Thursday, 27 December 2012

YOU ARE THE HERO - A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks - UPDATE!

YOU ARE THE HERO is now past the two-thirds mark and with ten days left to run is heading towards fully funding on 6 January.

Progress is going well, but we still need to raise on average £500 a day to make our £15,000 target.

So if you've not backed the project yet, but you've been meaning to, click this link and pledge your support today.

If you have already pledged, thank you - but please check that you've added the correct amount of postage. And then blog about it, post on Facebook and Tweet all your friends.

With YOUR support a copy of YOU ARE THE HERO could be in your hands by this time next year!

Thank you.

Monday, 24 December 2012

The Next Big Thing: YOU ARE THE HERO

I know I've been tagged by the Next Big Thing meme before, but it's happened again - and it really couldn't have come at a better time. So, here we go.

What is the working title of your next book?
YOU ARE THE HERO – A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
My love of Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. The fact that 2012 marks 30 years since the publication of the first one, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, and 20 years since my first commission, which was also for a Fighting Fantasy gamebook – Spellbreaker. And because I wrote a piece on the subject for SFX Magazine in the year, which I soon discovered barely scratched the surface of the story waiting to be told.

What genre does your book fall under?
Non-fiction, but non-fiction about the gamebook genre, specifically fantasy adventures.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I guess Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone would have to play themselves, as any such movie would need to be a documentary.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
A 'coffee table' book celebrating 30 years of Fighting Fantasy, the publishing phenomenon created by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, written by gamebook guru Jonathan Green.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Chronicle City is actually going to publish the book, as long as the Kickstarter raises the necessary funds.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I’ve not written it yet, but I’m anticipating it will take a couple of weeks. It will be the interviews and preparing the book for publication that will take up much the time.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
None. This book is unique. So back the Kickstarter today and make the fantasy a reality!

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Steve Jackson, Ian Livingstone and Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, of course.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
YOU ARE THEHERO will tell the story of Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, from the early days of Games Workshopright up to the present day, and beyond. I have already interviewed the creators of the Fighting Fantasyseries – Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone – who are both keen to have their story told. In fact, Steve Jackson once said to me, "You are the perfect person to write this book."

I have also interviewed many other people who’ve been involved with Fighting Fantasy over the years. These include authors and editors – such as Dave Morris, Robin Waterfield and Marc Gascoigne – the artists – people like Russ Nicholson, Martin McKenna, John Sibbick and Leo Hartas – and fans of the series, such as New York Times bestselling author Graham McNeill, founder of Tin Man Games Neil Rennison, and author, actor and comedian Charlie Higson.
I want YOU ARE THEHERO to be something special, a book worthy of commemorating such an extraordinary achievement and the impact Fighting Fantasy gamebooks have had on the world. As a result, the first print run of YOU ARE THE HERO will be a limited edition. The book will feature brand new, specially-commissioned cover art by Martin McKenna, as well as original artwork from the series, and a foreword written by Steve and Ian themselves.

Not only will YOU ARETHE HERO tell the amazing story of how Fighting Fantasy gamebooks changed the world, it will also cover everything from spin-off novels and puzzle books, to foreign editions, board games and video games. It will even delve into such areas as the gamebooks that never were, the myths and legends surrounding the series, and how Ian Livingstone’s newest gamebook – Blood of the Zombies– almost never happened.

Thanks to Kickstarter we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a book about the history of Fighting Fantasy. But now it’s up to YOU! The more YOU pledge, the more impressive this book will be –with more artwork, higher spec production values and more content. I would love this first limited edition to be a hardback, and with YOUR help it could be. But without your support YOUARE THE HERO can never happen.

If you have any interest whatsoever in the British games industry, adventure gamebooks or fantasy fiction, then this book is for you. Check out the rewards on the YOU ARE THEHERO Kickstarter page and pledge your support today!

Remember – only YOU can make this book happen, because, thanks to Kickstarter, YOU ARE THE HERO!

You can find out more (and pledge your support) by clicking this link.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

YOU ARE THE HERO - Halfway there!

The YOU ARE THE HERO Kickstarter is now passed the halfway mark (in terms of the time it has to run), has already raised over £9,000 and is well on the way to being two thirds funded.

If you've been thinking about backing but haven't committed yet, then watch the pitch video below and then click this link to pledge.

And if you're still not convinced after watching that, then watch this!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Only one month to go...

... until Christmas Day!

Which means it won't be long before I dust off The Chrismologist's advent calendar, ready for another year.

So, come 1 December, make sure you check out for a new fascinating festive fact every day...

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Call the Chrismologist!

It's getting to be that time of year again. In only five weeks' time people all over the world will be making their final preparations for Christmas. For some, those preparations include producing items of media, whether they be radio shows, TV programmes, or newspaper articles.

So, if you're wondering what to include this year, why not Call the Chrismologist? I am very happy to appear on radio or TV and have been interviewed for numerous pieces for the press before. Ask me your Christmas questions or simply consult my Christmas book What is Myrrh Anyway? to gather some ideas.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Friday, 19 October 2012

Monday, 8 October 2012

Why gamebooks are great for those with dyslexia

Last week was National Children's Book Week (in case you didn't know) and this week is Dyslexia Awareness Week. In honour of both, I want to tell you why gamebooks are great for children with dyslexia.

1) They have short paragraphs, printed in a large clear font.

2) They have engaging storylines that a children can lose themselves in.

3) Because of their very structure, the reader jumps backwards and forwards through the book so they are not put off by the feeling that there are still hundreds of pages left to read.

4) They are very often illustrated and in a mature style, with gruesome images of monsters and magical creatures.

So if you have a reluctant reader at home or your child struggles with dyslexia, why not try introducing them to the wonders of adventure gamebooks?

Friday, 5 October 2012

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

What happened when MPs took a maths exam

Most of them hadn't got a clue what they were doing, that's what!

You can read the full story here.

I wonder what the probability is of them being re-elected?

There really is no excuse for Labour MPs being so bad at Maths, especially after I stood outside the Department for Children, Schools and Families giving away copies of Match Wits With the Kids back when they were still in power.

If your Maths is a little shaky, you can pick up your copy of Match Wits With the Kids: A Little Learning For All the Family here.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Friday, 21 September 2012

Monday, 17 September 2012

Friday, 24 August 2012

The Sparkling Enope Squid

This is a picture of the Sparkling Enope squid - also known as the flirefly squid - washed up on the beach at Toyama Bay in Japan. 

The squid are are roughly 15cm in length and die after only a year of life. Found in the Western Pacific ocean, they live at depths of 183-366m and only come to the surface at night to show off their brilliant bioluminescence. The squid's photophores* are located at the end of each tentacle.

The Sparkling Enope squid is the only species of cephalopod that has evolved to be able to see colour in three visual pigments. Scientists think that this is to help them distinguish between ambient light and their own bioluminescence.

The firefly squid lights up for two reasons: the lights on the tentacle can flash to attract fish that the squid feed on, and lighting up their entire bodies help to attract a mate during the months of March to June.

* The organs that produce the light.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Things you need to know about the human brain

I'm loving James May's new series and this episode (all about the human brain) is both fascinating and highly entertaining.

You can watch the programme here via the wonders of the BBC iPlayer - not to mention those of your own visual cortex.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

You Are What You Eat

Mohamed Babu from India, captured these amazing pictures last year after his wife noticed that ants turned white when they drank milk.

He dissolved sugar in food colouring solutions of red, green, blue and yellow and then placed them in his garden to attract ants. Some of them even moved between the different solutions, resulting in psychedelic colour combinations.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Friday, 10 August 2012

"I listen to colour"

Incredible. The next stage in human evolution is here...

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

The Counting Song

Call me an old cynic, but I love this.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Just Add Water

A day out on the beach would be incomplete without a sand castle. The mightier the castle, the better. But sand is next to useless as a building material. Without water it simply spreads out as wide as possible. So in search of a good recipe Daniel Bonn, a physicist at the University of Amsterdam, and colleagues have stumbled upon a formula for making the perfect sandy redoubt. 

To read more about this story, click here.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Three Months in Europe

This is strangely hypnotic, not to mention beautiful.

EuroLapse from David Kosmos Smith on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Monday, 16 July 2012

The Loch Ness Monster - The Creationist's Argument

In case you missed this incredible - and quite appalling - story yourself, click here to find out more.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Monday, 9 July 2012

Friday, 6 July 2012

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The Final Frontiers?

"Space... is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly hugely mindbogglingly big it is..."

So speaks the Voice of the Book in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. But if you're determined to try to achieve some sense of the vastness, or by turns tininess, of things in general, then you could do a lost worse than to click this link. (And it's got some nice music too.)

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Monday, 30 April 2012

Big Bugs

‎"When one considers their boldness, their fecundity... and, above all, their unquestioning loyalty to their own kind, one is left thinking it is a good job that ants are not larger."
 ~ George Orwell (1903-50)

Scientists have long wondered why giant bugs don't exist today. Unlike animals with backbones, insects deliver oxygen to their tissues directly and bloodlessly through a network of dead-end tracheal tubes. In bigger insects, this mode of oxygen transport becomes less efficient. In other words, a bottleneck occurs in insects' air pipes as they become humongous.

250 million years ago, in the Paleozoic Era, insects were able to overcome this bottleneck due to the Earth having a higher-oxygen atmosphere, and so there were dragonflies the size of hawks and millipedes longer than a human leg. But not today - thank God.