Tag: Books

Fight, Magic, Items has a shiny new website!

FakeNet Initiated

Hi! Just a quick boo to let you know I’ve made a fun website for my upcoming book on the history of Japanese RPGs, Fight, Magic, Items. Head on over to fightmagicitems.rocks for all the info you could possibly want about the book, how to preorder it, request review copies, find current and upcoming appearances, etc.

You’ll also get a sneak peek of the gorgeous interior designs from the Running Press design team and artist Sara Alfageeh. This book looks good, y’all.

It’s a one-stop-shop for all things Fight, Magic, Items, and is the perfect link to share with other readers who’ll love the book.

Visit FightMagicItems.Rocks >>

Fight, Magic, Items: The History of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and the Rise of Japanese RPGs will be released by Running Press on October 4th, 2022. If you’re interested in reviewing or covering Fight, Magic, Items, head on over to NetGalley and request a copy. And, remember: preorders are love!

In the meantime, check out these generous reviews by a few early readers on NetGalley!

Fight, Magic, Items review copies now available!

You acquired “Fight, Magic, Items”! Would you like to equip it? Yes/No

I’ve been reviewing books as a blogger and a professional critic for over 15 years. I’ve been buried under piles of early review copies, trawled NetGalley for early digital copies, and seen my review blurbs plastered on book covers. It’s been a ride.

But now: the tables are turned.

Because drum roll review copies of Fight, Magic, Items: The History of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and the Rise of Japanese RPGs in the West are now available for request on NetGalley!

Here’s the most recent blurb:

Take a journey through the history of Japanese role-playing games—from the creators who built it, the games that defined it, and the stories that transformed pop culture and continue to capture the imaginations of millions of fans to this day.

The Japanese roleplaying game (JRPG) genre is one that is known for bold, unforgettable characters; rich stories, and some of the most iconic and beloved games in the industry. Inspired by early western RPGs and introducing technology and artistic styles that pushed the boundaries of what video games could be, this genre is responsible for creating some of the most complex, bold, and beloved games in history—and it has the fanbase to prove it. In Fight, Magic, Items, Aidan Moher guides readers through the fascinating history of JRPGs, exploring the technical challenges, distinct narrative and artistic visions, and creative rivalries that fueled the creation of countless iconic games and their quest to become the best, not only in Japan, but in North America, too.

Moher starts with the origin stories of two classic Nintendo titles, Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, and immerses readers in the world of JRPGs, following the interconnected history from through the lens of their creators and their stories full of hope, risk, and pixels, from the tiny teams and almost impossible schedules that built the foundations of the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest franchises; Reiko Kodama pushing the narrative and genre boundaries with Phantasy Star; the unexpected team up between Horii and Sakaguchi to create Chrono Trigger; or the unique mashup of classic Disney with Final Fantasy coolness in Kingdom Hearts. Filled with firsthand interviews and behind-the-scenes looks into the development, reception, and influence of JRPGs, Fight, Magic, Items captures the evolution of the genre and why it continues to grab us, decades after those first iconic pixelated games released.

If you’re interested in reviewing or covering Fight, Magic, Items, head on over to NetGalley and request a copy (it’s quick and easy to set up an account). I’m a big proponent of grassroots word of mouth for books, so don’t hesitate to request a copy no matter the size of your audience or your platform. And, if you’re interested in working with me on a feature/interview/whatever regarding the book, please reach out!

Request Fight, Magic, Items on NetGalley

On a personal note, it’s dawning on me that review copies going out means, um, people are, like, reading the book now, and, you know what? I’m fine. Really. I’m fine. All good. Not freaking out at all.

Fight, Magic, Items: The History of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and the Rise of Japanese RPGs will be officially released by Running Press on October 4th, 2022. Just 68 days away! If you’re not planning to cover or review it, but still want a copy, remember that preorders are love! Check the previous link for online retailers or head to your favourite local bookstore and make a request. Preorders make all the difference, especially for debut authors like me.

My Dungeons & Dragons story “Dame Beatrix J. Delacroix III’s Guide For Training Your New Beholder” is out now!

It’s out! The new Dungeons & Dragons Beholder figurine, including my story “Dame Beatrix J. Delacroix III’s Guide For Training Your New Beholder,” is available now! Creating two canon Dungeons & Dragons characters is a dream come true, and I hope you all enjoy meeting them.

Here’s a fun review on Comicon.com from Anton Kromoff:

This little friend comes packaged with a small book entitled “Guide For Training Your New Beholder” and is attributed to the author Dame Beatrice J. Delacroix the 3rd. This tiny tome expounds upon the ways to care for your Beholder, creating a domain for your Beholder and, of course, adventuring with and taming your Beholder.

The good Dame Delacroix the 3rd is also very clear in her information booklet that there are no refunds of any kind, and once you take possession of the Beholder it is very much your own problem.

Just look at it!

And here’s what I had to say in my original announcement:

“Dame Beatrice J. Delacroix III’s Guide for Training Your New Beholder” is an accompanying booklet for an officially licensed light-up Beholder figurine. It’s also quite possibly the most hilariously enjoyable project I’ve worked on.

Working with the Dungeons & Dragons team at Wizards of the Coast and my editor Brit Brooks-Perilli at Running Press, I was given a lot of freedom to have fun writing this guide about training your brand new (and very disgruntled) Beholder pet, and, well… it goes just about as well as you’d imagine.

This might be a relatively small story in the overall Dungeons & Dragons world, but it’s a thrill to get to introduce fans to Dame Beatrice J. Delacroix III, her granddaughter Pip, and their menagerie of dangerous creatures. “Dame Beatrice J. Delacroix III’s Guide for Training Your New Beholder” is a 32-page mini guidebook that walks you through your early days with your new Beholder, how to set up its new home, tips for feeding and care, and offers tons of advice for what to do when (not if!) things go awry.

Obviously, working in the Dungeons & Dragons world—which has been a huge part of my life since adolescence—has been an absolute treat. Dame Beatrice J. Delacroix III and Pip have already stolen my heart (along with a few… let’s call them unregulated living curiousities), and with any luck this won’t be the last you see of them.

This figurine (with a glowing eye!) and the guidebook is available now!

But, just remember: Dame Beatrice J. Delacroix III’s Menagerie of Unusual Kind does not offer refunds or returns on products.

Check out the cover for “Fight, Magic, Items” at Nerdist!

Y’all know Fight, Magic, Items: The History of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and the Rise of Japanese RPGs in the West is coming this October, but now, thanks to an exclusive reveal at Nerdist, we’ve got our first look at its gorgeous cover art.

When I first started writing Fight, Magic, Items, I had all these grand ideas for a cover. I wanted bold colours, details you could sink into for days, easter eggs for longtime fans, and everything between. This cover from artist Sara Alfageeh (who I interviewed for my newsletter!) is so far above and beyond my expectations. It’s brilliant, and just the right cover for this book. I’m obsessed with the way the book’s title mimics the iconic battle commands from classic JRPGs. Those commands were obvious inspiration for the book’s title, so to see Sara and Running Press’s design team not only get that, but run with the idea is such a thrilling moment. If you know, you know—and I think anyone who sees this cover will know exactly what they’re getting inside.

Visit Nerdist to see the full, high resolution cover!

I sold a book! Announcing “Fight, Magic, Items: The History of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and the Rise of Japanese RPGs in the West” (Running Press // October, 2022)

Cue Victory Fanfare

You’ve maybe noticed Astrolabe’s been a little quiet for the past few months. Well, I’ve had good reason for that, and now I can finally tell you why, and I’ve literally been waiting my whole life to say this:I’m pleased to say I’ve sold my first book, Fight, Magic, Items: The History of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and the Rise of Japanese RPGs in the West to Britny Brooks-Perilli at Running Press. And the best part? It’s done! Written, revised, copyedited, and off to production as we speak for release in early October, 2022. Just a few months away—and perfectly timed for the 25th anniversary of Final Fantasy VII‘s western release. What a (totally intentional) coincidence!

Pre-order Fight, Magic, Items: The History of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and the Rise of Japanese RPGs in the West

Here’s the blurb:

Take a journey through the history of Japanese role-playing games—from the creators who built it, the games that defined it, and the stories that transformed pop culture and continue to capture the imaginations of millions of fans to this day.

The Japanese roleplaying game (JRPG) genre is known for unforgettable characters, rich stories, and some of the most iconic games in the industry. Inspired by early western RPGs and introducing boundary-pushing technology and artistic styles, they’re responsible for many of gaming’s boldest and most successful games—and have the fanbase to prove it. In Fight, Magic, Items, Aidan Moher guides readers through the fascinating history of JRPGs, exploring the technical challenges, distinct narrative and artistic visions, and creative rivalries fueling the creation of countless classic games and their quest to become the best—not only in Japan, but in North America, too. 

Moher starts with the origin stories of two classic Nintendo titles, Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, and immerses readers in the world of JRPGs, following the interconnected history through the lens of their creators and their stories full of hope, risk, and pixels. From the tiny teams and almost impossible schedules that built the foundations of the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest franchises; Reiko Kodama pushing the narrative and genre boundaries with Phantasy Star; the unexpected team up between Yuji Horii and Hironobu Sakaguchi to create Chrono Trigger; to the unique mashup of classic Disney with Final Fantasy coolness in Kingdom Hearts. Filled with firsthand interviews and behind-the-scenes looks into the development, reception, and influence of JRPGs, Fight, Magic, Items captures the evolution of the genre and its continued hold on millions of fans, decades after those first iconic pixelated games released.

I’ll write at greater length about my process and experiences with the book soon—because, boy howdy, did I learn a lot not only about JRPGs, but writing, publishing, and everything in between. This has been an intense labour of love for me as I wrote and revised Fight, Magic, Items between last summer and January, 2022. This book combines all my experience with JRPGs as a kid growing up during their golden age and explosive growth in the west with my background in games journalism, reporting, interviewing, and personal narrative history. It’s part history, part memoir, and all JRPG goodness.

This is a story that’s been brewing inside of me since my earliest memories of exploring the mines of Narshe on my trusty Commodore 1702 monitor, flying high in the skies of Zeal on the Blackbird, and soaking in Midgar’s neon glow with my friends at my side. It’s a dream come true, and I owe huge thanks to my agent, Eric Smith, who prompted the idea almost two years ago; my editor Britny, for giving me a platform; and my friend Ty Schalter for always being there with a Phoenix Down when I needed it most.

I’ll be revealing the cover at a later date, but right now I can tell you it (and the interior art) is being created by the astonishingly talented Sara Alfageeh. I’ve had a peek at the near final cover, and, whoo boy, let me tell you: it’s amazing. Sara’s previously worked on things I love, like Avatar: The Last Airbender, and has a terrific looking graphic novel coming out in March, 2022 called Squire. If you’re very adventurous, you might even find a sneak peek of the Fight, Magic, Items cover by taking your sleuthing skills to her Twitter profile.

For more information, and links to purchase from your favourite online book retailer visit Fight, Magic, Item‘s official page on the Hachette website.

If you can, please consider supporting your local bookstores with a pre-order for Fight, Magic, Items. This helps not only the book, but also supports the small businesses and booksellers that are the heart and soul of the bookselling industry.

Pre-order Fight, Magic, Items: The History of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and the Rise of Japanese RPGs in the West

More preorder links:

Announcing “Dame Beatrice J. Delacroix III’s Guide for Training Your New Beholder”

Y’alllllll.

I wrote a Dungeons & Dragons.

Me. I did this.

“Dame Beatrice J. Delacroix III’s Guide for Training Your New Beholder” is an accompanying booklet for an officially licensed light-up Beholder figurine. It’s also quite possibly the most hilariously enjoyable project I’ve worked on.

Working with the Dungeons & Dragons team at Wizards of the Coast and my editor Brit Brooks-Perilli at Running Press, I was given a lot of freedom to have fun writing this guide about training your brand new (and very disgruntled) Beholder pet, and, well… it goes just about as well as you’d imagine.

The blurb:

Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder with this officially licensed miniature figurine.

  • FIGURINE WITH LIGHT: A one-of-a-kind 3-inch figurine of the popular monster: the Beholder with a glowing eye 
  • BOOK INCLUDED: Learn more about this iconic monster in this fully illustrated 32-page miniature book
  • PERFECT GIFT FOR D&D FANS: Display on a shelf, desk, or bookcase and show off your love of Dungeons & Dragons
  • OFFICIALLY LICENSED: Authentic Dungeons & Dragons collectible

This might be a relatively small story in the overall Dungeons & Dragons world, but it’s a thrill to get to introduce fans to Dame Beatrice J. Delacroix III, her granddaughter Pip, and their menagerie of dangerous creatures. “Dame Beatrice J. Delacroix III’s Guide for Training Your New Beholder” is a 32-page mini guidebook that walks you through your early days with your new Beholder, how to set up its new home, tips for feeding and care, and offers tons of advice for what to do when (not if!) things go awry.

Obviously, working in the Dungeons & Dragons world—which has been a huge part of my life since adolescence—has been an absolute treat. Dame Beatrice J. Delacroix III and Pip have already stolen my heart (along with a few… let’s call them unregulated living curiousities), and with any luck this won’t be the last you see of them.

This figurine (with a glowing eye!) and the guidebook will be available in April, 2022, and is available for pre-order now!

But, just remember: Dame Beatrice J. Delacroix III’s Menagerie of Unusual Kind does not offer refunds or returns on products.

2020 Award Eligibility: Best Fan Writer

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

God. 2020.

WTF?

This was a very difficult year for all of us, and nothing will ever change that. While navigating all the challenges 2020 presented, however, it has also been one of the most successful years for me from a creative, professional, and fan writer stand point. I picked up an agent, continued pouring words into two books I’m super excited about, started TWO fanzines, and wrote some of my best-ever articles and essays.

This is also the first year in a long time that I have no eligible fiction. Which is weird. However, I’m eligible for some awards, and so is most of my work individually and collectively. I’m very proud of my work in 2020, and I hope you’ll find some value in it, and also hope you keep me in mind when filling out nomination ballots.

Read More »

Thoughts on the 2020 Hugo Award Ballot

Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

Hugo time!

The nominations for the 2020 Hugo Awards were announced yesterday, and, as tradition dictates, I have some thoughts.

But, they’re good thoughts! I’ve left my hot takes at home this year. (They were mainly about raisins in cookies, and, well, seemed off topic…)

I gained a reputation in past years for fiery hot takes about the Hugo ballots, but, to be honest, over recent years, I think we’ve seen a push toward an incredibly deep and diverse ballot full of varied creators and works. This list feels like it represents the tone and tenor of SFF in 2019. And that’s the highest compliment I can pay a ballot.

I’m going to skip around the ballot this year and comment on the categories that I have strong opinions about. I didn’t read much short fiction this year, for instance, so I’ll move past those. I always enjoy this time of year, however, when I get to go back and enjoy the best short fiction from the year before, and I’ll be doing that again this year.

The major trend I see here (and one I accept with open arms) is that there are a lot of new names on the ballot, and the first signs of change in the fan categories as we see fan writers and publications from new mediums (like BookTube) begin to appear on the ballot. It’s a wonderful sign of health for the awards. Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe how much the Hugos have changed and evolved over the past decade as more and more fans from online SFF fandom have become involved.

So, let’s get started.

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00111010 00101001: Life in Code by Ellen Ullman

Before my wife gifted me a copy of her book Life in Code for Christmas, I’d never heard of Ellen Ullman despite her long, impressive career as a programmer, software engineer, and author. Turns out, I’ve been missing out on one our the sharpest and most insightful writers on tech, culture, and feminism. Ullman is witty and broadly experienced, and has a terrific voice that flits between amusing and professionally rich without batting an eye. I know who Ullman is now, and, boy am I sorry it took me so long to find her.

(And major thanks to my wife for putting in work and research to find an absolute GEM of a book.)

Life in Code is a collection of Ullman’s essays ranging from the late ’90s to days after the 2017 US presidential inauguration. Posited as an auto-biographical account of her experience as a woman in a male-dominated industry and culture, Life is Code is also a biography of technology and web culture over the past 20 years. It’s a detailed, real-time look at all the mistakes we’ve made as we’ve chased the ghost in the machine and the allure of fast, endless capital at the expense of privacy and social safety nets.

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Shine Bright: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

As 2019 tipped into 2020, readers started compiling their lists of the best books of the decade. I thought long and hard, but the only book I had any certainty about was the decade’s best: a debut novel from Erin Morgenstern called The Night Circus. With a tenacity matched by few other books, The Night Circus has not left me since I first read it years ago.

I had big words for The Night Circus when I reviewed it for A Dribble of Ink in 2012:

The Night Circus is a classic novel that will sit on the highest shelf of my bookshelf, right next to The Hobbit and The Shadow of the Wind. … There’s magic in this novel and it deserves to be read by anyone wanting to be reminded that there is more to life than meets the eye.

Usually when I liken a book to two all-time classic, the comparison begins to show its age as the days, weeks, and years pass?—but not so with The Night Circus. If anything, the comparison seems more fair to me now than it did then, especially after having read Morgenstern’s much awaited follow-up, The Starless Sea. Like Tolkien and Zafon’s novels, The Night Circus is a book for the ages.

The Starless Sea is better.

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