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Lucky Wander Boy

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  631 ratings  ·  77 reviews
Adam Pennyman is ruled by an obsession of his own creation: the Catalogue of Obsolete Entertainments, an encyclopedic directory referencing every video game ever played. But his chronicling hits a snag when Adam realizes that no matter where he looks, he can find nothing about Lucky Wander Boy, the game that meant the world to him as a kid.

Then his luck starts to turn: A c
Paperback, 276 pages
Published February 25th 2003 by Plume Books (first published 2003)
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Average rating 3.51  · 
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 ·  631 ratings  ·  77 reviews

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Jun 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who knows what a top-loader is
Shelves: thebigcabbage
the wind-up nintendo chronicle. existential crisis by way of video games. you may not be satisfied at the end, but isn't that the way with books that seem to promise the secret of life? ...more
Feb 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
For lack of a better description this novel is Catcher in the Rye for the Mario generation. The themes of existential crisis and trying to reclaim or revisit ones past through childhood video games feels worryingly familiar, and I imagine will strike a chord with many 20 to 30-somethings that grew up on computer games through the latter-eighties and nineties. There's also a strong anti-authoritarian sentiment weaved into the plot that echoes the rebelliousness of Catcher, but in a contemporary s ...more
May 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Written 15 years ago for geeks and for my generation, this quick read was a lot of fun. Narrative is interspersed with essays from a fictional Catalog of Obsolete Entertainment, both moving the story forward. The conclusion is very unusual. Recommended!

Unlike Ready Player One, the references are well explained. MAME, the Atari 2600 and Intellivision make an appearance here, along with several arcade games in the Catalog. The titular game is fictional, but well described and also mysterious enoug
Nov 27, 2008 rated it did not like it
Because of the naive way in which the book waxed video-game pseudo-philosophy, I assumed that the frequent essays were meant as tongue-in-cheek. As the book developed and I started to expect the big-payoff, I slowly realized that the author was actually a yuppie-California-twit, that lacked even a fundamental shred of irony about his cringe-worthy, undergraduate-level musings.

Or maybe the whole book was absolutely tongue-in-cheek, I genuinely can't tell. The narrative portions of the book seeme
daphny drucilla delight david
the stories in the beginning are what games journalism should be, talking about experience rather than GRAPHIXX but holy shit the main character is loathsome and annoying and what all gamers shouldnt be

Jonathan Lee B.
Feb 24, 2020 rated it liked it
Lucky Wander Boy is buffet of wine.
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Nov 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Good story!
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Hatchet Mouth
Nov 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
There's something very special about this novel that the reviews below failed to mention: It was written by one of the main showrunners of the HBO hit 'Game of Thrones'. Yes, before David Benioff had to grapple with the tough decision of annexing significant portions of the House of the Undying or changing Asha Greyjoy's name to Yara, he wrote this slender touchtone to the first video game generation.

Adam Pennyman is a developer at Portal Entertainment. In his spare time, he archives video games
Jan 05, 2009 rated it it was ok
This is Weiss’ first book. I’d like to say something knowing, like “… and it shows” but I can never tell. I loved Douglas Coupland’s first book, Generation X in 1992. I really enjoyed Glen David Gold’s Carter Beats the Devil (Another Michelle pick!) last year. But I don’t know that they particularly struck me as “first books” in of themselves.

Anyway, did I like it? I enjoyed it, but the main character is pretty unlikeable. He’s selfish, a loser, and not very sympathetic. I feel bad for everyone
Jason Pettus
Jun 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
wow, what an amazing "genre unto itself" novel that hardly anyone seems to know about; if you like projects such as "house of leaves" and "the raw shark texts," you'll find that this novel kicks the ass of them both. effortlessly blending a snotty slacker tale of too much free time, a jaded media story about the dot-com years, and a trippy sci-fi concept regarding mysterious '80s videogames that no one can track down again, "lucky wander boy" (weiss' first novel, by the way) is a sleeper treat, ...more
Apr 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Just finished my re-read of D.B. Weiss' "Lucky Wander Boy". Once again, it brought me along for a great ride and, like the first time, its ending made me very emotional (can't explain why, but it strikes a nerve somewhere inside me). This time, I also discovered the many philosophical themes or references in the book, including existentialism and absurdism. And it fits nicely with the Albert Camus book I recently read and wrote about (in French) in my blog. ...more
May 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nerdy_boys
A sacred mind-bending video game that transcends Earth, time and space? Or is it obsession stretched into madness? The ending of this is one of the best endings I've read in forever. Lucky Wander Boy is a must read for those of us who grew up during the golden age of the video game and got our first taste of the pixelated world addiction. Lots of interesting facts of the era nicely weaved into the fictional story. Oh, and there are some corporatate jerk characters who are fun to hate! ...more
Andy Seroff
Feb 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Like the Object of Importance, the novel holds a mirror to the entire life experience by using the profound affect of the entertainment arts as a vessel. Though the narrative is fluid, the ideology present is at times choppy, yet it concludes eloquently - in a way that forgives all faults (in a major way).
Aug 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
The Stranger for the millennium generation geek/otaku; stuffed with absurd and pretentious trivia that only signators of the "Stop Dr. Uwe Boll" petition could care about.

A wonderfully funny book.

Aug 20, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: video game enthusiasts
This book was quite interesting from a sort of "its cool to be a geek" perspective but then it got kind of weird about 3/4 of the way through The ending was anticlimactic too. But oh well. ...more
Sam Wilmart
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Rereading this book was a strange and melancholy experience. When I first read it in 2004, I was an adult on technicality alone, and Lucky Wander Boy (the book) was deeply relevant. A meandering travelogue through the sprawling nascent internet, a place where you could stumble upon half-faded childhood memories cataloged by obsessives and inscribed on forums post and fan sites.

That internet is long since gone.

Reading this book in 2019 is like waking up from a dream and knowing that there was so
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jason Bergman
This book starts with a ton of promise - sort of a non-sci-fi Ready Player One. And for a while, it's pretty good. The female characters aren't great, but the protagonist and his journey are likable enough. But the last third of this book, and especially the ending, goes completely off the rails, squandering that early promise. There's some good stuff here, but the unresolved plot lines and that disaster of an ending left a really bad taste in my mouth. It's a quick read, but not worth your time ...more
Nov 19, 2017 marked it as attempted  ·  review of another edition
Abandoned at 50%. There are the bones of a good story here, but I just cannot fucking cope with the amount of sexism and hideous descriptions of women. I'm out. (PS I feel like the protagonist of this book might've been the original author of that Rick and Morty copypasta.) ...more
Nov 17, 2020 rated it liked it
I'd give it a four but for the weird orientalism at times and that the book sort of... doesn't know what it wants to be.

There's good parts but then there's enormous stretches about office romance and... screenwriting? Why am i reading about screenwriting?
Elece Smith
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
I really don't know what I read but I wouldn't read it again. ...more
Sep 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
I remember it as funny and surreal. I want to re-read and see what I think about it now, but I gave it to someone or lost it.
Jun 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"A geek is a person, male or female, with an abiding, obsessive, self-effacing, even self-destroyng love for something besides status." --The Catalogue of Obsolete Entertainments

I have an abiding, obsessive, self-effacing, even self-destroyng love for the book Lucky Wander Boy.

I don't bother to presume that this novel will resonate much with anyone outside the Generation X demographic, but I was born in 1970, and it resonated mightily indeed with me. Like the protagonist Adam Pennyman, I was a
Feb 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Plot – 3, Characters – 3, Theme – 4, Voice – 4, Setting – 3, Overall – 3

1) Plot (3 stars) – A disillusioned 20-something sets off to find meaning through the secrets trapped in a long dead arcade game, a quest that takes him from Poland to LA to Japan. Overall, it’s a decent setup. But the plot wasn’t weaved in an engaging enough way to make me want to turn pages. And in the end, I was glad I wasn’t invested in the quest, because its resolution was anti-climactic.

2) Characters (3 stars) – Adam
Andrew Schultz
Jan 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
If you've ever wanted to look into a very old game, LWB captures this feeling well. And it offers more than some bad old games you may remember as better than they were. Because really, enough is preserved that we can look into games as we need. They're often under 64k RAM too, so disassembly's not impossible. In LWB, the game is poorly documented, and nobody knows how to win it.

I feel so fortunate I've been able to dig up old games and really look into them with save states and so forth. You ca
Mar 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
If you love classic video games (PacMan, Donkey Kong, Galaxian, etc), consider this a must read. It even includes references to MAME and arcade emulation. It's a quest novel where the author in on the trail of a seemingly mythical classic game. The main character's attempt to write an analysis of the meaning/significance of these games ("The Catalogue of Obsolete Entertainments") that appears interspersed in the chapters is a hoot.

"A geek is a person, male or female, with an abiding, obse
Justin Le
Dec 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Adam Pennyman revolves around every video game ever made. The one that meant the world to him was Lucky Wander Boy, but cant find anything relating to it. His luck turns when he lands a copywriting job at Portal Entertainment, the monolithic media company that holds the film rights to the “Lucky Wander Boy” concept. Soon Adam embarks on a journey through the corporate sprawl of Hollywood that will ultimately lead him to the game’s beautiful creator, Araki Itachi. But even with the help of a pluc ...more
Vincent Mendoza
Dec 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Lucky Wander Boy by d. b. Weiss was a good book about taking the love of video games and making a career out of it. I like what Weiss did with the story with this novel. Adam Pennyman, the main character started playing video games for all of his life. He would use video games to escape reality. He also used it to try to deal with his problems he was facing in his life. I connected with the main character in this sense because this is what I have done and do. Weiss has the main character go thro ...more
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“Cartridgeration has its consequences. Prolonged exposure to this fragmentary method of relating to the world inculcates in the gamer the belief that he can have it all, serially, within a very short time span, regardless of whether any two pieces of It are mutually exclusionary. He can be chasing em down… and on the run. Safe… and under fire. Cute and harmless… and imposing and dangerous. As he toggles from cartridge to cartridge, game to game, goal to goal, identity to identity, his mother’s long-standing promise that he can “be whatever he wants to be in this world” seems fulfilled, given a broad enough interpretation of “in this world.” This is not entirely a bad thing. The ability to simultaneously entertain contradictories can be useful… but it comes at a price. The Cartridgeration process leads one to a mode of thinking that stresses the inadvisability of choices. Any definite choice and subsequent course of action puts the gamer on one path at a tremendous possibility cost to all conceivable others. Through definitive actions, he pares the ür-configuration containing all his possible worlds to a stunted fraction of its former self. How many brilliant futures are ruled out with each step, with each decisive word? Billions, in a very real sense. The further he gets himself into any situation, the more severe the pruning of his possibility tree. Thus his inability to focus on any enthusiasm for too long, a metaphysical fickleness that functions as a defense mechanism against the death of possibility.” 0 likes
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