|This is not a Game is Walter Jon
Williams latest novel. Mr Williams is a writer who for his twenty or so previous
works has seldom revisited the well of inspiration for his novels; to the best of my
knowledge This is not a Game is a standalone work.
is not a Game is set in world only days ahead of now. A world where
thousands, even millions, take part in online role playing games where the action takes
place in the real world: the worlds a stage and we but actors on it. Dagmar is a
games master for this world, thats how she earns her living and she loves it. Only
lately, a fly or two have got in the ointment: one of her friends from her old
dungeons-and-dragons role-playing days has been murdered, and another friend (as her
employer) is insisting on changing the mechanics of her latest game. And then art begins
to imitate life or is that the other way round, as the latest game and her life reflect
each other in an all too perilous manner.
Mr Williams has managed to write a novel set in the world of instant messaging,
Facebook and Twitter and create a fast-paced, taut science fiction murder mystery; and has
carried it off admirably.
This was a fun book to read. A whodunit in SF drag, drag it wore most convincingly. A
drag that was all the more enjoyable for not being a police procedural, but a world in
which the power of social networking can be a help or a hindrance, a weapon or a shield in
the right hands.
If you want to start with Walter Jon Williams and have never tried, then I heartily
recommend this book. He has written others so you could try them too.
This is not a bad book actually its the best novel Ive read in some
time. It has well-developed characters, and you get to know the protagonist, geek and
game-designer Dagmar, quite well. As a fellow girl-geek, I can relate to her quite well.
The book has a great plot, in fact, a great deal of plotting, and plenty of action, and
its not an easy book to put down. Its borderline in terms of being actual
science fiction, set in the very near future, and being more about economics than aliens,
vampires, or spaceships.
It begins with Dagmar stuck in a hotel room in Jakarta as Indonesia falls apart around
her, a destruction brought about by a currency crisis. The first third of the book is
mainly about getting Dagmar safely out of Indonesia, an escape brought about largely by
the on-line community of which she is a part. Dagmar is, in fact, a "puppet
master", a designer of alternate reality games, and it is the players who work
together, using real world contacts, to rescue her.
But Indonesia is just the start. One of Dagmars former College gaming friends is
shot and killed by a Russian assassin, and Dagmar lets the players loose on the problem of
finding out why. And thats not all. Something out there is de-stabilising world
economies. Dagmar has to find out what, and put a stop to it, before it gets her killed.
This is not a book Im likely to forget soon. The fragility of the world economy
as portrayed here, and its vulnerability to electronic attack, is enough to give anyone
I do recommend this novel, especially to gamers and geeks, who will find it all of
inventive and challenging, scary and fun. Oh, and I must add that this new paperback
edition has an absolutely brilliant cover one of those times when you really can
judge a book by its artwork