"Blue Wizard" covers the entire history of video games: from the 80’s through the present day, no title is left out. The book serves up a near-psychotic and utterly hilarious pastiche of pop culture iconography that is both warped, familiar, and (in places) strangely poignant. Pixilated heroes are undone by giant, end-of-level bosses. 8 year-old children gawk in awe and wonder at grown-up video game masters. Mario is portrayed as a Stalin-esque dictator who drives the princess to suicide. Ninjas from "The Legend of Kage" infest suburban carports. People die of dysentery and inscribe their own epitaphs on their tombstones in "Oregon Trail". Children of the 80’s are placed in charge of defending the world from nuclear holocaust in "Missile Command". "Pac Man", "Sinistar", and even a series of non-traditional haikus about the bosses from the first "Mega Man" game… The list is endless. If you remember the blue code screen from "Metroid", the end of level maze in "Kid Icarus", or the terror of being chased by a blocky scorpion in "Pitfall", then this book is definitely for you.
Barkan’s work has been compared to a disparate gathering of legendary creative talents ranging from Charles Bukowski and Tom Waits to National Poet Laureate Billy Collins. His approachable style and twisted sense of humor will keep readers in alternating states of nostalgic recollection and laugh-out-loud hysteria.
The book also features 30 pages of meticulously researched appendices listing some of the author’s all-time favorite games, a list of references contained in the poems (for non-gamers), an account of "Grue Hunting In the Great Underground Empire", and tons of commentary on the games themselves.
Beautifully illustrated throughout by Warren Wucinich, "Blue Wizard" is sure to delight anyone who has ever frantically dug in their pockets for another quarter as the "CONTINUE?" screen counted down.
The first collection of poetry about video games ever published, this tome takes its readers on a psychotic and hilarious tour through the arcade and console games of the Eighties (and beyond).
"There was only one item that all Game Informer staff members gladly plopped down $15 for at this year's Classic Gaming Expo [Blue Wizard]... If you've spent any amount of time with the titles covered, there are few things funnier in this universe."–Game Informer Magazine
"Though Barkan portrays the 1980's as the golden era of gaming, there is a sadness here beyond the nostalgia, irony and humor that might ultimately prove to be an adept metaphor for life itself... Barkan deftly articulates his experiences... For poetry readers who prefer academic writers like Robert Pinsky or Jorie Graham, there's certainly more than a few poems in this collection for you. fans of Charles Bukowski or edgy avant-garde poetry [won't be disappointed either]... You get a lot of bang for your poetry buck with this book (witness 146 pages of poetry), a veritable potpourri of well-illustrated pop-culture poems... Surprisingly, much of the nostalgia factor comes not from the poems themselves, but the ultra-comprehensive appendices at the end of the book, which include website resources, suggested readings, an annotated list of golden oldie arcade games, and [more].... For the price of a handful of quarters, Barkan brings it all back to you with linguistic pyrotechnics that remind us of those addictive but cheesy side-scrolling games."–Ryan G. Van Cleave, author of Contemporary American Poetry: Behind The Scenes
"I love it... [Barkan is] the first poet of the Video Game Age.”"–Jed Margolin, engineer of the Battlezone and StarWars arcade games at Atari and holder of US Patent 4,179.124, 'Electronic Video Game'
"A romp to read... poignant and funny.. [Blue Wizard] is worth the $15 even if you keep it around just to hand to people who will say 'I don't get it."–Heather Newman, The Detroit Free Press
"[Blue Wizard] is a book that no gamer should leave unread... In short: This one is for us, so enjoy it."–Mike “McDank” Smythe, Netjak
“I AM PLANNING GREAT THINGS!”
the drunken Italian dictator shouts,
legs extended, like Stalin
in repose before the fireplace,
lost in books and leather and the madness
of dreams gone wrong.
He laughs, suddenly,
a dark, cold, merciless laugh of
brutal irony, joyless mirth; reminiscent of
gulag exemptions denied,
of punks murdered with axes in the street.
He throws the brandy snifter against the wall.
“GREAT THINGS!” he roars,
reiterating his main premise to the empty room...
the resultant silence replaced by a soft chuckle,
dead, in the air, muffled
by the books and the leather.
“WHERE is the music?” he mumbles, humming
the theme from his first great campaign... trails off,
he stares at the Persian rug, lost inside himself
and begins tweaking his mustache,
the one thing that remains vibrant
on his craggy face;
well-waxed and black as sin,
the life-energy of the land absorbed
in those hairs;
“GReaT tHings...” he whispers, drooling, in hiccup,
a smile rudely stretched across his face,
souring into grimace...
he does not call for the princess
for she is dead, turtle shell in the head;
self-inflicted, found clutching a note with one question:
“where has my plumber gone?”