Saturday, October 24, 2009

'Enemy of Chaos'

I think there are only two ways of doing a contemporary 'choose your own adventure' style book. One is to really have a crack at the whole 'predestination vs free will' thing, a road taken by Kim Newman's criminally under-read Life's Lottery, which ties into his various literary universes, weaving in villains like the devilish, and fascistic, yet oddly fragile Dr. Shade, and frankly makes a very good fist of it.

The other is to make it properly funny, which is the path taken by Leila Johnston's Enemy of Chaos

Disclaimer: I very vaguely know Leila from yer internets, although we've never met, and I got a free preview copy of the book - fortunately, having worked in a bookshop for many years, I see free preview copies of books as a right rather than a privilege, and thus my critical faculties will emerge unscathed.

Anyway, I genuinely enjoyed it, even after scouring the pages for the traditional five pound note, which according to tradition really should have been tucked in there somewhere (future preview-senders please note). It's quite fantastically geek-friendly, with references to twenty-sided dice, jokes about poor choices of passwords, zombies (of course), Zooey Deschanel, and quite a nice dig at Gok Wan. It's a little bit Douglas Adams, if Adams was younger, very slightly girlier, and had just been on an expresso bender watching the '28 X Later'films, and it filled the train journey from Truro to London nicely, and you can't ask more than that.

I will admit that after a while, I did what I always do with choose-your-own-adventure books, and start skipping about reading pages at random, but it works perfectly well under those conditions as well, hurrah!

Ideal for: slightly geeky younger brother, anyone who is still hanging onto their lead Warhammer figures, zombie completists.

PS: there is a bit of predestination vs free will in 'Enemy of Chaos' as well, to be fair. I think. Unless I was reading too much into it. But I don't think I was.

Enemy of Chaos website.


mg said...

Having worked with you in said bookshop for many years, I have come up with a 'Choose your own adventure' book of my own. It's called "Enemy of Sales" and readers get extra points for ignoring or antagonising customers. If they do this to the extent that their erstwhile colleagues have to cover up their massive social inadequacies in order to avoid legal action, they win the game.

James Henry said...

Ah yes, I remember this game! As I recall, one bout lasted five years, with double points if security was called.

nanga parbat said...

Surely I emerged victorious when I not only "accidentally" called a telephone customer a wanker but also got *him* to apologise to *me* for being a wanker instead of taking, perhaps, the more traditional route of writing a pissy letter to Castle Greyskull and getting me fired.

Now THAT, my friends, is customer service.

James Henry said...

... and then naga parbat wept, for there were no worlds left to conquer.

mg said...

The peerless Nanga Parbat was truly unequalled in her open contempt for the so-called customers. However, you did some distinguished work of your own. I particularly enjoyed your refusal to talk to anyone who wasn't buying a graphic novel. Unless they was an girl, obviously.

James Henry said...

But to be fair, then I'd talk to them for AGES.