Wife gave a reading Friday night at a bookstore. I was wandering the shelves post-reading when I chanced upon the “Fantasy” aisle — Dungeons & Dragons, Lord of the Rings, that kind of thing. There I found something extremely disturbing.
Video Game Novels. Yes, there are now books based on video games — Halo, Warcraft, and others. I picked up “Cycle of Hatred (World of Warcraft)” by somebody or something named Keith R.A. DeCandido — he has 49 books to his credit, according to Amazon — when I was greeted by this gem of an opening:
“Erik had been cleaning ale off the demon skull mounted behind the bar when the stranger walked in.”
After I stopped laughing, I thought about this dangerous trend. First there was “novelization” of movies and sci-fi shows like “Star Trek” and “Battlestar Gallactica.” Then we had books with product placements and books based on children’s cartoons.
Now we’ve got books based on video games. There have been movies made out of video games, video games made out of movies, but I don’t know when books out of video games started. It’s not really a novel as so much as it is Novel as Entertainment, or Noveltainment.
One can argue that consumers of this fiction are reading, at least, instead of annihilating aliens on their Xboxes. And if they weren’t reading “Cycle of Hatred (World of Warcraft),” these same folks aren’t awaiting the latest Philip Roth or Joyce Carol Oates title with the same eagerness as they are the PlayStation 3.
If video “gamers” are reading, good. So why not extend the model to other genres? Why not extend the novel to non-traditional realms, take it where it has never gone before — to other forms of entertainment, or even consumer products?
Being a good consumer and one who makes pale stabs at writing Serious Fiction both, I propose that Noveltainment attempt, at the least, to have a literary bent. You can merge “the best of all worlds,” so to speak! It doesn’t have to be Erik cleaning the ale off the demon skull, though the more I read that sentence, the more I like it.
Not that there’s anything wrong
There was frisson between the two men, something they dared not speak all these years of their friendship, but now something had changed. George sat across from Jerry in the diner, and contemplated what Jerry had said: “Why can’t I have cereal for dinner?”
George felt a sudden passion, and a shiver ran down his spine to his anus. It had crystallized what George had felt his entire life. Suddenly he saw Jerry in a different way; no longer the rabbit-faced, buck-toothed, Jew-fro’ed comedian with a head the shape of an iron, but a sensitive, caring man, someone he could live with…he wasn’t gay, not that there was anything wrong…but as Elaine chattered on about how she couldn’t get past the fact the man she was dating had three nipples (“triple nipple,” she called him), George wanted her gone, dead, so he could spend all of his hours with Jerry.
But then Kramer entered the diner, wearing a silk blazer and gabardine pants. George felt jealous, murderously jealous. He would have to find his father’s weapon of choice, the Festivus gun.
Right in the middle of the SummerSlam Slammiversary Road to Hell Wrestlemania Showdown XIX, the biggest event ever in Sports Entertainment History!, The Rock was worried. Really worried. He was dropping The Undertaker in a double souplex, setting him up for the Rock Bottom — they were going to smell what The Rock was cookin’! — when he realized that he had left his car lights on! Shit! The battery was sure to be dead by now.
The crowd was booing, but The Rock didn’t care. Oh, shit! He had forgotten to pay his MasterCard bill — he wouldn’t get double Rewards Points this month! How could he have been so stupid? His wife was going to kill him!
As he was pinning The Undertaker to retain his WWE World Championship Belt, the crowd going berserk, camera bulbs flashing, blood pouring down his face, thousands chanting “Rock! Rock!” in orgiastic unison, the champion thought, “And I forgot to send a prompt thank you note to my wife’s second cousin after the baby shower.”
What was happening to him? Why was his life falling apart? He knew that he would have to check in — again — to the mental hospital after SummerSlam had run its horrible, bloody reign of violence.
Old-school video games
He could not stop eating, moving. As if compelled by a force pulling him with a lever, he moved right, left; he moved up and down, his lifeforce mechanically munching dots in his path. He did not understand why he was doing this, except that pale ectoplasms in the form of monsters chased him, and he intuitively knew that if one were to touch him, he would die. Once in a great while, a piece of fruit crossed his path, and suddenly he was chasing the monsters.
Pac had no control, had no say in the universe, had no power to control his destiny, and as if this great outburst of anger had purged all his ills, killed all his hopes, he looked up at the mass of signs and stars in the night sky and laid him open for the first time to the benign indifference of the world.
It had been a hard driving all day, she wasn’t losing any weight, she wasn’t getting any younger, so why not indulge herself a little! She needed it — she was bigger than most others, and all of her accessories made her look fat.
And she was feeling old. Younger models had replaced her in the public’s eyes; she had once been so hot, but age had taken its toll. Men coveted her no longer.
So the 2002 Cadillac SUV called her best friend, the 2001 Ford Focus, and they went out and got new tires, a lube job, oil change, a complete interior cleaning, and, just to show the world that she was a whole new 2002 Cadillac SUV, she got a paint job to boot, her dull black going to a shiny new red!
To celebrate the makeover, they went out to Exxon for a fill-up of SuperHiTest, at $4.93 a gallon. She couldn’t afford it, with her Manhattan parking rent and only getting 3 miles per gallon, but she deserved it!
The possibilities for Noveltainment are endless. TV weathermen, Christina Agulera’s new CD, Diet Coke With Lime — anything can be turned into fiction and made Noveltainment!
Hell, you could even make Noveltainment out of a novel (talk about meta.)
Others? If you have a Noveltainment idea and write a paragraph, I’ll publish it. E-mail it to email@example.com.
I might even give a prize to the best entry. I’ll send you a picture — but not of me, of course.