Bec Stafford

Bec Stafford has a Masters of Philosophy from the University of Queensland. She blogs and interviews for the Escape Club and The Spotlight Report

ac-complete-historyAssassin’s Creed: The Complete Visual History is quite simply one of the most visually stunning books I’ve ever held in my hands. Penned by gaming journo, Matthew Miller, this sumptuous hardback runs to a whopping 320 pages, most of which are filled with extraordinary artwork that you will want to revisit repeatedly. The franchise’s brand art director, Raphael Lacoste, has provided a short foreword in which he informs us that ‘Assassin’s Creed is about reimagining and reliving history, and with every instalment we aim to create plausible worlds and credible immersion for our fans.’ Fans of the game will already be familiar with just what an escapist’s wonderland Assassin’s Creed is, but this beautifully bound hardback takes the reader through the entire history of the game: its conception, development, characters, timelines, and historical inspirations.

Even before you open this mammoth hardback, the cover is likely to hold you transfixed for several moments with its embossing and arresting image of Ezio, head bowed, blades drawn – stark and dramatic against a pure white background. The comprehensive and jaw droppingly gorgeous concept art within is an absolute delight.

Many of the images have won design awards and make for fantastic posters or prints. The book also contains illuminating interviews with Ubisoft developers and artists who describe the complex planning and evolution behind the outrageously successful franchise. Every detail appears to be underpinned by an underlying philosophy that adds depth and dimension to this impressive artistic vision. Everything, from the logos and costume design through to the background rendering and architectural detail, has been thought through with the aim of preserving iconic design elements and intelligently enhancing the player’s immersion in the Assassin’s Creed universe.

 Assassins-Creed-The-Complete-Visual-History-03It has to be said that you don’t even have to be a gamer to appreciate the beauty of this Insight Editions publication. Designers, artists, history buffs, and anyone who simply appreciates beautiful illustration and art will become equally lost in this incredible world. The book is divided into 11 sections, the initial 9 being devoted to the various historical periods represented in the game, kicking off with the Middle Ages and working through the Renaissance, American Revolution and so forth, right through to the shorter Chronicles games, set in China, India, and Russia, and finally offering insight into the mysterious World Before. Following these info-packed, yet easy-to-read sections, we are presented with a chapter dedicated to the products and spin-offs inspired by the game, including cartoons, novels (and graphic novels), short films, and collectibles.

The background and genesis of each of the franchise’s assassins are explained in satisfying but never overwhelming detail, along with those of a number of secondary characters and adversaries/ Templars. It’s also fascinating to read about which historical characters were chosen to best serve the storyline and reflect each time period (e.g. Leonardo da Vinci, Nicolo Machiavelli, Paul Revere, and Ben Franklin). The planning behind each of the cities or settings throughout the franchise is also discussed and it has to be said that these reimagined historical places are every bit as fascinating and complex as the characters who inhabit them. Designers discuss having to narrow landmarks down, for example, in order to best represent an area (such as Paris) or having to deliberately add scaffolding to structures in order for characters to scale them. Elsewhere, details such as the shift from day to night throughout a game are described as being key features of the game’s realism. Each individual element has been cleverly engineered to spark our imagination in order that we may, as Lacoste states, ‘travel in time in order to discover epic locations and witness some of the world’s most pivotal moments in history.’

If you’re stuck for Christmas gift ideas this year, this release is highly recommended for fans of the game or anyone who appreciates an astonishingly beautiful coffee table art book.

Assassin’s Creed: The Complete Visual History – Matthew Miller

Insight Editions

320 Pages, hardback

Published 30th October, 2015

  • ISBN10 1608876004
  • ISBN13 9781608876006


Bec Stafford

Bec Stafford has a Masters of Philosophy from the University of Queensland. She blogs and interviews for the Escape Club and The Spotlight Report.

hough-zero-world-coverYour last release, is Zero World is about technologically enhanced superspy, Peter Caswell, who tracks colleagues through a tear in space. Your earlier work had been compared to John Scalzi and because of your previous novel The Darwin Elevator, you’ve been asked to speak at the NT Work and Safety Conference at Charles Darwin Uni about health and safety issues related to a zombie apocalypse, as well as various other disaster scenarios. How did you become involved in that topic and what lessons can we learn from such scenarios from speculative fiction?
I was invited to speak at the conference by its organizer, Martyn Hill. Though I have no professional experience in the health and safety field, Martyn felt (and I agree) that it might be interesting to hear the perspective of a fiction writer on these topics.  I’m planning a lighthearted talk about the crazy, dangerous scenarios we sci-fi authors imagine, but more importantly how our characters react to those situations.  I think perhaps some of the techniques we use to tell these stories can help safety officials envision real-world scenarios and solutions, particularly in the future.
Your new sci-fi spy thriller, Zero World, centres on a technologically enhanced superspy, Peter Caswell. Can you tell us a bit about the process of writing this story and how you first came up with Peter?
My process involves creating a brief outline (one sentence per chapter), along with a lot of thinking about the world the story will be set in. In this case, Peter finds himself on a world that appears to be Earth’s twin, at least geographically.  His character came partly from necessity for the story I wanted to tell, and partly from a random conversation with another author about Korean action thrillers.
When you were a kid, were you into spy fiction and film and did you ever dream of being a spy, yourself?
As a kid in the 80’s, I discovered James Bond through the films, though I quickly read the books as well. As I grew up I moved on to the works of Le Carre and others.  The kid-version of me, who knew only of James Bond and The Man From U.N.C.L.E., certainly wanted to join the CIA. But more serious Cold War fiction made me realize the real deal was not for me. I wanted to create those stories, not be in them.
Jason HoughWhat are some of your favourite zombie films, and which best reflect your ideas about surviving a zombie apocalypse? Do you often find yourself shouting, ‘Oh, you’d neverdo that!’ in frustration at the screen when the protagonists are hatching escape plans?
To be totally honest, I’m not a huge fan of zombie films. At least, not the typical cliche shambling, shuffling brainless brain-eating zombie films. If we get technical about it, my books feature subhumans — real living animals that have been infected with a brain altering virus.  They’re not undead.  It’s a common misconception.  Still, I understand it, as they fall into the “formerly human” category.

So with that in mind, my favorite zombie films are probably “Shaun of the Dead” and “28 Days Later”. I also recently enjoyed the zombie novel “The Girl with all the Gifts”.
Jason, you were formerly an animator and game designer. Has that background informed your writing career and what are your top 5 games of all time?
It’s definitely helped! My animator background has helped me to envision the “props” and sets my stories use.  As a game designer, my primary job was to build the world of the game. What populates it, and what rules govern it.  This is the same sort of work I do when starting to plan out a novel.  The big difference is that now I’m not constrained by the capabilities of the technology, or how many artists and programmers are available.

It’s hard for me to rank my favorite games because I like them for so many different reasons. There’s no quantifiable way to say “this one is better than that” on a list.  So, I’ll throw out some favorites in no particular order: Thief: The Dark Project, Deus Ex, System Shock, Elite, Half-Life.

Jason M. Hough – author of The Dire Earth Cycle and, out now, ZERO WORLD.



Bec Stafford

Bec Stafford has a Masters of Philosophy from the University of Queensland. She blogs and interviews for the Escape Club and The Spotlight Report.

coupe-Godinski_FrontPgAs a long-time music journo, band manager, label owner, and author, Stuart Coupe is able to talk about the Australian music industry with more than a little authority. He’s not only a well-informed raconteur, but a man who demonstrates great affection for the industry and its players, both major and minor. Writing a biography, albeit unauthorised, about Michael Gudinski can’t be an easy task; Gudinski’s towering personality and legendary career may be compelling in themselves, but he’s notoriously prickly when it comes to granting interviews or having copy written about him without his personal sanction. Ultimately, Coupe is among a selection of writers who can lay claim to not only having an intimate understanding of Gudinski’s career, but also to having known the man personally.

Gudinksi is a fascinating, exhilarating tour through the wild, impassioned career of Australia’s most influential music mogul. From his early days, back when he was an ambitious teen organising dances in halls across suburban Melbourne, to Consolidated Rock and the halcyon days of early Aussie pub rock, all the way through to his creation of the imposing forces of Premier Artists, Mushroom, and Frontier Touring, Gudinski is an unstoppable force, virtually unmatched in the Australian music landscape.

Depicted as a wild, inspired maverick as much as a shrewd and aggressively competitive businessman, Gudinski is also presented as what he’s also been at his core all along: a passionate music fan who loves nothing more than revelling in the energy surrounding the creative artists he so tirelessly promotes. Coupe recounts some hairy encounters that he and others have had with Gudinski: screaming phone calls, feverish rants delivered from office desktops, champagne flutes hurled against boardroom walls, dismissals, relentless outmanoeuvring and outgunning.

We are given unique insight into his long-standing friendships and associations with other industry personalities, including the indomitable Molly Meldrum, Barnsey, Michael Chugg, and Rupert Murdoch. And we are told, in a frenetic, thrilling storytelling style, of the heart-stopping and often stressful realities behind some notorious events: the nail-biting postponement of the Stones’ 14 On Fire tour; the logistics behind the doomed Alternative Nation; damage control during a Madonna visit; the inspired decision to sign Skyhooks, Split Enz, Paul Kelly, and Kylie. This book is a must for music lovers and anyone seeking an action-packed, electrifying glimpse into the life and times of one of the most energetic, extraordinary and important figures in the history of the Australian music industry.


Gudinksi: The Godfather of Australian Rock ‘n’ Roll – by Stuart Coupe

Bec Stafford

326 pages

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733633102

Publication date: 28 Jul 2015


davitt-award  aurealis-award   logo-curtin-university

Peacemaker - Aurealis Award
Best Science Fiction Novel 2014

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 (Sisters in Crime Australia) 





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