Breaking up with George RR Martin: It’s not me, it’s you.

GEORGE RR MARTIN GREAT GATSBY

        If you are a fan of the Song of Ice and Fire Series or it’s WILDLY popular HBO show Game of Thrones (and let’s admit it, if you’re following this blog you probably are) you have heard the news that the newest book The Winds of Winter has been indefinitely delayed. George R R Martin just can’t seem to finish the damn thing, and it’s beginning to cause some problems.

        Since I am a long time fan of the book series this is something I’m  extremely familiar with. I’ve been in this relationship for almost 10 years, I know what a harsh mistress SOIF can be.  It starts with sweet words that the next book will be released in a realistic timeframe, followed by anticipation, hoping that this time will be different, and then the sad, soul-crushing realization that things have not actually changed and you are going to stuck waiting for at least 4 years between new book releases.  It sucks. I mean really it sucks.

         I started reading A Song of Ice and Fire when I was in high school back in the early 2000’s. I was one of a very, VERY small group of people who knew about these books and who loved them dearly. I had never read anything like them. The fact that the third book A Storm of Swords left multiple characters on straight up “holy shit what’s gonna happen” cliffhangers meant I was pretty crushed when it took over 6 years to get to the next book in the story. Not only that but the 4th book A Feast for Crows was only part of the story, because half of the characters just straight up weren’t in it. Pretty much all of my favorite characters. George, you wicked tease.

        However, at the time I was like, “Hey, the book will be worth the wait. The story is getting very big, both in content and in scale, and therefore let’s cut George some slack.”  Then it happened again.  And again.  

        An author that skillfully dangles hopes/dreams/truths before his desperate characters probably isn’t losing sleep over withholding the next volume from desperate fans. Following the advice of a favorite character I tried to turn that into a shield.  Life’s not fair. I moved on. I am certainly still going to buy the book whenever it is released, but I am no longer waiting on baited breath to find out what is going to happen next, which brings us to today.

        When I first saw the headline that The Winds of Winter is going to be delayed once again it didn’t really resonate with me that much. But then the next line of the article was like a bitch slap straight to my SOIF fandom. The new season of A Game of Thrones the TV series is going to pass the new book! That’s some bullshit right there. That is the part about all of this that really turns me off to the whole series. It is a poke in the eye to those of us that were reading, following and supporting GRRM before he became an HBO celebrity. The fact that there is going to be almost no way to avoid spoilers, the fact that I am going to get the HBO’d up Hollywood version of the story I have been content to wait for for more than half of my life. He even admitted that there was undoubtedly going to be plot twists and reveals that are going to come out during the show that are in the books. So yeah, that got me pretty fired up. However, I was more mad at the situation than anything, everyone kind of figured this was a risk when they started making the show because that is just how television works, things move faster. (They sure as shit move faster than this author writes at least.)

        As I continued to read through the article, I was looking for something, I’m not really sure what though. I mean the guy apologized, said that he knows there are no excuses bla bla bla – ironically the exact same sayings and the exact same phrasings that he had thrown out the last dozen or so times I have read one of these letters so it wasn’t anything new… until I came to this quote right here: “For years my readers have been ahead of the viewers. This year, for some things, the reverse will be true. How you want to handle that… hey, that’s up to you.” This was it. This was the moment that George R R Martin lost me. This is the moment that, in my opinion, he sold out the minority who helped get him where he is. He straight up doesn’t care. He is no longer writing these books for the readers who used word of mouth to get people on board with his series. The readers who sang his praises when no one knew who GRRM was. Before the series vernacular was Game of Thrones, there were those of us who called it A Song of Ice and Fire (You know, the real title of the series). I read someone comment on it today saying “hey guys, this author doesn’t owe us anything”. To that I say, kinda. You are right, he as a person does not owe me a damn thing because I have done nothing for him as a person. But he does owe me something as an author, the way that all authors owe something to those that promoted and bought into their work before they hit the big time.

He doesn’t owe me a book, he doesn’t owe me the end of the story, but he does owe me some respect. Respect enough to say, “Hey, to those of you who may have to story ruined by the TV show I’m sorry. You deserve to at least get to continue this journey the way you have from the beginning.”

That would have meant a lot.

-CDL

Obviously I am a little bitter about this whole thing, but I am sure there are others with opinions out there, lets here em in the comments.

Here is the link for George R R Martin’s full letter.

It’s Time To Bring Mechwarrior Back

Look at that magnificent bastard. If you grew up in the 90’s playing games on the PC, I don’t have to tell you what that is. You already know, it’s a Timberwolf (or if you are an Inner Sphere sympathizer it’s a Mad Cat, but that’s not this guy, Clan Jade Falcon all the way baby). These games were extremely popular starting with the release of Mechwarrior in 1989 and subsequent releases up until Mechwarrior 4: Vengeance in 2002. I know that there is a current iteration alive right now with Mechwarrior Online, but let’s put a tack in that one and come back to it in a minute. For now I am talking about the original core games, that are made up of these 4. There were also a few Xbox versions released throughout the 2000’s, but none of them had near the fanbase or critical acclaim as these bad boys. They are based on the 1984 tabletop game known as Battletech that spawned a VERY popular book series that lasted throughout the 80’s and 90’s. This was a series that I read avidly throughout my middle school and high school years, I recently wanted to get back into them after talking about my favorite books to my brother in law, although I am sad to report that they are no longer being published. They are still available in Ebook form and if you are a fan of science fiction and haven’t had a chance to check them out I suggest you do, you are in for a treat. Anyways, back on topic, these games had a HUGE following up until the last decade and it is somewhat puzzling as to why they aren’t still as popular now as they were back then. If you can get your hands on one of the originals the first thing you will notice is those graphics have aged, badly. I’m talking faces of meth badly. The fact of the matter is that when you see them today in their strange blocky-polygon form they are close to unplayable. Mechwarrior 3 and 4 aren’t too bad, but they just can’t hold a candle to anything that is on the market today. Even going back to that tack about the version that IS still alive and well today: Mechwarrior Online, is lacking almost everything that made Mechwarrior what it once was, save the Mechs. Mechwarrior Online has no story and is instead a free to play 2 sided pvp game that is not anywhere near as fun as the originals. Graphics quality wise it isn’t much of a step up from the versions that were on the original xbox 10 years ago. Not only that but, and I know I am repeating myself here, but THERE IS NO STORY. That is the real crime there. With such a colorful universe and so many amazing characters, making one of these games without putting in any sort of single player campaign mode is just a goddamn crime. Seriously. The original games had wonderful stories and well thought out campaigns that made you FEEL like you were a mechwarrior, fighting in a giant galactic war over the inner sphere and the surrounding clan space. Not only that but although it is a “free to play” game it comes with a “pay to win” pricetag that so many other games do these days that makes for a VERY steep learning curve when you start playing against the guys that have dumped a few hundred dollars into their death machines and just wipe the floor with you every match. I could understand paying for visual upgrades and customizations and things, but this game lets you completely level up and upgrade your mech using nothing but money if you so choose, no XP required. It has none of the heart and soul of what made the original games so special, and hasn’t performed all that well since it’s release a few years ago. Regardless, one thing is for certain: this is not the new Mechwarrior flagship that we can all get behind, which brings me to my main point. Over the next few years, the setup is there for someone to deliver a new Mechwarrior experience using the current generation of consoles and PC’s to really bring the world of Mechwarrior to life. I have recently seen people playing a game called  Xenoblade Chronicles X which was released the past month, and in it players can get into these machines called Skells, which are basically the Japanese Gundam’d up version of our American Mechs.

Xenoblade Chronicles X - Boxart.jpg

Still impressive, but I’m taking the Timberwolf EVERY time

I was watching the gameplay videos and I will admit, Xenoblade has that Skell combat down. It looked hella fun, although there was no footage that I saw of Skells fighting one another, it was always them fighting giant monsters which, although still badass, was not enough to scratch my Mechwarrior itch. Combine that with the fact that this is a Nintendo exclusive which means it is only released on the WiiU and the 3DS and you are still getting the graphics equivalent of the PS3 and Xbox360. Not gonna cut it. I am hoping and praying that someone sees the GAPING void that is the current giant american death robot market and decides to let a big studio just throw themselves behind it. With the graphics and memory capabilities of modern PCs and gaming systems you could make a 1 player, campaign-driven game that could do honor to the ones that came before it, while raising the bar in every way. Then you could still get your multiplayer fix with standard capture the flag and deathmatch style matches that come standard with all games these days. Hell, even if you still wanted a multiplayer-only  version of the game (although I can’t think of why you would) why not make it MOBA style? At least then the gameplay would be more strategic than he who has the biggest gun wins . And while they are on it, bring back the Battletch books as well, just because. Those books were amazing and the sci-fi shelves at Barnes and Nobles are barren enough as it is. With that being said, Mechwarriors for all and to all a good night!!!

-CDL

Sound off if you agree that you are missing some Mech action in your life, or if you disagree and are getting your fix elsewhere!