Bryan Boulette's Reviews > This Is Not a Game

This Is Not a Game by Walter Jon Williams
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M_50x66
's review
Mar 19, 12

Read from March 17 to 18, 2012

Near future is always an interesting setting because it allows an author to strip away metaphor and analogy and play around much more directly with what our existing society and technology is like, and might be like. In This is Not a Game, we get a story that presupposes a world where video games, while still extant, have been largely supplanted as the major form of electronic entertainment (enjoyed by tens of millions the world over) by large scale, elaborate, convoluted, and highly evolved ARGs well beyond what currently exists in reality. It's a very clever concept (if not exactly probable, but I can suspend disbelief easily enough), and Williams seems to have a lot of fun playing through the implications. Imagine William Gibson, only glitzier (much of the story takes place in LA, after all) and more fun, and a lot less gritty and dystopian (the Sprawl's technological developments are always interesting, but it never comes across as the sort of place one would want to live). The characters are a bit thin, but still entertaining, and they'll come across as intimately familiar to anyone with exposure to various forms of geek subcultures.

The novel is never groundbreaking or redefining, but it's a lot of fun to read and the story is well told. And though this is unrelated to the actual quality of the novel, I'm pretty thrilled that I managed to snag the Kindle version for 3 bucks thanks to Orbit Publishing's monthly promotional sales, as this was the book pick for February 2012.
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