Background Reading

edited November 2013 in Story Games
Since learning about indie games and this lovely site I've been exposed to some, erm, weird stuff.

I find the premise behind games such as Ghost/Echo, My Life with Master, Don't Rest your Head etc. completely fascinating.

My question is: are there any writers who cover these themes in their novels in a thorough, engrossing and philosophical way?

Thanks in advance.



  • Which themes in particular? (I'm not conversant with all of the games you listed, or rather, I've read two of them years ago but haven't played any.)

    From what I remember of DRYH, you might find what you're looking for in books by Philip K Dick (try UBIK or Flow My Tears The Policeman Said) or Tim Powers (try Last Call or Earthquake Weather).
  • Judging by the OPs handle, it's probably safe to assume some familiarity with PK Dick.

    DRYH has a bibliography in the back, comics, novels, films and games.

    If it's literature and philosophy you're after, it's hard to go past Borges or Calvino. Some of the WS Burroughs stuff is pretty cool, too. Something like Cities of Red Night?

    I've been enjoying the latest stuff from Charles Burns, if comics are your bag. X'ed Out and The Hive. I don't know if I'd call them thorough, though.
  • Thanks for the responses. I've read most of PKD's stuff but strangely I've never read Tim Powers, so I'll be giving him a whirl. Charles Burns is going on my Christmas list too.
    Which themes in particular?
    Anything overtly weird (!) The minimalist wraith thing in Ghost/Echo is intriguing. Maybe it's the minimalist thing that's making me crave some further background information? Perhaps I just need to play these games more and fill out the background for myself?

    Either way, I'm jonesing for some answers.
  • edited November 2013
    Stalker by Arkady Strugatsky is astonishingly weird. It's about an alien (maybe) visitation, and the confusion of people trying to understand the things they left behind.

    Pashezade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood is about an alternative North African Muslim nation in the future and someone who has a fox spirit in his head trying to solve a crime.

    Also anything by Jonathan Carroll is pretty weird.

    And if you're into metafiction (fiction that comments on itself being fiction), I suggest Christopher Priest.
  • Guess you know this collection of short stories: Don't Read This Book for DRYH
  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
    Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
    The Telepathist by John Brunner
    The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry
    The Night Mayor by Kim Newman
    Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
  • edited November 2013
    Autobiography Of A Schizophrenic Girl by "Renée" — if you really want to know what it's like to have reality fall to pieces around you, go to the source
    The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks — seriously disturbed Scottish kid trying to deal with his even more disturbed family
    John Dies At The End by David Wong — hilarious, but also quite horrific in some very inventive ways
    Dhalgren by Samuel Delany — classic (but loooong) book about life in a disintegrating city
    Stranger Things Happen and Magic For Beginners by Kelly Link — collections of stories that are like New Yorker fiction mashed up with fairy tales and magic realism.
    The Age Of Wire And String by Ben Marcus — an intensely disorienting book that reads sort of like a broken AI attempting to make sense of an indeterminate apocalypse by writing poems about it.
    The Broom Of The System by David Foster Wallace — my favorite of his books. Light-hearted but with a lot of weird shit going on
    The Crying Of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon — uncovering secret societies in '60s California
    Illuminatus! by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea — the benchmark of bizarre conspiracy-theory fiction. Sort of juvenile at times, but dense and funny.

    GoodReads has a "Weirdest Books Ever" list that has a lot of great stuff, mixed in with some WTFs (Wicked? The Perks Of Being A Wallflower?) One book it recommends that sounds spot-on for your request, but which I haven't read, is House Of Leaves.
  • There are some absolutely brilliant suggestions here!

    Thank you all so far, it's going to take me a while to read through them all!
  • Butterfly Burning by Yvonne Vera
    Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
    Monster Slayer by Vee Brown and Baje Whitethorne

  • And for the the weird in general, there's always The Weird edited by the Vandermeers which is a veritable history of weird fiction (table of contents) and they also have a website exploring the genre.
  • Perhaps I just need to play these games more and fill out the background for myself?
    Either way, I'm jonesing for some answers.
    Ironically, you're not going to get answers by playing Ghost/Echo. Or more correctly, each time you play with a new group you'll get a different set of world building answers/background tips. I've never played two games of G/E the same (and I love it for that.)

  • You lot are very helpful, thank you all so much. It's going to take a while to read through all of these!
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