Gate Three. Oh, you lovely, brilliant, maddening gate three.
Tuesday night at 9pm, the official "pre-party" started in the #gunters chat room - the area we've carved out of the internet as our "Aech's Basement" from the book. We chatted, we talked, we spinned records in our turntable.fm room, we guessed at what it would be, we laughed at all the things we'd done to prep.
I had my notebook, my copy of the book, caffeine, a bag of Doritos, and some sugar in the form of Rainbow Nerds. I'd slept five hours that afternoon so that I could stay up all night and pound on this gate. I was ready. I was as ready as I was ever going to be.
And at like 11:58, I clicked on the gate, and it opened.
To beat Gate 3 and to win the DeLorean, you had to post a new world record high score in either Joust, Robotron 2084, Tempest or Black Tiger.
Verified by Twin Galaxies, recorded, etc. On an actual coin-op machine with the correct dip settings, everything.
We all just went "Oh, WTF?"
A few people immediately said "Yeah, I'm out." A few others started scrambling for listings of machines for sale in their area, or arcade listings to find a machine to practice on. Others fired up emulators just to see how good they could do in the first place.
I was disappointed - sure, I didn't expect to win. But this - I wasn't even going to be able to compete. But I also thought it was absolutely brilliant.
We sat in the chat room for about another hour, talking and thinking and plotting and it was totally a different attitude than it was after gate 2 - everyone HATED gate 2 for being a Facebook game, etc. This one? We all thought it was a brilliant, brilliant twist. We just knew we had no chance in hell of clearing it.
(As I said "I've seen King of Kong. I'd rather save up $25k and buy my own Delorean than ruin my life obsessing over a game.")
At some point between 1:00-1:30, someone logged into the chatroom as "JDH" and immediately identified himself as Ernie. Now, we'd been bugging him to log in that night to cheer us on, so we didn't immediately disbelieve him. Then he told us to check the gate again.
He'd added another game - beat the speed record for a perfect game of Pacman.
Not _much_ easier, but he said that he would be adding new challenges as time went on - new games, including some console games. And that he'd make a blog post about it eventually, but he wanted us to know first, because "You've brought my book to life in a way I never could have imagined."
To which I replied, "Thank YOU for giving us such a marvelous universe to play in, Ernie."
As of this morning, another game has been added - you can break the Joust Atari 2600 world record. Still have to tape it, still have to submit it to Twin Galaxies for confirmation - but that's a little more within reach - if you don't already own a 2600, they're like $50. Now, the skill required - that's different. But at least it's accessible to more people for trying.
He said that "the order the games appear in the book just might be important. That's a clue, guys." So everyone's digging through the book, picking the game mentioned that they think they have the best shot at, and starting to practice.
Me? Belth and I started working on Gunterpedia a little more in earnest, starting with the video games mentioned in the text. I still don't think I've got the kind of obsession and time to break a World Record in a video game, but I'm okay with that, really. As I've said all summer, the community of awesome gunters I found through this, the friends I've made, the fun we've had - that's the real prize, if you ask me.
(And I just love that he came into the chatroom and gave us a little boost, just like Og did for Parzival and company. This has totally played out just like the book, and it just amazes me.)
Posting this as the super rare public post, because I want to point people to it.
(I've been reading, somewhat, but not posting. Here's where I'm at.)
1. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter - Tom Franklin
This was free or nearly free on my Kindle, and self-published. There was some racial undercurrents here that I wasn't terribly comfortable with. I think they were trying to show that the main character was racist, but the whole thing came off as more racist on the part of the author, and I wasn't willing to go back and read it any closer to figure out which was which. Blech.
2. Life On Hold - Karen McQuestion
Another free Kindle selfpublished book, YA this time. It was actually pretty good.
3. Elvis has Not Left The Building - J.R. Rain
Elvis faked his death, then was bilked out of all the money he'd squirreled away, so now he's a private investigator. It was actually pretty good, and I'm kinda disappointed it isn't a series.
4. My Sister's Keeper - Edna Curry
Kindle freebie. Typical romance novel. I actually liked the plot more than the romance angle, and wished it was just a mystery novel.
5. Firebird - Jack McDevitt
I love Jack McDevitt's stuff, although I'm really getting tired of Chase getting drunk once per book and dancing on a table or a bar, or doing something otherwise out of character. She's an intelligent, accomplished woman, and yet McDevitt always feels like she needs to do something stupid. The story itself was really good, though.
6. Arctic Rising, Tobias Buckell
Toby hit the ball out of the park with this one. The oceans are rising, and having a huge effect on the world economy, trade routes, etc. I was so happy to finally read this, after having heard Toby read from it at the last handful of conventions. It was every bit as awesome as I'd hoped.
7. Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin Ahmed
Another one I've been anxiously awaiting. Saladin is local, and I'd missed his reading at ConFusion this year. It's so refreshing to see fantasy that isn't set in a European setting. I loved the characters and can't wait to read more, and I'm thrilled to know there's more coming.
8. Discount Armageddon - Seanan McGuire
I was a little unsure about this one at the start. Seanan is amazing with urban fantasy, and the idea of a family tasked with taking care of all the fantastical animals hiding in our midst was interesting. The fact that she moonlighted as a ballroom dancer seemed kinda weird. But it worked, and I really enjoyed it. Here's hoping there's more!
9. Shay's Story - Scott Westerfeld
This was a manga, telling the story of Scott's Uglies from the point of view of Shay, not Tally. I read it in a couple of hours last night while half-watching the hockey game, and it was definitely interesting to see everything from that POV, and in a different format. I'll probably pick up the rest of them as they come out, but I'm a crazy Scott Westerfeld fan, so. ;)
10. Triggers, Robert J. Sawyer.
I think you either love Sawyer's stuff or your hate it. They are very thinky books - delving more into the social and psychological aspects of the science-fictional things going on in his books. In this one, an experiment in deleting PTSD-causing memories causes a bunch of people to be mindlinked in a chain - person B can access Person A's memories, and Person C can access person B, etc. Which is all fine and dandy, except one of those people is the President of the United States - and there's a huge counter-terrorist attack planned in the next week, and they have to figure out who it is that can access those memories, and make sure they don't tell anyone ahead of time. I'm listening to this one on Audiobook.
I'm already six books behind for the year, but I'm slowly, slowly breaking out of whatever funk it was that made me not read for months at a time. Here's hoping this trend continues.
43. The Hum and the Shiver - Alex Bledsoe
What if music and magic were so intertwined there was no difference between them? A very nice "rural fantasy" novel by someone who is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.
44. 7th Sigma - Steven Gould
Ferrett dropped this one into my suitcase the last time I visited, and I enjoyed it immensely.
45. The Mill River Recluse - Darcie Chan
46. AWOL on the Appalachian Trail - David Miller
47. The Wedding Gift - Marlen Bodden
48. Wife by Wednesday - Catherine Bybee
All four of these were $0.99 or $1.99 books I bought on my Kindle and tore through over vacation. They were fast, easy reads, but very interesting. Except maybe Wife By Wednesday, which was a very formulaic romance novel (I hadn't really put much thought into it when I bought it, and by the time I was like 20 pages into it, I knew how it would end.)
49. Illegal Alien - Robert Sawyer
This is an older book of his, but just recently available on Kindle. I blew through it on the plane but I thought it was very interesting - seven aliens land on earth, and all is fine until one of them is put on trial for murder.
One more to go! ;)
I missed two books!
Echo - Jack McDevitt
WWW:Wonder - Robert J. Sawyer
And then onwards:
18. Tiassa - Steven Brust
19. Quinlin's Estate - David Ryan Long
20. Deadly Silence - Jodi Larsen
21. Blue Zone - Andrew Gross
22. Enchanter's End Game - David Eddings
23. Feed - Mira Grant
24. Deadline - Mira Grant
25. The Steel Remains - Richard K. Morgan
So I'm a bit behind, but not much.
Book 16 was Tiassa by Steven Brust. Not my favorite in the series, but it was a good romp and I liked the change of perspective. The only thing I DIDN'T like was the narration by Paarfi, but that's because I absolutely could not stand the Khaavren books, never finished them beyond the first one, and although I'd really love to have the backstory knowledge, I know I never will. I should probably just go read synopses. Either way, the book was great, and it was the first book I've actually purchased in months, because I love Brust that much.
Book 17 was the first of a run of reading books I'd picked up at a library book sale. I grabbed a bunch at random, and have been reading through the ones that look good, and then the whole bag will get donated to OUR library's book sale. It was Quinlin's Estate by David Ryan Long, and I was halfway into it before I realized it was "Christian fiction". I have to say, tho, other than the main character starting to go to church with her new boyfriend, it wasn't terribly "churchy." It was about a grad student trying to save the mansion of the guy who founded their Pennsylvania mining town, and some Deep Sekrits. It was pretty good.
Book 18 was Deadly Silence and it was about a child kidnapping ring, although I can't really call it a mystery because you saw stuff from every perspective so YOU knew what was going on, except for the final twist at the end. And that didn't even shock me, because it was like "oh, okay." I dunno. IT was okay but I wouldn't recommend it or anything.
Book 19 was Blue Zone which was about a family going into Witness Protection as her dad testified against some Columbian drug lords, and the main character discovering just how deep those ties ran. It was pretty good.
Currently I'm working on the audiobook of Robert Sawyer's WWW:Wonder and enjoying it as much as I've enjoyed the rest of the series. I'm also reading the last of the booksale books that look interesting. This one is throwing me a bit because upon reading the back I assumed it was a medical thriller, and suddenly now they're talking about having discovered Atlantis at the bottom of the ocean. I have no idea, and I'm moving through it slowly so it's kinda like "bwah?"? I don't know.
And then after that I'm going to have to go find some more books!
This year has seriously sucked, book-wise, but I'm trying to get back in the swing of things.
26. Omega, Jack McDevitt
The next book in the Academy Series. I struggled to get through it. I had enjoyed Chindi quite a bit, but Omega was a lot slower.
27. Metatropolis: Cascadia - the anticipated followup to Metatropolis, this was another audiobook with stories taking place in the same shared universe. I enjoyed this, possibly more than the original, because the stories felt more linked than they did in the first audiobook.
28. Ship Breaker, Paolo Bacigalupi
I tried and failed to get through Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl which won a ton of awards, including sharing this year's Hugo. So I wasn't quite sure how this would go. It's YA, in the current theme of "YA = books with kids as protagonists" because I really felt this book stood up to the adult reader. (But then, I feel the same way about Westerfeld's stuff. It's YA, and yet I struggle with it being called YA.)
29. Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer, James Swanson - I'd been toying around with reading this for a while and I'm glad I did - there was a LOT about Lincoln's assassination I really didn't know. Like the fact that he took seven hours to die.
I will probably get one or two more books in for the year, but this will be the lowest # of books I've ever read in a year. In 2005 I read 49 books, and I've been over 50 every year since. I'm really disappointed in myself but next year I will do better. :)
Oops. I haven't been updating. Book 20 was read way back in August.
(Of course, I haven't been reading, either, since I've read six books in two and a half months. *sigh*)
20. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
YA, I got it as an audiobook after hearing lots of people gushing about it. I then spread the meme, getting both Dave and Ferrett to read the entire trilogy. Wonderful stuff.
21. Catching FIre, Suzanne Collins
22. Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins
23. Behemoth, Scott Westerfeld
The sequel to the totally awesome Leviathan, we picked this up at Scott's talk here in Detroit (Novi, actually). I love Scott and Justine, and have since we met them at Confusion a few years ago, and I devoured this in less than a day.
24. Chindi, Jack McDevitt
Finally getting around to finishing up his Acadamy series. Got this one on audiobook, and I'm most of the way through Omega, the next book in the series.
25. Dreadnought, Cherie Priest
Moar steampunk! But with zombies! I borrowed this from jenx on Thursday and finished it up today at lunch.
Something tells me I'm not going to read 25 books in the next six weeks. I'm incredibly disappointed in myself this year.
20. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
I've heard so much about this book that I assumed it was far older than it is (2008). I needed a new audiobook, and several people online had been talking about reading the last book in the series, Mockingjay, so I figured what the hell. I have four spare Audible credits, I'll grab the first one and see how it goes.
It went -- quickly. Ten or eleven hours, devoured, mostly over last weekend as I did housework or knitted or just sat on the sofa curled up in a sunbeam. Amazing stuff.
The Hunger Games takes place in an unidentified future time period after the destruction of North America, in a nation known as Panem. Panem consists of a rich Capitol and twelve surrounding, poorer districts. As punishment for a previous rebellion against the Capitol, every year one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district are selected at random and forced to participate in the Hunger Games, a televised event where the participants, or "tributes", must fight to the death in a dangerous outdoor arena until only one remains. The story follows fatherless 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, a girl from District 12 who volunteers for the 74th Games in place of her younger sister, Prim. Also participating from District 12 is Peeta Mellark, a boy whom Katniss knows from school and who once saved Katniss's life by giving her bread when her family was starving.
I am hoping there'll be more worldbuilding in the 2nd two books. I'd like to know how they got there - the detail about this dystopian world are enough to get you through what's going on, but I'm aching for more information. It's fabulous.
With about 20 minutes left in this book I logged into Audible and bought the other two books, and I started on Catching Fire five minutes after I finished The Hunger Games. I listened to almost two hours of it yesterday.
Amazing, amazing stuff. I need to pick up the boxed set of the books for Brit.
(Yesterday I finished my first book since June. I have no idea WTF my problem is this year. I am not setting aside time to read AT ALL. I need to deal with this.)
18. Rosemary and Rue, Seanan McGuire
I picked this up because Seanan is a friend of a friend. I enjoyed it a lot, although I did feel like it was flawed in some ways - I read a review afterwards that said that things always seemed to happen TO Toby rather than her actually DOING anything, but maybe that's just how she is. I don't know. I finished it in a couple of days, I enjoyed it. It wasn't the best book I've read all year but it's certainly not the worst, either.
19. WWW:Watch, Robert Sawyer. The second in his WWW trilogy. I got this on audiobook, same as I did the first one. There's a ridiculous amount of infodumping in this one, made less believable by the fact that the protaganist is a 16 year old girl. Yes, she's a math genius, but I promise you, when a 16 year old girl is curled up on the lap of the boy she hopes to lose her virginity to, they are NOT talking about hard science. At least not for long. Still, an interesting concept and I look forward to the conclusion.
Meanwhile, there have been SIX books this year I started and didn't finish, which stresses me out. I'm currently listening to the audiobook of The Hunger Games, since the trilogy is now finished. I still need to finish The Windup Girl. I also bought Paolo Bacigalupi's YA novel, The Ship Breakers on audiobook, so that's up next, audio-wise.
I've never read this few books in a year before. I seriously need to deal with whatever is blocking me.