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July 18th, 2003

Another one for sneerpout

Looks like you have competition: Jeremy Hardy vs the Israeli Army

(spotted on the davorg_blog feed)
One of the great lost RPGs is GDW's Dark Conspiracy. It mixed cybrpunk thriller with Lovecraftian horror and UFO conspiracy in a rather unique manner. GDW also produced a short line of novels set in this world, part of which was the "Fiddleback Trilogy".

The second volume in this series was Michael A. Stackpole's Evil Ascending. It's a typical middle volume of a trilogy, detailing an attempt by alien powers to control the world through an alien contact cult. Three storylines twine around each other - one of an alien girl lost in the American desert, another of a man trying to find himself in a Tibetan monastery that's not what it seems, and the other a man, rejecting his past, going undercover to stop a conspiracy. They're three stories that will cross the world (and others), and meet in the heart of a corporate enclave in Japan.

Evil Ascending is not a wonderful book. It's a sharecropped world, written to fit in with the rules of a gaming system and the restrictions of a gaming manufacturers vision. There's no sweep of soul-shattering horror, or of world-bending SF. Instead we're left with a paper thin clone of action thrillers, stretched out over the game's skeleton. It's no wonder that the skeleton keeps showing through, in the shape of infodump and hackneyed prose.

Not recommended, when there are so many better books in the world. Unless of course it is the only book on the bookcase and you've got a long journey ahead. In which case it'll while away an hour or two relatively painlessly.