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Thursday, December 6, 2012

This is Not a Game by Walter Jon Williams

This Is Not a Game (Dagmar, #1)This Is Not a Game by Walter Jon Williams

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

From Once upon a time, there were four of them. And though each was good at a number of things, all of them were very good at games...

Dagmar is a game designer trapped in Jakarta in the middle of a revolution. The city is tearing itself apart around her and she needs to get out. 

Her boss Charlie has his own problems -- 4.3 billion of them, to be precise, hidden in an off-shore account.
Austin is the businessman -- the VC. He's the one with the plan and the one to keep the geeks in line.
BJ was there from the start, but while Charlie's star rose, BJ sank into the depths of customer service. He pads his hours at the call-center slaying on-line orcs, stealing your loot, and selling it on the internet.

But when one of them is gunned down in a parking lot, the survivors become players in a very different kind of game. Caught between the dangerous worlds of the Russian Mafia and international finance, Dagmar must draw on all her resources -- not least millions of online gamers-- to track down the killer. In this near-future thriller, Walter Jon Williams weaves a pulse-pounding tale of intrigue, murder, and games where you don't get an extra life.

I flew through this book.  It had me hooked on page one and, thanks to a four hour flight, kept me engrossed to the end.  I thought the plot was deftly woven, the use of an on-line role playing game in real-time/real-world was fascinating.  I liked the murder-mystery elements of betrayal, revenge and double revenge.  I liked the way world wide financial elements were manipulated on a more intimate level, shall we say.  I can totally see the self replicating software happening at some point in the future if it hasn't happened already on a smaller scale. 

My only complaint was this felt like a William Gibson book, not a Walter Jon Williams book (no offense to either author, I enjoy them both).  I kept thinking I had been introduced to these characters before, but like a thought niggle just out of reach, I couldn't place where.  This book felt like Pattern Recognition, Spook Country and Zero History.  But it wasn't.  And that niggling feeling bugged me for the entire book.

Despite that strange disconnect between authors, I will be reading Dagmar #2.

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