Zone Of The Defenders: Fortnite

As I was watching the latest Fortnite video to emerge from the artist formerly known as Epic MegaGames, a voice at the back of my brainbox suggested that the developer talkthrough reminded me of something I read yesterday. Could it have been the fifth chapter of ill-advised The Shining sequel, Doctor Sleep? Nope. We could argue that psychic vampiric traveller clan the True Knot are a metaphor for gamers, with their need for ‘the good Steam’, but that’s a stretch. Maybe it was an article about Lego Architecture Studio? Nah. That’s a different kind of construction entirely.

Aha! It was John’s draconian and violently enforced rules for games. The video, you see, is like watching a tutorial for a game I’ve already played.

To be fair, I should probably have said a tutorial for a collection of games that I’ve already played. I’m comfortable with collecting resources to build things though, as is almost everybody else who has ever encountered a game. I know how to punch a tree.

Maybe I’m old, maybe I’m tired (maybe it’s both), but Fortnite looks very busy. I’m always slightly uncomfortable when I see stonking great spikes that only manage to chip away at health bars rather than obliterating opponents and leaving nothing but gibs behind. Makes me think defending the fort and killing zombies and imps is going to feel like work rather than pleasure.

As for Doctor Sleep, what a stale cocktail of ideas it is. It’s starting to find some shape but I’m finding it a slog and King’s folksiness is grating more than it usually does. Can anyone recommend a good horror novel?


  1. Premium User Badge

    Lexx87 says:

    I’m currently reading King’s work from first published, in order, all the way through. Currently on The Long Walk, originally a ‘Bachman’ book which is really fucking great. Shame about Dr. Sleep, I was hoping it wouldn’t be as bad as it sounded.

    I’d be up for some horror recommendations other than King too from you lovely RPS people.

    • El Spidro says:

      If you don’t mind going back a bit and can get over some occassionally needlessly dense language, I seriously recommend Lovecraft. Many seem to recommend or cite him because cthulhu xD, but he really is quite masterful in his use of suspense and building dread when you read some of his shorter works. One of two authors(King being the other) that has ever made me actually dread turning the page in fear of what I might find therein.

      • frightlever says:

        I never really clicked with the Cosmic Horror side of HP Lovecraft but Herbert West does it for me. I re-read that regularly.

    • Skull says:

      I wouldn’t worry about reading all of King’s work. He peaked very early and had some awesomely tense books at the start of his career but then started running out of ideas and stuck to a very uncreative writing style (however, his short story collection, Nightmares and Dreamscapes is very interesting but the same could be said for all short story books by highly regarded authors).

      Dr. Sleep was by far the worst story of his I read which proved to be predictable, daft and altogether not very thrilling or scary. The link to The Shining was stretched too far and it would have worked equally as well as it’s own story. King really tried to cash in on his own earlier classics as he knew the general story for Dr. Sleep was going to suck and he wasn’t going to push copies through reviews.

      Regarding good other horror stories, I am a huge fan of the subtle horror of Poe and Lovecraft but if the trashy style of King is more your thing then I heartily recommend Clive Barker. He has the classics like The Hellbound Heart and Cabal but also epics that really command your attention such as Weaveworld and The Great and Secret Show.

    • Oozo says:

      Doctor Sleep definitely has its admirers, among them people whose opinion I respect, like Margaret Atwood and German critic Dietmar Dath. Made me curious, actually, even though the plot description obviously makes the book sound ridiculously trashy.

      I just finished The Shining, after having read over the last months a few of his earlier books. (I still think Salem’s Lot is underrated.) But yeah, everybody is telling me that King peaked early, and apart from– and even among — the Dark Tower books, you have to be very selective. Even though I have read that 11/22/63 showed him in former form, and The Dome was ok, if you rip out the last few pages. Well, we’ll see.

      How about “newer” horror, though? I’ve heard that the so-called New Weird-or-whatever-else-it-is-called literature in the vein of Thomas Ligotti could be of interest. Especially for people a bit burned out on the more “traditional” kind of horror — maybe that’s you? (Also, there’s the obvious True Detective link, so I might as well mention Chambers King In Yellow, even though only a few of the stories in the collection are actually horror.)

    • mineshaft says:

      I’m doing exactly the same thing, just I’m up to It. Whatever his other faults, he’s a master storyteller.

      You have some great novels ahead of you. The one I hate is Cujo, and Christine is not great either. But I would not have missed many of the other ones.

      Don’t skip the story collections. Different Seasons is great.

  2. Merus says:

    Doc-doc-doc-doc-doctor sleep

  3. Cramdown says:

    I recommend Adam Nevill’s Last Days. (Or The Ritual. Did not care for House of Small Shadows, haven’t read the others yet.)

    Laird Barron’s short story collections (in order: Imago Sequence, Occultation, The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All) are worth two of any novel, but their effect declines when read one after the other. His novel (The Croning) is ok. I prefer the collections.

    • Premium User Badge

      Adam Smith says:

      I should have mentioned Robert Aickman myself to get the ball rolling. Becoming better known (again) but still not well known enough. The Stains is a masterpiece.

    • Tukuturi says:

      I thought The Light is the Darkness was much better than The Croning. I wouldn’t count Barron out as a novelist, although I agree that his short fiction tends to be harder hitting. I think part of that is that horror in general is less effective and more difficult to write in longer formats.

  4. tumbleworld says:

    The only new horror I’ve enjoyed recently — apart from Laird Barron’s already-mentioned work — was a novella called Sarcophagus, by Philip Hemplow. It’s unashamedly a mash-up where STALKER meets H. P. Lovecraft, but it was a fun read.

  5. frightlever says:

    So less Night of the Living Dead and more Animaniacs.

  6. Eight Rooks says:

    Horror novels?

    Going through my Kindle library, uh…

    Christopher Buehlman, Those Across the River, if you want a period piece. Excellent writing, if somewhat predictable
    S. L. Grey’s novels, The Mall and The Ward, if you want schlock. Kinda silly, and they both peter out a bit at the end, but I found them both genuinely, upsettingly icky in places
    Lovecraft’s always good, I agree. He really was a good writer, despite the unfortunate raging anti-semitism/racism/general bigotry
    Sarah Moss’s Cold Earth isn’t a horror novel as such but it’s about ghosts and it got under my skin more than any number of terrible YouTube jump scare clips
    Catherynne M. Valente’s Deathless – again, not a horror novel exactly, but it’s genre fiction and I found the final stretch utterly horrifying – one of the darkest, most disturbing fantasy novels I’ve ever read

    I don’t have that much “horror” – I got tired of James Herbert et al a long, long time ago. I don’t mind a bit of splatter/body horror every now and then (the S.L. Grey books) but I find stuff that roots the horrific in the real world far scarier (Buehlman, Valente). Got a few more, but those are the best, I think. Deathless is god damned amazing, I cannot praise it enough.

    Fortnite? Looks okay, but I’m not really seeing anything over and above all the other crafting/survival games to make me think I MUST HAVE THIS GAME. (Edit: To the point I can’t even remember its name when it’s right in front of me. Leave me alone, I haven’t slept properly in a month.) I’m sure it’ll make a bunch of people happy though.

  7. ninjapirate says:

    Adam, have you come across Mark Danielewski’s “House of Leaves”?

  8. DumbOne says:

    Some of these aren’t strictly “horror” but they’re definitely in the vein of it.
    NOS4A2 – Joe Hill (Super creepy)
    Dweller – Jeff Strand (kinda dumb, but enjoyable)
    Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell – Susanna Clark (More alternate history/fantasy but still very good)
    The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman (Supposedly a YA novel but really enjoyable at any age)
    Fevre Dream – George R.R. Martin (Best vampire book I’ve read in a long time)
    The Hyperion Cantos – Dan Simmons (More sci-fi, but frightening in some parts, and probably my favorite trilogy of books when it comes to anything.)
    Black Sun Rising – C.S. Friedman (Again, more sci-fi, but huge horror elements)

    • Eight Rooks says:

      I think you’re stretching it a bit with a couple of those, but hey, so did I. And Fevre Dream gets my vote, too. Excellent little novel, and in some ways better than anything GRRM’s done for Game of Thrones. Wish I still had my old paperback copy – I should check if it’s on Kindle…

  9. Kefren says:

    Hope I don’t get too blasted, but my first novel was a homage to all sorts of pulpy horror in the same vein. So no deep insights, just some tense situations and most of the things you’d expect to find in this kind of thing. link to
    Apologies for the self promotion!
    Of other writers, I recommend The Descent, by Jeff Long. Some of the fear disappears towards the end of the book, but the prologue chapters are amongst the most gripping openings I’ve ever read.

  10. jonfitt says:

    On the topic of the game. Seems like Orcs Must Die with construction. That’s not what I thought they were going for originally, but I recall some sort of change of direction a while back?

    • Martel says:

      I was thinking the same thing. Some of that video could have been slipped into an Orcs Must Die video and you’d never know the difference.

  11. Tukuturi says:

    I tend more toward the short-form in horror fiction, but I suppose I can recommend a few choice novels. Thomas Ligotti’s My Work is Not Yet Done is one of my personal favorites. Laird Barron’s The Light is the Darkness is also excellent. I also enjoyed Ramsey Campbell’s The Darkest Part of the Woods. More recently, Ghosts Know was a good read, but more of a social horror/horror of manners, which can be a niche thing.

    For short fiction, I highly recommend John Langan’s recent collection, The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies. As above, check out Barron and Ligotti if you haven’t. Recommended collections are The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All and Shadow at the Bottom of the World respectively.

  12. Distec says:

    I think this piece and the following discussion show that nobody really gives a shit about Fortnite.

    My feelings are rather ambivalent.

    • socrate says:

      To me this video was horrible why do they insist on showing people talking is beyond me its such a retarded thing to do when you want people to get interested in your game…and then you have the game itself and when they see the low popularity of the said game they will end up saying again that PC gaming is dead…

      Relic is such a bad company in my eyes…having played the gear of war and other product they offered they did nothing so far then to copy other title and refine them for console other then this the story are often not even worth talking about and the gameplay is just something ive already seen and is flashy just so a 12 year old with no gaming experience will find innovative and brilliant…even painkiller wasn’t that brilliant ffs its just a dumb FPS that as high graphic quality compared to what was offered at this time…in fact all their game are all about graphic when you think about it…doom 1 had more function then painkiller really…im not saying their game are bad…just that they are really just average and taking 0 risk all the time doing what as been done.

      For console gamer…sure….but for a PC game….i mean cmon this building genre is flooded and so is the tower defence genre…oh and 3rd person shooter…yeah sure il go crazy for this….to me this is a company that will never get why they made money in the first place.

      • Koozer says:

        Do not sully the name of Relic lightly! Fortnite is made by Epic, Relic did Dawn of War and Homeworld.

      • Tutamun says:

        It was a talked over version of this one… which might (or might not) be more to your taste:

  13. jonahcutter says:

    Try Carrion Comfort, by Dan Simmons.

    It has its highs and lows. Some of it is so silly or forced as to almost stop me reading. Yet its fairly unique vision of vampires, and some genuinely creepy and weird setpieces, kept me reading until the end.

  14. Chaz says:

    I’m always slightly uncomfortable when I see stonking great spikes that only manage to chip away at health bars rather than obliterating opponents and leaving nothing but gibs behind.

    Well it’s going to be free to play isn’t it. So, grind grind grind ……..

  15. jasondesante says:

    that video was weird, I think it was the first time I’ve actually seen gameplay of Fortnite, and it was so unenthusiastic, and not interesting. Really shocked that after all these years of hype this is what the game is. Makes me worried about the “next gen” of consoles even though this is a PC game. Basically any big budget game with shiny graphics has me worried now. There’s a lot of obvious limitations. That game doesn’t look fun at all. Stuff like The Wonderful 101 should be encouraged more. That is one game that the writers of RPS should check out even though it is on Wii U. HIdeki Kamiya is my favorite game designer.

    Also Fortnite looks like garbage compared to The Witcher 3. CDPR should sell their engine! :D Make billions! Also, right now, Fortnite video has 3k views, the recent Witcher 3 demo 420k :D

    I like how CDPR is getting more love and hype and this is a good aspect of how times are changing.