A quick plug for my contemporaries

by Paul Morrison

Hi everyone,

I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas.  With any luck, you might have a bit of spare cash floating around and feel the need to read some retro books while you're waiting for mine to be finished.  Here's a round-up of those that are available:

Sam Dyer has made his name with his Visual Compendiums (Compendia? Choose your favourite!).  These beautifully-presented books have so far focused on some of our favourite 80s computers - Commodore 64, Commodore Amiga and ZX Spectrum - but Sam is branching out to consoles next year and will also be publishing books written by others, including Mark Hardisty's wonderful-looking Gremlin Graphics history, A Gremlin in the Works.  Bitmap Books is going from strength to strength, so have a look and see if anything takes your fancy.  I'd particularly recommend the ZX Spectrum Visual Compendium... because I wrote comments for three of the games in it!

Chris Wilkins has carved his own niche in this market with his splendid "In Pixels" series and his documentation of huge software companies Ocean and US Gold.  Utilising Newsfield stalwarts Roger Kean and Oliver Frey, his books have their own signature feel which sets them apart.  Not resting on his laurels, he has a Commodore 64 book and an in-depth history of the Oliver Twins on the horizon and, knowing Chris, a few more efforts are surely in the pipeline.

Starting life with a Kickstarter for his Sensible Software book, Darren Wall's company has gone from strength to strength, with his Sega Mega Drive Collected Works and Britsoft: An Oral History being particular highlights.  2016 will see Read-Only Memory release The Bitmap Brothers: Universe, among others, making this company another one to keep a sharp eye on.

Not a company this time, but an individual book.  Noted writer Dan Whitehead has penned a love letter to the games that he feels made the ZX Spectrum the beloved machine that it was, and still is.  There are 50 in total, a nice round number, and each one is summed up, warts and all, in Dan's very readable style.  It will give you a few lovely hits of nostalgia but be prepared... Dan is more than happy to be very critical of the games you loved!  It's only one man's opinion, but take off your rose-tinted specs and you might find yourself agreeing with him... at least some of the time, anyway.  For just £3.99, it's worth finding out just how often.

See if you can guess what Stuart Ashen's book is about?  No idea?  Seriously?  Of course you can guess... however, for a seasoned gamer such as yourself, it might not be entirely accurate as you've probably played a fair few of the games in this book, never mind heard of them.  Spawning from the author's noted YouTube series, it embraces the fact that our favourite hobby inevitable spawns some dross and gives us all a reason to seek out some of these horrors and play them one last time.  You can probably find this book cheaper elsewhere, but I've included the link to its original birthplace.

Lots of great reading there, although I do apologise in advance if I cause you to spend more than is sensible.  All being well, you should be able to add the name of They Were Our Gods to that list by this time next year... at least you know I'll have some good company!