Thursday, 23 June 2011

Remember EA_Spouse?

Well She Wrote A Book

No, not about the labour practices of a top video games firm in 2004 and beyond. Although that singular LiveJournal article certainly showed, among other things, that the (then anonymous) Erin Hoffman had a terrific talent for certain kinds of writing; EA: The Human Story was nominated for Joel Spolsky's Best Software Essays of 2004.

Subsequent events showed her to be equally determined, single purposed and shit stirring when deciding to embark upon a campaign, to highlight or right a wrong, to raise the profile of an issue she feels is getting brushed under the beanbag. Her forum today holds over 12,000 posts in as many topics, though it seems not to have changed that world; for example, one comment from five years into the project (July 2009) revealed:
They're still doing it. I have a friend who is working 6am to 9pm 7 days a week as his project approaches release.

Despite Riccitiello's assurances otherwise, his middle management is fighting him and refusing to change. They are still paying below-the-poverty-line wages, they still are incapable of figuring out a schedule that doesn't involve abuse of its employees, and they are still playing games with employee classifications to avoid providing full benefits.

I'm in the industry, and if my company ever got acquired by EA, I would quit on the spot. My salary would be cut, my hours increased without compensation, and my work transformed into a bureaucratic mess (I've heard how heavy in middle management EA is). I'd be spending more time filling out useless make-the-managers-look-busy reports and attending endless meetings than coding and documenting. Nothing is worth this price, and people looking to enter the industry need to realize that.

Anyone but EA.
So Not About That Then

So no, like I said, the book's not actually about any of that. As you might more reasonably have guessed, Sword of Fire and Sea - subtitled The Chaos Knight, Book One - is a fantasy, written by one "obsessed with hidden truths, and the responsibility involved in uncovering them." Main character Captain Vidarian Rulorat is the last surviving member of his family. Obligated to an allegiance with the High Temple of Kara'zul by his great-grandfather's abdication of imperial commission (for love of a fire priestess, no less), Vidarian struggles to resolve the conflicts between the real world of his family legacy, and Andovar's hidden and morally ambiguous history.

One of the things drawing me towards this title, in addition to its glowing reviews by multiple Hugo Award winning SF/F novelists ("Read it and be swept away" says Allen Steele), is its length. Or rather, the dearth of it. Erin has made the very deliberate choice to keep it succinct. Short novels, she says, are rare in fantasy these days. She loves the short form, and obviously hopes many others secretly do too. From her Big Idea piece via John Scalzi:
I want to get in, get euphoric, and get out, without getting bogged down in lengthy genealogy records or endless hikes across Mordor.
Available to preorder at

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