The (Complicated) Road to the Dresden Files

The world is complicated.

Here’s an anecdote to prove it. It’s one of those stories that has no definite beginning. The further back you reach, the more you realize just how complex human life can get. My arbitrary starting point is Starcraft 2, though I could reach further back.

Starcraft 2 is a fitting place to start. The game is most easily likened to chess. There are standard openings and from there, each game branches off into untold complexity. Unlike chess, Starcraft 2 makes a thrilling spectator game. Just head over to YouTube, type in “Starcraft 2”, and prepare to get inundated with videos of people shout-casting — imagine a basketball game’s play-by-play commentary and in-game analysis then apply that to a Starcraft 2 game. Peruse enough videos and you’ll come across Day[9].

Now, Day[9] is nerd’s nerd, a geek’s geek. He competed at the international level in the original Starcraft, but nowadays has evolved into an analyst/commentator for Starcraft 2. He has over 200 videos providing hours upon hours of content on how to “train you to be a better gamer”. But at the same time, he’s no slouch academically; he’s currently getting his Master’s degree.

Needless to say, I was impressed on how the guy manages academics and gaming. So impressed that when he made a recommendation for a book series, I went out and got the first in the series.

Looking back, this decision was a little strange. It gave me the feeling of being one of those people who buy Oprah’s favorite things or answer to David Pogue’s beck and call (beck and tweet?). It’s that realization of being the thing that you try to avoid; here, it’s the cult of personality. Day[9] is just a regular guy though, passionate about the thing he loves. Yet his excitement about Starcraft led me to try something completely unrelated. Heaven help me if he becomes the next Billy Mays.

As you can probably guess from the title of this post, the recommendation was for The Dresden Files. After reading the first book, I don’t regret getting it — after all, I borrowed it from the library. It’s a fun murder-mystery novel with magic thrown in. Written in the first person, you follow Harry Dresden, a wizard, solve crimes that have the Chicago police department baffled.

After I had finished the book, I started talking about it to a friend from work. His response? “I think they made a TV show based on it.” Intrigued, I checked Netflix and lo and behold, I could stream all 12 episodes of the Dresden Files. I watched the first few episodes, skipped to the episode based on the first book, Storm Front, and then promptly stopped watching.

The Storm Front episode was all over the place. In contrast, the book has such good pacing; convenient cliffhangers led me to read several chapters in a row, yearning to find out what happens next. After being thoroughly disappointed with the TV series, I checked out the Wikipedia article on the Dresden Files to learn that the Storm Front episode was intended to be a 2 hour pilot, but was chopped up to fit within an hour. It explained the terrible pacing in the episode, but completely turned me off from the rest of the TV series.

In the end, the curiosity brought on by my coworker led to a dead end. Yet to get there, I was lured in from a talking head on the internet. Then again, someone could read this and be compelled to go to YouTube and check out Starcraft 2, or to read the Dresden Files — completing the circle.

Like I said, the world is complicated.

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