Sep 15, 2017

The Comic Book Story of Baseball

Look at this beauty of a cover for The Comic Book Story of Baseball.

It's a full-length graphic history of the game from stool ball through yesterday's box scores, with art by Tomm Coker and C.P. Smith. I'll share pages as I can, but right now I'm basking in the cover (and wondering if the Indians are ever going to lose).

The book is out May 8 from Ten Speed Press, but you can preorder it now through the retailer of your choice via this Penguin Random House page.

If you are a baseball journalist, broadcaster, player, or marketing person, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter (@alexirvine) and I'll try to make sure you get a copy.

Jan 19, 2017

An Inauguration Fiction


There wasn’t much of a fuss. They came by and took my neighbor in. His name was Abdul, he was from Afghanistan, used to tell me stories about fighting the Soviets. One time he was drunk and showed me some bullet scars. We were talking soccer another time and he said he watched the 1986 World Cup from a Tehran jail, or maybe it was 1990. I never did find out what he was in for. But anyway, they came for him today. I was outside getting the mail and I saw him walking out with the men. Two of them, and two more waiting by the van. Abdul’s wife Courtney stood on the porch. He’s got a kid, Elijah, used to play with my kids but not so much anymore. They have different interests now. For a minute I thought they were going to take Elijah too, but I guess he was still too young.

I thought about saying something, but at the same time, what do you really know? I mean, people say things. It’s all Wikileaks or the Russians or somebody, I mean who knows. It’s all just a temporary thing. I like Abdul. He’s kind of an asshole sometimes—he got a dog one time and then gave it back to the shelter when it wasn’t housebroken soon enough—but he’s a good neighbor. When his dad died we brought him food, and when our younger children were born he and Courtney brought over some really nice baby outfits. A good guy. Always on me to hire his crew to paint my house.

Funny thing is Abdul was good friends with the one serious conspiracy kook on the block, Larry. Larry’s got an arsenal in his basement. He and Abdul used to get together and talk guns. Larry's always all taxes this and immigrants that, loud talk radio coming from his garage all the time like he really needs us to know how he feels about things. Ever notice nobody listens to that stuff at a low volume? But he liked Abdul. Just goes to show you.

They let Abdul finish his cigarette. He stood at the end of his driveway regarding the butt. The four men looked everywhere but at Courtney. “Abdul, hey, man,” I called across the street when he caught my eye.

“Alex, my friend,” he said. “Everything okay.” They ducked his head into the van. I almost said something. But what would it have been? I mean, we don’t really know what’s happening.

Dec 27, 2016

Science Fiction Becomes Reality, Part the Zillionth

This is an interesting article in the New York Times about how Lucasfilm worked through the various issues involved in (SPOILER ALERT) using digitally recreated dead (Peter Cushing) and younger (Carrie Fisher) actors in Rogue One. I thought it was pretty cool to see this for a number of reasons, but one of them was that I wrote about this a few years back in Buyout (IndieBound | Amazon). One of the characters in that book is a movie director who exclusively does weird remakes of classic films using digital recreations of dead people.

Also recently there was news about Mark Zuckerberg using Morgan Freeman as the voice of his house AI. That too happens in Buyout, where the Kindred household AI has Ian McKellen's voice (as Gandalf) and his car persona is John Wayne. It's always fun to see science-fictional imaginings pop up so specifically in real life a few years later -- although I hope Buyout's central SF premise never comes to pass.

(I would be remiss if I did not now inform you that the Kindle version of Buyout is only $2.99, so, you know...)

Dec 19, 2016

The Far Side of the Moon -- A Junior Library Guild Selection

Very pleased and proud to announce that THE FAR SIDE OF THE MOON has the seal of the Junior Library Guild! Now you have even more reason to preorder it!

Nov 17, 2016

Something Has Happened

Halo fans, if you were curious about what that Flood organism was doing aboard the Spirit of Fire at the end of Halo: Escalation...or if you ever wondered what Serina was referring to when she said, "Something has happened" at the end of Halo Wars...

You can read my story "Something Has Happened" and find out!

It's the leadoff piece in this terrific new anthology called Halo: Tales from Slipspace. I got my copies yesterday and read the whole thing last night. The stories are cool, and the extra art in the back of the book is excellent added eye candy.

Check it out at your LCS!

Oct 25, 2016

Now You Can Preorder The Far Side of the Moon

Attention teachers, science nerds, and lovers of space. Coming in March 2017 from Tilbury House: THE FAR SIDE OF THE MOON: THE STORY OF APOLLO 11'S THIRD MAN, a middle-grade graphic novel biography of Michael Collins. Words by me, art by Ben Bishop.

Preorders make a big difference, especially with small press books. I've included the Amazon link for convenience, but I encourage you to support your local bookseller.

Sep 28, 2016

DC Encyclopedia Sample Pages

The new DC Encyclopedia is out on October 25, but to whet your appetite here are a couple of teaser pages, yoinked from the Amazon listing:

First, a bit of Wonder Woman. I really loved writing this one.

And a multi-entry spread. Mera! the Metal Men! 

Sep 8, 2016

Writing Some Zombies

Lots of new projects and possibilities simmering. One that I can talk about: I'm doing some writing for The Walking Dead: Road to Survival. If you haven't played this game, you oughta. It's wicked fun.

Sep 1, 2016

So Long, Avengers Alliance

So, it's been announced. Marvel Avengers Alliance is going to live at a farm upstate. I turned in the last scripts almost a month ago, and since then I've been thinking back over the whole experience. I started working on Avengers Alliance in October 2010. Back then it was called Agents of S.H.I.E.LD.. Guess why they changed the name? (Actually it's not what you think. They wanted the game to support the Avengers movie. So even though the player was an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., it became an Avengers game. Then when everyone loved Coulson in the Avengers movie, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. reappeared as the show's title. Or at least that's the way I remember it.)

Nearly six years. That's the longest I've ever done any one thing. A close second is teaching at the University of Maine, and Avengers Alliance was actually what let me leave the university with reasonable confidence that I would be able to pay my mortgage. So I am nothing but grateful to the game, and to the rest of the team, and to Marvel/Disney, and to the 75 million or so players who were really the ones who made the whole thing work as well as it did.

Some numbers: During the course of Avengers Alliance, I wrote 24 chapter scripts and 36 SpecOps scripts, totaling something like 260 missions. Well over 100 characters have speaking roles. My aggregate script is 39,000 lines of dialogue. That's the equivalent of about 40 movie scripts -- or in game terms, about the same as Mass Effect 3 or Fallout 3.

In other words, a whole lot of story for a browser/mobile game. In that respect, I think Avengers Alliance wasn't just fun; it was genuinely ground-breaking. I'm proud to have been part of it.

The announcement of Alliance's end comes right as I'm starting a couple of new things. I'm about to start working on at least one other game, and will be talking more about them as things get finalized.

Also, as of August 29, I'm teaching at the University of Southern Maine. They want to start a game design program (specifically, they're calling it Gaming and Simulation Development) and they've asked me to help get it up and running. I never meant to go back to teaching when I left Orono, but this was too interesting an opportunity to pass up. So, that's how the circle works. I left university teaching to work mostly on games, and then the experience working on games led to another university teaching job.

And I'm still working on games.

And writing books.

And writing comics.

Life is great. I can't wait to see what comes next.