Cue Victory Fanfare
You've maybe noticed Astrolabe's been a little quiet for the past few months. Well, I've had good reason for that, and now I can finally tell you why, and I've literally been waiting my whole life to say this:
I'm pleased to say I've sold my first book, Fight, Magic, Items: The History of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and the Rise of Japanese RPGs in the West to Britny Brooks-Perilli at Running Press. And the best part? It's done! Written, revised, copyedited, and off to production as we speak for release in early October, 2022. Just a few months away—and perfectly timed for the 25th anniversary of Final Fantasy VII's western release. What a (totally intentional) coincidence!
Here's the blurb:
Take a journey through the history of Japanese role-playing games—from the creators who built it, the games that defined it, and the stories that transformed pop culture and continue to capture the imaginations of millions of fans to this day.
The Japanese roleplaying game (JRPG) genre is known for unforgettable characters, rich stories, and some of the most iconic games in the industry. Inspired by early western RPGs and introducing boundary-pushing technology and artistic styles, they're responsible for many of gaming's boldest and most successful games—and have the fanbase to prove it. In Fight, Magic, Items, Aidan Moher guides readers through the fascinating history of JRPGs, exploring the technical challenges, distinct narrative and artistic visions, and creative rivalries fueling the creation of countless classic games and their quest to become the best—not only in Japan, but in North America, too.
Moher starts with the origin stories of two classic Nintendo titles, Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, and immerses readers in the world of JRPGs, following the interconnected history through the lens of their creators and their stories full of hope, risk, and pixels. From the tiny teams and almost impossible schedules that built the foundations of the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest franchises; Reiko Kodama pushing the narrative and genre boundaries with Phantasy Star; the unexpected team up between Yuji Horii and Hironobu Sakaguchi to create Chrono Trigger; to the unique mashup of classic Disney with Final Fantasy coolness in Kingdom Hearts. Filled with firsthand interviews and behind-the-scenes looks into the development, reception, and influence of JRPGs, Fight, Magic, Items captures the evolution of the genre and its continued hold on millions of fans, decades after those first iconic pixelated games released.
I'll write at greater length about my process and experiences with the book soon—because, boy howdy, did I learn a lot not only about JRPGs, but writing, publishing, and everything in between. This has been an intense labour of love for me as I wrote and revised Fight, Magic, Items between last summer and January, 2022. This book combines all my experience with JRPGs as a kid growing up during their golden age and explosive growth in the west with my background in games journalism, reporting, interviewing, and personal narrative history. It's part history, part memoir, and all JRPG goodness.
This is a story that's been brewing inside of me since my earliest memories of exploring the mines of Narshe on my trusty Commodore 1702 monitor, flying high in the skies of Zeal on the Blackbird, and soaking in Midgar's neon glow with my friends at my side. It's a dream come true, and I owe huge thanks to my agent, Eric Smith, who prompted the idea almost two years ago; my editor Britny, for giving me a platform; and my friend Ty Schalter for always being there with a Phoenix Down when I needed it most.
I'll be revealing the cover at a later date, but right now I can tell you it (and the interior art) is being created by the astonishingly talented Sara Alfageeh. I've had a peek at the near final cover, and, whoo boy, let me tell you: it's amazing. Sara's previously worked on things I love, like Avatar: The Last Airbender, and has a terrific looking graphic novel coming out in March, 2022 called Squire. If you're very adventurous, you might even find a sneak peek of the Fight, Magic, Items cover by taking your sleuthing skills to her Twitter profile.
If you can, please consider supporting your local bookstores with a pre-order for Fight, Magic, Items. This helps not only the book, but also supports the small businesses and booksellers that are the heart and soul of the bookselling industry.
More preorder links:
- Timeless: A History of Chrono Trigger (Medium)
- Why Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete Remains One of the Best JRPGs Ever (EGM)
- How Japanese RPGs Inspired A New Generation Of Fantasy Authors (Kotaku)
- Beauty, Dragons, and Isometric Horror: Revisiting Breath of Fire IV (Nerds of a Feather)
From histories of Chrono Trigger to deep dives on Lunar, explorations of how JRPGs have influenced writers, to hot takes about Breath of Fire IV, I've written extensively about Japanese RPGs, and Fight, Magic, Items represents the culmination of all that effort and decades of fandom. I hope you love reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
There are lots of ways to support Astrolabe and my other work. Check ‘em out!