Backward Compatible: A Geek Love Story

Aside from shovelling back copies of my Calling Spots subscription onto my Kobo, I really needed something breezy to read while soaking up the sun (and a few beers) on holiday last month. So when I stumbled across a geeky love story written from the viewpoints of both its main characters, I thought it would do very nicely.

And it did, quite nicely. Backward Compatible is the story of two college geeks, Kate and George, and their blossoming relationship over a winter break in their small-town home town.

 Backward Compatible a geek love story book

 

Geek Love

From the minute they lock eyes (and angry words) over the last copy of Fatal Destiny X at the midnight opening, Kate and George float in and out of each other’s lives; she while fending off the advances of rival gamer and blogger Seynar (whose 12 followers await his review of The Hobbit with bated breath….kinda reminds me of writing here), while George hangs out with his friend Lanyon and they while away the hours with ball-punching competitions and video gaming.

They drift from mall to restaurant to movies in a fairly resigned manner, waiting until term starts again so they can go back to being grown-ups…until Fatal Destiny X drags them kicking and screaming into late night sessions and an obsession with winning the ultimate geeky prize.

What I liked about this book was the magnifying glass put over the minutiae of everyday life, and the ever-expanding cast’s attempts to geek things up in order to feel normal, and wanted, and comfortable. My favourite books all contain a completely disparate group of people drawn together by common goals and forming the bonds to achieve them. It’s so cool to see that loosely-defined family come together, just as it was to see George and Kate overcome their own overblown neuroses to…well, I won’t spoil things, but it is pitched as a romance novel so you can connect the dots.

What I didn’t really care for though, in a fair few scenes, was the sheer amount of references to geek culture being dropped casually into conversation. I know it’s exactly how I talk to some of the people I’m closest to, but as material used in a novel it feels like there’s a test on every page just waiting for me to feel inadequate and distant from the characters in case I don’t get it. (The very worst offender here is one of the very final ‘clues’ to the relationship – I’ve just Googled it and I don’t feel as if knowing the reference allows me to say “AH HA! Story complete!” It’s not needed either way.)

For some light holiday reading, Backward Compatible: A Geek Love Story did just the job; with a semi-ambling plot that’s more about getting to know and feel for the characters as it is to root them on. Next time you’re packing a suitcase, pack this onto your e-reader too.

 

Interview: Kaboom Comics

There’s this bloke I used to work with called Dave. (Actually, there are two, but the other one doesn’t warrant a mention right now because he’s not into comics. Plus I hate him. (That was a joke, Dave. You git.))

Anyway. The Dave in question recently launched a service called Kaboom Comics; an online comic store which stocks the latest releases from the big and small comic publishers. Given that I’m now branching out into this interviewing lark I decided to have a quick chat with the man and see what’s cracking down at Kaboom HQ.

 

Kaboom Comics online store

 

Who are Kaboom Comics?

We’re two ordinary guys who love comics and all manner of other geeky things. We were sick and tired of being given little to no choice when buying comic books online. Our closest comic book shop was in Leeds, which was a bit of a pain to go to. Other than that, we could order off Forbidden Planet online but the experience wasn’t great when simply browsing.

How did you get started?

Coming from an online marketing background, we thought we could do things better than what is currently out there. So we’ve put our money where our mouth is and went ahead and set up Kaboom Comics. We like to think that our site is crisp, clean and easy to use, and laid out in such a way that no matter what you’re looking for, you can always find something else.

We think our customers agree, as we’ve had loads of people ordering a wide array of comics from different publishers! We also wanted a place for a community to flourish. We love hearing about the latest news from the comic book and wider film and TV worlds, and we want to bring this to Kaboom and generate discussions with our customers. We’ve got big plans on how we aim to expand this side of Kaboom, but more on that later!

What do you love about working at Kaboom Comics?

I love seeing all the great comic book artwork as it comes through the doors at Kaboom HQ. I’m a bit of a sucker for design so it’s great when we open those boxes and see fresh comic books laid there. It’s also pretty cool getting to sell something you love.

I also really enjoy everyone’s passion for comic books. Everyone thought they were going out of fashion, but they’re really making a comeback. But everyone who gets into them has a real passion, and to know that we’re helping people enjoy something they love is a really great feeling.

You stock a diverse mix of comics across different titles, genres and publishers. Do you find customers tend to gravitate towards books by the Big Two or is there a wider range of customer tastes?

This one shocked me quite a bit, because we see a real mix. Some of our best sellers have been from publishers such as IDW Publishing and Dark Horse, and that was always important for me from the outset. We want to give people the choice to read what they want. So we stock a wide range of comics across a lot of publishers, but we also allow people to request comics from us if they can’t find what they want. We want to help our customers as much as we can so it’s not just a buyer/ seller relationship.

What are the biggest challenges facing an online comic book store and how do you overcome them?

I think it’s difficult for online comic retailers sometimes because they are such a visual, tangible thing, and of course you can’t convey that online.  That’s why we aim to put nice big pictures of covers on our product pages, so that you can really see the detail and get a feel for what it looks like. We’d also like to start putting previews of comics on our blog, as we think it would be great to give people that sneak peek.

Delivery can also be an issue, but we like to think we are competitively priced on delivery and we give people enough choice when it comes to type of delivery. All of our comics are sent in plastic protective sleeves to minimise damage in transit, and again this was something that was really important to us from the outset – to offer the best all-round service possible.

The comic book industry has never been so popular than right now. To what do you attribute this (ka)boom in demand? Are there any particular books or films which you think caused the explosion?

Nice pun, Vincent! I think comic books tell really great stories, despite what some people may say. They also cater for every demographic, which I think adds to their popularity. Maybe it started with the Batman films, but we can probably all forget about the early ones (*cough* George Clooney *cough* Bat Nipples *cough*). I think we owe Christopher Nolan a lot for the rise in popularity of comic books. Batman Begins really set the bar high in terms of the standard of superhero movies, and he carries that on in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.

They’re pretty serious films though, so I think The Avengers has helped, and Guardians of the Galaxy really ramped it up. Man that film was great. There’s something for everyone in those films. It also went to show you don’t have to just make a film about the really famous guys. I bet a lot of people hadn’t heard of Guardians before the film, but we see a lot of Guardians comics go out the door now, and I’d expect that to continue this June with the release of Groot #1.

And its success shows, with DC rolling out films about some of their maybe lesser known characters in the next few years.

Where does comic book culture go from here? Can we really expect to see an Avengers film every four years for the next 25 or 30 years?

Again, this is a tough one. I’d like to think film makes won’t get complacent and roll out Avengers 53 – Thor’s Sex Change in 30 years’ time. That would be a crying shame because there are loads of great characters to explore. I think it would be great to see the girls kick a bit more ass as well, with comics like A-Force #1 being released I think we’re seeing a shift towards more female orientated books, and there’s some fantastic series such as Ms Marvel, Spider-Woman and Wonder Woman all being produced.

Personally I’d love more TV shows such as Daredevil to be released exploring more back stories. It was a great series and lets you get deeper into the story than a film. Finally I think we need some fresh blood when it comes to characters. We have these really talented people creating comics, so I think it’s time we came up with some new heroes!

What’s the future for Kaboom Comics?

We’ve got loads of exciting things planned. We really want to make the most of our blog, with previews, opinons and reviews all planned, as well as feature artists and bloggers to try and give something back to the community.

We’re going to have some competitions running as well to give away some cool clobber, and if you’re at some of the upcoming MCM ComicCons (we’ll be in Manchester first) then we’ll be milling about outside, so come say hello! There may even be a special offer in it for you. Some awesome Kaboom t-shirts will be coming soon as well!

Cheers Dave. You can visit Kaboom Comics at www.kaboomcomics.co.uk, like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

Jacked by David Kushner – the Rockstar Games & GTA Story

I’m well aware of the regularity of opening a blog post by saying how much I loved David Kushner’s Masters of Doom; the story of id Software’s struggles to produce landmark games against a backdrop of censorship and developing technologies in the 1990s, so when I found a book by the same author about the minds which brought you the Grand Theft Auto series, I was ready for another great exploration of seminal games creators and their biggest detractors.

Jacked: The Unauthorised Behind-The-Scenes Story of Grand Theft Auto was the opener in my week’s worth of happy holiday reading by the pool, and sadly for me it’s found lacking when compared to that previous work.

jacked grand theft auto book

Through interviews with the industry’s major players, those involved at DMA Design who created the first games and a few of its biggest critics, Jacked aims to tell the story of Rockstar Games’ trials and tribulations in releasing some of the best-selling titles of all time: the GTA series.

It’s somewhere between quite likely and downright obvious to all but me that the title ‘Jacked’ serves as both a reference to the jacking of one’s car in the GTA games and Jack Thompson, but for me the two narratives served up in this book – Rockstar’s rise to the top and battles against censorship, and Jack Thompson’s moral crusade to see games of this ilk handled more responsibly – are in no danger of ever clashing as such an eponymously-placed pun would suggest they do.

That to me is the book’s biggest weakness; aside from one minor scene setup in this narrative combining both stories, opposing key players like Thompson and Rockstar’s Sam Houser are on completely different trajectories with no – literal or metaphorical – collision in sight. To me it’s like painstakingly setting up a Rocky film, but having both Rocky and Drago each fight someone else when the plot reaches boiling point.

Kushner employs a lot of dramatic licence in his work; it worked to great effect in Masters because the main men behind id Software were there to tell their side of the story. Aside from the early days of GTA games at DMA Design, whose key employees were involved during the research for this book, and the full timeline of Thompson’s attempts (of varying degrees of success) to shut down the industry’s worst offenders, there’s precious little here from the main protagonists – actual Rockstar employees – to corroborate how the story goes.

Nowhere is this more obvious than during the section about the ‘Hot Coffee’ scandal – an apparent mini-game in San Andreas which…well, you all know what it is. In taking such great pains to spell out Rockstar’s reluctance to comment on their PR gaffe during the event, it’s made obvious that the company still chooses not to join any ongoing gaming discussion…including the one between these covers. Kushner instead relies on the testimony of the Dutch hacker who discovered the hidden code alongside other non-Rockstar bodies who had to bear the brunt of the authorities’ crackdown.

The attempt to shape a narrative around and about its subject has been known to work (and does so to brilliant effect, for example, in Disgusting Bliss about its equally silent subject, Chris Morris) but when it’s applied to an entire company that would rather see the myth than the truth printed in the first place, and stay well away from the lines of communication in general, there’s just one too many holes in the same wall that so neatly fits, again for example, the shape of Morris in Bliss for me to really recommend this book.

Frank Miller announces Batman: The Dark Knight Returns sequel

The Dark Knight III: The Master Race to be released in Autumn 2015

The writer of the seminal Batman comic The Dark Knight Returns has announced another instalment of the series, fifteen years after its sequel and in time for the thirtieth anniversary.

The Dark Knight III: The Master Race was announced last week in a rare tweet from Frank Miller, and will be co-written by Brian Azzarello. Unlike the previous two entries in The Dark Knight, which were pencilled by Miller, it appears that an artist will join the team.

Released in 1986, The Dark Knight Returns was an iconic non-canon Batman story dealing with Bruce Wayne’s return from retirement, struggling against his advancing years as well as the rising threat of the Mutant gang, a relapsed Two Face and a Joker which hit new lows of evil and insanity.

In these pages there’s even a reach towards the very top of the food chain – the American president; more of which is tackled in the 2001 sequel The Dark Knight Strikes Again through a much less subtle visual attack of noisy colours and pretty heavy violence.

Small wonder that while the original instalment is held up as an example of not just Batman comics, but comics in general, beginning to make more of an artistic statement and compelling argument for good storytelling in graphic novel form, the sequel was much less successful.

And so, 30 years on from the original, Miller is set to return – with the subtitle The Master Race alone a rather shocking invocation of what the story could contain.

With the likes of TDKR and Watchmen shifting comics into a more mature, mainstream medium in the 1980s, today the sheer flood of superheroes hitting the cinema is a direct result. I really am curious to see what this book may contain by way of comment on that graduation, from one of the very first people to begin that movement.

Judge Dredd – The Mega Collection

Oh yeah, I almost forgot – there’s a new edition of the classic Judge Dredd comics.

Those partwork collections are funny things, aren’t they? I remember as a kid collecting the entire Tree of Knowledge and Discovery partwork collections, separating the articles in each new issue out and adding them into massive binders. It was a hell of a financial commitment that I’m still so pleased my mum and dad were prepared to shell out for.

Throughout the years, publishers have still realised the value of the partwork, putting out exceedingly large collections in return for that weekly, fortnightly or monthly commitment from readers. And it isn’t just the reading material either; from knitting and sewing to modelling boats, planes and even starships, the chance to build up both your skills and your general knowledge is a valuable reason to stump up – provided the collection is affordable enough.

Judge Dredd Mega Collection

Judge Dredd: The Mega Collection raids almost forty years of prime Dredd archives to provide some of the biggest stories and hidden gems along with extra concept sketches, essays and follow-up stories. The promoters have been giving it some welly too; with TV adverts and strong social media and online outreach.

The most prominent batch of books in the line are some of my favourite stories; Necropolis and Day of Chaos are oft-mentioned among the elite in Dredd canon, while The Apocalypse War was one of my favourite collections, which I picked up in the early 90s and thoroughly enjoyed. Issue one (just £1.99) is America; another huge favourite of mine and definitely worth a read whether you intend to get the full set or not.

Priced at £9.99 per issue and released each fortnight, it’s certainly enough to put off all but the hardcore audience, especially as there are 80 issues planned for release – much more than a couple of shelves’ worth.

And that’s kind of the issue for me with this partwork; having read Dredd from a young age and throughout my teens I know there’s a great big chunk of Dredd stories to choose from, but for me, putting out as many as 80 hardback books might be pushing it – ten pounds twice a month would be a shade over three years; quite a commitment whether you’re a die-hard fan or just looking for a good regular read.

I’ll certainly keep an eye out for my favourite Judge Dredd stories though, and try to overcome my OCD for a collection which will invariably have a few gaps in the numbering.

 

My January 2015 Reading

Geeky reads

– the books I read in January 2015. Three entire books! (Two, and a comic. (One, a miscellany and a comic.))

In what I hope will be a monthly update of the books I’m reading – and as an added bonus, means I’ll actually read more than one book per calendar month – I’ll start giving capsule reviews of the books I’ve had my head buried in.

Doctor Who – Who-ology by Cavan Scott and Mark Wright

A collection of weird and wonderful facts taken from fifty years of Doctor Who, this well-researched miscellany brings together the names, facts and figures of both storyline and behind-the-scenes production. Sadly it only goes up to about halfway through Matt Smith’s run, but it’s really well written and contains many interesting pieces of the lives of the Doctors and the careers of the men who played him.

There’s also loads of really nerdy tidbits about the Doctor’s greatest foes, like the Daleks, and how many different variants of them exist, as well as random lists like which actors from Corrie and Emmerdale have also appeared in the programme. It’s a bit of a hefty book but definitely worth a read for hardcore fans.

bryan lee o malley seconds

Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley

I really, really enjoyed reading this graphic novel by the creator of Scott Pilgrim, dealing as it does with a subject matter that’s bound to have got fellow geeks thinking before – what if you could erase your past mistakes and start again?

Just like the Pilgrim books, Seconds is going to be one of those comics you can read again and again, and find something new, exciting and different each time. The artwork is just gorgeous – I love the halfway-to-realistic style as you can easily fill in the gaps yourself – while it’s also a very warm and funny story. I really liked the main character Katie; she’s just a resourceful woman who gets swept up in her own wants and needs. And there’s also a couple of Easter eggs in there for Pilgrim fans, which are a little bit eye-roll-y at first but will make you laugh with recognition.

Worst. Person. Ever. by Douglas Coupland

First thing I thought of when I realised I was going to hate ‘Worst. Person. Ever’ was the similarly sinking feeling I got when I finished Generation A – but while that was more of a disappointing letdown, I actively disliked this one.

Understanding that there are no redeeming features whatsoever about our hero Raymond Gunt (and a quick tip – if you’re going to call a character by that name, then the rules of ‘Carry On’ wordplay apply: you can’t actually say the c-word at all in the entire book…certainly not twice a page), I’m not actually sure whether Coupland tried to humanise him more towards the end or not – if he didn’t, then why bother reading it? And if he did, then it didn’t bloody work.

I think it’s a problem I have with farce in general – or with the writers who try to pull it off and don’t succeed – but I just can’t suspend my disbelief for long enough to go with whatever ridiculous twist we’re being treated to. I get that Coupland has gone out of his comfort zone to deliver a cosmic trainwreck to an exceedingly unlikeable character, and I’m sure it has its fans, but at the end of the day, knowing what I know now, I would not have read this book if it weren’t written by one of my favourite authors.

My Top Reads of 2014

Picking out my favourite books I read last year.

According to my Goodreads.com profile I managed to read an even 20 new books in 2014, excluding the various graphic novels I managed to get through (my favourite probably being a good six volumes of Matt Fraction’s Invincble Iron Man run).

That comes out at under one every two weeks. Still pretty good going, but with the amount of books I received for Christmas I definitely hope to top that this year.

top reads of 2014

Here are the six books which I rated as the highest I’d read in 2014.

Snow Crash

Published in the early 90s, this techno-thriller set both inside and outside a virtual world has just the right amount of surrealism in both and a far-reaching subject matter in ancient linguistics and how they might affect the way we use technology in the future. The characters are a great mix and there’s plenty of laughs in among the building suspense.

The Death of WCW

One of the best wrestling books I’ve ever read, blending methodical reporting with hugely satisfying amounts of wrestling snark to tell the story of the downfall of one of the world’s largest entertainment companies – and being the 10th anniversary edition, with even more relevant stories and opinion from those on the scene.

Death of WCW book

The Internet is a Playground

I really liked David Thorne’s first collection of emails and anecdotes from his website, his bizarre hypotheticals and the way he handles angry respondents are truly funny stuff. It’s not really a novel, more just an anthology, but it made for some great holiday reading in the sun all the same.

The Hellbound Heart

I haven’t seen Hellraiser in absolutely years, and thought I’d give the novella it was based on a whirl. As previous film reviews will attest, I’m really not a fan of horror but I really enjoyed The Hellbound Heart – it predates most of the generic conventions you get in most horror nowadays and as such is a pretty scary read.

Flowers For Algernon

I remembered reading this when I was young but apparently there was a whole section missing from the version I’d read before; in its entirety this book made me experience what’s commonly known these days as ‘the feels’.

Brave New World

A great take on civilised society in the future, this book still holds up well today despite its being published many decades ago. I loved this vision of a so-called perfect society and the way all people are literally not created equals, to warn readers that individualism and freedom of expression shouldn’t be taken for granted the way we sometimes do.

Any recommendations for my 2015 reading list?

The Death of WCW – 10th Anniversary Edition

A fascinating independent chronicle of the fall of WCW pro wrestling.

I don’t know if it was because I was purely a WWF kid, but the few times I tried to watch WCW programming in the UK, it just didn’t click.

Sometime in late 1997/early 1998 I will have happened across it on TNT; best known to people my age as the channel which began at 7pm when Cartoon Network went off the air.

The Death of WCW book

The colour scheme in the ring was entirely black and white, and various people I recognised – among them one Hulk Hogan – were strutting their stuff and not actually doing much wrestling. I don’t recall seeing a single wrestling match during this time; in fact, I wasn’t even sure it was actually a wrestling show but for all the various archetypes they had; entrance themes, big strong men and commentators not describing the action properly.

When Channel 5 showed it in about 2000, there was plenty of wrestling to go around – the only problem was that none of it made any sense. Having got back into the WWF when it came to Channel 4 at this time, the differences were clear: the WWF had great production values, young talent, well-defined characters and logical storylines; all sorely lacking from what I saw in the WCW product of the time.

I’ve managed to piece together what exactly happened to turn the WCW from a cultural giant in the mid-90s to the absolute shambles of a company it became at the turn of the millennium, but reading The Death of WCW by RD Reynolds and Bryan Alvarez has more than filled in the gaps.

Death of WCW book

The 10th anniversary edition has been revised and expanded to include more quotes from the people involved, as well as the story of what has happened in the years since WCW was swallowed up by Monday Night War enemies the WWF in 2001 – and the cautionary tale of some of the same mistakes which are being made by TNA to this day (whose future is still not 100% safe according to some sources).

The book as a whole outlines the success of the old Jim Crockett Promotions during the late 1970s and 1980s; the move into a rivalry with Vince McMahon as the two then-biggest companies redrew their boundaries are prepared for war, as well as how a young producer named Eric Bischoff made some key strategic and financial decisions to give WCW more than an edge during the mid-90s – one of which was the addition of former WWF stars Scott Hall and Kevin Nash.

Scott Hall Kevin Nash WCW NWO

Look at the adjective! “Play!”

What follows in the pages of this book is the story of how WCW went from being atop the wrestling mountain thanks to Hall/Nash being the origins of the phenomenally successful NWO, to shedding viewers and box office like they were going out of fashion through bad booking, dodgy contracts and no sense of continuity or playing to the crowd; using inside stories, gossip and cold hard numbers to tell a very entertaining story of the at times bewilderingly logic-free decisions which caused the downfall of WCW.

Reynolds and Alvarez combine great wrestling journalism with great storytelling and plenty of humour to produce this fine work. It’s essential reading for wrestling fans, no two ways about it.

CM Punk to write Thor for Marvel

CM Punk and Marvel Comics are to team up on a Thor issue out in January.

Not content with being one of the most popular and talented WWE Superstars and pro wrestlers in living history, the man formally known as Phil Brooks will write an upcoming story for Marvel Comics’ Thor annual.

CM Punk Marvel Comics Thor

According to the story on Marvel.com, Punk will be teaming up with fellow Marvel debutant and Eisner Award winner Rob Guillory (Chew, Image Comics) on a contribution to Thor Annual #1, out early next year.

Fans of CM Punk the wrestler will know of the five-time World Champion’s love for comics; having also written the foreword for the hardback edition of the Avengers vs X-Men crossover, for years he borrowed a catchphrase from Ben Grimm aka The Thing – “it’s clobberin’ time!” – during his ring entrance.

When asked by Ryan Penagos how all this came about, Punk confessed to having “pester[ed] people at Marvel” during the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con – where he also appeared at a WWE-Mattel press conference during his storyline of unemployment between contracts – where he met Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso among others.

Being so busy on a full-time wrestling schedule prevented Punk from taking up the opportunity sooner, but now that he’s retired from the ring, Punk has been able to work on his very first comics commission.

Thor Annual 2015 #1

Thor Annual #1 cover by Rafael Albuquerque

“So the idea was, let’s do a story about young Thor as kind of a brash, bratty teenager who’s like, ‘I’m totally worthy of this hammer…’ And it’s more or less like a drinking story. He’s gonna be sitting around with a few choice characters…and they’re all gonna be drinking, and Thor’s gonna basically be complaining about essentially why his dad won’t give him the keys to the car.”

Punk wants The Punisher

Any aspiring comics writer would kill for the chance that Punk’s got here, but as one of comic fandom’s most famed proponents (think Kevin Smith but with decades of physical graft to show for it) Marvel will definitely benefit from the opportunity to bring in new readers. It’s certainly the case for me; I’ve got very few Thor stories in my collection but I’ll certainly be interested to see what flavour CM Punk brings to the God of Thunder.

But according to Punk, Thor wasn’t the first character on his list.

“In my mind, for some odd reason, I’ve just got this Punisher story in my head, and I think it’s super, super awesome…I think that my Punisher story is pretty badass. So everything I do for Marvel is going to be leading up to, “Please just let me write my Punisher story.” So until they let me do that, you’re gonna get all kinds of other stories about all kinds of other characters until they satisfy this need I have to write Frank Castle.”

Now that will be something.

Grand Thieves & Tomb Raiders book review

A fascinating account of British video game history.

Round about the same time I watched Micro Men, I picked up a book called Grand Thieves and Tomb Raiders, which proved to be a compelling account of the story of British computer gaming from bedrooms to boardrooms.

Back in the mid-1970s when two chaps from Hornsea (East Coast, represent) were dabbling in the creation of the Multi-User Dungeon – the pre-precursor to what we now know as the MMO – home computing was just getting on its feet as the afore-mentioned Micro Men made their bid to corner the market. While Chris Curry grew frustrated at his inability to get into the living room from the classroom, Clive Sinclair was still pissing about with his C5 transport instead of taking advantage.

But both men benefited from the games created by a generation of coders who had emerged from their bedrooms with some very special programming skills, like the fun and addictive Dizzy series by the Oliver twins, or the mind-blowing possibilities of space travel created by David Braben and Ian Bell’s Elite.

Grand Thieves and Tomb Raiders book

Grand Thieves and Tomb Raiders tells the story of these men and women as they went from amateur status to running some of the UK’s most ambitious software companies throughout the 1980s and 1990s. As well as the successes of the likes of Codemasters, who made a lot of money by annoying Nintendo at one point, there are the failures of companies such as Imagine Software, whose strident over-ambition resulted in their shutdown – captured during the filming of a BBC documentary about the booming industry.

As the US took hold of the market by luring the best of British talent Stateside there were still some success stories to be written – the book’s eponymous featured games being just two of the Brits’ best from DMA and Core respectively.

What strikes me the most about reading this book is the reactions of the British public and press as they gaze upon these wondrous programmes with awe. I’m familiar with a good deal of the games covered during the late 80s and early 90s (he said, showing his age) and I would have had that same enthusiasm for the games myself. Shown these very same games, people just a couple of years younger than myself (he said snobbily) would’ve snorted with derision at the comparatively basic games being wowed over back then. But there was a massive leap round about the time of the SNES’ release, that jump to the Super FX chip which brought Starfox to our living rooms, and our jaws to the floor.

The guys who invented that chip? Yep. British. But you’d have to read the book to find out more of British video games’ fascinating history, which has great interviews with many of the industry’s major players, then and now.