Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Coin Opera: Preview

Here's the story of the last five months in brief: we love doing the extra booklets with issues of Fuselit. On that basis, we planned out the next two. However, we've found that they add to the weight (and the postage) and take a whole load of extra time to produce, so we decided: rather than package them with Fuselit, let's ramp up the production values and release them separately. You know, as sturdy, perfect-bound, miniature books.

To do that, we'll need ISBNs, so's people can order them from bookshops. And to get ISBNs, we need to be a publisher. Hence, Sidekick Books was born, and will be releasing two debut micro-anthologies just in time for Christmas (we hope). Taking a cue from weekly British comic 2000AD, the chief editor of Sidekick Books will be someone so unlike traditional publisher-types you'd almost suspect him to be imaginary - in this case, Dr Fulminare, self-confessed genius alchemist of the arts. That's him on the cover to Coin Opera there, in the form of a sprite from the Final Fantasy series.

Coin Opera is going to be a 48 page book of poems about or inspired by computer games. Whether or not you think that's a suitably inspiring subject matter depends, I suppose, on your prejudices. I think it's a rich seam, begging to be mined for characters, conceits, formal invention, atmosphere, symbolism, statement and personal reflection, so much so that unless our attempts to get this on the road are a complete disaster, I'll be trying to put together a sequel book next year.

Here are the poets who have contributed to Coin Opera, presented in the form of a Street Fighter II selection screen:

Recognise any? I can't guarantee these are the most arresting likenesses - they're more in the games industry tradition of working within certain constraints. The poets themselves faced a similar task - keeping their pieces suitably nugget-sized, like programmers trying to make sure their fifty hour point and click adventure fits onto a single floppy disk. Economy of language is, after all, a mainstay of both arts. I think the longest pieces in the collection may be Ross Sutherland's sonnets, at a traditional 14 lines each.

I'm going to wrap up the preview now with a piece by David Floyd, based on Championship Manager:

Second half substitution

Jesus is ready to come on
John the Baptist will make way
Jesus comes forward
Jesus plays the ball to Peter’s feet
Peter loses out
Matthew gathers up the loose ball

Matthew hits a 30 yard ball ahead of Jesus
Jesus is free of the last defender
Jesus bears down on goal
Judas brings him down
A free kick is awarded
Jesus will have to go off
The Referee wants a word with Judas

Matthew puts the ball into the six yard box
Peter has the goal at his mercy
Satan puts it behind for a corner
He somehow got his fingertips to it

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