Picture, this. You walk into the airport at god knows what time in the morning, on your way to a lovely package holiday to somewhere sunny because who the shit would want to live in this godforsaken place for any longer than absolutely necessary. It rains, it snows, it sleets, it winds, it storms and it lightnings sometimes. Gross.
Then, for a second as you make your way through the over handsy security check, you remember… a book! I don’t have a book to read! How else will you spend the precious time roasting myself alive in the sun without a good (subjective), cliched and trashy holiday book to read. And we all know you don’t have a kindle because those are a magical and fascinating technology that you both a. don’t understand, and 2. think are weird and don’t have the same ‘feel’ as book. Not to mention the fact that they take up far less room, how dare they! I want my suitcase crammed with kilograms of literally hundreds of sheets of paper obviously! None of that magic voodoo kindle shit.
Then there is a glimpse, a flicker in the corner of the room. The light from the moon (because it’s still the night, the cheap flights leave at 3am don’t you know) sends a glimmer off an overly glossy front cover in the distance. You have no idea what the book is called because the name on the cover is so gargantuanly (definitely a word) huge, that the only way to gauge what the book is about is by guessing from the overly graphic and erotic illustration on the front. It depicts a man with hair that definitely needs a cut, caressing a (normally very respectful I assume) lady who has accidentally let her silky nightgown fall to almost far enough to warrant it being soft core pornography.
The perfect holiday romance novel. I’ll buy it!
I would too.
(Just FYI none of these novels are real. I’ve literally just made them up for fun. At least I found it fun… tells you a lot about me really. Or not, I’ve honestly no idea.)
1. Russian Railroads
The Game: A train theme game that sees players compete to be totally industrious and very strategically minded railroad owners, competing to have the best most shiniest railroad in all of Russia (I assume, clue’s in the name there.)
The Novel: A murder most foul, on a train journey so long. Who could possible figure out whodunnit?! Except for everybody reading this book about halfway through of course! By jove, he’s killed him by coal poisoning (IT’S A THING OK, didn’t check it but definitely a thing.) With a strange and almost… randomly selected bunch of characters that could almost resemble someones actual friends and family in real life (yes, I’m looking at you, the AUTHOR OF THIS FICTICIOUS BOOK.)
When did the murder happen (the book tells you), and who could have possibly committed the crime (it’s the creepy looking guy in the corner), we won’t possibly know until we finish reading… Russian Railroads.
Totally Buying it.
The Game: An excellent and amazingly well designed 2-player abstract affair, designed around the theme of the actual place Santorini, and it’s history.
The Novel: A sordid love triangle unravels in fits of passion and lust on one of the most sun-kissed isles of the southern Italian coast. Who knows exactly where this incredible and winding story of romance and erotica could take us, except for maybe… somewhere, not very interesting. The characters all suffer from a sense of wanderlust and their dialogue is stinted and forced. Think of this as more… 50 shades of beige, with a bad package holiday backdrop. The only thing getting turned on here is the self-indulgent author and their wildly inaccurate and flailing fantasies.
Hurray for holiday books!
3. Captain Sonar
The Game: Judging from the cover of this game it looks like you play a guy called ‘Captain Sonar’ (I assume), who can somehow balance a small submarine on one hand whilst simultaneously rocking a very solid crew cut. From the description on Board Game Geek, this is actually a 2 team co-op game which sees 2 opposing teams (obviously), taking different roles on a submarine in an attempt to fire a torpedo in the right direction first, and blow the other team up. Fun!
The Novel: Man I sure do love superheroes. Especially when they are absolutely and completely made up just for the sake of a quick cash in with the current marvel/DC/comic book movie bandwagon! Captain Sonar, I bet his power is incredible! Like he can find out how deep in the sea stuff is by bouncing his sonar voice off of it. Or find out how deep a hole is by bouncing his sonar voice off to it. Wow! What an amazing power, I wish I could do that.
In fact he was the subject of a very terrible and gruesome ‘sonar experiment’ when he was in his early twenties. He was part of a environmental wellbeing activist group who were testing out some dangerous sonar experiments to find out some stuff about things under water and guess what! He was diving at the time! Oh gosh no! What a series of dramatic and noteworthy events! This led him to develop his crazy sonar power and go on to save many fish and find lots of cool stuff under the seas and oceans of the world.
Whilst also finding his true love (gotta get the sub-plot in there).
The Game: Oooo it’s a euro affair alright. I think. At least , it’s a fairly heavy strategy affair as games go, and sees players collecting things, trading things, hiring people to do things. All in the good old fashioned name of combining your privileges with your achievements. Easy!
The Novel: Ooo, what does the name mean, it’s so mysterious I bet this will be good! Actually the opposite couldn’t be any closer to the truth, but that’s why you bought it in the first place! I mean who cares if the name itself even means anything, or if it’s just a randomly selected group of seemingly illegible vowels and consonants. Not me!
Imagine, a far off land of mystery and intrigue. A desert with hot springs and a marketplace with camels and… other stuff they have in hot climates. The plot reminds you a bit of a cartoon version of almost exactly the same story, one where he’s, shall I say, ‘one step, ahead of the hoodwinks’, and he ‘only steals what he can’t afford.’ Which in the life of this guy is really, pretty much everything. How can we possibly be convinced to root for such an untoward and generally quite scruffy thief you ask? Well, we can’t. That sort of thing is against the law don’t you know, and the writing certainly isn’t convincing anybody.
5. In the Year of the Dragon
The Game: Players play rounds (months) in a bid to try and survive through the ‘year of the dragon.’ That’s where the name comes from at least.
The Novel: A Borderline racist war thriller based in feudal China. The person who wrote this novel wears a kimono on the reg despite not having any family ties to the far east, and loves to tell everybody about their amazing Mandarin tattoo (not the orange you idiot). It means peace and love though. Sure it does…
For some reason throughout the book everybody keeps referring to ‘the emperor,’ despite the fact that we have absolutely no idea who this emperor is, or what purpose he serves the story, except for some bland historical rhetoric. The protagonist is a particularly moody fellow with no relatable characteristics and for some reason is seemingly willing to simply throw himself headfirst into any and every unstable conflict going. The book ends with him just straight up dying. Guess it should be emotional but to be honest I’m glad the moody bugger is dead.