One of the things that I got from my wife for Christmas was The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman in audiobook form, read by the author himself. It is kind of like Gaiman’s take on a Harry Potter-type coming-of-age story, but it is, as one would expect, better than Harry Potter in every way.
I’m sure that some of its impact is due to hearing the author read it himself. I didn’t know this, but Gaiman is a superb dramatic reader – downright mesmerizing. I wonder if he also excels in kendo, or racecar driving, or perhaps landscape painting? My looming green jealousy aside, I think that the impact of the story is increased by Gaiman’s rendering. It is coming alive, and I must admit, sometimes makes it difficult to concentrate on my commute. I’m not done with the book yet, but I already recommend it to everyone without any reservations.
I am also deep into reading Monsters and Other Childish Things as well as the long-awaited Magic Burner for Burning Wheel. I also picked up a copy of Artesia: Adventures in the Known World and a copy of Mutants and Masterminds, which I’ll talk about more later.
Reading Monsters has been a real pleasure. It is laugh-out-loud funny, and well written, and an elegant system. It is an interesting contrast with the Magic Burner – Burning Wheel in general is a very complex system, and while others describe it as elegant, I don’t agree. It is an excellent system, and it is fun to play, but it is not elegant in the way that Monsters is elegant. It does not solve problems with the simplicity and grace that I look for in anything I would call elegant.
I’ll have more to say on what elegance in game design means to me once I finish Parsec at long last. Which should be soon. Or I will explode.