Heart of Ice, you'll know I like my science fiction grim, dark and with no unequivocally happy endings. Actually, for the most part I like my fantasy that way too, but good SF demands an uncaring universe. In fantasy you can be saved by a mysterious prophecy and a saviour. In (too) many fantasy stories, if things look tough, having the right moral code deep down inside can count for just as much as knowing how to wield a sword or weave an intrigue.
But not in the best SF. That's the tale of mankind confronting a vast, awesome, bleak infinity that both terrifies and calls to us. For the brutal collision between guts and survival I'm talking about Apollo 13 or The Martian, for sheer wonder try Europa Report or Rendezvous With Rama, and for the great and terrible unknown take a look at Greg Bear's Hull Zero Three.
Now there's a new title to add to that list: Kyle B Stiff's Heavy Metal Thunder, released last week for iPad and iPhone by gamebook app developers Cubus Games. The art and sound effects are very stylish indeed, building extra layers of eeriness and menace into the story, which was originally published as a regular prose gamebook for Kindle. Humanity reached its golden age, only to have it all snatched away by alien invaders. The sola system is overrun. You have your wits and your courage. That may not sound like much, but it's what got us out of the caves and up into space in the first place. Now it's time to show those aliens the hard downside of picking a fight with the human race.
Even if SF isn't your thing, there's still a point to all this. Fabled Lands LLP have been talking to the guys at Cubus Games about some pretty exciting projects. (Yes, we have apps in the works with Tin Man Games and Inkle, but we have so many gamebooks that one or even two developers could never handle the workload. And on top of that, we like making new friends.) The plans with Cubus are very hush-hush for now, but you know me. Give it a few weeks and I'll be spilling the beans.
Before all that, though, come back Friday when I'll have the second part of the "DVD extras" for Doomwalk. See ya then.