Excerpt from the art of The Electric State.

The Electric State is very much a different book from Tales from the Loop and Things from the Flood. Those books had a retrospective narrative – the point of view for those books was from the viewpoint of someone looking back on events with a sense of nostalgia. The Electric State, on the other hand, has a more conventional narrative, while still having significant themes of memory, but definitely without the warmth of nostalgia.

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The last book in the Peter Grant series of Urban Fantasy police procedurals wrapped up the end of the “Faceless Man” Arc, with the recurring antagonist of that series being taken down, while one of the members of Peter’s supporting cast who had turned to the Dark Side was now on the lam. In the wake of this, author Ben Aaronovitch has decided to, basically, explore a different chunk of this world with the novella The October Man, which moves the plot from the UK to Germany.

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If I was going to describe the modern “Isekai” genre in brief, I’d describe it as “Game-based another world fantasy.” It’s not just fantasy where a protagonist is whisked to another fantastic world from ours like with the John Carter of Mars novels, or on the anime front with El-Hazard and Magic Knight Rayearth. This is fantasy where the characters are explicitly in a world that draws inspiration to games from gaming – sometimes by drawing the characters or their psyches into an actual game (ala Sword Art Online or Log Horizon), or a world which uses the language of RPGs like with Konosuba or Grimgar: Ash and Illusions. I would argue that if not the first of these, then one of the first of this particular genre – and was done in the ’70s by a woman.

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Dragons of Autumn Twilight ended with the refugees from Pax Tharkas having found a refuge in a mountain pass in the hope of (possibly) making it through the winter. The second book in the Dragonlance Chronicles series begins with the Heroes of the Lance having already gone on another adventure, and having brought the refugees to the Dwarven city of Pax Tharkas. In the roleplaying game modules, your player characters would have gone through this story. However, while much of the Dragonlance modules were adapted to the original Chronicles series, not all of them were. In the late 2000s, Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman returned to Dragonlance to adapt this missing chapter into novel form.

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With the past two installments of the Vinyl Detective series, we’ve had an exploration of vinyl collecting along with the Jazz music industry of the 1930s-50s, and a focus on collecting singles combined with an exploration of the psychedelic rock scene of the 1960s-70s in the UK. This basically leaves one last major type of record album to cover – 78 rpm shellac records, and wartime jazz music. (more…)