Neal Stephenson's Reamde, Gears of War 3 and more new-release picks this week
It looks like DVD releases are taking the week off anything worthwhile, but thankfully, everything else is picking up the slack as we start the long historical non-fiction countdown to Christmas. There's a new book about the assassination of President Garfield, as well as one by science-fiction author Neal Stephenson, Reamde. And one of gaming's biggest franchises is cutting another notch in its belt with its third release while another is getting an HD remaster.
Reamde, by Neal Stephenson
It's interesting that Ernest Cline's fantastic Ready Player One and Neal Stephenson's Reamde are released so close to each other, because they share a similar seed of an idea but take completely different directions. Where Ready Player One was a hilarious adventure tale inside of an MMO, Reamde concentrates more on a multi-faction criminal entity that uses an MMO for evil. In typical Stephenson fashion, the book flips through tons of characters in both the real and the online world, and as the techno-thriller unravels itself, you'll be surprised by the outcomes and choices made by nearly everyone in the book. It might sound a little techy, but it still manages to maintain its humanity throughout.
Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President, by Candice Millard
It's coming up on holiday season, which means we're about to get inundated with American history books. To stand out from the pack, you have to be damn good, and Destiny of the Republic hopes to do just that. Detailing the story of President James Garfield's assassination by the hand of Charles Guiteau, the book takes on both the history of the president and the assassin to get the story across. Guiteau was supposedly told by God to assassinate the president, and even though we know Garfield dies, it manages to keep the suspense throughout.
Gears of War 3 (Xbox 360)
The Gears of War games have been lauded for their tight gameplay, early innovation and multiplayer, and this third and final installment lives up to the pedigree in every way possible. It is not anything new, but seasoned fans of the war-torn-jock-dude-manliness of the Cogs will be happy with what's delivered here. It still tries to pull on your heartstring in all the wrong places, but as a game, it's one of the best point-and-shoot people experiences out there. Plus, you'll get to see a completely ridiculous scene involving a football player dropping a bomb.
Resident Evil 4 (XBLA, PSN)
The $20 price tag is a little ridiculous for a six-year-old game, but this HD remaster should give people a chance to play one of the most loved games of all time in crystal-clear widescreen. Sure, the HD update won't change a single thing about the actual game, but if you don't want to dig out your PS2 or Gamecube anymore and would rather play on your fancy new console, this is the only way you're going to able to do it. It's one of the most classic games in the franchise and one of the best survival horror games, so if you haven't played it, now's your chance.
New York Five, by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly
It seems like New York has been a destination spot for nearly every generation of artist since the dawn of the city, and while there have been plenty of books detailing the artist journey to the Big Apple, New York Five offers enough of a spin to make it feel fresh and new. It's everything you'd expect from the title, with twenty-somethings trying to make things work in New York and dealing with everything from stalkers to older men.
Man Who Grew His Beard, by Oliver Schrauwen
Man Who Grew His Beard is Oliver Schrauwen's first American book. The talented European storyteller and artist has won his fare share of acclaim across the sea, but we've been left out of the action until now. Included in this book are seven short stories, all of them absurd in every respect and more intelligent on a single page than most books are in full. If you can dig into Schrauwen's surreal humor, you'll find a lot to love here.