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88 Names

3.44  ·  Rating details ·  1,053 ratings  ·  233 reviews
John Chu is a “sherpa", a paid guide to online role-playing games like the popular Call to Wizardry. For a fee, he and his crew will provide you with a top-flight character equipped with the best weapons and armor, and take you dragon-slaying in the Realms of Asgarth, hunting rogue starships in the Alpha Sector, or battling hordes of undead in the zombie apocalypse.

Chu’s n
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 17th 2020 by Harper
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Average rating 3.44  · 
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 ·  1,053 ratings  ·  233 reviews

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Jul 10, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps a gamer will get more out of this. I'm not one. 3 of 10 stars ...more
I feel like the setup of this and the fact that a significant chunk of the story takes place in VR is going to get this book compared a lot to Ready Player One, but I think if we're going to go down the rabbit hold of comparisons, I'd say its appeal is closer to that of The Martian- it's lighter on fast-paced, exuberant action, and heavier on methodical cleverness.

It also has an engaging, snarky tone, but unlike either of the above titles, it doesn't contain any of the careless white dudebroness
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This was my second attempt at reading this author and will be my last. My first was when I DNF'd Lovecraft Country. Something about the writing doesn't work for me, and I don't seem to connect to his characters.

The world in 88 Names was very familiar to me. As a former World of Warcraft player/addict, I lived this life. I will say that the author got all of the details of playing a MMORPG right. It gave me flashbacks to completing specific dungeons and quests and in-game events. It was a good do
Ed Erwin
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Neither the name nor the plot description interested me, but I can always trust Matt Ruff to tell a good story. I've read all of his novels. They are all different, and they are all very entertaining. (Though this one is a little bit like Bad Monkeys.)

Much of the story takes place inside virtual reality video games. Since the laws of physics, and other laws, can be violated in such settings that sort of story can become confusing. It is also a story of espionage and counter-espionage, which can
Richard Derus
Mar 15, 2020 marked it as to-read
Shelves: oh-no-not-again
MARCH 2020 NEWS Author Ruff will have a Reddit AMA on the 27th! ...more
Nicole D.
Matt Ruff is an author I will always read. He's not prolific, and he doesn't have a formula. He's a great writer, funny and has lots of topics to tackle. I like that about him - you never know what you'll get.

This book was about video games - simplistically - on a deeper level it was about society, gender, race, technology, identity and cyber-life. All those topics tackled in what feels like a love letter to video games, specifically "Massive Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Games" MMORPG's.

Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
3.5 Stars
I love reading fiction about online gaming and VR experiences so I was eager to check out this newest one. I always assume these kinds of books would be read by geeks so I was surprised how much time the author spent explaining gamer terms. I appreciated the diversity with characters with different ethic backgrounds. However, I found the plot itself to be rather underwhelming. The story was quite slow with a fairly bland delivery. The ending should have been surprising but it used a twi
Jul 20, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Started out strong and then steadily lost its appeal as it continued to offend me pretty consistently as it went on.

First of all, kudos for the author for inclusive casting, the main character is hapa and theres POC and women and gays and disabled people. However, as a strait white cis male he hit the nail on the head a little too hard, and it came across as offensive. For example, theres a couple times he tries to discuss the racial stereotypes of different ethnic minorities, I'm assuming to pr
Jul 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
John Chu works as a Sherpa (guide for newbies who can afford to pay) in virtual reality computer games, with a tight crew who work for him. It's against the rules in some of the games, but the risk is part of the job. He gets in over his head in what appears to be international espionage bleeding over into games. Luckily, he has a badass family to help.

I loved reading this book, as expected with any Matt Ruff book. It pulled me right in, and I read it in one day. It would be five stars, but the
Jordy’s Book Club
QUICK TAKE: perfect for those of you who loved READY PLAYER ONE...very similar world-building, with a dark streak running through the narrative. The ending was a little convoluted, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed 88 NAMES.
Melissa (LifeFullyBooked)
Received this book as a GoodReads giveaway, also downloaded from Edelweiss. It's not my typical read, but it seemed like a kind-of Ready Player One, so I thought it sounded interesting.
It's a decent book, although it gets a bit too bogged down in the gameplay aspects rather than the core story for my liking. The "mystery", such as it is, is pretty easy to figure out and not surprising in the least. If you are a hardcore gamer, or if you were in the 80s/90s, then this book will definitely appeal
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"88 Names" is a poor man's "Ready Player One." "Lovecraft Country" is one of my all time favorite books (as is "Ready Player One") so this was a huge let down. I'm not ready to give up on Ruff though and I'll try some of his other works. ...more
Katie/Doing Dewey
Summary: This was funny and gripping, but the ending was a let down and the social commentary wasn't profound or subtle.

"John Chu is a 'sherpa'—a paid guide to online role-playing games like the popular Call to Wizardry. For a fee, he and his crew will provide you with a top-flight character equipped with the best weapons and armor, and take you dragon-slaying in the Realms of Asgarth, hunting rogue starships in the Alpha Sector, or battling hordes of undead in the zombie apocalypse." (source) E
Apr 06, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
John is sherpa who guides his paying clients through MMORPGs so that they can enjoy the good stuff without doing the grinding for leveling up a character or figuring out the right strategy for boss fights. His life suddenly becomes more exciting when he is hired by a really wealthy man and consequences affect the real life as well. And then there is a revengeful ex-girlfriend...

After reading the summary and knowing Matt's excellent books Fool on the Hill and Set This House in Order my expectatio
May 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
This virtual reality thriller felt like an unenjoyable, complete waste of time. I can’t give it a one-star rating, since it was too blah to even infuriate me. When I finished the book, I felt almost like I was tricked into reading it, I suppose, analogous to the mc being tricked throughout. No interesting plot. No drama or excitement, duh, since it’s virtual reality and not real. Long boring sections of info-dumps. If, like me, you sometimes check in to goodreads to see if a stalled novel will p ...more
Jun 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was so damned fun that I read through it in two days. It’s like Ready Player One except it’s not stuck in the 80s and has a diverse protagonist and interesting supporting characters. I really enjoyed it!
Mary Silcox
I certainly enjoyed reading this book, and was engaged right up until the end with the story. My problem is that the whole book was aimed towards the BIG REVEAL, with not a lot of real character development etc. otherwise along the way. That's always a tough place for an author to go, because if the BIG REVEAL is less shocking/surprising/satisfying than the audience hoped, it will leave the reader feeling kind of disappointed, even if the book as a whole was pretty entertaining.

I am going to avo
Eh...not bad, but definitely not great either. Too far into the weeds with the video game detail, so probably better appreciated by gamer readers, (my younger son is also listening to this, and enjoying it much more than me). Also personally found the ending very disappointing, and both my son and I felt the audio narration was very choppy - not something technical; just the narrator just spacing his words weirdly himself.

Meanwhile, I have recently read this and 48 Hours, 36 Righteous Men, 13 Ho
Mar 30, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
I hate to call it a poor man’s Ready Player One but that’s pretty much what it is. Yes the plot’s different and this is more the current era, possibly a few years in the future with VR but this is definitely geeky, modern cyberpunk. A more fair comparison would be with Neal stephenson’s reamde because this is about mmorpgs and how the economics of that word translates to the real one, complete with gold farmers, paid upgrades and hacking user accounts. The problem I have with this type of novel ...more
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An Instant Post-Cyberpunk Classic about Computer Gaming from One of Our Finest Writers

“88 Names” is “Ready Player One” meets “Snow Crash” meets “Neuromancer” on ludicrous speed. In plain English, this is an instant post-cyberpunk classic about computer gaming worthy of comparison with Neal Stephenson and William Gibson’s great novels with more than a dash or two of Mel Brooks’ comedic irrelevance – hence the mentioning of ludicrous speed from the classic Mel Brooks cinematic farce “Spaceballs” -
Aug 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
This was great escapism for someone who is not a gamer but lives with several of them and has geeky tendencies. So while I can't tell if all of the gaming stuff was accurate it was a fun story. ...more
Jun 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Tackles the MMORPG genre while dropping a handful of pop culture reference. The references are far less ham-fisted than Ready Player One (with a far more likable protagonist), but does not blow open the genre like Ruff's Lovecraft Country. ...more
Aug 08, 2020 rated it liked it
I only read it to get my WoW kick.
Lisa Eckstein
Mar 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2020
John Chu works as an online sherpa, guiding gaming newbies through virtual reality adventure games. After a series of jobs gone wrong that might be the fault of a disgruntled ex-employee/girlfriend, John is approached by an anonymous wealthy client offering an outrageous sum, and making a set of outrageous demands. This is immediately followed by an even larger offer from another mysterious figure who wants John to take the first job but report everything that happens. When it starts to look lik ...more
Mar 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I definitely need to read more of Matt Ruff’s stuff, because I loved Lovecraft Country and liked 88 Names. I’ve seen some reviews state that it’s sort of like Ready Player One, which is definitely enticing to me, and considering how this takes place inside of an MMORPG I definitely see that. It was a fun read as well, I enjoyed the plot line that the main character is being paid to show a person that he believes to be Kim Jong Un around the world of the game. It definitely goes a bit off the rai ...more
Sean Randall
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh, yes. This is 2020’s Ready Player One, without a doubt. I regularly give books 5 stars, but this one is going into that exclusive pile that I pick up to reread time and time again.

I laughed aloud at regular intervals. Chu is almost as much of a badass as John Lago, and even if he’s a little more jaded than Wade Watts with a harder edge and more filial piety, he also has a butt-ton of US military support to call in when he needs to.

The multitudinous use of game genres was most excellent, the c
There are books that you read that you love so much that you start looking for it again in other books to chase that high. Tad William's Otherland series is one of those for me. I found it again in Ernest Cline's Ready Player One and now this one.

A guy running a Sherpa business for a fully immersive vr "World of Warcraft" gets hired to be a tour guide in all the leading mmorpgs by a seemingly powerful Korean leader. Full of humor and cyber slang, references to some of my favorite shows and video
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun, and quick. I want to compare it to Ready Player One, but only because it's also about gaming. It's better, imo. It's scifi, but mostly elides the details about technology (aside from, like, the mmorpg that's the main focus) so you don't have to be a huge tech nerd to understand. I liked it. ...more
Em Cullen
Jul 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This satisfied my Sci Fi fix! Exciting without being too action-packed. From a male perspective but the narrator is self-aware enough to not be annoying. This is my first Matt Ruff novel and I'm excited to read more. ...more
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was my first Matt Ruff and just wow. Amazing book. Don't let the premise of video games scare you away. I know nothing about them and easily followed this novel. ...more
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I was born in New York City in 1965. I decided I wanted to be a fiction writer when I was five years old and spent my childhood and adolescence learning how to tell stories. At Cornell University I wrote what would become my first published novel, Fool on the Hill, as my senior thesis in Honors English. My professor Alison Lurie helped me find an agent, and within six months of my college graduati ...more

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