Walter Jon Williams - This Is Not a Game (2 stars)

Walter Jon Williams - This Is Not a Game



If a novel set in a world of ‘greed, betrayal and social networking’ doesn’t sound especially exciting, that’s because it’s not. Walter Jon Williams might be highly acclaimed as a sci-fi writer, but This Is Not a Game engages a muddle of faceless characters in a narrative that’s been topped by Java manuals for readability. Dagmar is a writer for a multi-billion dollar Alternate Reality Gaming company. After escaping a riot-torn Jakarta in the book’s largely superfluous first third, she ends up in LA trying to solve her friend’s murder while negotiating the blurred boundaries between online networks and offline reality.

The concept of the group mind as a problem-solving tool is certainly an interesting one, yet it’s smothered in impenetrable IT jargon. The lingo would be forgivable were this a straight-up science fiction book, but it also tries to be a marginally more accessible near-future techno-thriller, and succeeds as neither.

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