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Independent Game Forums => glyphpress => Topic started by: Joshua A.C. Newman on November 15, 2005, 11:41:11 AM

Title: Shock: Bibliography
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on November 15, 2005, 11:41:11 AM
Here's the current Shock: bibliiography. I've only read so much stuff, and this is what's leapt to mind.

If you have something you want to be in this bibliography, please add it in this thread! But, absolutely, totally talk about the author or book. Don't just say a name and bolt.

Science Fiction

Asimov: Caves of Steel, Foundation, Robot Dreams
Bradbury: Martian Chronicles, Dinosaur Tales
Clarke: Childhood’s End, 2001, 2010
Card: Ender’s Game
Dick: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? [pick a book of short stories]
Heinlein: Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land
Kim Stanley Robinson: Red, Green, Blue Mars
Bruce Sterling: Distraction, Holy Fire
H.G. Wells: War of the Worlds, The Time Machine
Aldous Huxley: Brave New World
George Orwell: 1984
H.G. Wells: War of the Worlds
Jules Verne: 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea


Ghost in the Shell
Invisibles, The
Powers (!)


Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Battlestar Galactica
Earth II
Babylon 5
Star Trek, TOS
Twilight Zone, The
Blade Runner
Until The End Of The World
Logan’s Run
Planet of the Apes
Soylent Green
Silent Running


Future Shock
Donna Harraway

Role-Playing Games

Thematic ancestors of Shock:

Nine Worlds

Mechanical ancestors of Shock:

Prime Time Adventures
Dogs in the Vineyard
The Shadow of Yesterday
With Great Power...

Title: Re: Shock: Bibliography
Post by: rafial on November 15, 2005, 12:34:05 PM
Alright, well let me propose Cordwainer Smith.  That was the pen name that Paul Linebarger used for his science fiction, which is absolutley freaky stuff written in an strange an epic style.  I've read that his narrative style was influenced by Chinese story forms.  Anyway.

His stuff is very concerned with the social impact of technology, especially at the level of individual people.  His setting which appears in many of his stories is the "Instrumentality Of Mankind", a far future period when humanity is breaking out of a long period of stagnacy brought on by subsurvience to technology and trying to rediscover what it means to be human.  Stuff I've read that made me sit up and go "wow" include:

Norstrilia (his only novel, which has some weird parallels to Dune)
The Ballad of Lost C'Mell
The Game of Rat and Dragon
Scanners Live in Vain
The Dead Lady of Clown Town

Title: Re: Shock: Bibliography
Post by: James_Nostack on November 16, 2005, 06:23:29 AM
I thought Cordwainer Smith was one of Ellison's pen names?

Speaking of which, Ellison's short story "The Deathbird" is really good, though I'm not sure it's "social SF".  I'm ambivalent*  most of his other stuff.

One social SF thing--kind of an experimental novel-- is Rudy Rucker's "Saucer Wisdom."  I think I'm like the only person in North America who read it, but wow, it was so goofy and strange.  The foreword by Sterling is terrific.

Herbert's "Dune" seems to be social SF, though I found it terribly written.

* = completely unimpressed with

Title: Re: Shock: Bibliography
Post by: Ben Lehman on November 16, 2005, 06:42:48 AM
Dude, wherefore art thou Neuromancer?  Burned!

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley is definitely worth reading.  It isn't well-written by 20th century standards, being a Victorian romance and all, but it is deeply and truly a Shock: sort of book.  Also, it is arguably the first science fiction story, and certainly the first socially oriented science fiction story, so there's the whole primacy thing going for it.


Title: Re: Shock: Bibliography
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on November 16, 2005, 01:57:16 PM
Ben, I just can't stand Gibson. I'll take Sterling any day of the week.

Frankenstein: not there by accident. Also, not there because I read it when I was a teenager and don't remember it clearly. I understand it's easier to read than Dracula, though. Also, I dunno about it being the first science fiction story; The Golem is pretty much the same story.

Rudy Rucker! Hardware should definitely be in there. As for his wonkier stuff, that's for Xenon: Mind-Blowing Science Fiction. That's not gonna be playable for a good, long while, though. Don't hold your breath, but those stories aren't being neglected.

James, the thing about Dune's writing, and Herbert's writing in general, is that he uses mental technologies. Physical technologies exist in his stories, but only barely. They have no descriptions. Furthermore, he often takes a black box approach to mental technologies the way space opera uses black boxes for things like The Interstellar Drive, fulled by Fuel. I find it irritating as Shock: material most of the time, but definitely possible Xenon: material.

Rafial, which of those books do you recommend I read? I have only so much time in my life, and I'm gettiing a lot of recommendations.

Title: Re: Shock: Bibliography
Post by: rafial on November 16, 2005, 02:30:13 PM
Harlan Ellison used/uses the penname Cordwainer Bird for projects from which he wishes to dissassociate himself.  Most notably the TV show Starlost.

As to Cordwainer Smith, Norstralia is the only full book, Ballad of Lost C'Mell is a novella and the other two are short stories.  If you want a quick intro, I'd suggest Ballad of Lost C'Mell, just because I love it so much, and Scanners Live in Vain, which I think is right up the ally that Shock wants to travel.  Taking a quick search on Amazon, it looks like you can get a collection of all his short stuff as a single book: "The Rediscovery of Man".  Well worth your time.

Oh, and if you haven't read any Nancy Kress, you definitely ought to read Beggers in Spain.  The two sequels are good, but they just involve further turnings of the screw that the initial book sets.

Title: Re: Shock: Bibliography
Post by: pedyo on November 16, 2005, 11:23:17 PM
John Wyndham!
Esp. Day of the Triffids, The Kraken Awakes and The Midwich Cuckoos. Three awesome books with some very interesting almost philosophical subject matter: what kind of society to rebuild after an alien invasion? How to survive an attack of hive-mind alien children? Etc.
And great female characters, too!
Go read.

Title: Re: Shock: Bibliography
Post by: James_Nostack on November 17, 2005, 02:36:55 PM
Nah, my dislike of Herbert's writing style has nothing to do with his choice of technology, or his descriptors.  Herbert had some wonderful images, but watching him use them is like watching someone tapdance in cement shoes.  Like I said, it's a purely personal assement.

Title: Re: Shock: Bibliography
Post by: joepub on December 05, 2005, 09:47:19 AM
Damn, see I loved Herbert personally.

I found that, while sometimes a lot to get through, he created fully realized backgrounds.

His world cultures were complete, his ecologies, governments, propaganda and truths are ALL realised.

From the Saurdakur homeworld to the Atreides homeworld... to Dune itself... there is a world history. And everything fits.

Title: Re: Shock: Bibliography
Post by: Kaare_Berg on January 09, 2006, 11:15:07 AM
Hei Joshua,

have you checked out Ian M. Banks (Not Ian Banks which is the name he uses when writing plain old, beautiful, fiction).

If anything he deserves a place on your list.

Title: Re: Shock: Bibliography
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on January 10, 2006, 01:26:57 AM
If anything he deserves a place on your list.


Title: Re: Shock: Bibliography
Post by: Grover on January 11, 2006, 10:41:24 PM
Iain M Banks has a series of novels describing ... well, not quite a post-singularity human civilization, but very far future.  Thinking about it in terms of Shock, the primary shocks would be 'Machine Intelligence' and 'Extreme genetic modification'.  The issues vary by the novel - 'Use of Weapons' is about responsibility, manipulation, and atonement (and reaches the conclusion that atonement is impossible'), 'Excession' is about conspiracies, and 'Look to Windward' is about dealing with loss.

Although, I don't think a comprehensive bibliography is even possible - there is a lot of good SF out there.  Personally, I think you should add C.J. Cherryh (40000 in Gehenna (Cloning/ Alien intelligence)(Family)) and Larry Niven. 

It might be more useful to provide a list of well known SF, along with the Shocks/Issues that are present in the story.


Title: Re: Shock: Bibliography
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on January 11, 2006, 11:48:47 PM
The point of the bibliography is to talk about books that have directly influenced the game. Even if a book is very good, I won't put it in the bibliography until I've read it and figured out that it's a useful source for players. It's certainly not a comprehensive list of science fiction books and stories; just ones tha a) I've read, b) like, and c) t I feel are representative of social SF. It's the same when people ask me my opinions about RPGs: I'm not gonna cut up someone else's game (unless pressed on the issue, I guess), and I'm not gonna suggest something I don't know well.

I'm reading the enjoyable Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin, but I don't know if I'll even be able to finish it before Shock:s done.

... but one of the really neat things about this forum is that the community here can suggest books for other readers. You sure don't need my approval on a piece of literature to get something from it, and such suggestions are apropos. I just doubt I'll be able to read and digest many more before the game's done.

There are future SF offerings from the glyphpress, though, and no doubt future editions of Shock: so the bibliography will both grow and diversify over time. This thread alone, though, consists of some 6300 pages I haven't read (assuming an average book length of 300 pages). I'm lucky if I get to read 100 before Shock: hits shelves. So keep posting on these threads for each other and I'll look back here whenever I need a new book to read.

Incidentally, Rucker's work is a big inspiration for an upcoming project. He only barely cares about society (though Hardware addresses a bunch of social issues), and frickin' names characters after himself, so it's obviously not a society-level thing he's talking about; he's about exploring mind-bending math and theory. It's a fun branch of SF that I want to address soon, but it's not Shock: by a long stretch.

So if you've got something to offer, I probably haven't read it. So tell me why! Tell me what the Shocks and Issues are!

Title: Re: Shock: Bibliography
Post by: Remko on January 18, 2006, 06:35:09 AM
Dude, wherefore art thou Neuromancer?  Burned!

I must agree with Ben about choosing Neuromancer, although naturally it's your choice of flavour :). I couldn't imagine the Cyberpunk genre without Neuromancer, though.

Title: Re: Shock: Bibliography
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on January 29, 2006, 07:34:15 PM
I must agree with Ben about choosing Neuromancer, although naturally it's your choice of flavour :). I couldn't imagine the Cyberpunk genre without Neuromancer, though.

Remko, see the above post: the bibliography is books that I've a) read, b) like and c) are relevant. Neuromancer fails the test on only b), but that's enough to put it out of the list. I just don't think Gibson writes good characters, and that means that I find myself alienated from his protagonists, which means I don't care about their alienation from their society. Which, in turn, threatens its validity for c) because Shock: uses the Protags as a window for the society you create. If you don't care about them, not only are they hard to play, but they don't perform their function in the story.

The fact that others see it as relevant, though, that's great. Definitely post stuff here, and say why you think it's relevant and why it's good. I'll only list a book that meets all my criteria, but I think it's great that players know, like, and see the relevance in stuff stuff I don't. Share it! Discuss it! I love learning about new stuff, and I'm willing to be convinced about things I've already rejected.

Title: Re: Shock: Bibliography
Post by: Kaare_Berg on February 01, 2006, 02:17:07 AM
Quote from: Joshua
If anything he deserves a place on your list.

Given its been a while since I read these books.
Take the latest: The Algebraist
Issues: Religous Intolerance and Human Greed
Shocks: Faster than light, impending war and AI persecution and mysterious aliens reluctant to share technology.

And that is of the top of my head, I am not a literary critic.

Title: Re: Shock: Bibliography
Post by: Hisho on July 06, 2007, 12:41:22 PM
I have one Book to add that is absolutly a big inspiration for Shock: and for me the one that delivers the kind of sci-fi with a social twist I was after for the last four years.

Richard Morgan's "Altered Carbon"

It's his debut novel and I read it in 3 days, i read it and thought that this is the way I imagine a story of shock.

The shock would be that personalities are digitaly saved on a chip in the back of your head and in the case of your death you will be uploaded into a new body (except in cases where heavy firepower is used to destroy the data-stack)

There is a hint of another shock (something that is described in the second or third novel by Richard Morgan... both are on my must buy list :) )
The data on the stacks - short D.H.F. Digital Human Fright can be send to the stars... and the Protagonist is from another Planet.

It is at the core some kind of brutal and violent noir detekive story where the Protagonist Tekeshi Lev Kovacs has to solve the murder of a rich methusalem named Bancroft. THe intersting thing is, police says it was suicide, but the victim does not think so... Bancroft has an 24 hour backup system instaled into his head and is still alive... problem is that his stack was destroyed during the killing and that short befor the new backup.

Takeshi now has to solve the case and find the solution to the riddle why someone like Bancroft would kill himself or who killed him. Every fact points toward the suicide-theory but Bancroft is sure about one thing "there is nothing that would have lead him into killing himself in 24 hours"

It has so many cool little infos where I thought... wow this is how Minutia should be played. Street Riots of Catholics who are against a special resolution because they belief in final death and the fact that the soul can not be saved... a lot of other things.

People's Minds get stored as data / Digital Human Fright (there are even virtual rooms you can enter with your stack-system)

Space Colonisation / Instant Travel (called Neddlecast... not realy explained but people, if they have the money just upload themselves in New York and get downloaded into a body in Singapore to do business deals in person... as already said there are also virtual rooms)

Strange Philosophies (there a lot of cool inserts about different philosophie about the colonies)


Catholics Rights (only on earth)


The worth of the Human Soul

So, everyone who loves good Sci-Fi, Detective Novels and Technologie where the Author really makes the world a living breathing thing with a lot of details... I have to say check that out

For me it is the "new" Cyberpunk... while I think Neuromancer was a bit slow (and I have my problems with it that don't belong here) this novel seems to move in a pace I would compare to Formula-1 racing (or Nascar).

It has a lot of Issues to explore, a Shock (or Shocks) I totaly love and so many details (Minutia) that I could definitly say: "This is my Shock:-Novel"

Title: Re: Shock: Bibliography
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on July 11, 2007, 10:21:05 AM

It sounds surprisingly like Asimov's robot stories: "OK, we have these incontrovertible rules, but how have they been circumvented?"

I'm itching for some reading. This sounds like something exciting! Thanks!

Title: Re: Shock: Bibliography
Post by: Old Man Qfwfq on April 08, 2008, 08:07:09 AM
There are a few movies and books that I’d like to recommend.  I’m sorry if this post ends up being a bit long, but I have the tendency to read too much while having no one to talk to about it.
The first is a French Science-fiction film by Jean-Luc Godard called Alphaville.  I know French films have a stigma of being pretentious, and, well, Godard is pretty much that, but this is by far one of his more accessible works The film centers around an outlands agent, Lemmy Caution, who is sent into Alphaville, a dictatorial state where such concepts as emotion and art are outlawed, on two missions.  The first is to find to find a missing agent, Henry Dickson.  The second is to kill Professor Von Braun the creator of Alpha 60, the dictatorial computer that controls all of Alphaville.  It is very reminiscent of the setting of Orwell’s 1984, but brings more focus to the theme of lost humanity and how a person may regain it
Jeff VanderMeer’s novel, Veniss Underground, walks on the border between fantasy and science-fiction. It is, at once, a very Grecian commentary on humanity’s ultimate downfall laying in its hubris in attempting to control nature itself, but also a sci-fi Orpheus tale in which a man ventures into the underworld to rescue a lost love only to find that it is something which he can never attain again.
Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is the only science fiction novel written by Haruki Murakami.  The novel alternates between two inter-related narratives.  The odd chapters take place in a cyberpunk Tokyo.  The nameless protagonist is a Calcutec, a human data-processor who is able to encode data with the unique qualities of his subconscious, who works for the System, a semi-governmental organization that protects data from The Factory, an information mafia.  After receiving a job from a mad scientist who invented the Calcutec technology, he finds himself caught in the middle of the infowars between the System and the Factory as the key to the next phase of the conflict.  The second narrative, told in the even chapters, is much more surreal, and I’d have to agree with a reviewer who described it as Kafka’s The Castle meets BBC’s The Prisoner.  This narrative is told by an again nameless protagonist who is given the title Dreamreader in a town referred to as being the End of the World and focuses on his attempting to find the true nature of the town and recover his lost memories.  I’m a bit unsure of whether this is truly a social science fiction novel, as, while it does make some commentary upon society, focuses instead on more personal and philosophical ideas of identity, self-knowledge, the idea of two consciences contained within one mind, and the role of the mind with the two main narrators.
I’d also recommend reading a little-known author called R.A. Lafferty.  His science fiction short stories are, I think, a good example of the shock and issues.  You can actually read one of his most acclaimed short stories, A Slow Tuesday Night, at this website:
If you enjoyed this story, several of his collections and novels have recently been republished, including Nine Hundred Grandmothers, Does Anyone Else Have Something Further to Add?, and Iron Tears.
Last, there is the movie, The Final Cut, starring Robin Williams, in which he plays a “cutter” named Alan Hakman.  The setting is much like the modern day except for the introduction of ZOE devices, produced by a company called Eyetech.  These implants make a recording of a person’s entire life, from the moment of their birth to their death.  It is a cutter’s job to edit the ZOE recording upon a person’s death into a feature-length film, called a Rememory.  While editing the ZOE recording of an Eyetech manager, Bannister, two things become apparent, that Bannister was sexually molesting his daughter and that he knew a man that may hold the truth to a childhood memory that has haunted Hackman into adulthood.  While attempting to discover the truth behind this memory, Hakman is hounded by anti-ZOE protesters, who want Bannister’s recording to discredit Eyetech.  The film brings in themes of privacy and memory, questioning that, if history lies in memories, then what happens when we edit memory?

Title: Re: Shock: Bibliography
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on April 08, 2008, 12:49:33 PM
Old Man Qfwfq! That's from Cosmicomics, right? Playing bocce with quarks and first sensing color in the nipples of his companion?

Final Cut is one of my favorite SF movies, actually. Good call.

I've also heard that Alphaville is good. I'll check it out! I didn't know that Murakami had written some SF. I'll have to check that out, too!

Title: Re: Shock: Bibliography
Post by: TempvsMortis on May 13, 2008, 02:08:34 PM
Have you seen the movie Videodrome? It's a little much for some people, but its really trippy and fascinating.

Shocks: Television-reality

Issues: Subjective reality, Media homogenization

It takes place in modern day.

Also, there's an author I think is great called Robert Reed, but he's really obscure so you'd probably have to find his stuff on the internet. My favorite book of his that I've read so far (he has quite a few) is Sister Alice. (He has a novella too that I love, but there are only 300 copies and they all cost $40.)

Shocks: God-like aristocracy, Cloned aristocracy, Immortality, Selective genetics

Issues: Inequality,  Aristocracy above the law, Will to power, (There's one more but its a spoiler)

Title: Re: Shock: Bibliography
Post by: Gabriel Lopes Anaya on August 19, 2008, 09:45:26 AM
 I would like to recommend Bloodchild from Octavia E. Butler. There you go some thoughts about how  some ideas in Bloodchild can give amazing elements we can use play Shock.

To explain these elements I like to use some words of Nicholas Whyte review about Bloodchild ( If you read the complete review you can ruin some awesome surprises. I just quoted some ideas from the original review (no spoiler risk) here to explain the Bloodchild related Shocks!

`The story is set on a world dominated by the insect-like Tlic, whose reproduction system includes laying eggs inside a living host; the larvae then hatch and eat their way out. However the mammal-like animals native to the Tlic world have evolved a natural defence which poisons the eggs before they hatch. Fortunately for the Tlic, humans also live on the planet and are ideal hosts for their eggs. The Tlic have moved from a period of time when humans were basically kept as brood animals for the eggs, to a social system of adopting humans into their family; with any luck, the newly hatched larvae can be removed from their human host before too much damage is caused (...)
  Helford describes the Tlic power structure as "a metaphor for human gender relations under patriarchy", as illustrated by "men suffering the pains of childbearing (and when 'birth' means removing grubs from around your internal organs, the pain can be intense)"(...) She sees pointers to the slave-owning society of the Old South in the implantation scene, the widespread use of narcotics to control the humans (...)  And she also hints that the treatment of humans as animals by the Tlic goes beyond the usual categories of class and race...`

Suggested Shock.

Human families used as living hosts by the Tlic species.

Suggested Issues

Moral abuse
Physical dependence
Stockholm syndrome

Suggested Praxis Scale

Revulsion - Lure
Pattern - Deviation
Zeal - Survival
Brutality - Finesse
Nourish - Enfeeble

Title: Re: Shock: Bibliography
Post by: Joshua A.C. Newman on August 19, 2008, 11:38:23 AM
That's pretty hot. I'll have to check it out.

I wish I could read faster. I'm still chewing on Cyteen, which is really excellent.