Gretchen's Reviews > Burning Bright

Burning Bright by Melissa Scott
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's review
Dec 24, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: reread, not-keeping
Recommended for: Gamers
Read in September, 2011

It's not one of her strongest works, but I really like the world-building and the aliens, and the interaction between the aliens and the humans. There are lots of lovely touches like the description of food, too. It's also notable for showing same-gender relationships, written during a time when that was harder to get published, presented as an unexceptional and ordinary part of life. The ambiguity that characters feel for each other, for various reasons, is also very well-done. The presentation of disability as a part of life is very effective as well. So although the book could be more tightly written and better plotted, I really like those elements. The characters were very human, even the ones who tried to be alien. (The aliens were nicely alien, though possibly could have been even more alien.)

One of the most interesting parts of the book for me, as a gamer, was how gaming (in particular module design and GMing) could be a profession. Naturally the VR elements in the gaming were very appealing to read about, but I found some of the elements off-putting. Since I see some of those same elements in modern MMOs, though, and because the characters themselves found some of those same things an unnecessary restriction and wanted to work around them, I think that they were accurately written. It felt odd that there was apparently no independent gaming scene but rather a quasi-competitive rated worlds-spanning organization. (But perhaps, just as in modern gaming, there was simply less money in it so it wouldn't be present everywhere or considered an alternative by the players.)

Ultimately I decided not to keep it in my much-reduced library because it's not a book I will want to reread over and over again, and it's not quite strong enough to keep for lending out. I like it and am glad I have read it, but I have so many books to fit into not enough space that I have to give some up. This one was a hard decision, and I'd happily recommend it, especially to gamers and people who would like to see non heteronormative relationships in older SF.
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