a book to read on the plane, and they don’t sell stellar fantasy at the WHSmiths in Terminal 3. Anyway. SuperFreakonomics (Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner, 2009) is a book about economics as it applies the non-financial world. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always confused econmics for a purely financial  thing. But no, that’s not the case! And SuperFreakonomics will set you straight on that.

SuperFreakonomics covers a variety of subjects from the benefits of drunk driving to the seasonal attraction of prostitution in America. Yep, SuperFreakonomics is the book equivalent of a BuzzFeed article, in a couple of ways.

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The Moonstone

Or, Rich People Lose Things (The Moonstone)

The Moonstone (Wilkie Collins, 1868) is a long novel. It’s really long. It took me a month of on-and-off reading to finish. Okay, I’ve messed up the introduction, let’s try that again:

The Moonstone is a mystery novel widely considered (read: T.S. Elliot says so on the back of my copy) to one of the ur-modern mystery novels. It tells the story of the theft of an ancient Indian diamond–the titular Moonstone–and the efforts by several different parties to get it back, including the original guardians of the gem and the diamond’s current ‘owners’. Continue reading


James Bond On A Bad Day

Incompetence (Rob Grant, 2003) is a comedy noir-esque novel. The author is best known for his work as one half of Grant Naylor, the writers of Red Dwarf. Set in the near future where United States of Europe Article 13199 has banned basing hiring and firing practices on a person’s competence level, Harry Salt — deep undercover agent for an British/European intelligence agency — has to unravel the mysterious death of fellow cell member Klingferm, committed by the anonymous and dangerous Jack Appleseed. Continue reading

The Skybreak Spatterlight

On The Road Again
(The Skybreak Spatterlight)

The Skybreak Spatterlight (aka. Cugel’s Saga, Jack Vance, 1983) is the second book in the Cugel duology, and third novel in the The Dying Earth series, once again following the rogue Cugel across fantasy wastelands in a world where the sun threatens to extinguish at any moment. Given the book’s nature as a sequel, spoilers for the previous novel will follow, as well as light spoilers for the opening chapters. Continue reading

The Eyes Of The Overworld

Heroics Are Overrated
(The Eyes of the Overworld)

The Eyes of the Overworld (aka. Cugel the Clever, Jack Vance, 1966) is the second novel in the The Dying Earth series. It follows the (mis)adventures of the rogue Cugel, on his journey across the world back to his home in Almery after banishment by the Laughing Mage, Iucounu, brought upon by Cugel’s attempted burglary of Iucounu’s manse. Charged with retrieving the Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel is flown to distant, unfamiliar lands with only his wits and a magical sustenance-providing amulet to aid him. Continue reading

The Dying Earth

Old Wizards Are Awesome
(The Dying Earth)

The Dying Earth (Jack Vance, 1950) is a novel about, er, the dying Earth. Well, not quite. It’s a high fantasy novel full of magic, wizards, and grimness. The novel is set upon the dying Earth, so called due to a prematurely red sun, which threatens to exhaust and die. In reality, a red sun would mean the sun’s expansion and the heat death of the planet. But let’s not throw science at a novel which features magical teleportation, nine foot tall naked humanoid mounts, and wizards. Continue reading

The Master Magician

She Ain’t No David Blaine (The Master Magician)

The Master Magician (Charlie N. Holmberg, 2015) is the final novel in Holmberg’s The Paper Magician trilogy. In the same vein as its predecessors, The Master Magician tells a tale of Ceony Twill, apprentice paper magician with a secret that would rock the foundations of magic. But will she spill the beans? Or will she take it to her grave, helpfully being dug by vengeful blood magician Saraj? And most importantly, will she pass her magician’s exam and finally be free of the fear that her forbidden relationship with master Emery Thane (total dreamboat) will be discovered? Unmarked spoilers for the prequels, ahoy! Continue reading