In this slightly belated second part to our Geekzine Review of 2017, Geekzine editor-in-chief Andrew Jamieson pours his frivolous attitude all over a selection of the books, boardgames, videogames and toys that kept our geek chops smiling during 2017.
Thanks to Will Millar, boardgame guru, and Alex Martin, videogame retail expert, for their valuable contributions.
The Art and Soul of Blade Runner 2049
A gorgeous deluxe hardback delve into the creation of 2017’s most ambitious movie. With its dedication to physical special effects bringing a powerful authenticity to the screen, this book charts the production from rights acquisition and script development, to the ‘world building’ design challenge and the myriad complex effects of the epic shoot, with input from the creative team throughout.
ALIEN Survival Manual by Owen Williams
Empire reviewer Owen Williams penned this very thorough and enjoyable exploration of the Alien films, including last year’s Alien: Covenant. Written from the perspective of a training manual, this is a very amusing and entertaining read for fans of the films. Full of great nerdy details and great photographs, this is so much more than a tie-in, and really sets the standard for how this type of book should be done. Links into a very cool app that allows you to have some fun with chestbursters…
(we’ve got an interview with Owen lined up very soon, so keep your eyes peeled)
The Art of Star Wars: The Last Jedi
A gorgeous collection of the conceptual art involved in the making of latest Star Wars film, The Last Jedi. Lots of sweeping vistas and intriguing character design that, more often than not, didn’t make it into the film.
Carcharadons: Red Tithe by Robbie MacNiven
One of the best Space Marine novels ever written, about one of the most peculiar and fascinating Space Marine chapters, the Carcharadons, from Scottish author on the rise, Robbie MacNiven. He really gives the Carcharadons their own distinctive identity and goes to great lengths to depict their unique background in lots of geek-friendly detail. As for the antagonists of the story, the Chaos Space Marines of the Night Lords Legion, the author really captures their distinctive bloodthirsty style of stealth warfare. No character is given short shrift here, and this really is one of the most exceptional releases from the Black Library, to date.
One of the most noteworthy debuts of 2017, this fantastical novel weaves the story of its young protagonist, gifted with portentous powers, into a plot of epic fantasy. The first in The Daevabad Trilogy.
Clade by James Bradley
This stark warning of a future Earth on the brink is another fine example of why Bradley is a writer worthy of your attention. The novel follows a line of descendants through the ages as they seek to survive the changing world around them. The Guardian‘s Jane Housham reviewed it here.
Horus Heresy book 42: GARRO by James Swallow
A triumphant, epic tome, and much more than a short story collection, GARRO is the reworked and updated chronological saga of Nathaniel Garro, a space marine without a legion. Following his daring escape from his traitorous comrades of the Death Guard Legion (as told in Swallow’s exceptional Flight of the Eisenstein, back in 2007), Garro is recruited by Malcador the Sigilite as his Knight Errant, and is duly sent on covert missions across the galaxy to recruit specialised individuals to aid in the conflict against Warmaster Horus. I reviewed it here.
Books for little geeks…
Curse of the Werewolf Boy by Chris Priestley
A fun, spooky read for the 8+ crowd, yet well crafted enough to entertain readers much older. Like me. Read my glowing review here.
Jinks and O’Hare Funfair Repair by Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre
The latest collaboration from scribe Reeve and illustrator McIntyre, my little girl who is 8 had this to say: “I really liked the characters. The story was a bit complicated but lots of fun. I would read another book with these characters.” You can read over my interview with these two fine individuals here. You may be familiar with Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines, the film adaptation of which is out this December.
A glorious second picture book from rogue illustrator at large, Matt Pattinson (aka Culprit Art), featuring Japanese boy Toru, and blue alien, Meep. In this second book to feature the pair, Meep takes Toru on an alien safari so he can complete a school project. Available from the blurb website, here, and worth every penny.
The Blood Bowl Almanac
Collecting the two softback releases Deathzone: Season 1 and Deathzone: Season 2, the almanac adds a few sweet extras with all the special rules published over the course of the last year-and-a-bit in Games Workshop’s magazine, White Dwarf. A glorious release and crammed full of wonderful details. Keep your eyes peeled for the launch of the Inaugural Geekzine Blood Bowl League this spring…
Dungeons & Dragons: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything
A Player’s handbook version 2.0, if you like, and a geek’s delight. Covering new character classes and monsters, amongst many other veritable treats, there is all sorts of glorious detail hidden in the glossy pages of this deluxe hardback tome. This is a golden time for D&D fans, with more exciting campaign & themed handbooks set for release this year.
High Frontier (3rd edition)
You’re going to need a bigger table. The definitive 3rd edition of the space exploration epic, High Frontier made a splash in 2017, combining the original base game and the Colonization expansion, plus a heap-ton of new and redesigned cards. A game that requires no small amount of dedication, to play it through to its finish could take you a whole day.
A mid-nineties gang warfare classic reimagined, Necromunda: Underhive does away with the 3d element of the original in favour of the more straightforward board game approach. Twenty plastic multi-part models, plus scenery, and a lean rule set and campaign book allow for a quick entry into this snapshot of feuding gangs in Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40k universe. The first supplement, campaign book Necromunda: Gang Warfare, is already out, with more gang sets and books to follow in 2018, starting this month with the Orlocks gang set and Gang War 2, plus a set of new floor tiles.
Warhammer Underworlds: Shadespire
A slight departure for Games Workshop, Shadespire is a card-driven strategy skirmish game, as small warbands duke it out across the ruins of a mysterious city. The miniatures are great and the deck building aspect has potential for some fiendish strategic plays.
Warhammer 40K: Dark Imperium
The latest 40k box, released summer 2017 to coincide with the 8th edition of the rules, was a bargain box of delights, that includes two full armies (the shiny new Primaris Space Marines and those squelchy traitorous Space Marine rotters, the Death Guard) and the hardback rulebook. The slickest 40k experience yet.
Battle Chasers: Night War (PlayStation 4 / Xbox One & Nintendo Switch)
2017 saw the return of comicbook artist-slash-videogame entrepreneur Joe Madureira as he & three companions (all formerly of Vigil Games) launched their own company, Airship Syndicate. Night War is their first game, a visually gorgeous, traditional RPG set in the world of Madureira’s fantasy comicbook series, Battle Chasers, that ran for nine issues back in the late nineties until 2001. Night War is a pseudo-sequel to the comic, and Madureira has hinted that fans can expect the Battle Chasers story to continue in one form or another. The game is not going to win awards for its originality, as it is a fairly traditional explore n’ hack ‘JRPG’, but it is engrossing and the depth of world-building on display is sumptuous.
Horizon Zero Dawn (PlayStation 4)
An original title for the PS4 from Guerrilla Games, known for their Killzone titles, Horizon Zero Dawn is a post apocalyptic action RPG. It garnered lots of critical praise and heaps of sales, as fans revelled in the adventures of Aloy, a young tribal hunter looking to uncover the mysteries of her past whilst surviving the perils of her deadly world. A beautifully rendered game that received its first DLC late last year in The Frozen Wilds.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo Switch)
One of the launch games for the Nintendo Switch was a truly wow moment for Zelda fans, offering not only a great, immersive gaming experience but a good indication of the power of Nintendo’s new console.
Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo Switch)
Six months after Zelda, Nintendo Switch fans were rewarded with Super Mario’s debut on the new console. Once again, Princess Peach has found herself at the heart of dastardly Bowser’s plans and it is up to everyone’s favourite hirsute Italian plumber to put things right. Thankfully, Mario games are never judged on their plots but their fiendish game design, and Odyssey does not disappoint. Next time: Princess Peach saves Mario ?
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (Playstation 4 / Xbox One)
A marked return to form for the original survival horror, making a bold stylistic move to harken back to the series’ minimalist roots. Exploration over splat-action is the main draw to this title, as lead character Ethan Winters finds himself drawn to a mysterious plantation, as he searches for his missing wife, whilst attempting to outwit the cannibal Baker family.
The ubiquitous construction toy of choice for little kids and big kids alike, Lego had a good year, with two successful animated movies (neither as good as the original Lego Movie, in my opinion, but still lots of fun), and some strong new lines such as the new Ninjago Movie sets, and the new Star Wars sets. With the Channel 4 reality/competition show, Lego Masters, proving a hit, Lego continues to go from strength to strength. Rumours of a Lego Star Wars Cloud City have emerged recently…
If, like me, Transformers formed a crucial part of your childhood (do you remember what you were doing the day Optimus Prime died??), then you may be familiar with the rise in collectable transformers, official and third party alike. Takara Tomy of Japan produce highly desirable Masterpiece editions of classic characters, and pleased many a fan, myself included, with their excellent release of Sunstreaker in late 2017. Open Play, a new production company on the third party scene, made a strong debut with ‘Big Spring’, their version of Springer. Their hook is that they provide no instructions, you simply Open and Play…
Andrew is the award-nominated author of steampunk fantasy novels, The Vengeance Path, and its sequel, Children of War, both available from the Amazon Kindle Store.