New novel Bedlam promises gaming action, while comic books tackle Pandemonium
Acclaimed Scottish crime writer Christopher Brookmyre told an audience at the Edinburgh International Book Festival that he’s diversifying onto science fiction, comic books and videogames.
Brookmyre turned his ire on writers who look down on visual media. ‘”Proper” writers always make out that they are not influenced by cinema,’ said Brookmyre, ‘because that is quite vulgar if you’re writing “literature”, which I always found quite ludicrous, as cinema is the most influential art form of the 20th Century, so anyone claiming they’ve not been influenced by cinema who’s writing narrative is just lying.’
Brookmyre’s forthcoming new book Bedlam is a science fiction tale based on a forthcoming videogame he’s helped devise. ‘The new one to be sniffy about is videogames. Videogames are influencing the way we tell stories. Anyone who is telling stories, who is writing, has been influenced even if they don’t play games—probably in ways they don’t realise, because the rest of popular culture has been influenced by videogames. There was a film last year, Source Code, which was essentially a videogame structure—the hero keeps reloading and trying again to solve the mystery, that was the device.’
Bedlam features central everyman character Ross, who lives and works in Stirling. Helping a pal out by testing out his new brain scanning machine in an R&D lab, Ross awakens to find himself in a cyberpunk world of cyborgs and alien invaders. He greets this with typical resigned Scottish humour, but Brookmyre’s trademark gore and black humour soon explode onto the page…
Videogaming had already had an impact on Brookmyre’s previous attempt at horror-science-fiction-influenced fiction. ‘There were lots of videogame influences in Pandemonium, particularly Doom, especially in a gag that has a character notice that there’s tons of guns and ammo lying around, so this means there must be a kind of “boss” fight up ahead. I was playing those games and they influenced my narrative. Someone else must’ve noticed this as a videogames developer [RedBedlam] got in touch and asked me to develop an idea for a game. I came up with this idea that played on the way games themselves had changed in the past 15 or 20 years. When I came up with the idea, though, I thought actually this was a good idea for a book. As they developed the game they said to me “What about the book, are you going to write it?”, to which I said, “I’m 60,000 words in…” About a month later it was done.’
As well as Bedlam, it appears Brookmyre will also be making moves in the comic book field. ‘I’ve read plenty of them,’ admitted Brookmyre. ‘I’ve been asked to write them, and somebody has approached my agent about doing one of my books as a graphic novel. I think it must’ve been Pandemonium. They seem quite keen on the idea and I’d be quite interested to see what that’d look like. It’s such a different discipline, it’s like scriptwriting, in that the amount of information you have to convey in a small number of words is just too demanding. I’ve got [in a novel], if I need it, 120,000 words to play with. When I set out to write Bedlam, I thought it’d be about 80,000 words. It was about 125,000 by the time it was finished and edited. Once my imagination gets going, I tend to sprawl. Comics is a medium where I’d be happy to see somebody else take my work and adapt it, but I don’t think I’m cut out for it myself.’
Chris Brookmyre’s science fiction novel Bedlam (Little Brown) is released in February 2013, with the videogame following at a later date from RedBedlam.
The Edinburgh International Book Festival continues at Charlotte Square, Edinburgh, until 27 August.
Brian J. Robb
Steampunk: Victorian Visionaries, Scientific Romances and Fantastic Fictions by Brian J. Robb (Aurum) is available from 8 November.
Up-coming Book Festival events of interest to science fiction, fantasy and horror fans include:
Fri 17 August 21:30—Grant Morrison: The Changing Face of the Superhero
Sat 18 August 12:30—Hari Kunzru: Stories That Span Space and Time
Sat 18 August 17:00—Neal Stephenson: Putting the Cult into Culture
Mon 20 August 20:30—China Miéville: Going Off the Rails
Wed 22 August 19:00—Vic Armstrong: Meet the World’s Most Prolific Stuntman
Tue 21 August 20:30—Kim Newman: The Greatest Vampire Novel Since Dracula?
Wed 22 August 20:00—Iain Banks: It’s Grimly Funny Up North
Wed 22 August 20:30—Will Brooker: Will The Real Caped Crusader Please Stand Up?
Fri 24 August 15:30—Bryan Talbot
Sat 25 August 20:30—Jasper Fforde: Introducing Thursday’s Next Adventure
Mon 27 August 20:30—Ken MacLeod: Scary Futuristic Fictions
…among many other interesting and diverse events!