Tuesday, June 08, 2010

I just finished This Is Not a Game by Walter Jon Williams.

This book is built around alternate reality games, where the term "This Is Not a Game" is used to keep players and game runners from doing things that would undermine the real feeling of the game.  It involves four people who met through gaming.  The protagonist creates and runs alternate reality games for a company owner.  A third character is an investor and a fourth is an ex-lover.

It starts off with the producer protagonist getting stranded in Jakarta during a crisis and then using her game world connections to help her get out.  That introduces the themes of games vs. reality and using the game players to effect real world events.  In the second part, this gets developed more as another character is murdered and the line between reality and the game blurs.  This kind of game/reality blurring isn't uncommon (see David Fincher's The Game for a film version of this), but the twist here is that the protagonist always knows what is game and what isn't - it's only the players who don't.

Overall, a good read.  Kept me interested enough to finish it in a day or so.

Monday, June 07, 2010

I just finished Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds.

Chasm City is the second book in his Revelation Space series, but is actually a better place to start than the first book.  I've commented on his other novels (here and here), and the lack of exposition in them, but this books goes the other way - it almost has too much exposition, including a prologue that is just a snippet from a guide for newly arriving visitors to a star system.  The books aren't directly related so far, so there is no problem with starting with the second one.

Of the other two books I've read, Chasm City is more similar to The Prefect, in that it tells one storyline from start to finish (minus flashbacks or dreams) and follows one character instead of a cast of characters.  It also has a similar noir/mystery feel, as the protagonist pursues revenge against the man who killed his boss and bosses wife.  This is intertwined with dreams of the founding of the colony he comes from.

An effective and enjoyable novel.