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“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” This quote by Charles Dickens has been immortalized through many forms of popular media quoting it, even so far as to being a huge line in the second Star Trek movie. The meaning of the quote is what gives it endurance as everyone can attest to being in the best of times, the worst of times, orthe times that encompass both. In my case, going through the books in my personal library is the epitome of the phrase as I have come across things that are both scary and amazing at the same time.

I say scary in that someone actually paid another person to create the work and amazing that someone could put out that work without being choked to death by the very bile it stirs up. In this case I speak of the video game book adaptations that are both plaguing and blessing my bookshelves. Recently I began inventorying and sorting the books in my collection and I have found that there are enough books in the “video game adaptation” category to merit two whole shelves on their own. This means that I own somewhere close to forty of these titles, not counting those still on my “too read” shelf and upstairs beside my reading area. This got me to thinking, “Why do I buy these books when I have played the games they are based on?”

With this in mind, I started figuring out which ones I had purchased and what games they were supposed to be based on. Overwhelmingly the books I purchased were from first or third person shooters and the minority was from real-time strategy and role-playing games. This ran counter to what I originally believed would happen. Role-playing games often have such a large universe that I figured I would be purchasing books that expanded upon it. “Mechwarrior, Halo, Descent, Doom, and Wing Commander” formed the core of my collection whereas “The Dig, Alpha Centauri, Eve-Online, Gabriel Knight, Star Control, and StarCraft” were considerably fewer in number. For the purposes of this discussion, the BattleTech, Star Trek, Star Wars, and Warhammer 40K books are filed in their respective areas as they were their own properties before becoming video games.

Looking at the books before me, I recalled one set that had been quickly been relegated to “trade in” status shortly after I read them. This was the “Doom” series of books published in the mid-to-late 1990s. Somehow they had, much like a Space Marine on stims, managed to avoid being traded away just yet. I wondered if somehow they were truly “damned” books destined to haunt me forever? There was no other explanation for why a book based on one of the “game changing” games could possibly have been so awful. Picture if you will a book about Space Marines that ends up with two completely different endings and having no idea which one is correct? This is after the main characters have managed to convert a group of the demons to Mormanism after having lived for a subjective thousand-plus years due to space/time restrictions. Honestly, I do not remember dispatching the final boss in “Doom” with my “BFBOM (Big Freaking Book of Mormon).” Seriously, the fact that this was green-lit and sold is amazing but the fact that I bought it even more so! I set these aside again in the hopes that possibly I could get rid of them this time.

“The Dig” by Alan Dean Foster did glimmer to me like a diamond in the rough. Here was a book based on an older LucasArts adventure game that really stuck with me. A truly sci-fi setting called for a truly sci-fi writer and whomever at LucasArts picked Alan Dean Foster did a fantastic job in doing so. The book effectively follows the story of the game but does so in such a way as to fill in parts of the game that are hidden or assumed. Seeing the scientist go truly mad over the crystals and watching the journalist die trying to save the trapped alien race came out of the page at me in ways that the graphics of the time just could not convey. This was truly an adaptation and not a revision or “based on” style of book. Regardless of whether or not I would ever play “The Dig” I would have no problems buying this book based on the author alone, which is actually what happened with the next example on our list.

Diane Duane happens to be one of my favorite science fiction authors ever since I read several of her “Star Trek” books when I was around nine or ten. Knowing how well she respected source material, when I stumbled across the book “X-COM: UFO Defense – A Novel” I had to grab it. For those of you who have played “X-Com” you know that the each game is its own self-contained story. Instead of trying to play out the entire game, Duane takes one of the bases you may or may not ever create in the game and working a story around it. This prevents you from seeing an spoilers about the ending while still being a very entertaining work. Duane uses the source material well and thus keeps her spot on my shelf with the rest of the gems.

So I end this now with only a few of the works having been discussed. Do not worry as I promise to continue with more of these “Best of /Worst of” later. So stay tuned and see if I can truly get the “Doom”-ed books out of my room for good. *Glances over shoulder* Hey! Did they just move?

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